HC Deb 04 March 1824 vol 10 cc721-2
Colonel Davies

rose, pursuant to, notice, to move for the production of certain papers, calculated to shew the application of the Monies received from France by way of Indemnity. The question had been already submitted to the consideration of parliament in a most able and eloquent speech, by his distinguished friend the member for Knaresborough (sir J. Mackintosh). The constitutional objections which his hon. friend had then offered to the appropriation of monies thus accruing had been too forcibly expressed in that House to be soon forgotten, and, therefore, it was not his intention to enlarge upon the subject, but powerful as were the arguments of his distinguished friend, they were not successful at the time. It was contended by ministers, that money, thus obtained, was to be considered as droits of the Crown, and that consequently the executive were not responsible. But if the ministers were not responsible, where was the necessity of accounts? If they were the stewards of the people, the money they received, in consequence of those treaties, was the property of the people, and could only be appropriated by a vote of their representatives. Had the right hon. gentleman, who now filled the office of chancellor of the Exchequer, been in the same situation at that time, he felt a strong persuasion that no such objections would have been put forth. In the appropriation of that money there was a sum of 9,971l. given to the chevalier Canova, for the removal of the works of art from Paris. Perhaps there was no one measure that gave greater virulence to the inveterate hatred of Frenchmen against this country than the removal of those works from the Louvre for which this amount was paid. After fighting the battles of Europe, or subsidizing other nations to fight their own battles, Great Britain had to pay, above the amount of the French indemnity 1,269,000l. for the support of our army of occupation in France. The hon. member concluded with moving for a variety of accounts, tending to shew the specific appropriation of the money received under the head of French indemnity.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that whatever difference of opinions existed heretofore on the question of constitutional right, as to whom the money thus received belonged, he should now say, that it formed no part of the present consideration. It was sufficient for him; in answer to the hon. and gallant member, to state that he had no objection to the returns called for, satisfied that such returns would afford a full and satisfactory explanation of the manner in which such money was applied.

The motion was agreed to.