§ Lord Althorp
then rose to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the 933 Salaries of Offices held during the pleasure of the Crown, of which he had given notice. He said, it was the firm determination of his Majesty's Ministers to enforce the most rigid economy, and to effect a thorough retrenchment in every department of the State; but in order to leave them the power to enforce this economy and retrenchment with a proper effect, and in order to enable them to call on others to make sacrifices, his Majesty's Ministers felt it their duty to begin by making sacrifices themselves. Under ordinary circumstances, it was undoubtedly better that the Government should take on itself the responsibility of proposing to Parliament those reductions and alterations which it thought expedient, without throwing the labour of the research on a committee of the House; but Ministers conceived that they were less competent to come to a conclusion with respect to the amount of their own salaries than they might be with reference to those of others. They thought, therefore, that the more satisfactory course would be, to leave the question of the amount of their own salaries to an independent committee of the House; "and I hope, (the noble Lord continued), that the committee which I mean to propose will be found to be as independent of the Government as any committee can be constituted in this House. I am well aware of the necessity of satisfying the country, that it is the sincere and honest intention of the Government to carry the reductions in all the public establishments to the utmost extent which may be found consistent with a due regard to the public service. Looking, however, at reductions of this kind, I think it necessary to say, that they may be, perhaps, carried too far. I think it would, indeed, be exceedingly unwise and impolitic that we should reduce the salaries so low as to leave no office capable of being held, unless by a man possessing a large private fortune. That is, I think, a principle which the most ardent lover of economy would not wish to see carried into effect. The principle of economy Ministers are determined to carry into effect is this, that wherever the mere patronage of the Government is concerned, there shall be no limit to the reductions, but where the wants of the public service require efficient officers, then economy shall be only a secondary consideration, carried as far as it can be 934 in accordance with the principles of the Government, but never permitted to interfere with that which they conceive to be demanded for the proper conduct of public business. Thinking, then, that the whole question can be most favourably brought under the consideration of a committee, and believing as I do that no objection will be offered to such a motion, I propose to appoint one, because I think it is called for by the unanimous voice of the country. I feel it my duty, at the same time, to warn those who are looking with anxiety to the effect of reductions, that they must not expect any extensive relief from anything which can be taken from the salaries of the Government officers. Much as such a measure may be desired by the advocates for economy, I think it right to say, that it will produce but a very small diminution in the amount of the taxation with which the public is burthened; but small as may be the relief, it will produce that which is of much more importance in the present state of the public mind; it will give satisfaction to the people, and convince them that economy is with the present Government no idle profession. It will prove to the people, that the Ministers are determined to make the necessary retrenchment of expenditure, and display the sincerity of their intentions by beginning with their own emoluments. Having said so much respecting the public opinion, the objects of the Government, and the mode in which it proposes to carry those objects into effect, I would now add, that the same reasons which have prevented us from coming to any decision with respect to the amount of the salaries which we conceive necessary for the support of our respective offices, have induced us to refrain from naming any person as a member of the committee who may be supposed to be in the slightest degree under the influence of the Government. In the nomination of the committee, I have, indeed, felt it right to adopt as a precedent the course pursued by my noble friend, Lord Lansdown, in the year 1806; who, in appointing a committee to inquire into the state of the Finances, selected no Member who held an office of any description under the Administration. I believe, however, it will be necessary, as a matter of form, that my own name should be placed on the list; but I trust that the reasons and objections I have stated will, with the com- 935 mittee itself, form an excuse for my non- attendance." The noble Lord concluded by moving the appointment of a "Select Committee, to inquire what Reductions can be made in the Salaries and Emoluments of Office held during the pleasure of the Crown by Members of either House of Parliament, and to report their Opinion and Observations thereupon to the House."
thought the Ministers might, perhaps, have adopted a better course, if they had come down with a proposition of their own for the reduction of their salaries, rather than have thrown on a committee the ungracious task of determining what should be the amount. He did not, however, rise at that moment to apply himself to the question, but to ask the noble Lord if there was any foundation for the report of the intended removal of Sir Anthony Hart from the Lord Chancellorship of Ireland?
§ Lord Althorp
said, he felt bound, in the first place, to apologize to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dawson) for not possessing the requisite information to answer a question on the same subject, which he put to him on a former evening. The truth was, that he had just returned from his election, and had not had an opportunity of communicating with the members of the Government until he took his place in the House. In answer to the question of the hon. member for Dorsetshire, he had now to state, that the Government felt it required an intimate and confidential assistant in the government of Ireland in the person of the Lord Chancellor, and they had, therefore, determined on making a change in that office; but they had taken such steps, and made such arrangements with respect to the removal of Sir Anthony Hart, that no real increase of the burthens of the people would be the consequence.
in reply to this declaration, said, he felt himself bound at once to stigmatise this proceeding of the Government as a job of the most obnoxious kind; and as a job of an Administration which set out with such loud professions, and which placed its claims to public support on its principles of economy. He must say, that it excited his wonder and surprise, not unmixed with a feeling of deep regret. He had hopes that the Administration would have attempted to justify the expectations of economy which were 936 so universally entertained; but the avowal of this job taught him that his hopes were vain. Perhaps he had said too much— more than he ought— until he heard the explanation that was promised; and he should, therefore, merely add, that he waited for it with impatience.
§ Mr. G. Dawson
said, that as this subject had excited a very general interest in England, as well as in Ireland, he hoped the noble Lord would excuse his putting to him another question connected with the rumour of another removal. Sir Anthony Hart, the present Lord Chancellor, made no objection, as far as he understood, to continue to hold his place; and he believed it was admitted by the Bar and the country, that no man was better qualified to perform its duties with honour to himself and advantage to the suitors. It should also be recollected, that Sir Anthony Hart was sent to Ireland purely and solely because he was not connected with any of its political parties, and because he was not disposed to meddle with any of the contending factions of the time—but they now heard, and he confessed he heard it with pain, that the Chancellor was to be replaced by a political substitute, whose inclination it was, and from whom it was required as a duty, that he should meddle with parties, and renew that hatred and dissatisfaction which had for some time been so happily repressed. This was not all however; he understood that it was also contemplated to give a retiring allowance to the Chief Baron, in order that he might be replaced by some other political friend of the Government, although that Judge was as competent as any other in Ireland to fulfil his duties, and no adequate reason could be advanced to justify his retirement. The consequence of all this would be, to saddle the country with two retiring pensions in order that the Government might place two political supporters in the place of the Lord Chancellor and Chief Baron in Ireland. He (Mr. Dawson) would not complain of this in ordinary cases, but when he was told that retrenchment was the one sole object of the Government, and when he found that Ministers rested their claim to public confidence, and their reputation as a Government, on the fulfilment of their pledges of economy; and when he found that one of their first acts was to displace two eminent Judges, who would be enti- 937 tled to demand large retiring pensions from the public, he confessed he could not avoid expressing his surprise and apprehension. Now, one word more as to the apology of the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, that he was not aware of the intention of the Government until after he took his seat in the House. But were there no means of sending a letter to the noble Lord, acquainting him with the wishes of the Premier, before the measure was determined on? If there was not, what became of the responsibility of the noble Lord as Chancellor of the Exchequer? Was the Prime Minister to make arrangements so materially affecting the finances of the country without consulting the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was responsible, by virtue of his office, for the expenditure of the public money, and the fulfilment of the pledges of retrenchment? The whole matter might be capable of explanation, but in the present extraordinary appearance which it assumed, he could not give it his approval.
§ Lord Althorp,
in reply to the last observation of the right hon. Gentleman, said, that the Chief Baron had already been twenty-five years on the Bench, and had expressed a strong wish to retire. He begged also to say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman's charge of the wish of the Government to appoint political partisans, that the persons appointed to these situations were no political friends of the present Administration, but, on the contrary, men appointed by an Administration with which they had nothing whatever to do. The Government, therefore, had no personal motive to do wrong and it would be found, on examination, that they had promoted, in all cases, men never politically connected with them as a party. There might be an exception with respect to the Lord Chancellor. The right hon. Gentleman says, that the Lord Chancellor should not be connected with the opinions of the Government. Now, up to the time of the appointment of Sir Anthony Hart, the Chancellor had always been a political associate. It was necessary that he should be in constant communication with the Lord Lieutenant, to whom was intrusted the executive government of Ireland; and if he was not a person who could hold a confidential communication on the views of the Government in England, he could not efficiently perform the duties of his station. The 938 appointment of Sir Anthony Hart was considered politic at a peculiar crisis, and because it was wished to avoid some difficulties connected with the Catholic Question? but if the Chancellor was not, in ordinary circumstances, the complete and confidential depositary of the views of the Administration, the difficulties attending the situation of the Government would be increased to such a degree as to be almost insurmountable.
§ Mr. Holme Sumner
observed, that as it was understood that the Committee on the Civil List was not to proceed until after the holidays, it was evident that his Majesty's Ministers had determined, very manfully, in his opinion, to take upon themselves the responsibility of proposing a plan on that subject. He regretted, however, that on the subject now before the House, they had shown a disposition to withdraw from a similar responsibility, by proposing the appointment of a committee to consider it; and that on the plea that they were not competent or proper judges. He very readily allowed that the Members of whom the Committee was to consist would probably be free from Government influence; but if a committee was considered the best course in this instance, why not refer the Civil List to a similar committee, to proceed immediately to the discharge of their functions?—Why adopt two courses.
§ Mr. D. W. Harvey
said, he was surprised at, and regretted the speeches which had just been delivered by the hon. members for Dorset and Guildford, for they were conceived in a most ungenerous spirit. Had his Majesty's Ministers proposed a committee composed of themselves, or their immediate dependants, no hon. Members would have assailed the plan with greater vehemence or indignation. The course pursued by the noble Lord was manly, and indicative of good intentions. The Ministers proposed to effect economy by their own example, and at the same time to disarm those who might complain of its rigour by an appeal to their own privations, effected indeed, not by themselves, but at the instance of a committee selected from political opponents and unconnected parties. Economy in ministerial offices is to be the basis of general retrenchment, and it was impossible to deny that the plan proposed was the most impartial method of effecting both objects, and would obtain for its authors 939 the esteem and affection of the country. But it was alleged that economy of this description, however sincerely or extensively carried, would work no sensible good, but rather excite groundless and delusive expectations. This assertion he would at once meet by a firm and unqualified denial. The saving itself would be something, but its moral influence would be of incalculable importance. It was the death-blow of corruption, and would speak comfort to despairing millions. The labours of the proposed committee would be the herald of the greatest benefit, for out of them other committees would be formed, whose inquiries would embrace millions of money, and legions of placemen. When he reflected on the hideous and frightful list of greedy sinecurists which had recently been published, ascending in its scale from the suspicious item of 1,000l. to the inordinate and appalling sum of 10,000l. a-year, increasing in amount as it approached to the total absence of all labour—with little to do by any, and nothing to do with by far the greater portion—which list exceeded in amount 2,000,000l. per annum, being, in fact, nearly one-seventh of the entire expenditure of the country, apart from the interest applicable to the National Debt; he, for one, would not disguise the expectation, that the Committee would, by one stroke of indignant extinction, secure the instant saving of at least 1,000,000l. yearly. Such a committee, when appointed, would ill discharge its duty—spread despondency through the land, and chill the sanguine, and, he trusted, well-grounded expectations of the people, if they did not promptly and readily reduce this disgusting army of placemen, at least one-half. But this was not the only list which must undergo the operation of the pruning-knife. There was another catalogue, not less objectionable in its character and origin, and whose recipients were more diversified and cringing; having for its minimum 200l., and its maximum 1,000l. a-year, out of which a corresponding saving might be effected. Cutoff and cut down this rotten list, and from the stem of an unsightly pensioner, a steady patriot would arise, for then every discarded placeman, and every defeated aspirant, would perceive that his own interest was inseparable from, and in strict communion with, that of his country. Reward real services well; but no longer let us endure an army of corruptionists, who 940 live in idleness upon the industry of the people, and whose horrid reward of their peculation and servility, is little less in amount than one-third of the entire poor-rate of England. It had been objected, in the course of the debate, that the removal of Sir Anthony Hart, as Chancellor of Ireland, to make room for Lord Plunkett, and thus creating an additional burthen, by a retiring pension to the former, was a sad omen of ministerial economy. Now he was one of those who lamented the union of the office of Chancellor in either country with political duties, having always contended, that the Equity Judges, like those at Common Law, should be permanent and irremovable. Yet such was not the case, and he was fearful not likely to become so; while, therefore, it remained otherwise, he contended, that the new Government acted wisely in having no associates who did not actively sympathise in their grand plans of national reform. Even neutrality was dangerous. He beheld in the present Government an association of pure men with pure objects— and no men of suspicious feelings must be allowed to creep in, or keep in, their counsels. Thank Heaven! we no longer witnessed an unnatural coalition of heterogeneous elements, continued, through unworthy means, for a pernicious end; there were now no spies in the camp—no fine female form flitting down the back-stairs of the Court—no high Officer of State to approach the King, and distil his "leprous venom" in the royal ear. Whatever difficulties might encircle the infant Administration, they could find no excuse for tardy steps, or dubious measures, from the want of a confiding Sovereign, or a concurring Parliament; at least, if the present Parliament was refractory, they had only to appeal to the people, whose confidence they possessed, and whose esteem they had it in their power permanently to enjoy. For himself, he would say, that though he retained his old seat, he of late found himself amongst strange and uncongenial spirits, and was quite willing, upon a suitable occasion, to obey the Apostolic injunction, and "Come out from amongst them." [Reiterated cheers from all parts of the House, and much laughter.—The hon. member for Colchester spoke from the Opposition side of the House, surrounded on all sides by the principal leaders of the late Government.] 941 —He quite understood the cheers of those about him, whose long habits of office led them to convert every expression of support into some unworthy expectation; still he would not be deterred from avowing his entire confidence in the new Ministers, and his determination, so long as their measures deserved it—and of which he had no misgivings—of giving to them, whether he was in or out of office, the full benefit of his vote and voice; for, in so doing, he felt, he was best serving his country, and obeying not only his own decided impressions, but also acting in strict conformity to the views and wishes of those to whose kindness and confidence he owed the high distinction of being in a situation to address the House.
§ Mr. Horace Twiss
expressed his persuasion, that if his Majesty's Ministers wished to have the vote of the hon. member for Colchester, they must pay a higher public price for it than he fancied they were at present disposed to give. He did not rise to oppose the noble Lord's motion: quite the contrary. He supported it; not because he admitted the validity of all the principles maintained by the hon. Gentleman behind him, but because he thought the course proposed by the noble Lord honourable to his character, as well as consistent and proper. For himself, although he believed that during the last two or three Sessions retrenchment had been carried as far as, under all the circumstances of the case, it could be carried, yet he always cherished the hope, that in succeeding Sessions it might be carried still further. Of course the process would be continually diminishing the amount on which it would be practicable to operate. Now, however, at the opening of a new Session—at the commencement of a new Administration—when the noble Lord and his friends were unfettered by any extrinsic considerations, he thought his Majesty's Government were conferring a great benefit on the country, by proposing that this subject should undergo a strict and impartial investigation. Not that he believed that any very considerable saving could be effected (for he agreed with the noble Lord that the principal object was to satisfy the country), but that he thought it was exceedingly desirable to disabuse the public mind, and to expose the monstrous exaggerations and enormous errors which prevailed, with reference to official remuneration and emoluments. If the 942 members of the Committee should be unable to render themselves popular by recommending a saving, the amount of which would occasion any great and permanent benefit to the public service, they might at least effect a great benefit, by establishing some principle on which the remuneration of the great Officers of the State should be assessed. In this respect he thought they might do a great public service; and with respect to any reduction of salaries which they might propose, he trusted that they would apply their recommendation to such salaries as had no correspondent labours, rather than to those which were given for efficient services.
Lord John Russell
had heard, with great regret, those hon. Gentlemen who, before the arrangement which had been alluded to had been completed in Ireland, had thought proper to censure it. He trusted, that when that arrangement was completed, it would be found economical as compared with other arrangements of a similar nature. But, undoubtedly, the moral and political character of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was a consideration of far greater importance than the amount of any economy on that subject which could be effected. The hon. Member who had just spoken said, that he considered the principal object which could be obtained by the Committee which his noble friend proposed, was to allay the ferment in the public mind on the subject of official emoluments, and to show that official remuneration was, generally speaking, not more than adequate to official service. For his own part, he thought that his noble friend had taken the best course to refer the subject to the consideration of a committee of independent Members; and he agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, that there was much exaggeration in the statements respecting official emoluments, and that there was much which could not be subjected to retrenchment without a breach of national faith. But of this he was quite sure, that it would not be in the power of that Committee, or of the House, to satisfy the country, when they refused retrenchment even on the most solid grounds. The cause was, the manner in which the House was at present constituted. He was persuaded, that while there were so many Members in that House who did not enter it by popular election, so long would suspicion attach 943 to the motives of the Members, even when they acted most correctly; so long would the people be prejudiced against their acts; and so long would the country withhold its confidence from them. For that reason, were it only for the sake of keeping the public establishments at the point at which they ought to be kept, at the point at which it was necessary, for the good and safety of the country, they should be kept; he wished for a solid, a substantial, but at the same time a temperate reform. He was persuaded that then, and not till then, it would be in the power of any committee of that House to allay, by their acts, the ferment in the public mind, with respect to the amount of official appointments and salaries. He looked forward with hope and confidence to the time when the Ministry of this country might refer to the consideration of a House, consisting of the genuine Representatives of the people, any measure which they might think necessary for the public service, in the full confidence that men chosen for their integrity and their judgment, in giving their approbation to such measure, would carry with them the confidence of the public that they had given it on solid grounds of public interest, and not on any considerations of a private character.
Mr. Keith Douglas
was quite of opinion, with the hon. member for Colchester—that the utmost practicable economy was indispensably necessary for the safety of the country; and strongly recommended that some means should be adopted for relieving the people from the distress in which they were involved by want of employment. He agreed with the noble Lord, that the best course was, to submit the subject to the consideration of a committee, and did not agree with the hon. member for Guildford, that it would have been better had Ministers proposed a plan of their own. There could be no doubt that public officers should be adequately paid for the efficient performance of public services; but in leaving this subject to the consideration of a committee, he thought the noble Lord had done much better than if he had originated any spontaneous and voluntary recommendation.
was understood to say, that the Government would have done better had it not followed the precedents set by other Administrations, and had 944 taken the opportunity of separating the office of Lord Chancellor from any political attributes. The late appointments were, he believed, very unpopular. It had long been felt at the Bar of Ireland, that the legal appointments in that country were not the result of superior merit; and the recent proceedings would confirm that conviction.
Sir Francis Burdett
said, that he should not have trespassed upon the House on this occasion, but he felt that he could hardly do justice to his constituents, or to himself, if he did not take the earliest opportunity of explicitly declaring his feelings with respect to the present Administration, of avowing his confidence in the Gentlemen who composed it, and of stating his belief, that there never had been any Administration in this country, which in so short a time (he might say, before they were well placed in their offices) had come forward so promptly, so earnestly, and so satisfactorily, in proposing so many advantages to the public, and had done so many acts in earnest of the sincerity of their professions, as the gentlemen to whom he should now have the honour—if they proceeded upon the principles which they had laid down, and pursued their course in the same way they had hitherto done—of giving his unequivocal support in every way in his power. The new Administration offered new hopes to the country, and he hoped it would be the means of relieving it from the consequences of the uncontrolled misgovernment to which it had till now been subject. With respect to the particular subject now before the House, he could not conceive how it could be better dealt with, than in the way that was proposed, nor did he see the advantage of Ministers coming forward, and placing themselves in the invidious situation of reducing emoluments. He agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that no benefit would arise to the public from a niggardly scale of economy, or from withholding a fair remuneration for services which ought to be not merely amply, but, he would say, generously and liberally paid. The posts to which duties of this nature were attached ought to be held out, not only as objects of ambition, but ought to present such objects as would induce men of ability to employ their talents and their energies in the public service, rather than in any other of the pursuits in which, from their 945 station in life, they might be likely to engage. He should be sorry to see clerks, in official situations, not handsomely and generously remunerated; and, so far as regarded the great Officers of State, he did not himself conceive that any retrenchment could be made, or, at all events, it could only be to a very limited extent. In most cases the salaries of office did no more than meet the necessary expenses that were attendant upon the appointment. He must therefore. protest against that niggardly economy which would produce nothing to the public, and would be in itself ungenerous and unjust. But the larger economy alluded to by the hon. member for Colchester was of a different kind. With that this Committee would have nothing to do, and the public could derive no benefit from its labours in that respect. But this Administration had to do with it; and on that subject they were bound to proceed as they had promised. A noble Lord below him had truly stated, that no effectual economy could be realised, and no difficulties thoroughly overcome, unless that House were differently constituted from what it was at present. The mode in which the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had conducted himself, on every occasion since he had assumed office, was such as, in every possible view, to challenge public approbation and confidence. It was manifest, from the measures of those now in power, that they had been selected on account of their talents, and on account of their agreeing as to the necessity of a new mode and form of Government, such as the present circumstances of the country demanded. There was only one thing in the recent change which he regretted, but there must always be something to be regretted in the most favourable events. There was a right hon. Baronet* whom he should have been glad to see comprised in the new arrangement, because he was sure, from the diligence and ability which he had applied to subjects of finance, his experience would have been most valuable, and the benefit of his services would have been in every way gratifying to the wishes of the public. Such was the only subject of regret which he had on the present occasion. He congratulated the country also On the circumstance of the Ministers* Sir F. Burdett was understood to allude to Sir H. Parnell.946 being supported by a King, who not only attracted towards himself the loyalty which characterised every constitutional Englishman, but who was remarkable for the exercise of those virtues which ensured devoted attachment to the person, as well as fidelity to the King on the Throne, and whose support would enable the Ministers to carry those strong measures which might be necessary for the interests of the country. They would also be supported by those who had no other views the public views; and he was persuaded that the country, notwithstanding the difficulties by which it was surrounded, would have no reason to despair, but, on the contrary, every reason to hope, that all the evils which pressed upon it would be speedily alleviated, and would, by that ability and attention which he was confident would be applied to them, be altogether, and finally, relieved. With these feelings he had thought that he should not be acting fairly, either by the Government or his constituents, if he did not express his confidence in the present Ministry, and his expectation that they would succeed in pleasing all parties. But there was, indeed, one party which he had forgotten, and which had been mentioned by an individual very conversant with business, and well calculated to form a judgment, as more mischievous than any other party. The individual was a great diplomatist, and the party to which he alluded was that of the "Impatients." They were the only party who now remained to be dealt with, and he trusted that the Government would, by its measures, confirm the favourable impressions which its course had hitherto created.
§ Mr. Goulburn
agreed perfectly with the hon. Baronet in the propriety of fairly remunerating public men for their services, and of not resorting to a petty economy, calculated to defeat its own object. He hoped that the measures which his Majesty's present Government intended to bring forward would prove as beneficial as he could not doubt they intended them to be. When he was himself a member of Government, and brought forward any measure which he thought advantageous to the country, he always thought it entitled to a candid construction. In the same manner, although he should use due vigilance with respect to the measures which might be brought forward by the present Govern- 947 ment, he was ready to put upon those measures the most candid construction.
§ Mr. Littleton
declared his great satisfaction at the observations which had just been made by his right hon. friend. Considering the station which that right hon. Gentleman had occupied, he was sure the people of England would mark with great applause the handsome conduct which he now pursued. He hoped that an end would be put, as far as was practicable, to the system of managing business by Committees of that House. He thought that the interests of monarchy in the country had been greatly prejudiced by the practice of delegating to committees of the people matters which ought to be arranged by the Crown, under the responsibility, of course, of the King's advisers. There was one point adverted to by the hon. member for Dorsetshire, upon which he would make an observation. He, for one, approved of the appointment of Lord Plunkett as Chancellor of Ireland. He considered that it was the duty of the heads of the Administration to see that there were placed in those posts of which they had the patronage persons with whom they could have a cordial and confidential understanding in the principles which they professed. They should not lose any opportunity which their patronage offered of receiving the services of such men; and he was sure that the people of England would not regret a few thousand pounds in addition, if that expenditure strengthened an Administration whose professions had already gained them so much credit.
concurred in the observation of the hon. Baronet, that public servants ought to be properly remunerated. If individuals were employed who were without the necessary practical knowledge, great and permanent injury might result to the country. He meant also, though sitting on the same side of the House as the hon. member for Colchester, to have the pleasure, and to him it would be a great one from its novelty, of voting with him for the present Ministers whenever their actions deserved his support.
§ Sir E. B. Sugden
could not conceive why another Judge should be appointed in the place of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. It ought not to be forgotten, that Sir Anthony Hart was not appointed by the late Government, but by the Government of Mr. Canning. When it was re-collected that many of the present Minis- 948 ters coalesced, and joined, and, if he might use so vulgar an expression, worked with that Administration, which appointed Sir Anthony Hart, he would ask, was it not curious, that without any reason given, without any ground advanced, with reference only to political sentiments, they should now remove him? Sir Anthony Hart was not a political character, he had never been a member of the House of Commons, nor was he ever placed in a situation where he could manifest strong political feelings. Did it not then appear extraordinary that Lord Chancellor Hart should be deposed, to make room for Lord Plunkett, merely on the allegation that it was right that every Government should have perfect confidence in the political sentiments of all who were in any way connected with it? Was there any thing in the political sentiments of Sir Anthony Hart which rendered it fit that he should be removed? If such a case were made out—if it were shown that the political sentiments of that Gentleman prevented him from forming a close and cordial connection with Ministers— then he would, for one, admit (hard as it was on the country to be burthened with those large payments) that his removal was justifiable. But when Ministers came forward with professions of economy, and at the same time settled a pension of 4,000l. a-year on one learned Judge, and of somewhere about 3,000l. a year upon another, no necessity being pointed out for such a proceeding, it could not escape without animadversion. He did not mean to say that it might not be justified; but unquestionably some reason ought to be given for entailing so large an expense on the country.
§ Lord Palmerston
expressed his surprise, after his noble friend had clearly stated that he should be able satisfactorily to explain this transaction, when the details of the arrangement came before the House, to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman make the accusation which he had just done.
§ Lord Palmerston
was sorry that the hon. hon. and learned Gentleman was not in the House when his noble friend made his statement; but he thought that a person of the hon. and learned Gentleman's experience ought not to have given utterance to such unqualified opinions without hearing the speech which he rose to answer. 949 He, however, made those observations, it now appeared, without hearing that speech. He did not mean at present to go into any large discussion on the arrangement in question, because, on a future occasion, the details would be fully stated, and on them the propriety of the proceeding would be defended. But he must say, that it required no great intelligence to show, notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the situation of Chancellor could not be divested of political character. The person who held the situation of Chancellor, either of England or Ireland, was obliged to have constant communication with the Ministers of the Crown, and he must, therefore, possess their full political confidence; very great inconvenience would ensue if that seat were occupied by an individual not possessing that confidence. One of the parties alluded to, he believed, wished to retire; and the whole arrangement would, he had no doubt, give satisfaction to the country. The statement of his noble friend seemed to meet the general approbation of the House. He was anxious that it should do so, because Ministers felt that it was only by the concurrence of that House that they could act for the benefit of the country. They came into office at a period of peculiar difficulty, in whatever way they looked to the various interests which were committed to their charge; but it was gratifying to them to find, so far as they had explained the principle which they meant to pursue, that it met with the approbation of the House, as he was persuaded it would that of the country; and it was only so long as they possessed the confidence of both, that they wished to continue in the situation which they now held.
§ Mr. Calcraft
contended, that his hon. and learned friend (Sir E. B. Sugden) had a right to make the observations he had done on a subject which had been twice or thrice mentioned in the House, until he received the information he demanded. He now begged leave to state his own opinion with respect to that appointment. Looking to the talents and experience of the noble Lord (Plunkett), and considering the great service which he might render in Ireland, he thought that any Government which could avail themselves of his assistance in the public service, would be extremely culpable if it neglected to do so. 950 He regretted that any additional expense should be imposed on the country, but he did not begrudge it, as it was the means of procuring Lord Plunkett's services. In speaking of the present Administration, it ought not to be forgotten that they acceded to office under circumstances more favourable to reform than had ever occurred before. At no preceding period had reform taken such an extensive and powerful hold of the public mind as at present. He felt no desire to oppose Ministers; but if he differed from them, he would speak his opinion freely and decidedly. He agreed with the hon. Baronet that it would be unworthy of a great nation to cut down with a parsimonious hand the salaries of individuals in subordinate offices. He entreated the Government, when they had dealt with their own salaries, not to visit the subordinate officers, he meant clerks, with the same severity which they might exercise with respect to themselves, for the little time he had been in office had taught him that what were called large emoluments were, in fact, small emoluments, and hardly sufficient to enable those persons to support themselves. Many of those individuals, after thirty or forty years' service, could not boast of having acquired an independence for their families.
§ Mr. G. Bankes
said, that without meaning any disrespect to Lord Plunkett, he thought that Sir Anthony Hart was equally fitted for the office of Chancellor. He could see no reason for the translation of the former, whose services were already secured in another situation. It was a most singular thing, that the noble Secretary was himself a member of the very Administration by whom Sir A. Hart was appointed; and the same observation would apply to other members of the Government. How, then, he would ask the noble Lord, had Sir Anthony Hart forfeited the confidence of the present Government? Not only was the same Lord Lieutenant now going to Ireland that was there when Sir Anthony Hart was appointed, but the noble Secretary and other members of his Majesty's Government were then in office. What, then, was the ground of Sir Anthony Hart's removal? They were told that some plan of economy, that some system of reform, was in contemplation. An expense of 4,000l. a-year was to be entailed on the country—but still economy would be attended to. Now, he would ask, had 951 Ministers tried whether Sir Anthony Hart was adverse to their plan of economy? Because, if he were not, this 4,000l. a-year might have been gained, Sir Anthony Hart still remaining Chancellor, in addition to what would be produced by the intended reductions. He knew that length of service and bodily infirmity might, in some cases, be alleged to justify a retiring allowance. But he had not heard any such plea in this instance.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, he had no desire to oppose the present Administration, but he wished to ask the noble Lord opposite whether the appointment of Comptroller of the Navy had been again filled up? —whether anew Clerk of the Council had been appointed since the death of Mr. Buller?—and whether an Ambassador was still to be maintained at Vienna, at an expense of 12,000l.? There were rumours abroad on these subjects which made him wish for positive information. The hon. member for Staffordshire had said, that the people would not grudge a few thousands extra, provided their servants were well paid, but they ought to know that their servants were not those right hon. and honourable Gentlemen who ran about all ways except the way they ought to go for the public good.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that with respect to the situation of Comptroller of the Navy, he could not give the hon. Member any information. As to the appointment of second Clerk to the Council, he could give a satisfactory answer. Before the late Administration left office, the King's pleasure was taken on the appointment of Mr. Bathurst as second Clerk of the Council. His appointment was not made by the present Ministers, but by their predecessors. The only thing they had to do with the office was, to reduce the salary from 2,000l. to l,200l. a-year. As to the embassy to Vienna, no change had taken place in it.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that with respect to the Clerk of the Council, his Majesty's late Ministers had contemplated an arrangement when the office became vacant, which would have led to a reduction even more beneficial to the public, perhaps, than the present.
§ Mr. R. Colborne
was friendly to a just economy, but he was sure that it would be found a very bad species of economy to under-pay public servants.
wished to repeat the 952 question which was put the other night by the hon. member for Bletchingly. He understood that no less than four pensions had been granted by the Duke of Wellington, or the late Administration, the date of which was subsequent to the virtual resignation of office by the noble Duke. He was desirous of learning how far this was correct. He could not but express his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman ("Mr. Goulburn) had blamed the noble Lord (Althorp) who had so lately come into office, because he was not acquainted with the nature of a certain treaty, at the same time that the right hon. Gentleman had himself declared his entire ignorance of the point to which his (Mr. Labouchere's) question referred, although he certainly ought to have been informed on the subject.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, the hon. Member had no need to ask him this question, because one of the hon. Member's friends had moved for a return of those particular pensions, and it was now on the Table of the House. He had refused to answer the question formerly; because, with respect to a date, it was better to refer to a document than merely to trust to recollection. It appeared by the return, that the order for those pensions was dated the 16th of November.
§ Mr. O'Connell
stated, that he had two reasons for not giving his opinion with respect to the judicial appointment which had been referred to. The first was, lest, in speaking on that subject, and expressing the deep and heartfelt interest which he took in the concerns of Ireland, he might be supposed to be actuated by a personal resentment, which he despised; the other reason was, that they had not all the facts at present before them.
§ Mr. J. Johnston
said, he hoped that the proposed reforms of the Ministers would extend to Scotland, the representation of which was even more corrupt than that of England.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ The Committee was immediately appointed. Amongst its members are:— Lord Althorp, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Goulburn, Mr. Bankes, Sir H. Parnell, Sir G. Warrender, Sir C. Wetherell, Marquis of Chandos, Sir T. Acland, Mr. Adeane, Mr. Bethel, Mr. Lawley, Sir H. Bunbury, Suit. Vyvyan, Lord Stormont, Mr. Irving, Mr. Hume, Mr. Baring, Mr. J. Wood, Sir J. Newport, and Mr. Kennedy.