§ The House having resolved itself into a committee, to which the Civil List act was referred,96
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that, in rising to move a resolution regarding the salary of the president of the Board of Trade, he thought it necessary to observe, that the state of that office had not alone been considered defective by his colleagues in office on that side of the House, but had actually, on several occasions, drawn forth observations from the gentlemen opposite, many of whom, during the last session, had repeatedly given utterance to an opinion that the salary of his right hon. friend was totally incompatible with the duties which it became necessary for him to perform, and expressed their regret that so important an office should be allowed to continue without any adequate remuneration. Prior to the year 1782, all matters connected with the trade and commerce of the country had been managed by a Board composed of various members of the government, each of whom received a salary for that specific service. It might be doubted now how far a Board thus constituted was calculated to take a proper view of the various commercial relations of the country, or to advance those measures which might be considered essential to the public interests; certain it was, that many more received salaries than were at all necessary for the service of that department; and, after having been for a time subjected to the lash of Mr. Burke's ridicule at that period, the Board was finally abolished, and a determination made to have its functions performed in some other way. It was soon found, however, that in this country, commerce affected such a variety of interests, involved questions so complicated, and altogether demanded a knowledge and acquirements so different from the common routine of ministerial duties, as to render it impossible that it could be safely left without some superintendence more particularly devoted to its peculiar objects; and, in consequence, about the year 1784, the concerns of trade and commerce were intrusted to a committee of the privy council, under the direction of a president and vice-president, holding other offices, from which they received those salaries which were justly due as a remuneration to all who devoted their services to the benefit of their country. But it must be obvious that this mode of paying for the fulfilment of the duties of a highly useful and effective office by the salary of one which was well paid, though less effective, was 97 subject to the greatest possible objection. Parliament had acquiesced in this proposition, so far as to appoint a proper salary for the vice-president; which happened when he himself held the office some years ago. He thought that a fit remuneration for the president would be 5,000l. a-year. The House would recollect that it was an office which, in these times especially, called for more labour, both of body and mind, than any other now in existence. He had the honour to fill it once, and he could speak to the fact, that no situation of which he had any knowledge required so absolute a devotion of the whole mind to the duties of the office. To the arduous nature of those duties, he, however inadequate he might have been to fulfil them, could, from experience, bear ample testimony; and he would venture to declare, that, however arduous he might have found them then, they must have since become of a nature which would require a devotion both of bodily and mental powers which would not be repaid too largely by the sum he now proposed. He could not conclude what he had thought it necessary to say on this subject, without a word respecting the individual who at present held the office to which he proposed to give an additional salary. He conceived it would be very bad taste in him to attempt to pronounce any flourishing panegyric upon his right hon. friend; but he would take leave to assert, that no man ever brought to that, or any other office, greater zeal and devotion—no man ever brought greater assiduity to all the various details of his duty—none a more comprehensive intellect—none a more resolute mind—and none ever had discharged all the functions of his office with more real benefit to his country [hear!]. And it was a very great gratification to him, in applying for the consent of parliament to an increase of the salary of the President of the Board of Trade, to be able to say, with respect to the person who now held it, and for whose benefit that increase was intended, that, while he had thus worthily fulfilled his duties for the benefit of his country, he had been able to give satisfaction to every party in that House and in the country. He would now move, "That his majesty be enabled to grant a salary of 5,000l. a-year to the President of the Board of Trade."
§ Mr. Hume
said, that any suggestion thrown out by his honourable friends for increasing the allowances of public officers, 98 met with ready attention from his majesty's ministers; not so, even upon the most urgent grounds, suggestions for reduction. He could not raise the slightest objection to the right hon. gentleman who had filled this office latterly with such laudable zeal and ability. Still, however, there were questions connected with the subject which ought to be fully explained Was this salary of 5,000l. to be accounted a sufficient compensation for the duties of the office; or was the right hon. gentleman to continue to receive with it the salary of 3,000l. a year as Treasurer of the Navy; or was he to derive any pension from the public purse, to be paid at the same time, with his salary of President of the Board of Trade? Undoubtedly this last office had become one of considerable importance; and, though circumstances still prevented the right hon. gentleman from doing all that he ought in it, he seemed to do all that he could. But was there no possibility of rewarding him without increasing the burthens of the public? There must be many offices in both of the departments with which the right hon. gentleman was connected, which had fallen into disuse, the salaries of which ought to be applied to this purpose. This would be really proceeding in the spirit of that act of the 22 Geo. 3, which it was the object of the chancellor of the Exchequer's motion to have reconsidered. If they were in earnest, therefore, they would, before proceeding to vote an addition of 5,000l. a year to the public salaries, first of all abolish as many useless places as would effect a saving to that amount.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
, in reply to the hon. gentleman, said, that his right hon. friend had no other salary but that of Treasurer of the Navy. As to the question, whether his right hon. friend held any other office, he had, until lately, been agent for Ceylon, but had now given up that situation. Neither he nor his right hon. friend ever thought of his holding the situation of Treasurer of the Navy with the presidency of the Board of Trade, after the appointment of a sufficient salary for the last-named office. He thought that the salary of Treasurer of the Navy was no more than the person holding that office was entitled to receive, if he held no other situation. He thought, however, that there was no necessity for continuing the allowance of a house at the public expense. The reasons which ap- 99 plied to that indulgence in many other cases, were not applicable in this. It was not intended in future to give him the use of a house; and the apartments in Somerset house would be available for the increase of business in other departments. The salary was already sufficiently low, having been reduced from 4,000l. to 3,000l. a year. He could not consent to treat the office as a sinecure. A negligent person might make almost any office a sinecure: but the House would recollect, that the Treasurer of the Navy held a situation of great responsibility. He was a public accountant, and he could not make out a clear title to his own property after his resignation or dismissal, until he had obtained a proper quietus from those who were empowered by the government to audit his accounts. He could not agree with the hon. member that there were grounds for reducing any of the offices of those establishments. They were offices which must be held by effective persons; and he could not conceive how the hon. gentleman, by cutting and carving, could draw funds out of them to remunerate the labours of the President of the Board of Trade. Whatever notions the hon. member might entertain on the subject, he for one would never subscribe to the principle of making up from other sources the salary of individuals who had arduous and responsible offices to fill.
bore testimony to the high talents of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade. He was free to say that a more able and efficient servant could not be found to fill the duties of that office. Yet, much as he respected the zeal and abilities of the right hon. gentleman, he could not see the necessity of increasing the salary of the situation which he held, at least to the extent which had been proposed by the chancellor of the Exchequer. Under cover of giving 5,000l. a year to his right hon. friend, he was aware that he should have to give a situation of 3,000l. a year, the treasurer-ship of the Navy, to some other of his friends. But he would say, if any increase were necessary, let both offices be still united, and let the right hon. gentleman receive 2,000l. a year as navy treasurer, and 3,000l. a year as President of the Board of Trade. He could see no reasons why the offices should not be blended; and really, when the House recollected the increased expenditure of the 100 country, and the difficulty of the times, he thought it high time to pause before the burthens of the country were augmented. The influence of the Crown, though measures had been adopted to reduce it, was still frightfully large; and the House should be cautious how they increased that influence by throwing open new offices. He did not wish, however, to reflect, in the slightest degree, on the right hon. gentleman for whom the present vote was proposed, but he could not avoid remarking, that the first lord of the Admiralty had no more than 5,000l. a year. There were many situations much more inadequately paid than that of the President of the Board of Trade; and it would not be difficult to point out one which, in point of responsibility and labour, was fully equal to that office, which was very unequally remunerated. He remembered that Mr. Dundas held the situation of Treasurer of the Navy along with his other responsible appointments; and such was the nature of the office, that the Speaker of the House of Commons held it on another occasion. In fact, it was an appointment of so little importance, that all it required was a residence in London. He had only to say, that, unless the chancellor of the Exchequer would consent to blend both offices, and appropriate 5,000l. a year for the performance of their respective duties, he should feel himself bound to oppose the original proposition.
complained of the short notice which had been given with respect to the present motion. He had not heard of it until he came down that night. There were circumstances of suspicion connected with this measure, which, if known to the House, would, he was convinced, make a strong impression. Circumstances of a mysterious nature were connected with the present motion, of which it was right that the House should be put in possession before they came to a decision. He begged to call the attention of the House to the charter which had been last year granted by the President of the Board of Trade, to incorporate a certain silk company. At the head of that company stood the name of Mr. Alexander Baring, and he could not but consider it a very singular coincidence, that early in the month of June, 1825, a short time after the charter had been granted, Mr. Baring rose in his place to propose an increase to the salary of the President of the Board of Trade. He 101 need not remind the House that the profits of this company were to arise from the propagation of silk worms, and it was expected to prove a most lucrative speculation. The member for Taunton rose on another occasion to propose remuneration to the same individual, and he could not but feel that there must have been some secret understanding between the parties. He begged to be understood, however, that he did not mean to reflect, in the remotest degree, on the hon. member for Taunton; but, feeling as he did, that there was something of a mysterious nature in the transaction, he could not agree in the propriety of granting an increase to the President of the Board of Trade, under the circumstances which he had stated. He knew of no measure adopted by that right hon. gentleman for the good of the country that had not originated with the other side of the House. He had not risen to oppose the measure on any other than public grounds; and, in giving it his opposition, he did so from principle. He conceived that the President of the Board of Trade was amply paid for the duties which he had to perform; and, for the reasons which he had stated, he wished the House to pause before they agreed to the measure.
said, he could assure the hon. gentleman, that he had totally mistaken his motives in proposing an increase of salary to the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade. He certainly had proposed that increase from a conviction that it was called for; and, in giving his support to the present measure, his opinion as to its justice and expediency was unaltered. He would go even further, and say, that there never was a vote more justly called for. With respect to the allusion which had been made to the company of which he had become a member, he begged leave to offer some explanation. The silk company was established last year with a view of benefitting Ireland, and with that view he had lent his name to the concern; but with respect to any profits which he might be supposed to derive from the speculation, he could assure the hon. gentleman and the House, that he had only contributed 200l. towards the concern, and that his expectations consequently could not have been very highly excited. If he thought the statement of the hon. gentleman likely to make any impression on the House or the country, he would go more into detail; but, as he could not 102 anticipate any such effect, he would not say another word upon the subject, further than that, neither he nor the President of the Board of Trade ever exchanged a word about this company, though he could not put it out of the head of the hon. member for Gram-pound that something mysterious was lurking between them. With respect to the vote, he looked to the principle upon which it was proposed, and in this he was sure he should not stand alone. For, however some might differ as to the way in which the increase ought to be given, all were agreed as to the principle. He was sure there was only one opinion in the House, and throughout the country, of the eminent services of the right hon. gentleman, and of the zeal and integrity with which he discharged his duty, and which entitled him to the amplest remuneration. Government were negligent in not having long since remunerated them. The sum proposed was fair as compared with the remuneration given to other public officers, all of whom ought to be amply paid. Upon this point he had no objection to urge; but to sinecures he entertained the strongest objection, as being not only unnecessary and expensive, but as affording an opportunity to the opponents of government, of perpetually declaiming against them. He was sorry that another question had been mixed up with this resolution; for he confessed he did not see why the office of Treasurer of the Navy should be retained; and, as to the amount of salary, if that was to depend upon his being a public accountant, it might be done away with; for, where millions passed through his hands, the miserable pittance of an individual was no security. The real security consisted in having the accounts frequently audited.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that if the knowledge of what passed there was confined within the walls of the House, it would be ludicrous in him to notice the charge of the hon. member for Gram-pound; and he only did so for the purpose of repeating the declaration which had been already made by his right hon. friend, that he had lent his name to that company honourably, and without the slightest hope of participating in its advantages. If it drew to itself all the wealth of the Indies, his right hon. friend would not derive a single farthing from it; and when the hon. member imputed to the hon. member for Taunton that, on ac- 103 count of the miserable profits which he might realise from a venture of 200l. he was induced deliberately to propose an increase of the salary of his right hon. friend, he would only look for the answer to so unfounded an imputation, in the smile which sat upon every face the moment it was uttered. It astonished him more than he could express, that in alluding to the conduct of his right hon. friend—a man as conspicuous for the integrity, zeal, and ability with which he discharged every duty confided to him, as be was for the singular temper and moderation which he evinced on all occasions—the hon. member did not shrink back with shame from making a charge which affected the moral character of such a man. It was better to reserve the consideration of the office of the Treasurer of the Navy to another occasion; and then, perhaps, the House might be of opinion that the duties of that office would require it to be put into the hands of a person who had no other public responsibility. There was this to be considered, that the Treasurer of the Navy incurred a great pecuniary risk, which would prevent a person accepting it without a corresponding remuneration. He had only to allude to circumstances that had taken place in that office in the course of the last year, to prove that the responsibility was not ideal. The question was not now whether those situations should be held by one and the same person, but whether the proposed sum of 5,000l. was or was not a fit remuneration for the services of the person sitting as the President of the Board of Trade. The House, at the proper time, could take into consideration what alterations should be made in the treasurership of the Navy, and it would then recollect, that 1,000l. a-year had already been deducted from the salary, and that the house in Somerset Buildings was about to be relinquished for the public service. He therefore trusted the committee would agree to the vote, and leave the other question for future discussion.
entirely concurred in the view taken of the question before the House by the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down. He could not conceive why the situation of President of the Board of Trade should not be equally remunerated with the Secretary for the Foreign and Home Departments. The labours were at least equal to either of those appointments; and he would suggest to the chancellor of the Exchequer, that the 104 office should be placed on an equal footing. He bore testimony to the zeal and talents of the right hon. gentleman in whose behalf the present application had been made, and concluded by giving his cordial support to the motion.
also agreed in the vote, on the understanding that a reduction would be made in the salary of the Treasurer of the Navy, or the office altogether abolished. But, that, if any member should insist on a pledge to that effect being given before they concurred in the resolution, he should feel it his duty to join him.
repeated, that he would certainly oppose the present vote unless he received some pledge that the treasurer-ship of the Navy would be modified, and the business done, as it might be, by the paymaster.
§ Mr. Lockhart
wished to know whether the new arrangement would necessarily vacate the right hon. gentleman's seat in that House.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, the resolution would have no reference to the seat of the right hon. gentleman. He was adverse to the proposition of amalgamating the offices of President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy. It was a fallacy to suppose that the latter office was a sinecure. On the contrary, its duties were manifold, and essential to the efficient regulation of that important branch of the service. Whether 5,000l. a-year was an exorbitant salary, was a totally distinct question, and the only one which the committee at present had to consider.
§ Mr. T. Wilson
considered the present was not the time for taxing the country with an increase of official salary. Why not add 2,000l. a year to the present income of 3,000l.? All agreed that the right hon. gentleman deserved that income, and it would be a much more gracious way of granting it, than the one proposed, which went unnecessarily to increase the patronage of the Crown.
repeated, that he would oppose the resolution, unless some pledge were given that it was not intended to be made an opportunity for placing an additional office of 3,000l. a year at the disposal of the Crown.
§ Mr. Hume
could not acquiesce in the proposal of the right hon. gentleman opposite. The House was bound to abstain from imposing new burthens upon the country while there were already so many 105 useless ones which ought to be removed. He was the last man to wish to dictate how the duties, regarding which so much difference of opinion appeared to exist, ought to be done; although he was satisfied that they might be efficiently discharged by one person. He was quite willing that the great services of the President of the Board of Trade should be rewarded by a salary of 5,000l.; but the country should be saved from any increased expense, by an equivalent reduction in other branches. With this view, he would move as an amendment, "That a Salary of 5,000l. a year be allowed to the President of the Board of Trade; but it is expedient, that an inquiry should be instituted, to ascertain whether any office or offices, at present in existence, can be abolished, or modified; and the salaries and allowances attached to those offices applied wholly, or in part, to make up the salary of the President of the Board of Trade."
Sir F. Ommaney
observed upon the great responsibility of the Treasurer of the Navy, and urged the necessity of keeping this office distinct from that of the President of the Board of Trade.
suggested that it would be better to leave out the consideration of the office of Treasurer of the Navy for the present, and make it the subject of a separate discussion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
opposed the union of the two offices of President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy. The question at present to be discussed was, whether or not 5,000l. a year was too much for the President of the Board of Trade. With regard to the Treasurer of the Navy, the House would still be at liberty to pursue whatever course might appear expedient. They might if they saw reason, strike out the salary of that office altogether. A proposition to this effect would at all times be in the power of any hon. gentleman who might not be satisfied with the measures of his majesty's government. But he saw no advantage likely to accrue from the amalgamation of two offices which had no necessary connection.
§ Mr. Ellice
said, he should decidedly vote for the salary to be given to the right hon. gentleman, as a proper but moderate remuneration for his great talents and devotion to public business, and he fully agreed, that no one had held any office more to the advantage of the country. Still he could not give his vote for 106 this grant, unless a pledge were given, that the second office should be made a subject of revision, and that a retrenchment should be made equivalent to the advance now sought.
Mr. R. Smith
thought it incumbent upon the House to accompany the increased grant in the one quarter with an inquiry into the nature of the other office. He would support the amendment of the hon. member for Aberdeen, but that he thought it too general. If it were competent to him to move an amendment upon an amendment, he would move that the inquiry be restricted to the office of Treasurer of the Navy.
said, he could not support the original motion, unless it was modified, as far as respected the treasurership of the Navy.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that an inquiry into the nature of other offices was not necessarily connected with the present motion. It was not said that the proposed salary was too great; but whether it was too great or too small, if there were any useless offices, let the House abolish them, without any reference to the present question. If this office was necessary, the country was rich enough to afford it: if it was not necessary, the committee ought not, of course, to agree to the vote. The hon. member need not regret the rejection of his amendment now, as he would have an opportunity of bringing on the subject again.
§ Mr. Peel
said, the hon. member's amendment went to a saving of this 5,000l. a year. But why limit the saving to this? If he could point out a saving of 10,000l. a year, let him do so, but that need not be dependent on the present vote, nor ought this grant be made contingent upon the proposed saving.
§ Mr. Ellice
recommended that the amendment should be confined to the office of the Treasurer of the Navy, and that the inquiry should be, whether that office could be modified or abolished.
hoped the hon. member for Aberdeen would agree to the amendment, by which his proposition for inquiry was 107 limited to a single point. He certainly did not feel prepared to support a motion for a committee on a rambling inquiry how they could obtain 5,000l. by reduction.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, the question he had brought before the committee was, what ought the President of the Board of Trade to receive? He thought the two offices ought not to be connected; and that the question as to the salary of the Treasurer of the Navy ought not, therefore, to be discussed, unless it could be shewn that they were necessarily connected with each other. He had no objection to postpone the consideration of this motion, though he did not see any necessity for so doing. He would only observe, that when Mr. Rose held the office of Treasurer of the Navy, he received a higher salary than was at present given. For the last six years that he held the office he received 4,000l.; and when Mr. Tierney held it he received a similar sum.
§ The motion was then postponed till tomorrow.