HC Deb 18 March 1823 vol 8 cc630-5

The House resolved itself into a committee of supply. On the resolution, "That 620,000l. be granted, for the Extraordinary Expenditure of the Army, for 1823,"

Mr. Hume

admitted the details of the estimate to be in general satisfactory, although he thought that the accounts might still be furnished in a more simple and intelligible shape. The charge for colonies he principally objected to. That item was only 8,000l. less in the present year than it had been in the last; and he could not see the policy of keeping up colonies which were to be a burthen to the mother country, instead of a support. He could not help thinking, that it had been unwise to lay out between 2 and 300,000l. in forming a harbour at Bermuda. There was also a charge, for the Cape of Good Hope, of 170,000l. Now, he was convinced that, under a different system of management, the sale of lands being fairly conducted, and the revenue of the colony judiciously applied, the Cape would be capable of fully maintaining itself. Indeed, but for the commission of inquiry which had been sent out, he should have brought forward a specific motion on the subject. The hon. member then touched upon the administration of our colonies in North America, and upon the charges of Mr. Gourlay against the government of Canada. He adverted to the condition of the Ionian Islands, and complained heavily that England should have paid 150,000l. a year, for more than six years, not to protect the people of those islands, but to coerce and keep them in subjection. Among other vices in the administration of sir T. Maitland, he deprecated the arrangement by which that officer had been allowed to hold the two situations of governor of Malta, and high commissioner of the Ionian Islands at the same time. Surely, if Malta required to have a governor at salary of 5,000l. a year, there must be sufficient duty there to occupy that governor's attention, without his holding any offices elsewhere. The only advantage which the country had reaped from sir T. Maitland's holding office in Malta, and in the Ionian Islands also, was, that it had paid for his occasional transport from the one place to the other. He was glad, however, to see some prospect of a more liberal system being adopted towards the Ionian Islands. He could only attribute such change of principle to the change which had taken place in the office of foreign secretary. He believed that, under the new policy, we might reduce our force in those Ionian Islands by 2,000 men. The hon member then reverted to the union of offices under sir T. Maitland; and complained, that certain new regulations which that officer had introduced as to quarantine, cramped the operations of commerce, and occasioned loss as well as inconvenience. He objected farther, with respect to the expense of foreign stations, that Heligoland was no longer of any use to this country. It might have been valuable during the war, as a nest for our smugglers; but it had cost ten times more than it was worth, and might now be given rap, He concluded by protesting against the heavy cost which arose out of our military establishment at New Brunswick, and declared, that the whole charge of that military establishment might, under proper regulations, be spared.

Mr. Wilmot

said, that the value of our colonies was not to be determined by the mere expense they cost, but a great variety of other circumstances. As to the crown lands in Canada, he would say, that Mr. Gourlay had grossly vilified the government of Canada. Considering the political situation of Canada, it was not possible to separate it from the empire; and, owing to that situation, the expense incurred was necessary. As to Bermuda, it was a naval station, and the expenditure for it was determined by very different principles and motives. He would not notice what had been said regarding the Mauritius, further than by observing, that the commissioners sent thither would shortly furnish such information as would render all dispute as to the facts unnecessary. As to the Ionian Islands he could not allow it to be supposed from his silence, that he acquiesced in the assertion, that our troops were stationed there to suppress independence, and keep down disaffection. He could assure the hon. member, that the change to which he Alluded was not the conse- quence of any recent change in the policy of this country. No alteration whatever had been made in the instructions since the beginning of the Greek contest. Before the hon. gentleman attacked the character of a gallant officer, it wet his duty to point out distinct facts, which showed that the neutrality had been violated. At no former period had the prosperity of the Ionian Islands been greater than now; and if, at any time; the occupation of them could be justified, it was at the present moment. He concluded by insisting, that in all the colonies government had united practical economy with the most extended views of general policy.

Mr. Hume

said, he had proved the charges which he had brought against the governor of the Ionian Islands. The conduct of sir T. Maitland had been completely changed towards the Greeks since he had brought forward his motion. The fact was notoriously so, and all he (Mr. H.) had ever wanted was, that a strict neutrality should be observed. A communication from the Ionian Islands, of a very late date, expressed the gratitude of the inhabitants for the total change in the tone and conduct of the British authorities, as regarded the Greeks and their cause. If this did not arise from any order on the part of ministers, it showed, that in this, as well as in some other cases, too much credit had been given them. As to Mr. Gourlay, he considered him a severely oppressed man, who had been troublesome, and of whom the colony had taken care to get rid. It did not follow, that because a man was troublesome, he ought to be expelled. He spoke feelingly. He did not wish, like Mr. Gourlay, to be driven tot break stones upon the public highways. He had no hesitation in saying, that Mr. Gourlay had been removed from Canada most unjustly; because he entertained liberal opinions, and charged a public officer with receiving fees after he had accepted a fixed income in lieu of them. He (Mr. H.) earnestly recommended, that freedom and independence should be given to the Canadas'. They would then be able to stand by themselves: where as if a war broke out between this country and America, we might spend a vast deal of blood and treasure in defending them, and yet lose them in the end. At present we could relinquish them with honour. Here after we might be compelled to abandon them with disgrace.

Mr. Bennet,

from personal knowledge and long intimacy, bore testimony to the honesty and disinterestedness of the public officer accused by Mr. Gourlay.

Mr. Wilmot

was quite sure the charges would turn out to be unfounded.

The resolution was agreed to. On the resolution, "That 40,000l. be granted for Works and Repairs of Public Buildings,"

Mr. Bennet

rose to make some remarks on the ruinous and disgraceful condition of St. James's Park, the Green Park, and Hyde Park. The trees were falling to decay, the railings broken down, the paths were not attended to. They were kept open all night, and were the resort of the lowest and most profligate characters; in short, no attention was paid to their preservation, or appearance, or police, or to the convenience of the public. They gave the perfect idea of an estate which one sometimes passes in travelling, and which was described as the property of Mr. So and So, whose affairs were unfortunately in Chancery. In every possible way the public were incommoded. If there was a gate, it was so small that no, man with a burthen could pass; if there was a useful footpath, it was stopped up; if there was an entrance in a particularly convenient place, it was kept locked. In fact, every thing was done in such a way as if the favour to the public were yielded as grudgingly as possible. Cattle were turned out into the Green Park, by which one of the finest meadows possible was turned into a quagmire, like a stable-yard. Two gentlemen condescended to pocket a considerable sum as rangers, and this practice, he supposed, conduced to their profit. As compared with the management of those parks, the Regent's Park, which was under the woods and forests' board, presented a striking contrast.

Mr. Secretary Peel

concurred with the hon. gentleman, that the subject was one of sufficient importance to the comforts of the people of the metropolis to deserve consideration, and he thought the House would agree, that, if the revenue of the parkas, was too limited to keep them in proper condition, no moderate sum could be better employed than in supplying the deficiency. He had made inquiries into the subject, and should take steps in consequence; though some of the matters complained of had a view to public convenience. For instance, the putting an end to the keeping of cows in the park, would greatly disappoint parties who were in the habit of regaling themselves, in their morning walks, with the produce of those cows. However, the, hon. gentleman had said enough to awaken attention to the subject.

The resolution was agreed to.

On the resolution, "That 3,000l. be granted for the expense of the National Vaccine Establishment,"

Mr. Hume

objected to the establishment. He believed that other institutions in the metropolis, which did not receive a shilling of the public money, far excelled this establishment in utility. He wished this vote to be postponed until a return, showing what had been done by this establishment, was laid on the table.

Mr. Dawson

defended the public establishment, as an institution of the greatest utility, and contended, that the vote was absolutely necessary for its support. The return would show, that the establishment had been productive of great benefit. This was the only institution to which the country could look for pure vaccine matter.

Mr. Hume

did not wish to put down the establishment altogether, but objected to the manner in which the money was expended. He could not agree to pay 800l. a year to eight medical men, who were mean enough to take an annual salary of 100l. each. Dr. Jenner had withdrawn himself from the establishment, because he disapproved of the manner in which the money was wasted.

Mr. Dawson

said, that where so eminent a physician as sir H. Halford devoted two hours of one day in every week to the business of the institution, he could not be overpaid with 100l. a year. If he employed those two hours in visiting his patients, he would make a much larger sum.

Sir W. Guise

said, that the country was under great obligations to Dr. Jenner, and he trusted the government would see the propriety of erecting a monument to his memory. He thought the House ought to add 500l. to the present vote, for the purpose of raising a statue to perpetuate his fame, and to manifest the gratitude of his country.

The Chairman

said, that such a motion could not be made. It had been decided, that a vote of money could not be increased in the committee.

Alderman. Wood

said, he had no doubt, that the eight medical gentlemen alluded to, would willingly give their hundred pounds a-piece towards raising a monument to Dr. Jenner. In that case, the desire of the hon. baronet would be gratified, without any addition being made to the vote.

Mr. Bright

was of opinion, that the public money was never better expended than in erecting monuments to those who had made great and useful discoveries. Dr. Jenner was one to whom the country was deeply indebted. He hoped the hon. baronet would move, in a fuller house, for the sum he had mentioned.

The resolution was agreed to.