§ The House went into a Committee of Supply.
brought forward the Ordnance Estimates. The hon. Member said, that as he expected no opposition to the grants, they being in fact merely the complement of the year, which had not been provided for, owing to the late dissolution of Parliament, and were precisely the same as those presented before the Dissolution, he would not enter into any statement now of their details, but he was ready at the same time to afford any information that might be required. He hoped they might be allowed to proceed unopposed to the same stage as they reached in the last Parliament.
said, as he considered the present votes to be merely matters of form, he would not offer them any opposition —the rather, as he expected a more fitting opportunity for discussing them on the occasion of their next presentation.
The several Estimates were then put seriatim, and agreed to without any opposition.
wished to learn from the hon. Gentleman, whether the regulation which he had himself stated last session, with respect to the filling up of vacancies in the Ordnance-Office had been adhered to; he meant, whether half-pay officers had been called upon to fill such vacancies as might have occurred in that department, to which they were competent?
was happy to state, in answer to his hon. friend, that the present Master-general of the Ordnance had since his accession to office rigidly adhered to that regulation, and that further improvements, by which a considerable saving would accrue, were in contemplation.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
was apprehensive lest it should be inferred out of doors, from the tone of the statement just made, that the late Board of Ordnance presented an unfavourable contrast to its present successor, so far as economy and an efficient discharge of duty was concerned. He therefore begged the hon. Gentleman to state whether any, and what, difference with respect to the appointment of half-pay officers to vacant situations in the Ordnance existed between the present and the late Board of Ordnance?
stated, that he was willing to bear testimony to the efficiency and economy of the management of the late Board of Ordnance.
wished also to state, that there was in the late Board of Ordnance a strong desire to conduct the public service as economically as possible.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
felt thankful for such a candid admission, and in seeking it was only anxious to prevent unfavourable inferences out of doors with respect to the late management of the Ordnance department.
§ Mr. Hunt
thought the information was equally necessary to prevent misconception within doors, as he himself, for one, should have gone away with the impression that the present Board had effected marvellous improvements which their predecessors had neglected. He now knew that they were equally efficient, and equally entitled to praise. He was rather surprised to see these Estimates pass nem. con. in silence, and that the great Cerberus of the public money had, on this occasion, been sleeping on his post. He knew not why he should do so.
said, that the only way of deciding the point at issue between the late and the present Government was, by calling for the return of the number of appointments made by each. He had no intention, in the question which he had asked, to make any insinuations to the prejudice of the late Master-general of the Ordnance: on the contrary, he had always endeavoured to do ample justice to the public services of that distinguished 374 Officer. Before he sat down, he wished to say one word in the way of explanation. The reason why he allowed the present Estimates to be agreed to, without objection on his part, and in their present form, by the last Parliament, was this, that he thought the King's Government was exposed to sufficient opposition from various quarters without his numbering him among their opponents. This consideration induced him to abstain from opposition, at a moment when it was of the very highest importance, that the King's Government should not be surrounded with any embarrassments that could by possibility be avoided. But let the great measure of Reform be once carried, and they might be assured that they would find him quite as severe a scrutinizer of the proceedings of Ministers as ever he had been.