HC Deb 04 February 1831 vol 2 cc191-3
Mr. Hume

said, there was another class of pensions well deserving the consideration of the House, on account of the abuses of them. The 57th of Geo. 3rd, was passed at a time when there was a great reduction of sinecures, with a view of giving to the Sovereign the power of rewarding his public servants. But the manner in which that Act had been carried into execution had led to great abuses. He found that persons received pensions three times more valuable than their services. He found pensions granted to persons who had 50,000l. a-year. There was a pension of 1,500l. a-year granted to the governor of Madras, who had also a salary of 10,000l. a-year. That was an abuse never contemplated by the Act. He found that Lord Sidmouth had a pension of 3,000l. a-year, Mr. Lushington, 1,500l., Mr. Goulburn, 2,000l., Mr. Hamilton, 1,000l., Mr. Croker, 1,500l., Mr. Courtenay, 1,000l., Mr. Hobhouse, the late Undersecretary, 1,000/., Mr. Planta, 1,000l., and Lord Bexley, 3,000l. The services of all these gentlemen were never worth 3,000l. That was his conscientious opinion. He considered that most of these pensions constituted a pure waste of the public money, and he appealed to the hon. member for Dorset whether the Bill had Dot disappointed him? The hon. Member concluded by moving for a Return of all persons entitled to Pensions under the 57th Geo. 3rd, c. 65, and the 4th of Geo. 4th, c. 90, stating the names of those persons, and the amount of their Pensions, the nature of the services for which they were granted, and how long each individual held Office, and the amount of their salaries and emoluments.

Mr. Courtenay

seconded the Motion. His name was one the hon. Member had mentioned, and he must state, that he, for one, courted the investigation, and should be quite ready to meet the hon. Member when he chose to bring the subject forward.

Mr. G. Robinson

stated, that he thought the House would not do its duty if it did not discontinue these Acts. The principle of these Acts was, to give a power to the Crown to grant pensions for public services, whatever might be the services of those servants, and whatever the amount of their private fortunes. That was a most vicious principle. It was anticipating the power of Parliament. He could readily conceive a case of a public servant entitled to a pension, but he must protest against the principle of conferring unnecessary pensions on those who had private fortunes. One member of a Ministry might retire and need the 3,000l. a-year, another might have a fortune of 50,000l. Suppose a Minister retiring with a fortune of that kind, would he dare to ask the House of Commons, or would he induce any other person to ask the House of Commons to grant him such a pension for life? Certainly he would not. And if he did ask for a pension, he believed that there would be sufficient virtue and decency in the House to resist the proposition. These Acts further gave pensions to the Under Secretary of State, to the Secretary of the Admiralty Board, to the Secretary of the Board of Control, to the Secretary for Ireland; and to various subordinate officers they gave a retiring pension for life. The consequence was, the country was saddled with various pensions, far beyond what he believed the public was aware of, and far beyond what it would be disposed to grant. The Act ought, in his opinion, to be repealed; and if the hon. Member who had made the Motion, and who contemplated, he supposed, some further proceedings, did not move for the repeal of it, he would, and he would move for the repeal on the ground that all these pensions ought to be granted by a vote of Parliament.

Mr. Goulburn

hoped, before the hon. Member moved for the repeal of the Act, that he would read it, and either he had not understood it, or he had not read it. The hon. Member stated, that the Act gave a right to certain public servants to receive pensions, but it only enabled the Crown to grant pensions to persons qualified according to their services. The hon. Member would find, if he read the Act, that only six of the upper classes were entitled to the higher pensions. He believed, too, that those who were entitled to pensions, but abstained from claiming them, were nearly as numerous as those who received them. He was himself one of the latter class; but if the hon. Member gave him that opportunity of inquiry and examination which he had promised, he was confident he could prove that his services entitled him to receive it, and that he was not altogether unworthy of some remuneration for his exertions.

Motion, with an Amendment, suggested by Mr. Hume, that the amount actually paid should be added, agreed to.