HC Deb 02 June 1819 vol 40 cc823-37

The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply, to which the Navy Estimates were referred,

Sir G. Warrender

rose to move the Navy Estimates. Upon this subject the hon. baronet said he should think it unnecessary, if not presumptuous on his part, to make any speech, or to enter into any detail, as the question had already been so amply discussed, while all the details connected with it were so perspicuously stated, in the report of the finance committee; therefore, he felt that it rather became him to wait for. any observations which might be made on the other side of the House, and to which he would endeavour to submit a satisfactory reply. The hon. baronet, after stating, that at no former period was our navy in a condition of greater efficiency than at the present moment, concluded with moving, "That a sum not exceeding 2,483,013l. 12s. 7d. be granted to his majesty for the ordinary establishment of the navy for the year 1819."

Mr. Calcraft

expressed his surprise at the course pursued by the hon. baronet, particularly in referring to, and wholly relying upon, the statements of the finance committee. Was it, from the observation. of the hon. baronet, to be taken for granted that he adopted the recommendation of the finance committee? That committee: had recommended the suppression of the Naval Asylum; and was it to be understood,; that the; hon. baronet and his colleagues meant to act upon that suggestion? He was sorry the hon. baronet, had. declined to favour the House with any explanation on this, as well as on every other point of: detail; for he was one of those who thoughts so highly of the utility and character of the Naval Asylum, that he could not, without pain and astonishment, contemplate the idea of suppressing such a meritorious institution. While, indeed, the Military Asylum was so liberally provided for, without any objection or comment on the part of the finance committee, the recommendation of that committee, to suppress the Naval Asylum, must surprise the judgment and revolt the feeling; of every considerate man in the country. He trusted, therefore, that ministers would not attempt to carry that recommendation into effect, notwithstanding their extreme dispositions to economy, with regard to every thing that related to the navy. This was no doubt a branch of the public service in which ministers evinced a readiness to practise the most niggardly economy—to pare down and; reduce in every direction; But that was a description of economy or parsimony of which he could by no means approve; on the contrary, he would rather be an advocate for the vote of a greater number of men for the service of the navy than was at present proposed. According to this proposition, only 20,000 men, it seemed, were to be voted altogether; that is, 14,000 seamen, and 6,000 marines; and considering the number voted in former years of peace, he was of opinion that this number was much too small; for it was his desire to maintain the navy in; its proper rank and elevation, and therefore he witnessed with great regret the disposition manifested of late years to destroy the due equality and relation between our military and naval force. At other periods of peace, the number of men voted for the army and navy were in general pretty nearly on a par, the superiority being mostly on the side of the navy. But how very materially different was the case at present, when no less than 100,000 men were voted for the army, while only 20,000 were voted for the navy! This was a departure from our long established policy which he most sincerely deplored, as it implied a disposition to abandon our old system of defence, and rather to look for protection through the power of an army, than to rely upon those good old wooden walls, which had for ages proved our best and safest guardian. There were many points, as well as that respecting the Naval Asylum, with regard to which he was surprised to find that the hon. baronet had offered no explanation. Nothing was said as to retrenchment in the official expenses of the Admiralty, or in any other department. Upon the much called for reduction of the two lay, and unnecessary, lords of the Admiralty, he did not then mean to make any comment, as he understood it to be the intention of his hon. friend (sir M. W. Ridley) again to bring that subject before the House. But as the present was an occasion upon which it was quite proper to advert to the general state of our finances, he must express his surprise, that while it was said that new taxes were about to be proposed, not a word was heard about reduction or retrenchment in any quarter. Every useless place, every dispensable appointment should be set aside, and every practicable retrenchment should be made, before any new impost whatever was brought forward. Before, indeed, any additional tax was even talked of, it was the duty of parliament and government to show that they duly considered the principles, the feelings, and the purses of the people [Hear, hear!]. The people were universally anxious for the support and encouragement of the navy; but a very different disposition was known to prevail elsewhere; for while every degree of protection and favour was afforded to the army—while every possible mark of distinction and advantageous mode of promotion were conferred upon the members of that body, the navy was slighted, nay, almost frowned upon. This system he regarded as a most unfortunate omen for the country, while it was decidedly in contradiction to the ancient practice of our government.—But to return to the state and conduct of our finances: he begged to repeat his determined objection to the idea of imposing any new tax to meet a large loan, or any other purpose, until every possible redaction was made in the public expenditure; and he could discover the means of making various reductions in sundry accounts now before the House. These accounts, then, ought to be most minutely scrutinized by the House; and among other items, it would be seen that there was a great disproportion between the expense of managing the collection of the revenue in different departments. He was told, that a proposition had been made to the chancellor of the exchequer, for correcting that disproportion to a considerable extent. This proposition proceeded, as he understood, from the board of excise, by which the revenue of that department was collected, at the rate of 5l. 15s. 6d. per cent, while-the collection of that of the customs cost no less than 11l. 13s. 9d. per cent; and, according to his information, the board of excise suggested the means of reducing the expense of the latter to their own standard. By the adoption of this plan, he was assured that a saving of no less than half a million annually would accrue to the nation. He would ask, then, whether such a plan had been proposed to the right hon. gentleman, and whether it was meant to carry it into effect? But if so great a disproportion could be corrected in the collection of the revenue in England, what was to be thought of applying the principle to Ireland, where the revenue of the customs was collected at an expense of no less than 21l. 18s. per cent? The saving, then, which would result from the application of such a plan to Ireland must be very considerable indeed. He trusted, therefore, that this plan would be fully investigated, and that measures would be taken to carry it into effect. There were many other points of detail, into which he did not mean to enter on this occasion, as he had an opportunity of discussing them in a committee elsewhere, and as he should probably bring the subject again before the House.

Sir G. Warrender

adverting to the complaint of the hon. gentleman as to his abstinence from details which were already before the House in the report of the finance committee, observed, that the hon. gentleman was in error, if he supposed that there was any intention whatever to suppress the Naval Asylum. On the contrary, the sum of 14,000l. for the support of that institution, was included in the proposition then before the committee; therefore that establishment was to be maintained, whatever modification of its management, or reduction of its expense might be made, pursuant to the recommendation of the finance committee. The hon. gentleman had also complained of the amount of the vote now proposed for the service of the navy; but to this complaint he should answer, that those at the head of the naval department, and who were responsible for its proper management, were of opinion that the number of men proposed were quite sufficient, and he could add, for the satisfaction of the House and the country, that the navy, so far from being allowed to go into any thing like decay under its present direction, was in such a state, that upon any occasion it might be promptly put into a condition of the utmost vigour and efficiency. As to the relative amount of the navy and army, it should be recollected, that the case of each was very materially different, as the former could be so expeditiously and easily raised to any amount required, while to recruit and discipline the latter would necessarily be attended with great difficulty and delay. Besides, it was to be considered) that with respect to the navy there was no analogy between the present and any former peace, as the fleets of all Europe were now so reduced in consequence of the gallant conduct of our navy The necessity of a large vote for the navy was also diminished at present, in consequence of the various improvements made in our ports and dock-yards, as well as in our roadsteads, during the late war. But the main point was that of which he could confidently assure the House, and for which the Admiralty was fully responsible, namely, that in the event of any new war, the navy could be speedily put in a state for vigorous and efficient action.

Sir M. W. Ridley

agreed with the hon. baronet, that the lords of the admiralty were responsible for the condition of the navy, and he was truly glad to learn, that it was not intended to act upon the recommendation of the finance committee by putting down the Naval Asylum, as he firmly believed that there was no establishment in the country, which the people, whatever might be the slate of their circumstances, would be more ready to support. It would, indeed, be surprising, if, while 39,000l. were voted for the Military Asylum, any man of consideration or common feeling could be found to object to the grant of 14,000l. for the support of such an establishment. Therefore, the recommendation of the finance committee to suppress this institution was really matter of astonishment. But there were some observations in the report of that committee upon this subject, which were truly ludicrous, and particularly those recommending the dismissal of the French teachers from the Asylum, lest, forsooth, the knowledge of a foreign language should dispose the pupils to quit the service of their country. Adverting to the slate of our finances, the hon. baronet observed, that if every useless office were done away, and every practicable retrenchment made in the public expenditure, he would be one of the last to oppose any new taxes that might be required for the public service. But until such proofs of economy were afforded by government, he should feel it his duty to resist the imposition of a single shilling of additional taxation. Before he could consent to such taxation, he must, for instance, call for the abolition of those totally useless offices, the two lay lords of the Admiralty. He also thought there was no occasion, in time of peace, for the maintenance of two secretaries at the board of admiralty. The services of the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Croker) being unnecessary in that House, as was evident from his absence for a great part of the session, he might entirely direct his time to the business of the admiralty office, and thus relieve the public from the expense of another secretary. But there were many other points in which reduction might be made in the expenditure of the Admiralty. The aggregate of the saving from which, he estimated at 200,000l.; and, therefore, he should now conclude by moving, as an amendment, that the amount of the proposed grant should be 2,283,013l. 12s. 7d., being a diminution of the sum originally proposed, to the extent of 200,000l.

Lord Compton

spoke against the amendment. He differed from the hon. mover of it, with respect to the propriety of maintaining the two lay lords of the Admiralty; upon which question, indeed, the House, after ample discussion, had already decided. It was very true, that it was competent to any gentleman to bring the same question again under the consideration of the House; but then the House, in consistency, could not fail to maintain its own decision. But he also objected to the hon. member's proposition, because it had very much the complexion of a party question. He did not mean to impute any improper motive to the hon. baronet; but he must deprecate any proceeding which had a tendency to embarrass the operations of government. He concurred with the hon. baronet, that it was the duty of government to make every practicable retrenchment, and he had no doubt that ministers would discharge that duty by diligently applying their minds to the consideration of the subject, especially during the approaching recess. The noble lord concluded with observing, that he could not express any opinion upon the subject of the proposed reduction of the expense in the collection of the revenue, as he had no knowledge of the merits of the plan alluded to by the hon. gentleman who, spoke second in the debate.

The Hon. F. Douglas

animadverted upon the reference of the noble lord to a former decision of the House with respect to the junior lords of the Admiralty, and expressed his satisfaction to think that it was competent to the House to revise that decision: for it was known that the House was rather surprised into that decision by the statement of an hon. officer (sir G. Cockburn), that the existence of such appointments was somewhat conducive to the public service. But as the House was now called upon to look at those, appointments upon a reconsidered view of retrenchment, with a large loan, and new and extraordinary taxes in contemplation, something more than such a statement was necessary to reconcile the House and the country to the toleration of such offices. It was manifest, that the new principles of finance which had been recently and wisely determined upon in consequence of the report of the Bank committee, would create a great alteration in the financial system of the country; that this alteration would be productive of considerable uncertainty and risk; that their adoption would, in fact, operate as a new tax upon the public, and be likely to lead to considerable difficulty and distress. The measure alluded to was, in his judgment, evidently wise and necessary, although sonic public embar- rassment must follow each an important change; but that was not the only embarrassment which the country had to apprehend; for it was known, that we were on the eve of having a considerable amount of new taxes proposed, among which he was surprised to learn there was one which the chancellor of the exchequer had himself voluntarily abandoned, from a consideration of its peculiar pressure upon the middle and lower orders of the people, namely, the malt tax. It was then obviously necessary to make every practicable retrenchment. As to the two lay lords of the Admiralty, he was not so anxious for their suppression from any consideration of the amount of the saving that would result from the measure, as with a view to satisfy the people of the resolution of the House to promote economy. He was, perhaps, desirous for economy on a larger scale than even any of the gentlemen on his side of the House; for he was of opinion, that as the expense of the last exceeded considerably any former war, so the reduction in the present peace should, in the same proportion, exceed that of any former peace whatever. The House was told by the gallant officer to whom he had already alluded, that the maintenance of the two lay lords of the Admiralty was necessary to the public convenience, and to afford other lords of the Admiralty some opportunities for personal relaxation. Such an argument for the support of such offices might, perhaps, be admissible in ordinary times; but, in the present circumstances of the country, he could not allow that it was entitled to any attention. The gallant officer had, as well as other gentlemen, referred to former periods for precedents in support of the resolution to maintain those lay lords; but what period in our history had any analogy to the present circumstances of the country, loaded as it was with an enormous debt and enormous taxation? He did not seek for retrenchment, so much from any consideration of the amount to which that retrenchment could be practicably made, as with a view to reconcile the people to bear their burthens with patience, by showing the anxiety of parliament to grant them every possible relief. It was on that ground that he approached this question, and was solicitous for the suppression of the unnecessary offices alluded to. In venturing to call those offices unnecessary, he would take the liberty of asking the gallant admiral, whose professional reputation stood so very high, and whose private honor was in every respect so unquestionable, whether, in the face of his country and of his profession, he could consistently declare that the maintenance of the two junior lords was actually indispensable to the performance of the business of the Admiralty? For himself, he must say, that he could not possibly think them so, as it was notorious, that one of these junior lords spent no less than five months of the last year in Bedfordshire, while the other was nearly half the year among his constituents. The allusion of the hon. mover to the finance committee, he really heard with surprise, for he supposed that committee so completely damned in public estimation, that no one would be found to quote their authority [Hear, hear!]. Whatever reduction might be meditated or recommended by that committee, it was clear that nothing would be attempted at all likely to interfere with the parliamentary influence of ministers: for any place held by any member of that House, or by any of his immediate connexions, was held sacred, however useless or unnecessary such place might be. To this tenacity he ascribed the support of those two junior lords of the Admiralty, notwithstanding the proofs which had appeared that they were totally unnecessary. Adverting to the different treatment which the navy and army had experienced from government, he observed, that the utmost prodigality was shown to support the wishes and inclinations of the Crown, while the interests and desires of the people were totally slighted. Therefore, the army was raised to an unparalleled height in peace, while the navy was comparatively overlooked, and when he heard an attempt made to justify this novel system, on the ground that all the continental powers also maintained large armies in peace, he would say, let us maintain our navy in its due rank and power as the old as well as the best means of defence against such armies. But the attempt to justify an increased military force upon any reference to the conduct of other powers, he regarded as a maxim drawn from that continental school into which this country had been degraded by the principles and proceedings of the noble secretary for foreign affairs [Hear, hear!].

Sir G. Cockburn

said, that as he had been called on in so personal a manner by the hon. gentleman, he had no hesitation in stating, and in staking his private as well as his public character on the statement, that it was necessary for the safety of the country that the admiralty board should remain constituted as it was at present. It was his firm conviction that the board could not be better constituted than it then was; and that if the House reduced it, they would deprive the country of the benefit which was at present derived from it. With respect to what had been said by an hon. member on the subject of the difference between the state of the soldiers and sailors, ail he should say was, that the seaman had a certain comparative advantage; for, when the soldier was discharged, he had no occupation open to him, whereas the sailor had the merchant service ready to give him employment; and the fact at present was, that there was a great difficulty in getting the few ships in commission manned. In war time, merchantmen were mostly worked by foreigners: since the peace, these persons bad returned home, and merchants, of course, took advantage of the discharged men from the king's ships, so that some of the latter were now six weeks or two months endeavouring to make up their complement. This was a sufficient proof that there was at present no distress among seamen for want of employment.

Mr. F. Douglas

said, he had not inquired whether the navy board, as at present constituted, was useful to the public service, but whether the gallant admiral could state that the two lay lords were absolutely necessary. To this inquiry the gallant admiral had in fact made no reply.

The committee then divided on the original resolution: Ayes, 164; Noes, 97; Majority 67.

List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Carter, John
Althorp, visct. Cavendish, H.
Burrell, sir C. Clifton, lord
Bankes, Henry Coffin, sir I.
Barham, J. Colborne, N. R.
Becher, W. W. Concannon, L.
Bernal, R. Crompton, S.
Bennet, hon. H. Davies, T. H.
Benyon, B. Denman, Thos.
Birch, J. Douglas, hon. F. S.
Calcraft, John Duncannon, visc.
Calvert, C. Dundas, hon. G.
Calvert, N. Dundas, Thos.
Carhamnton, earl of Ebrington, visc.
Campbell, hon. J. Ellice, Ed.
Euston, earl of Onslow, A.
Fazakerley, Nic. O'Callaghan, J.
Fellowes, N. Ord, Wm.
Fergusson, sir R. C. Osborne, lord F.
Folkestone, visc. Palmer, C. F.
Gordon, Robt. Pavnell, sir H.
Graham, Sandford Pelham, hon. C. A.
Grenfell, Pascoe Philips, Geo.
Gaskell, B. Philips, Geo. jun.
Griffiths, J. W. Primrose, hon. F.
Guise, sir W. Protheroe, Ed.
Gurney, R. H. Powlett, hon. W.
Harcourt, J. Ricardo, David
Hamilton, lord A. Rowley, sir W.
Harvey, D. W. Russell, lord John
Hill, lord A. Russell, R. G.
Hume, Jos. Smith, John
Hutchinson, hon. C. H. Smith, W.
Lamb, hon. W. Smyth, John H.
Lamb, hon. G. Spencer, lord R.
Lambton, J. G. Stewart, Wm.
Le Fevre, C. S. Stuart, lord J.
Lemon, sir W. Symonds, T. P.
Lubbock, sir John Shelley, sir John
Mackintosh, sir J. Tavistock, marq. of
Wilton, visc. Taylor, M. A.
Maxwell, John Thorp, ald.
Merest, J. W. D. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Mills, G. Waithman, ald.
Monck, sir C. Williams, sir Rt.
Moore, Peter Wilson, sir R.
Morpeth, visc. Wood, ald.
Newport, rt. hon. sir J. TELLER.
Newman, R. W. Ridley, sir M. W.
North, Dudley
Sir G. Warrender

next moved, "That a sum, not exceeding 1,631,628l., be granted to his majesty, for defraying the charge of what may be necessary for the building, rebuilding, and repairs of ships of war in his majesty's and the merchants' yards, and other extra works, over and above what is proposed to be done upon the heads of wear and tear, and ordinary, for the year 1819."

Mr. Hume

said, that taking it for granted, on the word of the hon. baronet, that the report of the finance committee was to be considered his speech on the grant before the House, he should beg to know, whether it was intended to adopt the suggestion of the committee respecting the Naval Asylum. He thought the House should not vote this grant till estimates of all the naval works had been produced. The committee had voted 15,000l. for the works in Harlbowline Island, and in that case there was an estimate of the expense; but they had also voted 20,000l. for Bermuda, 15,000l. for Jamaica, and 20,000l. for Trincomalee, although they had no estimate of the sums that would be required to complete the works in those islands. He would suggest that the amount of these votes be deducted from the grant, till the estimates of the expense were laid before the House. They could not do better, he conceived, than to follow in this instance the directions of the finance committee, who recommended that no vote should be granted till an estimate of the expense was put in. He should also like to know whether the grant to the board of longitude was intended for the present occasion, or was it to be an annual vote? He agreed with the committee in thinking, that the establishment should be suited to the circumstances of the country. He certainly thought that reductions should be made rather in the army than in the navy estimates; but at the same time he hoped, that his majesty's ministers would attend to the suggestions of the committee, and carry into effect all the reductions recommended, whether in the army or in the navy. He trusted that in every branch of the expenditure, ministers would endeavour to make the estimates approximate to the scale by which they were regulated before the war. When it was considered that every expense had been increased by the system of a paper currency, he hoped they would now, when about to revert to a metallic circulation, reduce all the salaries of public officers to what they were in 1797, when the restriction was first imposed on cash-payments. He repeated, that the House would do well to reduce every salary that had increased since 1797, to the scale of that day; and in that case, he would venture to say, that no additional taxes would be necessary. He should shortly submit a motion to the House, the object of which would be to ascertain the amount of salaries paid to public officers in the year 1797, and also the amount of those paid at present, in order to see how they should now be reduced; and he was confident that, if the House would entertain that motion, it would be productive of the greatest benefit. The civil list had increased enormously during the last twenty-two years, and he was confident that if it, as well as all the salaries paid by government, were reduced to the scale on which they were in 1797, there would be no need for any additional taxes. He should conclude by proposing, that the sum of 55,000l. being the allowance for works in Bermuda, Jamaica, and Trincomalee, be deducted from the proposed grant.

Mr. Croker

observed, that the recommendation of the finance report was, that no new works should be commenced, without the estimates being first produced. To that recommendation the Admiralty had strictly attended. The works alluded to, had been some time in progress, and it was impossible to state what the precise expense would be. If the hon. member looked at the estimates of preceding years, he would see that the grants now proposed were considerably lower in amount. That was, in his judgment, the true progress of economy, to diminish the scale of expense gradually, so as not to effect the public security, but to have it in their power to be prepared for any exertion which a public exigence might require. With respect to the grant to the board of longitude, that was at present 4,000l., while the grant in preceding estimates was 10,000l. He sincerely hoped that every farthing of it might be expended. The hon. member then defended the grant to the Naval Asylum. It was to be recollected that it was originally a private charity, with funds to the amount of 100,000l. When the government took it, with its funds, under its superintendence, it was bound to make adequate provision for its support.

The amendment was then negatived without a division, and the original resolution carried. Sir G. Warrender next moved, "That a sum not exceeding 419,319l., be granted to his majesty, for the purchase of provisions for troops and garrisons on foreign stations, and the value of rations for troops, to be embarked on board ships of war and transports, for the year 1819."

Sir M. W. Ridley

took that opportunity to put some questions respecting the works going on in some of the public docks and yards. He would begin with the works at the Deptford yard, the grant for which, in 1818, was 34,468l. The estimate now called for to complete the work was 27,000l. making an excess, on a comparison with the original estimate when the first grant was made, of not less than 20,000l. He next desired explanation respecting the works at Woolwich dock-yard. In 1818, a sum of 25,000l. was granted for those works—the estimate now called for was 26,450l. and it was said 11,000l. would be wanted to complete them. In Chatham also, in 1818, 10,940l. was voted to roof in the dock, and 5,500l. was now wanted to complete it. With respect to the works carrying on at Sheerness dock-yards, 433,800l. had been the first estimate; last year 170,000l. was granted on account; and 555,800l. was the estimate now made out to complete the works, making a total of more than 700,000l. and an excess of 277,000l. over the original estimate. In Plymouth, and other public depots, a similar excess of the first estimate would also be found.

Mr. Croker

trusted he could give a satisfactory explanation to the inquiries of the hon. baronet. As to the works at Deptford, the excess of expense had arisen from the foundation of the wharf-wall of the victualling department having been discovered to be in a considerably worse state than was at first imagined. It was some hundreds of years old, and on closer examination, patching up was deemed insufficient, as the piles were quite rotten, and it was obliged to be rebuilt. The augmentation of the expense of the estimate at Woolwich had been occasioned by the discovery of Mr. Rennie, that, by a change of the line of the wharf-wall, the enormous expense (sometimes 20,000l. a year) of removing the mud which accumulated in the front of the dock might be saved. This saving was effected by altering in a small degree the line of the water, an alteration which, while it greatly diminished the public expense, deepened also the bed of the river. The vast improvements now carrying on at Sheerness, had baffled all attempts at an adequate estimate before hand, from the difficulties interposed by the nature of the ground in the progress of the work. The expenditure under this head was now under revision in all its branches, and he had no doubt would in future be carefully examined in detail.

The resolution was agreed to. Sir G. Warrender next moved, "That 284,321l. be granted, for the expense of the Transport Service, for the year 1819."

Sir M. W. Ridley

begged to take that opportunity of again calling the attention of government to the state of the unemployed pursers of the navy, and their present situation, as contrasted with their previous rank and emoluments. Of clerks who had passed seven years service, and also passed their examination as acting pursers, there were, he believed, about 25 or 26 excluded from their allowance by the regulation of the order in council of 1814; and when it was considered that 12 or 1300l. would give a sort of pittance to such persons, he strongly urged that the Prince Regent should be advised to rescind this order as affecting them. He barely threw out this suggestion, the adoption of which would prevent him from making it on a future day the subject of a specific motion.

Sir G. Cockburn

lamented that he could not concur in any recommendation which would tend to augment the half pay list; nor could he consent to any addition whatever to the list, except in cases of vacancies.

Mr. Croker

said, that the hon. baronet's appeal was part mixed up in his compassion for the situation of some of these individuals, and part in his idea of the justice of their claims. With respect to the compassionate part of the appeal, he could assure the hon. baronet, that he lamented as much as any man that he could not, with a due sense of economy, give the sought-for relief. The justice of the claim he was not so easily prepared to admit. The state of the case was this —according to the old plan, there were exactly as many pursers as there were ships in commission; and when a ship was lost or broken up, no new purser was appointed until another ship was built or put in commission. This was considered very hard upon the pursers thrown out of employment in this manner, and a custom grew up of bearing pursers on what was called the check of the yard, with an allowance of 1s. 2d. or 1s. 3d. each per day, until the new ship was put in commission. During the late war, an alteration in this plan took place, and so rapid from a variety of causes, was the appointment of pursers, that there were at one time actually 1,000 pursers, though there were only 500 ships in commission. In 1814, the board of admiralty regulated the number, and adopted the system of half-pay; and it was then resolved, that no more pursers should be appointed until the number existing was reduced to the number of ships in commission. The expense of the old plan was 33,800l., of the new plan 54,800l.; so that by the latter the pursers were gainers of upwards of 20,000l.

The resolution was agreed to.