HC Deb 21 June 1824 vol 11 cc1473-5

Mr. Maberly moved for a return of the amount of the salaries of public officers who were subject to a deduction of 10 per cent by an order of council made in February, 1822. He thought that as the 5 percent deduction made by the Superannuation act had been withdrawn, so ought the 10 per cent under the order in council.

Sir Joseph Yorke

thought that, to use the peculiar phrase of a lamented marquis, the House were "turning their backs upon themselves," when they repealed the Superannuation act. As to any saving to secure the payment of the national debt, it was just as rational to attempt to bottle off the Atlantic Ocean. Then, as to the payment of public officers, what scale ought they to have? If upon comparative merits, and for real services, his right hon. friend, the secretary for foreign affairs ought to be paid double any of the rest.

Mr. S. Worthy

justified the repeal of the Superannuation act, and hoped that his majesty would also withdraw the order in council. The two measures were strictly opposed to the principale of justice, and. never would have passed but for the general alarm that prevailed in consequence of the necessities of the times.

Mr. F. Buxton

thought the restoration of the deductions a measure which justice commanded. He considered the high officers of state as greatly underpaid: and that such a system, in a great country, was the worst species of economy.

Mr. Calcraft

could not look at the salaries of ministers as a question of money. Men of no fortune, of middling fortune, and of large fortunes, were all equally anxious to fill these offices. Why, then, talk of stimulating their exertions by further pecuniary remuneration? The Crown had given up its thousands, and marquis Camden had done one of the most liberal acts ever recorded, by sacrificing 8,000l. a-year for the relief of the people [hear]. Why, then, should not those gentlemen contribute their quota? Why should they, when taxes to the amount of 50 or 60 millions were annually, raised give up this source of revenue? It ought not to be abandoned, until the people were really relieved; and no man could assert that the people had been effectually relieved from taxation. Nothing would give such elasticity to the enterprising spirit of the country, as an extensive relief from taxation. For his part, he would not give up a single penny of this charge to the individuals who were the object of his hon. friend's observations; especially as a Superannuation fund was provided for them, at the expense of the state.

Mr. Ellice

could not conceive on what rational ground any opposition could be made to the resumption of that which had been so liberally conceded in a moment of great public difficulty. He could not conceive what great additional burthen could be inflicted on the people by taking off the heavy and exclusive taxation on great public officers, and thereby enabling persons of talents and endowments to fill those high official situations, the adequate occupation of which was of so much importance to the country. For one, whenever the subject came under the consideration of the House, although by no means disposed to augment the burthens of the people, he should certainly feel it his duty to support it.

Mr. Grenfell

said, that, whenever the subject came before the House, he should express his decided conviction of the propriety of roinstating the great public officers in their whole salaries.

Mr. W. Smith

expressed himself in favour of the opinion laid down by the horn member for Wareham, that great offices of state were not sought after merely on account of emolument, but for a thousand reasons. He did most firmly believe, that the great object which induced men to seek those offices, whether the individuals were on the one side or the other of politics, was, to serve their country in those high and dignified situations. But, was the patronage of those offices nothing? Was the consideration in which those individuals were held all over Europe of no importance? Would not those circumstances alone induce men to fill high offices, even if the salaries were very moderate? He begged leave to illustrate his position by relating an anecdote. When Le Kain retired from the stage, a number of friends crowded around him, congratulated him on the fortune he had made, and observed, that whatever his emoluments had been, they were by no means too great. An old knight, who happened to be present, expressed great indignation at the munificent manner in which the players were remunerated. He asked, whether it was not a shame that, while he who had served his king and country, received only a small pension, and the order which hung at his button-hole, persons who were reputed in France to be unworthy of Christian burial were liberally rewarded. Le Kain immediately retorted, "And pray, Sir, do you reckon as nothing the right to treat me thus?" It was, in fact, the honour attached to a situation, and not the money which it produced, that led high-minded men to accept of office.

The motion was agreed to.