§ Lord Milton
, on rising to bring forward a motion on this subject, with the particulars of which the House, he said, were well acquainted, disclaimed all motives for interference but those of his public duty. He had no feelings of an adverse nature towards the deceased nobleman or any of his relatives or friends, but on public grounds only he deemed it necessary to take up the subject. The history of the grant might be traced to the letter of the earl of Buckinghamshire to the Court of Directors, of the date of 372 the 12th January, 1814.* This letter, which had long been before the House, referred to a conversation which the noble* COPY of a LETTER from the Right Honourable the Earl of Buckinghamshire to the Chairman of the East India Company, dated the 12th January 1814, referred to on the Minutes of the General Court of the 4th May, 1814."India Board, January 12, 1814.Sir; Understanding from the conversation I had with you and the deputy chairman, that the Court of Directors have not yet come to any determination respecting the continuance of the pensions granted to lord Wellesley, lord Melville, and myself, I consider it my duty to state, as distinctly as I can, my sentiments upon the subject.With reference to the grant to lord Wellesley, I should ill discharge the functions of the office I have the honour to hold, if I did not convey to you my decided opinion, that no man can read the Records of the East India Company during the period that lord Wellesley filled the situation of Governor-general of India, without being impressed with the deepest sense of his eminent services; and whatever differences of opinion might have occasionally arisen between him and the Court of Directors upon particular points, the exertions he made, the talents he displayed, and the benefits he rendered, were of a nature to entitle him to a signal and substantial reward; and that the continuance of his pension would not only be an act of liberal and wise policy, but of strict justice on the part of the East India Company.The pension granted to the executors of the late lord Melville is connected with circumstances which it may be a little difficult to discuss; but which, in order to make myself clearly understood, I cannot entirely overlook.Upon an examination into the state of the late lord Melville's affairs at his death, it was found that his property was inadequate to the payment of his debts by a very large sum, for which the present lord Melville has made himself responsible.Into this voluntary engagement he was induced to enter, at great personal inconvenience to himself and family, his property being settled, from a sense of373 earl, as president of the Board of Control, had had with the chairman of the India Company; but there was no parliamentary knowledge of the subject previous to this letter. It recommended the granting of a sum of money to the present lord Melville, a person who was not a servant of the Company, but a minister of the Crown; it stated the high situation held by his lordship's father, and recommended, that to avoid the discredit which would attach to his memory, by the nonpayment of his debts, the sum of 20,000l. should be proposed to the Court of Directors to be granted to his son. The great object, however, of the Board of Control, was to prevent the lavish expenditure of the funds of the Company, and the object of the Act by which it was formed, was to check profusion and corrupt practices in India. But he would contend, that it was equally within the view of the Legislature, to extend the operation of the Act to the prevention of such practices at home, or to any quarter of the globe where they might take place.what was due, particularly to the high stations his father had held in public life; and to avoid the discredit that would attach upon his memory, had his debts remained unsatisfied.Under an impression that the extension of the grant to the late lord Melville to his executors might have been made amongst other considerations, in the contemplation of his debts, and the inadequate means his property afforded of paying them, I venture to state these circumstances to you, and to submit for your consideration (the sum of 20,000l. being still unprovided for), the propriety of proposing to the Court, that the grant should be continued for a period that would discharge that sum.If the estimation in which I hold the late lord Melville's services to the East India Company be ill founded, the proposition will have little weight with your Court; but if I justly appreciate them, I am confident that the suggestion I have made will not fail to receive that attention to which it appears entitled.With respect to the pension granted to myself, I should observe, that upon my appointment to the office of president of the Board of Control, I intimated my intention to forego the receipt of the pension during the period of my continuance in that office; and I certainly was deter374 It was an object of the Act to prevent the originating of any grant with the Board of Control. He then insisted, that the letter was a public document, and not a private communication, as had been maintained by the gentlemen apposite. He proceeded to contend that the late lord Melville, if entitled to compensation, should have received it by a vote of Parliament as a servant of the Crown, and not from the funds of the Company. This body and the King's ministers had not only separate, but often conflicting interests; and he would ask, whether it was fit or decorous that a person who was placed in the very office of controlling the Company should receive rewards from it? The view that the Court of Directors appeared to take of the communication, was perfectly honourable and consistent. They resolved that the letter should be submitted to a general court of proprietors, and having done this, they deemed it their duty to go no farther. The last-mentioned court, however, decided by ballot, that the grant should be made;mined, at all events, to persevere in that intention.At the same time I must candidly acknowledge, that adverting to the terms upon which the charter was renewed, it did not occur to me that any question was likely to have arisen upon the subject of the existing pensions: as, however, it has arisen, I must request that the business, as far as my pension is concerned, may not be agitated at present.In the exercise of my official duties, I ought not, in the opinion of any man, to be liable to the imputation of acting under feelings of personal disappointment, or open to the charge of disregarding an obligation conferred.If the Court should be disposed, let them take up the subject whenever I leave the office of president of the Board of Control; they will then, as at present, have their own records to refer to for the grounds upon which the pension was originally granted, and they will enter upon the consideration of it under circumstances wholly free from the objection that has presented itself to my mind; and I would add, on that account, far mare satisfactory to my own feelings. I have the honour to be, Sir, &c.(Signed) "BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.Robert Thornton, esq.&c. &c. &c.375 but this did not change the nature of the application, which was like canvassing for money, and a precedent for trucking the patronage of the Government for the patronage of the Company. Such a grant was peculiarly inappropriate at a time when the right hon. gentleman connected with the Board of Control (Mr. Wallace) was passing a Bill through the House to prevent the Company from granting annuities to the widows and chidren of their own officers and servants. It was only two or three sessions ago since the Company came to Parliament to beg a loan, and got two millions and a half advanced to them; and it was admitted by those who took the part of the Company, that the latter had by this means got a balance of 900,000l. in their favour; and the very next year the ministers go to the same Company whom they had been obliged to bolster up, and ask them to give 20,000l. to one of their friends, at the very time when they were unable to reward their own servants. On the whole, considering the circumstances under which the grant had been made, it was a subject which called loudly for an expression of the opinion of Parliament, as a job which was corrupt in its conception, and mischievous in its effects. He should therefore propose certain resolutions of censure on the president of the Board of Control. The noble lord then moved, "That the copy or minutes of the Court of Directors of the East India Company upon the reference made to them by the general Court of Proprietors on the 9th of June 1814, to consider that part of the Letter from lord Buckinghamshire which relates to the pension heretofore granted to the late lord Melville, might be read;" and the same being read, the noble lord next moved,
"That, in transmitting the said Letter to the chairman of the East India Company, the president of the Board of Commissioners for the affairs of India has acted contrary to the spirit of the Acts 24 Geo. 3, st. 2, c. 25, and 33 Geo. 3, c. 52, by which the said Board was established and regulated, inasmuch as he has thereby originated a grant of money out of the revenues of the Company:
"That this House cannot but view with extreme jealousy and apprehension the encouragement to a lavish expenditure of the resources of the Company, which has been thus given by the first commissioner of that very department whose peculiar 376 duty it is to check and control such expenditure:
"That the conductor the earl of Buckinghamshire, as president of the Board of Control, in suggesting a grant of money by the East India Company, on the ground of services performed by a former president of the said Board, tends to introduce a system of intercourse between the said Board of Control and the East India Company, contrary to the intent with which the said Board was established, and highly prejudicial to the public interest."
§ Mr. Wallace
said, he gave the noble lord full credit for the motives of public duty which had induced him to bring the present subject under the consideration of the House, and he trusted that he would do him the same justice in believing that, taking a totally different view of the whole question, he felt it with equal sincerity a duty to resist it; that he did so because he did not think the character be had given of the letter of the president of the Board of Control was fairly attribuable to it, or that by writing it that noble person had done what was either inconsistent with his duty, with the Act of Parliament, or with the acknowledged rights of the East India Company; that he still entertained the same opinion of the letter in question he had repeatedly given, that it was in its nature and character a private one; but supposing it to be otherwise, and to have possessed any circumstance which the law required in the official communication between the Board of Control and the East India Company, he had yet to learn, that it constituted a violation either of the letter or spirit of the Act of Parliament.
It was contended, that the Board of Control were precluded from originating grants of money. If it was meant that they were precluded from giving officially directions for any grants of money of any description, he perfectly agreed in it; and though the words of the Act applied strictly only to the funds in India, he admitted that the principle of the provision went generally to the protection of the funds of the Company, and the restriction might, therefore, be fairly argued to comprehend their funds both abroad and at home. But it by no means followed, from the Board being precluded from directing by its authority a grant of money, it was necessarily precluded from suggesting the propriety of making one as a matter of consideration to the East India Com- 377 pany. What was the nature of the restriction on the subject? It was this: Parliament having given to the commissioners for the Affairs of India the most extensive powers over the whole of the civil and military affairs and revenue of the Company!—to call for, to alter, to originate dispatches concerning them,!—makes the exception, amongst some others, of grants of money, and provides, that under no circumstances they are to give directions on this subject, whatever they may do on others, independent of the concurrence of the East India Company. Many are deceived by the name which is in familiar language given to the commissioners for the Affairs of India, of the Board of Control, and suppose that its province is confined to checking and controlling the acts of the Company; but their powers, as described by the Legislature, are those of super intendance, direction, and control; and in prohibiting an authoritative direction for a grant of money, it did all that it meant to do; it required, that as on one hand the Company were restrained from burthening their funds by grants without the approbation of the Board of Control, so on the other the Board of Control should not impose any burthen on them without the concurrence of the Company. This, with the responsibility of the Board for its approbation, was the security intended to be taken against improvident applications of the Company's funds; and this, by the words of the Act, is effectually obtained. If, then, super intendance and direction are a part of the duties of the Board, with powers the most extensive attached to them, it would be difficult to maintain that they were precluded from offering suggestion or advice on any subjects which may affect the interests of the Company; although, for especial reasons, on particular ones they may want the power of enforcing obedience.
The motion of the noble lord spoke of 'originating' a grant of money as being contrary to the spirit of the Act of Parliament. For hit part, he knew not how to collect the spirit of an Act but from the words of it!—nor when the words were clear, did he see any reason for referring to any supposed spirit of an Act to explain them. In the words he saw a precise description of what powers the Board of Control were and were not to exercise; and if that which it prohibited, was not done, he did not know how the law was 378 violated. He hardly understood what was meant by 'originating.'!—If the submitting a matter to the consideration of the East India Company, against that there was no inhibition; if to take any effective step towards making the grant, as is done by a motion in the House, that bad not been done. So far, however, from being precluded from making suggestions to the Company, he was satisfied it was a part of his duty, nay, that he was bound to do it by his oath, in any case in which he deemed it for the advantage of their affairs. The oath of office was, 'to give the best advice for the' ? and on the subject of grants of money as well as all others, that advice the commissioners were bound to give whenever they conscientiously believed it to be expedient.!— Could it be contended, that in the case of meritorious service being passed by without notice,!—as for instance, that of the lamented general Gillespie at Vellore, where by his promptitude, energy, and courage, he subdued a mutiny which threatened the very existence of our Government,!— that if his service had not been adequately acknowledged, the Board of Control would not have neglected its duty in not calling to them the attention of the Company?
The Act conveyed general powers with certain exceptions!—was this among the exceptions? If it was, he desired to see it; if not, he called upon the House not to suffer what was called the spirit of the Act, which each man might understand differently, to be set up against the letter of it. Under this practice no public servant would be safe in the performance of his duty. He might suppose that, attending to the prescriptions of law, he was safe, and he might be safe against legal prosecution; but was he safe, if, by some fanciful interpretation of the noble lord or any other individual, of the spirit of the law, he was liable to be exposed to what, both to his interests, his character, and his feelings, was not less grievous than the consequences of any legal proceeding!—the censure and animadversion of the House of Commons? There was nothing of which the House was more justly jealous than the exclusive right of originating grants of public money; but the most jealous patriot never imagined the rights of the House were invaded by the recommendation of the Crown. The Crown was restrained in its power of making grants beyond a specified amount; but was it contrary to this salutary provision, 379 that the Crown should suggest to Parliament the expediency of making them in distinguished instances of public merit? The ministers were responsible for the recommendation, the Board of Control was the same for the advice it gave to the East India Company; and as well might the noble lord propose to impeach the ministers for the recommendations of the Crown as infringing the rights of the House of Commons, as censure the Board of Control for similar recommendations to the East India Company. The protection is in both cases the same. If the recommendation originates a grant in one case, it does the same in the other. But, in fact, it did so in neither; as it had no power, no efficacy towards the grant, but that which the body to whom it was addressed thought proper voluntarily to assign to it. This would be the case in respect to an official recommendation, if such had taken place. But no such thing had, in point of fact, occurred. The letter wanted every circumstance that could render it an official or public communication. They had now the real history of the letter and its origin; which, on a former discussion, they were not possessed of. It was stated in Mr. Thornton's speech at the India House, on the 9th of June 1814, and it appeared that the chairman and deputy chairman having been pressed upon the subject of the expiring pensions after the renewal of the charter, thought it right to ascertain the sentiments of the Board of Control in reference to them, before any step was was taken, as the effect of any resolution of the directors or proprietors must depend ultimately on the opinion of the commissioners. They therefore in conversation with the president of the Board of Control asked his opinion, which he gave; and afterwards, at their desire, and for the eventual satisfaction of the Court of Directors when the subject should come under their consideration, reduced it to writing. Such is the history of this formidable epistle!—this dangerous invasion of the rights of the India Company;!— it was not even a voluntary act on the part of the president!—it was a mere acquiescence in the wishes of the chairman, and expressly for the satisfaction of the Court of Directors themselves!—written without a view to influence, and which, in fact, never did produce the smallest influence on the minds of those for whose convenience it was written. If there was 380 offence in this, it was more in the chairman who solicited the letter, than in lord Buckinghamshire who complied with his request;!—but offence there could be none, it was the mere minute of a private conversation, which was no more an object of censure than the conversation itself; and it would be difficult to prove that a confidential communication between the president of the Board of Control, and the chairman of the East-India Company, was exceptionable on any subject, relating to the affairs of the Company, on which a discretion was to be exercised!—in which a concurrence between the authorities was indispensable, and in which, besides, the president himself was personally interested, and on which, if it was not absolutely essential, it was at least convenient for the Company previously to collect what opinion the Board of Control was likely to entertain.!—Was there, then, the smallest ground for suspecting a wish on the part of the president of the Board of Control to assume an authority that did not belong to him, even if his conduct on this occasion was without precedent, while precedents of similar recommendations offered themselves? In a variety of instances the same had been done by successive presidents of the Board of Control, and particularly in the instance of lord Buckinghamshire's own pension, by the late lord Melville:!—this instance appeared to afford the best comment on the intention of the Act, as it was impossible, if such recommendations were intended to be prohibited, the author and producer of the Act himself could have violated it by transmitting them.
The noble lord had dwelt on the danger of such a proceeding; what the amount of the danger was, might be estimated by the effect produced. What was that effect? Was the annunciation of the pleasure of the president of the Board followed by by a ready recommendation of the grant in question on the part of the directors?!— far from it!—it fell a dead letter, without receiving, as it should appear, the smallest notice!—it possessed no legal authority, and none would they give to it!—when the other pensions were recommended by them, on that of lord Melville they were studiously silent, and even when again referred to them for an opinion by the vote of the proprietors, they deliberately refused to pronounce one. Such was the result of this dangerous and unconstitutional invasion of the rights of the East- 381 India Company. If ever there was an act to which this character less belonged than to another, if ever there was a case that had by its origin, intention, and effects, more rescued itself, than another, from the charge of unwarranted assumption or dangerous pretension, it seemed to him that this was the very one he should select.!—But why was this grant chosen in particular? If there was any thing unconstitutional in delivering an opinion, it applied as much to the case of lord Wellesley's pension, as the grant made to lord Melville.
Contending, then, as he did, that a recommendation of a grant of money was neither a transgression of the law, nor inconsistent with the duty of the president of the Board of Control!—he admitted that for such a recommendation he was responsible, and an improper one would afford a fair subject for the animadversion of the House;!—he admitted, too, that prima facie the recommendation of a grant to a colleague in the government, whether a predecessor in office, or otherwise, was objectionable, and that special grounds roust be adduced to warrant it. On the other hand, he expected to have it conceded to him, that if a man stood in a situation which rendered him a just object of the liberality of the Company, independent of any personal pretensions of his own; the circumstance of his being a minister ought not to deprive him of the benefit of it. Nothing would be more unjust, than that a man whose claims were derived from the services of his father, if in a private situation, should have those claims recommended and allowed without objection, while if he happened to have merits of his own, which had placed him in an exalted station in the councils of his country, they were all to be disputed. He did not urge lord Melville's situation as a ground of pretension; but he contended against the injustice of its being deemed a disqualification and forfeiture of other past claims. Lord Melville's station and personal circumstances were nothing in the question, except as far as they might have an effect in giving a direction to the species of acknowledgment, if any was thought due, for his father's services, that might be most desirable to the family; and Mr. Wallace said, he had always regretted that they were brought so much into notice.
He was surprised to hear, on a former occasion, an observation from a director, 382 that he had 'disapproved the grant, because Lord Melville had personally done nothing for the Company.' On such an argument he would not throw away an observation; he was sure it was unnecessary!—it went to take away from any man the inheritance of his father's merits, and from the country the benefit of the inducement to splendid exertions, arising from the hopes of the effects of public gratitude extending themselves to the families of those who had deserved well of the country. The House had never acted on so narrow a principle; they had conferred their well-merited rewards on the families of Abercrombie and Nelson, and others whose services had made them worthy of it. The India Company itself had done it to the family of lord Cornwallis. What had the present lord Cornwallis done for the Company?!— Not more, certainly, than the present lord Melville. And why was one to inherit the services of his father, and not the other?!—But it was said, the late lord Melville was not a servant of the East-India Company, and that as a servant of the Crown he could not constitutionally receive the reward of his services from any quarter but the Crown. He knew no law, he knew no principle in the constitution, that prescribed this! Indeed, it appeared to him, that the practice under the constitution directly contradicted it!—honours and offices it was the prerogative of the Crown to confer; but so far from that being the case with respect to pecuniary rewards, the Crown was restrained from granting them but to a very limited extent; and if it was desirous of carrying them further, it was by the assistance and act of this House alone it could be done.
It had been done in repeated instances by the East India Company to servants of the Crown!—to sir Sydney Smith, to general Gillespie, and to lord Nelson!—to the latter of whom, for the battle of the Nile, they had made a grant of 10,000l. With respect to the precedent, he could see in it no danger. The circumstances that attended the late lord Melville's connexion with the India Company's affairs, and the services he had rendered, were so great and of so peculiar a nature, that they scarce could be expected to recur again, and the acknowledgment of them could therefore form no precedent that could be often insisted upon. The single question was, the value of those services to which he had alluded. However grati- 383 fying it would be to his feelings to enumerate the public services of lord Melville, it was a task to which he was conscious of being so totally unequal, that he would not venture to attempt it. To lord Melville, indeed, the debt of gratitude from the nation was great!—but that of the East-India Company was almost incalculable. If to have devoted the greatest portion of a long political life and the most eminent talents to the study of their interests!—if to have fought their battles in the hour of danger, against obloquy and prejudice, and successfully supported them against a powerful government resolved on their destruction!—if to have rescued their affairs from that chaos in which they were involved, and which was the justification for seizing on their rights and violating their charter!—if to have been the author of that system under which their affairs had now been administered for thirty years, to the sound principles of which experience as well as the recent judgment of Parliament had borne the most unequivocal testimony!—if under that system to have superintended their affairs for seventeen years with unremitting attention and unexampled success!— if under his auspices regularity was substituted for confusion, affluence for embarrassment, and prosperity for disorder and distress!—if finding them happy in having with difficulty maintained their comparatively limited dominions from the attacks of the native princes, he left them the predominating power in India!—if, by his foresight and vigour, to have defeated the invasion of Egypt, avowedly directed against their possessions in India!—if to the protection of their dominions from without, he added that earnest solicitude to ameliorate the condition of the inhabitants of those dominions, which produced that great measure which had been justly designated the Charter of India!—which was founded in the highest principles of policy and humanity!—by which fixing firmly the hitherto fluctuating claims of government, he cut off the source of all the woes of India, gave effect to the rights, and protected the people against extortion and suffering, and laid the foundation of the general as well as individual happiness of that mighty empire!—if by such services, gratitude towards a family can be merited, no one will contend that they have not been more than merited by the late lord Melville. These merits were unanimously acknowledged by the directors in 1801, 384 when the most honourable expressions of regret and gratitude followed him into retirement.!—Mr. Wallace concluded by saying, he feared no precedent founded on real public services, and that he hoped this grant might excite in others similar zeal and similar exertions; and he did not think he could form a better wish for the interests of the Company or of the public as connected with India, than that there might be hereafter many claims founded upon services of equal value and equal importance.
§ Sir John Newport
contended, that the letter of the President of the Board of Control stated as the ground of the grant which he recommended, that the property of the late lord Melville was inadequate to his debts, and that the present lord Melville had made himself responsible for them. The question, therefore, was a very different one from that of the merits or demerits of the late lord Melville. It was, whether a president of a board appointed by Parliament to control any undue and improper application of money ought to advise a grant of money to one of his own colleagues, for the sake of relieving him from his father's debts, for which he had made himself responsible. The precedents quoted by the right hon. gentleman from the records of the Board of Control, were not applicable to the present case!—they were grants to old servants or their widows for military services. But could he produce a single instance of one Cabinet minister recommending a grant to another Cabinet minister from these records? What danger could there be in granting public money for naval and military services? It was impossible, however, not to see the danger of making such grants for services rendered by ministers either in or out of parliament. It was contended by the right hon. gentleman, that it could be shown from the Act of Parliament, that it was competent to the president of the Board of Control to make such a recommendation. But the right hon. gentleman ought to have done more!—he ought to have not only shown that it was legal, but that it was proper. The services of the late lord Melville had been rendered to the public as a public servant, and not as a servant of the East India Company; and if it was thought that those services had not been sufficiently rewarded, the remuneration ought to have been granted by the House, at the recommendation of 385 the Crown. He contended, that this reward was granted by the Company at a time when they were unable to pay the sum stipulated for to the public. The recommendation had originated in a private conversation between the President of the Board of Control and the Chairman of the Court of Directors. When the letter was communicated to the Court of Directors, they showed the sense in which they viewed it, by passing to the orders of the day. The matter was brought before the proprietors; and yet, coming with all the recommendation of the undue influence of the Crown, the question was only carried by a majority of 175, and 280 proprietors had voted against it.
§ Mr. Whitshed Keene
observed how little our empire in India depended on the physical strength of this country, independent of the more powerful force of moral agency. This strength, the very foundation of our authority, was owing in a great measure to the wise and energetic measures pursued by the late lord Melville, whom he eulogized as the greatest benefactor of India. Considering him in such a light, be had voted originally, as a proprietor, for the grant, and he should now oppose every motion that tended to question its general policy.
§ Lord Archibald Hamilton
supported the motion, on the ground of the mischievous tendency of the recommendation. In his opinion, the letter bore every mark of publicity that was necessary. It originated from a public office, was written on a public subject, and was attended with all the consequences and influence of a public communication. Regarding it as such, he must consider it the act of a minister, and censure it as an improper exercise of ministerial discretion. It was said, that the noble earl at the head of the Board merely gave his advice; but really the advice of such a personage to the court of proprietors, was like what they had heard of the advice of the Company to an Indian power, which would hardly be disobeyed. It was said, that lord Melville brought in the Act establishing the Board of Control, and therefore he must have understood it: but this remark was peculiarly unhappy, for it would be recollected that the noble lord did bring in another bill, which either he or the House of Commons did not understand aright.
conceived that the House were not to judge whether the 386 grant was advisable or not; that question should be left for those individuals, whose property was involved by their own decision. He dwelt with particular emphasis on the opinion expressed by Mr. Whit-shed Keene, whose general experience and large property in the India stock, entitled him to every attention on the subject. He contended, that the grant of money, in recompense for actual services, was perfectly consistent with the "due administration" of the Company's money, required in the oath of the commissioners. In this, both the letter and spirit of the Act of Parliament completely concurred. He contended that there had been no infraction of the letter or the spirit of the law, in the correspondence which had taken place between the Board of Control and the East-India House, such correspondence between them being indispensably necessary, and not more to be complained of than conferences between the two Houses of Parliament. The letter could not be considered as official, whether in its origin or consequences; it arose from a casual circumstance, and was attended with no result, for the Court of Directors paid no regard to it, and the grant of the money was the voluntary act of the Court of Proprietors. Could it be said that any undue influence was exercised over them, or over the fourteen gentlemen who subscribed the requisition? As to the favour or affection which was supposed to influence the Board of Control in contravention of their oaths, he denied the supposition, and considered it a mere colouring thrown over the entire question. The advice was given conscientiously, and perhaps a similar imputation might be thrown on acts performed by the right hon. baronet (sir J. Newport) when in office, yet which were performed most conscientiously. He concluded by opposing the motion.
§ Sir J. Newport
understood the speech of the noble lord to convey an insinuation, that he, when in office, might have recommended a grant to some of his friends. If he meant any thing of this sort, he had better speak out.
had only meant to say, that the right hon. baronet might have been placed in a situation in which he would have been able conscientiously to act as the earl of Buckinghamshire had done with respect to lord Melville.
§ Mr. Howorth
observed, that the letter was considered not as originating a grant of money, but as merely recommendatory, and that on a very particular reason!— the debts of the late lord Melville having fallen on the present. But how did the noble lord who wrote that letter know of the private affairs of lord Melville? Was he left executor of the will? was he a trustee under it, that he should thus stigmatise the dead, and pauperize the living? He remarked on the depressed state of the India Company's finances, of which he drew a very gloomy picture. At the time of their coming to the House for assistance, their paper was in a very depreciated state in Bengal, and they were obliged to have recourse to a very extraordinary mode of raising the loan, holding the Treasury open for twelve months, to receive money from every quarter. Surely, when the pecuniary concerns of the Company were so embarrassed, the President of the Board of Control had not paid a due regard to their interests, when he recommended such a grant. It was true, a majority of the proprietors expressed themselves in favour of this grant!—but it was most extraordinary, that the three worthy aldermen who had voted for it, and who had made themselves so conspicuous on that occasion, were now present to state their reasons for the course they had adopted.
§ Mr. Wallace
entered into a short statement, to prove that the pecuniary affairs of the Company were not so deplorable as the last speaker had described them to be.
observed, that it was highly honourable to the late lord Melville, that the subject had been taken up by the Proprietors, over whom it was not likely that any influence could be exerted, instead of the Court of Directors, who might have been open to the suspicion of an improper interference. He conceived the Proprietors, in coming to the vote they had done, at once spoke the high sense they entertained of the services of the late lord Melville, and paid a proper tribute to the virtues of his son, who had undertaken voluntarily to discharge his father's debts. He should oppose the motion.
said, that as the present question related to the conduct of a noble earl in the discharge of his public duty he felt himself bound to express an opinion on it. He could not think that the 388 course adopted by the president of the Board of Control on this occasion, was correct or justifiable. If the merits of the late lord Melville were so great as they had been represented, it was Very strange that neither the Court of Directors, nor he Court of Proprietors, had noticed them, and, by a spontaneous and voluntary act, granted that remuneration for past benefits, which had since originated with the Board of Control. It was said, hat in recommending this vote, the Board of Control had committed no violation either of the letter or spirit of the Act. The letter of the Act was not invaded; but, he was by no means satisfied, that its spirit was not violated. One of the provisions of that Act went to prevent the Board of Control from originating grants of money; another rendered it necessary for the Company, where they made a grant of more than 200l. a year, to submit t to the Board of Control for their approbation. From this it appeared, that one of the principal duties of that Board was, to superintend, and if necessary, to correct, the expenditure of money by the Court of Directors. It did appear to him, that the grant now in question was not given for the services of the late lord Melville, but that it was made for the convenience of the present lord. If the merits of the late lord Melville were so great, why was not a grant agreed to in his lifetime? It was rather extraordinary to wait so long for the discovery of those circumstances, before the Company felt his merits to be such as to call for this large sum. And here he begged to observe, that the circumstances of the late lord Melville ought not to operate in a case of this kind. For had he been the the richest man in the community, he might have performed those services which called for remuneration; and it would have been equally proper to have offered the reward, thus earned, although probably it would not have been accepted. It was said, that the letter of the noble earl, in this case, did not influence the East India Company. He knew the letter did not contain any thing that could strictly be called matter of influence, as it respected the Directors or Proprietors. But could any man, candidly speaking, think that the suggestion or recommendation of the president of the Board of Control, urging, as he did, the Court of Directors to do something far the late lord Melville's family, would have no 389 effect? Could such a document be received, without producing some degree of influence? It was, however, observed, that this letter had not induced the directors to do the act recommended, since that act originated in the Court of Proprietors. This was perfectly true!—the papers proved the fact. Bui why did not the proprietors perform this act, before the letter was sent to the chairman of the Court of Directors? It was competent for them to have proceeded before, as well as after the receipt of that letter. Indeed, had they voted this sum of money in the first instance, the grant would have come with a much better grace. It would then have appeared to have originated with themselves, and not to have arisen from obedience to the directions of a higher power. He felt a very great personal respect for the noble lord at the head of the Board of Control, but, in this instance, his interference was by no means correct. He was almost the last man who ought to have made such suggestion to the Court of Directors. The noble lord opposite (Castlereagh) had argued, that there was no more impropriety in a mutual communication between the Board of Control and the Court of Directors, than there was in a communication between the two Houses of Parliament. This was a very unfortunate illustration of the noble lord's proposition. The different parts of the constitution were independent of each other; and when a communication took place between the two Houses of Parliament, it was between parties who were equal, who were perfectly independent. But, in the present instance, the communication was between two parties, one of whom was appointed to check and control the other, and who must consequently possess a very considerable influence. The course which had been adopted, reminded him of a story he had read in Gil Bias: a man, travelling quietly along a road, suddenly heard a cry of "Charity! for the love of God!" and he saw lying before him, in the pathway, a hat. Looking about him, to discover from whom this cry of "Charity" came, he observed a musket pointed towards him, out of a neighbouring hedge. On making this discovery, he very prudently threw his money into the hat, although no person had held out any direct threat to compel him to the act. So it was in the present case. The Board of Control, no doubt, 390 without any idea of influencing the East India Company, suggest or recommend a certain grant to be made; and the proprietors, being charitably and kindly disposed (though not so unanimously as might have been expected on a charitable occasion, there being 280 against the vote, and 455 for it), in compliance with this suggestion or recommendation, agree to part with a very large sum.
§ Mr. Bathurst
observed, that the concluding illustration of the right hon. gentleman was singularly unhappy. In the case he had mentioned, the fear of personal danger operated on the traveller; but, from the unloaded state of the arras made use of by the Board of Control, no apprehension whatever could be entertained by the Court of Proprietors. The right hon. gentleman had asked, why some step had not been taken for the remuneration of lord Melville during his life? The fact was, the Company had granted him a pension, payable as long as their late charter existed; and the present was a continuation of that grant, arising from the embarrassed state in which lord Melville left his affairs. The right hon. gentleman then defended the propriety of the grant, which, he argued, was no more liable to objection than that which was conferred on the present lord Cornwallis, for the services performed by his father; and concluded by expressing his hostility to the motion.
§ The House then divided; when there appeared:
|For the Motion||30|
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorpe, lord||Martin, J.|
|Barham, J. F.||Moore, P.|
|Byng, G.||Newport, Sir J.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Piggott, sir A.|
|Bolland, J.||Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Romilly, sir S.|
|Chaloner, R.||Russell, lord Wm.|
|Elliot, right hon. W.||Sebright, sir J.|
|Fitzgerald, M.||Scudamore, R. P.|
|Grattan, rt. hon. H.||Stanley, lord|
|Hornby, E.||Tierney, right hn. G.|
|Hammersley, H.||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Howorth, H.||Western C. C.|
|Jervoise, G. P.||TELLERS.|
|Lyttelton, hn. W. H.||Lord Milton.|
|Leader, W.||Lord A. Hamilton.|