Mr. Alderman Wood
rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice, that a reduction be forthwith made in the salaries of all the officers of the Government, commensurate with the increase made during the war in consequence of the high price of provisions and the necessaries of life. In doing so, the worthy Alderman said, that he expected for such a motion the support both of his Majesty's present and of his late Ministers; he would not call them his ex-Ministers, for that was a term which was not very fashionable just now. His Majesty's Ministers being pledged to do all they could, to lessen the burdens of the people, were bound to support this Resolution. He expected, therefore, the support of all parties in that House, and if the Government had declared themselves willing to propose a Committee for this purpose, he would not have brought his Resolutions forward. If he obtained the support of the House, the Ministers would find themselves compelled to do so. He would not enter at great length into the subject, but he found it necessary for the clear understanding of it to state some details. In the year 1797, the whole charge of the civil department of the country, including seventy-five offices, amounted to 1,300,000l. In the year 1815, when the war terminated, it had increased to 3,200,000l. It was not quite so much now, for undoubtedly Government had taken off about 300,000l. from that sum, and had reduced the offices to sixty-nine. The burden on the country for this department at present amounted to 2,700,000l. He had said, that he expected the support of his Majesty's Ministers for his Resolution, and he certainly expected that the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir James Graham) would second it, for he had not as yet asked any one to do that, and considering the resolutions which that right hon. Baronet had himself proposed to the House only a year ago, he thought him the most likely person to do so. He also anticipated the support of the late Secretary to the Treasury, for, on the occasion to which he alluded, that right hon. Gentleman carried resolu- 513 tions, in the shape of an amendment upon those proposed by the right hon. Baronet, fully embracing the objects which his (Mr. Alderman Wood's) Resolution had in view. Instead of a speech, with which he did not intend to trouble the House, he would read to them the resolutions which had been proposed last, year by the right hon. Baronet, the present First Lord of the Admiralty, and those which were then carried, on the motion of the right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary to the Treasury. On the 12th of February, 1830, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) proposed the following resolution:— "That whereas, subsequently to the Act 37 George 3rd, for the suspension of cash payments by the Bank of England, large augmentations have from time to time been made in the salaries and pay of persons employed in the civil and military service of the country, on account of the diminished value of money; and whereas the alleged reason of this increase has, for the most part, ceased to operate, in consequence of the Act 59th George 3rd, which has restored the metallic standard of value, it is expedient that, with a view to relief from the present excessive load of taxation, all such augmentations should now be revised, and every possible reduction effected, which can be made without the violation of existing engagements, and without detriment to the public service."* In the place of that resolution, the following resolutions which were carried, and were nearly similar to those submitted to the House by the right hon. Baronet, were then proposed by the late Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. G. Dawson:—That his Majesty was graciously pleased to assure this House, in reply to an Address of this House of the 27th of June, 1821 (that his Majesty would give directions for a minute inquiry into the several departments of the civil government, as well with a view to reducing the number of the persons employed in those departments, which from the great increase of business was augmented during the late war, as with reference to the increased salaries granted to individuals since the year 1797, either in consideration of the additional labour thrown upon them during that period, or the diminished value of* Hansard's Parl. Deb., New Series, vol. xxii., p. 446.514money), that his Majesty would give directions as desired by the said Address.That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, praying, that his Majesty will be graciously pleased to direct, that there be laid before this House an account of the progress made in such inquiry, and of the measures adopted in consequence thereof.That it is the opinion of this House, that, in ail the establishments of the country, civil and military, every saving ought to be made which can be effected without the violation of existing engagements, and without detriment to the public service.*Looking at those resolutions, he repeated, that he thought he had a right to calculate on the support of both those right hon. Gentlemen for the motion which he was about to submit to the House. In 1797, the charge for Government offices was 1,374,561l. 1s. 3d., and the number of persons employed was 16,000. In 1815, the sum expended was 3,202,434l. 9s. 5d., being nearly 2,000,000l. more, and the number of persons employed was 23,903. But in 1821, all articles of provisions had fallen in price, below the prices of 1797, and yet no reduction was made in the salaries. They had been raised in consequence of the rise of prices, but on prices falling, no consequent reduction had been made. He would ask, was this just or consistent? He did not wish to diminish the salaries of persons who laboured hard for a 200l. or 250l. a year, but his complaint was against the large salaries paid to the superior classes of public servants, who, comparatively, did nothing. The amount of salaries for civil services on 1829, was 2,765,677l. 6s. 9d. being an increase of 1,400,000l. on the amount for the same services in 1797. He was not certain, indeed, as to the perfect accuracy of the Returns he was about to read, as he had found considerable difficulty in getting the requisite information, notwithstanding all the assistance given by the present and former Governments. Several salaries were paid in fees, and therefore, the real amount of them was difficult to get at. Of 2,765,000l. now paid to public officers, 735,000 went to 9,783 persons with salaries between 250l. and 1,000l. Some received smaller salaries than the average, and others†Ibid. p. 458.515 700l. or 800l. per annum, but the average was about 400l. a year. The remaining 2,030,000l. was divided among 900 persons. The average of whose salaries was about2,000l.,and many of these performed no service whatever to the country. He was sure it would be found on inquiry, that those who received the 700,000l. did all the duty, and the others little or nothing. A number of persons received 1,500l. or 2,000l. a year in offices, the business of which they were wholly ignorant of, and some of whom resided abroad and had never seen their offices. He did not mean to say, that the Government officers in that House, or the Cabinet Ministers, were too well paid, but the number of persons who received salaries without rendering equivalent services, was very great. As he did not wish to offend individuals, he would not mention names, but refer hon. Gentlemen to papers before the House in which they would find many cases of the sort. He made the present motion in compliance with the instructions of his constituents. The distress of the great body of the lower and middle classes was very great, and he would mention as a proof of it, that he had been called upon within the last few hours to sign between 200 and 300 distress-warrants against poor people in one small district of the metropolis who were unable to pay their taxes. The House must therefore recognise the necessity of diminishing taxation as much as possible. As it was not possible to reduce the National Debt, the House was called upon to make reductions in other parts of the national expenses, and in that part of it which was the subject of the present motion, a reduction was quite practicable to the enormous amount of 1,000,000l. per annum. He therefore called upon the House to adopt some means by a committee or otherwise to inquire into any reductions that could be effected. He would propose no particular diminution but would leave that to the discretion of the House. He had taken the trouble to compare the contract prices of various articles supplied to Greenwich Hospital, and other large public establishments, and he had found the prices of the necessaries of life were cheaper now than in the year 1797, and almost equal to the prices of 1791. He thought, therefore, he was justified in proposing that large reductions should be made in all public salaries. He had not consulted 516 either the present or late Government, but had taken his own course, because he believed, more money was taken from the pockets of the people than ought to be. The Resolution he proposed to offer did not materially differ from that proposed last year by the late Secretary of the Treasury. If the previous question were moved which was, he understood, to be the case, he should continue to follow up the subject from time to time. He begged leave to move, "That with a view of more speedily relieving the country from a part of its burdens, the expenditure in public offices should be carefully revised, and regard being had to the present value of money, the amount of all salaries to public officers should be reduced to that which they received in the year 1797."
§ Lord Althorp
agreed with the worthy Alderman opposite, that regard ought to be had, in the payment of the public servants, to the alterations in the value of money; and that reductions ought to be made as extensively as was compatible with the effective discharge of the public business. He not only concurred in that opinion, but he could assure the worthy Alderman, that the Government had been all along acting upon it. One of their first measures was, to refer their own salaries to a Committee of that House; and, according to the recommendation given by that Committee, in their Report to the House, a considerable reduction of those salarieswas immediately carried into effect. Having done that with the intervention of the House, the Ministers thought it their duty to take upon themselves the revision of the salaries paid to public officers employed under the Government, and to do so without calling for a Committee of the House, as they considered the inquiry peculiarly their own duty. They therefore had given instructions to the principal persons presiding over the various public offices, to furnish explanations of every particular respecting the quantity, and the kind of labour, the hours of attendance, and the salaries, of all the persons in their offices, so that the Ministers might have data whereupon to proceed in their reduction. They had acted upon these returns, and diminished the number, and reduced the salaries, of the Commissioners of Customs; and they meant next to proceed and make a similar reduction in the salaries and number of the Com- 517 missioners of the Excise. They would in the meantime go on with their inquiries, and carry reductions as far as due regard to the public business would permit. He was sure the House would say, that what he proposed was the proper course, and that the Administration ought not to determine at once, without consideration, and without regard to any increase of the public business, to go back to the salaries of 1797, for since that time the duties and responsibility of many of the offices had materially increased. If the House agreed to the Resolution proposed by the worthy Alderman, they would thereby express an opinion that the Government had not done its duty in respect to the reduction of the expenditure in the various departments of the civil service. He hoped that the House would not vote a Resolution passing that censure upon the Ministers. As he agreed with the worthy Alderman as to the principle of the Resolution, he did not wish to negative it expressly and decidedly, and the course he should take would therefore be, to move the previous question. Before he became a member of the Government, he had always advocated reduction of the public expenditure; and now that he was in the Administration, he would, as far as in him lay, carry it into effect. He would not then go into any detailed statement of the reductions which had already been made. He had explained to the House the principles on which the Ministers had proceeded, and if the House was satisfied that they were doing their duly, they would not vote for the Resolution of the worthy Alderman.
§ Mr. Hunt
was sure the House had not been surprised at his having seconded the Motion of the hon. member for London, as it was founded on the Resolutions of the Livery assembled at one of the largest Common-halls he ever witnessed, and as he had there proposed the Resolution, so was he quite ready to support and second the Motion in that House. He was surprised at the altered tone of the noble Lord opposite, and at the manner in which the Resolution had been met by him. When he compared the conduct of the present Ministers since they came into office, with the course which they followed whilst they sat upon the Opposition benches, he was convinced of the truth of what he had often heard, that Gentlemen, in changing sides in that House, 518 changed their opinions and principles. He did not mean anything personal, but it appeared a strange system of tactics to him, that the noble Lord who said, he approved of the principle, should oppose the Motion, of the worthy Alderman. Such inconsistence was, he supposed, a misfortune which attached to the other side of the House. Now, what was the proposition which the noble Lord called on the House to reject? To return to the salaries of 1797; whereas the worthy Alderman had proved, from authentic documents, that the necessaries of life were lower, whilst the salaries of public officers were all risen [great laughter]—aye, whilst the salaries were risen [renewed laughter]. Well, then, they were raised [hear, hear]. He was much obliged to the other side of the House for setting him right. But he assured them that he did not stand up there with any factious intentions. He stood there to do his duty to the people, especially to that portion, of which he was the Representative [laughter]. Whenever he spoke of the people, hon. Gentlemen opposite were accustomed to laugh. When the noble Lord who introduced the Reform Bill, spoke of the people, the same Gentlemen invariably cheered, who always gave a great laugh when he (Mr. Hunt) spoke of the people. The reason was, that the people whom the noble Lord meant, were those who occupied houses worth 10l. a year, whereas the people of whom he (Mr. Hunt) spoke, were those men who laboured for their daily bread. The worthy Alderman had assigned a good reason for his Motion, when he stated that salaries had been raised in consequence of the dearness of provisions; he had told the House, that if they gave him a Committee he would show them how a million a year could be saved to the country: and would the House refuse him that opportunity, when they knew that there were numerous families in some parts of the country having no more than 2½d. a day for their support? Gentlemen had attributed the late disturbances to the Beer Bill, and to other causes which had no connection with them. The fact was, that the people were driven to the acts of outrage by the extreme distress under which they were suffering, as was proved by the number of distress-warrants signed by the worthy Alderman that very day. Under such circumstances, would the 519 noble Lord let it go forth to the country, that, although the Ministers would give the people this great Reform Bill, they would not diminish their own salaries? The people had been much gratified when they heard that a right hon. Baronet had come into office, who, they recollected, had made a speech to the House, complaining that 600,000l. per annum was divided among about 100 Privy Councillors. If this Motion was rejected, the people would see what was to be expected from Gentlemen in Opposition becoming members of Government. It was of no use for Ministers to go about cutting off the small salaries of the working clerks, leaving the high salaries untouched. They might also pass their Reform Bill; but it would be vain for them to look to that Bill for the relief of the people. He knew, indeed, that a majority of the present Members had been returned to the House to carry that Bill, in consequence of the excitement which they had raised. But let them look to the condition in which they placed the country. He hoped the cuckoo cry, that he was an enemy to Reform, would not be raised against him for what he was going to say. It was not a Reform Bill—it was not the mere name of liberty—that could relieve distress. If the House did not, by their votes on that occasion, give the people an earnest that they wished to relieve their distress, the Reform Bill would give no satisfaction. It was true, that the noble Lord who introduced the Bill said that it would give no immediate relief. It was true, that the Ministers themselves had not pretended that it would have such an effect; but the Press and the out-scouts of the Ministers had pretended so. Yes he said the Press and the out-scouts of the Ministers deluded the people. The people had been made to expect from the Reform Bill what he knew it could not realize. Whenever his servants went into the shops in the neighbourhood [ a laugh]—he would not be put down by a laugh. He was only stating what he knew to be facts. However Gentlemen might laugh, he had servants. It was true, he lived by trade, and he was not the least ashamed of that. There were many Members of that House—there were many Noblemen even in the other House—who owed their wealth and rank to trade, and he believed, that their coats did not sit the less smoothly on their backs, or their coronets less conveniently upon 520 their heads, on that account. When his servants, he repeated, went into the shops, they heard nothing talked of but all the good the Reform Bill was to do. Several shopkeepers, who had been unable to pay ten shillings, had said, "we are unable to pay now, but when the Reform Bill has passed, things will improve." Another circumstance had been mentioned to him; a gentleman of his acquaintance, hiring a servant, was desirous to engage her for a year, on account of the excellent character given from her last service. But the girl said, that nothing could induce her to be bound to service for a year, as the Reform Bill would pass in three months, and then it would be no longer necessary for her to go to service; she should have servants of her own. As to the Motion before the House, he would assure the noble Lord, that it should not be set aside without a division; for if the worthy Alderman did not press it, he would, in order that it might be made known to the country, who were the persons that refused to have the public burthens diminished, and that too at a time when the Government had increased the Army and Navy, and had raised troops of Yeomanry to put down the people, who were driven to disturbances by wretchedness and want. That was the case last winter, when many of the peasantry, it was proved, could not earn more than 7s. a week to maintain their families. The Yeomanry had been complimented for stopping these disturbances, but the people had made no resistance. Their only object had been to destroy thrashing and other machines, which had thrown them out of work. He did not attempt to justify the conduct of the people, for he reprobated all outrages. He knew that the Reform Bill must pass. He knew that they must have Reform or Revolution; although he did not think that, under the Reform Bill, there would ever be a House of Commons more truly chosen by the will of the people, than the present. "But you have raised," said the hon. Member, "such a flame in the country, that the people will not be satisfied without Reform. You must give Reform, and you must go on and do something for the people—I mean that part of the people who are not included in the Bill." He called upon all Gentlemen who were favourable to Reform, and who valued the character of the House, and the good of the country, not to trifle with the feel- 521 ings and sufferings of the people, but come forward and teach the Ministers that they must not any longer deal in mere promises, and they must, by their deeds, satisfy the country that they were the friends of reduction and economy.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
had thought, that the hon. member for Preston was a Reformer, and he was, therefore, gratified by hearing him say, that the people were deluded about the present Bill. For his part, he had ever been of that opinion. The hon. member for Preston also stated, that there never would be a House of Commons more congenial with the people, or a House more truly representing the people than the present, he, himself, thought so; and, therefore, considered Reform superfluous and unnecessary. He had great satisfaction, also, in hearing what fell from the worthy Alderman, the member for London, and would support the Motion, for he was sure a great saving could be made by the reduction of the high salaries at present paid to many useless Government officers. Although he wished to act liberally to the persons who did all the work in the public offices, he would cut off the idlers who did nothing.
was anxious the House and the country should exactly understand their situation, and he did not think the hon. member for Preston had informed them of that. There was no authority for saying, that the Ministers had not made reductions; he was as desirous as any man that reductions should be made, but it was unreasonable to expect every thing could be done at once; he had, therefore, listened to the hon. member for Preston—not, indeed, with surprise, for he knew him too well for that, but—with something like wonder at his bold misrepresentation of facts. Had the hon. Member referred to a report which had been laid on the Table last Session, he would not have taunted Ministers with having failed to effect those reductions in the public expenditure which the people sought at their hands; and if the hon. Member had previously, 522 in common fairness, made himself acquainted with the facts, he would know that this taunt was by no means applicable. What were the facts of the case? It might be in the recollection of the House, that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, shortly after his accession to office, had—while he did ample justice to his predecessors for the reduction they had effected—pledged himself and his colleagues to effect every further reduction compatible with the public service; and, said the noble Lord, "as a proof of our earnestness, we will afford an example to inferior public officers, and submit to a Committee the revision of the salaries of offices held by Members of either House of Parliament." Accordingly, a Committee was appointed, on the motion of Ministers, to inquire into the best mode of effecting reductions of the salaries of public offices; on every suggestion of which Committee (of which the hon. member for Callington was Chairman), be it understood, Ministers had promptly acted. The Committee's range of inquiry had been very extensive. They stated in their report, which had been laid before the House on the 3rd of March last, that they had experienced great difficulty in devising a standard of reduction which would apply equally to all public offices; but at length had agreed that their "public utility," should be the criterion by which they would endeavour to regulate their claims upon public remuneration, and through that means arrive at a practical measure of the amount of reduction which might be effected without detriment to the public interests. That wise principle had been rigidly acted upon by the Committee; and, as the hon. member for Preston knew, or ought to know, had been most rigidly followed up by the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and his colleagues. Ministers had, as he had stated, set the example by reducing their own personal salaries; and had effected, themselves every reduction in which their own body was involved, which did not require the specific sanction of the Legislature; and where it was necessary to have an Act of Parliament to authorise a reduction—as was the case with respect to the salary of the Master of the Mint—that Act was promptly applied for, and had been already brought before the House. "But," said the hon. member for Preston, 523 "the people have been deluded by Ministers with respect to Reform." He (Mr. Hume) most distinctly denied the assertion. If there was any delusion, it most certainly was not on the part of the friends of the Bill; for no species of delusion could ever have roused up the people of England to that uniform and steady course which they had exhibited in electing Reform Members. The hon. Member's absurd story about a servant-maid's being dissatisfied with the bill, was in perfect keeping with the delusions attempted by the enemies, open and covert, of Reform. He wondered how the hon. Member could think of introducing that story; and he was sure, that no man in the country—not the most ignorant or illiterate—would pay the slightest attention to it. How could she know anything about the matter? But the argument sought to be derived from this was, that those who voted for reforming candidates expected some immediate result from it, that would put an end to all the evils of our present system of society and government. So far from such opinions being prevalent out of doors, he was sure that those hon. Members who were best acquainted with the sentiments of the people at large, would bear him out in the statement, that there was not a man who voted for Reform, who did not regard it as the means of obtaining something better. The people hailed the Bill, not only as an improvement in the machinery of Representation in that House, but as the essential preliminary condition of reductions in the public expenditure, commensurate with the public interests. He entirely agreed with them, and indeed would not, individually, give a pin for the Reform Bill, unless he considered that it would lead to a wholesome economy of the public money. The people, in fact, regarded the Bill as a means to an end, and that end was, a good, cheap, and efficient system of government. It would be unreasonable to expect, that so great an end could be attained all at once; the attainment required time; and all that the hon. member for Preston could, with a semblance of truth, have to complain of was, that the delay was greater than could be wished. But this delay was unavoidable, rendering it incumbent upon all those in whom the people placed confidence as friends of Reform, not to lengthen it by putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of the great measure. The 524 division in the last Session on the Timber Duties threw such a light on the constitution of parties in that House—on the narrow and sinister motives which influenced hon. Members of great eminence in their own estimation to vote,—that the people must see the inutility of all attempts to carry great measures of national utility through Parliament till the Bill had enabled them to return such a House of Commons as dare not imitate the conduct of the majority on the Timber Duties. "But," said the hon. member for Preston, "this House, at present assembled, faithfully and accurately represents the people; and there never would be a House of Commons more truly chosen by the people than the present." He denied the fact. What! the people as faithfully represented now as they would be under a Bill which went to sweep away 150 nominees of those over whom the people have no control whatever? No doubt that House represented the public voice in a degree far beyond any other House of Commons of modern times, but still it was not a faithful Representative of that voice; and he trusted (he very next Parliament, if the Reform Mill should be carried, would show the error of the hon. member for Preston's assertion, in the return of 150 Representatives of the wealth and intelligence of the middle classes, in lieu of the 150 nominees of boroughmongers. So much for the hon. member for Preston's insidious assertion of that House's representing faithfully the feelings of the people. His other assertion, that Ministers had not redeemed their pledge of reduction, would be found equally groundless; as a few statements of figures taken from the Report of the Committee on the Salaries of Public Officers, would clearly demonstrate. He would select one or two of those salaries, of which the Committee had recommended a reduction, in order to show, that Ministers had in no instance neglected to carry into effect the recommendations of the Committee. In 1780, the salary with emoluments of the Secretary to the Treasury was 5,000l., which was reduced to 3,000l. in 1782. During the war it was upwards of 4,000l.; under the late Administration the salary was 3,500l. The Committee recommended that the salary should be reduced to 2,500l., and Ministers immediately acted upon the suggestion, In the same way the salary of the 525 Home Secretary, which was formerly 8,140l.—reduced to 6,000l., the amount under the late Government—had been reduced by Ministers to 5,000l. per annum, at the recommendation of the Committee. The salary of the Colonial Secretary had been in like manner reduced from 6,000l. to 5,000l.; that of the President of the Council, which, in 1797, the period to which the hon. Alderman would restore us, was 2,840l., had been reduced to '2,000l.; and that of the Lord Privy Seal, which in 1782 was 3,000l., had also been reduced to 2,000l. per annum. Now, if the hon. Alderman's Motion was acted upon, these salaries would have to be raised —in fact doubled, instead of reduced, as they had been by Ministers. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and his colleagues were pledged to carry reduction into every department of the State, and he regretted that the noble Lord had not entered into some detail of those reductions that were in progress. He had been informed, that these were very extensive, and the Ministers had, therefore, redeemed their pledges, as far as circumstances enabled them, thereby emboldening the House and the country to place implicit confidence in their renewed pledge of that evening, to effect every further reduction in their power, compatible with the public service. Though he, for one, had confidence in Ministers, he would vote for the hon. Alderman's Motion, should he press it to a division. He should do so with great reluctance, but could not avoid doing so from his sense of public duty. In conclusion, the hon. Member said, he must protest against the assertion of the hon. member for Preston, that Ministers had neglected to make those reductions which they had promised. Much more remained to be done, for which, however, they must wait for a reformed Parliament. The great burthens on the industry of the country were the naval and military establishments, which particularly called for reduction; and when they were once safe in the harbour of a reformed Parliament, he trusted that the first measure of the new House of Commons would be, to reduce those establishments, so as to make them only commensurate to the real necessity of the country.
§ Mr. Hunt
begged again to explain, as the hon. Member had attributed a sentiment to him which he had already dis- 526 claimed. What he meant was, that the Reform Bill would give the Representation to only a small portion of the people, so that it could not be expected that the House of Commons would be more chosen by the people than at present.
was one of those who could not reconcile the beginning with the end of the speech of the hon. member for Preston. He appeared to impute unworthy motives to him and his hon. friends when they smiled at some of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman. Their smiles were caused, not by his democratic principles, but by the extraordinary air of aristocracy with which the hon. Member alluded to his servants and his trade. They did not cheer the mention of the people because it came from the noble Lord, nor did they laugh at that word on account of its coming from the hon. Member. It appeared never to have crossed his mind, that they might have laughed, not at the people, but at the speaker. In both cases they were influenced solely by the manner in which the subject was adverted to. They must look at the past conduct of Ministers for an earnest of the future, and he (Mr. Ewart) for one was satisfied. As he had interposed to correct a misinterpretation of the feelings on that side of the House, he begged to add, that having risen himself from the people by trade, and being himself still one of them, he was not the man to undervalue them.
was desirous to explain in a few words why he should oppose this Motion. The hon. member for Preston had accused Ministers of not reducing their own salaries; but on that point the hon. Member had been sufficiently corrected, when, in answer to what he had said of their refusing reduction, the noble Lord, and the hon. member for Middlesex, had detailed the progress actually made towards attaining that object. For his part, he decidedly objected to being governed by the strict rule of the amount of salaries paid in 1797. Though of the salaries of that period some were below, there were others above the present scale of payment; and when the duties of an office had either increased or diminished since that time, the salary attached to it ought to be proportioned accordingly. Indeed, the hon. member for Middlesex had mentioned several which had been reduced below what they were at that 527 period, so that if the rule recommended by the worthy Alderman was adopted, there would not be so great a reduction as had already been effected. He put it to the House to say, whether such conduct was refusing to listen to the cry of distress? It was alleged, that the people had been deluded upon the important questions of Reform and public distress. The people could not be deluded; the time had arrived when they could distinguish between common sense and nonsense—between professions of sympathy, and real attempts to afford them relief— between real and mock reformers—between men who told them that the addition of 600,000 voters to the constituency of the kingdom was no boon, and that the exclusion from that House of 150 Members nominated by individuals was no Reform; and those who asserted that this was the greatest Reform ever accomplished. In fact, the people were perfectly aware, that the Ministers were determined to destroy the rotten-borough system, pulling down with a powerful hand the fabric of corruption, and building on its ruins a pure temple to the Genius of the British Constitution.
had always thought it his duty to support retrenchment, and would, therefore, vote for the Motion of the worthy Alderman. The arguments of the hon. member for Middlesex against it would have been equally cogent on many former occasions, for the House was entitled to call for reductions so long as they had not been made equal to the present and former rate of wages. This was matter for consideration with the whole people, for whoever, was Minister the business of reduction must go on. The Ministers ought not to object to the Motion, since it only pledged them to the course they said they were willing to pursue. By agreeing to it they would act more honourably than by dividing the House. The matter of retrenchment must be taken in hand. For several years past, every speech from the Throne had sanctioned the principle; and, although many reductions had been made, both by the late and present Ministry, enough had not been done. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sit James Graham) before he was in office, made a Motion respecting the salaries and pensions received by members of the Privy Council; but up to the present time they had experienced no reduction. The Civil List also, 528 had not been sufficiently reduced. People in office ought not to determine what retrenchment should be made, but those who had to pay must look to their diminished means, and consider what they could afford to give. The produce of the plough and loom were much depreciated in price, and when it was considered that Ministers were helped into office by repeated pledges of reduction, it hardly became them then to oppose it. Whoever might make a similar motion to this, should always have his humble support. The universally diminished capital of the kingdom required it; the landlords were receiving their rents from the decreasing capitals of their tenants; and the farmers and manufacturers were compelled to reduce the wages of the workmen and labourers, until comfortable subsistence was denied to them; in short, all that was once profitable in this industrious country was going to decay, and this demanded great reductions in the salaries of public servants.
rose to say but a very few words. He thought the question had not been thoroughly understood. There were many salaries of 1797 which ought not now to be so large. He, therefore, was decidedly opposed to returning blindly to the scale of 1797. What was the way, he begged to ask, to arrive at a proper conclusion? Examination. Let the office be tried by the labour which attached to it, and paid in the way that was considered the fairest—in some such manner as mercantile situations. When it was known what Government had done on the subject, if any hon. Member was dissatisfied with it, then it would be competent for him to submit a motion to the House; but he really thought, after what had already transpired, the House ought not to countenance the motion now brought forward by the worthy Alderman. The hon. member for Preston had charged hon. Gentlemen who were now seated on the Ministerial side of the House, but who had formerly been seated on the opposite side, with a change of opinions on the subject of economy and retrenchment. He (Mr. Maberly) repelled that charge with contempt. Government, he would maintain, had redeemed its pledge. He would assert, that there was not a shadow of proof to charge the Ministers with a dereliction of principles. Had they not adopted all the reductions recommended 529 by the Committee, and was that a desertion of their pledge? After reducing their own salaries, they were examining those held by persons under them; and whenever the Government would undertake such a task, it was always advisable to allow it to do so; but when a Govern-would not undertake it, then, as in the case of the Finance Committee, it was the duty of the House to step in and enforce it. When that Committee made its report, the late Government opposed itself to the reductions recommended; but the present had acted differently, for it instantly proceeded to carry the recommendations of that Committee into execution. He would contend, therefore, that the noble Lord and his colleagues had fulfilled their promises. Humble as he was, he would support Ministers so long as they acted in the way they had done, notwithstanding the taunts which might be made by the Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House.
§ Mr. George Dawson
said, he did not feel the difficulty which appeared to have overtaken the hon. member for Middlesex, who had spoken against the necessity of urging Ministers to carry on retrenchment, and yet declared he should give the worthy Alderman his vote. For his part he considered the Motion as inopportune and unnecessary, and therefore did not intend to give it the benefit of his vote, nor support, like the hon. Member a motion which he conceived improper and incorrect. The present Government had certainly made some reductions for which they deserved credit; but the harvest had been reaped to a considerable extent by the labours of their predecessors, which he hoped to prove before he sat down, leaving them only very poor and scanty gleanings. He really never heard so unintelligible a statement as that made by the worthy Alderman. It was impossible to comprehend it. It was a little singular that a document which could have furnished much valuable information should not have been referred to in the course of the discussion, and which was on the Table. It would have shown how much had been already done in economy and retrenchment as to the reduction of the salaries of Officers, and the abolishing of offices altogether, by preceding Governments, since the year 1821. So far from the present Government having all the. claim to praise on that ground, the document in question would prove 530 that much had been done by their predecessors. It was not his intention to enter into a detail of the items, but he would read to the House the results. Since the year 1821, he would maintain, that the different Administrations had caused such reductions in the various establishments to be made as was consistent with the advantages of the country. It appeared, from a Return upon the Table, that in seventy-three different departments a vast saving had been effected. To the Parliamentary Papers of 1830, he was now referring. The number of persons employed in 1821 in seventy-three departments, was 26,243, with salaries amounting to 3,694,000l. In the same seventy-three departments, in the year 1829, the number of persons employed was 22,572, with salaries amounting to 3,091,000l. Between the two periods, no less than 3,671 offices had been abolished, and a saving of 603,000l. had been effected. Besides these, there had been reduced, as appeared from the Minutes of the Treasury, 241 other offices, with a saving of 105,744l. The whole number of offices abolished amounted to 4,050, and the nett saving to the public was 700,974l. Such was the fact, and there had been a great many savings made since, for the documents he was quoting from, only came down to 1829. He had not the details of subsequent abolitions, but the amount was large, and the noble Lord and his Colleagues would find it no easy task to effect those large reductions of which so much had been said. Looking at those already made, it was impossible to say, that the Governments which preceded this had been indifferent to the interests of the people. The late Government had looked very narrowly into the subject, and had done what was most conducive to the public service, by procuring a faithful and efficient discharge of public duty; and until it was proved the salaries were excessive, or the duties unnecessary, he hoped the House would agree in thinking the present Motion ill-timed, He thought this must be the opinion of Ministers, who, having the documents before them, had not said much on this subject, and he concluded they were satisfied with what had been already done. He must confess, that he felt surprised at hearing the speech made by the hon. member for Kerry, who was not then in his place. The hon. and learned Gentleman, he thought, might have remained, 531 as it was not likely that it would pass without comment He thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman's attack upon the hon. member for Preston was as indecent a proceeding as he had ever witnessed in that House. He (Mr. Dawson) thought there was something about the prosecutions against that hon. and learned Gentleman not quite cleared up, and he was rather surprised to hear that hon. and learned Gentleman lauding the present Administration, and persecuting the Government with his support and adulation on every occasion. The hon. and learned Member had said, that the people of the country could distinguish between sense and nonsense,—imputing to himself that what he said was wise and sensible, and everything which the hon. member for Preston uttered was the contrary. He was not the advocate or the supporter of the hon. member for Preston. God knew there were not two men in the House who differed more in opinion than he did from that hon. Member; but he would say, that the attack of the hon. and learned Gentleman was as indecent an exhibition as he had ever witnessed in Parliament. He had attempted to ask himself what had the present Ministers done to call forth such exuberant praises? As to Retrenchment, he could not find anything they had done more than effect a reduction of 20,000l., which was made under the recommendation of the House; but the House had also recommended a reduction of 10,000l. in the Civil List; which the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had not made, and which, in fact, he refused to make, and the House had gone along with him an refusing to follow the recommendation of the Committee. There had, in fact, been no reduction in any of the Estimates; neither in the Army nor Navy, for there had been an increase in both. In the Ordnance there had been some trifling diminution of expenditure. The other Estimates had not yet come before the House; but in the great branches, the demands for the present year exceeded those of the preceding and of every other year since the Duke of Wellington had come into office. If that were the case and there was no reduction in those Estimates which had furnished the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), with occasions for such flaming speeches, in which he de-. Bounced and compared the men in 532 office to birds of prey, he should like to know what had justified the hon. members for Middlesex and Kerry in their praises of the present Government. The House and the country should be reminded that those very subjects were adopted in order to inflame the public mind, and to lead it into the delusion now prevalent, by stating that no remedy could be applied until the great measure of Reform should have passed. They were brought prominently forward for that purpose. The House must recollect the denunciations of the right hon. Baronet against pensions and salaries, and yet he sat down satisfied with only a reduction of 20,000l. His object, and that of his party, had been answered by exciting a flame against the late Government; but how could Gentlemen, after what he had stated, cheer so loudly what had been done by the present Government? The fact was, the public mind was misdirected; for, while the present men in office had raised this clamour, they were now obliged to have recourse to the question of what they called Reform, in order to occupy the public attention and turn it away from the subjects which had inflamed it. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had said the other night, that much was not to be expected from any attempt at present to lessen the public expenditure; while, at the same time, the hon. member for Middlesex and others had said, that they would not be satisfied unless greater reductions were made, and that the people required considerable relief. If, however, the Government said that there could be no reduction in the expenditure—if there could be none in the Army, the Navy, the Ordnance, or the Miscellaneous Estimates, where were the public to look for reduction? There then could be but one subject for reduction—the National Debt. This then must be the object, he would not say of the Government—but this must be the ultimate object of those who, sitting on the Opposition side of the House, called for greater reductions; who supported the Ministers in their plans of Reform because they expected to pull down that Debt altogether. This great nation could never be protected or served without keeping up its army and navy, and all its public establishments; but if Gentlemen would only watch the progress of public writers, they would see, that all their efforts were di- 533 rected to the reduction of the National Debt. This was no new idea. — But let any one ask himself what idea had the people of Reform, except that it would lessen their burthens, which could only be effected by the annihilation of the public Debt, and the confiscation of Church property. Was not this the effect of what was constantly urged by those Gentlemen at his own side of the House, who were now so well known by the name of the Mountain? and if anything could induce him more than the demerits of the Question of Reform itself to oppose the Ministers, it would be the support that they sought from the hon. members for Middlesex and Bridport, and those who acted with them. Whatever others might suppose, he considered their object to be the levelling of all ranks in the country, and that could only be effected by the destruction of funded property, of Church property, and of Colonial property, and they had been unfortunately supported by the declamation of those who, when out of power, demanded Retrenchment, and who now, when in power, found they could not accomplish what out of power they had said was abundantly easy, and therefore directed the public mind to Reform, for the purpose of deluding the people, and turning away attention from their own broken faith.
Sir J. Graham
could not congratulate the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down upon the happy state of his feelings, in thinking that an hon. Gentleman, who had once been in opposition to the Government, could not pay it the tribute of his approbation without some base compromise having taken place between the Government and that hon. Gentleman. He could not have believed it possible, had he not himself witnessed the fact, that the right hon. Gentleman would have reiterated his suspicions that a compromise had taken place between the Government and the hon. and learned member for Kerry, after the declaration which his right hon. friend, the Secretary of State for Ireland, had made upon his honour—honour which the right hon. Gentleman did not dispute, and did not even profess to doubt—that no such compromise had ever existed. He, too, might comment, if he were inclined to retort such remarks upon the right hon. Gentleman, upon the marvellous connexion which at present existed between the right hon. Gentleman and the 534 hon. member for Preston. He was astonished at hearing the right hon. Gentleman cheer the speech of the hon. member for Preston; but he was still more astonished when he saw that right hon. Gentleman get up in his place, and hear him word by word, and sentiment by sentiment, defend that speech. Things like these were almost incredible. Certain it was, that politics did often lead to strange coalitions; but, even in the history of coalitions, he believed that would appear the strangest of all coalitions—he meant the strange coalition which had been formed between a Gentleman who claimed for himself the character of a real Reformer, and a party which was opposed to all Reform, and which had lost office and power because its leader would consent to no Reform, and had even declared, that he conceived the present scheme of Representation the most perfect that heart could conceive; and that, if he had to frame a constitution de novn, he would endeavour to approach, for he could not expect to equal, the Representative system which now existed in England. Though such were the avowed sentiments of the leader of this party, the House had that night seen a coalition formed between the right hon. Gentleman, no inconsiderable member of it, and a gentleman who differed from it on every other imaginable subject. The right hon. Gentleman had plumed himself very highly on what he was pleased to call the imperfect fulfilment of the pledges which the Ministers had given on the subject of retrenchment before they came into office. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to certain expressions which he (Sir J. Graham) had formerly used, and had taunted him with them, as if the right hon. Gentleman expected that he would now be ashamed of them. To those taunts he would reply, that he was satisfied, that to the best of his power, since he had accepted office, he had endeavoured to fulfil every pledge of retrenchment which he had given when seated on the opposite benches. He certainly had commented on the pensions and sinecures enjoyed by members of the Privy Council, who held offices under the Ministry. He certainly had commented on the notorious facts, which had never yet been contradicted, that a majority of the late Cabinet, not satisfied with the salaries attached to their offices, were pluralists in pensions and sinecures; and he had deplored, that 535 whilst the pay of half-pay officers was to abate when they held civil situations, those distinguished officers were to hold their regiments, and their full pay and their half-pay, with their high offices, pensions, and sinecures. That was his accusation against the members of the late Ministry. Now, was there a single member of the present Cabinet against whom a similar accusation could be urged? He said there was not one. What had he said further? He had said, that the salaries of these officers were too high. What had been the conduct of this Ministry since they came into office? Was there any occasion for him to recapitulate the statement of the hon. Member for Middlesex upon that subject? Need he tell them that they had reduced the salaries of the Secretary to the Treasury, the Home Secretary, the Colonial Secretary, and of the Lord Privy Seal? It was reductions of this kind that had won for them the support of the hon. and learned member for Kerry. Nay, it was supposed that they had carried reduction too far in some cases, and especially in that of the President of the Board of Control, whose salary had been reduced, contrary to the opinion of the Gentlemen opposite and the salary of the Master of the Mint, which it was proposed to reduce by the Bill which had been recently introduced into Parliament. He could boast—only it was not a subject to make a boast of, nor should he have mentioned it had he not been, as it were, put upon his defence—he could state, that his own salary, as First Lord of the Admiralty, had been reduced ten per cent; that the salary of the first Secretary had been reduced twenty per cent, and that the salary of the Deputy Comptroller of the Navy had been reduced twenty five per cent. Thus, then, had the Ministers set the example of reducing the salaries of the great officers of State. The hon. member for Aldborough (Mr. Sadler) had said, that he always had entered his protest, and that he always would enter his protest, against confining reduction to the salary of the inferior officers. That was his principle too, and the principle of all the present Ministers. And what had been their practice? Ministers had not begun with reducing the salaries of the inferior officers, they had begun with the salaries of the Cabinet; and then, having had their own salaries fixed by Parliament, they had proceeded to administer strict justice between the 536 public and the officers next below. His noble friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had told the House what had been done with regard to the Commissioners of Customs. He would admit, that in the last eighteen months, the late Government—stimulated no doubt by the cry for retrenchment out of doors—had made great reductions in the public expenditure; but what had the present Government done in the short time during which they had been in office? His noble friend had told them, that the Government had abolished two Commissionerships of Customs. But that was not all. They had reduced the salaries of the remaining Commissioners from 1,400l. to 1,200l. a year. In his own office had he been idle? He had stated last Session, when he brought forward the Navy Estimates, that he had abolished four Commissioner-ships in the Victualling Department, with salaries from 800l. to 1,000l. a-year. He had put down three other officers with smaller salaries, and altogether he had abolished nine salaries, varying from 800l. to 1,000l. a-year, besides reducing forty or fifty unnecessary offices. He did not mean to say, that this was all he intended to do in the way of retrenchment. Quite the reverse—but. time must be given before further retrenchments were made. He had never contended when on the other side of the House for such a proposition as that which the hon. Alderman had now brought forward. He had stated that the price of articles of the first necessity had fallen since the year 1797; and that therefore some revision ought to be made in the salaries of public servants. To that principle Ministers had recently proved their adherence. He said, that many of the reductions which had recently been made fell below the scale of 1797, and that to lie Ministers down in all cases to the scale of that year, would not only be hard upon them, but also injurious to the public. Here he should have closed his remarks, but for the observation which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had thought fit to make on the subject of Parliamentary Reform. By some strange hallucination of intellect, the right hon. Gentleman had connected Parliamentary Reform with the destruction of public credit, and with the ruin of all the great institutions of the country. First of all he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it did not strike him 537 as a very singular circumstance, that those persons who were most sensitive to everything affecting public credit— namely, the public creditors themselves— entertained an opinion diametrically opposite to his? The state of public credit at present, compared with the state of it when the Reform Bill was first introduced, proved that in the estimation of the public creditor the public credit of the country was vastly improved [a voice from the Opposition, "No!"] Did the hon. Gentleman mean to deny the fact that the price of stocks had risen six or seven per cent since the introduction of the Reform Bill? Was the hon. Gentleman unacquainted with the fact that at the public meeting of the merchants of London on the subject of Reform, the first resolution in favour of it was moved by a banker, who was one of the largest fundholders in the country. He meant Mr. Lloyd. Independently of all this,— was it not an irrefragable truth, that Reform was not only necessary for the maintenance of the public faith, but also for the satisfaction of the public mind, the maintenance of the internal tranquillity of the country? The right hon. Gentleman had taunted the Ministers with the present amount of the Estimates. He hoped, that the country would recollect, when the Ministers were thus taunted by their predecessors in office, what was the situation of the country at the time when the late Ministers fled from the helm, declaring themselves unable to guide the vessel of the State. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that at the moment when the late Ministry so fled, the six home counties were almost in open insurrection; that the state of Ireland was most alarming; that the foreign relations of the country were most disturbed. [An hon. Member of the Opposition burst into a violent laugh.] Did the hon. Gentleman who indulged in that senseless laugh mean to deny these facts? He had every respect for that hon. Member; he should be happy to hear him controvert these facts when on his legs; but the mode which he had taken of expressing his dissent was neither customary nor courteous. He called upon the hon. Member to deny these facts if he could,—the country recollected them well enough. He was satisfied, that if the internal tranquillity of the country should be restored, as he had no doubt it would be, by the 538 passing of the Reform Bill, it would be in the power of the executive Government to make large reductions in our military and naval establishments. He admitted, that the hon. member for Middlesex was right in stating that those establishments were the real cause of our expenditure; and he assured that hon. Member that, as soon as the Ministers could with safety, they would reduce them. If reform were necessary to secure the internal peace of the country, then all measures of retrenchment must depend on its being carried successfully. Ministers introduced the Reform Bill as a parliamentary measure. By that Bill they were prepared to stand or fall. If they carried it, all their pledges of economy would be redeemed; and by a strict attention to those principles, which had already secured them the support of the people of England, they would stand, not convicted of a base dereliction of duty, but would go down to posterity-as Ministers—[laughter, and cries of "hear" from the Opposition]—he repeated that they would go down to posterity as Ministers who had redeemed, not only their pledges of economy—their paltry pledges of economy he might say, in comparison with the other pledges they had given,—but also that pledge which was the groundwork of all their policy—their pledge to carry Reform, without which they were convinced that the Government of this country could not be safely or honestly conducted.
said, he was absent from the House when the right hon. Baronet commenced his Speech, and could therefore address himself only to his concluding observations. He would not argue with the right hon. Baronet what the opinion of posterity might be; but if the judgment of the present day was an index of that of posterity, he thought that the right hon. Baronet had not much reason to flatter himself with the opinion that would be formed hereafter. It certainly had struck him as extraordinary, that the right hon. Baronet had contrived, very ingeniously, to avoid the real question before the House for the sake of launching into an argument on that of Reform. The question before the House was, were they to agree or not with the motion of the worthy Alderman, a question confined within a narrow compass, but this the right hon. Baronet avoided for the sake of contrasting the merits of the present Government with 539 the faults of that which had preceded it. He was not surprised that the right hon. Baronet found it difficult to disagree with the worthy Alderman, because in opposing the motion, he opposed his former principles; while the Opposition, in objecting to it only followed the course they had pursued when a similar one had been brought forward by the right hon. Baronet himself in February last. On adverting to the motion which had been then proposed, he (Mr. Goulburn) found that the right hon. Baronet distinctly alluded to the rate of salaries that were paid in 1797, and he had then urged the same arguments nearly as had been now employed by the hon. member for Kerry, but without receiving the same cheers which had greeted him now. He was, therefore, surprised that Ministers should oppose the Motion of the worthy Alderman on the present occasion. The right hon. Baronet, however, had accused the late Government of leaving the affairs of the country in a bad condition when they fled from the helm, declaring they were unable longer to direct it. But the late Government did not fly from the helm: they acted on a principle on which it was consistent with the dignity of a Government to act. When the House of Commons showed that it had withdrawn that support, without which the Government could not act effectively they did tender their resignation to his Majesty, and begged him to allow them to withdraw their services. Other Governments might pursue a different course. There might be those who would bring forward measures connected with the Finance and Government of the country, and who, after the House had withdrawn its support of those measures, might still think proper to remain in office. He would not take upon himself to judge the motives of those men, nor say that they had acted wrong; but this he would say, that looking back to the best times of the constitution of the country, they who had retired from office when the House of Commons had withdrawn its support, had, at least, the satisfaction of being confirmed in the opinion on which they had acted by the precedents of men who had always been held as most distinguished for character and principle in the annals of the country. He was willing to admit, that the home counties of England were nearly in a state of insurrection at the time when the present Government came into office; but 540 could the right hon. Baronet entertain a doubt as to the termination of those disturbances, whatever Government might have happened to be in office? Had not measures been already taken for the suppression of those disturbances? And in fact, though it was true, that Special Commissions had not been issued, yet measures had been taken to put down those disturbances, and that they were put down was not owing to the merits of any particular Ministry, but because the country was ready to lend its support to whatever party might hold the reins of Government. With respect to what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet on the subject of Ireland he (Mr. Goulburn) did not apprehend that that was the time to enter into a discussion on the state of that country; but if he might judge from the statements which were now appearing in the newspapers, of what was taking place thereat the present time, he should be justified in saying, that there still was in that country, and had been for some time past, much to alarm every man who felt for its interests, and who wished that it should continue to retain its connection with England. The dangerous question agitated by the hon. member for Kerry, was still as unsettled as ever. The right hon. Baronet had intimated that there would hereafter be great reductions in the naval and military establishments of the country. He hoped that the state and condition of the country, and the state of our foreign relations, would presently wear such an aspect as to allow of the proposed reduction; and in that case he should have the sincerest gratification in supporting the right hon. Baronet. But, on the other hand, he trusted, that if there was anything in the internal situation of the country that called for a Military force for the protection of property, or if there was anything in the external relations of the empire that called for the interference of Great Britain to make her voice respected, the Government would not permit itself, in consequence of any rash pledges it might have given to the hon. member for Middlesex, with a view perhaps to secure the temporary cheers of those who were anxious for retrenchment at all risks, to be deluded into unadvised reductions, and so sacrifice the permanent interests of the country.
said, that he never remembered any debate in which such inconsistency had been manifested between the 541 speeches of hon. Members and their votes. The how. member for Middlesex had been inconsistent with himself; for, after passing a panegyric on Government, which they had endeavoured to deserve, he concluded by declaring he should vote against them; and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dawson) considered the attack of the hon. member for Kerry upon the hon. member for Preston as one of the most indecent he ever witnessed; and yet, with a marvellous degree of consistency, he opposed, by his vote, the points he advocated in his speech. His right hon. friend (Sir J. Graham) had fallen under the censure of the last speaker, for having introduced the subject of Reform, when the fact was, that whatever his right hon. friend had said on that subject, was only in reply to the i right hon. friend of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was certainly somewhat unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman had missed hearing nearly all the right hon. Baronet's speech, as well as the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Dawson's) speech. At least, he should have taken care to understand their tendency before he supported one, or replied to the other, and that would have prevented him giving a hard hit to a political supporter, while he thought he was assailing a political opponent. He would then have known, that the part of the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty, of which he complained, was in answer to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dawson) on the subject of Reform.
. It was not for him to tell by what undefined chain of reasoning the hon. Gentleman had arrived at the subject of Reform. But he would appeal to the recollection of those who had heard what the right hon. Gentleman had said— not to that of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had not heard what he had said—whether the right hon. Gentleman had not concluded his speech with a violent tirade against Reform, as if the Government had never supported Reform before, but had suddenly seized upon it as a new idea, to carry away the minds of the people from the subjects of retrenchment and economy, upon which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, they found themselves unable to redeem their pledges, but which his right hon. friend had shewn they had redeemed. It might well have 542 been said, that the present Ministers were deluding the country, if, in the state in which the late Government had left the country, they had pretended they were able to diminish its military establishments. It would have been false economy indeed, then, to have weakened our military strength. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) had, by way of taunt, said, that there were some Ministers who, in defiance of public opinion, would not fly from the helm, but who were still determined to hold their places. He would reply to that taunt, that the present Ministers were determined, if they could, to carry the great question of Reform; and there was no sacrifice, short of the sacrifice of principle, no exertion they were not ready to make, to effect that object; and if they could carry that great measure, on which their public character and principles had throughout been staked, they would lose no time in forwarding those other measures which they had uniformly supported. The public wished and hoped, he believed, that they should remain in office to carry that Bill through. For his own part, he should not feel any regret at abandoning office, nor would any of his friends feel regret; but neither he, nor any one of them, would shrink from office, however laborious their duties, or thankless their task, as long as they thought that their holding office was for the benefit of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said, that it was not at present for the benefit of the country. But why did the right hon. Gentleman and his friends quit office? Because they could not carry on the Government. Public opinion had been pronounced too strongly against them. They quitted office after having been defeated on one question, because they would not encounter defeat on the question that was next to follow. He had heard the noble Duke, lately at the head of the Government, declare, that he left office, and gave up the situation of Prime Minister, after having been left in a minority on the question of the Civil List, because he did not like to suffer a defeat on the great question of Parliamentary Reform. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted Ministers with keeping their places after being left in a minority, and he was very severe on his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on account of his Budget; hut did the right hon. Gentleman not recollect what had happened 543 to his own friends, and to himself, on one or two occasions? Was he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, never left in a minority —never obliged to abandon any of his measures? [a voice, "The Stamp Duties."] He did not mean the Stamp Duties, though that was one case. But did they go out of office when they were left in a minority on the question of giving two pensions to the sons of Cabinet Ministers? They had not shown any reluctance to remain in office after being defeated. He did not complain of that [a voice, "The Test and Corporation Acts also"]. The defeat on the Test and Corporation Acts he considered a trifle. He repeated, he did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for not leaving office, but he thought it right to recall these circumstances to his recollection, when he, of all men, talked of Ministers having a pertinacious attachment to office, in which they had, as yet, remained but a very short time, compared with the period in which office had been held by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, after they had been beaten. The right hon. Gentleman had referred, in his discursive speech, to the state of Ireland; but there was at present no time to discuss a question so full of difficulty; and it appeared to him exceedingly improper to introduce such an important topic as a make-weight to a light cause, on an occasion quite foreign to the state of Ireland. Much had been done for that country, though more yet remained to do; but take that country throughout, and he would venture to assert, that there was no comparison between the security now generally enjoyed, which was greater than had ever been anticipated, and the state of disturbance in which that country was left when the right hon. Gentleman and his friends quitted office. He stated that, fearing no contradiction. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of measures which had been taken before he left office; but he must say, that he knew nothing of them, and had never discovered any trace of them. As far as he understood, and was informed, of measures for the suppression of the disturbances of that country, when the right hon. Gentleman left the Administration, there was no public record whatever, nor the slightest public proof, that any such measures ever were contemplated. If there were any, they had all melted away, "like the baseless fabric of a vision." With regard to the southern 544 and western counties of Ireland, in which the disturbances had prevailed, there certainly was much to regret; but there was also now much that was consolatory, and much that encouraged a hope of returning and continuing repose. Peace and tranquillity were, in fact, being restored in that country, more rapidly than those who did not behold it could well believe. If any measure more than another had tended to this good end—if any measure more than another had checked that danger with which the country was threatened, and might perchance be threatened again—if any one measure more than another had stayed the agitation which was going on for what was called the Repeal of the Union, which meant the separation of the two countries—it was that very measure which the right hon. Gentleman had so much abused—that measure of Parliamentary Reform, which had at once pleased the people of England, and satisfied the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman could not possibly conceive that he (Mr. Stanley), and the hon. member for Kerry, could act together for the good of the country, notwithstanding his own extraordinary union with the hon. member for Preston; and he could not conceive that there could be any cooperation between the Ministers and Mr. O'Connell, unless there had been some dishonourable and disgraceful compromise. It had been his painful duty to act in opposition to the hon. and learned member for Kerry. If he were placed in a similar situation again, if he found that the hon. and learned Member was exerting his great talents and his extraordinary abilities in effecting mischief—if he found him again trying to offend against the laws of the country, he would not be found deficient in the performance of his duty, and certainly would not neglect, however painful he might feel it, as strenuously to oppose that hon. and learned Member as he had done before. But when he found that hon. and learned Member exerting his great talents for the advantage of the country, he should feel ashamed of himself if he allowed the remembrance of any political differences—he would not say personal differences, for there were none between them—but if he could suffer political differences to prevent him from concurring with that hon. and learned Member, and from co-operating zealously and cordially with him, when he found that he 545 was labouring for the good of the country. It was not his intention to follow the right hon. Gentleman through the various topics of his speech, in which he had touched upon every thing but the question before the House; he would only say, that the right hon. Gentleman's charge of inconsistency against his right hon. friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, was without foundation. His right hon. friend never had contemplated the reduction of salaries without any reference whatever to the changes in the currency. He conceived the difference in the value of money should constitute the ground of reduction, but he had never contended that the salary of an office should be reduced, without examination, to the scale of 1797. For his own part, he felt so satisfied of the impropriety of the Motion of the hon. Alderman, and so strongly convinced that the House and the country were decidedly opposed to it, that he doubted whether the hon. Alderman, though supported by the hon. Member for Preston, would bring the question to the test of a division. If the hon. Alderman did, so assured was he of the feeling of the country, and so strong his own conscientious conviction, that he must say, he had never gone out of the House against any motion with a more thorough satisfaction, than he should then do, that his opinion was correct.
§ Mr. Gillon
could not be silent on this occasion, because he proposed to vote for the previous question, as moved by the noble Lord, though he was determined to support the most rigid economy, consistent with the proper administration of the affairs of the country. He wished to relieve the House and the country from the delusion which was attempted to be practised on them by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who talked of Ministers deluding the country by a cry for Reform; but the fact was, there existed a most unnatural combination between them and the hon. member for Preston, and their object was, to return to office, and again dip their hands into the people's pockets. The right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary of the Treasury, had taken great credit to the late Ministers for certain reductions made since 1821, but these reductions were forced upon them by the steady and consistent demands of the hon. member for Middlesex. The hon. member for Aldborough had alluded to agricultural 546 distress, the true cause of which was, the iniquitous bill of 1819, which caused a sudden return to cash payments. The same hon. Gentleman had also been pleased to say, the pressure on the manufacturing classes was greater now than ever; when, as he could testify, for it came within his own knowledge, that, in 1826 and 1827, when the right hon. Gentlemen were in office, the people of Scotland were labouring fourteen hours in the day, and not earning above 6s. in the week. That was not now the case; and he rejoiced to think matters were better, both as regarded the quantity of employment, and the remuneration obtained, while he could not sufficiently admire the patience with which the labouring part of the community had borne their sufferings. The only sure mode of giving relief was, to remove the clogs on industry, by diminishing taxation, which impeded undertakings by diminishing profits, and checked employment for all classes of the people. He believed, that the Ministers were sincere in their endeavours to diminish the expenses of the State, and he would therefore vote for the previous question.
Mr. Alderman Wood
would take but a very few moments in reply. The question of Reform had superseded in debate the consideration of the. subject he had introduced, and he had heard but little which called for elucidation. There had been hardly any thing said on the question he had submitted to the House; but hon. Members had spoken on all other subjects than the question before them. There had been a good deal of abuse, but no argument. He had only to reply, indeed, to the right hon. member for Harwich, who had been schooling every body. That right hon. Gentleman had not proved that he was wrong. He had shown that the expenditure for the civil service of the Government, in 1797, was 1,300,000l., and that now it was 2,700,000l., being l,400,000l. now more than it was then. There were many examples of Gentlemen holding three or four offices, and doing nothing, though they enjoyed two or three thousand a year. That was taking the public money for no public services, and was, in fact, a public robbery. As he had heard nothing against his proposition, he was determined to divide the House, and then he and the country would see which of those Members who were pledged to economy, as well as Reform, would redeem their pledge. There was not a Member 547 returned for a populous place, who was not so pledged; and he was determined to ascertain, by calling for a division, who were true, and who were false, to their constituents.
§ The House then divided; when there appeared — For the Previous Question 216; Against it 13—Majority 203.
|List of the Minority.|
|Bainbridge, Thomas||Ingilby, Sir William|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Kenyon, Hon. L.|
|Burrell, Sir Charles||Mostyn, E. W. L.|
|Dick, Quintin||Sadler, M. T.|
|Handcock, Richard||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Holdsworth, Thomas||Hume, Joseph|
|Hunt, Henry||Wood, Alderman|