HC Deb 14 February 1821 vol 4 cc683-7

On the order of the day, That this Bill be now read a second time,"

Mr. Creevey

rose to oppose the motion. He had, he said, two or three short reasons for resisting any bill of supply under existing circumstances. The first reason was, that although the House had been sitting for three weeks, no estimate of the public expense had yet been presented to the House from any department of the administration; and he would not consent to grant the public money to any department, until a clear statement of the ground of its application were previously communicated to the House. In this resolution, indeed, he was the more confirmed by the language which he understood was unreservedly used about the Treasury, and which was generally believed by its adherents—namely, that the present would be a very short session, that all the public business would be over before Easter; that is, that ministers were safe, that the Queen was sacrificed, and that nobody cared about money. The estimates then should have been sooner presented. They ought, indeed, to be two or three weeks before the House, in order that such members as were disposed to attend to their duty, might have ample opportunity of examining those very voluminous and complicated documents, which, according to the existing practice, were seldom above a night or two on the table before the House was called upon to pronounce a final vote respecting them. Upon this, and upon other grounds, he felt it his duty to oppose the grant of any supply, until the will and the wants of the public were attended to by ministers. He had been told, that a certain lay-lord of the Admiralty (sir G. Warrender) as he was called by some, but whom he would call a sinecure and sham lord, had been heard to declare, in those circles of which this lord was such a splendid ornament, that he would come down and inflict signal punishment upon him, if he persevered in his purpose to resist the supplies: but still he was determined to persevere, notwithstanding this frightful denunciation, for he had already found that some good resulted from his perseverance. The chancellor of the exchequer had endeavoured in some degree to satisfy the public desire for economy and retrenchment, by stating that within this year there would be a reduction of one million in the national expenditure. It had not, however, been stated by the right hon. gentleman, in what department such reduction would take place. But to return to the threat of the lay-lord of the Admiralty; he begged to express a hope before the friends whom this lay-lord had invited to attend his benefit, that he would be graciously pleased to carry his threat into execution with some clemency, that he would condescend to mitigate his punishment for old-acquaintance-sake, and from a recollection that he was once himself a tip-top patriot, and one who com-batted much for retrenchment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the House had already considered the number of seamen, for instance, to be voted for the service of the year. Would it not then be something inconsistent if the House were afterwards to withhold the means of paying their wages The present were not new taxes; they were part of those which were usually granted. As to the estimates, the utmost haste was making to have them ready, and he hoped they would be laid before the House next week. No measure would be introduced respecting them, until they should have been a sufficient time in the hands of members.

Sir R. Wilson

thought it was the duty of members to oppose any grants of supply while ministers continued to act in opposition to the declared wish of the people. It would not be regular to say that the majority of the House had, by last night's vote, declared war upon the people; but he would maintain that, as a majority on the other side persisted in not listening to the prayers of the people, it was but a fair exercise of their privilege, for members on his side to retaliate by refusing to grant any supplies.

Sir T. Lethbridge

said, he had as much of that constitutional jealousy with which the grant of supplies ought to be exercised, as could be found on the other side of the House; but still he could not concur in the objection to the present bill. He thought it necessary to support ministers on that occasion, and he could not but regard the opposition now given as vexatious. At the same time, as an independent member of parliament, he wished every possible saving should be made in the present distressed state of the country, and would concur in any measure which should have that effect.

Colonel Davies

was glad to hear such Sentiments as those which had fallen from the hon. baronet. He could assure him that the objection to the present motion arose solely from the wish to correct a grievance. He, and his friends wished to have it understood, what retrenchments it was the intention of ministers to make, In their present course they only exercised the undoubted privilege of the House to refuse all supplies, where a grievance complained of was not remedied. But for such refusals of supplies they might not now be existing as a House of Commons. When he saw ministers wholly regardless of the prayers of the people, he thought it the duty of members who had the interest of their country at heart to exercise their constitutional privilege in opposing the money grants.

Mr. Hume

was surprised to hear the term "factious" applied to gentlemen on his side of the House. He considered that the term would be more applicable to the other side, and that the majority of last night was factious in the highest degree. [Order, Chair.]

The Speaker

said, he would first remind the hon. gentleman that the word factious had not been used by any member. If such word had been applied to any portion of the House, he would have considered it disorderly; but certainly to apply the term factious to a majority of that House was still more disorderly,

Mr. Hume

said, he was sorry for having: used the word, which he had mistaken for the word vexatious. But he begged to say that he did consider the majority of last night as most vexatious, being calculated only to produce vexation and disappointment in the country. He prophesied that the vexation would not end here, nor end at all, unless measures of a conciliatory nature were adopted. That decision he had no hesitation in saying, was in opposition to the declared opinions of nine-tenths of the people. Under these circumstances he considered it his duty to oppose the granting of any supplies.

Mr. Mansfield

did not consider the hon. member was justified in applying the words "factious and vexatious" to the majority of the preceding evening. He was one of that majority—and would say, that to the best of his judgment, in voting as he did, he had used an honest and a sound discretion, and did not deserve to be called either factious or vexatious. He perfectly differed from the hon. member too, when he declared that that House did not speak the sense of the majority of the people. He knew that in the place he came from, a party not interior in numbers, but infinitely superior in respectability, held opinions directly opposite to those of the hon. gentleman. He had no wish to say any thing that might hurt the feelings of an unfortunate lady whatever he might think of her conduct, and he had therefore carefully abstained from saying any thing on the subject on several occasions, but it was too much to sit there night after night, and hear it asserted that, deciding as they had done, the House had voted against the wishes of the people. He did not believe any thing of the kind. If, however, he did believe it, he would still contend, that it was the duty of members of that House conscientiously to act on their own opinions. This, however, was not his argument. What he meant to assert was, that if the voices of his constituents could be collected from one end of the county of Leicester to the other, he was confident the majority, in numbers and in respectability, would approve of the decisions come to in that House.

Sir J. Newport,

though he thought it desirable to look carefully at the conduct of ministers in order to find out where retrenchment could be effected, did not see why the supply being already voted, the means should be withheld. He however thought the estimates ought to be laid before the House in the first week after the meeting of parliament. In war time this might not be easily done; but during peace there was no cause for not doing it. He should feel disposed to resist any new motion for supplies before the estimates were produced.

Mr. J. Martin

was determined not to vote away any more of the public money until a more clear mode of keeping the accounts should be adopted.

The question being put, "That the bill be now read a second time," the House divided: Ayes, 71. Noes, 22.

List of the Minority.
Barrett, S. M. Martin, R.
Bennet, H. G. Monck, J. B.
Bernal, R. Palmer, C. F.
Davies, T. H. Parnell Sir R.
Denman, T. Pryse, P.
Fergusson, sir R. Ricardo, D.
Folkestone, lord Sefton, lord
Hobhouse, J.C Western, C. C.
Hume, J. Wyvill, M.
Hutchinson, hon. C, TELLERS.
Kennedy, T. F. Creevey. T.
Lambton, J. G. Wilson, sir R.
Lloyd, sir E.