§ The dropped order for the appointment of the Finance Committee being read,
said, that in calling the attention of the House to this subject, he did not think it necessary to go over the same arguments which had been adduced when the committee was first constituted. The House would see the importance of losing no time in reviving that committee, as to which, he might say, that whatever difference there was respecting any particular measure which they might have recommended, there could be no difference as to its activity and fidelity. If some doubted whether the course of their investigations had been in the true spirit which parliament and the country expected from them, there could be but one opinion as to the extent of their inquiries, and the importance of the objects to which they had turned their attention. The committee had drawn up six extensive and laborious reports respecting the official establishments, the official reductions which were advisable, and the modifications which might be advantageous to the public service. Though the committee had not imagined that the House had devolved to it the consideration as to what precise establishments would be necessary in the great branches of the public service—the army, the navy, and the ordnance; yet they had exhibited so many and so important views on that subject, that when the House hereafter discussed those subjects, their decision would be much more easy. The committee also had made inquiries on the great subject of the general revenue and expenditure of the country, and how far they were likely to square and meet. Other objects still remained for the consideration of the committee, and he should therefore move that it be revived. He should not think it necessary to go into a detail of the measures 129 which his majesty's ministers had adopted in consequence of that report, but it would be the duty of ministers, immediately on the re-appointment of that committee, to give a full account of what they had done, on its recommendation. It would be then shown that the earliest attention had been paid to their suggestions, and that all their recommendations of particular measures of economy had been followed, except in particular instances, in which they would lay all the grounds before them on which they had acted. When he had first proposed the formation of this committee he had observed, that a committee to inquire into so large a subject as the income and expenditure of the country after so long a war, would probably go on to a second, or perhaps a third year, before it would conclude its inquiries, as it could not till that time be known what the permanent income and expenditure was likely to be, and what sum might be expended, not only without running in debt, but with the establishment of a fund for the reduction of that debt. His hon. friend the member for Bramber had (he thought unfairly) taken up this admission, and concluded that, because the inquiries were to be so long continued, nothing was to be done in the mean time. It would be seen that this inference was erroneous, and that the country had received substantial relief in point of sound economy. He should not wander to a statement of all that had been done, but he should mention that a reduction had been made in the army, especially in the amount of our force in Ireland. He was happy to say, that when parliament on a late occasion had placed confidence in the tranquillity of that part of the empire, it had not been disappointed. No government had less reason to fear local difficulties than the government of that island; and during the late time of distress, the spirit of charity and benevolence that had prevailed, and the exertions of the higher for the benefit of the lower classes, had drawn closer the bond of social attachment between them. It was interesting to observe how that country had passed through the late time of distress, without the obligation of granting relief being imposed by law. When the estimates were laid before the House, the increase and decrease of expense, and the reasons for each, might easily at one view be pointed out. He should now move to re-appoint the committee of last 130 year. He should propose the same names, as well on account of their respectability, as on account of the great addition to their experience.—The noble lord then moved, "That a select committee be appointed, to inquire into and state the income and expenditure of the united kingdom for the year ended the 5th of January 1818; and also to consider and state the probable income and expenditure, so far as the same can now be estimated, for the years ending the 5th of January l819and the 5th of January 1820 respectively, and to report the same, together with their observations thereupon, to the House; and also to consider what farther measures may be adopted for the relief of the country from any part of the said expenditure without detriment to the public interests."
§ The motion was agreed to, and the following members appointed; viz. lord Castlereagh, Mr. Bankes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, lord Binning, Mr. Bootle Wilbraham, Mr. Peel, Mr. Hart Davis, sir George Clerk, Mr. Frankland Lewis, Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Tremayne, Mr. Nicolson Calvert, Mr. Davies Gilbert, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Holford, Mr. Littleton, lord Clive, Mr. Gooch, sir Thomas Acland, Mr. Robert Smith, and Mr. Cal-craft.
said, that aright hon. gentleman, of great knowledge in matters of finance, was placed on the committee of last year, but had retired on account of the ill state of his health. It was now happily restored; and he suggested that he should be placed on the committee.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, that though he was somewhat recovered, he was still in too weak a state to attend to business in the morning and in the evening also. He begged, therefore, to be excused from serving on the committee.
said, that the manner in which the committee had proceeded was, to invite the attendance of any member of the House, who had peculiar information in any particular branch of public business. This was the case with the heads of official departments, and he did not think a better course could be pursued this session. He should be unwilling that any alteration should be made in the names on that committee, on account of their intimate acquaintance with the former part of the investigation; but the occasional assistance of any other member might be obtained.
could not see how the right 131 hon. gentleman could be desired to give his attendance in that manner. If he did, he would only be an idle observer, as he would not have an effective voice.