§ The Speaker acquainted the House, that that House had been in the House of Peers, where his Majesty had delivered a most gracious Speech to both Houses of parliament, and of which, to prevent mistakes, he had obtained a copy [See p.1.]. After the Speaker had read his majesty's Speech,
§ Mr. Robert Clive
rose to offer himself to the attention of the House for the purpose of moving an Address of thanks to his majesty for his gracious Speech. He would not apologise for his inability to do justice to the subject, as he conceived he should best consult the convenience of the House by proceeding at once to those points which he should submit to their attention, and which he hoped would meet with their unanimous concurrence. On the first point of the Speech he appre- 20 hended there was but one opinion; namely, satisfaction that his majesty continued to receive from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their friendly disposition towards this country. It was to be lamented, that since parliament had last met, the same friendly disposition on the part of the European powers towards one another had been endangered, and that differences of a serious nature had arisen between the court of Russia and the Ottoman Porte. On such a subject, he could not state more, than that as the Turkish empire had always been considered as an European power, any change affecting her territory must be the subject of deepest anxiety to the other states. It was impossible to know where hostilities, when once begun, might end, or how far they might tend to the destruction of the peace of Europe. It must be a source of gratification to the House to learn, that the other powers of Europe were, like our own government, anxious to allay the difference which had arisen between the two countries he had named, and that reasonable hopes might be entertained of a favourable result to the pending negotiations. He could not leave this part of his subject without making an humble attempt to show the House the commanding and elevated situation in which this country now stood. She had proceeded through a period of difficulty and danger unparalleled in our history, and had resolutely fought for her independence: she had been instrumental in preserving the independence of other nations; and she was now occupied in endeavouring to maintain that general repose which her exertions had contributed to establish throughout Europe. In maintaining the desired tranquillity, the House of Commons would be a powerful instrument; its voice would penetrate, however distant, the place where it might be necessary to make it heard. Immediately after the death of our late much revered and lamented sovereign, his present majesty had formed the design of visiting different parts of his kingdom. His first object was, to visit Ireland: thither he had first directed his course. He would not attempt to describe the affectionate enthusiasm which greeted the arrival of the first sovereign of the house of Brunswick that had visited that island, or the loyalty that was manifested by all classes of his majesty's faithful subjects, upon that occasion. Those circumstances would never, he would venture to 21 say, be effaced from the recollection of the illustrious individual by whose presence they were elicited. Subsequently a cloud had overspread that island. A spirit of insubordination, which had led to systematic acts of outrage, had appeared abroad. From the description of persons by whom those acts of violation had been committed it appeared that they had originated in local causes; perhaps in individual mismanagement, productive of distress in a very eminent degree. There was one observation, however, which he thought it necessary to make with respect to the disturbances which prevailed in Ireland; namely that they were unconnected with any political or religious feelings. The House had been told that his majesty was determined to make every attempt in his power to protect the rights and property of his loyal and peaceable subjects in the sister island; and he trusted the House would co-operate with his majesty, and enable him to carry his intentions into effect.—The communication which had been made with respect to the state of the revenue must give great satisfaction to the House. The improvement in the revenue had been considerable, and it was progressive up to the present moment. The House would be glad to learn from his majesty's speech that every attention would be paid by government to economy—important at all times, but now most important. It appeared that considerable reductions had been made in the scale of the annual expenditure, particularly in the naval and military departments. The weight which had been pressing upon the manufactures and commerce of the united kingdom was now gradually diminishing; and activity again prevailed in the most important branches of our trade. He would not, however, dwell upon that subject, but would leave it to be discussed by his hon. friend who sat near him, who was better qualified for the task. It was to be regretted that he could not use the same language of congratulation with respect to the state of agriculture. It was too true, that that important branch of the national wealth was labouring under severe depression. There was no object, he was certain, to effect which ministers would more cordially co-operate, than that of endeavouring to relieve the agriculturist of the burden which pressed upon him. The subject would occupy the attention of the House during the course of the session, and it was to be hoped that investigation would lead to some remedy. The 22 House ought to bear in mind the comparative state of trade two or three years ago and at the present moment. They should look at the gradual advancement of the revenue. In 1820, the principal increase was under the head of Excise; this year it was under the head of Customs. The House, too, would observe that the revenue of Ireland had been gradually improving up to that time. When, therefore, be knew that for the last two years commerce and manufactures had been gradually improving, he trusted he should not be thought too sanguine in expressing a hope, that the agricultural interest would, before the expiration of the year, experience a similar amendment.—There was one other point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, and perhaps it was the most important that could be offered to its notice—he meant the necessity of maintaining the public credit. It was public credit that had advanced the country to that proud eminence on which she now stood; and it was of the utmost importance to the national character—perhaps he might say to the future existence of the country—to maintain it inviolate. After returning thanks for the patience with which the House had listened to him, the hon. gentleman concluded with moving, "that an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to return the thanks of this House to his majesty for his most gracious speech from the throne:—To assure his majesty, that we learn with much satisfaction the continued assurance of the friendly disposition of Foreign Powers towards this country:—To acknowledge with gratitude the interest which his majesty takes in the preservation of the peace of Europe, and the endeavours which his majesty has directed, in conjunction with his allies, to the settlement of the differences which have unhappily arisen between the courts of St. Petersburgh and the Ottoman Porte; which differences we learn with pleasure his majesty has reason to hope will be satisfactorily adjusted:—To express the participation which we feel in the gratification his majesty derived in his late visit to Ireland, from the loyalty and attachment manifested by all classes of his majesty's subjects, and at the same time in the concern which his majesty so graciously manifests, that a spirit of outrage which has led to daring and systematic violations of the law, has arisen and still prevails in some parts of that country:—To assure his majesty, that he may rely 23 on our support in every measure necessary for the protection of the persons and property of his loyal and peaceable subjects; and that we shall not fail to take into our immediate consideration, whether the existing laws are sufficient for that purpose:—That we rejoice to think that notwithstanding the serious interruption of public tranquillity, his majesty may enjoy the satisfaction of believing, that his presence in Ireland has been productive of very beneficial effects; and to express our thanks to his majesty for his gracious assurance, that all descriptions of his people may confidently rely upon the just and equal administration of the laws, and upon his paternal solicitude for their welfare:—To express our satisfaction, that his majesty is enabled to inform us, that during the last year the revenue has exceeded that of the year preceding, and that it appears to be in a course of progressive improvement:—To thank his majesty for having directed the estimates of the current year to be laid before us, and for the attention to economy with which his majesty informs us they have been framed:—To assure his majesty, that we learn with the highest satisfaction that he has been able to make a large reduction in our annual expenditure, and in particular in our naval and military establishments:—That we are highly gratified in being informed, that a considerable improvement has taken place in the course of the last year in the commerce and manufactures of the United Kingdom and that his majesty can now state them to be, in their important branches, in a very flourishing condition:—That we must at the same time most deeply regret the depressed state of the Agricultural Interest:—To assure his majesty, that the condition of an interest so essentially connected with the prosperity of the country will attract our early attention; and that his majesty may rely upon our most careful and deliberate consideration of this important subject:—That, in whatever measures we may adopt, we shall not fail to bear in mind that all the best interests of this kingdom are equally involved in the maintenance of our public credit, fully persuaded as we are that it is by a steady adherence to that principle that we have attained, and can alone expect to preserve, our high station amongst the nations of the world."
§ Mr. William Duncombe
rose to second the address. In doing so, he felt that he 24 must claim all the indulgence of the House, not only on the ground of his being unaccustomed to address the House, but also because he was conscious of his incompetency to discharge effectually the duty which he had undertaken. If, in the course of what be had to offer, any thing should fall from him which might tend to interrupt that unanimity which it was so desirable to maintain, he trusted that the House would attribute it to his inexperience. However, after the able speech they had just heard, it would be unnecessary for him to trouble the House at any length. As to the first topic in the Speech from the throne, he was convinced there was but one feeling. Whoever had had an opportunity of witnessing the calamities of war, and had seen, however gratifying the results, the miseries that were inflicted before those results were obtained, would be deeply impressed with the blessings of peace, and on that ground it was most gratifying that his majesty had received the assurances of the friendly disposition of foreign powers. It was not necessary for him to make any observations upon the differences which had arisen between the Court of St. Peters-burgh and the Ottoman government. He was confident, however, that the House would be glad to learn that those unfortunate differences were likely to be amicably adjusted. He knew that the House would participate in the feelings of his majesty on account of the unfortunate situation in which Ireland was placed. It must, indeed, be a subject of deep concern that his majesty's visit to that country, which was hailed with so much enthusiasm and which terminated under such auspicious circumstances, should have been succeeded by outrages amounting to a daring and systematic violation of the law. If any consolation was to be found in such an unfortunate state of things, it was to he derived from knowing that the disturbances originated in local causes, and not in any general spirit of hostility to the established laws. The House, however, would see the necessity of seconding the measures of the executive by vigorous laws, aided by the spirit of conciliation, to suppress these serious disorders.—It was gratifying that the revenue had increased, and he was sure the House would bear with satisfaction that it was in a state of progressive improvement. It was satisfactory, too, to learn that his majesty's government had 25 made great reductions, particularly in the naval and military departments. With regard also to our manufactures and commerce, no doubt could be entertained that they were in a flourishing condition. With regard to agriculture, however, the same flattering assurances would not be given; and he should not perform his duty if he did not observe that it was labouring under general distress. Without entering into the causes or details of it, they were so satisfied of its importance and connexion with the other great interests of the country, that it must be the earnest desire of his majesty's ministers and the House to afford it all the protection in their power. He was aware that there were those who contended that this relief could not be afforded without a great reduction of taxation, and rigid economy; but he would ask, who were those who were so ardent in this cause as to follow up their object, without regard to the security of the country? Some immediate remedy however should be applied to the distress; and he had no doubt that such remedy would be adopted. He might be allowed before he concluded to congratulate the House that the disaffection which some time ago had shewn itself in the manufacturing districts had entirely disappeared, and had been succeeded by perfect tranquillity. This effect was partly produced by the wise measures of parliament, but in a great measure, as he trusted and believed, by the internal prosperity of the country. But, while he stated this, he might be permitted to add, that in his judgment those persons must be very superficial observers of public events, who could not perceive that there were yet individuals who were ready on every occasion to attack the constitution of the country, and to bring into contempt the established authorities of the kingdom. That such persons unfortunately existed, though few in number, appeared to his mind to admit of little doubt. Some of those persons were anxious to supplant the present order of things by some theoretical system of their own. Others were actuated merely by hatred of what was established. Fortunately, however, the constitution stood so firm on its basis, was so beautifully connected in all its parts, and was so admirably adapted to all classes of society, that it was impossible but that all who enjoyed the blessing of living under it should perceive its 26 advantages over any other system of government. So far, however, from being injured by the arrows of malice which had been directed against it, the constitution had derived new strength from the assault; and would, after surviving the storms and attacks which it had suffered, exhibit to the admiration of the world its grandeur and stability:Per damna, per cædes, ab ipso Ducit opes animumque ferro.
Sir Francis Burdett
said, that the very modest and sensible speech of the mover of the address, in answer to the Speech from the throne, had given him very little to comment on; as there was little in it with which he did not cordially agree. Of the speech of the hon. member who seconded the address, he should have been enabled to say the same, were it not for the topic introduced at the end of his speech, differing in tone and temper both from the Speech from the throne and the address in answer to it. That hon. member had said, that there were persons in England anxious to subvert the constitution of the country. This assertion was unfortunate, and in contradiction to the first part of his speech, in which he had recommended and praised the reduction of that large military force, which there was, indeed, no honest pretence for keeping up. As to the foreign politics of the Speech from the throne he should pass them over very rapidly, because in our present situation they were comparatively of very small importance. Of the territory now in contest, he would only say, that he wished heartily it was out of the Turkish possession, and in the possession of the Greeks. In saying so, he was convinced that it would be a great benefit to the Christian European world, if an independent state were erected in that part of Europe by the great and glorious exertions of that cruelly-oppressed people in vindication of their ancient liberties. He had a short amendment to propose, which was dictated by no disrespect to the throne, but by a desire to give the royal Speech that consideration, which, under the circumstances of the country, was especially due to it. In ancient times—and, as he was rather old fashioned in his opinions, in what he would call better times—better parliamentary times—it was the custom for the. House of Commons to wish to deliberate before it resolved: it was the practice of our forefathers to understand before they 27 voted, and they held it no disrespect to the throne to postpone, until a subsequent day, the consideration of the Speech that had been delivered from it. They thus knew the topics it contained, and those which it omitted; and were able to make up their minds both upon the one and upon the other. Since the Revolution, this usage had been dispensed with; yet still some courtesy was observed towards parliament by the ministers of the day, which, perhaps, secured the practical benefits of the exploded system. The royal Speech was read over-night at the Cock-pit, to such members as chose to attend, and its contents found their way into the morning, or at least into the evening papers of the day, before the Houses were convened. Thus, such as felt an interest on the subject could honestly arrive at a decision. But of late years even this courtesy had not been observed; and the House of Commons was expected to come to an instantaneous vote of approbation of all that the ministers thought fit to put into the mouth of the sovereign. Now, he confessed that his mind was neither sufficiently quick nor capacious to be competent to this duty. He was not able on the instant to embrace and decide upon all the various topics just read from the chair. Not having, therefore, the power of divination, or the faculty of conjecturing, with any degree of certainty, what would be the nature of the King's Speech, he could not be prepared with an amendment to the address ready cut and dried for the occasion. The consequence therefore was, either that the vote was made a mere formal compliment, pledging no man, or the House was taken by surprise and required to give its sweeping and instantaneous approbation of that, which under other circumstances, it might be disposed to object to. In the first case, the address was not of the slightest value; and in the last, after a great deal of talk about conciliation and unanimity, the House was entrapped and cajoled into an apparent but in sincere acquiescence.—Under such circumstances, it was his intention to propose that the King's Speech should be taken into consideration the day after to-morrow. It was fit he should observe, that as far as he could collect, the Speech from the throne was by no means such a full and satisfactory statement as the country had a right to expect. It laboured under grievances of all kinds. 28 The people complained, not merely of agricultural distress. There were numerous violations of the law and constitution, in his mind, superior to the sufferings of the landed interest, which required redress. The constitution was at this moment, and had long been, in many important instances, infringed upon, and set at open defiance. But, with regard to agricultural distress, ministers were bound, not merely in general terms, to declare that they would observe economy. What minister, time after time, had not done so? The first Speech, after the accession of the late king, held out a promise of rigid economy; and during that whole reign, few speeches would be found without such an undertaking, but fewer were the instances in which it had been performed. The House and the nation demanded more than the idle delusion. Ministers ought to point out bow and when they would carry their fine promises into effect. There was also a point of omission, very important in itself, and not at all in accordance with that anxiety which was so loudly professed, of observing the strictest economy. Not a hint had been given regarding a reduction of the monstrous expenditure of the civil list. At a time when the country was suffering under the severest pressure—when ministers were playing all sorts of tricks (for he could call them nothing else) with the circulating medium—at a time when they had succeeded in depreciating the currency, they added to the evil and the insult upon the nation by augmenting the civil list and the salaries of persons composing or connected with the government. They and their friends alone throve and flourished amid the general distress and ruin. They got the country into this condition: when the currency was at the lowest they raised their expenses to the highest, and then, without one thought of alleviating the sufferings of the people, of their own heads they all at once restored the currency to a fair metallic value, and, while the incomes of every body else was reduced to a great amount, ministers said not a syllable about reducing their own. What was this but a most selfish and unfeeling disregard of the national distress? To lessen the salaries of pensioners and placemen at such a time, seemed a measure so equitable and so obvious, that be wondered ministers were not ashamed of bringing in a bill which put so much money into their own pockets, while they took it, 29 in an increased proportion, from the pockets of the impoverished people. At the time when so much was said about restoring a healthful currency, and about the solvency of the Bank, ministers were often told that the Bank would be able to pay, but the real question was, whether the nation would be able to bear. It was all in vain: ministers would not take the trouble to think; the public welfare was of no consequence, when compared with their own: though the change they were about to effect came home to every private family in the kingdom, they never dreamt of weighing the bearings of the measure, with a view to put the whole population in the same relative situation. If ministers were not aware of the consequences, they showed themselves most incapable: if they were aware of them, they proved themselves most unworthy. Many persons attributed to this change, the present distressed state of the country. That many I mischievous consequences had resulted from it, there could be no doubt; and as a whole, executed as it had been, it was full of iniquity and injustice. The King's ministers had brought it about: it was their own sole doing, and they alone were responsible.—Of all the topics introduced into the royal Speech, the most prominent and pressing was certainly the state of Ireland. It was impossible to look at the condition of that unfortunate island without the deepest commiseration: a kind, and industrious, and a generous people had been driven to despair; and surely it was fit on an occasion like the present, that something else should be held out to them than the sword. Their sufferings were grievous in the extreme; in some cases it had been seen they were so severe that the inhabitants preferred death in any shape to living under such complicated miseries. Perhaps the noble marquis opposite would again employ his old assertion, about a transition from war to peace; but was not much of what was now endured in Ireland to be attributed to a transition from a state of independence, to what was miscalled a state of Union? The gentlemen of Ireland and the people at large had been cajoled and hoaxed into a belief that the Union was to be complete and beneficial; yet it had turned out a mere parchment union, by which Ireland had been so reduced to the last extremity of distress, as to cause a danger even of permanent separation. Ministers had not made a single attempt to carry into effect 30 any of the idle promises by which the Irish nation had been duped into a consent to its own destruction and debasement. What were the views of government upon this important subject? It was clear that something ought to be done without a moment's delay; and it was equally clear, that conciliation, as well as force, ought to be employed. There were three especial and striking grievances that affected Ireland. The first was the scandalous pretence on religious grounds for excluding men from their equal and just civil rights. This free and unlimited participation had been proposed at the time of the Union. This was an obvious practical evil, and unless the meetings of this House were mere matters of senseless form, it was bound to afford a speedy remedy—aremedy at all times with in its power. The next grievance was the manner and mode of the tithing system. In the year 1782, what was the situation of Ireland? If she was then distressed, at least she had an ear bound to listen to the public voice: she had a parliament, and under that parliament, though calumniated, she had enjoyed a surplus revenue of about a million sterling. Since the Union, what had been the revenue of Ireland, and what had become of her surplus? She was a country enjoying every advantage which prodigal nature could bestow. She had, besides, an industrious, and ingenious, and energetic people—a people as orderly and as peaceable as any people on the earth, if they were permitted to be so. If any proof were wanting that they did not shun labour, it might be found in our own metropolis where all the severest labour was performed by the Irish. So far from being idle, they travelled many hundred miles, often at the risk of starvation, to procure, by the hardest drudgery, an honest livelihood. True it was, that the exchequers of England and Ireland had been consolidated, but had the measure improved the revenues of the latter? It had been said that the corruption in this country was purity itself compared with the corruption of Ireland: but whether this were or were not the fact, it was undeniable that the revenues of Ireland were all frittered away, and that literally a civil war had been long waged against the distillation of whiskey. Let gentlemen read the statements in Mr. Chichester's pamphlet of the efforts to put down illicit distillation, and they would find it amply sufficient to perpetuate dis- 31 contents and heart burnings. An examination into the state of the Excise laws in Ireland might be another and an important mode of relief. At present, the unhappy people were driven to acts of desperate retaliation; and were reduced to such a deplorable condition, that they were ready to run the hazard of any personal infliction for the sake of a moment's respite. The Speech from the throne contained not a syllable regarding Scotland; yet, could any man believe that the people there were satisfied? They were suffering under a monstrous evil. The Scotch were a wise, a wary, and a calculating nation; and though they suffered, they were not easily driven to desperation; yet it was well known by the inquiries of the House, that the system of burghs at the self election of a little narrow committee, engrossing all power and profit—was an enormous evil. The burghs were to Scotland what that House was to the kingdom at large. The noble lord beneath him (A. Hamilton) had produced irresistible arguments against this detestable system; many petitions had been presented; and if he (Sir Francis Burdett) had taken no part in the debates upon them, it was not because he was indifferent to the subject, but because he feared that his interposition might injure the cause and lead to the neglect of their complaints. The petitioners were much mistaken, if they thought they could persuade the House of Commons, compounded as it was, to set its face against a system on which it was itself established. The country now well understood the undue and overbearing influence of ministers in the House of Commons, and that it was vain to expect any thing from such a body. He knew not, if he were indeed as wild and visionary in his actions of reform as some had represented him to be; but of all reformers the most wild and visionary, in his view, were those who hoped to effect, what they termed, an economical reform: such persons expected that, which in the present constitution of the House, could never be attained: they looked for effects without causes—"for grapes on thorns, and figs on thistles;" for until that House had been effectually and thoroughly reformed, there could be no permanent and efficient relief for the sufferings of the people of these kingdoms. Economical reform was putting the cart before the horse, reform must precede economy; for economy 32 could never precede reform. In these times parties scarcely existed; or at least there was but one great and strong distinction between men in this country—reformers and corruptionists. These were the two great classes into which the people of Great Britain were divided; and though he acknowledged, in the fullest manner, the indefatigable labours and high merits of his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen, though he admitted his claims upon the nation for his ability, industry, and perseverance,—Neque ego illi detrahere ausim "Hærentem capita multa cum laude coronam;still he could not flatter himself with any hope that his extraordinary exertions would be attended with any thing like proportionate success. His hon. friend had, indeed, been the great practical reformer of the day, he had laid bare, in many places, the bloated carcass of corruption; but if he looked for efficient economy by any other mode than a thorough reform of parliament, he must say, that his hon. friend was one of the weakest and most visionary of reformers. If a noble lord (Ebrington) had not already given a notice upon this great paramount subject, it had been his intention to have closed what he had to say that night, with an intimation that be would bring it forward on a very early day. In his view, it was superior to all other matters, and ought to take precedence of all other questions. He became more impressed with its absolute necessity every hour of the day; and as the great Roman had ended all his addresses to the senate with the words "delenda est Carthago," so he felt disposed to terminate all his speeches to the House of Commons with the words—"reform in parliament." At present his purpose was the same, though his means were different; and in order to give time for the due and respectful consideration of the Speech from the throne, he should move, as an amendment, that the consideration of it be postponed until Thursday next.
in rising to second the motion, took occasion to express his entire concurrence in the reasons assigned by his hon. colleague for postponing any reply to the Speech from the throne, until the House should have some time to consider its merits. His hon. colleague was quite correct as to his quotations with, regard to the practice of that House in early times, respecting its replies to king's speeches; but even after the Revolution, it 33 was the practice of the House, as appeared from the Journals, to take time for the consideration of a speech from the throne before any answer was made to it. This particularly appeared from the conduct of that House during the reign of William 3rd, and especially upon the speech from the throne in 1697, when the country was in circumstances somewhat similar to the present. The speech of the sovereign did not on that occasion intimate any intention to reduce any part of his military force, which both parties in the House desired, and therefore, in the reply to the speech, which the House took some time to consider, they inserted an application to the king to reduce the army to seven thousand for Ireland and twelve thousand for England. When the House then evinced so much jealousy of the military power of their great deliverer from slavery and superstition, was it too much to say that some jealousy should be felt as to the extraordinary amount of our military force at present? It was said that some reduction had taken place in the amount and expence of our army since the last sessions. Of this, however, that House had as yet no regular cognizance. But he was positively assured, that no less than one hundred first commissions had been granted since the last sessions; and that fact certainly argued nothing of a disposition to reduce the expence of our military department [hear, hear, hear!]. Of itself this seemed sufficient to show the folly of blindly voting an address of thanks, while the House was in total ignorance as to what had been done to relieve the burthens of the people. It seemed to him no high compliment to what proceeded from the throne, to say, that it would not bear reflection, and that approbation, if expressed at all, must be expressed with unreflecting precipitation. To postpone, to deliberate, and then to vote was surely much more becoming the wisdom of parliament and the dignity of the Crown. The intercourse between a king and his people ought not to be a mere farce: it was a solemnity which ought never to be burlesqued, and it was now quite time to have done with the ridiculous practice of making the address a mere echo of the royal speech, a mere machine to enable ministers to congratulate themselves on all the good things which they had put into the mouth of his majesty. He begged leave to say, that there was no time so fit as the present for changing this absurd custom. The coun- 34 try, from one end to the other, was now satisfied that a change, not merely of measures, but of men, was absolutely necessary; and, without meaning any thing harsh to the hon. seconder of the address, he (Mr. Hobhouse) must say, that the hon. gentleman was much mistaken if he thought that the language he had used would have any effect upon the people at large. Even here, it had raised a smile among the ranks of ministers, when the hon. gentleman attributed the prevailing distress and disaffection to a wish to destroy the government, and to overthrow the constituted authorities. The nation was not afraid of the revolutionary plunderer, but of the tax-gathering plunderer, of the man who came to drag the beds from under then], and to reduce them to the last stage of poverty and wretchedness. [Hear, hear.] He trusted then that the House would hear no more of any idle clamour about revolution. The people now knew well into whose pockets fell the money that was extorted from them, and that the greater part of it was applied to the purposes of corruption. To cure these evils then he believed the great body of the people was anxious for a change of measures, and not for a change of men, as it was indifferent to them by whom the powers of government were possessed, if the country were well governed. But as to our foreign politics there was a reason against the sudden adoption of the proposed answer furnished by the example of an assembly whose general conduct he could not respect, although it might and probably was respected by ministers. He meant the example of the French chamber of deputies, which took the to consider of a reply to the king's speech, and had recently shown that they dared dissent from the sentiments therein contained. The House was called upon by the proposed reply to congratulate his majesty upon the peace which at present prevailed in Europe, as ministers alleged. But he would appeal to any unbiassed man who heard him, what sort of peace that was? It was, indeed, the peace of the grave, but not that of justice or independence; for, what was the condition of Greece, not one word about which appeared in the king's speech, or in the proposed reply to it, although the Greeks were at present shedding their best blood in order to recover their liberty and independence? Did the hon. seconder of the address consider that the peace in which he exulted, had served to destroy 35 the independence of every state in Europe which had hoped for freedom? Or, was the noble secretary for foreign affairs, who had himself seen the continent, aware of the consequences of the peace which he had concluded; that it had produced some of the most unnatural and uncongenial unions, that it had annexed Norway to Sweden, Saxony to Prussia, Genoa to Sardinia, Venice and all Italy to Austria [hear, hear, hear!]? The hon. seconder had quoted some lines from Horace, and he would take leave to make a quotation from the same author, whose Venus was the very prototype of the noble lord:—cui placet impares "Formas atque animos subjuga ahenea "Sævo mittere cum joco.But when ministers spoke of the peace of the continent, he would ask them where that content which was indicative of peace was to be found? Was it in Italy, or in France, or in the north of Germany? Or was it in that quarter of Europe where the Greeks were so gallantly fighting for their liberties? The cause of all the discontent and agitation which prevailed in Europe was not at all laid open to the House. He was convinced when the subject was fairly opened and examined, it would be found, that in many instances there had been a disgraceful invasion of the rights of man, not to be paralleled in the history of the civilized world. How, he would again ask, could any man vote for this address, congratulating his majesty upon the happy peace prevailing in Europe, while the Ottoman crescent was displayed over the bodies of those Greeks whom the Ottoman scimitar had hewn down? In the last session, charges of the gravest nature had been made against sir T. Maitland for the un-english part he had played against the Greeks, and yet, while they were unrefuted, this address was to be voted. This was peace with a vengeance. What was the fact? Great Britain had taken under her protection men who had long suffered under the most cruel despotism; yet now they were found to prefer that despotism to our protection. One of our first acts had been to disarm the population we had taken under our protection. [Hear, hear.] No wonder, then, that supporting such a system of tyranny and oppression his majesty's ministers when they framed this speech had not a single tear to shed fur Greece. To revert to the delay formerly granted before the House voted an address on an occasion like the present, 36 and to the subsequent courtesy of reading it in the Cock-pit, to which the hon. bart. had also adverted, he (Mr. Hobhouse) must observe that he had in vain sought for any cause for the discontinuance of the latter practice: he had, however, heard that it was owing to a piece of waggery in the year 1797, when a pretended speech was got up from the information thus obtained, and trumpeted about the streets. But was it fit that a mere joke of this kind should degrade a solemn proceeding into a mere farce and juggle? It was neither respectful to the throne nor to the House thus tamely and blindly to acquiesce in the dictation of the cabinet. It had formerly been recorded on the journals, that the noise was so great that the address could scarcely be heard: and it would be quite as well if it could not be heard at all, if an instantaneous vote were required upon it. He would not compliment away the liberties of parliament and the forms meant to secure them; and he hoped his hon. colleague would persevere in his amendment, to give the House an opportunity of knowing what it was about, instead of at once and precipitately, voting an address, as was at present proposed, which was a mere echo of the speech.
§ Mr. Grattan
could not refrain from trespassing shortly on the House, after what had been said regarding the state of Ireland. The visit of his majesty to that unhappy island was a most beneficial precedent, and would tend unquestionably to secure the loyalty and affection of its inhabitants. That great distress prevailed among them, was admitted on all hands; and so long as Ireland continued what she was, crimes, perhaps of the blackest die, were inevitable. The speech from the throne adverted to the inefficiency of the existing laws. He had the utmost dread of Insurrection acts. Ireland was like the poor wretch flogged by the drummer: let him strike where be would, he could not give satisfaction. The condition of a country so important, so populous, but so long despised and neglected, was most extraordinary: she was not visited by the curse of God, but of government. He would concur with the most violent gentlemen in Ireland, (where there were violent gentlemen enough) in punishing crime severely; but he hoped that the whole country would not be denounced for the offences of a few banditti. His countrymen had, like other people, their virtues and their vices; but the latter were greatly 37 aggravated by a system of mis-government. He knew there was a great deal of discontent, of distress, and of dissatisfaction in Ireland, which had its origin in moral causes. Sorry he was to say, that a considerable part of the people disregarded their gentry; and, what was worse, set at nought the ministers of their religion. A continual warfare was carrying on against the military and the police. Such an unnatural state of things could only be produced by mis-government. It was not so in France: it was not so in England: but in Ireland, we heard of nothing but the recurrence of such disastrous scenes. A system of mis-government had long prevailed there. From severe and immoral laws, had education, and the exercise of local tyranny, arose the evils by which the people of Ireland were visited. Nothing could possibly be more wretched than their condition. He would not look to the situation of the Irish previously to the reign of Elizabeth. If it were examined from that reign down to the present time, it would appear, with little exception, to present one series of suffering. When they contemplated the confiscations of property that had so frequently been resorted to, and all the other means of annoyance which were let loose against that people, they would not find it difficult to account for those crimes and atrocities of which Ireland had so often been the theatre. The unfortunate labourer was himself worth nothing: his furniture was worth nothing: he possessed nothing that could give him the smallest claim to the character of independence. He laboured for a few pence, which were expended in the payment of tithes, of taxes, and for the support of his priest. All this, and a great deal more than this, might be witnessed in Ireland. When they perceived the situation in which the Irish labourer was placed: when they acknowledged that he was worthy of being governed by mild and equal laws; and then viewed the conduct which was adopted towards him, they could not wonder if his severe treatment gave rise to feelings of disgust and dissatisfaction. Great, he might say incalculable sums, were received in this country from Ireland, through various channels. He wished the government would seriously set about doing good to Ireland; and that all which this country received from Ireland in the way of exports and rents, should be paid back in strenuous efforts to ameliorate the condition of society there. The gentle- 38 man was the victim of the existing law as well as the peasant. Both suffered by it. If the Irish gentleman was found to be an advocate for the system under which his country had suffered so much, it arose rather from the situation in which he had so long been placed, than from any predilection for a system which operated by means of insurrection acts, and the employment of military force. The Irish gentleman was, indeed, a great admirer of the British constitution; but it appeared to him that he had almost as little enjoyment of it as the peasant. The two countries were divided by religion, by the nature of their respective laws, and by local circumstances, as well as by the sea. The peasant did not conceive that he was protected, and therefore he took no interest, he felt not that warmth which the same class of people felt here, in any thing that concerned the measures of government. Hence it was, that the execution of the laws was frequently intrusted to the army. He knew that the gentlemen of Ireland had most important duties to perform, in securing the peace, and protecting the property of the different counties. But, unfortunately, in their anxiety for the latter, they sometimes overlooked the former They rarely thought of improving the morals and ameliorating the condition of the peasantry. [Here the House manifested some impatience.] He begged pardon for detaining them so long; but he had just arrived from Ireland, where he had witnessed distress of the most lamentable description, and he was anxious to state what he conceived to be the best remedy. The most unhappy feuds prevailed in that country. The clergy and the people were at variance. They were separated: they were constantly at war about the tithes, and a more lamentable cause of dissention could scarcely be conceived. The union had not produced the benefits which the people of Ireland had been taught to look for; they were led to believe that, when it was carried, much English capital would be transferred to Ireland. But it had not turned out so. Without meaning any personal reflection, he hoped that the justice and generosity of parliament would redress any evil which might have been produced by that measure. He called on the legislature to devise some prompt and conciliatory remedy for the evils by which Ireland was now beset. The race of farmers had disappeared, and the class of gentlemen was fast following them. How. 39 long was such a state of things to be suffered? It was in vain to hope that the evil could be removed by severe measures. It was in vain to pass Insurrection acts, for the purpose of quieting the country. It was in vain to employ large armies in the collection of rents. Other measures must be adopted; and he was convinced they might, by a careful revision of the existing laws, restore the peace of Ireland, and bind the hearts and minds of the people to the government of the country.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he felt it necessary, in consequence of the course the debate had taken, to trouble the House with a very few observations; rather with the view of giving a general understanding of what ministers meant to do, than for the purpose of discussing at that moment any of the important topics adverted to in his majesty's speech. In the whole course of his parliamentary experience, he never recollected an address to the Crown better calculated to conciliate all parties, and to produce a feeling of temper and moderation, than that which was now proposed; and he certainly did regret that any thing should have occurred which was at all likely to interrupt that conciliatory tone of feeling, the necessity of preserving which had been suggested by his hon. friend who moved the address. He begged to assure the House, that in carrying up, as he hoped they would do, unanimously, this address to the throne, his majesty's government would not consider any individual as pledged by that vote to any specific line of conduct, with reference to the important subjects which were noticed in the address. He could assure the gentlemen opposite, that ministers did not expect to find, in consequence of the vote of that night, any relaxation on the part of the House of that disposition to scrutinize the conduct of government, which undoubtedly was a part of their duty, and which he hoped they would perform severely, but at the same time justly. He trusted the hon. baronet would forgive him, if he reminded him that it was customary on the first day of the session for gentlemen to enter into a sort of general protest, such as he and his hon. colleague had thought fit to make, lest it might be supposed that they were pledged to a particular line of conduct at a subsequent period, in consequence of the adoption of any proposed address. Perhaps it would have been as well if they had stopped there: for certainly it could 40 not be imagined, that the conduct of ministers would not be open to investigation, or that the institutions of the country might not be made the subjects of inquiry, because the address now before the House was agreed to. From the tone assumed by the hon. baronet it was easy to perceive the course which he intended to pursue during the present session. He collected from the speech of the hon. baronet, that he waved his more enlarged view of parliamentary reform—that which extended to universal suffrage—in order to make way for the more moderate plan of the noble lord (John Russell) for the discussion of which a day had been named. He would undoubtedly rather deal with the moderate plan, than with that of a broader and more extended character; but his sentiments on the subject had not varied, and he could not flatter the noble lord that he would support his intended proposition. The hon. baronet would allow him to say, that if the Address, in answer to the Speech from the throne, were understood as implying that, by agreeing to it, parliament would be pledged to support certain opinions and sentiments, then he conceived the hon. baronet should not have moved that the consideration of the Speech should take place on Thursday, but that it should be postponed for three months; because he thought that period would scarcely carry them through the consideration of all the subjects which were adverted to in the Speech—alluding as it did to our foreign policy, our revenue, expenditure, commerce, manufactures, and, above all, to that very important topic—a topic which most deeply affected the country—the state of the agricultural interest; which, he trusted, would undergo a most minute consideration. He, therefore, was of opinion that the hon. baronet had taken a false view of the time necessary to consider the Speech from the throne, if it were deemed necessary to make an immediate reply to these various and highly important points. He thought he consulted the feelings of the House, and did not at all prejudice the public interest, when he recommended the address proposed that night, as a measure which did not pledge gentlemen to any particular opinion, and which left the subjects which he had enumerated to be discussed in their natural and ordinary course. He could not consent to postpone until Thursday, the consideration of his majesty's Speech, but, on that day, if the House were so disposed, he 41 would propose for its consideration that part of the Speech which applied to Ireland. Considering it as the point most intimately connected with the peace and prosperity of the empire, he thought the House would best discharge its duty by going at once to that question, and entering into it, as fully as possible, on the earliest day. He should not, however, be doing his duty to the House, if he did not point out more extensively what ministers meant to do on other important topics; and he trusted when he had done so, the gentlemen opposite would see that there was no disposition on the part of his majesty's government to blink any of those questions, or to divest themselves of that responsibility which ought to attach to them in bringing those subjects forward. He proposed then, on Friday in the next week, to call the attention of parliament to a most important topic—that which stood next in importance to the tranquillity of the country—he alluded to the distress existing amongst the agriculturists, with the intention of opening to the House the view which his majesty's ministers took of that, question, and also the nature of the remedy which appeared to them to be the most proper to meet the difficulty. A very anxious and, he could assure the House, a very laborious consideration had been given to this question. He next begged leave to state that his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not, beyond the beginning of the ensuing week, (when he would introduce a bill for repealing and altering the existing bill relative to the superannuation of officers,) delay stating to the House the nature and extent of the retrenchments proposed to be made in the different public offices. He would connect with that statement a view of the retrenchments that had been made in other branches of the public service, particularly in the naval and military departments; and he would put the House in possession of a general statement of the revenue and expenditure, as far as it could be made up. Having said thus much, it would be evidently seen that it was not the intention of ministers to sleep on their post, in bringing those great questions before parliament, in the only way in which they could be advantageously disposed of. He was perfectly prepared that the House should look scrupulously and anxiously into the whole conduct of government; but, though be had every reason to believe that, on in- 42 quiry, ministers would be found to have given their best consideration to the present state of the country, still it would be presumption in him to suppose that the remedies which they would propose where not capable of improvement. However gentlemen might differ in opinion from his majesty's government, he believed all would feel convinced, from the explanation which they would be enabled to give, that they had applied their most serious consideration to the state of the country, in the way they had been enjoined by parliament to pursue, and that no pains had been spared by them to go to the bottom of those great questions, in order to arrive at that conclusion which was best calculated to assist the country, by the adoption of such retrenchments as circumstances would admit. It was on these grounds that he would be prepared to argue the question of economy and retrenchment when it was regularly introduced; and, therefore, he conceived the House would do well to proceed, according to the established practice of parliament, by agreeing to an address which pledged it to a specific line of conduct in future, instead of postponing the consideration of his majesty's Speech from the throne.
said, that if the noble lord, in the address which he and his colleagues were anxious to lay before the throne, meant to pledge the House to the adoption of severe measures for the protection of persons and property in Ireland, he, for one, would give it his decided negative. If the noble lord and his colleagues meant to assert that the law, as it now stood in Ireland, was not sufficiently strong for that purpose, they stated that which was not the fact. He should deceive the House, and betray his duty to the country, if he suffered it to go abroad, that in agreeing to the address that night, he recognized the necessity of enacting severe measures with respect to Ireland. He was ready to do no such thing. Such measures, in his opinion, could not produce good. He was sure that they would not restore peace or security beyond the peace of the passing moment. He would not state the feelings which seized hold of his mind when he reflected on the situation of his native land; but he would remind the noble marquis, that he had, almost nineteen years ago, in his place in that House, called on him and on his majesty's ministers to take into immediate consideration the state and condition of the people of 43 Ireland. The Union was carried, on the supposition that such an inquiry would take place, and that their grievances would be redressed. They were told, that the parliament of Ireland had overlooked that momentous subject, but that in the United parliament it would be fully discussed. In 1803, when that which was called Emmet's rebellion broke out, he reminded the noble marquis of that promise. He impressed on him the necessity of making the discussion of questions connected with the welfare of Ireland fashionable in the cabinet of England; and, when that object was effected, he wished some friendly and conciliatory measure to be devised for the purpose of ameliorating the situation of the people. He was desirous that the state and condition of the Irish people should be fully investigated, and he pointed out the benefits which such an investigation would produce: but, from that time to the present, the state of Ireland had not been considered, nor had the situation of that country been brought before the cabinet, except for the purpose of devising severe and restrictive laws. The colleagues of the noble marquis had resisted the concession of that great question, Catholic emancipation, the prospect of obtaining which had greatly tended to the success of the Union. He knew not what measures the noble marquis and his colleagues had in contemplation; but this he would say, that, if they meant to do their duty to Ireland and to the empire, it could not be by bringing forward severe restrictive measures for the protection of persons and property. If they meant to take a wise and efficient course, they must probe the situation of that country to the very bottom. It was most true, as the hon. baronet had observed, that the tithe system was one great evil; and he might add, that the non-residence of the gentry was another. He was aware that the whole question was a difficult one, and that it would, consequently, be difficult to devise a remedy for the different evils by which Ireland was afflicted. But if it were duly examined, it would be found that an enactment of penal statutes was not the way to render Ireland a happy and contented portion of the empire. In another part of the Speech from the throne, he understood it to congratulate the country on the increase of the revenue, the flourishing state of our manufactures and commerce, and the profound tranquillity which prevailed in Europe, and 44 which was unruffled, except by an apprehended difference between Russia and the Ottoman Porte, which had happily been removed by the exertions of his majesty and his allies. Now, if he were correct in believing that this latter point was contained in the Speech, then he would say that there never was a speech which more completely deceived the empire and the world. He admitted, with the hon. gentleman who seconded the address, that there was no country in the world which boasted a happier constitution, or possessed greater blessings, than England, and therefore he thought that all her efforts ought to be exerted towards establishing the happiness of other states: but, did the noble marquis mean to tell the House and the country, because he had been able to preserve peace between Russia and the Porte, that therefore perfect tranquillity, unalloyed by discontent or dissatisfaction, reigned throughout Europe? If he did, he deceived himself, the House, and the country. Europe never was in a more perilous state; and if the noble marquis knew any thing about foreign affairs, he must be well aware of the fact. He hoped, when the noble marquis came to discuss the question of our foreign policy, that he would be prepared to show what he had done to support the high character of Great Britain on the continent. What, he would ask, had the noble marquis and his colleagues clone to uphold the lofty and independent character of this country abroad? Had they assisted the efforts of liberty against the assaults of oppression and cruelty? He hoped they had. But if they had indeed pursued that course, he was ignorant of it. He trusted it would not appear, in the end, that, for the purpose of answering some interested views, the noble marquis and his majesty's allies on the continent had done their utmost to continue tyranny and oppression, and had lent their best support to the unholy cause of slavery and injustice.
The Marquis of Londonderry
observed, that the address did not pledge the House to support any new penal laws with reference to Ireland. When the subject was before them, gentlemen would dispose of it as they thought fit. He should be enabled to-morrow to lay on the table certain dispatches from the marquis Wellesley, which contained a statement of the present situation of Ireland. He wished those despatches to be in the possession of members before he called the attention of the House to this subject.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, he would not oppose the address, as he understood that on Thursday the state of Ireland would be regularly brought before the House. It would then he matter for consideration, whether any farther measures were necessary for the purpose of strengthening the laws; and also, whether, if restrictive acts were resorted to, they ought not to be accompanied by others of a healing and conciliatory nature. He could not give his consent to any restrictive measure, unless it was accompanied by a measure of conciliation. His opinion, he was aware, would not carry much weight with it; but having for twenty sessions watched over the interests of Ireland, he could not let the present occasion pass without making this observation.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that he, for one, if it had seemed good to the House, instead of putting off for an indefinite period, or even to the time to which the noble lord had referred them, the consideration of the unexampled distress which weighed down the agricultural interest, could have wished this, the first night of the session, not to pass without their attention being directly pointed to it. He felt more particularly anxious to have an opportunity of delivering his sentiments on this subject, because, from accidental circumstances, he had been prevented on former occasions from taking a part in the discussion of one of the measures—he meant the resumption of cash payments—to which, in his opinion, much—he would not say the whole—but a very large proportion of the present distress might be ascribed. He would, however, yield to what he took to be the sense of the House; namely, that they should not that night go into the discussion of this subject; and he would reserve himself for another opportunity, when he might fully state his sentiments. He did not mean to wait for the period which the noble lord had stated, because he did not understand the purport of his intended proposition, nor did he very clearly collect the time when it would be brought forward. He would, therefore, to-morrow, on the bringing up of the report, submit to the House an amendment, touching the present distressed state of the country, and that which, he would take leave to say, could afford the only effectual relief. He was confident, whether he regarded the nature of the evil or its causes, that the only specific remedy for it, in the present state of the country, 46 after they had resorted to cash payments, was to be found in a reduction of taxes; and a reduction to such an amount, as would not merely show the people their good-will towards retrenchment, but would demonstrate, that they meant to use that power which they unquestionably possessed in devising such measures as would, as far as possible, relieve the existing distress. He could have wished that the House had not separated that night without giving at least some general pledge of their intention to enter into this inquiry—without carrying up to the throne, in answer to the Speech, a declaration that they would lose no time in investigating every retrenchment that could be made in the expenditure of the country—not with a view to the increase of the sinking-fund by a million, or a million and a half; but for the purpose of putting an end to it altogether. Not to support that popular delusion—that arithmetical error—under which the country had so long laboured, but still farther to reduce that sinking fund, until the finances of the state was able to bear it; meaning by the finances of the state the private income of individuals, which was the only legitimate source of taxation. When that period arrived, they would be enabled to pay it in the only way in which it could be paid, by the amount of clear surplus revenue over the annual expenditure. But no intention existed to give such a pledge; and, though he might lament the circumstance, he could not prevent it. In order, however, to satisfy himself, he would to-morrow, on the report being brought up, call the attention of the House to what he looked upon as the source of the mischief, and as the only feasible and efficient remedy. He, at the same time, entreated the House not to separate with the impression (and, in justice to his opinion, it was necessary for him to notice the point particularly) that he could point out any perfect remedy. When he spoke of a reduction of taxation as the only remedy, he did not, mean to assert that any thing which could be done in that way would prove a complete and effectual remedy, such a remedy, as would remove the whole distress. He was not visionary enough to suppose any thing of that kind. Because he thought the changes that had been made in the currency—the various alterations which had been effected from 1797, downwards, until the last, when a metallic currency was restored, would still be found, after 47 all the relief which a reduction of taxes could afford, to leave behind vast national distress, and to derange all the relations of the country, in a manner which he would fain hope those who brought such measures forward did not foresee. He had pointed out the probable effects of the system, but he could now speak with the grave authority of experience, which had taught them, that the effects of the system had been most ruinous.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that, in order to satisfy those gentlemen who wished for a pledge on the subject of retrenchment, he was prepared to introduce one. The proceedings in that House ought not to be guided by any man or any set of men. All ought to look to the distresses of the country, to the causes which led to them, and to the best mode by which effectual relief could be provided. He was anxious that the motion of the hon. baronet should be carried; but if it were negatived, he would immediately submit to the House an amendment to the address, and his reasons for proposing it. That amendment would constitute a pledge, which, he was sure, would be carried unanimously, if the House entertained a sincere desire to adopt an effectual system of retrenchment.
§ The House then divided on Sir Francis Burdett's amendment: For the amendment 58. Against it 186. Majority 128. When strangers were re-admitted to the gallery, we found
§ Mr. Hume
upon his legs. He stated that the House was to consider that the Speech and the Address were both the production of his majesty's ministers; if they were not, he called upon the gentlemen opposite to deny the statement. If the hon. mover and seconder could, let them state that they did not receive the Address, and move verbatim what they did receive from his majesty's ministers; if, therefore, ministers had written the Address and also written the Speech from the throne, could there be a greater farce than that ministers should both dictate the Speech and the answer to it themselves, putting into his majesty's mouth one set of words, and into the mouths of the two gentlemen opposite another set of words [hear, hear]? This was the practice which had prevailed for a considerable time, but it was not the less ridiculous on that account. He was anxious that those gentlemen who were in the habit of opposing whatever measures seemed to trench on the liberties and rights of the subject, would now, 48 that the outcry of distress called upon them from all parts of the country, have taken up the subject, and have proposed something better than any thing which could originate with him on the present occasion. He begged, therefore, to be understood, that it was only in default of any pledge being called for by others for relieving the public distress, that it became his duty to move an amendment to the Address. Before he submitted the amendment, he would frankly state, that to what had fallen from the mover of the Address he had no objection to make: he had performed the letter of his instructions strictly; he had followed sentence by sentence the substance of the Speech, and closely assimilated to it every part of his answer: he was very prudent in the line he took, and did not transgress those limits which he knew it was dangerous to go beyond. With respect to the other gentleman, he could not say so much. If he had adhered to the whole of his instructions, they had certainly gone out of that course which policy and prudence would have dictated. The worthy baronet had well observed, that the seconder of the Address had contradicted himself when he touched upon the subject of loyalty, and spoke of the faithful affection of the people to the sovereign, yet, in almost the same sentence, asserted, that there was danger to be apprehended from disaffected persons, who were desirous to pull down the throne, and, along with it, the institutions of the country. There had been, indeed, symptoms of disaffection in the country some time ago, but he (Mr. H.) denied that it was the disaffection of disloyalty: it arose merely from distress, from the state of starvation in which such crowds of manufacturers found themselves, who were then thrown out of employment; he would ask, if it could be expected that starving millions were to die without remonstrance, or effort to obtain relief? He was sorry that coercion had been made use of, as if coercion could ever deliver the country from such a calamity: he thought the harsh and precipitate six acts, instead of saving the country, had disgraced that House [hear, hear!]. He begged pardon if he used a word too strong, but they certainly had that tendency. The hon. members who voted for these six acts would have done well to have placed themselves in the situation of the hungry and naked individuals who were calling to them for relief, and then they would not, when 49 they asked for bread, have given them a stone. When they called to them for sustenance, they should have devised some means of obtaining for them a livelihood instead of answering their complaints by coercion and punishment.
With respect to the observations in which the hon. mover and seconder of the Address had indulged, on the subject of our foreign relations, those observations had been so ably answered by the hon. baronet and the hon. gentleman near him, that it was quite unnecessary for him to trouble the House with a word on the subject. In the congratulations of the hon. gentlemen opposite, on what they were pleased to call the flourishing condition of our commerce, they had carefully however abstained from taking any notice of the state of our colonies. He would call on any West India proprietors present to answer, whether the state of those colonies afforded any just ground for-congratulation. It was deeply to he regretted, that the House should hastily congratulate his majesty on the flourishing condition of our commerce, when the colonies were in the state in which all who were acquainted with them knew they were. The great importance of this subject would be evident, when it was considered, that in one West India colony alone, above sixty millions of capital were, by the statements of those interested, at stake. But he would not dwell on this subject, he had merely adverted to it, to show that the House would not be warranted in the congratulations which they were called upon to offer to the Crown relative thereto. He was confident that inquiry would prove that every department of our commerce was much depressed by the excessive charges upon it. Reverting to the subject of our foreign relations, he trusted that he should be able, whenever the question should come under the consideration of the House, to submit such arguments as would undeniably show, that the conduct of the British government had been most disgraceful as Christians, and most abominable as men, in supporting the Turks against the Greeks as they had done, and which the conduct of sir Thomas Maitland in the Ionian Islands and our consul at Patras would prove—[hear, hear!.]
To return, however, to the Speech which had that evening been delivered from the throne, it was proper to advert to that which it did not contain, as well as to that 50 which it did: he could not refrain from observing that this was the first time, since the establishment of the, English Monarchy, at which, on such an occasion, the death of the first subject of the realm which had taken place since this House last separated, had been wholly unnoticed. It was as if his majesty's ministers had determined to carry on by neglect their persecution and insult, even after death. Such conduct was highly disgraceful to ministers; it was disgraceful to the throne, if the throne could be disgraced by the acts of ministers. Ministers had thus, in an unexampled manner, carried their enmity to her majesty beyond the grave. Even after the remains of their illustrious victim had been conveyed from the country, they consummated their injustice to her, by the omission, of which they had in the present instance been guilty. This was a subject which he had now only slightly mentioned; the time was coming when he hoped it would meet with the more serious consideration of the House; in the meanwhile, however, he felt himself called upon to declare, that no ministers of this country had ever been guilty of a similar act. They might flatter themselves that they would receive the sanction and support of the House for such conduct; but he trusted that they would find themselves disappointed. At any rate he was confident the great majority of the nation blamed them for their conduct towards the Queen both before and after death.—With reference to what was said in the Address, of the high station which this country maintained among the nations of the world, so far was her situation from being a matter of congratulation, that it must actually be one of jest and ridicule to every foreign power who observed the state of her Income and Expenditure. But before he entered that subject he would observe upon that passage of the Address which related to his majesty's recent visit to Ireland. He was one of those who had rejoiced at that visit, because he had hoped, and he still did hope, that the result would prove highly beneficial. He had hoped, and he should most sincerely rejoice if that hope should turn out to be well-founded, that is majesty's visit to Ireland might be made the means of healing the unfortunate dissentions which had so long existed in that country, dissentious which had separated man from man, and which perpetually laid the seeds of that 51 hostility and outrage which, year after year, disturbed the peace of that unhappy country. He did trust, that by the entire removal of those disabilities under which so large a portion of the population of Ireland at present laboured on account of religious opinions, the evils which existed in that country would be materially diminished, if not entirely removed. Indeed he was confident, that, from the moment at which a removal of those civil disabilities should take place, unanimity would be restored; and that, in addition to that advantage the expenditure of England would be most materially reduced; for those who investigated this subject would find, that, at the present moment, more than half the military expenditure of this country for its home protection was occasioned by the necessity of having a large military force to keep down those whom a long continuation of misgovernment in Ireland constantly excited to discontent and insubordination. He owned, therefore, that he did expect that those who boasted of the advantages of his majesty's visit to Ireland, would state the nature of the measures which they meant to propose for the adoption of parliament, with a view to heal the bleeding wounds of that country, and thereby to warrant an extensive reduction of the national expenditure, by withdrawing the large military force, the employment of which circumstances now rendered unfortunately necessary. While on this subject he would just observe, that the effects of the policy which had been pursued in Ireland had manifested themselves in an extraordinary manner in the revenue of that country. The disturbed state of the country occasioned a very large increase of military expense to enforce peace, whilst the revenue was at the same time decreased. The misgovernment of that ill-fated country produced a deficiency of revenue to this country and occasioned accumulated miseries to the people of Ireland. If hon. gentlemen would look at the annual finance accounts laid before parliament, they would find that the revenue of Ireland had fallen above a million since 1818. The revenue of Ireland for the year 1817 was 5,822,550l.; for the year 1818, 5,956,606l.; fur the year 1819, 5,576,591l. and for the year 1820, only 4,933,351l.; so that it was evident the revenue had fallen above a million since 1818. They were now told, however, that there was an improvement in that revenue for last 52 year of 400,000l. No stable improvement, however could be expected to the distresses or to the finances of the country while ministers pursued their present temporising and absurd policy; of which no stronger instance could possibly be afforded than the proposition which they had yesterday made in their conference with the directors of the Bank of a loan of five millions to the agricultural interest [hear, hear!]. It was well known to every person in the country, except, as appeared by their proceedings, to his majesty's ministers, that there was no want of capital in the country—every banker had more money than they could lend on good security. It was the security that was wanted, and the distresses of the people, in every class, were gradually reducing the means of giving security. The least that could be expected from them, while they boasted of the flourishing condition of the country, was, that they should adopt measures which might have a tendency to place the finances on a stable footing.
After what had passed last session, and after the recommendation to the House of Commons in the Speech from the throne, they were bound to take an early opportunity of examining the state of the revenue and of the public accounts, in order to place the finances of the country on a footing which might support the commanding situation which Great Britain held among the nations of Europe, he expected that his majesty's ministers would make some explicit statement of their intentions on the subject. What the commanding state of England might be in political discussions in Europe, he could not state: But what the "commanding situation" of the country was, in point of revenue, he could very distinctly show the House from the accounts on the table. The maintenance of the public credit, by securing the payment of the public dividends, was strongly recommended by his majesty; but if the House examined the accounts they would find that the Consolidated Fund was above nine millions in arrear; and therefore that if the Bank of England refused to make advances to government the public creditor could not be paid. [Hear, hear.] And here he must observe, that every hon. member, on whichever side of the House he sat, must lament to see the complex state of the public accounts. It was however, a curious, and at the same time a correct statement, that in a country 53 placed in such a "commanding situation" and under the guidance of such "able ministers" the people could not, amidst the intricacy and involution of the public accounts, distinguish the real situation of the finances with accuracy; while, in France or in America, every thing was distinct, and placed under the simple head of debtor and creditor, with a balance for or against the public. He was extremely anxious to call the attention of the House to a subject of vital importance, as connected with the revenue; a subject which, if rightly understood, would enable his majes-
|No. I.—Mr. Hume's STATEMENT of the ACTUAL EXPENDITURE of the UNITEDKINGDOM, for the Four Years ending the 5th of Jan. 1821, as taken from the Annual Finance Accounts laid before Parliament.|
|HEADS OF EXPENDITURE.||Year ending Jan. 5th. 1818.||Year eliding Jan. 5th. 1819.||Year ending Jan. 5th. 1820.||Year ending Jan. 5th. 1821.|
|I. Interest on the Permanent Debt of the United Kingdom||29,166,085||28,873,638||29,737,639||29,126,973|
|Charges of Management||284,589||277,699||274,393||276,419|
|For Reduction of the National Debt||14,657,559||15,497,402||16,455,967||17,667,536|
|II. Interest on Exchequer, and Irish Treasury Bills||1,815,927||2,200,414||779,992||1,849,220|
|II. TOTAL on account of Funded and Unfunded Debt||45,924,160||46,849,153||47,247 991||48,920,148|
|III. Civil List of England||1,028,000||1,028,000||983,000||857,780|
|III. of Ireland||163,169||208,167||198,056||204,231|
|VI. Civil government of Scotland||130,646||129,627||129,988||132,081|
|TOTAL of Civil Lists in the United Kingdom||1,321,815||1,365,794||1,311,044||1,194,092|
|IV. Courts of Justice (England)||64,542||67,967||63,157||65,138|
|IV. Royal Family and other Pensions||447,638||457,678||472,234||327,066|
|IV. Salaries and Allowances||62,920||60,158||58,755||56,948|
|TOTAL other Charges on the Consolidated Fund||727,211||765,614||988 520||690,698|
|V. Permanent Charges in Ireland||385,282||374,297||369,090||381,504|
|VII. Bounties to Fisheries, Manufactures, &c||330,046||387,111||313,933||359,213|
|VII. Pensions on Hereditary Revenue Excise||14,000||14,000||14,000||14,000|
|VII. Pensions on Hereditary Revenue Post Office||13,700||13,700||13,700||13,700|
|VII. Militia and Deserters' Warrants||93,658||68,660||47,534||51,426|
|Payments out of the Cross Revenue||451,404||483,471||389,167||438,339|
|VIII. Navy Wages, &c.||2,524,000||2,424,800||2,281,000||3,454,000|
|VIII. General Services||2,793,586||2,696,798||2,949,728||1,801,086|
|VIII. Victualling Department||1,155,476||1,400,116||1,164,824||1,132,713|
|IX. Army Ordinary Services||7,014,494||7,255,646||7,719,924||7,941,513|
|IX. Army Extraordinary Services||2,600,370||1,261,398||1,730,727||984,911|
|TOTAL Army and Ordnance||11,050,265||9,924,851||10,988,860||10,328,009|
§ ty's Ministers to make much greater reductions of expence than they had hitherto been able to effect. He had taken the trouble to make out three Statements with reference to the national income and expenditure from which he was about to quote; and in order to enable the noble marquis and the right hon. gentlemen opposite to follow him, he would hand over to them copies of that statement [a laugh]. He regretted that he was not able to give a copy to every hon. member present. [Here Mr. Hume handed two copies of a printed statement* of figures 55 to the Treasury Bench, which occasioned considerable merriment in the House]. It appeared—and he was merely quoting from those tables which had been extracted from the public annual Finance Accounts laid before parliament—that the total expenditure (exclusive of the Sinking Fund) was, for the year 1817, 58,544, 049l.; for the year 1818, 57,872,428l.; for the year 1819, 57,392,544l.; and for the year 1820, 57,476,755l.; and that the total expenditure, including the Sinking Fund, was, for the year 1817, 73,062,340l.; for the year 1818, 73,225,194l.; for the year 1819, 73,698,135l.; and for the year 1820, 74,987,348l. It appeared, therefore whilst the Income was stationary, or had rather decreased since 1817, that the total expenditure had gone on gradually increasing. Was there any justification for such an increase? By no means. Had the gross receipt of the revenue increased? No; for although, in 1818 the right hon. gentleman imposed on the country three millions of additional taxation, yet, although the revenue in England had in consequence increased, the revenue in Ireland had proportionably decreased. So that it appeared that the people of England were additionally taxed to keep down the people of Ireland,
|X. Loans, Remittances, Advances, &c. to other Countries||33,273||206||1,230|
|XI. Issues from appropriated Funds for Local Purposes||42,585||60,079||53,101||49,129|
|XII. Miscellaneous Services at Home||2,301,699||1,722,956||1,595,207||2,324,653|
|XII. Miscellaneous Services Abroad||164,784||897,935||260,741||292,048|
|Expenditure (less Charges of Management)||68,875,542||68,966,073||69,599,276||71,007,649|
|Deduct Sinking Fund of Loan to E.-I. Company [repaid by them||165,939||144,636||150,376||156,907|
|Expenditure in the Year||68,710,503||63,821,437||69,448,899||70,850,742|
|Charges of Management, and Collection of the Revenue||4,351,837||4,408,757||4,249,236||4,136,642|
|TOTAL Expenditure in the Year||73,069,340||73,225,194||73,698,135||74,987,384|
|For Interest on the Funded and Unfunded Debt, and Charges or Management||31,266,601||31,351,751||30,792,025||31,252,612|
|Expenses of the Civil List, Military Establishments, Civil Government, and Expenses of Collection||27,277,448||26,520,677||26,600,519||26,224,143|
|Amount of Expenditure, exclusive of the Sinking Fund||58,544,049||57,882,428||57,392,544||57,476,755|
|Amount of Expenditure, including the Sinking Fund||73,062,340||73,225,194||73,698,135||74,987,384|
§ where the revenue was decreasing by the misrule and oppression that was carrying on there. He pledged himself to prove to any man who was acquainted with the first four rules of arithmetic, that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had, by his management, lost 15 millions to the country since he had taken the administration of the Treasury. Such, at least, was the amount which appeared to have been lost, as far as can be made out from the public accounts. This was no slight charge; and he therefore begged the attention of the House to the statement which he was about to make.* [See Statement, No. II.]
§ It appeared from the annual Finance Accounts, that the total income of Great Britain and Ireland (exclusive of loans ) for the four years, 1817, 1818, 1819 and 1820, was 235,768,462l.; and that the total expenditure for the same period, (exclusive of Sinking Fund ) was 231,285,776l. exhibiting a total nett surplus of revenue of the United Kingdom in those four years of 4,482,686l. Since making out that statement, he (Mr. H.) had found that the sum of 316,993l. paid for Quarantine packet expenses ought to have been deducted from that amount and the nett surplus of revenue over expenditure (loans 57 and Sinking Fund excluded) would only have been 4,171,693l. He would, however,
|No. II.—STATEMENT of the ACTUAL REVENUE of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (Drawbacks, and Bounties of the Nature of Drawbacks, excluded) for the Years 1817 to 1820, both inclusive, ending 5th of January, 1821; distinguishing the several Heads of Income, and Great Britain from Ireland in each Year.|
|HEADS OF INCOME||1817||1818||1819||1820|
|£ s. d.||£ s. d.||£ s. d.||£ s. d.|
|Customs||12,206,870 3 5||12,265,342 16 5½||11,280,062 6 9¾||10,547,579 2 4¾|
|Excise||21,553,311 13 2¾||24,712,148 17 0||24,860,345 1 8||28,055,314 2 8¼|
|Stamps||6,720,747 3 5||6,775,985 2 1||6,581,856 8 11¼||6,538,895 17 11½|
|Land and Assessed Taxes||8,074,258 14 0¾||8,271,990 1 1||8,279,930 3 11½||8,355,321 18 10¾|
|Post Office||2,129,995 12 4½||2,185,654 17 2||2,211,678 13 8½||2,122,928 7 6½|
|Salaries and Pensions||31,864 0 6||34,628 19 5||30,522 11 8||30,811 8 2|
|Hackney Coaches and Posting||54,785 18 10¾||54,468 4 2¾||56,093 9 10¾||56,988 8 10|
|Hereditary Revenues||159,630 10 5¾||144,579 0 6||148,192 4 6¾||132,967 7 4½|
|Total Ordinary Revenues||50,931,463 16 4½||54,445,597 17 10¼||53,448,681 1 2½||55,840,806 13 10¼|
|Property Tax Arrears||2,568,654 0 3½||658,337 14 0||183,134 6 8||57,043 5 6½|
|Lottery||189,958 8 4¼||211,225 0 0||679,150 0 0||175,154 10 2|
|Unclaimed Dividends||236,288 3 3||332,948 6 7||237,512 16 11||283,810 7 11|
|Imprests, &c.||469,029 3 7||328,930 11 2||334,392 19 1¼||343,902 16 5½|
|Total Extraordinary Revenues||3,463,929 15 5¾||1,531,441 11 9||1,434,190 2 8¼||859,911 0 0¾|
|Total of Great Britain||54,395,393 11 10¼||55,977,039 9 7¼||54,882,871 3 10¾||56,700,717 13 11|
|Total of Ireland||5,822,550 2 0¾||5,956,606 8 5½||5,576,591 19 0||4,933,351 17 7¾|
|Total of United Kingdom exclusive of Loans||60,217,943 13 11||61,933,645 18 2½||60,459,463 2 10¾||61,634,069 11 6¾|
|Deduct Balances||2,567,354 8 2½||2,265,704 13 4½||1,779,211 10 0||1,864,389 6 7¾|
|Total Actual Revenue of United Kingdom||57,650,539 5 8½||59,667,941 4 10||58,680,251 12 10¾||59,769,680 4 11|
|Total Expenditure, exclusive of the Sinking Fund||58,544,049 0 0||57,872,428 0 0||57,392,544 0 0||57,476,755 0 0|
|Total Income, exclusive of Loans, for the 4 Years||£.235,768,462|
|Total Expenditure, exclusive of Sinking Fund, in the 4 Years||231,285,776|
|Total Net Surplus of Revenue of the United Kingdom in the 4 Years||£.4,482,686|
|If there had been no Sinking Fund, no Loans would have been required, as the Revenue of the 4 Years, 1817 to 1890 (to the 5th of January, 1821) both inclusive, was 4,462,686l. more than the Expenditure, which ought to have effected a Reduction (the 3 per Cents being on an Average at 70l. per 100l.) of 192,117l. of Annual Dividend; and, as 260,812l. of Annual Charge for Annuities and Land-tax redeemed has been diminished, the Reduction of the Annual Charge of the Funded Debt ought to have been to the Amount of 452,929l. in 1821,—whereas the Charge has been increased instead of decreased.|
|No. III.—An ACCOUNT of INTEREST paid in each Year to the Public for the Funded and Unfunded Debt of the United Kingdom, and for the Charge of Management at the Bank of England, for the Four Years ending the 5th Jan. 1821 (exclusive of the Sinking Fund), as charged in the Annual Finance Accounts.|
|For Interest paid on Funded Debt||29,166,085||28,873,638||29,737,640||29,126,973|
|Charges of Management||284,589||277,699||274,393||276,419|
|Amount of Interest and Charges||29,450,674||29,151,337||30,012,033||29,403,392|
|Interest on Exchequer and Irish Treasury Bills||1,815,927||2,200,414||779,992||1,849,220|
|Total Charge for the Funded and Unfunded Debt||31,266,601||31,351,751||30,792,025||31,252,612|
|Average of 1817, 1818, and 1819||£.31,136,792.|
§ for the present, take the larger sum as the surplus. Had that four millions and a 59 half been properly husbanded, the debt would have been reduced to that amount. The 3 per cents. having been at an average about70, the surplus of 4,482,686l. ought to have effected a reduction of 192, 117l. of annual dividend; and as 260,812l.* of annual charge for long annuities and land tax redeemed had been reduced, the reduction of the annual charge of the funded debt ought to have been to the amount of 452,929l. in 1821; whereas the charge had been increased instead of decreased. By the management of the right hon. gentleman, who borrowed money at, we will say, 60 per cent. to give to the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt, who afterwards bought at 70 or 80 per cent. the whole of this four millions and odd had been lost to the country. Such was the consequence of the complicated and circuitous process attendant on the Sinking Fund; a consequence which would have been avoided had the simple surplus of the revenue been directly applied to the liquidation of the debt. By the account of interest paid in each year to the public for the funded and unfunded debt of the United Kingdom, and for the charge of management at the Bank of England for the four years ending the fifth January, 1821 (exclusive of the Sinking Fund), it appeared that the total charge for the year 1817, was 31,266,601l.; for the year 1818, 31,351,751l.; for the year 1819, 30,792,025l.; and for the year 1820, 31,252,612l. Taking the average of the
|And as it appears by the Account from the Exchequer Office, that the Charge for the Funded Debt, for the Year ending 5th of January, 1822, will be||£.30,180,213|
|And taking, by Estimate, the Interest on the Exchequer Bills (34,728,691l.) stated as outstanding on the 5th of January, 1821, in the same proportion as 1,849,219l. was charged in 1820 for the Interest on 42,694,882l. of outstanding Bills on the 5th of January,1820, the Amount of Interest for the Year ended 5th of January, 1822, will be||1,300,000|
|Making a Total Charge for Funded and Unfunded Debt of||£.31,480,213|
|instead of (after deducting the 453,929l. of Dividends redeemed and expired), being only 30,812,672l. as it ought to have been, if there had been no Sinking Fund;—consequently, a very great Loss to the Country, and going on at the same Rate by the present absurd System of the Sinking Fund.|
|* STATEMENT of the ITEMS of REDUCTION in the Annual Charge on the National Debt, independent of the Sinking Fund, in the Four Years 1817 to 1820, both inclusive—viz.|
|In 1817. By Annuities expired||1,229 10 9½|
|Dividend on Loan of 1798 paid off, the Money for which is charged in the Miscellaneous Expenditure||2,091 9 5|
|Dividend on Capital cancelled by redemption of Land Tax||2,947 3 4|
|6,208 3 6½|
|1818. By Land Tax||3,385 15 11½|
|1819. Imperial Annuities expired||243,157 15 6|
|By Land Tax||4,026 14 11½|
|247,184 10 5|
|1820. By Land Tax||2,696 9 7|
|Annuities expired||1,276 14 10|
|3,973 4 5|
|Total in the 4 Years (exclusive of what Annuities may have expired out of those created by act of 48 Geo. III.)||260,811 14 4|
§ three years 1817, 1818, and 1819, viz. 31, 136,792l., it appeared that last year the public creditor received 15,820l. more than the amount of that average. How different would the case have been if we had not had the circuitous operation of the Sinking Fund. By Mr. Haworth's account from the Exchequer Office (and here he begged to observe that the accounts from the Exchequer were wholly free from error, as far as he had been able to observe, while those from the Treasury could, in no single instance, be accurately balanced), it appeared that the charge for the funded debt for the year ending the fifth of January, 1822, would be 30,180, 213l.; and that, taking by estimate the interest on the Exchequer bills (34,728, 691l.) stated as outstanding on the fifth of January, 1821, in the same proportion as 1,849,219l. was charged in 1820, for the interest on 42,694,882l. of outstanding bills, on the fifth of January, 1820, the amount of interest for the year ended fifth January, 1822, would be 1,300,000l.; making a total charge for funded and unfunded debt of 31,180,213l. instead of (after deducting the 452,929l. of dividends, redeemed and expired) only 30,812,672l. as it ought to have been, if there had been no Sinking Fund. He was perfectly convinced, however, that it would be found, that a much larger amount of Exchequer bills was out than had been stated to the House by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that a perpetual charge 61 of a much larger amount would be thereby incurred. It was well known, that the right hon. gentleman had used every means in his power to force up the public funds, although it was his interest, with a surplus revenue, to have them low for his purchases, speculations in this way had been ruinous. He called on ministers, therefore, if they had in contemplation at present the continuance of that ruinous Sinking fund, to abstain from thus throwing away the public money. He called upon them also to take such measures as should prevent any other persons from speculating in the public funds with public money. He was sorry not to see a right hon. gentleman, a commissioner of Woods and Forests, in his place, as it had been reported that a considerable portion of the proceeds of his department had been occasionally vested in the funds to forward the favourite object, "a rise in the funds," of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. gentleman and the noble marquis ought to recollect that it was Mr. Pitt's practice to keep every human being in ignorance of his financial intentions, until the moment of their execution; whereas the intentions of the right hon. gentleman opposite were commonly known for three or four days to individuals who might make use of that knowledge for their own private advantage.
§ Under all the circumstances, he put it to the House, whether it would not have been wise to listen to the hon. baronet's recommendation to take time to consider the address, to pause before they congratulated his majesty on the condition of the country. The existing system of finance was temporising, and must be ruinous, and as far as the last four years went, his statements proved it. No man was more desirous than himself, that we should preserve our high station by the maintenance of our public credit; and he trusted, that whatever sacrifices it would be necessary to make would be made by all classes equally; and that there would be no such unjust and unprincipled proposition, as to injure the public creditor for the advantage of any other class. If the House of Commons were under the legitimate control of the people, he would cheerfully give up half his fortune to the exigencies of the state; but, under the existing abuses in the management of the revenue and expenditure of the country he would not consent to give up one shilling of his capital to free the country from 62 debt; he had no confidence in the economy or wisdom of the present ministers, and he believed that the confidence of the people was also extinguished. He pledged himself to prove that one hundred millions would have been saved to the country had the Sinking Fund never existed. The right hon. gentleman might smile; but he was ready to show that the system of the Sinking Fund, from its very establishment by Mr. Pitt, was erroneous. He implored his majesty's ministers, therefore, to stop short in this absurd career: he implored them to abandon the present complicated and ruinous system, and to return to a plain statement of Debtor and Creditor—to a simple statement of the receipt, the expenditure, and the surplus of the revenue—[hear, hear!]. This would do more to conciliate the public feeling, to give confidence to the people, as well as to establish public credit, than any plan that could by possibility be devised.
§ The next subject on which the hon. gentleman had touched was the reduction of expenditure. On that subject a pamphlet had recently been published, called "the State of the Nation," which, from beginning to end, did not contain a single accurate statement. Never had there been a more disgraceful attempt to impose on the public; and he begged to guard gentlemen against being led astray by it. Among the misstatements in that pamphlet was the allegation, that in the navy, army, ordnance, and miscellaneous services, there had been, in the last four years, a reduction effected of ten millions. On the subject of the increase of revenue and the reduction of expenditure, he entreated the attention of the House to the similar passages which had been introduced in the various speeches, which, in successive years, had been made from the throne. Taking those speeches as the productions of ministers, it would shew how valueless they were. In the speech of that day was the following passage:—"It is very gratifying to me to be able to inform you, that during the last year the revenue has exceeded that of the year preceding, and appears to be in a course of progressive improvement." In the speech of 1818, the same assertion was made in the following words:—"His royal highness is most happy in being able to acquaint you, that since you were last assembled in parliament, the revenue has been in a state of progressive improvement in its most important branches." In the speech of that day his 63 majesty said, "I have directed the estimates of the current year to be laid before you. They have been framed with every attention to economy which the circumstances of the country will permit." In 1820, the words were: "The estimates for the present year will be laid before you. They have been framed upon the principles of strict economy." So far, however, from the expenditure being diminished, as might have been expected from that declaration, it had increased. In the speech of the present day his majesty said, "It will be satisfactory to you to learn that I have been able to make a large reduction in our annual expenditure, particularly in our naval and military establishments." In the speech made on opening the last session, his majesty was made to say—"It is a satisfaction to me to have been enabled to make some reduction in our military establishments." Such were the expectations invariably held out by his majesty's ministers, and as invariably disappointed. How long was the country to be thus trifled with and insulted? If the House of Commons were composed of five hundred tradesmen taken at hazard from those of the metropolis instead of as many noblemen and gentlemen, they would scout any further attempt to mislead and misrepresent. [Laughter from the Treasury benches] Let not gentlemen hold the honest tradesmen and artisans of the country cheap. They were very able arithmeticians; and woe to that man of them who did not keep his accounts more correctly than the right hon. gentleman opposite kept the accounts of the country. Unless he did improve and simplify the system of keeping the public accounts, he must, in a few years, be involved in inextricable ruin. He called upon the House, therefore, no longer to be duped by this annual hypocrisy, and worse than hypocrisy, on the part of his majesty's ministers. If they did, they would justly subject themselves to a continuance of that opprobrium with which they had been loaded. But, if they meant to do their duty, let them all—let the gentlemen of the landed interest, unless they intended ever after to hold their tongues, fulfil their pledges to their constituents, and unite in giving, by the adoption of his motion, a distinct pledge to reduce the taxation of the country. In successive years had his majesty's ministers talked, in the Speech from the throne, of the flourishing condition of the country: from year to year had the public been deluded by such 64 representations; from year to year had the land-owners been thus lured onwards to their own destruction. They had good-naturedly listened to the assurances of 1816, 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820; they had taken words for acts; and what was the result?—That the statements of his majesty's ministers not having been in any instance realized, their difficulties had ill-creased to a degree, which, if not checked by some means or other, must speedily terminate in their utter ruin.
§ The existing distress of the country be (Mr. H.) attributed to a complication of causes, the chief of which was, that excessive taxation which deprived all classes of a much larger proportion of his income, than had ever been taken from them before, in the history of the country. Reduced in value, as all property was throughout the country, was it possible that the same scale of taxation and of expenditure could be maintained? Was it possible that parliament could continue to repose confidence in ministers, by whom the debt of the country and the difficulties of the land-owners had been so enormously increased, by whom the people had been so invariably deluded? With respect to the reductions which had been effected, if they had deserved to be particularised, did any man believe that the noble marquis or the right hon. gentleman would not have been eager to mention them? What was their nature and character? Some hundred and eighty of the inferior clerks of office, without any regard to their distress and sufferings, had been displaced, while other individuals were permitted to hold situations of large emolument that might well be dispensed with. Were any additional circumstance wanting to show the inefficiency of his majesty's present administration, it might be found in the paltry proposition of assistance to the landed interest, alluded to yesterday by the first lord of the Treasury, and the weak, childish, womanish questions which were, on that occasion, put by that lord to the directors of the Bank of England. Nothing could more completely exhibit the ignorance of those who were unhappily entrusted with the management of the affairs of this great nation, than such an offer of pecuniary aid. It was not money, as he had already stated, that was wanted; it was that sound and substantial credit on which money would be advanced. He believed that many members of that House did not 65 know the amount of the expenditure of the country in the year 1792 and this year; indeed it was not an easy matter to find it out. He would tell them that in the year 1792, that golden number so much scouted by ministers last year, because proposed by him—so much abused by the secretary at war—yet after the House separated those same ministers Were considerate enough to take the folly off his head, and place it on their own [hear, hear!]. In 1792, the civil list, civil and military expence—indeed every expellee, except the interest of the public debt, then about ten millions, adding the expences of Ireland, and the charges for management of the revenue, amounted to about seven millions. But what had been the amount for the last four years? The charges of management and collection of the revenue alone amounted to 4,351,837l. The expences of the civil list, including military establishments, civil government, and the expences of collection for the year 1818, amounted to 27,277,448l.; for the year 1819, 26,520,677l.; for the year 1820, 26,600,519l.; for the year 1821, 26,224,143l. So that now having peace at home, and having the Holy Alliance abroad, to take care of the peace of the world, we have an expence of twenty-seven millions, whilst in the year 1792 we had but an expenditure of seven millions [hear, hear!]. They heard much ' about economy, and economy was practised in dismissing from employment minor clerks who had no other means of support—economy was exercised in that way, but it did not reach the civil list. For the last year, the civil list alone amounted to 1,194,092l. In 1792, the civil list, then much less, was burthened with pensions for members of the royal family; but now, though it is free from those pensions, it exceeded the amount of 1792. He supposed that ministers rested perfectly secure in their places, because by recent additions to their body they had acquired a great accession of strength, [hear hear!] but what was that strength?—It was like the accession of a number of hungry individuals breaking into the house of an already distressed family and lending their assistance to consume the little that remained [hear!]. Although ministers rested so firmly on the Holy Alliance for the maintenance of peace, yet they could not be prevailed on to diminish the amount of foreign expenditure. There was, for 66 instance, 6,000l. a year for a new ambassador to the Swiss Cantons, where nothing was to be done. Mr. Stratford Canning received that salary formerly, but a charge d'affaires had done all the business there for one fourth of that amount, until now that the new ambassador was appointed: was that economy? Why was it permitted? Why was a near relative of a right hon. gentleman who had lately joined the ranks of ministers sent out there with a salary of 3,900l. a year, with 1,500l. for an outfit, and of course a large sum for travelling expences? The appointment was gazetted; there was therefore no reason for concealing the gentleman—he meant Mr. Wynn, a brother to the right hon. the president of the board of Controul. He considered it a most profuse waste of public money.
§ He would now make an observation or two on the Ordnance department [a laugh]. He had recently taken a view of that department; he thought it right to see, what certainly he could not believe without seeing; he saw storekeepers and others living in palaces, the like of which men of large fortunes could not afford; there was about them every mark of expence and extravagance. From the Ordnance a number of junior clerks had been dismissed—had been thrown upon the world without a shilling. There had been in one branch twelve young men dismissed in one batch; and why he would tell the House—those twelve individuals were dismissed in order to preserve the salary and establishment of 3 or4,000l. a year to one sir John Webb, director-general of the Ordnance medical department. In the navy also the utmost disregard to expence existed—as an example he would state the fact, that since the peace there were not less than six hundred promotions, whilst in the marines there were but three; yet he believed that no one would say that the officers of the marines were not as meritorious, as worthy of promotion, as those of the navy;—but they had not an influence with ministers—they had not fathers, brothers and uncles, members of parliament [hear, hear!]. In the last year alone there were in the navy no less than 241 new commissions. The ex pence to the country under that head, for the half-pay of those officers alone was far greater than any saving which could be effected by the dismissal of junior clerks. It was intolerable to think of the extent of undue influence in that House. He 67 lamented it much. He could have wished to see the nobility of England raised above such low pursuits; there was a time when it was considered a reproach to a nobleman or any of his family to be called a pensioner of the public: but now it appeared to be the most anxious desire of many of the nobility to get as much as possible from the public. He could not but consider it in the last degree disgraceful to the nobility, to be pensioners upon the country—to sec them, blessed as they were with large possessions, adding to the burthens of a distressed and harassed people [hear, hear!]. To show the situation of the nobility—the ignoble views which some of them were capable of taking—he would take the liberty of stating to the House the substance of the last will of a certain noble lord—he hoped to have a copy of it soon in his possession. That nobleman by his will gave a sum of 2, or 500l. a year to certain members of his family, until they should be better provided for by government in some other manner [hear, hear!]. They had been so provided for according to that precious testament; the last member of the family, in the course of the last year, was made a commissioner of the Customs [hear, hear!]. It was such things as these, that led to the distresses of the people—to the debasement of noble feeling, and to the loss of public confidence.
§ The retrenchment which had been made by the ministers this year scarcely deserved that name. Labourers, carpenters, porters, and such persons, were put out of bread; but did they learn that any of the junior lords of the admiralty had been dismissed? He had heard of a recent appointment which was perfectly characteristic of the ideas of ministers with respect to retrenchment. A gallant general, and a member of that House, who has already three places and two pensions, had been lately promoted to the place of superintendent of gas. In the navy, the army, in every civil department, the same profusion appeared in all the higher offices in the household. Mr. so-and-so was a Cook, and Mr. such-a-one clerk of the Kitchen, none, of them did any duty, although all received large salaries; and this ministers called supporting the splendor of royalty. He would tell them, however, that such degrading useless practices contributed as little to the splendour of the throne, as clothing the guards in the dress of Merry Andrews, instead of the plain, substantial, 68 manly clothing of Englishmen and English soldiers [hear!]—that love of tinsel—that chidish glittering gewgaw was only worthy of France before the French revolution, was altogether unworthy of England in the 19th century. He might be allowed to observe, that the expence of the cuirasses prepared lately at Enfield for the horse-guards, although an absurd dress for England in time of peace—profound peace—amounted to a vast deal more than the same articles would have cost if manufactured in Birmingham or in Sheffield. There were other items to which he would shortly allude. The hon. gentleman next alluded to the conduct of the noble marquis (Londonderry), in carrying through that House a bill (the Non-inlistment bill) which was nothing more nor less than an attempt to crush the rising liberties of South America, and which at the same time kept up the expence of our half-pay list by the threat of dismissing every officer who should enter the service in the cause of freedom. But the cause of freedom in that country had triumphed; as would, he hoped, the cause of the Greeks, notwithstanding the efforts of ministers to depress it—notwithstanding that course of policy which was so well calculated to make the character of England odious and despicable. Again in the whole of our colonial expenditure how did the economy of ministers appear? They dismissed a num. her of poor clerks who received only 100l. or 200l. a year for constant work, but they preserved in their places those who took thousands and tens of thousands out of the pockets of the people and did little for them [hear, hear!]. They preserved all the expense and abuses in the Ionian islands—they gave sir Thomas Maritland 10,000l. a year for doing what was injurious and degrading to the country—for disarming and enslaving the people. It was thus that the parental protection of the English government manifested itself; the people were thrown into prisons, they were hung up at the tops of their hills—the first of their nobility—of their clergy—of their gentry were transported from their native soil without inquiry, and without trial. The same prodigality was practised at the Cape of Good Hope. A noble lord, as governor of the place, had his 10,000l. a year, with country houses and large establishments—there was staff and useless appointments of great expence at Somers-town and at Cape-town. Mi- 69 nisters would say that this expence was necessary for the support of the colonies, but he would call it a wanton profusion—if the colonies were fairly treated—if they had the protection of British law instead of being a burthen upon this country, they would be able to support themselves. He was also surprised that gentlemen who were above all others interested, the proprietors of West India property, did not absolutely compel ministers to alter their system—a system, surely, more opposed to the interest of the colonies and to common sense was never upheld; to such an extent were jobs, carried that noble lords, who never m their lives saw those places—nay, even boys at school received, some:3,000l. some 5,000l a year for their services [hear, hear!]. With respect to Scotland he hoped the expenses of that country would be immediately taken into consideration, with a view to reduction, The expense of the civil government of Scotland—of the law courts—of the salaries of officers, deserved the strictest attention of ministers. The country loudly called for a reduction in the public expenditure, the necessity of the times required it—every man ought to be removed from place, unless those who had duties to perform; no one should be allowed to bur-then the country without contributing to its service. It was with these views that he had prepared the amendment which be was about to submit to the House. He trusted, that. It would meet with the support of those who went there to benefit their country; he did not hope for much from those who went there to benefit them selves [hear, hear, and cries of order!]
§ The Speaker
said, that the hon. member must on reflection, feel that such language was disorderly. It could not without a breach of order, be imputed to honourable members, that they entertained views contrary to the just discharge of their public duties.
§ The Speaker
said, that he always felt it a painful duty to interrupt members, but it was his first duty to preserve order in that House. The orders of the House were made, not for the advantage of one 70 party or the other, but for public purposes, and to preserve the general freedom of debate. He hoped the hon. member would believe, that it was far from his wish to interrupt him—that his sole wish, indeed, was, to preserve the dignity of the House and the regularity of debate.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he should be happy at all times to bow to the decision of the Chair. As there were not only objections to his expressing the opinions which he held, but also to his entertaining them, he would no longer trespass on the attention of the House. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving the following amendment;That while we return his Majesty our most grateful acknowledgments for the various reductions which have been made in the naval and military establishments during the last year, by which some diminution of expense may be effected, yet we should ill discharge the duty we owe to his Majesty, if we did not direct his most serious attention to the present condition of his faithful people:That we feel it our duty to represent to his Majesty, that the distresses, proved to exist, before a committee of this House, instituted for the especial purpose in the last session of parliament, have considerably increased; and that the owners and occupiers of land throughout a great part of the kingdom, and with them the tradesmen and artizans usually dependent on them for employment, are labouring under unexampled difficulties:That we cannot but express most respectfully to his Majesty our opinion, that an excessive taxation, disproportionate to the reduced value of all property, is a principal cause of those distresses; and humbly to in treat that he will be graciously pleased immediately to direct such reductions in every branch of our expenditure, from the highest to the lowest department, as shall enable us forthwith to relieve his Majesty's faithful people from a large portion of that burthen of taxation, which, in their present impoverished condition, presses so heavily upon all classes.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he was sure that, before he adverted to the other parts of the hon. member's speech, the House would allow him to remark upon that part of it in which a charge was made against him, of allowing secrets of finance to be known in certain 71 quarters, before they were regularly made public in the ordinary course of business. That charge he begged, in the most distinct and positive manner to deny. It was not the first occasion on which he had had to make a similar denial to charges brought by the hon. member, who seemed to lend a credulous ear to such malevolent aspersions. If he could be guilty of such a practice as that imputed to him, he should be no longer worthy to hold the important situation which he filled; but against such unfounded insinuations, he should place the reputation of his whole life—a reputation which, he hoped, had never yet been sullied. As to certain financial statements, it was necessary, by the regulations established in 1819, that they should be made known; and he should be ready to produce them in a few days. Whatever was the nature of the proposition which had been said to have passed from the first lord of the Treasury and himself, and upon this he would observe, that great misrepresentation had gone abroad—he was certain that the best relief which could be afforded to the distresses complained of would be, an extension of the currency of the country. However, he would not then enter into the discussion of that question; for he considered it a bad practice to go into the discussion of any important question by halves, where no result could be obtained. Still less was he inclined, on the present occasion, to follow the hon. member through the immense mass of figures which he had opened to the House. It was not, he considered, consistent with the practice of parliament, to go into the consideration of financial statements, until the documents connected with them were in the hands of members. If the hon. member had chosen that course, and had delayed his motion until time was allowed for the examination of its details, then he would have been prepared to follow him, and to point where he considered they might be wrong and where right. He was the less willing to enter into the subjects upon which the hon. member had touched, as he considered that most of them were not at all directly connected with the resolution with which he concluded. The hon. gentleman's panacea for the evils of the country was, a reduction of expenditure; but, on his own showing, if for the list four years the amount of the revenue exceeded the expenditure only by four 72 millions, would it be wise, would it be politic, to diminish that small surplus which might be so necessary to support public credit—to meet accidental events—or unexpected emergencies? He couid not help thinking that the hon. gentleman had discovered more zeal than fairness. It would have been as well if the hon. gentleman, instead of condemning en masse all the measures of government—if, instead of accusing them of profusion—if, instead of asserting that government were opposed to all reduction, he had waited to see what reduction government intended to propose. It was the, intention of ministers in a few days to bring the state of the country under the consideration of parliament, when their measures might be discussed successively and in detail. On that discussion it would appear what government had done; and, what they had omitted to do. Then would it be open for the hon. gentleman to make his objections, and for the members of the government to meet those objections by facts, by reason, and argument; but the hon. gentleman had that night, without waiting for information, assumed the misconduct of ministers, and argued on that assumption. The hon. gentleman admitted that reductions had been made, but he stated that junior clerks had been dismissed and left unprovided. The hon. gentleman could not feel more for those persons than ministers. They felt acutely the painful duty they had to perform. When the hon. gentleman charged ministers, as if it were matter of reproach, with having dismissed junior clerks, he would ask, what were they to do? How much more justly would they have been exposed to reproach, had they dismissed men who had been in office for years, whose lives had been worn out in the service of the country; and who, from age and habit, were incapable of turning themselves to any other occupation? He begged of the House to suspend their opinion on these subjects until they were put in possession of the whole of what had been done. Another part of the hon. member's speech he would just advert to; ministers had been accused of making reductions only in the income of those who held situations of comparatively small value. To this he would only say for the present, that the proposed reductions would extend to the highest as well as the lowest official situations. In the variety of the hon. member's topics, he had introduced the mention of those 73 hon. gentlemen who had recently joined his majesty's government. Those hon. members were not present; and in their absence, it would have been better not to say a word about them. He would, however, observe, that he anticipated an important benefit to the country from their services; and it appeared to him, from the tone of the hon. member, that his anxiety on this subject was excited, not so much by the union of those hon. gentlemen with his majesty's government, as by the loss of their support on the opposite side. As to the story of members of parliament holding menial situations in his majesty's household, he would just observe, that however good a subject for joke it might have been heretofore, it was at present wholly without foundation; and he would defy the hon. member to bring a proof in support of the statement. It was rather curious to hear the hon. member hash up in a speech on the first day of the session, all the tale-bearing accounts which had reached him during the recess. They would afford food enough for the amusement of the House in their separate discussion, in the course of the session, without mixing them all up on the first day. To their separate introduction, which, no doubt, would be made in due course of time, he would reserve himself, and leave them for the present. The great question which the hon. gentleman had called upon the House to decide was, whether there should be a pledge given for an immediate and sweeping reduction of taxation,—whether this reduction was to be immediate, and by the means which he had proposed, or whether relief could be afforded by those measures by which the honour of the country would be supported. He had no hesitation in saying, that the measure proposed by the hon. member would be not only mischievous, but ruinous in its effects; and, that whatever hopes it might excite, it would not only not relieve, but tend to aggravate the distresses of the suffering classes. He would say in the first place, that the plan of the hon. member would, by involving the destruction of the sinking fund, shake public credit, and destroy all confidence in money transactions; and, instead of being able to procure advances of money at a cheap rate, it would be difficult at even 5 or 6 per cent. to procure any accommodation whatever, a great fall in the stocks would also be a consequence of the measure, and he had no hesitation in saying that the stock of 74 every other country, would be preferred to that of England, and all the evils of which the landholders now complained would be considerably increased. He would add, that if the apprehension which had gone abroad, of touching the sinking fund, had not created great alarm, he would have been able in the present session to propose the reduction of the five per cents; but let parliament act with the firmness which ought to characterize it, and he should be much disappointed if he should not still be able to propose that measure this session. He considered that one of the most efficient means of relieving the landed interest was the facility of borrowing money at a moderate rate of interest; but that facility could not exist, unless the credit of the country was preserved. There was another reason against the proposition of the hon. member; the reduction of taxation would destroy the credit of the country—but would it relieve the people? Relief from taxation on articles of consumption was never immediate: the benefit to be derived by the consumer must necessarily be postponed for a considerable time. As he intended in a few days to bring the subject more fully under the consideration of parliament, be only felt it necessary to add, that he could not agree to support the hon. member's resolution.
said, that if the right hon. gentleman was to be considered as the organ of government on financial matters, they had it now distinctly avowed, that there was to be no reduction of taxation. Ministers had at last screwed up their courage to deny that any benefit would result from such a measure; nay, the right hon. gentleman had gone so far as to assert, that the repeal of any tax, though he did not say what, would not only not relieve, but would be an aggravation of the distress of the country. Did the right hon. gentleman mean to tell the House, that the repeal of the tax on malt, on salt, on soap or leather, would not relieve the country from, a very great and almost intolerable pressure? Did he mean to say, that the people were so "ignorantly impatient of taxation," that on the very first day of the session, when they expected their distresses would at least be considered, they were to be told that the repeal of any one of those taxes would not only not relieve, but aggravate their misery? Was there any table in the country, except the table of that house, over which such doctrine 75 could be held? He would venture to assert, that if such a doctrine were to be supported at any private table, it would be immediately scouted, and the man who should attempt to maintain it would, before the company quitted, have cause to be ashamed of his opinion. The right hon. gentleman had made it a charge against his hon. friend, that he had introduced so many topics which were afterwards to be discussed separately. Now, such a charge came with an ill grace from any member who intended to take a part in their discussion; for surely it must be an advantage to the opposite side, to know so early that such subjects were to be brought forward on some future day. He thought it was very gallant in his hon. friend to have given thus early a notice of what he intended to do. It was what he himself would not have done; and he very much doubted, if before long the hon. member would not have to regret his courtesy in this respect. The right hon. gentleman had been quite facetious on the present occasion. He had never seen any one make so amusing a speech with so grave a face. The right hon. gentleman had said, that jobs to which his hon. friend had alluded would afford sufficient amusement for the session. However, before the termination of their proceedings, he might have occasion to repent the introduction of such amusement. Did the right hon. gentleman recollect the amusement which the hon. member had afforded him last session, when he introduced the receivers-general to the notice of a committee? That might have been very amusing, though certainly not to the parties so introduced; for it was death to some of them, and would, he believed, be so in its effects to some of their successors. By the exertions of his hon. friend on that occasion, a sum of not less than 70,000l. was saved to the country; and he hoped more considerable savings would be made, by a repetition of similar exertions. The saving alone was not to be considered, though that was important; but the great influence of the Crown, which was by so much diminished. He would vote for the amendment which his hon. friend had moved, though not for all the reasons which had been advanced by him (for as yet he was not in possession of all the details upon which they were founded); but because be was anxious that a reduction should be made of that taxation which pressed so heavily on the people—of those burthens, the repeal of which it was now 76 said would not relieve, but aggravate their sufferings. It had been said, that the right hon. gentleman was in the habit of letting slip some of the secrets of his financial arrangements. Now, he himself did not believe that such was the fact; but certainly it was the fact that such an opinion was held in the city. He had no doubt it was unfounded, for he did not know a more honest servant of the public than the right hon. gentleman. He would not press any farther remarks on the question before the House, as other opportunities would represent themselves of going more fully into the subjects by which it was introduced.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
disclaimed having said that taxation was not an evil, or that the repeal of taxation was not a benefit. What he had stated was, that the simple repeal of taxes proposed by the hon. member, would be productive of more harm to the country by shaking the public credit, than would be commensurate with the relief which such a course might afford to particular classes.
wished it to be understood, that he would never vote for the repeal of a tax, until he was convinced that such repeal would not affect the public credit of the country.
said, that the calculations and figures brought forward by the hon. member for Aberdeen were so complicated and so various, that it was difficult to pronounce any opinion of their accuracy without previous inquiry. He could not conceive any more unsatisfactory mode of bringing this great question under discussion, than that adopted by the hon. member. It was, he thought, extremely unreasonable, to say the least of it, without waiting to see what had been done by ministers in the way of reduction, to assume that they had done nothing. Let the House examine into facts before they decided. He objected to the proposed amendment, because it went, with one sweeping censure, to condemn a whole system of finance as fallacious. But let the House remember, if that system was wrong, that they had been parties to it. He did not mean to say that the House, upon proper grounds, might not retrace the steps they had taken with respect to any measure. No wish for an appearance of consistency should prevent them from adopting such a course; but, at the same time, he hoped the House would give its most serious and dispassionate considera- 77 tion, to what he might be permitted to call the most important question ever agitated. He trusted that whatever faults might be found with the conduct of government, whatever means might be proposed for the relief of the distresses complained of (and he would admit that those means were as various and divergent as the grievances themselves), the House would not consent to overturn a system which they had solemnly adopted, and simply upon the ground that the hon. member had produced a variety of statements, most of which bore very remotely upon the important question before them.
rose chiefly to put one or two questions to the chancellor of the exchequer. The first was, whether or not he admitted the financial statements of the hon. member for Aberdeen to be correct; and the second was, whether it was his intention to interfere with the metallic currency of the country? The hon. member then went on to observe upon the extraordinary conduct of ministers, who some time ago told the country, that not a single man could be spared from the immense establishments which they continued in time of peace, and now admitted, by their proposed reductions, the extravagance of which they had hitherto been guilty.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
replied, that in the absence of the necessary documents, he would neither admit nor deny the accuracy of the statements made by the hon. member for Aberdeen. As to the other question, he could give a most positive answer. He could assure the House, that government meant to make no alteration in our circulating medium. He felt convinced of the necessity of preserving the standard currency of the country.
§ Sir J. Newport
observed, that he was not prepared, in the absence of the fullest information, to go into the consideration of the important question which had been introduced, nor was he ready or willing to condemn at once, what, before, the House had so fully approved. He therefore, though he concurred in the general principle of the amendment, could not agree to those parts of it which went at once to destroy a system upon which they had already solemnly decided. Provided the hon. member consented to an omission of those passages, he would cordially support the amendment. The passages which he would wish to have omitted were these 78 —"And aggravated by a ruinous and temporising system of finance;" and also—"The more alarming as it appears, they do not arise from temporary causes." The omission of those passages would not destroy the general sense of the resolution. He was also induced to rise, in consequence of the peremptory tone assumed by the right hon. gentleman, who now distinctly told the House and the country, that there was to be no relief from taxation. In the present distressed state of the country, that alone would be a sufficient ground for going up to the Throne with an address, praying for an immediate and an effectual reduction of the people's burdens.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, it was not so much his intention to follow the hon. member for Aberdeen through the various topics to which he had adverted, as to fix the attention of the House upon the true principle on which it ought to come to a vote on the present evening. That principle was shortly this—whether it would be creditable or not to the deliberations of parliament to close so large a question as the hon. member had opened, in the indirect manner that was now proposed. He for one was clearly of opinion, that to decide with such baste as that hon. member wished the House to decide, on a subject that was as important as it was complicated, would neither be consistent with the practice, the dignity, or the wisdom of parliament. He was therefore surprised at hearing the right hon. baronet, who bore a high reputation for financial knowledge, not only come forward to support the motion of the hon. member for Aberdeen, but also to blame his right hon. friend, the chancellor of the exchequer, for having distinctly told the House, that relief for the disrresses of the country would be more effectually obtained by supporting public credit than by a reduction of taxation; when the right hon. baronet must have known that any great reduction of taxation could not be made in the present state of affairs, without committing a direct breach of public faith. Not only would his right hon. friend have shown an apathy to the financial relations of the country, totally unbecoming his high situation and character, if he had concurred in the amend- 79 ment brought forward by the hon. member for Aberdeen, but he would also have held out false hopes to the country, if he had at all concurred in the practicability of affording a remission of taxes, to the extent demanded on the other side. In making this observation he had no intention of calling upon gentlemen to pledge themselves that night to support the scale of expenditure which ministers felt it their duty to propose to the House. On the contrary, he must distinctly avow himself to be of opinion, that they could vote against the present amendment, without precluding themselves from the right of entering, on a future night, into a full discussion of the financial resources of the country. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who had been in the custom of declaring that all surplus was a waste of revenue, and of declaiming night after night against the mockery and inutility of a sinking fund, might indeed be ready, even on so sudden an emergency as the present, to re-affirm all their former opinions; but he thought that gentlemen who had been accustomed to maintain the policy and expediency of a perpetual sinking fund, ought to pause and exercise a little consideration, before they gave their concurrence to a proposition, which contained doctrines in direct opposition to those which they had formerly supported. If gentlemen had reason to believe that the principles on which they had previously relied were erroneous, then he would admit that, in point of public duty and public honour, they were bound to retrace their steps and to avow their errors. They were not bound, however, to rescind in an indirect manner resolutions to which they had previously given a direct and formal support; they were not bound to vote away the taxes which were set aside for the establishment of a sinking fund, without taking into consideration the effect which such a measure might produce upon public credit. They were hound to wait till the repeal of some specific tax was proposed to the House; and they ought to consider two points with regard to it: first, whether it was a tax which was generally felt as an oppressive tax by the community; and secondly, whether it was one which the exigencies of the state would allow to be dispensed with. When the question came in that shape before the consideration of parliament, it would be enabled to decide with propriety whe- 80 ther it was rational or becoming to continue such a tax; but he could not conceive a case in which the House could be more stultified or degraded than it would be at present, if it were to accede to the amendment then before it, upon the speech of the hon. member for Aberdeen, which, whatever solidity it might possess, it was impossible for any member at the instant either to follow or to understand. He repeated it, that under no circumstances could the House be more degraded in public estimation, than it would be, if, after the financial course which it had so long pursued, and the resolutions which it had so lately sanctioned, relative to the necessity of having a clear sinking fund of five millions, it were now to accede to a proposal for the remission of taxes, either to that or nearly that amount. Indeed, he was almost ashamed to have heard such a proposition gravely propounded to a House of Commons. He was completely surprised to find that the hon. member for Aberdeen could know so little of the texture of parliament, as to open to it such a case as he had done—a case filled with a motley group of figures and calculations, far beyond the comprehension of any man at the instant; replete with jobs, or stories of jobs, which might or might not be true; but of which if true, he (the marquis) was totally ignorant, or they should have been redressed. He was also much surprised that the right hon. baronet who had preceded him, and for whose financial knowledge he must again profess his great respect, should have been induced to become a party to the present amendment, on the correction of a few words, which, in his opinion, made little difference as to the absurdity of it. Had he not been a witness to the fact, he could not have believed that the right hon. baronet's vote would have been so easily caught. He should be wasting the time and insulting the understanding of the House, were He to combat for a moment with the idea, that an assembly in whose wisdom the country fully relied, and on whose decisions not only its happiness, but, in all probability, the happiness of the whole civilized world depended, could accede to the opinions which it was now wished to insert in the address; and that, too, not upon sober argument—not upon mature deliberation—but upon a series of calculations which it was impossible for any man who had not previously seen to un- 81 derstand. It would, therefore, be sufficient for him to state, that in voting for the negative of the present extraordinary amendment, gentlemen would not preclude themselves from a future consideration of the great question of finance, either as related to the public credit of the country, the distress under which part of it laboured, or the best means of relieving that distress. Neither would they, by voting in favour of the original address that evening, deprive themselves of the right of inquiring upon another occasion whether a remission of certain taxes could be made without injury to the public service. As all these questions would still be open for their discussion, he called upon hon. gentlemen, as they valued their character for consistency, to give their negative to the present most extraordinary amendment.
§ Mr. Tierney
commenced by declaring, that upon entering the House that evening, it was his fixed intention not to address it. The noble lord, however, by indulging in the language which he had done, and by observing that any man who ventured to vote in favour of the amendment would be committing an insult both to the House and to the country, had made a call upon him to speak, which he found it totally impossible to resist. The noble lord had stated that the words which his right hon. friend had proposed to leave out of the amendment were not of the slightest importance. On that point, however, as on many others, he had the misfortune of differing with the noble lord; for he certainly thought that the omission of the words in question was of very great importance, as it rendered the amendment of such a nature as to deserve the unanimous support of the House. The noble lord had also stated, that the country was looking up to the wisdom of parliament! He felt compelled to observe that the country had been looking for a long time, indeed, up to that wisdom. But it was now beginning to look at the manner in which parliament sympathised with its feelings; and on the present occasion he trusted that hon. gentlemen would embrace the opportunity of regaining its respect and confidence. There was no difficulty in the proposition submitted to the House. The noble lord had indeed said, that there was great difficulty attached to it; but that was by no means the case. He therefore called upon gentlemen to exercise their 82 own judgments in coming to a decision upon it, and not to be led away by the ingenious statements of the noble lord. He cautioned them to look to the manner in which they intended to vote that evening, for they might depend upon it, that if they voted against the amendment, the noble lord would before the end of the session, turn round upon them, when they were inclined to support some plan of retrenchment, and say, that the present was just such a proposition as they ought to have supported, if they had not intended to mislead the government. Let gentlemen, and the country gentlemen especially, take care how they entangle themselves a second time with their constituents. Let them recollect that they were not sent there to vote mere courtly addresses to the throne, but to carry up to it the wishes and wants of those whom they represented. Let them show by their conduct that night, that they had not been uselessly employed during the vacation, but that they had returned to their duties in that House, after a full deliberation upon the evils which were then afflicting the country. He would explain the sense in which he intended to vote for the amendment. It was in the hope that if it were carried, considerable reductions would be made in the expenditure of every establishment in the state, from the highest down to the lowest: and, entertaining such a hope, he held it to be a matter of duty, not to allow one moment to elapse, after the re-assembling of parliament, without stating such to be the deliberate conviction of his mind. Much as he might pity those who might become the sufferers from a strict retrenchment, and much as he might feel for those who might think themselves degraded by the loss of a certain state, by which they were at present surrounded, still he would, so help him God! persevere, if it were in his power, in making it. He was inclined to vote for a reduction of taxation, first of all; because he was convinced that it ought to be made. How far that reduction should extend, he did not exactly know; nor was he called on to declare. A question had been started—whether it might not be advisable to repeal all the taxes which went to support the sinking fund? He would not pretend to give a. decided opinion at present on that subject; but his firm conviction was, that in order to support public credit, which rested mainly upon public feeling, it would be more be- 83 neficial to abolish taxes to the amount of the sinking fund, than to look forward to the distant relief which was to be derived from that source. But, said the right hon. gentleman opposite, "How can such a measure be proposed? How can you meddle with the sinking fund, without doing great injury to public credit?" That argument came with peculiar grace indeed from the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, who, it might be supposed from his language, had never meddled with the sinking fund himself. But, was this the case? By no means. The sinking fund, if it had not been for the inroads which the right hon. gentleman had himself made upon it, would, at the present time, have amounted to 22,000,000l.; whereas it had now become a question between the right hon. gentleman and the hon. member for Aberdeen, whether it even amounted to one million. Then came the noble lord in support of his right hon. friend; and, what did he say? Why, that the House of Commons having come to a resolution that there should be a sinking fund of 5,000,000l., it was fitting that such resolution should be strictly adhered to. But here he begged leave to ask the noble lord whether the sinking fund had at any one moment amounted to 5,000,000l. even after the 3,000,000l. of new taxes which had been imposed upon the country to raise it to that sum, and with all the conjurings to which the right hon. gentleman had so frequently subjected it? He believed that more would be done for the country in the way of present relief by abolishing the sinking fund, than by keeping up a sinking fund of not more than 2,000,000l. to defray a debt of 800,000,000l. What he would ask, would be the effect of such a sinking fund, even supposing that the country should enjoy (what he sincerely hoped it might enjoy) five years more of uninterrupted peace? Would it facilitate us at all in entering upon a new war? He thought not. But the remission of two or three millions of taxes would have such an effect in satisfying the country—the tone and temper which it would produce would be so beneficial, that he conceived it to be a much more advisable plan, than the continuance of a sinking fund on the present scale. He would not enter farther into the discussion of the evening; indeed, he had not intended to have taken part in it at all; but when he saw the noble lord getting upon his stilts—(and 84 when he was hard pressed, nobody got upon them with greater case) he felt an inclination which he could not master, to endeavour to take him a little down. He warned the House not to place much confidence in the promises which the noble lord had made about retrenchment and reduction; for, unfortunately, the noble lord was not the fittest man to be believed upon that subject. He would state his reason for saying so. It was shortly this—that the noble lord and his colleagues had uniformly shown, that the only way of getting them to make reductions, was to drive them to it. He therefore called upon the country gentlemen not to allow themselves to he deluded with fine promises. Let them only say to the noble lord "You must reduce, or we will not give you our support," and he should be very much surprised indeed, if the noble lord did not say to them, "Don't repeat that language again; it is very disagreeable, you shall be satisfied, gentlemen." If they meant the country to believe that they felt for the distress under which it suffered, they would not defer their vote in favour of retrenchment and reduction of taxation to a future occasion, as the noble lord had advised; but would come forward and manfully give it in favour of the amendment that evening. They would thus force ministers to every possible reduction, and the country would have the benefit of it in the shape of mitigated taxation.
§ Mr. Huskisson
stated, that he did not intend to enter at large, on that occasion, into so important and complicated a subject as the distressed state of agriculture, or to consider how far taxation was one of its causes, and applied to it more than to any other part of the public interest. He must say with the hon. member for Wareham, that he could neither follow nor understand the figures of the hon. member for Aberdeen; but he intended to be a little more consistent, and therefore should not join in his conclusion. For that hon. member had stated, that he would give his opinion on the statements of the hon. mover of the amendment on a future occasion, but would give his vote in favour of them that night. This he himself could not do. He was surprised to hear it said, that the alterations in the amendment were important. They were by no means so; but merely of that ingenious nature, that was calculated to conciliate wavering members, and catch a 85 few stray votes. It was a little too much to call upon his right hon. friend the chancellor of the exchequer to condemn the sinking fund, which was connected with a system of finance which he had so long advocated. He implored the House to consider the situation in which they were deliberating upon the amendment. His majesty, in his Speech, had called their attention to the state of distress to which the agricultural interest was at present reduced. The responsible advisers of the Crown had stated, that, on an early day, they would submit to parliament what, in their view of the subject was the wisest and most expedient course to be pursued in order to relieve and remedy the agricultural distress. Now, in his humble opinion, it would have been more consistent with the ordinary usage of parliament to have deferred the present discussion till that day, and for the House to have then voted in favour of some other mode of relief, if that suggested by ministers appeared to be inefficient. Though such were his opinions, he should not have explained them to the House, had he not been compelled to rise in consequence of the slanderous insinuations made by the hon. member for Aberdeen against his right hon. friend the chancellor of the exchequer, and the aspersions which he had cast upon the conduct of his office. [Loud cries of "Order, order."] He had understood the hon. gentleman to state, that it was his intention to submit a motion to the House regarding certain monies which had passed through his (Mr. Huskisson's) office being vested in the funds. If the hon. gentleman moved for any accounts connected with those funds, he would gladly produce them. He could assure the hon. member that it was in strict conformity with the injunctions of an act of parliament, and certain orders of the Treasury, that the money in question, which had arisen from the sale of some crown estates, had been vested in the funds. He assured the hon. member that he had, neither directly or indirectly, received any benefit from the money being so placed in the funds.
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
said, the time was now arrived when it was the duty of that House to enforce the severest retrenchment, and to relieve those whom they represented from a part of the burthens under which they were labouring. In the various discussions which must ensue, 86 he should endeavour so to direct his mind to this subject, as to ascertain the extent to which retrenchment was practicable, and consequently the amount of relief which the country had a right to expect. There was one part of the observations which had fallen from the chancellor of the exchequer, which, he confessed, had given him some surprise, and which he could not help thinking a little extraordinary, when considered with reference to the distresses which now pressed upon owners and occupiers of land. If he had understood the right hon. gentleman correctly, he seemed to think that some relief might be afforded to occupiers of land by means of a loan from government, in the same way as such loans had been advanced on former occasions—[The chancellor expressed dissent.]—He was happy to find that he had mistaken the right hon. gentleman's meaning. His majesty's ministers had pledged themselves to take the subject into consideration, and to make retrenchments. It was but fair, therefore, to wait till they saw how far that promise would be redeemed; and upon that ground he could not consent to the present amendment.
Sir T. Lethbridge
said, he could not see any relief for the distresses of the country except in retrenchment, and trusted that if ministers did not fulfil the pledges which they had given in favour of it, the House would compel them to do so. He called upon ministers to look the distress of the country manfully in the face, and to collect the best information they could relative to its nature and extent. He was convinced, from the language of the Speech from the throne, that ministers were unacquainted with the frightful ravages it had made. If they had seen the individual and collective distress which he had witnessed in that part of the country with which he was connected, he was confident they would have made some more vigorous efforts to relieve it. He felt it his painful duty to support the amendment.
Sir John Sebright,
after expressing the obligation which he, in common with every man in the country, felt to the hon. member for Aberdeen, for the great exertions he had made to produce a reduction in the public expenditure, stated the paramount necessity which at present existed for enforcing a system of economy in every branch of the public expenditure. The noble marquis had called the resolu- 87 tions of the hon. member for Aberdeen ridiculous; but he had not said a word to prove them so. They only called upon the House to do its duty and retrench; and, whether it did or no, he would tell the noble marquis, that it would be soon impossible for him and his colleagues to spend money, inasmuch as they would have none to spend.
§ Mr. Ricardo,
though he agreed with every thing that had fallen from his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen, in favour of economy and retrenchment, could not vote in favour of his amendment, as he differed widely from his hon. friend as to the causes of the existing agricultural distress. His hon. friend stated, that the cause of that distress was excessive taxation; but the real cause, it could not be denied, was the low price of agricultural produce. That taxation should be the cause of low prices was so absurd and so inconsistent with every principle of political economy, that he could not assent for a moment to the doctrine. Agreeing, however, as he did, with his hon. friend, as to the necessity of economy and retrenchment, and as to the impropriety of making loans to the occupiers of lands, be was sure they would be frequently found, in the course of the session, pursuing together that necessary object, a reduction of expenditure and taxation.
§ Mr. Astell
would vote for the amendment, as it pledged the House to a system of retrenchment. If such a system were rigidly enforced, there would, he was convinced, be left a surplus of revenue to form a sinking fund.
§ Mr. Benett,
of Wilts, was surprised to hear his hon. friend express an opinion, that taxation was not the cause of agricultural distress. If taxation was not the cause of that distress, how happened it that the English farmer was unable to compete with the foreign, when the soil and climate of England and his own industry, fully entitled him to a remunerating price?
contended, that the question embraced by the amendment, was not one of such mean importance as to be taken up incidentally in the manner now proposed.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
said, he felt some difficulty in deciding upon the course 88 which he ought to pursue on the present occasion. He could not, consistently with his duty, in acknowledging the Speech from the throne, put a negative upon the proposition of the hon. mover of the original address; neither could he vote for an amendment, which went hastily to anticipate measures that would, in due course, come more regularly before them. It was agreed on all sides that great distress prevailed among particular classes of the community. The ministers pledged themselves to submit their view of the state of the country. Had the hon. mover of the amendment suffered ministers to suggest their measures before he proposed his own, then indeed the question would have been fairly brought to issue; and the House could determine upon the maturest consideration of the views on both sides. For his own part, he was very ready to say, that had not ministers embodied in the address an admission of the existing agricultural distress, and similar principles of economy with those disclosed in the amendment, he should have felt it his duty to vote against their proposition. It had been said, that the government of the country would not adopt the necessary remedy, but must be driven to economise by a certain party in that House. Upon that observation he should merely observe, that whenever any measures were adopted for the relief of the country, they must emanate from the government; for, unless they did so originate, he knew they would be perfectly useless. It was therefore his anxious wish that the question should be left in their hands. If the noble marquis did not take the course he had promised, then such an amendment as was now proposed might be very properly considered. At present he thought the amendment premature, for ministers stood pledged to lose no time in submitting their views to the House.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that if he wanted any new argument to fix the vote which he had determined to give—if he wanted any additional reason to influence that vote, it had been abundantly furnished by the hon. baronet who spoke last, one of the representatives for the county of Kent, the most distressed of all the agricultural counties in England. The reasoning of the hon. baronet amounted to this—that nothing from any quarter, save the ministers, could hope for success in that House—that, be the quarter ever so respectable, be the measure ever so sound, be the 89 exigency ever so urgent, unless that measure had the support of ministers, vain were its hopes of success, useless its chance of adoption. The country might perish, the state of the county of Kent might, if it were possible, become even more wretched than it was—still, no measure could ever hope for success, unless it originated with government. Such was the opinion of the hon. baronet; from which another consequence followed (for it was part of the same proposition), that if no measure, however useful, could succeed without the concurrence of government, a measure not the most sound, not the most beneficial, not the best suited to the possible wants of the country—nay, even detrimental to its interests, disappointing its just hopes, and frustrating its most needful expectations—had some chance of success there, if it had the countenance of the ministers of the Crown. That being the hon. baronet's opinion—that being his true and candid declaration of the effective utility of the House of which he was a member—such being the fact respecting that House, which the hon. baronet thought proper to proclaim to the country, he the more marvelled at the hon. baronet's conclusion, which was the very reverse of the premises he had laid down. Surely the hon. baronet's conclusion ought to have been, that he should take care how he voted against any measure that would remedy the evil of which he complained. The only reason the hon. baronet assigned for not pledging the House now to some measure of relief was, that the ministers were planning a remedy which they were to disclose ten or twelve days hence. Entertaining that opinion, the hon. baronet ought to have seen that it became the House to take the earliest possible opportunity of stating the course of relief which ought to be taken in the present crisis; because, if they waited until the ministers were ready—if they suffered ministers finally to make up their minds, regardless of the wishes of the country, then he had the authority of the member for the county of Kent to say, and his own opinion to fortify him in the belief of it, that whatever measures such ministers proposed would be infallibly adopted. Should their measure of relief be to operate an increase in the sinking fund, or be any other expedient, then would the House find it too late to interpose: the measure of the minister would undergo no modification, and the conflict 90 could only terminate one way, between ministers and that House. Not meaning to place this confidence in ministers, he should vote for the amendment; conceiving that by doing so he gave no offence, not even the slightest to his sovereign; for it was the ancient constitutional duty of parliament well to advise his majesty in the arduous affairs of his realm. They were to give counsel to the throne: not to carry up the smooth language of flattery in set phrases—not to re-echo trite sentences of adulation, but to deliver wholesome truths, regardless whether they were agreeable or displeasing to the ministers, who were alone the authors of the King's Speech, and who were also the proposers of the Address, which was in fact an answer to themselves. The amendment did not pledge the House one way or the other, respecting the disposal of the sinking fund. It was the grossest delusion to give it such an interpretation. The only thing to which it pledged the House was, to adopt a rigid system of retrenchment, to reduce unnecessary establishments, and to diminish taxation, for the relief of a suffering people. Whether that relief were to be obtained by an application of the sinking fund or by a reduction of taxes, was an ultimate opinion, not expressed or incorporated here. In adopting the amendment, the House had no more to do with that question, than they had with the arithmetical calculations of his hon. friend, which they of course could not sum up or check at the instant, and for one cipher of which they did not commit their accuracy. They were his hon. friend's calculations alone: they were his reasons alone: and he alone was responsible for their accuracy and for the interesting facts he had mixed up with them. Those who voted for the amendment only acted in that spirit which the exigencies of the case demanded, and which that House would betray its duty to the people, if it did not then adopt. He should have felt that he had not discharged his duty, if he had refrained from stating, that the very reasons urged by the hon. member for Kent for voting against the amendment, were in them- selves the strongest which could be adduced in its support.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
said, in explanation; that the learned gentleman had put such an interpretation upon what had fallen from him, as it could not in common fairness bear. It was not his intention to say any 91 thing inconsistent with the constitutional privileges and rights of that House. All he meant to say was, that a measure in which the country was so vitally interested as this, must of necessity be supported by government, otherwise it could never be expected to succeed.
§ Lord Palmerston
said, that the statement of the learned gentleman, of what had fallen from the hon. baronet, was the greatest misrepresentation of the drift of his argument that could possibly be conceived. The hon. baronet had objected to the amendment upon parliamentary and perfectly constitutional grounds. He felt that it was an attempt hastily to interpose between that House and the fair consideration of a most important question. The original address acknowledged, not only the necessity of retrenchment, but that steps had been taken to make all possible reductions. The hon. member for Aberdeen, however, was determined not to wait to see the extent of those reductions, but wished hastily to drag the House into a vague and general declaration, that it was expedient to reduce taxation to an extent which would be inconsistent with the security of the empire.
§ Lord A. Hamilton
observed, that the supporters of ministers cast wholly out of their view the inability of the people to pay the oppressive taxes which weighed them down, and talked of the necessity of supporting their system, as if in the resources of the country they had unlimited funds to avail themselves of. If the House looked at the conduct of ministers, they must see what little reliance was to be placed on their pledges of economy. They had over and again made resolutions and declarations, and (to use the noble lord's phrase) had stultified themselves by departing from them. The fact was, they must either stultify their past conduct, or egregiously stultify their future deliberations. In the report of the agricultural committee, the extent of the distress was admitted, but the country was left without remedy or hope. Those with whom he acted saw no other remedy than a practical reduction of the expenditure of the country. It was the grossest injustice to his hon. friend's amendment, to say that it pledged the House to an abjuration, of the sinking fund. It did no such thing. Those who voted for the amendment, pledged themselves to no specific mode of reduction; but those who voted against it, not only discredited 92 themselves, but disappointed the just expectations of economy and retrenchment, which the ministers had put into the mouth of the sovereign at the close of the last session.
observed, that the question here was, whether the situation of the country did not absolutely call for such an amendment as that which had been proposed? It was not only agriculture that was suffering; the distress extended itself to numerous classes of the community. It was objected to the amendment, that it went to pledge those who voted for it to an interference with the sinking fund. He did not take it in that light. It left that question as perfectly open as the original address did. In plain terms, all who thought reduction absolutely necessary were bound to vote for the amendment; all who were of the contrary opinion would vote for the original address.
§ Mr. Lennard
said, he had waited till the debate was on the point of concluding, in the hope that the object he had in view, in the observation he should make, would have been attained through the means of some member of greater importance than himself. He could not refrain from stating how much he lamented that in the promises of retrenchment which they had heard from the throne, no allusion had been made to a revision of the civil list. He thought that a reduction in that branch of the establishment would be very important, both on account of the actual saving which might be made in it, and because it would be an assurance of the sincerity of those professions of economy, which could not now be listened to by the House with much confidence. The true dignity of the Crown, would not, in his opinion, be at all impaired by a diminution, in this time of need, of the expenditure. On the contrary, he was sure the affections of the people would be more confirmed towards it, if his majesty, and those who composed his court, should show themselves ready to submit to those privations which the present circumstances made all other persons feel. Besides this, it was to be recollected that the civil list establishment had been formed when the value of money was not nearly what it now was. Concurring with the observation of the right hon. member for Knaresborough, that from the conduct of the House that night the country would receive an impression of its real disposition 93 to relieve the distresses of the country, he should give notice, that he would, on an early day, move an address to his majesty, humbly to request him to recommend to the House a reduction of the various expenses of the civil list establishment.
§ The House divided: for the amendment 89. Against it 171. The original address was then put and agreed to
|List o f the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Astell, W.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Baring, Henry||Lethbridge, sir T.|
|Barret, S. M.||Maberly, John|
|Benyon, Benj.||Maberly, W. L.|
|Birch, Joseph||Macdonald, J.|
|Brougham, H.||Madocks, W. A.|
|Bright, Henry||Martin, John|
|Burdett, sir F.||Monck, J. B.|
|Bury, visc.||Moore, Peter|
|Bennet, John||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Bentinck, lord W.||Marryat, Joseph|
|Blake, sir F.||Neville, hon. R.|
|Calcraft, John||Newport, sir John|
|Calvert, C.||Nugent, lord|
|Carter, John||Ord, W.|
|Clifton, visc.||Ossulston, lord|
|Curwen, J. C.||Palmer, col.|
|Creevy, T.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Curteis, E. J.||Phillips, G. R|
|Claughton, T.||Price, R.|
|Denison, W. J.||Robarts, A.|
|Denman, T.||Robarts, G.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Ebrington, visc.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Ellice, Ed.||Rumbold, C.|
|Fergusson, sir R. C.||Rice, T. S.|
|Folkestone, visc.||Bickford, W.|
|Fane, John||Smith, W.|
|Fox, G. Lane||Smith, Robt.|
|Grattan, James||Smith, Sam.|
|Grenfell, Pascoe||Smith, hon. R.|
|Gipps, George||Scarlett, J.|
|Haldimand, W.||Sefton, earl of|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Stuart, lord J.|
|Heathcote, sir G.||Sebright, sir John|
|Heathcote, G. John||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Heron, sir R.||Tennyson, C.|
|Hill, lord Arthur||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Whitbread, S.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Williams, W.|
|Hughes, W. L.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Hutchinson, hon.||Wood, ald.|
|C. H||Wyvill, M.|
|Johnson, col.||Hume, Joseph|
|Lambton, J. G.||Bennet, hon. H. G.|
§ Mr. Bernal and colonel Davies were accidentally shut out.