§ The order of the day for a Committee of the whole House to consider further of the Supply having been read,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, in moving that the Speaker do leave the Chair, in order to enable the House to goand the elected to be resident within their respective counties., cities, and boroughs, the purity of representation would be greatly increased, and those laws restored which ought never to have been repealed.Be it therefore further enacted, that from and after the expiration of the present Session of Parliament, the said Act made in the first year of the reign of his late Majesty, King George the First, entitled, "An Act for enlarging the time of continuance of Parliaments appointed by an Act made in the sixth year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary," and also the said Act made in the fourteenth year of the reign of his late Majesty George the Third, entitled, "An Act for repealing an Act made in the first year of the reign of King Henry the Fifth, so much of several Acts of the eighth, tenth, or twenty-third years of King Henry the Sixth, as relates to the residence of persons to be elected Members to serve in Parliament, or of the persons by whom they are chosen," shall be, and the same are hereby wholly repealed and declared to be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as if the said Acts had never been had or made. Provided always, that whenever any city, borough, or port is now entitled by Charter to choose from themselves and others, a Member or Members to serve in Parliament, it shall be the duty of the said Committee, notwithstanding any thing744 into the consideration of the Army Estimates, and the reductions which his Majesty's Government were enabled to propose in that branch of the Public Expenditure, in the fulfilment of a pledge which he had offered to the House some nights ago, he should avail himself of that opportunity to state the total reductions which, according to an expressed intention, Government had made in the Estimates now about to be submitted to the Committee,—a statement which it was necessary to make upon this occasion, in order that before hon. Gentlemen entered into a Committee of Supply, they might have before them, in a connected shape, the whole of the reductions adopted in the various estimates of Public Expenditure for the current year. The course which he was now about to pursue differed, in a slight degree, from the former practice upon like occasions, but was not attended by any other difficulties beyond this,—that it imposed upon him the necessity of soliciting the indulgence of the House to this extent,—namely, that if on the future presentation of the estimates it should be found that a small degree of difference existed between their actual amount and their estimated amount, according to hiscontained in this Act, by their report as aforesaid, to confirm the said right of choosing from others to such city, borough, or port, or to transfer such right to such other town as they may select to fill up the place of such city, borough, or port, according to the directions of this Act. And it is hereby declared that the fact of any such resident inhabitant of any city, borough, or place, being elected to serve in Parliament, shall be held to make such inhabitant free of such city, borough, or place, for the purpose of satisfying the said Act passed in the first year of King Henry the Third, hereinbefore mentioned.And whereas, from the time of the reign of King Henry the Third, to the ninth year of the reign of Queen Anne, there was no law to prevent such Citizens and Burgesses from sitting in Parliament as might not be in possession of freehold or copyhold estates of the annual value of three hundred pounds:And whereas it is expedient that the laws of England touching the representation of the Commons of England, should be restored to the state in which they stood for so many hundred years; and that cities and boroughs should not be bound down to make choice of landed men, inasmuch as such landed men may not be always found in the said cities and boroughs, and therefore the electors thereof should be at liberty to elect such persons among them as have the same interests, know-745 present statement, the House would bear in mind that, up to the very moment of presenting them, the several branches of expenditure with which they were connected still continued susceptible of inquiry and amendment, and that hence, possibly, without the least intention upon his part of misleading or deluding the Legislature, a slight variation might occur between their actual and estimated amount. However this might turn out, he undertook to say, that whatever variation might appear in the Estimates, the total reduction would not be less than that at which he should state it; [hear] for his principle and practice on this, as upon every other occasion, were, that as he did not attempt to exaggerate the difficulties of the country, so he refrained from exaggerating the prospects of relief held out by the reductions upon the Estimates which he was prepared to state to the House, so as to enable hon. Gentlemen to see clearly the intention of his Majesty's Government. Before he entered upon his task, he might as well observe, that it was one which was not likely to occupy any very considerable portion of the time of the House in its performance. He should wholly abstain from any reference to the particular detailsledge, and feelings as themselves: and whereas, by an Act passed in the 12th and 13th year of the reign of his Majesty King William 3rd, entitled "An Act for the further limitation of the Crown, and the better securing the rights and liberties of the subject," it was among other things enacted "That no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving in the House of Commons," and by the same Act it was solemnly declared that the laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof:And whereas this wise provision for the better securing the rights and liberties of the people, has been entirely defeated by an Act passed in the 6th year of the reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne,Be it therefore further enacted, that so much of the Act passed in the ninth year of the reign of Queen Anne entitled "An Act for securing the freedom of Parliaments by the farther qualifying the Members to sit in the House of Commons," as renders it necessary for every citizen or burgess to have an estate of freehold or copyhold of the annual value of 300l. to sit in Parliament is hereby repealed, together with all oaths and other regulations affecting such qualification in any subsequent Act or Acts, and particularly those contained in an Act passed in the thirty-third year of his Majesty King George 2nd, entitled "An Act to enforce746 and circumstances of each estimate, or to the reasons which influenced his Majesty's Government in arranging their precise amount, because these were topics that would be fitter for the consideration of Gentlemen when they came to the several votes upon them; and because he felt that those reasons applied with peculiar force to the Estimates that had been prepared by his right hon. friend near him, whose duty it was to submit the details of them to the House, and, in doing so, to explain the principle upon which Government had proceeded in framing them. But he had one or two preliminary observations to make before stating the plain and naked facts which he should have to lay before the House.
In the first place he felt extremely anxious that in judging of the extent of the reductions in the national establishments which it was the object of his Majesty's Government to make, the House would constantly bear in mind the precise amount of expenditure upon which those reductions were to be made; and, further, that these were not reductions on estimates framed upon a plainly and admittedly extravagant scale of expenditure of preceding years; that they were not reductions nowand render more effectual the Laws relating to the qualification of Members to sit in the House of Commons," and all those contained in an Act passed in the fifty-ninth year of his late Majesty King George 3rd, entitled "An Act for further regulating the qualification of Members to serve in the United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland;" and also that so much of the Act passed in the 6th year of the reign of Queen Anne, entitled "An Act for the security of her Majesty's person and Government, and of the succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant line," as enables any person or persons accepting offices or places of profit under the King to be re-elected, is hereby repealed; and it is declared that the said enactment in the Act passed in the 12th and 13th year of the reign of King William 3rd, was meant to extend to all offices or places of profit under the King that then existed, or that should thereafter exist, and the said enactment is hereby extended to the same accordingly.And whereas it is expedient that no modern Act touching the freedom of election or the eligibility of Members to serve in Parliament should be suffered to disgrace the Statute-book, if the same shall have been made in any particular case, and from personal motives towards any individual, and particularly where the rights and interests of a large and learned body of men have been thereby improperly affected:747 for the first time brought forward after years of lavish and unnecessary expenditure, but, on the contrary, that they were submitted to Parliament after successive periods of reduction, after repeated retrenchments, and after close examination and inquiry. In corroboration of this statement he might observe that the Estimates for the year 1829 were less by 200,000l. than those of the year preceding; and that the Estimates of 1828 were less than those of the year before by about 500,000l.; making in the two last years a reduction of nearly 700,000l. upon these Estimates. There was another observation which he was desirous of addressing to the House upon this subject; that was, that in forming an opinion of the value and amount of the reductions, hon. Gentlemen should bear in mind that they must not consider them in reference to the whole amount of the Estimates for the maintenance of our establishments, Army, Navy, &c., which were in the last year 17,600,000l.; for if the House were to imagine that to be the sum on which the whole of the reductions were made, it would come to a very erroneous conclusion on the subject of the proportion and relative value existing between the reductions and that portion ofAnd whereas An Act passed in the forty-first year of his late Majesty King George 3rd, entitled, "An Act to remove all doubts respecting the eligibility of persons in holy orders to sit in the House of Commons," was passed for a particular case, against a single individual, and does affect the rights of a large and learned body of men, and by its then ex post facto operation against the said individual, and all others who had taken holy orders, was and is a disgrace to the Statute-book,Be it therefore further enacted, that the said Act shall be cancelled and taken off the file and records of the Statute Book, or otherwise defaced and obliterated that the same may not be visible in after ages, and the said Act is hereby wholly repealed and declared to be null and void to all intents and purposes.And whereas it is expedient and highly necessary that effectual means should be taken to secure the due attendance of the Members of the said Committee: Be it therefore further enacted, that not less than fifteen Members of the said Committee shall always be present at each sitting, and that the Chair shall be taken in succession, that all the expenses of witnesses; and all other expenses necessary for the carrying this Act into full execution, shall be paid in the same manner as in all other parliamentary inquiries; that in no case shall the time of the said Committee be occupied in hearing counsel, nor shall any unnecessary748 our expenditure with which it was in the power of Government to deal in making them. Of that sum of 17,600,000l. a great part was expenditure on account of services long gone by, and not on account of present services; and the claim for payments of this nature came rather in the form of a demand on the honour and good faith of the country than as a matter connected with existing or future exigencies, which the House might regulate according to its pleasure under the dictates of expediency. The country could not get rid of such demands without a direct breach of honour and good faith towards the parties, and without departing from that strict sense of national justice which always distinguished the proceedings of the House of Commons. If, then, we deducted from the 17,600,000l. which constituted the amount of the Estimates for the preceding year, that portion of the expenditure which was caused by the satisfaction of the claims alluded to, we should leave a sum of little more than 12,000,000l., upon and in reference to which, the reductions of the present year could fairly be calculated. Having made these preliminary observations, he should proceed to state the several Estimates in the details of whichdelay take place; and upon complaint of any Member of the House of Commons, it shall be the duty of the Speaker to give such directions under his hand, respecting the sittings of the said Committee, and of the attendance of the Members thereof, as shall secure the due execution of this Act.And be it further enacted, that it shall be the duty of the said Committee to direct how and by what persons the assessments herein before-mentioned may most conveniently be raised and levied on the electors, and how all other things necessary to give effect to this Act are to be done and executed, and to report the same to the said Secretary of State, and it shall be the duty of the said Secretary of State to give notice of the same to the proper authorities, and to see that all the directions transmitted to him by the said Committee are duly executed and performed.And be it further enacted, that it shall be in the power of the said Committee to send for and examine upon oath such witnesses as they may think proper, and that all the Members of the said Committee shall themselves take the following Oath:—I do solemnly promise and swear, that laying aside all private interests or motives, I will, to the best of my judgment, faithfully execute all the provisions of the Act under which I have been appointed a Member of the Reform Committee, according to the plan and749 the reductions had been practically made; assuring the House that the gross reduction, as would appear upon the face of it, was the result of continued, anxious, and most mature consideration upon the part of his Majesty's Government, entered into with the sincere desire of making every diminution in the public expenditure which was compatible with the safety of the country and the maintenance of the establishments necessary to the attainment of that object. The first Estimate he should mention was that which formed the subject of that evening's discussion, and from which, as the House was already aware from the papers presented a few nights ago by his right hon. friend the Secretary at War, a reduction had been made of about 213,000l. as compared with the expenditure of the preceding year. The amount of the Army Estimates for 1829 was, in round numbers, 6,300,000l.; the amount of the Estimates for the present year being (also in round numbers) 6,100,000l. Upon this head, there was a saving of about 213,000l. The Army Extraordinaries next presented themselves to his attention; and upon them it had been found possible, by strict watchfulness and careful superintendence, which were the truest and most effectual modes of effecting safe and salutary reductions, to secure a diminution ofobvious meaning of the said Act, as set forth in the preamble and enactments of the same, and if it shall appear to me that any improvement can be made in the said Act for the better fulfilling the clear intentions of the Legislature as therein expressed, I will not fail to propose that such improvement shall be reported to the House of Commons, or to vote for it if proposed by others, and that in a matter of such importance, as restoring to the House of Commons the perfect confidence of the nation, and securing for ever the rights and liberties of the people, I will consider it ray duty to be regular and punctual in my attendance' on the said Committee, sickness or any other unavoidable cause alone preventing such attendance.And whereas, in the present distressed and alarming state of the country, it may not be safe to wait for the deliberate investigations and reports of the said Committee, as required by this Act,Be it therefore further enacted, that in case of a dissolution of the present Parliament before the said Committee shall have reported upon every city, borough, and port, in the United Kingdom, and that such report shall have been published in the Gazette, by the said Secretary of State, in manner before mentioned, no writ for the election of Citizens or750 150,000l. on the vote of last year. The Militia Estimates formed the third vote for branches of Military service, and upon them it was found practicable, by the close and accurate investigation of the right hon. Secretary at War, to effect reductions to the amount of more than 65,000l.— [Sir Henry Hardinge here said 64,000l.] —he meant above 64,000l. To complete the votes on account of the Army, it was only necessary for him to allude to the reduction effected in the Commissariat department: it would be found that the reductions under this head in the present year amounted to a sum of nearly 25,000l., making the total reductions on account of the grants for the support of the Army, 453,146l. as compared with the expenditure of 1829; and leaving the whole sum of our expenditure for the three branches of Military force, 7,366,000l. When this Estimate for the expenses of our Army during the present year was examined minutely, and compared with our expenditure of antecedent years on the same account, he felt sure that the comparison and examination must be most satisfactory to the House; for, taking the Army Estimates, Extraordinaries, and Militia Estimates of the year, they would not only be found less than the military expenditure of many preceding years; but even if weBurgesses, shall be sent to the following places Old Sarum, Gatton, Westbury—*And be it further enacted, that writs in place of the before mentioned writs shall be sent by the said Secretary of State, together with a sufficient number of copies of this Act to the Sheriff's of such counties as the King, with the advice of the Privy Council, shall think proper, and the said Sheriffs shall be commanded to return such number of Citizens and Burgesses for such large, populous, unrepresented, or inadequately represented towns, the same being fully able to bear the burthen of paying the wages of attendance as aforesaid, as shall be specified in the said writs; and the said Sheriffs shall be further commanded to give notice to such persons as may be appointed to be the returning officer or officers of such towns or to the inhabitants thereof, as publicly as possible, that returns of all Members to serve in Parliament are to be made by the majority of votes of the inhabitant householders of such towns, assessed to any tax, parochial or parliamentary, and who shall agree to be assessed to the wages of attendance as aforesaid.And be it further enacted, that all the pro-* Enumerate here all the other close and decayed places whose "domination" would not foe put an end to, by giving the light of voting to all the inhabitant householders,751 went back so far as the year 1794, and compared our present expenditure with any year since that period—whether a year of war or of peace—we should see that this Estimate was lower in amount than any one Estimate of a like kind that had been brought forward since 1794. [Sir Henry Hardinge said, "since 1804."] His right hon. friend said "1804:" it might be so; but with all deference to his right hon. friend, he rather apprehended he was right in his statement of the comparative moderation of the Military Estimates for the present year. However, whether the period with which we could institute a favourable comparison extended back to 1794 or only to 1804, he thought the present amount of expenditure very reasonable, and (taking the more recent date) it must be extremely satisfactory to the House to find that our Army Estimates for 1830 were less than they had been for the last six-and-twenty years. The next vote, in point of order, was the vote for the Ordnance; and in reference to that vote he had a single observation to offer to the House. It was, that if there existed one vote which more than another had engaged the time and attention of Government, of the House, or of Committees appointed by the House, with a view to reduction of expenditure, the Ordnance was that particular branch of public service, the Estimates of which had been most minutely canvassed, and in reference to the expenditure of which every species nearly of reduction had been previously practised. It was on this account that the present amount of reduction upon the Ordnance Estimates was proportionately less than the reductions upon other branches of service,—it was limited to a sum of 29,000l. With respect to the expenditure of the Navy, upon that, as on the Army Estimates, a very considerable reduction would take place in the present year. The saving upon the Navyvisions of this Act, as to the right of voting, right of sitting in the House of Commons, and in respect of all other matters and things therein contained, shall be in full force and virtue the same as if the said Committee had made the reports required by this Act.And with respect to all other cities, boroughs, or ports, which now send a Member or Members to Parliament, the same directions shall be sent by the said Secretary of State to the returning officers thereof, so that the elections may be made therein by such inhabitant house-holders, as aforesaid.752 Estimates, as compared with last year, would amount to a sum of 273,000l. within a few pounds. As to the Miscellaneous Estimates, the House would bear in mind that upon the class of votes included under that head it was more difficult to make large and immediate reductions than upon others, because in the Miscellaneous Estimates were included public works now in progress, which Parliament had already sanctioned, and which the Government was under the necessity of completing, or of abandoning in an unfinished state after having sustained the expense of making a considerable progress towards their completion. Besides, in this department reduction was in some degree less practicable, because in the preceding year, with a view to make every possible saving in point of expenditure, some balances were left on account of the Miscellaneous Estimates, which must be now paid; but after making allowance for these, the reduction on the Miscellaneous Estimates this year would amount to 276,900l. Taking the whole Estimates of the year, then, the total amount of reduction that would appear in the Estimates was 1,031,985l. [hear.] As he before stated, taking into account the necessary and unavoidable difficulties in the way of present reductions that arose from the frequency and amount of preceding reductions, and taking into account the necessity of maintaining our establishments upon a footing sufficiently respectable to provide for the continuance of internal tranquillity,—sufficient for the maintenance of our colonies and the upholding of the respectability of our national character abroad;—taking all these things into consideration, he conceived that the course adopted upon the present occasion afforded satisfactory proof of the disposition of his Majesty's Government to go heartily to work upon that reduction in the public expenditure, to which MinistersAnd all the provisions of this Act in respect of towns and counties, and all other provisions of this Act, shall be in full force and virtue.And it is hereby declared, that nothing in this Act shall be construed to extend to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin, and that all cities, boroughs, ports, or towns in the United Kingdom that do send a Member or Members to serve in Parliament, are intended to be included in the provisions of this Act, and are included accordingly.753 felt themselves pledged from the very first moment of their coming into office, and the necessity of which they had acknowledged by calling on the House to appoint a Finance Committee, with a view to a diminution of the weight of the various establishments of the country. He had already mentioned the savings upon the several Estimates of the present year, and their gross amount; but in estimating the reductions in the expenditure of the present as compared with the last year, it was necessary to add that there had been a practical saving by the reduction of interest on Exchequer-bills, and other matters connected with the management of the Public Debt, to the extent of 180,000l. in this year's expenditure. If, in addition to this item, the House took into account other reductions made in the Treasury department to the amount of 50,000l., it would appear that we had certainly relieved ourselves from a charge, as regarded the public expenditure, of little short of 1,300,000l. in the present as compared with the last year. [hear] As his object in addressing the House was merely to state the facts of the case for general information, it was not necessary that he should add more, having already mentioned the amount of reduction upon each Estimate, and the aggregate saving upon the whole. If there were any Gentlemen present who concurred with the hon. Member for Aberdeen in thinking that a reduction to the amount of 8,000,000l. or 9,000,000l. might be effected, such Gentlemen, of course, would receive the statement he had made with disappointment and regret. If, on the other hand, any Gentleman had been disposed to agree with the same hon. Member when he said that the Government would not reduce one item of expenditure, to such Gentlemen the statement he had made must have been an acceptable and agreeable surprise. But to the House generally and to the country, he believed it would be satisfactory to find that such a reduction had been made without any detriment to the public service, without putting the safety of the country in danger, and without making a parade of reducing our force in a manner which might very shortly lead to greater expense from the necessity of recalling that which had been laid aside,—a consequence which, on more than one occasion, had formerly resulted from such a course. Not only the reduc- 754 tion itself, but the manner in which it had been effected, would, he trusted, be viewed by the House and by the country with satisfaction. It had been effected by careful attention, by watchful vigilance in the minor departments, considering what little portions of expense might be lopped off here and there, and what parts of the public service might be performed in as efficient a manner as heretofore, but at the same time less expensively. By such means this reduction had been effected, and he hoped it would be received as an earnest that the Ministers were as anxious as they had declared themselves to be to do their duty as far as regarded the expenditure of the country.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that either he must have explained himself very imperfectly, or the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have strangely misunderstood him. He had never maintained the opinions attributed to him by the right hon. Gentleman. What he had said was, that no adequate reduction could be effected on those items—that nothing could be thus done which would afford the people relief; nor was he in the least disposed to retract this assertion. He would not acknowledge he was mistaken. In the first place, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had made an erroneous statement. He (Mr. Goulburn) said the present Estimates were lower than any since the year 1804; but he (Mr. Hume) found that so far was this from being the case, that the reduction was not that of one year, but of a series of years. He hoped, therefore, the House would not suffer itself to be led away by the erroneous statements of the right hon. Gentleman. Many of his assertions were more erroneous; as, for instance, he had stated that the Estimates of this year were 200,000l. less than the year before; but by a reference to the balance sheet he (Mr. Hume) found that the three great Estimates, together with the Miscellaneous Estimates, amounted to 460,000l. more.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
explained, that the balance sheet was merely an account of the expenditure during the year past, and never tallied with the Estimates, In the present 755 instance, there was a sum of 500,000l. which was paid last year, having been due the year before. Ministers, he remarked, did not take credit last year for this sum, when the expenditure, as it appeared on the balance sheet, was less than the Estimates.
§ Mr. Hume
, in continuation, said, he was quite aware of that as well as of the fact that Ministers were in the habit of using the Estimates or the balance sheets as best suited their purpose. Now he begged to call the attention of the House to the condition they were in in the years 1822 and 1823. In the year 1822 the total expenditure for Army, Navy, Miscellaneous, and Extraordinaries was 16,000,000l. In the last year it was 17,600,000l. being 1,600,000l. more than in 1822. Now, if 1822 were not a fair year, let them take the following year. In 1823, the expenditure was 16,282,070l. for the same items. Take, therefore, the average of the two years, and it would be found that, when the right hon. Gentleman proposed to take off 1,000,000l. at present, he was only carrying us back to the condition in which we were in 1822. [hear, hear.] So much, then, for the present being the lowest Estimates we had had since 1794 or 1804, and he could not allow such a statement to be made, without showing that it was erroneous. He must therefore protest against the conclusion that we were now at the lowest pitch of expenditure since 1794 to 1804. He would now beg the House to call to mind his proposition. The House would recollect that he had mentioned that a reduction in the expenditure on the Army and Ordnance might be made to the extent of 1,250,000l. and here he begged the House to remark that the grounds he took for this were, that many of the Army expenses were now placed under the head of Ordnance Expenditure—and he thought very properly—as, for instance, the expenses on barracks were placed under the Ordnance Estimates. Therefore it was not fair to take the Estimates of the Expenditure on the Military Establishments, without adding that on the Ordnance to it. If, then, they took the Expenditure on the Ordnance together with that on the Army—the first amounting to 1,569,000l., and the second to 7,700,000l., they would have a total of 9,278,000l. for the Army, the expense of both having been, in the year 1794, only 2,500,000l. so that there was 756 an increase of 7,000,000l. on these two establishments since the year 1794. Now, he did not make his proposition without allowing for the Army and Ordnance Dead Weight. No; for the first he allowed 2,982,000l.—for the second, 365,220l.; and accordingly, for both, 3,300,000l., which he was to take from the 9,300,000l. and they would then have 6,000,000l. to pay for the Army and Ordnance, exclusive of all pensions and debts; a sum from which, he contended, 2,000,000l. might be taken, without injuring the interests of the country, or impairing the efficiency of these establishments, since they would then have 4,000,000l. to expend upon them, which was amply sufficient. For, in the first place, the Ordnance ought not to be kept up on its present extensive scale. He felt himself called upon to say this, after the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman. The Expenditure on the Ordnance he could declare had been increased three-fold since the year 1792. In that year the expenditure on the corps of Engineers, Sappers, Miners, and the Artillery, amounted to 161,000l. In 1822 it was raised to 427,000l., and in 1828 it reached 470,000l. Not only had the number of men been increased, but also the Staff appointments. At that time, 1792, also, there were only one or two officers on Staff-pay, but now there were fifty-eight with double pay, double allowance, and he knew not what else besides. The fact was, his Majesty's Ministers looked at these matters as if they were about to be called on to take the field for a second Waterloo. But he regarded them with another eye. He differed with Ministers as to the propriety and expediency of maintaining a great Military Force, when he considered our insular situation, and when he saw such abundant reason to apprehend that the country would be at length borne down by the pressure of its warlike burthens. The 6,000,000l. seemed so disproportionate to the benefits produced by such an expenditure, that Ministers would be unable to effect any reduction beneficial to the country, unless the House compelled them to cut down the force of the Military. The proposed reduction of 1,000,000l. was not what the country had a right to expect. [hear] Besides, he could not help offering some remark on the reason assigned for not cutting down the Military and Mis- 757 cellaneous Estimates; they had embarked forsooth, in certain works, which if not continued, they would be compelled to abandon altogether. And therefore the House was called upon to agree to an expenditure of two millions and a half. But it would be borne, he trusted, in recollection, that when the first vote of 50,000l. was called for two years ago for the fortifications in Canada, he had foretold what would be the result of compliance. Why should they be voting 2,500,000l., for fortifications in Canada? Next, as to the Militia; he would ask why should they only have a reduction of 60,000l. on its expenditure, which amounted to 280,000l.? Why should they have only 16,000l. taken from that other item—the volunteer or yeomanry corps? Why should not the yeomanry be dispensed with altogether? Was there so little patriotism in our Aristocracy that they would not arm their retainers, and place themselves at their head, in case of need or danger, without coming upon an already distressed people to defray the expense. If there were not, he did think that it was the duty of that House, who had the power, to apply a remedy to the abuse. And here, in justice he must say, that if Mr. Canning had lived, and an hon. friend of his had remained in the Home Office, he firmly believed that they would not then be put to 10l. expense for volunteers or yeomanry. Since 1817, they had paid no less than 3,700,000l. for the Militia. Instead, therefore, of a reduction of 65,000l., he thought that a reduction of 265,000l. would be nearer the mark. As to the reduction which had been effected by the present Administration, he considered it only a postponement of expense, because Ministers must, according to their own shewing, complete the works in which they had engaged. This was especially the case with respect to the Miscellaneous Estimates, in which the paltry sum of 276,000l. only was to be saved. He called it a paltry sum in comparison with the reduction that ought to be made. He would next speak of the Irish Estimates, and would be glad to know what became of the half-million thus expended. The Finance Committee had recommended a reduction of one-half this sum, and he thought that at least 100,000l. ought to have been taken off this year. For the last twenty years there had been a dreadful waste of the public money 758 in Ireland, and it was lavished with a view of maintaining corruption, and keeping up an undue influence; but this ought now to be brought to an end; they had, after the measures which had been lately passed, a right to expect that Ireland should be placed upon the same footing as England and Scotland. He hoped, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in not alluding to any diminution of that item, had only made an omission. [hear, hear.] He had next to ask, was it not proposed to make some reduction in the expenditure on the Colonies, which drained the country every year to such a frightful extent? It was really monstrous to observe the salaries of officers—the manner in which these offices were filled up, the way in which the revenues were collected, and the military expenses of each colony; the evil was notorious, and yet was it passed by in total silence. Again, he wished to impress upon the House that they could not persist in maintaining an establishment of eighty-one thousand infantry; of eight thousand artillery, sappers, miners, and engineers; and thirty thousand seamen: an aggregate of military force which no country, in however perfect a state of prosperity, ought to maintain in time of peace. [hear, hear] The evils resulting from this system were the worst and most oppressive. The number of pensioners on the public was, in the first place, perpetually increasing, and therefore the Dead Weight was increasing in proportion. No relief could, therefore, be obtained, until this was altered; for what was the present state of the country? Sixty-five or seventy-five thousand men were required to keep our Colonies; for, independent of the forces maintained there, it was necessary to have dépôts and preparatory establishments. In a word, no great or effectual reduction in the burthens of the country could be made until they first reduced the number of men on the Military Establishments, and until they brought down the Staff to the same state it was in before the war. It now cost us 100,000l. A reduction had indeed been made, but what was it? Why, a reduction of Medical officers. [hear, and a laugh.] Twenty thousand men ought to be at once reduced, and then he thought a saving of 4,000,000l. would come within the scope of Ministers' power. He hoped the House would have time to read 759 the right hon. Gentleman's statement. He thought the 17,600,000l. or the 16,000,000l., might be reduced by upwards of 6,000,000l. which, with the surplus Revenue, would give a sum of 8,000,000l. to the people. [hear] The House could make these reductions if it were willing. The only way was to refuse to vote more than 9,000,000l., which, he contended, was all that was necessary. The surplus merely went to support the patronage of the Government, and was not called for by necessity.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he would not withhold his praise from the reductions as far as they went; they certainly were greater than he expected, but yet he was bound to say they were not sufficient when he considered the distressed state of the country. [hear] They were not sufficient to give any material relief. As he was on his legs, he would take the opportunity of thanking the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Peel) for the reforms he had stated to be in his contemplation on the preceding night. That right hon. Gentleman appeared disposed to strike off more patronage than any other Administration had ever before consented to resign. This was a sign, he trusted, that the right hon. Gentleman intended to carry on the Government supported by the attachment of the people; but he begged to remind him that he must first ameliorate the condition of the population, which could not be done without affording them relief from the burthen of taxation. [hear, hear] He was surprised that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said nothing of the reduction of taxation, for without that there could be no relief to the country, although he did not expect that any Administration would ever make a sufficient reduction of its own accord. The House must compel them. He was well aware of the feeling that prevailed in the breasts of those presiding over any particular departments. For instance, he knew the energy and activity the right hon. and gallant officer (Sir H. Hardinge) displayed in the management of the affairs of the Ordnance. He knew his anxiety to have everything in the same state of order and efficiency as in time of war; and he could understand the pride he (Sir H. Hardinge) felt in his department, and the sentiments which would urge him to oppose any reduction which would have the effect of 760 diminishing the force over which he exercised a control. So it was with the Gentlemen who presided over the other departments; each of them was anxious to keep his department in the most perfect efficiency; under the present circumstances of the country, however, this was impossible; the House could not share in their feelings, nor adopt such reasoning. The Commons should recollect that the best way to prepare for war was by filling the pockets of the people, [hear] and not by keeping up our Military Establishments on the same enormous scale as at present. In conclusion he would observe that it would be the duty of the Members to look to the various Estimates in the Committee, and to reduce them as much as possible, being assured that by so doing, no detriment could happen to the public service.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
allowed, that the reduction exceeded his expectations, and he gave the Administration credit for wishing to reduce the expenditure of the country to the utmost possible limits, consistent with what they deemed the efficient maintenance of the Civil and Military Establishments. [hear] But the amount of this reduction was in nowise calculated to give relief to the people in their present distressed condition. He had in a frank and candid manner borne witness to the good intentions of the Administration [hear, hear]; while he at the same time declared they had not done enough. In discussing this question, he, however, felt himself placed in a situation of extreme difficulty. He might look to the establishments of the country in reference to its character and situation in the European community. In this view he must agree with Ministers that there could be no farther reduction. But there was another view of the case, which referred to the internal circumstances of the country; and looking at them, he was bound to ask if the country could bear the pressure of its present burthen? and then he should be obliged to acknowledge that he could not see a capability of supporting the enormous load of taxation, unless it were accompanied by a change in the standard of value. In looking to the Administration, he could say that there was no gentleman connected with it who did not, he believed, ably and zealously discharge the duties of his office; and yet when there was a question if the 761 salaries of public men ought not to be reduced, he was obliged to give his voice in the affirmative, because he felt that it was impossible for the country to pay for their services at that rate—of which they were, perhaps, Well deserving. The fact was, the Government had only two courses open; it must either change the policy they had for some sime past pursued, or it must reduce taxation. The Administration within the last five years had adopted the liberal policy (as it was called) of the hon. Member for Montrose, and other hon. Members, who generally sat on the second Opposition bench; it had followed their advice in respect to matters of commerce and the internal government of the country, but it had neglected that which the hon. Gentleman had always recommended as a concomitant of the free trade system; the Government had made no reduction in taxation. It had therefore now only one of the two courses to pursue, and must either abandon this new policy, or it must make an efficient reduction in taxation. [hear, hear] Did Ministers hesitate now to adopt the concomitant measure, and so decline both courses, the country must fall between the two propositions; and he knew not how it was to be extricated. [hear] He might be deceived in these gloomy prospects, and he should be delighted if it were so; but he felt that he should not have discharged his duty, if he had not stated his views upon the subject, Giving, then, Ministers credit for the best intentions; acknowledging that the reductions had exceeded his expectations, he would conclude by declaring that he saw little prospect of their relieving the country from the desperate state of distress under which it then suffered, unless one of the two courses he had mentioned were promptly taken. [hear, hear.]
Mr. W. Horton
said, the allusion in the King's Speech to the distress of the country was vague and unsatisfactory. There were three classes suffering at present. The landowner, who did not get his rents; the capitalists, who had to endure a diminution of profits; and lastly, the labourers and artizans—the most numerous of the three—who were compelled to work for their support. Now he contended that unless a division were made in this triplicate character of distress, little could be done. Every man must agree with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. 762 Hume) as to the expediency of reducing taxation; but that hon. Member much deceived himself when he fancied that the distress of the people, the labourers and artizans, would be alleviated by adding twenty or fifty thousand men to their number. He repeated that if there were any one who really hoped and believed that these reductions would restore prosperity to the working classes, that person, he feared, would find himself disappointed. It was true that every body felt an objection to pay for a large standing Army unless he saw an absolute necessity for its existence; but before any measures were adopted to relieve any particular classes (and he admitted the working classes ought to be most anxiously attended to, because they had no Representatives in the House), it became the House to be well satisfied as to the probable operation of such measures. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to fancy that the depreciation of the currency would produce immense wealth in the country; they were mistaken in the idea; and although they constantly repeated that the country could not continue to pay the present taxes with the existing currency, it by no means followed that the people would be better able to pay them in another currency. The hon. Baronet who last addressed the House had stated that taxation must be reduced, and was one of those Gentlemen he believed who were disposed to recommend, if taxation were not reduced, that the currency should be again altered. But how a second change—a change from our present to our former currency—was to relieve the suffering classes of the community, he really could not understand; and after the positive declarations of Ministers that they would not alter the currency, and after the support the House had given to those declarations, he thought they were precluded from even making a change the subject of consideration as one of their measures of relief. He must, however say, that the immediate relief of the working classes would not operate as a relief to the whole community, for past experience had proved that great prosperity might exist in one portion of the empire and great distress in another. The fallacy of the expectation that the prosperity of one class—and that a very large class—must necessarily be accompanied by the prosperity of all the rest, was shown by the circumstances of the year 1825. In the Speech from the 763 Throne in that year, which, by-the-bye, was made prior to the currency transactions now so much bewailed, the prosperity of the country was spoken of in a very glowing manner—every one echoed the rejoicings there made, and language seemed too weak to describe the almost overwhelming prosperous state of the country. Yet at that very moment Ireland was in a state of misery unequalled in any portion of the civilized world. And if it were true that this country was most prosperous at that moment, when distress and wretchedness were so widely spread in Ireland, it might also be true that the restoration of the suffering working classes to a state of comfort would not be accompanied with a general return to prosperity throughout the country. He wished besides to observe, that the mode of relief recommended by the honourable Member for Aberdeen was hardly likely to produce any extensive good, for the dismissal from the service of twenty thousand men, who must be thrown upon their already overcharged parishes, would diminish to small extent the burthens of the people, since these men must be supported by taxes upon the inhabitants, levied either in one shape or another. In his conscience, therefore, he did not think that remedy was calculated to produce much benefit. If, indeed, the twenty thousand men could be taken away altogether, and the country were never more to see them, in that case the reduction might be efficiently applied to relieve the burthens of the people; but if their mere dismissal from the Army were to be put forward under the pretence that it was a reduction which would relieve the people, he should certainly oppose it, even though he stood alone. He thought it by no means a judicious course in hon. Gentlemen to speak of such reductions as likely to produce much benefit, seeing that, the poverty of the great mass of the people had a very different cause from the extent of our establishments, he meant a superabundance of population.
said, that the attention of every body was directed to the distress now prevalent, and every body both within and without that House looked out for some measure of relief. No persons at all acquainted with the state of the country could deny that the distress was very general; but if they looked to the reductions the Government would be able to make as a permanent source of relief, 764 undoubtedly they would be much mistaken. Still, however, though these reductions would not afford much actual relief to the people, they would be most acceptable to the country as an earnest of the feelings of the Government, and as a proof of its sincere wish to adopt every possible plan of economy [hear hear! from the Treasury benches]. In the course of that discussion, many questions had been agitated which might have been much better deferred till the subjects with which they were connected fairly came before the House. Still there were Gentlemen who would, on every subject, introduce matters likely to be agreeable to the wishes and interests of their constituents; and who would speak for such a purpose upon subjects not immediately connected with those under discussion. He should not follow their example, but would briefly notice one or two of the arguments used by hon. Members who had preceded him. In reply to the hon. Baronet who had talked of the general system of Government, as one properly liable to complaint, he would merely observe that if such were the opinion of the hon. Baronet, he ought to have introduced a Motion that would have brought the subject of their conduct fairly before the House. There were some hon. Gentlemen who advocated the system of a free trade in Corn. If Government could effect that, undoubtedly, it would have afforded a great amelioration to the distresses of at least one part of the people. He did not. mean to say that he was the advocate of such a system, but he mentioned it to recall to the House the manner in which it had been employed in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen with respect to the reduction of taxes. The hon. Baronet had said, that free trade in corn could not be granted without being accompanied by a reduction of the public burthens; and he seemed to think that we ought in other matters to return to the old system of high duties or absolute prohibition. If he thought so, he ought to make his opinion the subject of a specific Motion. If, for instance, he believed that further protection might be granted to the Wool Trade, he ought distinctly to bring that subject under the consideration of the House. They should then have heard what were the arguments for, and what the arguments against it, and whether the protection to be afforded would be a relief or an additional mischief to the country; 765 and as the arguments preponderated, so, he was sure, would the House decide. If the hon. Baronet wished the standard of the currency to be reduced, he ought to make a specific proposition to that effect; but as that subject had nothing to do with the business now before the House, he thought it ought not to have been introduced; and he could only say, that when-ever the subject did fairly come under consideration, he should take the opportunity of saying a few words upon it. The question now was as to the extent of the proposed reduction. That reduction certainly was not one of an extended kind. Still it was such as it would be acceptable; and he only feared that in stating its nature and amount, the right hon. Gentleman had given them the pleasantest part of the picture, and had reserved something that was not quite so agreeable; for he had not told them, what it was to be feared events would prove; namely, that the reductions would be barely sufficient, if indeed they were sufficient, to cover the deficiencies in the year's revenue. That deficiency was not to be attributed to the Government; but there was no person could know from what sources revenue was derived, without also knowing that when distress did exist in the country the revenue would show it. He repeated, that he rather feared the sum of thirteen or fourteen hundred thousand pounds, which was the amount of the reductions, would hardly cover the deficiencies of the revenue for the year. From this source no great relief could possibly be expected. If any Gentleman had any financial proposition to make that would effect such an advantage, he ought to submit it to the House; but if he thought that much good was to be effected by the mere reduction of taxation at the present moment, he would find himself much mistaken. There was one principle, as stated by the hon. Member for Aberdeen on a former night, to which he must object; in considering the state of the finances of this country, the hon. Member had anticipated that under certain circumstances there might be a surplus revenue, and he had said that he would not permit such a surplus to remain in the hands of the Government. To that principle he objected. He would ask whether there was any country in Europe in which men who considered the nature of the Government, and the fluctuations to which the revenue was always subject, would 766 ever agree to such a proposition. A large and fluctuating revenue, and particularly a revenue which, like our own, depended in a great measure on the consumption and on the means of enjoyment possessed by the lower classes, was one on the permanency of which no man could rely, and venture to sweep away at once any surplus that might exist in a particular year. He was aware that there was a strong popular objection to the Sinking Fund from the abuses to which it had been subjected while it existed; and certain it was, that when a man borrowed, as the Minister had been used to do, with one hand, while he paid with the other, and borrowed too at a very large amount of interest, there must be a considerable loss at the end of the account. For such a purpose, therefore, he agreed that a surplus revenue ought not to be left in the hands of the Minister. But the credit of this country would be gone were a principle adopted which went to take away the reasonable surplus that particular circumstances might leave from the annual revenue. For his own part he must confess he should like to see that surplus applied to the purposes he had mentioned on a former occasion. He should wish to see the country (though he believed it impossible at the present moment) make some effort towards the reduction of that enormous debt which now overburthened it. To see that would be his greatest happiness; but he feared that it existed rather in prospect than in possession. He was sure there was hardly any thinking man in the country who would not make a considerable sacrifice in order to be able to accomplish a proportionate reduction of the debt. If a surplus were really applied to such a purpose, no one could object to leaving it in the hands of the Minister. He had only intended to state his dissent from the principle of refusing to leave a surplus in the Minister's hands, under any circumstances. There might be, besides, another reason for not entirely refusing to leave the surplus in the Minister's hands. There might be a considerable deficiency in the Revenue of a particular year, and it might be necessary to apply the surplus of the preceding year to make up the deficiency in that, and to meet those casualties which circumstances might give rise to. Referring again to the different subjects which had been introduced into this discussion, he wished to observe that there were some which the 767 sooner they were decided the better. One, for instance, was that which related to the Malt Trade—a question which he thought ought to be decided as speedily as possible; for, in consequence of the uncertainty now prevailing concerning it, there was a great degree of stagnation in the trade, which would continue until men knew what were the intentions of Parliament upon the subject. He trusted that either the Government or some hon. Member would, for the reason he had referred to, speedily bring the question under the consideration of the House. He would now state with regard to the reductions that the right hon. Gentleman had proposed, that, although he did not think they would produce any considerable alteration in the condition of the people, still he felt that the Government were entitled to his thanks for making them; and he would freely state that, small as they might appear, they were more considerable than he had expected in the present state of the departments of the public service. It was quite evident in this case that the Government must have been fully and continually busy in the recess to effect these reductions. They were such as in their very nature to require time and labour; and the Government must have given them every attention without thinking of any party. In justice to the right hon. Gentleman he must say, that his plans involved a sacrifice of patronage and place such as he had never before heard of. [hear] The subject of the Army Estimates having been before the Committee, which he had pretty regularly attended, he knew something of the matter, and he must say that he doubted very much whether more reductions of expenditure could be made, unless a reduction were made in the effective force of the country. If the sum total of money paid to maintain our Army establishments were considered with reference to past services (which were a debt due from the country), and with reference to the manner in which services were at present performed, he did not think that much greater reductions could be made. It was his conviction, from having looked at these circumstances in the Committee, that with the exception of a regiment or two of Cavalry, it would be difficult to make any further reductions in the Army; and, though the same opinion was not expressed by the Committee, he 768 believed that many of the Members had the same impression as himself. The present numbers of the Army were necessary to be kept up, as there were relays necessary in our different Colonial Garrisons, and which could not be granted if the Army was put upon a diminished scale. There were, indeed, some of our Garrisons that he thought needless, because he did not see any use in retaining the Colonies in which they were placed. Unless there were some reason with which he was not acquainted for preferring a name to utility, he could not but think that it was among the idlest of all fancies to retain the Ionian Islands. The force kept up there was considerable, and necessarily entailed another expense, as it required a corresponding force at home [hear, from Mr. Hume]. He should like much to hear of what use to this country were the Ionian Islands. Having Gibraltar at the entrance of the Mediterranean, and Malta, which seemed almost made for us, in the upper part of that sea, he could not possibly conceive what reason there was to retain them among the number of our possessions. He believed that we had at first taken these Islands reluctantly, and at the Congress of Vienna had accepted them because Russia and France could not agree what power should have them. We got nothing, so far as he knew, but currants from them for our mince pies, and those would be sent to us without our incurring the expense of maintaining these Islands in our possession. The most important part of the financial concerns of the country consisted of the Dead Weight—in other words, the amount due for past services, which nearly amounted to six millions a-year; and if the House only considered, that though almost sixty millions a-year were raised from the people, vet, that after all deductions for debt and Dead Weight, the actual expenditure of the Government was little more than eleven millions annually, they would admit that it exhibited a picture not to be paralleled among the other nations of the earth. The fact, that out of the large sum he had named, the Government had only to deal with about eleven millions a year, showed how much the credit of the country must have been abused at former times. He hoped that some reductions, consistent with justice, might be adopted; for though it would be hard to withhold 769 the pensions of old servants, yet, he must say, that he thought upon that subject the generosity of the House and of the country had carried them too far, and he would rather follow the principle adopted by the American Government, who pay servants well while in employment, and nothing afterwards, than continue that loose and extravagant system which experience showed to have been open to every species of abuse. He thought] that some attempt might be made to remedy the abuses of the present civil system. He did not see why the clerks to the Government should not, like clerks to merchants, provide for their own superannuations. [hear, hear] To introduce at once such a plan was perhaps impossible, as many of the persons now in employment were probably on the verge of becoming superannuated; but such a system ought to have been before introduced, and the clerks should have been taught to look to their own provident care, with the aid of the Benefit and Friendly Societies, for their maintenance after quitting the duties of active service. He begged again to repeat his thanks to Ministers for the reductions they had made.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
said, that the efforts of any hon. Member to procure retrenchment must be ineffectual without the aid of the Government; and yet retrenchment they must have, and that of a more extensive kind than any that had been hitherto adopted. He agreed with those hon. Gentlemen who said that these reductions would not give material relief to the country; but at the same time he felt assured, that without them no relief whatever would be obtained. The causes of the distress had not been sufficiently examined. How was it that some were abounding in plenty, while others were deeply distressed? that the warehouses of the manufacturer were over-stocked, and yet that thousands were in want of the articles of his manufacture? In this condition, how small was the relief that the reduction of one million of taxes would give the country! With respect to the Estimates, he thought it was incumbent on the Government to act with a view to the greatest possible economy; for though the relief was but small, still it was absolutely wanted. There were some taxes that ought more than others to be immediately abolished. In his opinion no tax bore more hardly on the mass of the people than the House and Window Taxes, 770 and he trusted they would soon be repealed.
§ An hon. Member trusted, that what had been brought forward to-night was only the commencement of a regular plan of reduction. If he thought that any surplus which might exist were only to be employed as a Sinking Fund, he should, from the experience we had already had of Sinking Funds, consider it utterly useless. He bore testimony to the existence of very great and extensive distress. The peasantry were worse paid, worse fed, and worse cloathed than ever, and nothing but the most rigid and well-directed economy could save them from the consequences of the distress that now so generally prevailed. The superabundance of corn produced was at one time stated to be a cause of distress; next, a bad season and a short crop had occasioned the same evil: in fact, nobody knew how it began or where it would end. He had great confidence in Ministers, and believed that they would take the condition of the country into their most serious consideration, with the view of affording speedy and effectual relief.
commenced by referring to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Callington, whom he had expected, and had not been disappointed in that expectation, to be merely the echo of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On one point, however, like the celebrated echo of the sister kingdom, he had even said more than was put into his mouth, and had suggested a plan which the right hon. Gentleman would never have thought of proposing. The hon. Member for Calling-ton had been one of the last to support the now exploded fallacy of the Sinking Fund, which, if maintained at all, should be preserved, not by paying with one hand and borrowing with the other, but by an actual bona fide surplus revenue. The light upon this subject had, however, only lately and tardily reached the remote and dim planet of contemplation, in which that hon. Member resided. In his (Mr. Maberly's) opinion, the only way to relieve distress was to give as much as possible to the people, and by means of the surplus revenue to relieve the burthen of taxation. He was happy to find so many Members on the other side of the House now eagerly pressing for the necessity of reduction; he only wished that they had thought of taking the same course in 1817, and fifty millions of expenditure might have been saved by 771 adopting the reform then suggested by the Finance Committee. He was aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not pursued the usual course on the present occasion, but he had adopted what ought always to be the course, and had set a most useful precedent. Parliament ought to have such a preliminary statement every Session, before it was called upon to vote the Supplies, and the country would thus know what it had to expect. Although the reductions explained by the right hon. Gentleman might satisfy many, they by no means satisfied him, because they did not go far enough. With respect to the Army, they were far short of the extent to which they ought to have gone. Where was the consolidation of the Paymaster-ships—of the War-office—of the department of the Comptroller of Public. Accounts, and of the Agency-office? all of which had been recommended by the last Finance Committee. Where were the reductions of the Cavalry? Instead of a saving of only 200,000l., he was convinced that expenditure might here alone be reduced with ease to the amount of 500,000l. Where was the necessity for so many offices? or supposing the other establishments were preserved, in agency alone a saving of 24,000l. a-year might be effected. Where was the use of the duplicate and triplicate accounts kept, excepting to multiply places, when all that was wanted was a detail of payments, and a proper check upon them? The proposed reductions in the Navy might be said to amount almost to nothing, compared with what they ought to have been. This was one of the most extravagant departments of the State, including ship-building, and wages of men for five days in a week who ought not to be employed at all. It was preposterous to keep artificers in pay to prevent their employment by foreign nations, because their services might possibly be needed here twenty or thirty years hence. The reductions ought to have been fully double the amount to which they were to be carried according to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Miscellaneous department was in precisely the same situation, and the expense of our colonies was the source and root of an enormous evil. He was ready to admit that the gallant officer opposite (Sir H. Hardinge) was a most useful public servant; no man could feel more respect for him than he did; he was 772 a most active and able man both in his civil and military capacity, but especially in the former, which he (Mr. Maberly) had had the best opportunity of observing. That gallant officer would, no doubt, assert that the reduction in the Army could not be carried further; but he (Mr. Maberly) would ask, as an instance, why should not the expense of the Horse-Guards be lessened? Why was it necessary to keep up the three regiments? They, and other bodies of Cavalry, never went beyond England and Ireland, while with regard to the Infantry, their tour of duty was far more extensive and severe; they were fifteen years abroad, and only five at home, and when at home they were very frequently stationed in Ireland. If the matter were thoroughly examined, it would be found that a considerable reduction might safely be made in the Infantry employed in the colonies. The committee of 1817 had reported that the whole expenditure ought to be about 17,300,000l. but last year it had exceeded that sum by no less than 300,000l. Let the House attend to this simple fact, which depended upon no fancy or calculation of his, but upon the report of a Committee. Excepting in the year 1822 or 1823, when the expenditure was a trifle below the amount stated in the report, it had unfortunately exceeded this. He put it, therefore, to every hon. Member, whether, after fourteen years of peace—after every article used by soldier and sailor had been so much lowered in price—when the outcry was, that low price was the cause of distress—it was fit that the Estimates should be 300,000l. higher than in 1817, only the second year of peace? The fact that in 1817 the Committee had decided that no more ought to be spent than 17,300,000l. could not be too strongly impressed upon the House. Where had been the increase of territorial possession to render an additional 300,000l. necessary? He fully concurred with the noble Member for Northamptonshire (Lord Althorp) that nothing could relieve the public distress but the lessening of taxation; but he feared that whatever reduction was intended to be made would be applied to the payment of the debt, and not to the diminution of the public burthens. He had heard nothing from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lead him to suppose that a single existing impost was to be removed. Suppose the interest of the debt 773 were lessened to the extent of 180,000l. it would afford no relief to the suffering population: to a certain extent the right hon. Gentleman might deserve credit for this saving; but it would occasion no diminution of the establishments of the country. It had been asserted by the hon. Member for Callington, that the sum out of which only a saving could be made was eleven millions; but the sum the Chancellor of the Exchequer had dealt with was twelve millions, omitting all considerations of Scotland, which, with other sources of revenue, afforded the additional sum of six millions. Here then were eighteen millions out of which reductions might be made; and if the House pressed the matter, Ministers would soon find, that they could adopt its recommendations with perfect safety to the State. It depended, therefore, on the House alone to make the reductions. The mere modification of existing taxes would afford an opportunity of relief, and upon this point he might confidently refer to the Beer Duties, in the collection of which 370,000l. a year might be saved. The duties on printed cotton amounted to two millions, of which 1,400,000l. were repaid in the shape of drawbacks, and of the remaining 600,000l. only about 300,000l. came into the Exchequer, the rest being consumed in the collection. A reduction, then, to the amount of 300,000l. might be obtained from the very source of this revenue, to the important relief of the people. He did not usually deal so much in assertions as proofs, but he had no hesitation in asserting that the affairs of this country could be conducted quite as well as at present if relief were afforded to the distressed in the shape of diminished taxation to the extent of 4,000,000l. If the House should come to that conclusion, Ministers would not be long in arriving at it also, and they would continue just as ready to discharge all their public functions upon the altered scale. To talk of reduction as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had talked of it, was a mere matter of form, and it meant nothing in substance, as far as related to the sufferings of the people. He would take the surplus of last year at 1,700,000l. and the saving this year, with the Exchequer Bills, would amount to 1,280,000l. so that if the revenue continued as productive as it had been, there would remain about three millions that might be applied by the 774 Chancellor of the Exchequer to the diminution of taxation. The right hon. Gentleman might reply, that the produce of the revenue would not continue so high as at present; but at all events, it was not to be disputed that in 1830 there would be a surplus, on the whole, of three millions. Whatever it might be, certain he was, that it ought to be devoted to the lessening of the public burthens, and that the best support to the public creditor was the relief of the people.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
had been disappointed by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not merely at the amount of reduction, but at the mode of its application. He thought that both the Army and Navy cost the country too much, more especially after Ireland had been pacified, and all chance of war in Europe was at an end, in consequence of the subjugation of Turkey. In Ireland alone, a reduction of the military force might be made to the extent of 5000 men.
§ Mr. W. Smith
congratulated Ministers, that the well-applied exertions of the noble Duke at their head had placed the country in such a situation, that even if much larger savings were made it could look an enemy in the face without apprehension. Thirty or forty years ago it had been said that the Army of England was the ridicule of the Continent, but now it was at once a source of terror and admiration. With regard to our colonies, an important saving might be effected, for the best of all reasons—because they were not worth keeping at their present expense. Most hon. Members seemed afraid to look the National Debt in the face—it had grown to such a giant size, that it certainly was not a pleasant object of contemplation; but we could not make it less by not venturing to estimate its height. He admitted that it was advisable to have a small available surplus, but it was mere folly to devote it, under the delusion of a Sinking Fund, to the supposed payment of a debt exceeding seven hundred millions. Instead of these vain attempts to reduce the Debt, the wisest plan would be to endeavour to increase the comforts of the people.
§ The Question was then put that the Speaker leave the Chair, and being carried, the House resolved itself into a