HC Deb 15 December 1830 vol 1 cc1185-7

On a Motion that some Petitions be laid on the Table,

Mr. William Dundas

took occasion to allude to the observations made by the hon. member for Ayr (Mr. Kennedy,) when he thought fit the other evening, to allude to the offices held by him (Mr. Dundas) in Scotland. The hon. Member had then stated the income of those offices at a sum of 7,000l. a year, but he would find, on inquiry, that he had allowed himself to become the instrument of much misrepresentation and exaggeration on this subject. It was quite true that peculiar circumstances, to which he need not advert, had in one year made the total income 7,800l., but on an average, the three offices of Lord Register, Register of the Sasines, and Keeper of the Signet, produced only 4,500l. a-year. It should be recollected, however, that, as Register, the securities for the holding of the greater part of the landed property of Scotland passed through his office, and accuracy in the clerks was necessary; and that he (Mr. Dundas) was held responsible for every error they committed. So far, indeed, had this been carried, that the insertion of George 3rd, instead of George 2nd, had produced an action in one case, in which he was compelled to pay damages to the amount of 400l.; and in another, the bare omission of a word had cost him 300l. The office was not, therefore, without duty and responsibility, and he thought the hon. Member should have given himself some time for accurate inquiry before he made exaggerated representations to the House.

Mr. Kennedy

said, he had endeavoured to fulfil a public duty with as great a degree of courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman as circumstances would allow, and he had certainly not trusted so much to hearsay information as the right hon. Gentleman supposed. He had made diligent inquiries on the subject, and he begged it to be distinctly understood, that his object was not to bring any odium on the right hon. Gentleman, but to enable the Government to correct the errors which were visible in an important parliamentary paper, and to guard against their recurrence. At the same time, however, he must say, that supposing the right hon. Gentleman's statement respecting the income of 5,000l. to be correct, he did not hear of any services required by the offices, nor did he recollect any services performed by the right hon. Gentleman, which entitled him to receive so large a sum from sinecure situations, in the present distressed state of the country.

Sir G. Warrender

recommended a revision of all the pensions and sinecures drawn from the resources of the country; and although he felt that no man would be willing to touch the pension of a Nelson, or the Conqueror of Waterloo, yet as the 5,000l. granted to the family of the Duke of Marlborough had been reduced twenty-seven per cent, he thought every other pension and sinecure, should be subjected to a reduction at least to that amount. The right hon. Gentleman, after alluding to the noble example set. by the Marquis Camden, observed, that the late Earl of Stair, the moment he came to his family property, resigned a diplomatic pension of 1,500l a-year—an example which it would be to the honour of many of the noble families of the country to follow at the present moment. For his part he was determined, if the Government failed to insist on ample reductions in the sinecures and pensions, to bring the subject fully and fairly under the consideration of Parliament.

The Petitions laid on the Table.