§ The Order of the Day being read for the House going into a Committee of Supply,
§ Sir T. Byam Martin
, on the Motion for the Speaker leaving the Chair, expressed his regret at being under the necessity of trespassing for a short time on the attention of the House, and detaining it from going into a Committee. He had to complain that an hon. Baronet opposite (Sir H. Parnell) had, in a book on Financial Reform, thrown out imputations against him and against the Navy Board, which were totally unfounded, and decidedly contrary to the evidence given before the Finance Committee, on which the statements were alleged to be founded. The hon. Baronet asserted, that the Navy Board appeared by that evidence to have been mainly instrumental in preventing the execution of those measures of economy and retrenchment proposed by the Admiralty. He denied this most positively. He denied that any portion of his evidence, or of the; evidence of any other person before the Finance Committee, would bear out such a conclusion; and he called on the hon. Baronet to declare to the House that he had been instrumental in propagating a reflexion on the character of the Board which was not borne out by the facts. Had the Navy Board acted in the manner described by the hon. Baronet, it would have been unworthy of the confidence either of the Admiralty or the country. The hon. Baronet says, "According to the evidence given before the Finance Committee by Sir G. Cockburn, 1042 Sir G. Clerk, Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Barrow, it appears that of late years the Admiralty have made various efforts to reduce the Civil Expenditure of the Navy. It seems, however, that they were so much opposed as to be able to accomplish in this department only some trifling reductions, but that with respect to the Victualling Office, in consequence of the commissioners having zealously co-operated with them, a very great reformation and saving of expense had been effected. In the last Session the old Navy Board was abolished, and a new one formed, according to a suggestion of the Committee of Finance, on the model of the Ordnance Board. As the evidence just referred to explains the practicability of making some considerable reductions in this department, this change should lead to a large saving of the public money. Some doubt may, however, be entertained of the reform of the constitution of this Board being as effective as it ought to be, in consequence of the same individuals having seats at it who have hitherto been backward in promoting measures of reform and retrenchment. Had the Committee of Finance been renewed, so as to have had it in their power to make a report on the Navy, they could not have avoided censuring in strong terms the conduct of the Navy Board in persevering to resist the superior authority of the Admiralty." He would then observe to the House that he had attentively read the whole of the evidence given before the Committee of Finance, and he could find no part of it which warranted the interpretation given to it by the hon. Baronet. The strongest passage was that in which his hon. friend, Mr. Keith Douglas, said, "I am certainly of opinion that if the Committee were to strengthen the hands of the Admiralty, by conveying a strong recommendation in favour of economy and retrenchment, it could not fail to have a good effect." There could be no doubt of the truth of this assertion, but he did not see how it justified the imputations of the hon. Baronet. In what he had stated about the Navy Board not being as effective as it ought to be in consequence of old Members having seats at it, the hon. Baronet had cast a severe censure on the conduct of every Member of that Board who had been a Member of the former Board. So far, however, was he (Sir B. Martin) from opposing the 1043 wishes of the Admiralty, that Lord Melville had done him the honour to consult him as to the best means of carrying the recommendations of the Finance Committee into effect, and had done him the further honour of adopting his suggestions. The hon. Baronet was quite unwarranted, therefore, either by any evidence given before the Finance Committee, or by the conduct of the Navy Board since, to cast such aspersions on the character of that Board. Nothing would gratify him more than to bring every member connected with that Board to the Bar of the House, in order to prove that the assertions of the hon. Baronet respecting it were unfounded. He, as well as every member of that Board, had, at all times, exerted themselves to keep down the expenditure; although the hon. Baronet had taken leave, without the shadow of authority from evidence, to condemn the conduct of a whole body of men, without allowing the opportunity to defend themselves. He called on the hon. Baronet to rise in his place and declare in what part of the evidence before the Finance Committee he found the statements which supported the charge against the Board, of opposing retrenchment. There were no grounds for that charge; and a more unjust and more ungenerous proceeding than that adopted by the hon. Baronet had scarcely ever been brought under the notice of the House. The hon. Baronet had made charges against him, but he ought rather to have brought accusations against the hon. Baronet. The hon. Baronet had been Chairman of the Committee—Why did he not call him (Sir B. Martin) before that Committee when he heard these imputations against the Navy Board? The hon. Baronet had been exceedingly remiss in his duty; because he was bound, as Chairman, to have sought this information. It might be said that the termination of the sittings of that Committee prevented him. Why, the whole proceeding would not have occupied ten minutes. It would have satisfied the hon. Baronet and the Committee that his conduct, and that of the Navy Board, had been perfectly pure and unspotted; and he was convinced, the hon. Baronet, if he had thought proper to call for these explanations, would never have stigmatised his conduct in the manner he had done in a nine-and-sixpenny pamphlet. The hon. Baronet had done him the honour, in that 1044 pamphlet, to quote a portion of his evidence, and he said in alluding to the great success of the British Navy in diminishing the naval power of other countries," Sir T. B. Martin stated in his evidence before the Committee of Finance, the glorious fact, that England seemed to have swept from the face of the ocean the fleets of her enemies by the destruction of one hundred and fifty-six sail of the line, three hundred and eighty-two large frigates, six hundred and sixty-two corvettes, with other vessels, making in all two thousand five hundred and six vessels of war." "Notwithstanding this fact however," added the hon. Baronet, "no less than 63,000,000l. have been granted by Parliament since 1815, for the effective Naval Service, just as if the whole two thousand five hundred and six vessels had never been taken or destroyed, and were all ready to be employed against us." This seemed to him a sad perversion of the evidence given before the Finance Committee, and as he was already aware that the hon. Baronet's statements had made a very erroneous impression on the public, he would read to the House the evidence he had himself given. "It is not for me to presume," he was quoting the evidence as given before the Finance Committee "to offer any opinion as to the effective Naval Force which it may be proper for this country to maintain in time of peace: it is a political question with which I have no concern, and must be decided partially with reference to the naval strength and resources of other countries; but it may be well to remark, that in all former periods of peace the efforts of England were unremitted in bringing the Navy into a formidable state, and particularly so between 1783 and 1793, when upon the breaking-out of the war we had ninety-one sail of the line fit for service; and although the continental powers directed their attention more to military than naval matters, the large force was found inadequate to the growing wants of the Government, in the formation of squadrons for the various and distant objects of protection and enterprise they had in view, and hence the necessity of having recourse to private merchant builders, to which may be traced the rapid and alarming decay of the ships, and the consequent waste of millions of the public money. But notwithstanding the large 1045 force with which the war was commenced, and the aid of merchant builders, in constructing ships of the line; notwithstanding the extraordinary and glorious fact that England seemed to have swept from the face of the ocean the fleets of her enemies, by the capture or destruction of one hundred and fifty-six sail of the line, three hundred and eighty-two large frigates, six hundred and sixty-two corvettes, and in all two thousand five hundred and six sail of vessels of war, still the last day of the war found every energy strained, and the whole shipwright strength of the Kingdom combined, in order to meet the wants of the country in all quarters of the globe, and to keep pace with the gigantic efforts of Buonaparte in applying the great naval resources of Finance and Holland, in the augmentation of the French Marine. I may, therefore, say with propriety, that the period of peace is the time to provide such an ample stock of line-of-battle ships, as may prevent the risk of the country falling again into the hands of the Merchant Builders." A conclusion directly the reverse of that drawn by the hon. Baronet, naturally arose out of that evidence; he however, omitting all these gratifying circumstances, all the circumstances which were stated to justify our large expenditure during peace, went on to state most unfairly, "But this is not all; for after having spent so many millions (as sixty-three since the peace), it would appear by the sums voted in 1829, for artificers, timber, &c. that the time for reducing the Navy Expenditure is not yet arrived. Sir T. B. Martin says, respecting the force now employed, it may be said, if contrasted with former periods of peace, that we have a fleet in commission approaching more to a war than a peace establishment." Thus did the hon. Baronet make what he must call garbled extracts from his evidence, and in stating them without the proper qualifications, led the public to believe that the sums expended on the Navy since the peace had all been wasted in wanton extravagance; whereas nothing was better established than the fact, that a fleet could not be created in a day, and that the country, if it desired to be secure against foreign aggression, must in peace incur the expense of being prepared for war. The hon. Baronet had also charged the Navy Board with extravagance in the 1046 building of ships, and in the manufacture of canvas and chain-cables. Now, he denied the imputation respecting the building of ships; and as to the manufacture of canvas and chain-cables, there never had been a single yard of canvas, or an inch of chain-cable, manufactured by the Navy Board since the Navy was a Navy. He appealed to the hon. Baronet to acknowledge that he had been in error, and to remedy by that declaration the injury he had done to the Navy Board.
§ Sir H. Parnell
thanked the hon. Member for the discretion he had shown in bringing this subject before the House, and for his kindness in communicating to him his intention to do so. He would commence by observing, that it was the right of every individual to discuss those matters which were connected with the administration of public affairs; and to a Member of Parliament that right became a duty which was almost imperative. It was, he confessed, extremely difficult, in writing on such subjects, to avoid falling into expressions that might be too strong for the feelings of individuals, although in point of fact, he had taken the utmost care to shun every offensive word. He was not now, however, prepared to state that the impression he had received on the subject of the Navy Board had been altered; and a conversation which he had held with a noble Lord (Althorp), since he received the hon. Member's Letter yesterday morning, tended to confirm his first impression. His impression respecting the evidence on the subject of the Navy Board certainly was, that the Board had opposed itself to the views of the Admiralty on the subject of retrenchment. He recollected well, indeed, the reply made by Mr. Barrow, when questioned on that subject. When asked if he knew the reason why the reductions proposed had not taken place? Mr. Barrow answered in a tone and manner which struck him at the moment, and which he well remembered, "that the Navy Board could answer that question much better than he could." His impression then, as now, from that evidence, was that which he had stated in the pamphlet. With respect to the hon. and gallant Officer, he disclaimed any personal motive in what he had said respecting him. He was convinced that there was not an individual in the public service who did 1047 his duty more zealously and faithfully; and he had no doubt, that even when the hon. and gallant officer resisted economy, it was from the best motives. But his impression still remained as to the conduct of the Navy Board; and he had the satisfaction to be authorised to state, that if his noble friend, the Member for Northamptonshire, who had that morning gone over the evidence with him, had been in his place, he would have declared that he thought the paragraph in his (Sir H. Parnell's) work, which ascribed to the Navy Board a disposition to resist the Admiralty's efforts at retrenchment, completely borne out by that evidence. With respect to the two points which regarded the building of ships, and the manufacture of canvas and chain-cables, he candidly admitted, that on reflection and consideration, he did not think that he had sufficient grounds for the conclusion to which he had arrived; but with respect to the resistance made by the Navy Board to the Admiralty, he repeated that his opinion was entirely unchanged.
§ Sir O. Cockburn
thought it but just to his hon. and gallant friend to say, in the first place, that it was the duty of the Navy Board to state to the Board of Admiralty any observations which appeared to them to be advantageous for the public service; and, in the second place, that whatever was actually ordered by the Admiralty, was always executed by the Navy Board with zeal and dispatch. It was certainly true, that if the Navy Board had entirely concurred with the Admiralty, things would have gone on faster. But when objections to any proposition were made by practical men, it was the duty of the Admiralty to consider those objections maturely before they rejected them. He repeated, however, that whatever the Board of Admiralty finally decided should be done was done immediately.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, he was rejoiced to find that the discussion had terminated in a manner so creditable to all parties. The hon. Baronet, asserting his just right to comment on the conduct of any public department, had yet, with great candour, allowed that, on mature reflection, there were points on which he had come to a hasty conclusion; and he had also given his hon. and gallant friend full credit for zeal in the discharge of his duty. It appeared to him, therefore, that the discussion had been creditable to both parties. 1048 The hon. Baronet, however, persevered in his opinion that the Navy Board might have conformed with more alacrity to the wishes of the Admiralty. If, however, the Navy Board had been entirely passive and acquiescent, they would have been called tools in the hands of the Lords of the Admiralty, and persons who never dared to have an opinion of their own. As to the conclusion which the hon. Baronet had drawn from the statement by Mr. Barrow,—that for information on the subject respecting which he had been questioned, the Committee had better apply to the Navy Board—it appeared to him to be erroneous, and that Mr. Barrow's meaning was simply that the Navy Board could give the best information on the subject.
§ Sir Byam Martin
felt himself bound to acknowledge the very handsome and honourable manner in which the hon. Baronet had expressed himself. He hoped, however, that if the hon. Baronet published a second edition of his pamphlet he would correct the errors into which he had fallen, [a laugh.]
was sure that his hon. friend never intended any thing personal against the hon. Baronet. The right hon. Gentleman had observed that his hon. friend had conceded two points. That was true, but they were minor points. On the principal question—namely, whether the Navy Board had done its duty or not—his hon. friend's opinion remained unaltered; and he entirely concurred with him. The hon. Baronet had read a portion of the evidence given before the Finance Committee, but if he had the whole of Mr. Barrow's evidence he would have confirmed the statement of his hon. friend, that the Navy Board had, between the years 1815 and 1821, opposed reduction. Mr. Barrow's evidence, which he would read, was as follows:—"Has not the Admiralty Board a general superintendance over the whole of the department?—Unquestionably; but until the war was finished the Lords of the Admiralty could not very well be spared to go down; and shortly after the war was finished a visitation made some slight reduction, but not to any great extent. It was not till 1821 that the Board was at liberty to examine more strictly into the state of the dock-yards and cause greater reductions to be made.—Since 1821, why were not those reductions made which appear to be necessary, and which you now have carried into effect?— 1049 I think it was in the year 1822 that the Lords of the Admiralty were reduced to four; since which, they certainly have not had much time to devote to the dockyards, personally, to inspect matters of that kind. His Royal Highness, the Lord High Admiral, would probably have taken down two of his council this last summer, to look into the state of the dock-yards, and to sec what reductions could be made, or improvements suggested, but it was found to be absolutely impossible, and Mr. Douglas and myself only, had the honour to accompany his Royal Highness.—At what time were those circumstances requiring reduction known to the Board of Admiralty?—There have been a variety of opinions respecting the reduction of the dockyards; the opinion of the Navy Board, generally, went very much against that measure. I believe they are now rather more inclined to think that they may be carried to a certain extent.—Do you recollect the instructions received from the Treasury in 1821 to reduce the expenditure of the Navy?—They applied, I believe, only to the naval departments in town, and it was done.—Were not the instructions applicable to all parts of the expenditure?—I think not, so far as I recollect; but it was in 1821 that we made our reductions, which were very considerable, amounting in that year to 62,666l.—Is it intended to revise and consider the total organization of those yards, or merely for the purpose of making reductions on the present organization?—To do away or to modify the present, and, at all events, to introduce a system more simple in its principles, and at the same time to make such reductions as may be found expedient.—How long have the dockyards been going on in the state you have described?—The first visitation that was made of late years to the dock-yards was in 1813, when Lord Melville took down two members of the Board and myself; we then went over all the dock-yards, and a very voluminous Report was drawn up, containing suggestions on a great variety of matters which occurred to the Board; but we were not able from the state of the war, and other circumstances, to make any very considerable reductions till the year 1821, when Lord Melville, Sir George Cockburn, Sir George Clerk, and myself, went down to Chatham dockyard, where we examined minutely into every department, and inspected the whole 1050 establishment, the result of which was, that one great officer of every dock-yard, called the Clerk of the Survey, was abolished, with all his clerks, as being of no use-By this a saving was effected of 10,000l. or 12,000l. a year. It then clearly appeared, that a body of men, with the same duties nearly as, and in addition to, those of the Measurers, called Quarter-men, amounting, I think, to nearly two hundred in the whole of the dock-yards, with salaries from 140l. to 180l. a year each, were of little or no use, in superintending the workmen, and were accordingly recommended to be abolished.—Has not that alteration been very strongly objected to by the Commissioners of the Dock-yards?—I cannot speak as to the Commissioners of the Dock-yards, but it was objected to by the Navy Board at the time very strongly, and the ' discharged Quarter-men have obtained numerous applications from Members of Parliament for counties and boroughs, on their behalf, for they were almost all of them freemen of one place or another.—Have you ever made any reductions any where against which you have not found great objections and great remonstrances?—Most unquestionably not, and it is very natural that it should be so."
Sir George Clerk was also examined by the Committee, and his evidence was as follows:—"Did you examine into the manner in which the accounts of either of these departments were kept?—Of course, it was a necessary part of that investigation to examine into the manner in which the accounts were kept, so as to form an opinion of the employment of the clerks.—What was your opinion after that survey?—That many of the forms were of antiquated date, and were not applicable to the present extended system of the naval service, and that they might be very much simplified by the introduction of an improved method of keeping accounts.—Can you suggest any means for reducing the expense of the dockyards?—I certainly entertain an opinion I believe in common with the other members of the Board of Admiralty who visited the various dock-yards in the year 1822, that there was an unnecessary quantity of superintendants, especially in the shipwright department in the dock-yards. The Committee are of course aware, that at the time the Commissioners of Naval Inquiry made an investigation into the state 1051 of the dock-yards, particularly Plymouth, they were struck with the want of proper attention to check the earnings of the people; and that great losses thereby accrued to the public. The Commissioners of Naval Revision, in consequence of that, suggested a great number of checks, with a view to preventing such losses to the public in future, and perhaps they ran into the opposite extreme, and multiplied the checks further than was necessary. The Admiralty, in the investigation in 1822, suggested great alterations in the mode of conducting the shipwrights' business, which led to the discharge of a great many petty officers, the whole of one class altogether, and a few others. The measure was considered as one of very doubtful policy by many of the commissioners of the Navy, and by the resident commissioners at the Dock-yards. A very-considerable saving was immediately effected, I believe nearly 60,000l. by that measure. The Board of Admiralty made a subsequent investigation in the year 1824, for the purpose of seeing how that alteration which they had suggested was working, and they found at that time that their views had not in some instances been fully understood, and they took that opportunity of explaining more fully the particular manner in which they wished the superintendance to be conducted. Since that time nothing further has been done; but I have very little doubt that no inconvenience has arisen to the public service from that reduction, and that there might be further reduction made, especially with regard to the measurement of the work, in order to set down what have been the earnings of the people."
It would be plain from this evidence to the House that the statement made by the hon. Baronet was fully borne out, and that the efforts of the Admiralty had been obstructed by the Navy Board. He did not believe, however, that either of the Boards had been very desirous to promote retrenchment. Although he might run the risk of tiring the House, he would read another extract to show that the Admiralty needed to be strengthened by a recommendation from the Finance Committee:
"Have those transactions come within your own knowledge, or is it only the understanding you have acquired?—It is merely from my necessary communication with the office I have become acquainted with those circumstances.—Is there any 1052 other item in the Navy Office in relation to which you have a suggestion to make?—No.—Have yon examined lately into the Navy Office?—I have had a great deal of examination into the affairs of the yards, and the books kept in them, and which have a necessary connexion with many of the duties of the Navy Office. "It has been considered, that by a different management of the business within the Navy Office a greater degree of general responsibility would be given to the commissioners than exists at present, and probably, for the same reason, more general intelligence amongst its members of the business which is conducted within the office. It has been thought there might be a consolidation with advantage of the Committees of Stores and of Accounts into one Committee; and that, if the whole Board were to be a party to the duties which are now discharged by the Committee of Correspondence, a great improvement would be effected. It has also been thought, that by such arrangement, a diminution of two of the number of the present commissioners might be effected. As to the number of clerks in that establishment, it is quite impossible for me to speak with any certainty of the extent of the reduction that might be effected in them; but, independently of the duties that they now discharge, in taking account of all the Returns made from ships afloat, and of the persons in those ships, there are naturally very extensive duties they have to discharge in taking account of the whole of the transactions that occur within the yards. I would observe, that it has occurred very strongly to myself, and to other persons who have visited the yards, that the Returns which are made from them daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually, are much more voluminous than is necessary for any practical use. It occurs to me, that by revising those returns in the yards, which the Admiralty are very capable of doing, a very great diminution of unnecessary labour would, probably, be effected, and such proceeding would, probably, also indicate the means of diminishing considerably clerk-duties that are now carried on in the Navy-Office.—Would not, the improvement and simplification of the business of the Navy Office which you point out, not only be attended with a saving of money, but make much clearer the whole business of 1053 that office, and the responsibility under which it is conducted?—I conceive very much so; by a good classification of accounts, probably, the best check is established in conducting an extensive concern of that kind, and all the necessary duties of the persons employed in those establishments would be much more clearly indicated by doing so, than by any other method."
The hon. Member said, all this evidence proves that the Admiralty was not supported by the Navy Board, and that the former Board was anxious to have it strengthened by a vote of the Committee. Between the reluctance of the one Board, and the hesitation of the other to enforce its authority, it was clear that the public had for many years suffered great loss.
§ Mr. Hume
observed, that if ever evidence was satisfactory, it was that which established the fact that the Admiralty were anxious for a reduction of expenditure, and would have reduced it but for the indisposition of the Navy Board to concur in the measure. In support of this opinion he would refer to the evidence before the Committee; and especially to that of one of the Lords of the Admiralty (Mr. Keith Douglas), who expressed his wish that the Committee would strengthen the hands of the Admiralty by some vote declaratory of its opinion that the Admiralty ought to carry its own views into effect. His evidence, as quoted by the hon. Member, was as follows;—"Have you any thing to suggest to the Committee as to the directing and supervising authority of the Admiralty over those Boards?—I think that the Admiralty have exercised so strict a superintendence by their visitation, that they are perfectly competent to suggest any alterations that may be necessary in the subordinate departments of the Admiralty, probably in the most efficient and satisfactory manner, for they have looked into the details; which it is important to know, and they learn from the correspondence which is constantly carried on, how the business is working. Having the knowledge which they possess, I am certainly of opinion, that if this committee were to strengthen the hands of the Admiralty by conveying to them a strong recommendation that they should carry their own views of improvement into effect, that it is in this manner that the most safe and effectual reforms can be effected.—Do you con- 1054 ceive that the Admiralty require to be reinforced by any such authority, or that there does not reside in the council of the Lord High Admiral sufficient authority?—I conceive in its subordinate departments, where parties are very much interested in maintaining an over establishment, they are always inclined to make resistance against any alterations which are to take away the emoluments of the departments. Retrenchment is always ungracious, and it is constantly seen when there is any great class of reduction effected in any department, that the views advocated by the parties interested against the reduction are well backed by Members of Parliament and others connected with them. If this Committee think that the Admiralty are right in the general views they entertain, I have no doubt that their sanction and authority, or their commendation in favour of the views of the Admiralty, will be extremely useful.—In point of fact, when reforms are contemplated by the Admiralty as necessary, do they direct them, or only suggest and recommend them to the subordinate Boards?—The view I take of the conduct of the Admiralty, or any other superintending Board, would be this:—As far as possible to carry with them the concurrence of the subordinate departments, because in no other way can alterations be carried into effect in a willing spirit, and this spirit is I think very necessary for success.—Do you not think, in case of the authority of the Admiralty not appearing to be sufficient, an appeal to the Treasury would be of great use in matters of pecuniary regulation?—I conceive that an appeal to, and support from the Treasury, would certainly be of very great use.—Have you communicated with the Treasury on the subject of reforms which were intended to be made?—Within the last six months we have had those subjects at the Admiralty very much under discussion, and we found it necessary to submit our ideas to the Treasury, and I individually, and my colleagues, had communication with them, and we certainly received the strongest assurances of support from the Treasury, that at the meeting of Parliament, if necessary, they would give all the weight of their authority to enforcing such improvements as we had suggested to be expedient and proper.—In point of fact, were you not offered any assistance in the way of authority, public or otherwise, that 1055 the Treasury could afford you upon your requisition?—Decidedly; but it must always be borne in mind, that in many public questions the decision of one government is often set aside by the decision of a succeeding government, or by the views of the same government in another Session; that has been the case before; the scale of superannuations and the contributions to them, that were recommended and adopted by the Government of one year, were abandoned by the same Government in the same Parliament in a subsequent year." The whole of the evidence showed, the hon. Member stated, that the Admiralty had been thwarted in its wishes to retrench, and that knowing little or nothing of the arrangements of the subordinate departments, it was obliged to confide in what were called practical men, who never promoted its desire of reform when it interfered with their own views of their own interest.
§ On the Motion for the Speaker's leaving the Chair being again put,
§ Mr. E. Davenport
observed, that he understood that in his absence the hon. Member for Hertfordshire had postponed the further proceeding on the East Retford bill to Friday. Now as that was the day on which he (Mr. Davenport) had given notice of a motion on the State of the Nation, he put it to the hon. Member for Hertfordshire whether he would not postpone the proceeding with his bill to a future day.
Mr. N. Calvert
said, he had fixed Friday because he knew that many hon. Members were anxious for the progress of the bill. He was, however, entirely in the hands of the House.
§ Mr. Tennyson
said, he had been a party to fixing the measure for that day, but knowing that the still greater question of the State of the Nation occupied the public attention, he would not stand in the way of his hon. friend the Member for Shaftesbury. The hon. Member also expressed a hope, that his next effort to divide the House, with a view to transferring the franchise from East-Retford to Birmingham, would be more successful.
§ Mr. Western
allowed that the bill was important, but he thought that his hon. friend's motion was still more so, as the country was suffering under great distress.
§ The House then resolved itself into the Committee.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
proposed that the 1056 sum of 7,656l. be granted for the expense of the Military College.
§ Mr. Hume
said, before he proceeded to consider the subject of that vote, he wished to call the attention of his Majesty's Government to the state of our army in India. He knew that there were letters in town giving a most alarming description of the condition of that army, as to its state of subordination; but he understood that no official information had been received. As to the vote then before the Committee, he thought, considering the state of the public feeling, it was time that the Government took into its serious consideration the propriety of reducing this establishment. He begged leave to ask, why gentlemen intending to enter the military service should not pay for their own education, when there were one hundred applicants for every commission? He noticed, too, that the Lieutenant-governor had received a pension of 800l.; and he did not know why he, who was a military man, should not fall back on his half-pay. There was a monstrous system of giving pensions to persons who had no just claim to them, to which he would continually object. On this establishment the pensions were now 33,500l., and he really did not know why the officers, who had been pensioned, should not receive only their half-pay.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
would first state why the Military College should not pay its own expenses. There were three classes of students. The first were the orphans, whose fathers had been in his Majesty's service, and they were educated gratuitously; the second class, each of whom paid 20l. a-year, were the children of officers yet in the service; and the expense of their education was supplied by the charge on the young men of the third class, each of whom paid 150l. Within two years, the expense of this College had been reduced from 12,000l. to 7,000l.; and, as that did not satisfy the hon. Member for Montrose, he must despair of satisfying him. As to the pension given to the Lieutenant-governor, that gentleman held a commission in the Artillery twenty-five years ago, and had he now been in the service, he would have been a Major-general. He had retired with the rank of a Colonel after twenty-five years' service, and had a pension of 800l. a-year. With respect to the suggestion of the hon. Member, that the officers should fall back 1057 on their half-pay, that was to be the system in future.
thought, that, in the circumstances of the country, this grant was most extravagant. He doubted the utility of the education the young men received at the Military College; and if it were continued, it certainly ought to be on a more limited scale than at present.
§ Lord Euston
also objected to the grant, in the state of the country, and he should feel himself called on not to support it. The present was not a time to make young soldiers; there was no want of them, and there was plenty of old officers. He did not know that he should find a seconder, but he certainly felt inclined to move that the vote be stopped altogether.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, nearly forty commissions had been given away in the course of the last year, to the cadets.
§ Mr. Hume
still objected to the expense. He thought that those who desired to enter the service might educate themselves. As to the orphans, he thought they would be better taken care of by their parents (he should have said) their guardians. Still, whether advisable to educate such persons or not, he must say that the whole Estimate was too extravagant, and ought to be limited. If the noble Lord would propose that the vote should be limited to six months, he should have great satisfaction in supporting him. If the noble Lord would allow him, he would propose that the vote should be 3,800l.; that would give the Government time to make arrangements for their putting an end to the College.
approved of the view taken by Mr. Hume, in which Lord Euston also professed his concurrence.
§ Sir George Murray
thought, that the system of our military education would be very defective if the College were done away. It was not intended to educate Staff-Officers only, as was supposed, but to diffuse through the whole army a better educated description of officers, and in this respect it had answered its purpose remarkably well. It had been, he believed, infinitely beneficial.
said, the education given at the College was very inefficient; he had 1058 been there, and had very soon forgotten what he had learnt, [a laugh]
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, he was sorry to hear the gallant Officer had derived so little advantage from the College, but he believed that the same result did not take place with other pupils.
contended that the expense was enormous, and that the forty commissions they offered a-year was a prodigious prize offered to these young men.
§ Colonel Dawkins
acknowledged his obligations to the College. He had derived great benefit, from his instruction there, and looked back at the time he had spent there with pleasure. He thought the College could not be dispensed with, and, though he was as anxious as any person to relieve the public distress, he would vote for the grant.
§ Mr. Hume
was glad to hear the hon. Member had profitted so much by his education; he was only sorry that he had not paid enough for it. It was the duty of that House not to vote one shilling of the public money that could be dispensed with. It was in this light he looked at the vote the Committee was called on to give. He wished, indeed, he saw the Members present who had presented petitions complaining of distress; but though they complained they took care not to attend to vote against themselves. He was not sure that it would not be a better way to allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take as much as he pleased, without opposition, for opposition obtained no success. He would not give himself the trouble to oppose the votes, were it not that the people out of doors might think that nobody in the House paid any attention to their interests. He would move that the vote be diminished one-half. The hon. Member then submitted that the sum of 3,800l. be substituted for 7,656l.
§ The House then divided—for the Amendment 17, Against it 85; Majority against the Amendment 68.
§ The original Motion was then put and carried without a division.—The House resumed, the Chairman reported progress, and asked leave to sit again on Monday next.