§ The House having resolved itself into a Committee to consider of the First Report from the Select Committee on Finance,
Mr. Davies Gilbert
rose to address the committee. He observed, that he had uniformly considered the existence, of si- 129 necure places—of those situations, the duties of which were executed by deputy, and of those, the emoluments of which were more than commensurate to the services performed—as a great blot and blemish in the system of this country. He had, therefore, repeatedly supported the propositions brought forward by his hon. friend, the member for Corfe Castle who had frequently attempted to put an end to the evils which he had alluded to. For various reasons he disapproved of sinecure offices—of those, the duties of which were performed by deputy—and of those to which disproportionate salaries were attached. It was clear, that the}' often, at very inconvenient times, were placed at the disposal of the Crown, and it was no less evident, that they were not fitted for the purposes which those who supported them, declared they were particularly suited to effect. The system was peculiarly liable to the charge of favouritism; for persons were apt to imagine, that offices of the nature he had described were exceedingly likely to be bestowed, not as the reward of public services, but as a remuneration for private favours. Another strong objection to them was, the great abuses to which they were calculated to give rise, in consequence of their being granted in reversion. He had always thought the reversionary system a very bad one; for, if the Crown possessed an office for the legitimate object of remunerating public services, it was not proper that it should, by being granted in reversion, impose a greater burthen on the country, than if it were only bestowed when it became vacant. The integrity of an administration might be such, that they would not countenance the bestowing any of those places, as a matter of favouritism—they might take care that such situations should be granted, as they ought to be, in remuneration of public services; but still an idea had gone abroad, and persons shaped their conduct on it, that those places were subject to this abuse, and it was right that no room should be given for the continuance; of such an opinion. Undoubtedly a very strong opinion prevailed, from one end of the country to the other, that those places did give rise to the abuse of favouritism, and, therefore, his voice had always been exerted to procure their entire abolition.:—It might be objected, that no great saving would result to the public from the abolition of those offices. He was aware that the present saving would not be very 130 extensive—because it was necessary that good faith should be kept with those who had vested interests. But he conceived the doctrine of vested interests was sometimes carried too far. If an office were granted, which, in the lapse of years, produced much larger emoluments than were originally contemplated, he did not think that the principle of vested interests ought to be extended to it. There were few, however, of those offices; and, as the others came under the principle of vested interests, the saving, at the present moment, could not be very great; but, in the course of a few years, a material benefit would be effected. When the committee recommended, that certain offices should no longer be suffered to exist, it was necessary that they should point out some other mode by which his majesty could reward meritorious services. With this view, a system was recommended, which under certain restrictions, would answer every purpose. He alluded to the granting of pensions for services performed, the time during which individuals had occupied their respective offices being one of the criteria by which the Crown was to be guided in rewarding the exertions of public officers. If the committee agreed to the motion with which he should conclude, namely, "that the chairman be directed to apply to the House for leave to bring in certain bills, for carrying into effect the recommendations contained in the report," they would then have the subject introduced to them in a more detailed shape. On two occasions he had had the pleasure of voting with the hon. member for Corfe Castle, on the subject of abolishing sinecure places. The first time, much opposition was given to his bill; but it was carried almost unanimously when brought forward on the second occasion. He therefore had been led to suppose, that, in the first stage of the present business, every person having agreed that the existence of sinecure places, &c. was a blot in our system, no opposition would be manifested. For though some individuals might oppose the abolition of a particular situation, still he thought that all were agreed on the general principle, and that, consequently, the measure would not be opposed in the outset. But, he understood, he was not likely to be so fortunate as he expected, because considerable opposition was intended. It would be necessary to move, according to the sense of the committee, for leave to bring in a 131 very considerable number of bills. This mode would, it was conceived, facilitate the object of the committee much more than a concentration of all the offices in one bill. This appeared to him to be very proper, because the offices were very different in their nature. For instance, there was the office of chief justice in Eyre, which ought not to be coupled with two other offices of a very different character—he meant the warden of the Cinque Ports, and the governor of the Isle of Wight. The latter offices were executed in a great measure, by deputy, and the emoluments were disproportioned to the duties performed. Still, however, the situation of warden was one of importance—and if, eo nomine, it were done away, some other office must be established for transacting the duties connected with the Cinque Forts. The governor of the Isle of Wight had also certain duties to perform: he was a sort of sheriff; and it was impossible that proceedings in that island could go on regularly unless some officer was appointed in his place. It was, therefore, proposed, that those offices should be nominally abolished; but that the duties now attached to them should be performed by persons appointed for that purpose, who should not, however, receive the salary at present paid from the civil list or consolidated fund. He had very little doubt that the measures proposed by the committee would give general satisfaction. He believed the public were aware, that no very great pecuniary saving could be effected by them—the military establishment, &c. being the great causes of the expenses with which the country was burthened. Still, however, he had always expressed his wish that those blemishes in our system should be wiped out; and he hoped the public would approve of the steps parliament had taken to remove an evil of which the public had long complained, and which showed, in the clearest manner, that they were most anxious to do away with every situation founded on principles inimical to the general sentiments of the country. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving, "That the chairman be directed to move for leave to bring in a hill to abolish the Offices of the Wardens, Chief Justices, and Justices in Eyre, North and South of Trent".
§ Mr. Boswell
expressed his determination to oppose the system recommended by the committee, which was dangerous 132 in one point of view, and nugatory in another. As an humble individual, he implored the House to enter, with trembling and anxious steps, into the consideration of these very serious measures. He had read the report, and he saw with astonishment, that all those offices which a sound discretion had saved in 1782, were now to be abolished. Two reasons only could be stated for taking this step. One was, that the influence of the Crown was too great, and ought to be diminished; the other, that the finances of the country were in such an impoverished state, as required a strong measure, in order to induce a general system of economy. But here it should be observed, that the hon. mover admitted, that the recommendations of the committee, if agreed to, would not produce any great pecuniary effect. On the first head, that the influence of the Crown was too great, he would most openly avow, that, in his opinion, it was by no means too great. At no period of the history of this country, of which he was aware, was the influence of the Crown less. It had been gradually diminished; and no person could imagine, that it bore any fair proportion to what it formerly was. The present was as good a House of Commons as ever sat within those walls [Hear, hear!] or, perhaps, he had better say, as unmanageable a House as ever met at Westminster; but yet it was so, in spite of all the influence that could be used, assisted as it was by those adventitious circumstances which, as peace had returned, must now be diminished. But the present measure went to destroy that fair influence which had long been recognized—which, he thought, could not be shown to have been injurious to the well government of the country—and, if that could not be proved, he could not see on what just principle it ought to be attacked. It was proposed to take from the Crown the power of rewarding eminent services, which it at present possessed, and the right of granting pensions was to be substituted in its place. But was the privilege of granting pensions better than the mode which was at present in existence? He thought it was not; and he felt, that there was something less honourable in a pension, granted as the reward of public services, than in the appointment to an office long hallowed by time and custom. With respect to the second head, instead of a saving to the public, in all human probability a great increase of expense would 133 be incurred by it. Half a generation must pass away before many of those offices denominated sinecures could be abolished. He objected strongly to that part of the report which recommended remuneration to be granted only where a certain number of years had been passed in the public service. He never before thought that the exertions of public servants were to be estimated by the time they remained in office. The most brilliant services, it appeared, were not to be remunerated, according to the new plan, unless the individual had been engaged five years in office. Were there, he would ask, no other great officers in this country worthy of remuneration, except the eleven mentioned in this Report? Those gentlemen who did the most efficient service to the country, by resisting measures injurious to the nation, were, by this new principle, precluded from being rewarded. If the eyes of the Prince were suddenly opened, and he wished to reward them, he could not do it. Was it to be supposed that they should be engaged for five years before their meritorious services were rewarded? Exertions of a public nature were not, surely, to be valued according to the period of apprenticeship, which gentlemen might have served. According to the report, it was a possible case, that, after the first five years, there might be pensions granted to the amount of 27,000l., and, in 30 years there might be an increase on the pension list of 160,000l. Where, then, was the saving, which had been talked about?—The hon. member then adverted to the office of warden of the Cinque Ports, which, he observed, they ought to be cautious in disturbing, because the whole arrangements of that district flowed from it. But there was a point on which he felt peculiarly anxious, and he should be wanting in his duty, as a Scotchman, if he did not mention it. At the union with Scotland, very few offices were suffered to remain in that country—and the few that were allowed to exist, were struck at by the present report. He looked upon those offices as memorials of former independence, as soothing to the pride of the inhabitants of that country, and as being a more pleasing remuneration for public services, to a native of Scotland, than the grant of a pension. One office, which he humbly conceived it was not in the power of the British parliament to touch, was aimed at by 134 this report. He alluded to the situation of lord justice general, which, by the 19th article of union, was specifically preserved. The committee did not, indeed, state that they would abolish this office, but they recommended that the head of the criminal department should step into the civil court; which was just as absurd as if they had ordered lord Ellenborough to go from the King's bench into the court of Common Pleas. But he would not object to ordering the duke of Montrose, who held that office, to preside in the court, let that be done, if it was thought necessary; his objection was to the abolition of the office. He would contend, that they were precluded by the articles of the union from abrogating any office of that nature in Scotland. He concluded by observing, that humble as he was, he would strenuously oppose the measure in every stage of it.
commenced by saying, that though he had on a former occasion, when a bill somewhat similar to the one now proposed went through the House, stated his objections to the principle and object of the measure as then proposed, he was willing to give his support to the measure now before them. He was one of those who distinguished between the old system of administration and the state of things that arose from the war. The power of the Crown, he would admit, had increased since the war began; but, on the return of peace, when the war establishments were reduced, though things could not be restored to the state in which they were before 1792, the power of the Crown was more than proportionably reduced. He denied that the patronage of the Crown was excessive. It was not increased so much as the concurrent circumstances in the frame and action of society required. It was for this reason that he would give his support to the present measure, because it did not bear upon the influence of the Crown; and it was on the same principle that he did not agree with the bill brought in by an hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Bankes.) That bill went to augment the burthens of the country. According to the general scope and principles of that bill, whenever 27,000l. were reduced of sinecures, 160,000l. were added to the burthens of the people. The proposed measure was not liable to any such objections. It reduced sinecures on the death of their present holders, and thus recognised vested property; a prin- 135 ciple which was always to be held inviolable. It gave to the Crown power of immediate operation; for when an office of 2,000l. a year fell in, it was then allowed to grant rewards to those who should be found entitled to them. The hon. gentleman who spoke last had objected, that the pension-list would be increased by this mode. This would not be the case. By no possibility of construction could it be contended, that the pensions would amount to a sum approaching to the sum reduced. When 42,000l. were withdrawn, it could not by any possibility be found that more than 39,000l. should be given away in pensions. These 39,000l. had also to be reduced according to the number of persons who may have died in the meantime, and also according to the number of persons who may return again to office; so that a large portion of this sum must always be, as it were, in abeyance. Upon viewing all the aspects of this branch of the subject, the presumption was, that above 30,000l. would never be bestowed in pensions according to this plan. Beyond this part the hon. gentleman did not seem to have read the report. The pensions were to be in a progressive scale in point of time; so that in twelve years, only the sixth part of the money that was to fall in would be given in pensions, as none could be bestowed till two years had elapsed. Upon these grounds he thought one objection he had entertained against the bill formerly introduced upon this subject was removed, as the amount of pensions was brought under some regulation, and a minor scale of pensions was adopted, while the lapse of time after leaving office was greater.—Another great objection he had felt to the measure, as proposed by the hon. gentleman opposite, was the false notion it seemed to countenance, that any material relief could be afforded to the public by the abolition of sinecures. A gross delusion had been most industriously propagated on this subject. He was sure the hon. gentleman had not contributed to that delusion; but it was studiously inculcated, that sinecures were the source of great burthens to the public. Now, the whole amount of sinecures did not exceed 100,000l. Suppose all these were swept away, and those most essential branches of administration connected with this support were abolished, it could not bear essentially upon the state of the country, or relieve the burthens of the people. What amount 136 could really be reduced by the present measure he could not estimate; but it was not liable to the same objections, inasmuch as it did not profess to proceed upon any principle of relieving from pressing burthens, or affecting public distress by the abolition of sinecures—With respect to the patronage of the Crown, it would indeed be a strong objection to the measure, if it were adverse to the influence of the Crown, and proposed any effectual restriction upon it. It would be a strong objection, if it merely went to abolish sinecures; for then the public would be deprived of a most powerful means of exciting and stimulating great and beneficial exertions. But since he had formerly opposed a similar measure, motives had grown up which induced him to give his support to the abolition of sinecures. Industrious and corrupt exertions were made to delude the public upon this subject, and they were made to suppose, that if sinecures were abolished, distress would instantly vanish, and relief would be effectually obtained. There was a general impression and delusion, that certain offices occasioned all the distress and difficulty of the country. This delusion was connected only with the ultimate and insulated effects of a principle most sound and just in itself; but the delusive impression was by no means regulated by or made commensurate with the extent of its pretended cause. Certain offices had, indeed, through long continuance and change of circumstances, become overgrown. The principle was good, but long continuance produced circumstances that required some reform. There were two, or at most, three of this kind. These he had alluded to at the beginning of the session; and the voluntary resignation of an honourable and disinterested nobleman (Marquis Camden) had relieved this question of difficulties that could not easily be removed. He, therefore, congratulated the gentleman opposite upon the success of his measures, and the abolition of all sinecures. At any rate, there was such a distaste for sinecures, that the abolition was salutary, and would go to destroy the rooted objections of many, and the delusion of the public; and it would gratify a great portion of virtuous feeling in the nation, which existed against sinecures. It was very desirable to correct the false expectations spread respecting this subject, and the present measure would have that effect. It would not 137 be a great saving; but, sinecures being bad in principle, it would operate as a cure to the impression and delusion that had gone abroad. Upon these grounds the measure should have his best and most effectual support.—With respect to economy, the measure could not effect much in that view; but it would afford a satisfactory pledge that every thing practicable was done for the relief of the public burthens. If parliament supported and sanctioned this measure, it would dispel the wide-spread and mischievous delusions that prevailed. This was the great and decisive recommendation of the measure. As to time being made the criterion of services to be rewarded with pensions, he thought that time prevented the operation of favour and the suspicion of its operation. Eminent services were entitled to reward independently of time of service, yet even these could not often be ascertained without a considerable space of time for their display. In services of a ministerial nature, time was necessary to entitle them to reward; the qualifications were to be estimated either by time or at discretion. It was far better to make time of service the criterion, than to leave it to discretion. He was ready to admit that there was nothing to be deprecated more than a system of pensions; but he could not believe that there could exist any suspicion that honourable and cultivated minds, that had risen to office through the most arduous course of labour and duty, would be swayed by the prospect of any little reward they might be judged entitled to when they quitted office. The most eminent public services were not thus rewarded at once. Two years was the shortest period of service that could be found entitled to a pension. Under all the difficulties—for he felt that, from the sentimental lone of mind of gentlemen upon this subject, there were difficulties attending it—he would give it his best support. The measure was judiciously framed as to the amount and distribution of the money. There was liberality towards the Crown in affording means of rewarding services. There was economy towards the public as it abolished sinecure offices. He would assure the honourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Bankes), that his bill was carefully consulted in drawing up the present bills, and adopted so far as the objections he had already mentioned permitted; he, therefore, again congratulated he hon. gentle- 138 man on his success. He most anxiously hoped, and he would say for all his colleagues, that they most anxiously hoped, that this measure would meet with the approbation and support of that House.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
said, he had heard the hon. chairman, he had heard another hon. gentleman, and he had heard the noble lord, with every attention in his power, but he entertained a widely different opinion from them all on this subject. He must give the noble lord credit for good fortune, in having got the measure reduced into such a convenient form; but he could not congratulate the hon. gentleman near him, on the success of his bill; far less could he congratulate him on the satisfaction this measure would give to the country. It would afford no degree of satisfaction to any independent mind in that House, or to any intelligent individual in the nation. Least of all could he congratulate the House or the country upon the reasons by which the; noble lord supported the measure, and the degree of support he gave to it. Its recommendations were, that it did not in the slightest degree affect the influence of the Crown; that it effected no economy, though that was the most important consideration at the present period. What, then, were the motives that induced the noble lord to give it his support? Why, because the measure was adapted to the poisoned public mind. It was not by reason, by argument, by conviction, or any such means, that the poisoned mind of the public was to be cured. The noble lord thus went willingly along with prejudices which he represented as pernicious, and, gladly availed himself of the poisoned feeling that existed in the nation. He must, therefore, congratulate the noble lord; he was the only person in the nation entitled to congratulation. He was the more decidedly of this opinion, when he recollected the purposes for which the committee had been appointed. It was, if he had not misconceived the object, to ascertain the state of our income and expenditure, in order to recommend the best measures to be adopted in the frightful situation into which the country had fallen. At the first part of the session the noble lord hurried forward, so that he superseded on the occasion the right hon. chancellor of the exchequer, who was naturally expected to take the lead, to institute a committee to inquire into the circumstances of our situation, and to devise 139 some mode of relief. The estimates of the year were last session found inadequate to the permanent establishment proposed. He had himself, after a minute calculation, proved the deficiency to be upwards of 18 millions. This statement the chancellor of the exchequer did not venture to contradict; he did not venture to express any opinion of the incorrectness of such a representation. Now, then, came the investigation into the difficulties and resources of the country. For three months, excepting three days, had the committee been occupied with this subject, and the result of their long and painful investigation was this report. Here was their first born, after a long period of gestation and many throes! What, he would ask, had the House a right to expect after so long an investigation? First of all, a balance of our income and expenditure; so that we might be informed of our real situation, and be enabled to judge what reductions were indispensably necessary. Instead of that, we had a recommendation of the reduction of small sinecure offices, and, together with that, the army estimates. He supposed in the next report we should have the ordnance estimates, and, in a third report, the navy estimates. Was it this that the country, was it this that parliament, was it this that any reasonable person expected? Was the expectation of any one satisfied with this report? He would appeal to the noble lord if this was the measure proposed at the beginning of the session, at least the measure he led the House to expect as the result of the committee's investigation. He would ask the noble lord, if the committee was not appointed to inquire into the income and expenditure of the country, and not to spend their time in the way that they had done? They had been going over the ground that other committees had trod before them; and recommending paltry savings instead of executing the business intrusted to them. Other committees had been appointed for the purpose, and nearly in the words of the appointment of this committee; but the course they pursued was very different, and much more praise-worthy. They made extensive inquiries and luminous reports, and brought the situation of the country fully before the House. There was a committee appointed in 17S6, that produced a report in the course of a fortnight, and another in 1791, that brought the first fruits of its inquiries before the 140 House in a month. How different was the conduct and character of the present committee. It had now sat for three months, and all the evidence that it had given of its activity and usefulness was this paltry report.
What were the objects that it professed to have in view, and how, had it executed them? In comparing its conduct with its instructions, it was remarkable that it began at the latter end of its commission. It was appointed, in the words of the order, to "inquire into and state the income and expenditure of the United Kingdom, for the year ended the 5th of January, 1817, and also to consider and state the probable income and expenditure for the years ending the 5th of January, 1818, and the 5th of January 1819, and to report the same, together with their observations; and also to consider what farther measures may be adopted for the relief of the country from any part of the said expenditure." Forgetting that the former part of its instruction was the most important, this committee began with recommending the abolition of a few sinecures, which had already been inquired into by former commissions and embraced in a former bill of abolition.—He would not go into observations on all the offices mentioned in the report, but he could not help alluding to a few, and the reasons stated for dealing with them, as the committee had done. The first two sinecures that attracted notice were the two chief justiceships in Eyre, north and south of Trent; and the ground on which their abolition was recommended was very remarkable. The committee did not condescend to give a reason for their opinion and advice; they merely said, that the view which the committee have taken of those offices is, that they may be abolished. Conceiving that this absence of all reasons was a very good reason for abolishing the justiceships in Eyre, the committee proceeded to the exchequer, and reports that reasons of a like nature exist for abolishing the office of the auditor and the four tellers. It had been before stated in parliamentary reports, that the auditor ship of the exchequer was an important office, for discharging the duties of which it might be necessary to provide in some other way, if the office was abolished; but this committee did not hesitate about the matter. They decided that the justiceships in Eyre ought to be abolished without assigning a reason for 141 the measure; and then reported that, for the same reason, the office of auditor of exchequer ought no longer to remain. The wardenship of the Cinque-ports, and the governorship of the Isle of Wight, next came under the review of the committee, and were recommended to be abolished for the same reasons—that is, the view of the committee was, that they were to be abolished; this view composed the reason why the exchequer offices were to be abolished, and then this reason again became a rule for the rest [Hear, and a laugh!]. The committee in their investigations then proceeded to the second joint paymaster ship of the army, and recommended its abolition, because "it was wholly inefficient and useless with regard to all business connected with the army." Here at last there was something like a satisfactory reason given for the recommendation of the committee. The inutility to the public service of a place of emolument seemed to be sufficient ground for its discontinuance. Having found out a reason at last, however, they carried it too far, and recommended as a matter "of course," the abolition of the deputy paymaster-general. This did not by any means follow, for a right hon. friend of of his (Mr. Tierney) had lately recommended the abolition of a principal office, the third secretary of state, though he had no objections to the continuance of the deputy or acting officer. The committee had recommended the abolition of one of the joint paymasters-general because to one of them there was no duty to be performed; but they afterwards relaxed in the application of this principle, and retained two joint post-masters general for England and Ireland, for this good reason, "because this office did not appear to your committee to come under the general description of those offices which form the subject of this report." Surely the same reason which made it inexpedient to continue two joint paymasters-general of the army, applied equally to the abolition of one of the postmasters-general, where a greater saving might be effected with as slight a detriment to the public service.
Mr. Grant next adverted to the offices recommended to be abolished in Scotland. The office of keeper of the privy seal was to be continued at a salary of 1,000l.; but no reason was stated for this recommendation, except the pleasure of the committee. There could be no ground given 142 why this useless and expensive sinecure should be retained. Whatever reasons existed for abolishing the rest applied equally to this. He then came to the office of lord justice-general of Scotland, to the abolition of which an hon. gentleman had strongly objected; but he saw no reasons for his alarm, as the dignity was not to be lost, but united with its rank, title, and privileges, to the office of president of the court of session.—In going to Ireland he could not but admire the manner in which the sinecures there were disposed of. The offices of no less than four officers, namely, of the surveyor-general of crown lands, of the keeper of the records of Bermingham Tower, of the keeper of the records of parliament, and of the clerk of the-paper-office, were to be executed by a public building. "These offices," says the report "may be transferred to the building which has been constructed for the custody of the public records of Ireland." The building was here to supersede the sinecurists, by the recommendation of this economical committee.
then stated the sums that might be saved by carrying into effect the abolitions recommended by the committee, as compared with the expenditure to be incurred by the pensions to be created by the recommendation of the same committee. The whole savings, making allowance for the payment of deputies in offices where the deputy was to be continued, would amount to only 51,178l.; and in lieu of this means of rewarding public service, if it were taken away, the committee recommended the substitution of a pension list, which would cost 42,000l. Out of this small saving of 9,178l., how much, he would ask, would remain to the public after the remunerations that would be given by the treasury? Nothing would, in fact, be effected but a small saving in Ireland, and that would only take place after the death of 120 persons. Thus, the public would be benefitted by the measures advised by the committee 40,000l., at the expiration of the existing interests of 120 individuals. Allowing that they died out in 10 years, at the arrival of that period our situation would be so much bettered; but, in the mean time, at the end of the two first 9,000l. might be given in pensions; at the end of four years, 18,000l; and so on, till we arrived at 12 years from this, when the system would be in full operation, and when, consequcntly, 39;000l. or 41,000l. would be 143 given away in pensions. He would leave the country to judge of this species of economy.
Adverting to the question of the influence of the Crown, the hon. gentleman could not but say, that it had increased, and ought to be diminished. Its activity had been strikingly manifested within these few years. He was desirous not to see it farther extended. It was unfortunately not now confined to parliament, but was diffused over all parts of the country. He was not desirous of currying favour with the people by flattering their prejudices, or pretending to yield to their unreasonable demands, when their minds were poisoned, as had been the avowed object of the noble lord that night; but he would say, and he said it with perfect conviction, that he believed them generally right when no means were employed to delude them, and that their conclusions might be relied on as those of truth and justice, so far as their knowledge of facts extended. They had called for economy and retrenchment, and their voice ought to be attended to. They should be undeceived as to their situation and the arts employed to mislead them. They should be told that an incapable government, which had brought the country to the verge of national bankruptcy, did not deserve to regain their lost confidence and esteem by pretending to yield to their prayers, and instead of substantial, universal, and rigorous economy, claiming their praise for a paltry saving of a few thousands. Instead of entitling the administration to any credit, the present measure was, in his opinion, sufficient to excite a prejudice against it. Any man who looked at the finances of the country would see sufficient cause of alarm, which this paltry measure would do nothing to remove. He knew that there were reductions proposed: he knew that the estimates were curtailed, but still there was a great defalcation in the revenue to meet the expenditure. The right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer had last year taken in the ways and means, the surplus of the consolidated fund at three millions; but instead of realizing this surplus, there was this year a deficit of more than three millions and a half. The only disposable revenue for the service of the year was the land and malt tax, and other items, that would not amount to more than six millions. He need scarcely say any thing more to show the deplorable state of our finances, than 144 that the whole of the national income was not much more than sufficient to pay the interest of our debt without leaving any thing for the support of our establishment, or the payment of civil services; that our taxes could not be increased with any kind of exertion, and that the people were scarcely able to support their present burthens. Was he asking too much, therefore, when he besought them to pause and consider what they were doing?—when he asked the House not to intrust the examination of the public accounts with a committee who had yet proceeded not a step in their duty, and would only delude the country by bringing bills at the end of the session when the House was thin, and the measures could not be deliberately examined. He was not disposed to despair of the country if its government were in abler hands. This incapable government should know, that there have existed examples of a government successful in its foreign measures and apparently prosperous, which had yet the canker of decay in its vitals, and was fast hastening to ruin. A government whose expenditure was so disproportionate to its income as ours was at present, was in a state of great danger, and could only be freed from it by a radical change of measures. With reference to the present motion, he certainly would not oppose it; it was to him a matter of perfect indifference, and as such he was persuaded it would be felt by the people, whose delusion, according to the noble lord, it was destined to remove [Loud cheers from the opposition side of the House].
begged to state, by way of explanation on two points, that he never had said the influence of the Crown had not increased. His argument merely was, that it had not increased beyond the strict necessity of salutary influence; and again, that a necessary measure of economy, which three years ago was warmly supported by the hon. gentlemen opposite, could not be deserving of their opposition at the present time, when the urgency for its adoption was considerably increased.
§ Mr. Huskisson
was at a loss to see how those who supported the former sinecure bills could oppose this. He thought the hon. and learned gentleman whose speech was so cheered by his friends on the other side, and who now, for the first time after the Easter recess, came to attend his duty in parliament, was not just the person to come forward and accuse the committee 145 of slowness in their motions, or negligence in their functions. It was, however, probably a wise policy to put the hon. and learned gentleman in the front rank on this occasion: it was not probably convenient for his friends, who were present on former discussions, to occupy the ground which he now assumed. He remembered when a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Tierney), whom he did not now see in his place, recommended the very thing which his hon. and learned friend had now reprobated, and expressed a fear that that would be done which his hon. friend now censured the committee for not doing. He recollected when that right hon. gentleman said, that a finance committee on such an occasion would be of no use—it would merely attend to some matters of figures, and that the chancellor of the exchequer would come to it with papers and accounts in his pockets, which would not fail to receive its sanction. That right hon. gentleman therefore recommended the committee to begin with useless offices; to look into them and abolish them first. He had not only done so, but he had been seconded by the voice of the country. Some hundreds of petitions were laid on the table of the House, the burthen of whose complaint was sinecures. To them were traced all the calamities which the country endured, and all the corruption which the petitioners reprobated. The public mind had been poisoned on the subject of sinecures. The committee, therefore, to counteract this delusion, began with sinecures. They did not enter into all the details of office, because former committees had by their reports rendered this unnecessary. They did not consider the history of those places; for instance, what were their former duties, why the duties had fallen off, or the emoluments become disproportioned to the payment of the labour they enjoined. The hon. and learned gentleman had criticized the report in a style of pleasantry which he thought entirely misapplied. The hon. and learned gentleman showed that he had not much studied the report to which he referred, otherwise he would have seen the irrelevancy of his observations. Had the hon. and learned gentleman quoted the report fairly, some of his criticisms would have been spared. Instead of stopping at the words, "the view that your committee have taken of the two offices of chief justice in Eyre is, that they may be abolished," he should 146 have read on, and he would have found it added, "without detriment to the public service." The whimsical reason given for abolishing four offices in Ireland was produced by a similar omission in the quotation. The officers were not to be "transferred to the building;" but the documents that were under charge of these officers, by which their places might be abolished. The hon. and learned gentleman had separated the offices of England, Ireland, Scotland, and the colonies, whereas, in speaking of the saving to the public, they should have been mentioned together, and the amount of their salaries given. He would mention, that in Scotland the saving would be greater by the provisions of this report, than by the bill of his hon. friend (Mr. Bankes). The officers were to be reduced as much as they could be, consistently with a due regard to that of the Union. It appeared more consistent to join the title and privileges of the lord justice general to the office of lord president than to consolidate it with that of king's remembrancer, as was proposed by his hon. friend's bill. The report was important, not so much from its saving to the public purse, but its tendency to remove public prejudices, and to counteract the malignant poison which had been infused into the public mind. It surprised him how any one who advocated popular wishes or feeling could oppose it. The measures it recommended were more restrictive than had ever appeared in any former bill. Formerly, the pension list might be carried to 150,000l.: now, by the provisions of this report, it could not exceed 42,000l. Thus restricted was the principle of profusion and waste. Never did any former plan so limit the means of remuneration to public services. He would not enter into the general subject of finance. The documents could not come into the hands of the committee till the 5th of April, and consequently the deficiency of the consolidated fund this year could not previously have, become a subject of attention. What purpose would it have answered for the committee to have sent in a report filled with accounts of the public debt and fixed charges, which could be as well learned from documents on the table as from these reports? They were examining the estimates where a saving might be made, convinced that nothing could have been gained by a bare statement of revenue. The army estimates would be before the House on Wednes- 147 day, and by them it would be seen how the committee had been employed. It had been said by the hon. and learned gentleman that the estimates last year were said by ministers to be calculated on a peace scale. This he denied: it had always been denied on the side of the House to which he belonged, as often as it had been repeated on the other. Our expenditure and income could not be stated till the estimates were examined; so that the conduct of the committee was not so preposterous as the hon. and learned gentleman wished to make it appear.
§ Sir John Newport
complained, that the select committee had sat from the 8th of February to the 27th of March, and had done nothing more at last than copy the provisions of a bill introduced by the hon. member for Corfe Castle. The suggestion itself, of one paymaster as sufficient for Ireland, was to be found amongst the recommendations of a former parliamentary commission. Why had not the former parliamentary report, with respect to public offices in Ireland, been honoured with the notice of the committee? That report was drawn up on the spot, with all the advantages of local knowledge; and it was the duty of the committee, if they did not think proper to adopt it, to show in what points it was defective or erroneous. He was satisfied that the pension-list of the three countries were quite adequate to the remuneration of all the ordinary services of government, especially in this time of general distress, and for every purpose, except those special cases of merit which ought to be brought under the consideration of parliament.
was desirous of calling the attention of the committee to one topic which had scarcely been at all touched upon In the course of the discussion—he alluded to the subject of colonial offices. Although two principles had been acknowledged as applicable to the regulations of all such appointments, they had unfortunately not been carried into practice. In the colony of Demerara, where, under the Dutch government, no sinecures were tolerated, and residence was a necessary condition of office, we had established a different principle, and created a sinecure under the name of the vendue master. A variety of emoluments, which poured into the colonial treasury, and would have been sufficient to defray all the expenses of the civil government, had been given to a 148 gentleman who had never visited the settlement. A registrarship and receivership-general had also been created, and the appointment given to a right hon. gentleman, who, far from thinking his profits for doing nothing adequate to his merits, had twice raised his demands on the deputy who fulfilled the duties, and who had intimated that he should, in consequence, be obliged to raise his fees upon the colony. What did not exceed 200l. or 300l. under the former government, now cost this country between 2,000l. and 3,000l. per annum. These abuses attracted great attention in a small community, and had a strong tendency to produce discontent, and to retard the progress of improvement. To protect the interests of the colonies, and to ameliorate the condition of their inhabitants, it was of importance that men of rank and character should be appointed to the chief situations, that European principles should be constantly infused, and that personal residence should be enforced. The greatest advantage which could be conferred upon them would be, to give them good masters and a good example.
expressed his objection to the abolition of offices of great antiquity in the exchequer, which were always held by persons of high rank, to whom the deputies, who discharged the duties, were bound in great pecuniary responsibility.
rose only for the purpose of noticing an allusion made by an hon. member to a particular transaction between a principal and deputy, which when the proper time should arrive, he doubted not would receive an explanation that must satisfy every honourable mind; but he thought it very unfair to intrude these individual cases in a debate upon general principles; and the more unfair, because such cases could not possibly exist any longer, a bill having passed three years-ago to compel colonial officers to reside abroad.
in explanation, observed, that he knew not how any argument was to be maintained without particular facts to support it. With regard to the act which had passed for enforcing residence in the colonies, it could only apply to the old colonies, and not to the conquered settlements, in which the offices were necessarily temporary.
§ Lord Milton
said, his objection to the present report was not that it went too far, but that it did not go far enough, and was not founded upon any sound or intelligi- 149 ble principle. He thought the committee might have accomplished more, when he considered the former reports which they had before them, and the light they might have derived from Mr. Burke's celebrated speech upon economical reform. Mr. Burke's plan of retrenchment, in 1782, went much farther than he could induce the House to go along with him; and had he been less thwarted by his opponents on that occasion in his design, much public discontent and irritation would have been prevented. The remarkably slow pace at which the committee had moved, seemed to him to indicate a disposition to do as little as possible, but to do just enough to acquire a little popularity. When the same reforms were formerly proposed by an hon. member, they were opposed by the members of this committee. He blamed them for having in their first report made no distinct statement of the points to which they intended subsequently to direct their attention, not indeed in detail, which would have been impossible, but with regard to all the general branches of the expenditure. He made this observation with a particular reference to the diplomacy of the country, which appeared to him to hare increased to an enormous amount. This part of the public service for Germany amounted in 1792 to 17,000l, and for the year 1815 to no less than 38,000l. He concurred entirely in the propriety of abolishing the few offices pointed out as no longer necessary, and had only to regret that the committee had done so little, and had confined their attention to scraps and fragments of preceding inquiries.
Mr. D. Gilbert
denied that he was the organ of the government, and stated that he had, in a former instance, supported the same principle when it proceeded from the hon. member for Corfe Castle.
§ Mr. Tierney
assured the committee that he wished to address them for a very short time indeed upon a subject which had been so fully and ably argued by his hon. and learned friend. When he said he believed that his hon. and learned friend's observations had received no answer, he acknowledged that he was not in the House during the speech of a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Huskisson). As, however, the hon. gentlemen on the other side seemed to think it a very triumphant answer, he would now afford them an opportunity of repeating it. His opinion of this committee he had already stated, and he would 150 again describe it to be nothing but a screen between economy and the public expenditure. It was now three months since the committee had been appointed, and if economy had been the real object in view, there was not one word of this report which would be at all conducive to that end. It embraced not any one new topic, except the suggestion as to pensions; and this might have been made on the first day of their sitting, as well as at the expiration of two months. He Was a member of a former finance committee, and had attended one day, when he found the hon. gentleman below him (Mr. Bankes) diligently employed in pressing the principles now recommended by this report, namely, that all offices in which there was no duty to be performed should be abolished; that where all the duties were discharged by deputy, the office of the principal should be also abolished; and that those offices in which the service and the emoluments were disproportionate should be regulated. The noble lord opposite, refused to hear a word of it; he would listen to no argument, and give no reasons, lest, as he said, it should endanger the measure in the other House. The noble lord succeeded in a division of sixteen against three; and he (Mr. Tierney) refused to attend any longer, because he was sure that he should serve his country better by urging his opinions in that House.—It was now proposed to introduce several bills upon the foundation of this report, but what hope could they entertain that the Lords would agree to them separately, and without having the entire subject at once before them? How could they be expected to agree in the first instance to a bill of abolition, without knowing any thing of the bill to come afterwards, giving to the Crown certain compensations for this loss in the means of rewarding public services? Suppose the Lords were to appoint a committee of their own to inquire into this subject, the House would be completely turned round, and the whole session entirely lost. He would say nothing more than had been already said as to the bad manner in which the report was drawn; but, with all its defects, he heartily agreed with most of its suggestions; and he thought the country under great obligations [here the chancellor of the exchequer bowed]: the right hon. gentleman need not bow, he was not alluding to him; he gave no credit whatever to administration for the work, but he 151 thought the public was much indebted to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes), who had recommended all these measures five years ago. His hon. friend behind him (Mr. Fremantle) had disapproved of some of the alterations on the ground of the inconvenience they would occasion to the course of exchequer business. It was true, as had been said, that these offices were of great antiquity, that they were filled by men of high rank, and sometimes abused to the purposes of a gross job; but, with regard to the importance of their being held by such and such individuals, the practice not long since was, to give them to children; and we were to trust to providence that they would grow up fit and qualified for their appointments; and if this hope was not realized, we were content to let them laugh at us and point to their patent places. When the responsibility of the acting deputy to his principal was referred to, he would ask where was the difficulty in the agent furnishing the same securities to the government at once? The committee knew that the auditorship of the exchequer was now held by perhaps the ablest man in the country; and yet an act of parliament had once been passed to enable him to execute its duties by deputy, on account of its incompatibility with the office of first lord of the treasury.—The House would do well to reflect to what an extent the pension-list was now carried. The amount of the pensions for England and Scotland, independently of those founded on parliamentary grants, was about 250,000l. This was a great burthen on the country, and one to which the attention of the House ought to be seriously directed. Instead of 40,000l. which had been proposed as a reduction, he thought the saving in that respect might be very easily carried to the extent of 80,000l. He had no wish to deprive the Crown of its necessary patronage; but when he saw numerous pensions granted, for which no public service had been performed, he could not help concluding that they were employed as the instruments of dirty, pitiful purposes of jobbing. The House ought to have all the pension-lists on the table. With regard to the abolition of sinecures, proposed by the report, though be must condemn the manner of the thing, it had his approbation in substance. That the committee should propose to abolish sinecures was perfectly consistent with their duty; but upon what ground did they propose compensations? They will 152 say that they imitated the sinecure committee; but that committee was instructed by the House to consider what offices could be abolished, and what compensation ought to be given on account of such abolition. No such instruction had been given to the present committee, and of course they had very improperly taken, this part of the business on themselves. In the bill brought in by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes) it was proposed to abolish the office of second paymaster-general. The present committee admit that 2,000l. ought not to be paid for nothing; but then they would attach the remuneration to another office, that of the vice-president of the board of trade. He did not know what were now the mighty labours of those offices; but in lord Grenville's administration, the present marquis of Buckingham discharged the duties both of the paymaster and president. Why might not the president ship of the board of trade be attached to some other office, as, for instance, that of master of the Mint? It did not appear that the duties of the board of trade were extremely oppressive. The president was now abroad in Holland; in a trading country to be sure, but he was not employed in superintending the trade of this. It had been assumed that there ought to be two postmasters-general, because of the great responsibility of that office; but the fact was, that the duties had always been discharged by one, so that the country was, under this head, defrauded of 2,500l. a year. This was the spirit in which the committee had proceeded. It had been said that the consideration of the public income and expenditure was foreign to the object of the committee; but he was of a different opinion. He would maintain the contrary proposition as broadly as his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Grant), who had been censured for stating it. The great object of the committee was, to see what savings could be made in order to diminish the expenditure. A right hon. gentleman had said, that by-and-by the army estimates would be before the House; next would come the navy estimates, which would be followed by the miscellaneous services, and so forth; and then, he said, the House would see the total amount of the demands for the public service. All this he believed was very true; but then, when was it to be done? by the month of June or July, when it would be too late to enter into the full consideration of the subject: and 153 yet nothing was more urgent than that the attention of the House should be directed to that question; for looking at all the receipts of last year as a rule for estimating those of the present, and taking the expenditure at the estimate of the noble lord (Castlereagh), there will be a deficiency to be made good of from fourteen to sixteen millions. How was this to be accomplished? The chancellor of the exchequer would not do his duty if he attempted to tide it over this year as he had former years. With so frightful a prospect before them, not a moment ought to be lost. The House ought to be informed of the measures to which the right hon. gentleman proposed to resort in so extraordinary a crisis. He knew of no resources that the treasury had except the 1,300,000l., arrears of the property-tax, which the right hon. gentleman would not find it easy to collect. He would not surely again hazard the boast of a surplus from the consolidated fund. Indeed instead of the three millions he asserted he had to receive from that source, it was now confessed that he would have 600,000l. to pay. These certainly were fit topics for the investigation of the committee. The right hon. gentleman seemed to think, that every thing went well with him because the stocks had risen. It was true, that there had been a rise, assisted by statements of the chancellor of the exchequer in that House, and of bank directors, jews, and others out of it, who had an interest in making the funds look upwards, as they called it; but no solid relief to the country could be derived from this rise. The right hon. gentleman had declared, that he would fund no exchequer bills, and that he would have no loan; but to some sort of borrowing or another he must inevitably be compelled to resort. Did he expect the stocks to keep up next year? That was possible, but it was also possible that those gentlemen who had now an interest in making the stocks rise might next year have an interest in making them fall. For his part, he was of opinion, that the funds would continue to rise for a time; but that when the right hon. gentleman came to settle his accounts, the fall would be rapid.—There was one topic more with respect to the finances, on which he must take the liberty of saying a few words. Three or four times in his hearing, but when indisposition did not prompt him to address the House, the noble lord had asserted, that he (Mr. T.) had given it as his opi- 154 nion that the peace establishment of the army could not be reduced below 19 millions, and then the noble lord, turning round to his friends for applause, entered into a flourish which amounted to this—"You see what an excellent frugal administration you have got: an administration which has reduced the peace establishment to 18 millions instead of the nineteen, below which it was asserted it could not be carried." Now all that was very fine on the part of the noble lord; only, unfortunately, he had said no such thing. On the occasion alluded to, he had assumed certain data. He had supposed that the public revenue was to be the same as last year; that various heads of expenditure would also be the same; and that the peace establishment would be 19 millions, but he had never said that it ought not to be carried below that sum. On the contrary, he had declared, and now again declared, that if it was not possible to carry the reduction much farther, the country was in a state of bankruptcy. He would conclude by repeating, that he agreed in substance with the measures proposed by the committee, though he must say, that he never knew a committee appointed by that House which had less efficiently discharged its duty to the country.
The resolution was agreed to. After which Mr. Gilbert moved several other resolutions for the purpose of carrying into effect the objects of the report. The House having resumed, leave was given to bring in the several bills. On the motion for bringing in the services compensation bill,
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that he should oppose the bill in all its stages, as it proposed to introduce a new and dangerous principle into the constitution. It was the first time it had ever been attempted to recognize this system of pecuniary reward, and to declare that men were to look to high offices in the state for mercenary consideration.
§ Lord Milton
agreed in opinion with his hon. and learned friend. The remuneration proposed was to depend on continuance in office, and was therefore to be a temptation to political profligacy. If persons were thus to be induced to hold places for the sake of political influence, to go on with the loss of honour and character, they could not be respected by the public, and their continuance in (office would be a curse to the country. Nothing could be more injurious to the public wel- 155 fare than a measure which should make the holding of office a mere mercenary object, and on that ground he should consider it his duty to oppose the bill.
protested against the principle laid down by the two last speakers. Many men were drawn from profitable professions, and induced to accept public employments, and it would be very hard if there were no means of compensating them for the loss they might sustain by changes over which they could have no control. But the principle of the proposed bill was not new; it was recognized in the bill which he had introduced for granting remuneration to persons who had held high offices in the government, and which both the noble lord and the hon. and learned gentleman had supported.
§ Lord Milton
said, it was possible that he might have supported the measure to which the hon. gentleman had alluded; but if he had done so, he must now say that he had altered his opinion. When he saw a good reason for changing his opinion, he would never be ashamed to own it. He was not, however, perfectly certain that the bill now produced was the same as the former. The principle of this bill was, that the reward was to depend on, continuance in office, and in that respect he conceived it differed from the other.
§ Mr. Brougham
was in parliament in 1812, when the bill alluded to was brought in, but no separate measure of compensation was then proposed. The object of the bill was the abolition of certain offices, but it contained a clause of compensation to the holders. He, for his part, was content at that time to let the bill pass with the clause rather than lose the great object of abolishing sinecures; he was obliged to agree to the one for the sake of the other; but the case was very different when a distinct bill for compensation was introduced; a shape in which the proposition had never before been submitted to parliament.
had voted for the bill of 1812, and well recollected that that bill had for its object not only the abolishing of offices, but the granting of compensations. The hon. and learned gentleman had certainly a right to oppose the bill now moved for, and to change his opinion when he pleased; but no artifice of eloquence could reconcile his present with his past opinion, or give him a claim to consistency on this question. The noble lord had acted with more candour. He had with 156 a proper manliness declared, that he had changed his sentiments. The hon. and learned gentleman might also change his, but he had no right to characterize the present measure as something new and dangerous.
did not think that any artifice of eloquence was necessary to prove the consistency of his hon. and learned friend. The bill contained two objects, and all that he had said was, that when they were presented together, he was willing to take the one for the sake of the other. The case was very different when the objectionable proposition was brought forward in a distinct shape. It was, however, very natural that the right hon. gentleman should be an advocate for the right of changing opinion. He knew he had changed his own in a very signal manner—changed it in order to accept office under a noble lord, whom he had intrigued against, with the view of expelling him from the cabinet, on the ground that he was unfit for his high office. It was of course, no way surprising that the right hon. gentleman should be friendly to changes of opinion. He had already made some remarkable change, and a day perhaps was not far distant when he might find it convenient to change again. For his own part, his opinion on this question had undergone no change. He was still for abolishing sinecures, and accompanying the abolitions with compensations. There was not only a great prejudice against sinecures, but also against those who held them, and they could not be got rid of too soon. With regard to pensions, however, the public could never be deceived as to the amount of the emoluments received by those on whom they were bestowed. The state of the pensions ought to be always clearly before the public; and with that view he intended soon to move for lists of all the pensions granted in England, Ireland, and Scotland. It would then be distinctly seen, to what extent the patronage of the Crown went with respect to pensions.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
thought the House must acknowledge that the right hon. gentleman had defended his own consistency much better than that of the hon. and learned gentleman near him; but it was extraordinary that in attempting that defence, he should find it necessary to make an attack on his right hon. friend (Mr. Canning). The hon. and learned gentleman had singularly 157 failed in his part of the defence; for if he disapproved of the clause for compensation in the former bill, he might have moved to separate the two objects in the committee, and thus have saved his consistency. With regard to the motions of which the right hon. gentleman had given notice, he had no disposition to object to them. It was the wish of government to give every information on the pension-lists and on all subjects connected with the expenditure of the country. In reply to what had fallen from an hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Grant), he had to observe that he had not entered into the financial situation of the country, because he expected that in a very few days an opportunity would arise for the full consideration of that subject. He should, not many days hence, bring under the notice of the House, a proposition relative to an alteration in the consolidated fund, in doing which he would have to take a detailed view of the finances.
§ Mr. W. Smith
maintained, that the epithets, miserable and unmanly, were not applicable to the conduct of the hon. and and learned gentleman or to any of his hon. friends. He did not feel at all disposed to shrink from any opinion he had formerly expressed, and upon that point he felt exactly as his hon. friends had expressed themselves. He who acted with straight forward uprightness, applying his talents, under particular circumstances, and at particular times, for the public good, could not merit such opprobrious terms as miserable and unmanly. In 1812 he had voted both for the abolition of sinecures and for the clause of compensation, because he hoped, by a smaller evil, to attain a greater good; and in doing so, and in avowing it, he feared the censure of no man, however course might be the expressions he condescended to employ.
was not a little surprised, upon a question of consistency, to hear a gentleman speak who a few days ago had most unjustifiably brought a charge of the same kind against a private individual,* founded merely upon an anonymous publication. It was singular, too, that he should be the man to complain of the use of coarse epithets, when he had himself branded the same individual, who had no means of personal vindication, as guilty of the basest and most corrupt inconsistency. It was indeed astonishing that he, of all*Mr. Southey; see Vol. xxxv. p. 1090.158 men, should stand up as the champion of consistency, and as the censor of recrimination. Hon. gentlemen on the other side might, perhaps, on some future occasion, be able to persuade the House that their conduct, in this respect, had been irreproachable; but they would certainly fail in showing that there was any thing monstrous or novel in the course of proceeding now recommended; for he held in his hand the bill of 1812, in which they concurred, and the preamble of which distinctly recognized the principle of pecuniary remuneration, as just, wise, and honourable.
§ Mr. W. Smith
said, that after what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman who last spoke, the House would not refuse him the opportunity of saying a few words. The reason why the right hon. gentleman had now revived the subject must have been, that he was not present on the former evening; for, had he been in the House, he could not have been guilty of the enormous, the extravagant, misrepresentation with which he had now to charge him. The right hon. gentleman had too much good sense and too much candour to have attributed to him the expressions that had now been employed, when, in truth, what he had said in the previous debate, was merely levelled at the unwarrantable harsh censures applied by a person who found it convenient to change his political opinions, to those who had not thought fit to follow his example. At least, this part of the complaint had not been answered either by the right hon. gentleman or by the individual whose cause he now, for the first time, stood forward to advocate.
§ Mr. Lamb
denied that he or his friends could fairly be accused of inconsistency. He objected to this measure, because it definitively fixed the reward of services: whereas, he thought a certain sum ought to be placed at the discretion of the Crown, to be disposed of in that way in the proportions that might be deemed proper.
§ Leave was given to bring in the several bills.