HC Deb 21 May 1822 vol 7 cc722-5
Mr. Hume,

moving for a return of all pensions, allowances and other expenses paid out of the Civil List of Ireland, observed, that he was extremely desirous of ascertaining how they had been augmented to so large an amount. The civil list of Ireland amounted in the first year to; 214,877l. and the permanent charges on the consolidated fund, were 402,339l.—He was aware that many compensations and allowances had been granted at the time of the Union, with little attention to economy, or consideration of the services for which such pensions were granted. It was necessary that the whole subject should be revised, and he could point out a mode by which an immediate, though a small, saving might be made to make a beginning with. In the list of pensions, and he should state that as an example of the little attention paid by the government to the expenditure in Ireland. He Saw that 200l. was annually given to two individuals since 1726, on the conditions that the annuity should be continued until the principal sum of 2,000l. were paid to them at once. Now, at 3 per cent the interest of 2,000l. would be 60l., and at five per cent 100l., so that at least half the sum every year charged upon the public might be spared by paying the sum of 2,000l. at once. Pensions in Ireland had been obtained in a very doubtful manner, and he thought that many of them would not bear inquiry. It might also be found, that a number of individuals held offices and at the same time received retired allowances for offices they had lost, or for others from which they had retired on superannuation. When the exchequers of England and Ireland were consolidated, pensions and allowances to the amount of, nearly 7,000l. were granted to individuals whose services were no longer wanted in that office. A Mr. Crofton obtained an allowance of 1,000l. a year, and now filled, as reported to him, (Mr. H.) some employment or place in the vice treasurer's office, with pensions for himself and other branches of his family amounting to near 1,000l. a year more. A Mr. Mitchell was in the same predicament; he had three offices and retiring pensions which with his emoluments, were about 1,150l. Out of eighteen individuals, there might be others who either ought to give up their places, or their allowances; if they filled official situations their pensions might be relinquished, and the money saved to the public. He begged leave, while upon the subject of the Irish civil list, to notice an opinion promulgated by the noble marquis on a former night with so much confidence, that it was calculated, although contrary to all experience and sound policy, to produce a false impression out of doors. It was, that the civil list, being a contract with the Crown, for the king's life was not under the cognizance of the House. If so, why had the noble marquis himself come down in the year 1815, to the House, to claim and obtain and additional allowance for the civil list? If it were a contract, it must be equally binding on both parties. In the first year of the late reign the civil list was fixed at 800,000l. but by the 17th Geo. III. c. 21 it was increased to 900,000l. in 23rd Geo. 3rd. 950,000l.; in 44th Geo. 3rd. 1,010,000l.; in 50th Geo. 3rd. 1,020,000l. in 52nd Geo. 3. c. 2 to 1,090,000l. In fact, whenever the civil list was in difficulties and that more money was wanted, it was held not to be a binding contract, at least on the part of the sovereign. But he would submit to the noble marquis, and appeal to the House that such proceedings were not fair. As the parliament had the power, and in its liberality, had from time to time added to the allowances of the civil list, he (Mr. H.) thought it altogether unreasonable in the noble marquis to deny the power of the House to reduce the civil list, if they should think them too high. Besides the augmentations he had noticed, the pensions to the royal family, formerly paid out of the civil list, were now carried to the account of the consolidated fund; and in the course of the late reign the ministers had obtained from the House additional grants to the extent of 3,747,774l.* The *Debts of the Civil list paid by parliament since the accession of Geo. the 3rd. over and above the regular allowances of the civil list.

In 1769 £.513,511
—77 618,340
—84 60,000
—86 210,000
1802 990,053
—4 591,842
—5 10,458
—14 118,853
Regency expenses, viz. 52 Geo. 3, c. 8. 100,000
April 5, 1815, to pay off arrears 534,713
Crown had besides about one million from the droits of Admiralty, and near a million from. Other resources; and, on the whole, the Crown had obtained during, the last reign between 5 and 6 millions beyond the amount specified in the supposed contract. It, was his intention also to move for a return of the pensions and allowances in Ireland, not paid out of the civil list, as well as for a return of the manner in which 20,000l. voted by the House or civil contingencies in Ireland had been expended as there, were some rather extraordinary charges under that head. He saw that 637l. 7s 11d. had been paid to sir C. Flint, for transmitting the public acts of the session, and 1,602l. for prosecutions of the Bank of Ireland. These matters deserved inquiry, as well as the application, in 1819, of 10,000l. as secret service money; and in 1820 and 1821, of still larger sums under the same head, of which no account had been rendered. He also found, that out of the civil contingencies, 2,910l. and 660l. were paid to the secretaries of the lord lieutenant; whether for salaries or on what account he did tint know, but he saw no reason why any Such payments should be made to them from that source.

The Marquis of Londonderry

was surprised, after it had been intimated to the hon. gentleman, that no opposition would be made to his motion, that he have brought forward such a variety of details, which no man could he prepared to answer on the sudden, which were calculated to produce false and painful impressions—and which could answer, no practical purpose. With reference to the question the hon. gentleman had again raised on the contract of the civil list, he (Lord L.) contended, that it was a contract of the strictest kind, under the sanction of the law. It was true, that like all contracts, it could he avoided by consent of the parties; and whenever the Crown came to parliament, the whole question was thus opened to revision. But the Crown had never said—"give me back my hereditary duties;" and the public had been a gainer during the whole of the late reign, by an arrangement made at the beginning of it, to the extent of eight or ten millions.

Mr. Bennet

said, that constitutional authorities were decidedly against the position of the noble marquis. As to the Crown having been a loser by the contract, if the public had not been saddled with many of the burthens formerly borne by the Crown, it might have been a gainer. As it was, the Crown had had the advantage.

Mr. Goulbourn

was confident, that the hon. member for Aberdeen was mistaken in several of the statements he had made.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

rose to do justice to Mr. Crofton, who had indeed a retired allowance of 1,000l. a year, and who on the consolidation of the two exchequers (having served in that of Ireland for 30 or 40 years), requested to be allowed to fill the office of Irish secretary to the chancellor of the exchequer, without any salary. He had done so, and had received nothing for his most useful and valuable services; thereby saving the public 400l. a year.

Sir J. Newport

felt himself bound to bear testimony to the talents of Mr. Crofton in the department to which he had so long belonged.

Mr. Peel

had been for six years connected by official ties with Mr. Crofton, and assured the hon. member for Montrose, that he was completely mistaken in his assertions. He was also misinformed regarding the secretaries of the lord lieutenant, who received nothing from the civil contingencies.

Mr. Hume

said, he had spoken Mr. Crofton, only as one out of eighteen; and if he was mistaken, the return, when produced, would set him right. If the secretaries of the lord lieutenant did not receive the sums he had mentioned from the civil contingencies, he apprehended it would found that they did obtain them from the civil list, or from the consolidated fund.

The motion was agreed to.