§ The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, that in proposing a vote for the Commissariat Department, he felt it necessary to trouble the committee with a few words, in explanation of the manner in which the estimates were drawn up this year, prior to any question being put to him on the subject. The estimates were drawn up in a mode differing considerably from that which was adopted last year, and it became his duty to state in what the alteration consisted. Last year the rations for the commissariat department were, on the whole estimate, taken at a fraction beyond 6d., and the total expense was 159,000l. In the present year, the charge was reduced to 101,000l. in consequence of the reduction of the number of troops. The ration during the present year would amount to only 4½d., as provisions had fallen con- 1391 siderably; but the soldier would have the advantage of the odd three-halfpence; the practice being, that when the ration cost more than sixpence, the public paid the excess; but if it fell below that sum, the soldier reaped, the benefit of the reduction. The charge for candles and stores last year was 41,000l.; but as there were fewer troops to be provided for in the present year, only 35,000l. would be necessary. With regard to the pay of the commissariat department, it was last year 52,000l.; but it was now reduced to 49,000l. Fewer individuals were employed, but the same number of stations was continued. Last year the half-pay connected with the commissariat amounted to 33,068l.; it was this year increased to 45,284l. There had been a considerable reduction of numbers in the commissariat department, and that circumstance of course tended to increase the half-pay list. There was also some small addition to the expense of the department, occasioned by the promotion of certain officers at the period of the coronation. The officers of this department had served their country most essentially on the Peninsula, and it was thought that they deserved some reward in time of peace; but, from the year 1816, until the coronation took place, there had been only two promotions. In the last year, there was a promotion both in the army and navy; and it was felt, that if some meritorious officers were not promoted in the commissariat, it would be considered as a very great hardship. Four individuals were, therefore, promoted to the highest class—that of commissaries-general; six to the second class; four to the third; and sixteen clerks were promoted to the last class. With regard to the pensions granted to widows, there was some increase under that head. Many individuals connected with the commissariat department had fallen victims to the unhealthiness of foreign climates, and their widows had been placed on the compassionate list. The next head of expense was the establishment of the different commissariat offices in Great Britain. The expenditure for those offices last year was 16,283l.; in the present year it was 15,280l. A very considerable saving had been effected, by circumscribing as much as possible the number of labourers who were employed. When the storekeeper-general's department was annexed to the commissariat, it was found extremely difficult to 1392 transact the business of the office without employing a great number of labourers; but the gentleman who was now at the head of the commissariat department had, in the course of two years, reduced the number of labourers from 129 to 50. Indeed, the number was so greatly reduced, that it was found necessary, at times, to employ extra labourers; but it was thought better that labourers should be hired as they were wanted, than a permanent charge be imposed on the public. Under this head, 4,500l. had been saved in the last year. The last item consisted of rent paid for storehouses at Woolwich and other places. Last year the sum charged was 8,000l.; in the present year it was between 3,000l. and 4,000l. The items in the aggregate amounted to 357,358l., from which was to be deducted 22,718l., the amount of stores at present in the dépôt, leaving a nett sum of 334,640l. for the commissariat department in Great Britain. The commissariat department abroad required 49,118l.; but from that was to be deducted the sum of 6,118l., which was paid out of the colonial revenue up the Mediterranean, leaving 43,000l. for this branch of the service. It was stated last year, that it would be desirable to make an arrangement, by which there should be only one storekeeper's department. When the observation was made, he said, that if it could be effected consistently with the public service, the alteration should undoubtedly be made. His majesty's ministers had taken the subject into consideration, and he could now state, that, though the change was not actually made, yet it was decided on, and the storekeeper's department would next year be transferred to the Ordnance. While he was speaking on this subject, the committee would allow him to observe, that the gentleman at the head of the commissariat had executed the duties of the storekeeper's department, as connected with the commissariat branch of service, in the best possible manner; and he hoped, when the transfer was effected, that the board of Ordnance would take care to see the duties of the storekeeper's department executed as ably as they were at present. They might, perhaps, dismiss some of the officers, and reduce the charge of the establishment, but he was convinced they could not improve the system which Mr. Hill had introduced. The duties performed by Mr. 1393 Hill, both in the storekeeper's department, and in that of the commissariat, were most meritorious. Indeed, he did not think there existed a more zealous or efficient public servant. The right hon. gentleman concluded by moving, "That 334,640l. be granted for the expense of the Commissariat Department, for the year 1822."
§ Mr. Hume
said, the committee must feel satisfied with the explanation given by the right hon. gentleman. He, for one, was greatly pleased with it. He was glad to find that the right hon. gentleman had endeavoured to simplify the mode of drawing up those estimates by rendering the different items more clear and distinct than they had usually been. There was a very considerable reduction of expense in this department. Last year the sum voted was 401,000l.; in the present year only 334,000l. was required. He believed the right hon. gentleman was most anxious for reduction; and he would not, therefore, carve out objections unnecessarily. It was, however, quite impossible for the House to judge whether several of these items were too large or too small, because particulars were not specified. There was, for instance, a sum of 25,000l. put down for coals and candles for the use of barracks; and certainly, when that sum was placed in a lump, the House could not judge whether it was proper or improper. There was also a sum of 70,000l. charged for barrack-stores; but the expense for each particular item was not given. He thought, therefore, that these estimates might be still farther simplified. He was doubtful whether the expense for the erection and repair of barracks should be introduced here. The entire expense of barracks ought to be placed under the head of "barrack estimates," and not under that of "commissariat." He did not say that it would lessen the aggregate amount; but it would be satisfactory to have every item under its proper head. Here he saw a charge for the clothing of convicts at New South Wales. This he objected to. It would be much better if the whole expense of the colony of New South Wales were placed under one distinct head. That one account of 70,000l. comprised 40 or 50 different items. He hoped the right hon. gentleman would have no objection to specify the sum appropriated to each item. He certainly would not con- 1394 sent, next year, to vote a sum of 70,000l. without explanation. There was a charge made for provisions supplied to foreign garrisons, and he found a similar item in the navy estimates. He was unable to discover what provisions were alluded to in the present vote. At all events, he was convinced that they ought not to be supplied, either by the navy or the commissariat. Provisions for garrisons abroad ought to be placed under a separate and distinct head. He and his hon. friends had last year pressed on the attention of government the necessity of removing the department of storekeeper-general. This they recommended for the purpose of getting rid of the heavy expense incurred for store-houses, it being their opinion, that the houses already provided for Ordnance-stores were amply sufficient for the stores placed under the care of the storekeeper-general. He wished to know from the right hon. gentleman whether such a saving would be effected in consequence of the change to which he had alluded? If a change did not take place to that extent, very little good would arise from the projected alteration. In the first page he saw the estimated expense of forage for the cavalry; but he could not conceive why other items were charged under that head, and afterwards deducted. There was, he observed, a sum of 1000l. to make good any excess that might occur in the contract for rations. He did not know in what part of the country suck an excess of price was likely to occur. The number of commissaries in our colonies he considered to be by far too great. In Canada there were last year 73; this year the number was reduced to 61. In Nova Scotia there were 22 commissaries. Here were 83 commissaries in these two places. There were, besides, eight commissaries of accounts in Canada, and four in Nova Scotia, making a total of 95 commissaries in these two stations. Certainly, a considerable reduction might be made with respect to these appointments. He saw, amongst the superannuations, a charge of 1,200l. which was paid to Mr. Herries. He had also, as auditor of civil list accounts, a salary of 1,500l., making altogether 2,700l. per annum. He was at the same time acting as a commissioner in Ireland. Now, he wished to be informed, whether Mr. Herries received any, and what allowance, for his services in this latter capacity? There was likewise a charge of 1,100l. paid to Mr. 1395 Trotter, who had been only 11 years in the service. This he thought a most extravagant grant. It had been said, that this allowance was granted on account of great length of service; but such was not the fact. This individual had been for some years in the office of his uncle, Mr. Trotter, who was agent for stores; but he was not in the service of the public until 1808 or 1809, when he was taken out of his uncle's office. Very considerable reductions might certainly be effected in the superannuation list.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot,
adverting to the remarks which had fallen from the hon. gentleman respecting the storekeeper's department, said, he had, perhaps, been rather remiss in not stating that arrangements had been made, which afforded him every reason to hope, that the whole duty of that department would in future be transferred to the Ordnance. He could assure the hon. gentleman, that though a year had elapsed since this subject had been mentioned, the time had not been passed in idleness. His thoughts had been anxiously turned to it, with a view of making the transfer as soon as this could be effected, with due regard to economy, and proper attention to the public service. He believed he might say, that from this time forward, the whole of the business of the Store1ceeper's department would be transacted at the Ordnance. The item of 70,000l. which had been alluded to, he could only submit to the House as he had now brought it forward. Hereafter there would be no difficulty in obtaining information as to the manner in which it might be applied; but at present all he could say was, that that sum had been spent in the last year, under the head which appeared in the estimates, and it was reasonable to suppose, that a like sum would hereafter be wanted. With respect to the warehouses in Tooley-street, which had been alluded to, he had every reason to believe that they would soon be got rid of, but under what circumstances they would be turned on the hands of the proprietors he could not now take upon himself to say. As to the number of commissaries kept up in Canada, Nova Scotia, and the West Indies, he was sorry that he had not with him a paper which he had left at home, stating the number of stations occupied by the troops. At Gibraltar, where the soldiers were nearly all in one place, but few commissaries were necessary; but scattered as the forces were at the other 1396 places which had been mentioned, it must be seen that a much greater number of commissaries were called for, and the expense of provisions, and stores must be greatly augmented if a sufficient number of officers were not retained to watch and protect them. If, consistently with the public interest, the number could be reduced, such reduction should take place. Remarks had been made on Mr. Herries. That gentleman received 2,700l. for his services. He believed it was well known, that he had performed his duty in a most satisfactory manner. It might be proper to state, that though Mr. Herries was now included in the parliamentary commission appointed to inquire into the state of the public offices in Ireland; he received no salary for that duty. He ought to say too that, if Mr. Herries retained his situation as auditor, it was no fault of his, as he had wished to relinquish it last year, that he might wholly give himself up to the other duties that claimed his attention. For Mr. Trotter, though the hon. gentleman denied his claim to consideration for long services, it ought to be remembered, that his peculiar fitness for the situation which he had filled, had raised him to it. Having received 2,000l. per annum during the war, he thought he had not been improperly allowed to retire on an income of little more than 1,000l.
said, that the income of Mr. Herries, 2,700l. was one that might well startle them, for such an income had never been heard of' for a clerk before. He admitted Mr. Herries to be a most meritorious servant, but he objected to that scandalous prodigality which gave him so large a reward.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
spoke to the meritorious services of Mr. Herries, and begged to inform the hon. member, that there were very few members of that House whose education and talents surpassed those of that gentleman. The hon. gentleman was not justified in considering him merely as a clerk. From a clerk to the Treasury he had risen to a most important situation, having, in every instance, given the highest satisfaction to the heads of his department. Mr. Herries to the close of the war had been entrusted under a commission with the management of an immense sum connected with the military expenditure of the country. No less than 17,000,000l. had passed through his hands, for which he had accurately accounted, and for the disbursement of 1397 which he had disclaimed all remuneration. He had also rendered important services to the country in connexion with the new arrangement of the civil list, and had put the accounts on such a footing that no accumulation of debt had since occurred. Mt. Trotter, it was true, had not been in the public service so long as Mr. Herries. But though he had not served the country more than eleven years, the House could not be ignorant of the great exertions which that gentleman had made in various places abroad, and especially in the Netherlands. The number of commissaries kept up in Canada were necessary, while our troops in that quarter were scattered as they were at present. To diminish the number of those whose duty it was to watch over the provisions and stores before the forces could be more concentrated, would be the worst economy.
did not mean to deny that Mr. Herries was a most excellent servant. What he objected to was, that he had received the salary which ought to pay a higher office than that which he had filled.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that since it was admitted that Mr. Herries was a most excellent servant, he would take upon himself the responsibility of having advised a just remuneration for his services.
said, it was easy for the right hon. gentleman to refer the House to his responsibility. Though he had often heard of responsibility in that House, he had yet to learn what the word meant. He did not know whether the day of real responsibility would ever arrive, but he hoped to God that it would, and that, too, while the present ministers were living.
The resolution was agreed to. On the resolution, "That 121,600l. be granted for defraying the expense of the Barrack department for the year 1822,"
§ Mr. Hume
expressed himself satisfied with the proposed transfer of the storekeeper-general's department to the Ordnance. But, on the item of 27,000l. for barrack-masters, he could not express the same satisfaction. It had last year been 29,000l. The whole of this charge in 1818 had been 99,100l. There had been then no such sum as 60,000l. for alterations and repairs. In Oldham and Manchester, barracks had been built or repaired since at great expense, anti they were now empty. He had reason to 1398 complain that a return of all the barracks which had been ordered had not been made. From 1791 to 1796 the charge had been but 40,000l. This increase was most extravagant. By reducing the salaries of barrack-masters to 90l. a saving of 10,000l. would be made, and this saving he hoped to be able to persuade the committee to make. Half-pay officers would be glad to take the situation. But persons had been appointed who had never been connected with the army. He had last year pointed out an instance of a linen-draper who was a barrack-master. This year he found an ironmonger a barrack master. Upon the vote for barrack-masters, then, he proposed a reduction of 10,000l. With respect to the next item of 60,000l., he could not help thinking that so large a sum of money was ill applied in the repairs of barracks. It would be better by far to let the barracks go to ruin, and to build new ones, if ever (which heaven forbid) they should be wanted. One half, at least, of the 60,000l. might be dispensed with; and certainly one half of the charge might be saved upon the item of barrack offices. The hon. member concluded by moving, "that 111,600l. be granted, instead of 121,600l."
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, that since he had been in office he had never appointed any person to the situation of barrack-master who was not connected with the army. It was a mistake to suppose that a barrack master had nothing to do at present; for he had the care of the barracks and of the stores. He had never made an appointment from political motives; indeed ho could appeal to the hon. member for Shrewsbury to bear him out in this assertion with respect to a particular case. [Mr. Bennet assented.] In consequence of the observation which had been made; last year as to the barrack-master at Haddington, he had directed inquiry to be made; and the result of it was, that the individual in question was not a linen-draper, and that he regularly discharged the duties of his situation. As to the objection to the sum for repairs, it was impossible to prevent the barracks falling to ruin, unless they were repaired.
said, that as to the general question of repairs, he certainly thought that too many barracks had been built; but it would be penny wise and pound foolish to pull them down or to suffer them to fall into decay. He did not think many officers on half-pay would 1399 accept the situation of barrack-master.
§ Mr. W. Smith
thought it impossible for any gentleman to go into a detail of the estimates without committing mistakes, and those mistakes were sure to be thrown in his teeth by the gentlemen opposite. Surely 60,630l. must be a most enormous sum for barrack repairs, when the whole charge for bread, meat, and forage was 101,700l. only.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, it appeared as if there was no limit to the discretion of the barrack department. He observed a sum of 10,000l. for repairs in the last year, though they appeared to be of a temporary nature, and though the particulars of the charges were not given.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, that no considerable expense was ever incurred without the approbation of the Treasury. He was not able to give the particulars of the sum alluded to, on account of the illness of the officer at the head of the barrack department.
Mr. R. Smith
thought the circumstance just mentioned by the right hon. gentleman was an irresistible argument in favour of the amendment. The expenditure of Abe last year was in general a guide for that of the present; and as the 10,000l. in question had been laid out for extraordinary repairs, it was not likely that a similar sum would be required this year.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, that as there certainly appeared to be some foundation for the argument that the repairs in question were extraordinary, and as he was, for the reasons he had mentioned, not able to give the committee the particulars of it, he would not press the vote, but would agree that the 10,000l. should be deducted from the proposed vote.
said, that the motion of his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen, was intended as a reduction of the allowances to barrack-masters, and was therefore not touched by the concession which had just been made. With regard to the present vote, he really thought that as much as 40,000l. ought to be taken off; 10,000l. from the salaries, and 30,000l. from the repairs. The barracks at Manchester and Oldham were perfectly useless, and were admitted to be so; and as for the barrack in the Regent's-park, it was erected in a most inconvenient situation, and was damp and unhealthy. He objected also to the allowance of a horse and barrack carriage, for each barrack-master.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, he understood the object of the hon. member for Aberdeen was merely to take 10,000l. from the vote, and to that he had consented; but he could not agree to any further reduction. Several barracks had been given up; and among them those at Manchester.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
said, it was only the temporary barracks at Manchester to which he had alluded. Those of a permanent nature were retained.
§ The resolution as amended to 111,600l. was then agreed to. On the resolution, "That 40,000l. be granted for the expense of Works and Repairs of Public Buildings," Mr. Alderman Wood moved that the consideration of the vote be postponed. Upon this the committee divided: For the Amendment, 33; Against it, 7.5. The resolution was then agreed to.
|List of the Minority.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Hurst, R.|
|Baring, sir T.||James, Wm.|
|Bernal, R.||Moore, P.|
|Bright, H.||Monck, J. B.|
|Boughey, sir F.||Newport, sir J.|
|Barrett, S. B. M.||Ord, W.|
|Benett, J.||Powlett, hon. W.|
|Chetwynd, G.||Pym, F.|
|Crespigny, sir W. De||Ricardo, D.|
|Duncannon, visct.||Robarts, col.|
|Dickinson, W.||Sefton, lord|
|Evans, W.||Smith, W.|
|Farrand, R.||Sykes, D.|
|Griffith, J. W.||Williams, W.|
|Gipps, G.||Warre, J. A.|
|Hume, J.||Wood, M.|