§ Mr. Spence, in order to shew the defective manner in which the returns already alluded to by the hon. member for Ayr (Mr. Kennedy), and the undue manner in which offices were accumulated in the persons of individuals, instanced the case of one person who held the situations of Prothonotary of the Court of Chancery, Clerk of the Hanaper, and Commissioner of Bankrupts; the emoluments of which several offices amounted to upwards of 9,700l. a year, and which were wholly omitted in the returns. The person who held those offices was also a clergyman, and he had a right of reversion in them. He derived the greater part of this large sum from fees collected from bankrupts and insolvents. Unless his Majesty's Government should think proper themselves to take this subject into consideration, he would, at some future period, call the particular attention of the House to it.
was happy that the present conversation gave him an opportunity of stating, that not one month, but six months ago, he had submitted to his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to other hon. friends, the absolute necessity of a strict inquiry into the mode in which the public money was wasted in pensions, sinecures, and salaries. It was in vain to order returns to be made on this subject. Some subterfuge was always resorted to to defeat the objects in view. For instance, in answer to an order that was directed last year to the Hackney-coach Office, one gentleman admitted that he held four offices. He (Mr. Hume) happened, however, to know, that this gentleman held five offices; and the return was therefore sent back with a request that it might be amended. This, however, was refused, on the ground that there was no precedent for the required proceeding. This and other circumstances led him to the result, that it would be quite impossible to accomplish anything that would be satisfactory to the House and the public, in the way of preventing money from being fraudulently taken out of the pockets of the people, by any returns from the offices themselves; and that it was indispensable that every individual case should be made 1070 the subject of specific investigation. In many cases, where the emoluments were derived from fees, it was well known that only three-fourths of the salaries actually enjoyed were stated in the returns to Parliament. In others, where there were compound offices, the difficulty of getting at the facts was considerable. He was convinced that it was impossible to ascertain the real merits of the various cases except by the examination of a committee, of that House. He begged, therefore, to ask his noble friend, if he had any objection to appoint a committee for that purpose after the recess? If he had been present when the committee was lately appointed, of which committee his noble friend had done him the honour to name him a member, and which was to take into consideration a description of offices that he (Mr. Hume) would rather not meddle with, he would have taken the opportunity of recommending in preference the appointment of a committee to take into consideration the more extensive class of officers to which he had alluded. He would do away with the granting of all patent places. The pensions on the Civil List all expired on the demise of the Crown. They amounted to 150,000l.; and he trusted that they would not be renewed. The people demanded and expected some unequivocal retrenchment of this nature, from one end of the kingdom to the other. Sinecures ought to undergo the same rigid investigation. The time had arrived when the plea of their being vested rights, by which the consideration of the subject had hitherto been clogged, should be done away with. He hoped that his noble friend would himself be prepared to propose the appointment of a committee of inquiry, such as he (Mr. Hume) recommended. If not, he now gave notice, that on the first Thursday after the recess he would move for the appointment of a committee for that purpose. He repeated, however, that if his noble friend, and his Majesty's Government generally, were disposed to take up the subject, he would much rather the committee should be appointed by them. He hoped, at least, that they would go to the bottom of the evil; and not be again deluded, as they had hitherto been. The state of the country imperatively required that every point of our national expenditure should be most rigorously examined.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that his hon. 1071 friend asked him, if he had any objection to the appointment of a committee to inquire into the subordinate offices of the Crown. He would ask his hon. friend in return, to allow his Majesty's Ministers time to make the necessary examinations into the subject, and to endeavour to get rid of all unnecessary offices; and then, when they had done all that appeared to them to be practicable and expedient, the subject might be referred to the further consideration of a committee of that House. The view which his Majesty's Government took of the subject was, that they were determined, whenever they had power to do so, to abolish offices which had no duty attached to them. As far as they had hitherto gone, they had proceeded on that principle. They had not appointed to any offices, held during pleasure, where there were no duties to be performed; they had abolished several such offices. "Thank God!" exclaimed the noble Lord, "the time at which this country could be governed by patronage is past." Wherever his Majesty's Government were satisfied that places were merely patronage, they would abolish them; but not when they found that to those places useful duties were attached.
Mr. R. Gordon
expressed the great satisfaction with which he had heard his noble friend declare, that it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to abolish all offices to which there were no duties attached. He hoped it would be remembered, that the offices of the Lord Privy Seal and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster came under that description. They were wholly useless. He agreed entirely in opinion with his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, with reference to the pensions which terminated with the demise of the Crown. He was aware that it would be said, that they were equitable vested rights. But he maintained that, in the existing circumstances of the country, they should either be done away with, or considerably reduced. Let the House look at the Pension-list; let it observe how many persons, in consequence of various family connections, had been for years and years quartered upon the public. How often had his hon. friend the member for Middlesex, endeavoured to bring the subject under the consideration of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the time had always refused to submit the 1072 English Pension-list to investigation; although the Scotch and the Irish Pension-lists had been brought under consideration. The time had, however, arrived when the country would no longer be so treated; when the people demanded the utmost possible economy and retrenchment. And he must confess that, having on a recent occasion alluded to the legal appointments in Ireland, on which occasion the noble Lord had said, that when the proper time came, he should be able to state to the House such an economical arrangement as would be generally satisfactory, it was with great regret that he had heard elsewhere that it was proposed to give Sir Anthony Hart a retiring pension of 3,600l.; which was to be met by a permanent reduction of 2,000l. in the salary of the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was quite sure that this, together with the other legal arrangements in Ireland, would give the greatest and most general dissatisfaction.
§ Sir R. Bateson, referring to the circumstance that the Duke of Northumberland had very patriotically resigned of his own accord 7,000l. of his salary as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, wished to ask the noble Lord, if it was the intention of his Majesty's Government that the salary of the present Lord Lieutenant should be taken at the same rate.
§ Lord Althorp, in reply to his hon. friend the member for Cricklade, who had taunted him with the remark, that the offices of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Lord Privy Seal were useless, and should be abolished, observed, that with respect to the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster, the House was aware that the revenues of that Duchy were never considered a part of the revenues of the country, and therefore could not, together with the officer by whom they were administered, be submitted to the consideration of the House. He did not think the House ought to call on his Majesty to surrender those revenues. His Majesty had sacrificed other sources of income to the public good; but he (Lord Althorp) did not see, that because his Majesty had done so, he should be called upon to sacrifice all those sources. With respect to the office of Lord Privy Seal, both in England and in Scotland, he could not admit that it was a useless office in either country. Nor could he admit, that in such a Government as ours, 1073 it was desirable to abolish an office which materially contributed to the dignity of the Crown. It was by no means useless to connect the higher orders of the nobility with the Crown, in such a manner as to maintain its proper state and splendour. This he said with respect to the offices, but the amount of the salaries attached to them was quite a different matter; and it would, of course, be competent to the committee which had been appointed for the purpose of investigating the subject, to consider whether or not those salaries ought to be reduced. As to the question which had been put to him by the hon. Baronet, with respect to the salary of the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he believed that the same arrangements had been made as with the former Lord Lieutenant; he meant the same reduction had been made on the amount of the salary.
§ Sir E. B. Sugden
admitted, that sinecure offices were a great burthen on the country. He maintained, that the individual who held the Great Seal ought to have an income sufficiently large to maintain his dignity; but that there was no defence for patent places. They were granted in many cases most unnecessarily, and frequently fell at remote periods, to persons by whom they ought not to be possessed; the means by which those persons were paid being taken from the suitors in Courts of Justice, and thereby injuring the administration of the law. It was entirely a different thing, however, with the great Officers of State; and it appeared to him to be a very wild notion to condemn the ancient office of the Lord Privy Seal —an office of considerable use. It was undoubtedly necessary that every Administration should have some places, or other means of liberality, to assist them in carrying on their Government. They could not always proceed upon the principles of the hon. member for Middlesex, and burthen a man to the last endurable point, with the least possible remuneration for his labour. Honest exertions in the public service ought to be fairly rewarded. He would not reward those who did not deserve it; but he would always reward those who did.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, he had never heard his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, maintain that men who laboured for the public ought not to be paid for their labour. His hon. friend's argument had been, that those who did not labour ought 1074 not to receive any reward. With respect to the means which the hon. and learned Gentleman asserted ought to be at the disposal of Government to reward services, it should be recollected that those means were derived from the estates of insolvents and bankrupts. The Irish Pension-list was in the highest degree scandalous. There was not one individual upon it—with the exception of Lord Rodney—he meant the ancestor of the present Lord—who had ever done a particle of good to the country. There was still a representative of the great Rodney on that list; but at this remote period, he doubted whether even that was justifiable? There was the representative of Mr. Robert Shaw, a merchant and banker, whose son was a Baronet, and had been a Member of that House. Why was the country to be burthened with 800l. a-year for him? The Pension-lists ought to be referred to the consideration of a committee, to inquire on what services and on what alleged grounds the various pensions had been granted. If ever there was a person of integrity and honour, he was persuaded that it was the noble Lord; and he (Mr. O'Connell) had listened with great anxiety to hear the noble Lord's statement respecting the judicial appointments which had recently taken place in Ireland.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that he had not been able to make a satisfactory statement on that subject, because the whole arrangement had not been completed.
§ Mr. O'Connell
proceeded:—The 10,000l. which had been the salary of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was in Irish currency; being only 9,600l. British. The saving, therefore, would be only 1,600l. He begged to submit to the consideration of his Majesty's Government a case of supposition. If the administration of justice in Ireland were to be handed over to one family; if a system of nepotism were to prevail over the whole of that department of the State; if near relatives were to be so placed, that the appeal from their decisions must be from a relative here to a relative there; if (as he had remarked on another occasion) seats on the Bench were to be filled up by persons not known in the Courts, whom public opinion branded with incapacity, who were placed in high situations merely because they had been Members of that House; if a noble Lord were to be induced to resign on the score of age, for the pur- 1075 pose of replacing him by an individual of the same years; the consequences of such arrangements could not be contemplated without alarm. He by no means said that such appointments had taken place; but if they were to take place, the deepest blame would rest on his Majesty's Government. To the people of Ireland generally, but to the poorer classes especially, the defective administration of the law must be pregnant with the most injurious consequences. In promoting some of the individuals to whom he had adverted, Government would be promoting not their friends, but their enemies; and that he was an enemy was a very bad reason for advancing any one to a high judicial office. Were the things certain to which he had alluded as possible, no considerations of delicacy would prevent him from arraigning, if not impeaching, those by whom they had been done. He hoped that they would not be done without consulting the opinion of the Irish Bar. The opinions which he had expressed were not his alone —they were not the opinions of any party —they were universal Let his Majesty's Ministers consult the Irish Bench on the subject. Nothing in his whole political life had given him more pain than the necessity which he felt to make such observations with reference to any measure of a Government to which he was anxious to give his warm and disinterested support as the friends of economy and reform at home, and of peace abroad.
§ Mr. George Robinson
recommended his Majesty's Ministers to repudiate all aid derived from corrupt sources, and to pursue steadily the course which they seemed to have marked out for themselves. They would then be supported by the country. He perfectly agreed with the noble Lord, that the time had gone by when any Administration could carry on the Government of the country unless they threw themselves on the people, and particularly on those Representatives who enjoyed the confidence of the people. Not long ago, an hon. Member asked the noble Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a question with reference to the salary of the new Ambassador to France. The noble Lord's answer was, that of course that Ambassador would go out with the salary that had been fixed by the late Ministry. Now why that was a matter "of course," he (Mr. Robinson) was at a loss to understand; especially as he recollected, that 1076 when the Members of the present Government were on the other side of the House, they loudly protested against excessive diplomatic salaries. The question was, therefore, not what the late Ministers had fixed, but what the present Ministers, who professed so much love of retrenchment, would fix. On this subject he begged to say one word more. He did not wish to undervalue the merits of the distinguished persons who had at various periods served as Ambassadors from this country to foreign Courts. He had no doubt they were fully competent to the greater part of their duties. But this he would say, that no country in the world had ever been worse served by its Ambassadors, in all important matters which related to trade and commerce. They were inadequate to such discussions. They were either not well instructed, or they had been injudiciously selected. Wherever subjects of trade, or treaties of commerce, were discussed, our Ambassadors always appeared to be overmatched. He repeated his hope that he had misunderstood the noble Lord when he supposed him to say, that the new Ambassador to France would have the same salary as that which the late Ministry had fixed for his predecessor. He should be happy to support Ministers, but unquestionably he would oppose them with all his power if he found them not acting up to the principles they had professed out of office.
§ Lord Palmerston
observed, that, in answer to the question which the hon. Gentleman had put to him on the subject, not long ago, he had stated, that the late Ministers had reduced the scale of the salaries of Ambassadors, and, therefore, that any new Ambassador would go out on the reduced salary of that scale. He had added, however, that the subject would still come under the revision of his Majesty's present Government. In the salary of the Ambassador to France the late Administration did not contemplate any reduction. No doubt, therefore, the present Ambassador to France would go with the present salary; with the understanding, however, that it would be subject to any reduction that might be considered proper. He was sorry to hear the hon. Gentleman assert, that England was the country the worst served by its Ambassadors; although he was glad to find that the assertion was qualified by limiting its application to 1077 matters of trade and commerce. If the allegation of the hon. Gentleman were well founded, it attached at least as much blame to the Government as to the Ambassadors of England; for it was well known that no Ambassador would negociate treaties of trade or commerce without having previously received the fullest instructions from home.
§ Sir J. Yorke
was satisfied that if Ministers did their duty in the manner which they had declared they would, the most beneficial consequences would be the result. But he owned he was lamentably disappointed, after their assurances that they would never flinch, but would retrench to the back-bone, by the commencement which they had made. There was the noble Lord who had just been launched as Ambassador to France, to remain precisely at the same salary as his predecessor. If the noble Lord had stated that the offices of Lord Privy Seal, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster were abolished, or that those noble Lords who held them were to serve without pay, if he had stated that we were to have a Government without salaries, and a Civil List without pensions, it would have been something; but the new Ministers were already finding excuses for treading in the steps of their predecessors. If the Government adhered to a system of unflinching retrenchment and reform, they should have his support; but it would be a melancholy thing if, after all their fine professions, they were merely to tread in the steps of their predecessors. He expressed his exceeding astonishment that the members of the new Administration who had recorded their opinion to the effect that Ireland should, by the abolition of the office of Lord Lieutenant, he rendered an integral, and cease to be, as it were, a colonial portion of the British dominions, should not have come forward, now that they had the power, and declare that the office should exist no longer.
§ Mr. H. Twiss
contended that it was a great mistake to suppose that the office of Lord Privy Seal was a needless office. "With respect to pensions, he begged to say, that it was his hope the new Government would not be induced to place the Sovereign in the invidious position of creating an immense mass of private distress. Reduction, he insisted, ought to be confined to offices during pleasure. Those emoluments ought not to be taken 1078 away, which might be considered as vested interests. If the advocates of retrenchment and reform proceeded too far in their demands, they would entirely defeat their own object.
said, that he could not concur in the view of the last speaker, that pensions should be considered as vested interests. On the same profligate principle men were said to have a vested interest in slaves. With such answers to their demands the people of England would not be satisfied. They remembered that 113 Privy Councillors divided amongst themselves nearly a million of money, and that upwards of two millions were paid in salaries of 1,000l., and they would not be satisfied by being told that these, and all the pensions on the Civil List, were vested interests. He trusted Government would not take the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The glory of the present Administration would, he hoped, be founded on the promotion of reform and retrenchment.
§ Lord Morpeth
was sure that his noble relative would cheerfully accede to any recommendation of that House respecting the salary he should receive for his services abroad. He observed, that it was unfair thus to assail the Government before it had time to draw the sword from the scabbard; and it ought not to be expected to cut down every abuse before it had had time even once to wield its arm.
was of opinion, that a salary of 11,000l. a-year was excessive for our Ambassador to France. The country would be shocked when they heard it was intended to send Lord Granville out with such an income. The sum was too large, and ought to be reduced instantly, for the extravagance of a profligate Government could be no excuse for any waste by a Government professing economy. He believed that the sum was far greater than the French Ambassador to this country enjoyed.
§ Mr. R. Grant
had heard with some degree of anxiety the premature expression of distrust, upon the part of certain hon. Members, towards the Government. It appeared these hon. Members doubted whether the new Administration would act in accordance with the professions they had made. For himself he had no such doubt. He would have decidedly flinched from taking office if he had not received pledges that all their professions 1079 would be carried into effect; and amongst the rest, that an abolition should take place of all useless offices, and that there should be an adjustment of the salaries of offices which were to be maintained, in proportion to the services to be done. Now, although these reductions came under different heads, they yet fell under the same principle; for if there was to be an adjustment in proportion to the service rendered, it proved that, where there was no service there would be no salary, There was less hesitation and less time demanded when the object was to abolish useless offices, than when the office must be maintained, and the salary was to be adjusted. The latter was a matter of grave consideration; but at the same time he felt no doubt that, after due consideration, and at no very distant period, all salaries would be adjusted. It was too much to call on the Government, both to commence its inquiries, and at once to arrive at a decision. The main support of that Administration must arise from the fulfilment of these pledges, and from the assistance of the enlightened men who gave their voice to them in that House. They had nothing to depend upon but the friendship of the people, which would be afforded to them, not from blind confidence, but would be meted out to them in proportion to the services performed.
§ Mr. Maberly
rose to declare, that the present Government should have his support as long as their conduct was in accordance with their professions. He had at present perfect confidence in the Administration, and he thought time should be allowed them. They should be afforded an opportunity of dealing with things, not abstractedly, but generally. He recommended classification in the work of reduction. They should not take a single office—it was useless and invidious; they should arrange a scale for the several salaries under the head of diplomacy, and go on with the Dead Weight, pensions, and other charges on the public revenue. The present Administration was the only one that ever professed to act upon the principles which were held by him (Mr. Maberly) and his friends. The determination that no reform should take place, although the Duke of Wellington only had the resolution to declare it, was, he believed, common to all the members of the late Government. He entreated hon. Members not to damage an Administration which was 1080 inclined to do right. That Administration was determined to practise economy, and a part of that economy would be a revision of our whole diplomatic expenditure. If, therefore, the old salary was at present continued to the Ambassador at Paris, it was only done till the whole could be arranged. The Administration was one which could not look for much support from the aristocracy. It must, in fact, depend upon the people; and in conclusion he would say to that Administration, if it were beaten on the great question of Reform in that House, let them at once dissolve Parliament—let them appeal to the people, and the people would give them a triumphant majority. This was his recommendation; and if they pursued it, they would be sure to secure themselves in the Government, and to retain the hearts of the people.
§ Mr. Courtenay
declared, that the late Government had professed and pursued the principle of retrenchment; and remarked, that their reductions were not directed to the paltry salaries of clerks, but to those offices which had heretofore been filled up for the purposes of patronage. The Duke of Wellington, for instance, had not given away a single commission during the existence of the late Administration.
Lord G. Bentinck
observed, in reference to the assertion of a worthy Alderman (Waithman), that the salary of 11,000l. a-year, granted to our Ambassador in France, was excessive—that the Ambassadors of the Citizen King and a reformed Chamber had 12,000l. a-year and a house.
Lord John Russell
said, it was a gross error to suppose that the diplomatic expenditure of England exceeded that of other countries. He did not, however, mean to state that the salary alluded to should not be reduced; but the question required consideration. He declared, that although he had not recorded any vote upon the subject, in his opinion the keeping up the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was not consistent with a just economy. But it did. not follow, that because he entertained this opinion, he should approve of the removal of this officer in the present state of Ireland. It did not follow that Government, even if entertaining similar sentiments, was to say, "We will maintain our consistency—we will brave the danger—we will charge the 1081 Secretary for the Home Department with the burthen of Irish affairs, notwithstanding the abundant occupation he receives from the present state of England; we will take our chance for all the mischief which may arise from the removal of the Lord Lieutenant, rather than sacrifice one iota of our consistency." For his part he considered it would be much the better course to appoint a Lord Lieutenant for the present, looking forward to a time when, tranquillity being restored, and confidence re established in Ireland, they might safely and securely dispense with that part of the establishment. He admitted that in the last Administration there was more economy and less corruption than in any which had preceded it; it was far, however, from understanding the temper and necessities of the present times. Of the corruptions of Governments which had preceded the present they had damning proofs upon the Table. There were names in the pension list which ought to make those who bore them blush, and which had raised to the utmost the indignation of the people. There were sinecures created, not by the Duke of Wellington, but by those who had preceded him which made it impossible not to see, either that the Government must reduce them in answer to the cry of the people, or else expose the faith of the country to stain. In conclusion he observed, that the mad resistance of the late Administration to Reform would not, had they continued in office, have defeated that measure, but would undoubtedly have involved the monarchy and the aristocracy in one common ruin.
declared his adhesion to the Ministers, but remarked, that if it wished to retain the confidence of the people, they must look upon the diplomatic expenditure with a scrutinising eye. He did not yet despair of them, and thought it was most unreasonable in others to find fault with them, for they had yet been only three weeks in office. He certainly hoped that the large perquisites of Diplomatic Offices would undergo revision.
hoped, that the Government would suspend all the promotions of the year till it had fully ascertained how many were actually required. Every promotion was but an addition to the amount of the pensions of the country. There were now many more Officers, both in the naval and military establishments, 1082 than were actually wanted. He hoped that the Government would be prepared to stop them, from this day forward, till inquiry had been made. He gave them this caution, because he saw yesterday a notice of a promotion to an unattached commission. He believed that at this moment there were 1,200 Supernumerary Officers with all their half-pay. There might have been differences of opinion under the former Government as to the question of promotions, but after what had fallen from the noble Lord, he believed the rate of promotion formerly carried on would no longer be deemed necessary. Under the Government of the Duke of Wellington there had been more promotions, in a time of profound peace, than when we had a thousand pendants flying on the ocean, and 500,000 men in arms. If what the noble Lord had laid down should be followed, it would be well for the country, but if not, it would be the duty of some one to press the matter on the attention of the House.
§ Lord Althorp
knew, that the subject referred to by the hon. Member had been under consideration, and that it was the desire of the Government to relieve the country as much as possible from the amount of the Dead Weight. He must say, however, that he did not agree with the hon. Member that all promotion whatever ought to stop. He acknowledged that it ought to be checked—that it should not go on without an absolute necessity— but to stop it altogether would be fatal to both Services, and to the Navy in particular. The great object, certainly, of the Government would be, to relieve, as much as possible, the nation from the expense of the Army and Navy.
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, that as the hon. member for Middlesex had declared, that the promotions under the Administration of the Duke of Wellington had been greater than during the war, he thought it due to the character of that noble Duke to call the attention of the House to the regulations which the noble Duke had instituted to put a check upon promotion in the Navy, so that no promotion took place in any particular class till there were three vacancies in that class. That regulation had been at the time so much approved, even by the hon. member for Middlesex, that that hon. Member recommended to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Palmerston), then Secre- 1083 tary at War, that he should adopt a similar regulation in the Army. Although he had doubts of the extent of the economy which the Ministers would be able to practise, he certainly should be highly gratified to see them able to carry the system of retrenchment to the same extent as it had been carried under the Administration of the noble Duke. He was satisfied that very much indeed was expected from the present Ministers, and that some very extravagant ideas had gone abroad on the subject. He gave them full credit for their wish to meet those ideas; but he doubted their power to do so, and he believed that when they had had more time to look narrowly into the details of their various offices, they would see that it was much more difficult than they imagined to effect the reductions expected from them.
observed, that he and his hon. friends in the same situation with himself, were greatly embarrassed by having two Governments, the late and the present, to deal with. In his opinion it had been truly stated by the noble Lord, the. Paymaster of the Forces, that the Duke of Wellington did not understand the feelings of the times, and did not go along with them as he ought in the belief of the necessity of the utmost economy and retrenchment. At the same time he was ready to confess that the late Ministers had gone as far as the corrupt system of that House, and of the Constitution of the Government allowed them. But with respect to going further, to their trying a new and constitutional mode of governing the country, that House had the best evidence to the contrary, in the declaration made by the noble Duke himself, who had told the House of Lords, and it was fortunate for that House, and for the country, that he had openly told them, he was determined not to try that new system which this country was now resolved, and the present Government determined, should be tried for the salvation of the community. He would not cavil at the opinion of that illustrious person, but he believed that the noble Duke was consistently the friend of the old, as he (Mr. Hobhouse) and his friends were of the new system. Under these circumstances, he could not but believe that the noble Lord was right in saying that the Duke of Wellington did not understand the circumstances of the times. Those circumstances were such, 1084 that no Ministers could now succeed without trying the new system: he defied them to do without it. He lived, perhaps, more amongst the people, for he was one of the people, than most other Members, and he knew their opinions. He was sure, that if Gentlemen saw the circumstances and signs of the times, as he saw them, they must be convinced that public opinion was running in a current which could not now be opposed by the present Government, and would never by any which might follow hereafter, be in the slightest degree controlled. He had no doubt that the present Ministers meant well—how could he doubt it?—He who had for so many years fought side by side with them—who had heard their oft-expressed opinions on the questions of reform and retrenchment —how could he believe that they were men who would at once betray and destroy their duty to the people and themselves? He had the best guarantee to the contrary—he had that of their own character —he had the knowledge of them privately, and he saw what was their course in their public duty. His confidence in them had rather increased during the last three weeks; he had heard from that bench language which he never expected to have heard from it—he meant the language of patriotism from men in office, who were men in whom he confided. They had not only not changed their opinion and their conduct, but had rather given greater pledges of the sincerity of their former opinions. They placed their dependence on the people, and they would not be disappointed; but he wished to guard them against the advice given them by the hon. and right hon. Members who sat on this (the Opposition) side of the House, having recently come over here from the opposite benches. By some of these hon. Members it had lately been said, that John Bull was a great gentleman, and of course must have servants like a great gentleman servants, in fact, who, like those of Don Quixote, would do what they pleased with their master. In that manner the great gentleman would be in a fair way to become a poor gentleman. He protested against the use of such language, and he assured the House, that the public felt most strongly they could not afford to play the great gentleman in that manner. So far from it, indeed, that the public did not like even their efficient officers to be overpaid. It was supposed that the public did 1085 not think the men overpaid who really did the business of the State—it was a mistake, there was a general—almost an universal feeling, that many of them were over-paid; and if the public wish were attended to, many of their salaries would be reduced; and it must be attended to, in order to keep public faith, and to support those necessary burthens which had placed the country in its present situation in Europe. He repeated his caution to his friends opposite, and he gave them this advice in a spirit of true friendship: for when he observed the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen newly arrived on that side of the House cheering the hon. Gentlemen opposite, he began, like a celebrated character of antiquity, to suspect that the latter had said some very foolish thing. He called on them, therefore, to depend on themselves, and on themselves alone: for he believed that they had both the will and the power to do real service to the country—he believed, indeed, as was said of them the other night, that they were placed between the country and destruction. He was happy to see that they were not opposed in a vexatious manner—a circumstance which did infinite credit to the right hon. Gentleman, late Secretary for the Home Department. No symptoms of faction had yet appeared in that House; he trusted it would be left to the other House of Parliament, or to any other place: but let them remember, that they were sent thither by the people, to do the work of the people, for the benefit of the people. While he had reason to think the Ministry held the same sentiments as those they formerly professed, and while they seemed to act on those sentiments, they should have his cordial support. He warned them, however, against the dangerous advice of the ex-under-Secretary, for if they wanted to secure the support of the people, they must not imitate his changing career, and they must cut off pensions as well as cut down salaries. Let the House recollect that they were sent there to do the work of the people, not countenance the bad jobs of any Ministers.
§ The House resolved itself into a Committee of SUPPLY.
§ Mr. H. Twiss
said, he had been misunderstood on one point of advice which he had offered, and that was, in his recommendation of economy. He had suggested, certainly, that those pensions 1086 which had been irrevocably granted should not be reduced, but that offices which were held at the pleasure of Government should be curtailed. He was also mistaken by the hon. member for Westminster in having been understood to have proffered his friendship, or intimated his intention at any time to support the present Ministry. The hon. Gentleman had talked of the career he had run; but if the career of so unimportant an individual was worthy of the attention of the House, he challenged the hon. Member to state what there was so peculiar in his career as to justify the hon. Member in adverting to it in the terms he had done.
§ Mr. W. Duncombe
rose to order. He submitted that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Twiss) had delivered his sentiments once on the subject already during the evening, and that it was irregular for him again to address the House on the same subject.
§ Mr. H. Twiss
submitted, that when a Member was attacked personally, the courtesy of the House properly permitted him to defend himself.
disclaimed any intention of saying anything offensive of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He never intended to insinuate that the hon. Member's career had not been honourable and consistent.
would not venture to intrude his sentiments upon the House, but that he felt his constituents were deeply interested. He understood the present Government was founded upon the principles of peace, retrenchment, and reform, and whilst Ministers acted in accordance with those principles, they should have his cordial support. He could assure the House that, amongst his constituents, and he believed throughout the country, there was a strong and increasing feeling in favour of reform.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that perhaps the best mode of rendering himself intelligible would be, to state the supplies that had been voted for the present year, what were the Ways and Means which had been voted, and what remained to be voted. And first, as to the supplies voted.
To these were to be added 750,000l. Duty 1087 on Exchequer Bills, and 300,000l. on account of the Civil List; making in the whole a sum of 17,688,000l. The Ways and Means provided to meet this expenditure he stated as follows:—
The amount voted for the Army was £ 7,414,000 For the Navy 5,597,000 For the Ordnance 1,695,000 And for the Miscellaneous 1,932,000 Total £16,638,000
There remained, therefore. 1,865,000l. to be voted. At present, however, he called upon the Committee to vote 1,850,000l. As to the amount of the supplies for the present year, he did not feel himself called upon to defend them. He now called upon the Committee merely to make up the deficiency that lay over since last Session. As to the supplies for the ensuing year, when they were brought forward, it would be the duty of the Committee to take the greatest possible care to reduce the Estimates to the lowest standard that was consistent with the public service. As to the intentions of his Majesty's Government, he knew that the expectations of the country were greatly excited; so greatly, that, with all the exertions that could be made, he feared some would be disappointed. He begged the House, however, to believe, that the Ministry would do their utmost to show that they were really in earnest in their professions of economy, and if the reductions they contemplated did not amount to as large a saving as some considered desirable, he hoped those who differed from him on that point, would nevertheless give him, and the other members of his Majesty's Government, credit for good intentions. The noble Lord concluded by moving a vote of 1,850,000l.
Receipts from the East-India Company £ 60,000 Surplus from supplies of last year. 80,000 Sugar Duty 3,000,000 Repayment of Exchequer Bills. 183,500 From the Consolidated Fund 12,500,000 £5,823,000
Mr. R. Gordon
did not rise to oppose the motion of his noble friend, but merely to remind him of the peculiar situation in which the House was placed, with regard to the Estimates. The Estimates were for services performed from the 1st of January; they were never presented to the House until the end of February, and they were voted, perhaps, in June or July. What was called "the control of Parliament," therefore, was little more than a mockery, as the greater part of the money was spent before it was voted. In France the Estimates were voted a year in advance, and since 1825, 1088 when that system commenced, the representatives of the people in that country had a real and efficient control over the public money. He suggested to his noble friend, in the next Session, to bring forward the supplies for six quarters instead of four; and then the supplies for the various public services would really come under the control of Parliament. He had the greatest confidence in the plain, open conduct of his noble friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), who, he believed, was strictly an honest man. He heard his noble friend's determination, not to fill up inefficient offices, with great satisfaction; but still he felt that some offices had been filled up which were, in a great degree, inefficient. The office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, for instance, which the noble and learned Lord now on the Woolsack had so pointedly condemned; and the office of Post-master general, which had been recommended to be abolished in the reports of five committees, of one of which the noble Lord himself was Chairman. He took the opportunity of throwing out these observations, because he considered that the noble Lord was placed in a most enviable situation [a laugh.] He repeated the word enviable though it had excited a laugh, for his noble friend was placed in a situation in which he could do much good. He was now the Minister of the Crown; by his former conduct he had proved himself the friend of the people, and, by combining these two situations, he had it in his power to do incalculable service to the country. Let him not look to patronage or votes; let there be no hankering after boroughmongers, no soothing of one and tampering with another; let him say he depended on his acts, and he would be backed by the country. He had heard it said, that the Government kept great offices to give to the aristocracy, in order to obtain their support. He recommended the Government to sweep away those offices; not to seek for such influence, but to depend on the people. It was not in reference to the noble Lord's high blood, or the family he represented, but to his present situation and his principles, that he said his noble friend had it now in his power to earn a greater name than any one who had ever filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, he intended to follow up the question he had put in the 1089 early part of the evening by sixty other questions respecting unnecessary offices. After the declaration of the noble Lord, however, he would not trouble the House by putting any other question at present. He was bound to confide in the noble Lord's declarations, and whilst the Government acted up to them, they should have his humble support.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that if the hon. and gallant Member asked questions respecting all the useless places under Government, he might easily ask more than sixty questions. He could only assure the House, that the most rigid economy would continue to be enforced—that every office would be abolished that was not considered useful. He hoped that a very great saving might be effected in the collection of the Revenue, and he hoped, after the recess, to be able to come forward with some propositions on that subject which would show that, the Government was in earnest. He never defended the keeping up any situation on the ground that it was desirable to obtain influence for the Crown in Parliament. He never used such an argument at the other side of the House, and certainly should not do so where he then stood. As to the office of the Great Seal in Scotland, it was almost the only office of state left in that country, and was settled by the Act of Union. He was glad, however, that the consideration of the emolument attached to it had been referred to a committee. As to the holder of the Privy Seal in England, he was a Cabinet Minister, and he could assure the House, that a member of the Cabinet, in these times, did not hold a sinecure. To abolish all those offices the Government must change the whole course of the law. He could state, however, from his own knowledge, that it was resolved that every office that was not useful should, as soon as. possible, be abolished. The present Ministry had already abolished the office of Vice-treasurer of Ireland, of Postmaster-general of Ireland, and of Lieutenant-general of the Ordnance; and united the offices of Treasurer of the Navy and Vice-president of the Board of Trade. Reductions in several smaller offices had also been made; and seven or eight offices, not reported against by any committee, had been abolished. As to the office of Postmaster-general, he was aware that it had been reported against by a committee of that 1090 House, and that the duties were not of any great amount; but he believed that, when the details of the arrangements made by the noble Duke (Richmond) who now filled the office of Postmaster-general, came to be laid before Parliament, they would be found extremely satisfactory. His hon. friend (Mr. Gordon) had described his as an enviable situation; he felt his situation, however, as most alarming, and he confessed he was apprehensive that many of those with whom he had acted during his life, and who ought to give him credit, at least, for his good intentions would now desert him. He feared their desertion, he confessed, and, therefore, his situation was much more alarming than enviable.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
expressed his entire satisfaction at what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His situation was certainly most difficult, for great responsibility attached to it, as the distress of the country was urgent, and the country looked to the noble Lord and his colleagues for relief. He (Mr. Alderman Waithman) should feel it his duty to watch the proceedings of Government; but, as far as it was consistent with his duty, he would give the noble Lord his support.
did not wish to go so far as France for an example of voting estimates in advance; at the same time, the estimates ought to be laid on the Table three months before the House was called on to vote them, in order that they might be fairly explained and considered. The noble Lord should be prepared now to lay before the House what was required for next year. The Ministers would surely be able to make all their reductions by the end of January. They might state within a few days what was the largest sum they would want for the next year. It was the large establishments that should be looked to, if any real savings were contemplated. There was 7,000,000l. for the Army, 6,000,000l. for the Navy, and 1,500,000l. for the Ordnance; and then the Artillery was five times the amount it had been a few years ago. In a state of profound peace, and with pacific intentions, why did the Government keep up a war establishment of 80,000 men, besides 29,000 men for the Navy? The Artillery was 9,000 at present; and 3,000 was formerly thought sufficient. It was not the pay of these men even, but the expenses of bar- 1091 racks, and the many other etceteras required for their convenience and efficiency, which swelled the amount of the estimates. He mentioned this particularly, because he heard it rumoured abroad that the Government intended adding to the military force of the country. He(Mr. Hume)trusted that it would not be deluded into any such step, and that the report was unfounded: so far from adding to the number, Government ought to reduce at least 20,000 men; and then it would have as large a force as existed in 1822. When 20,000 men might be reduced, it was throwing away millions, and priding themselves on saving a few thousands by the abolition of one or two offices. If 20,000 men were reduced immediately, the coal and candle duties might be repealed. The Navy might also safely be reduced to the extent of 10,000 men, including the 9,000 marines, not one-half of whom were ever afloat at the same time. If these reductions were made immediately, the whole of the Assessed taxes might be repealed, which pressed so heavily on the class the least able to bear them. He trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would now contradict the report that 6,000 or 7,000 additional troops were to be raised. The Government must prove itself in earnest in its professions of economy, if it did not wish to encounter a serious opposition. If palaces were to be repaired or built, let it be done out of the profits of the Crown-lands, and let not the people of England be called upon to pay for them by additional taxes. If the Government took advice from him as from a friend, he would tell the Lord Chancellor to enforce the same principles in the Cabinet as he did in his place in that House; and let the offices connected with the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall likewise be given up. The latter cost perhaps only 5,000l. a year, but it secured fifteen members in Parliament, and therefore he objected to it, not so much for the money as for the patronage and influence. In conclusion, he trusted that the Estimates for the next year would be produced at an early day, and that a large reduction would be found in the gross amount. That was the only way to relieve the distresses of the country.
§ Sir Joseph Yorke
contended, that all extremes were bad, and declared that no extreme could be worse than that recommended by the hon. member for Middlesex—that 1092 of reducing the army below such an amount as was sufficient for the protection of the country and the maintenance of tranquillity. The most dangerous proposition that could be entertained would be that for reducing our military or naval force; and he sincerely trusted that he should never see the British Artillery in a worse state than it was at the present moment. Really, the policy recommended by the hon. Gentleman was no better than that which would kill the goose for the sake of its eggs. He must say, that he wished the hon. Member had remained in connexion with the North, and not sought to become the Representative of a large and rich county. He sincerely wished he might never see the time when he should lose the protection of the red-coats; but for the assistance which they rendered, he would take leave to say, that none of the leaders in the present disturbances would ever have been discovered. In his opinion, not a single soldier could be dispensed with; but he had no objection that the Government should throw the Dead Weight overboard as soon as ever it pleased.
§ Lord Althorp
agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, that it would be highly desirable not to vote the Estimates for so long a period as that recommended by the hon. member for Cricklade; and he further thought, it would be highly desirable to have the Estimates laid before Parliament at as early a period as possible; but he must be allowed to say, that the worst possible economy would be to bring forward the Estimates prematurely, and before every possible reduction had been made which circumstances permitted. As to the question which had been asked by the hon. Gentleman, it was with regret he should give a reply to it, for he felt sorry to disappoint him; but truth compelled him to state, that the circumstances of the country had reduced his Majesty's Government to the necessity of making up their minds to propose the increase of the Army to the extent mentioned; that was, to the amount of 6,000 or 7,000 men; but he could at the same time assure the House, that every effort would be made to effect that addition in the cheapest manner possible. He was sure the House would concur with him in thinking, that at the present moment it was no matter of surprise that the Government should come forward with a proposition for the increase of the army. He was as averse as any man 1093 could be from desiring to govern by military force; but when riot and disorder every where prevailed, the first duty of the Government was to put it down. As to what had been said with respect to the Duchy of Lancaster, and as to the opinions expressed by his noble friend upon that subject, he begged to observe, that his noble friend had only spoken of the King's Speech as calculated to excite expectations which could not be realized. When it was intimated that his Majesty proposed to surrender all his hereditary revenues without reserve, it was looked for by his noble friend and was expected by the public that that declaration would include the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster, and that expectation, he feared, would not be fulfilled, and events proved that his anticipations were well founded. If by the words used expectations were raised which were not intended at all, surely those who never anticipated the excitement of such unfounded expectations were not to be accused of having pledged themselves to the fulfilment of such expectations. In defence of the continuance of the revenues of the Duchy remaining in the same state, he said that those revenues were one of the few remaining properties of the Crown which were at the disposal of his Majesty, and he hoped the House would permit him to say, that it would not be a gracious return to his present Majesty, after his having given up so much, to call on him for the relinquishment of that which all his predecessors had enjoyed.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
thought, the situation of the noble Lord undoubtedly one of great difficulty, and he regretted to hear demands from hon. Members which it was not in the power of his noble friend, nor of any other individual whatever, to comply with. He was extremely sorry to hear the hon. member for Middlesex—particularly under the present circumstances of the country,—again advocating that doctrine, which was one of the most mischievous that a human being could possibly advocate,—the reduction of our military establishments. He would ask the hon. member for Middlesex, if he looked to the state of France—of Belgium—of Holland,—if he considered the present state of Poland and of the kingdom of Naples,—and of all the neighbouring countries; could he think that these were times to reduce the miserable, scanty military force which we have at this instant. 1094 Did the hon. Member know, that in Ireland there were not above 300 cavalry?— and did he know that there were not above 100 in the northern districts, from Manchester to the borders of Scotland,—that there were not enough to perform the ordinary routine duties of the district? Would he, under these circumstances, reduce our army, and much less our navy? The Government had, in his opinion, very unwisely cut down our military establishments too low. Again, it was said, that the expenses of the country, at this moment, were very large, amounting to 50,000,000l. But the cutting down every establishment, the making every possible retrenchment, and the saving of every possible shilling, would not be sufficient, under our present circumstances, to give the country any effectual relief. Seventeen millions was the amount of our military and civil establishments, and our whole expenditure was about 50,000,000l. Under these circumstances, it was utterly impossible to make any reduction sufficient to satisfy the wishes and expectations of the people, unless some plan could be suggested to get rid of the30,000,000l. a-year, appropriated to pay the interest of the debt. That was the bur then which pressed down the country, — which weighed so heavily on it; and while that remained, the House could not possibly effect a sufficient saving by the reduction of the establishments, to admit of such a diminution of taxation as would prove an essential benefit to the country. Suppose, as appears by the report of last year to be possible,— that a reduction in taxes, amounting to 1,000,000l. a-year could be made, would that be sufficient to alleviate the wants and meet the wishes of the people? He would not object to such a reduction, but he objected to hearing it said, that by reducing any part of the Army or Navy, we could make an important reduction in our taxation, which was impossible while 30,000,000l. annually was to be paid as interest on the public debt. He hoped, difficult as it was, that some plan might be devised to reduce that Debt. But he for one, would not sacrifice the respect he entertained for public justice for the sake of any temporary popularity to be obtained, by holding out hopes to the people, of a reduction of taxation which was quite impossible to the extent expected
§ Sir Hussey Vivian
had heard with the utmost astonishment the observations 1095 which fell from the hon. member for Middlesex; and he had felt equal pleasure in listening to what fell from his noble friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. member for Middlesex could not have considered the subject with his usual attention, and could know nothing of the real state of the country. He did not advocate the propriety of keeping up an army, in consequence of anything that had occurred in Poland, or the Netherlands, or in France, nor was he an advocate for keeping up a standing army in order to keep down and oppress the people of this country; to military government he had as great an objection as the hon. member for Middlesex; but for the purpose of preserving the peace, and securing the property of the country, a sufficient military force, in aid of the civil power, under existing circumstances, was absolutely necessary. There could not possibly be either peace or security in a kingdom where protection was not afforded to the persons and property of its inhabitants. We might boast of our liberty, but of what value was liberty without security? He had been for some time a resident in a disturbed part of the country, and had had an opportunity of observing it narrowly; he had taken some pains, by inquiring from the most intelligent and respectable persons of all classes, to endeavour to ascertain the cause of those disturbances, and he could not avoid saying, that he should have rejoiced had Ministers thought it desirable to inquire into them. They were most disgraceful and dangerous; they had carried fire and destruction into many parts of the country, and had separated and estranged the peasant from his natural and his real protector, the proprietor of the soil. When he said that he should have rejoiced at inquiry, he meant not the interminable inquiry which would have gone into all the various causes to which the changes had been attributed; but a tangible inquiry, which would have enabled the House to see how far they really originated in distress —what occasioned that distress—what difference existed in the wages in different parts of the country as compared with each other, and as compared with those of former years? Such an inquiry would have been beneficial, inasmuch as the information obtained might have enabled the House to apply a remedy, or at least to have formed a proper judgment in re- 1096 gard to the nature and origin of the disease. It had been generally stated, that the distress of the poorer classes was the cause of the disturbances. He admitted that that excuse might justly be made in some parts of England. Distress had undoubtedly been in some degree instrumental in giving rise to feelings hostile to the best interests of the country, and had driven the people—he would not say to despair—but had occasioned discontented and irritated feelings in the hearts of the lower classes of society. But while he admitted that distress had been in some places the cause of the disturbances, he could not allow it to have been the only, or even the principal cause; for, in truth, at the moment the riots broke out there was less distress than had previously existed, owing to the late good harvest. The truth was, the lower orders had been tampered with, excited to act as they had done—they had been taught to read, but had not been taught how to profit by education. In saying this, he wished not to be misunderstood. He did not object to the education of the people, for which he was as much an advocate as any gentleman in the House,—but the people had been trained to read, and in every little pothouse throughout the country, some of those inflammatory publications, that were so common and so numerous, were met with: and this he maintained, had been one great cause of the discontent which prevailed in the country. The poison had been administered, but the antidote had nowhere been provided—the people had been taught that the distress had arisen from the taxes, and the government had been assailed as the cause, not only out of doors, but even by Members of that House, but nowhere had the people been taught to understand, that if the Government were overturned to-morrow their distress would be ten times greater than it ever had been. He was convinced that what he stated was to be considered as one of the causes which had most materially assisted to break the links of that chain which had hitherto held the landlord and tenant, and the labourer together. What was it but discontent, which had been encouraged in the minds of the lower orders by violent inflammatory publications, which had severed this connexion? How was it that the peasantry no longer looked up to their landlords as their natural heads and protectors? Some 1097 persons attributed the disturbances to conspiracy, but they had not the characteristic marks of conspiracy. Like the cholera, spreading from the east over the fairest lands of the north, the contagion had passed the channel from revolutionary France, and from these had carried the disease, desire of change, through our once happy and contented people. He knew that in various parts of the country the landed proprietors and the clergy were pointed at, in common with the Government, as the oppressors of the lower classes, and he regretted to say, that in too many cases, even the middle classes had lent themselves to this false and shameful delusion; whilst in other parts of the country the farmers had come forward in the handsomest manner possible to lend their aid in putting down the disturbances; but the utmost injustice had been done to the landholders and clergymen of this country, who were condemned for keeping up the rents and the tithes, as if, even did they desire it, they had the power to augment them. It was not the landed proprietors who kept up the rents. It was not the seller, but the buyer who named the price. If any person had an estate in the market, and he was offered a certain price for it, it was not for him to say "I will take less— you shall have the estate for less than you offer." The landed proprietors were not in fault for there were few estates now let for which the landlords could not get the same rents were they again in the market. Such had been, and still was, the competition amongst the farmers. In this way the distress amongst the labourers was in some degree to be accounted for. The farmers were so desirous of becoming tenants, that they did in some cases, no doubt, agree to give rents beyond what the market-price of agricultural produce would perhaps justify, and in order to bring themselves home, they paid for labour less, perhaps, than they ought to do, and this they were enabled to. effect, from the superabundant population to be found in most parts of the country. But the landed proprietors were not to blame for this, they found so many persons ready to give for their estates the rent at which they might be valued, that it was not to be expected that they should propose to receive less. He knew one case, in which a gentleman, a friend of his, offered all his tenants to take their farms off their 1098 hands, but not one of them would consent to the arrangement, and, at the same time, they refused to come forward and meet the difficulties of the times. In some instances the tenants had behaved admirably; but in others they had encouraged the lower orders to believe that their distresses arose from the high rate of rent and tithes, and had most unjustifiably called on the landlords and the clergy to come forward and reduce them, as if they were the oppressors of the labourer—thus holding them up to public indignation. He felt confident, that, if inquiry were made, it would be found that, in those parishes where there were resident gentry, less distress and fewer outrages had existed, than in those where the peasantry were immediately and exclusively under the control of the tenantry. For this reason, among others, he wished that a Committee of the House should have been appointed to inquire into the causes of the outrages. With respect to tithes, although he regretted as much as any man this system of paying the clergy, for it oftentimes placed in collision the parties of all others that ought to be on the best of terms—the pastor and his flock; and, moreover, it was an impediment to improvement; yet it must be admitted that the tithes were as much the property of the clergy as the land was of the proprietor; and when a man bought or rented an estate, he knowingly did it subject to the payment of tithes. But the truth was, the clergy in general did not get by any means that to which they were entitled. Nor could tithes justly be considered as bearing on the price of agricultural labour; for, if they did, bow happened it that, in those parts where estates were tithe free, the labourers were paid the same rate of wages as in those where estates were subject to tithes? However, be the cause of distress what it might, he most unreservedly asserted, that the country required the utmost attention on the part of both landlords and tenants, in order that it might be restored to tranquillity; and on that account he rejoiced that the House was so soon to separate, being convinced that at that moment the residence of country gentlemen on their properties was of the utmost consequence, and might be of the greatest advantage. He was no alarmist, nor did he wish to create alarm in the minds of others; on the contrary, he would impart that conviction which he felt, that there was still a 1099 good spirit in the country, which would eventually enable us to overcome our difficulties; but it was impossible to conceal that they were very great, —and in order to surmount them, great exertions would be necessary on the part of the landed proprietors, and of the Government; the hands of which should be strengthened, by suppressing, for the time at least, all party feelings, or that desirable result could not be attained. The remedy for all the distress was comprised in one word, "employment." If any possible means could be devised which would ensure employment to the lower classes, it would be the means of restoring tranquillity to the country. How that employment was to be obtained, was the question. For his part, he would rather see some great national undertaking, such as railroads from one end of England to the other; he would rather see palaces built, he would, as had been before said, rather see holes dug and filled up again, than that any of the labouring classes should remain unemployed; but, without resorting to such measures, surely some means of employment equally beneficial to all parties might be discovered. It always had appeared to him an astonishing inconsistency, that there should be unemployed hands, and unoccupied lands. He might be told that these lands would not pay for bringing into cultivation—calculating like merchants, this, perhaps, was true; but if apportioned in small lots, they would give both food and employment to the poor. He was convinced, that as long as they remained in a state of idleness, the country, never could return to that state of repose which was so ardently to be desired, and so necessary to its happiness. He had been induced to say thus much, because then, unfortunately, the real state of the country was not known to the House; at all events, it could not be known to the hon. member for Middlesex, when he proposed a reduction of 20,000 men from an army already too weak to ensure that security and protection in person and property which every man had a right to expect under a well-regulated Government.
Mr. Robert Gordon
was not surprised at the observations made by the hon. Baronet, the member for Newcastle. For a long series of years the hon. Baronet had always supported the necessity of keeping up the military establishments of 1100 the country; and he was, therefore, not at all astonished that on the present occasion he had pursued the same course. He had never feared the consequences of our foreign relations, and at the present moment they appeared to require a smaller military establishment than at any previous time. We had formed, on principle, an alliance with France, and it was impossible to suppose that anything could happen to disturb that alliance. The hon. Baronet talked rather strangely about Poland, and Naples, and other continental States. This year, too, we had heard a vast deal about the state of our colonies; and hon. Members had asked, "What are we to do with them? You must keep up a standing army to preserve them." And then they talked about the direful state of the country. But if the hon. Baronet could prevail on Government —no doubt his opinions would have great weight on the subject—if the hon. Member could prevail on his Majesty's Ministers to consider how far this distress could be mitigated, such mitigation would prevent the necessity of resorting to any other measures. The noble Lord was, in his opinion, quite correct in stating that the argument of the noble personage, who now sat on the Woolsack, was addressed to the King's Speech, because the words of the Speech were, that his Majesty placed at the discretion of Parliament all his hereditary revenues without reserve; and the noble Lord argued that those words included the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster—at least, so he understood that noble individual. What fell from the noble Lord the other night would have more effect in quelling the disturbances than any military force that could be raised; nor could he help thinking that if the provisions of the bill, usually called Peel's Bill, could be mitigated, that it would relieve the distresses of the people in a great degree. He did not, in speaking of the manner in which the Estimates were produced, propose that the House should go on the system of voting one year in advance, but he suggested that it would be advantageous, on the 1st of July, to move for three-fourths of the ensuing year.
§ Mr. Attwood
observed, that the hon. and gallant Officer, and the hon. Baronet had said, that the increase of the Army was necessary in consequence of the insubordination manifested in foreign 1101 nations. But, when he heard from the hon. member for Newcastle, that a reduction of taxation on so small a scale as to be of no real importance, is all that the country could expect, he could not but beg the noble Lord to consider what object he could hope to attain by any such retrenchment. If the benefit given to the country by retrenchment be met by increased expenses, by adding to the military establishment of the country, was it not the grossest delusion on the part of his Majesty's Government to hold out any expectation of relief, which they said they could not give without endangering the public safety? In the fifteenth year of peace, the House was called upon to increase the standing army of the country. For what purpose? Was it to enable the Government to make head against the people? or to enable a course of inquiry to be pursued which had been neglected by the Government—a course of inquiry which the noble Lord himself would hardly undertake to say, in his place in the House, he did not think to be materially connected with the interests of the country? Neither the noble Lord, nor any one of his colleagues would deny that an inquiry into the effect of the alterations in the value of money was most intimately and immediately connected with the state of danger and difficulty in which the country was placed. He could but regret that his Majesty's Ministers should pursue their present course. He would tell the noble Lord, that it could be proved to demonstration that the unfortunate measure of the alteration in the currency was at the bottom of all our present distress. He did not think that his Majesty's Ministers could make any improvement in the state of the country by retrenchment. When the noble Lord returned an answer to the question he had recently put, if his Majesty's Ministers meant to institute an inquiry, intimately connected with the most essential interests of the country— when he put that question he was accused of being deficient in precision. But it was not his object to shew that the course to which he had referred was intimately and essentially connected with the difficulties of the country; he only wished Ministers to point out the course of proceeding by which they meant to relieve the distress. He regretted to have received such an answer. If an inquiry were instituted into the fact, he was con- 1102 vinced that it would be found capable of being proved to demonstration, that the distress was wholly, or if not altogether, at least in a great measure, to be attributed to the change in the standard of the currency. It certainly would be competent to his Majesty's Ministers to institute an inquiry into the subject, nor ought they to consider the difficulty attendant on such a course as any excuse for not doing so. He was aware that there was great difficulty; but that was no reason why it should not be persevered in. Looking to the state in which the country was placed,—looking to the universal pauperism which existed,—the condition of the agricultural districts, and the poverty of the Exchequer of the country—he did not think that a proper time to move for an increase of the army.
§ Lord Althorp
admitted, that it had been stated to be the opinion of the Government that the distress was only to be relieved by reform and retrenchment. But, upon looking into the financial condition of the country, he believed that, by altering in some instances the pressure of taxation, and in others by increasing the ultimate amount of the Revenue—not by increasing, but by diminishing the taxes, the Ministers would be able to effect a very considerable relief of the distress. Upon comparing the state of the country at different periods with its present state, and the amount of taxation at these periods with its present amount, he was convinced that the taxation was by no means of such an amount, or of such a nature, as not to afford a reasonable prospect of relieving the distress by retrenchment, and by an alteration of the pressure of the taxes. It had been said, that Sir R. Peel's bill had been a cause of the distress—he would not deny that it had had some such effect; but it was necessary to look to the consequences which would now follow from any change of, that measure. What would be the result if this great commercial country were left without any fixed standard of value? To what had all the mischief now felt been originally owing, but to the depreciation of the standard of value, and to repeated tamperings with the currency? At the time when that depreciation took place, there was no intention to reduce the currency. But to do so advisedly, was the declared intention of the hon. Gentleman. But such a proposition had never been 1103 carried into effect in any country without producing the most disastrous consequences. It was a measure to which his Majesty's Ministers would never accede. They would endeavour by all possible means (as they had explained) to relieve the distress; but should they fail to effect that, he (Lord Althorp) would not be the man to recommend that House to tamper with the currency.
§ An hon. Member (who stood under the Gallery, and whose name we could not ascertain) thought, that Ministers would be authorised in calling for a still further increase of the Army. He agreed with an hon. Member who had said, that the proposed increase would not be sufficient. But he was convinced that any fresh change of the currency would lead to anarchy, which the advisers of a depreciation would deplore too late. He knew that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) stood in a situation of particular difficulty; but he gave him credit for sincerity of intention. He wished, however, to put a question, which he hoped would not be considered out of order. He did not expect a satisfactory answer, and he would put the question solely for the purpose of suggesting to the noble Lord an arrangement which would embrace both retrenchment and reform; for which latter, on moderate principles, he was an advocate. He begged leave to ask the noble Lord, whether it was intended to adopt a measure which had often been recommended, and which would do more for the country than even reform, he meant the total separation of the political from the judicial functions of the Lord Chancellor?
§ Mr. Attwood
considered that the noble Lord (Althorp) trifled with his own understanding, when he allowed himself to believe that the Administration would be able to relieve the distresses effectually by any measures of retrenchment. When the noble Lord spoke of the evils which would result from another change in the currency, he omitted to look at the other side of the question. He did not consider the evils that would result from leaving it in its present state.
§ Mr. Briscoe
said, that he, for one, regretted to hear of an increase of the Army, for he had expected a reduction; yet he still more regretted to hear, that the increase was necessary to keep his Majesty's subjects in submission to the Government. 1104 He understood from the noble Lord, that the present Administration would act on the principle which the circumstances of the times require—that is, be governed by the public opinion; and in that principle he had supposed the difference between them and their predecessors to consist. But he almost feared that their greatest difficulties would arise from their mistaking the temper of the times. The county which he had the honour to represent was restored to tranquillity. It had been recently disturbed; but it was restored to peace by means of the constitutional force of the country—the constabulary. He was pleased that he could yield the Administration his support upon the principles which they professed, but he felt bound to protest against the present proceeding. On the part of his constituents, he would not consent to the application of this money to the increase of the army.Non tali auxilia nee defensoribus istisTempus eget.If the present constabulary force was insufficient, it ought to be increased, and public tranquillity maintained by the force which the Constitution recognised.
had not expected to hear, from an English county Member, such observations as had fallen from the hon. Member who had just sat down. He regretted to hear from that hon. Gentleman what was so much calculated to diminish the confidence of the people in that House. The tendency of the hon. Gentleman's speech was to intimate that the Ministers had neglected their pledges, and that those who supported them in that House forfeited the public confidence. The House had heard, no doubt, with great satisfaction, that the county which the hon. Gentleman represented was restored to tranquillity. But he would ask, did it appear that all the other counties of the kingdom would be tranquillised by the constabulary? Were not some of these counties in a state approaching to insurrection, despite of the civil force? More than fifty Members of that House had obtained leave to go into their respective districts on account of the failure of that force to maintain order. When applications had been made to that House to send bayonets to the people of his unfortunate country—when they asked for food, and received pills of lead—when they wanted the miserable potatoes with which 1105 they had been satisfied, nothing was then said against the increase of the army by the hon. member for Surrey. In the present state of this country, it was not a departure from economy, but the contrary, to add 6,000 men to the army. But the hon. member for Middlesex recommended, that, instead of adding 6,000 soldiers, they should reduce 20,000. What! in a time of distress, immediately occasioned by the want of employment, did he think it either good economy or wise policy to throw such a number of men from the state of competence which the army affords them, discontented and destitute upon the country? Was it expedient to place such a number of men, accustomed to the. use of arms, and skilled in military discipline, in the same distress which had produced the outrages now disgracing so many parts of the country? The increase of troops had been required, not, as had been said, to put down the people, but to suppress disorder and to protect property. The means which the hon. member for Middlesex had recommended for the protection of property reminded him, (O'Gorman Mahon) of a story which he had read in his horn-book when he was a boy, respecting the town threatened with a siege. When the people deliberated as to the best means of defence, the currier recommended leather, and the carpenter wood. The hon. Gentleman proposed economy as the best means of defence against outrage, and offered to allay discontent by swelling the numbers of the discontented with 20,000 additional sufferers. He thought it not just to turn round upon such grounds, and bring a charge of breach of promise against men who were in the infancy of their Administration. He was satisfied that they would act according to their professions, and Gentlemen, by allowing them a fair trial, would, he was sure, promote the tranquillity, not only of England, but of Ireland and Scotland also.
§ Mr. Denison
said, he was glad to hear from his noble friend before him, that it was not the intention of Government to consent to a change in the currency. Such a measure might produce some temporary prosperity, but it would terminate in ruin. He lived nearer than his hon. colleague to the disturbed part of the county which he had the honour to represent, and he could assure him, that the constabulary force had not been sufficient to restore tranquillity. The prisoners 1106 could not have been conveyed to jail without the aid of the military. The first thing which the state of the country required was, that the present turbulence should be put down; the next thing must be to consider the case of the labouring part of the population. He was convinced that the labourers had for some time been inadequately paid, but he believed that a reduction of taxation would enable the farmers to give sufficient wages. He rejoiced in the pledges which had been given by his Majesty's present Ministers, and especially with respect to a reform of that House, which he considered the most important question of the present period. He was confident that they would redeem their pledges, and act upon their professions. If they did so, they should have all the support he could give them.
§ Mr. Briscoe
said, that what had fallen from his hon. colleague only served to confirm his opinion, that an increase of the army was unnecessary. The insufficiency of wages having been the cause of the discontent, as his hon. friend in a great measure admitted, the removal of that cause had restored tranquillity in the county of Surrey, and would have the same effect in other places.
§ Lord Palmerston
was surprised that the hon. member for Surrey should entertain the opinion which he had expressed; nor was that surprise diminished, when he heard the opinion contradicted by the statement of the hon. Gentleman himself. At the same time that he described tranquillity to have been restored, he admitted the necessity of an increased constabulary to restore tranquillity, which he had just asserted already to exist. He denied that the object of the proposed increase of the Army was, as had been stated by the hon. Member under the Gallery (Mr. Attwood), to keep down the people. The object was, to protect the property of those who had a right to expect protection from the Government. Looking to the state of the southern counties, in which much had been done to excite those who were labouring under distress and privations, he would say, that some precaution on the part of Government was necessary for the protection of property. He agreed that the constabulary was the best force to be employed to put down domestic disorder: but yet those persons who submitted to the severe inconvenience of acting in that body for the preservation of 1107 the peace, could not be expected to do every duty, and necessarily required the assistance of an organized force. It could not be supposed that the addition of 4,000 or 5,000 more to the Army would be sufficient to supersede the necessity of employing a large constabulary, which the increase of the military was only intended to assist.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
expressed his opinion, that the noble Lord would never be able to allay the public distress by mere reduction of taxation.
§ Resolution agreed to.