HC Deb 16 April 1833 vol 17 cc197-8

Mr. Cobbett moved for a Return, stating the names of the Commissioners of Stamps, of the Solicitors of Stamps, of all under officers and clerks, and other persons in that department; stating the annual sum which each of the said persons receives as salary or pay; also stating the names of retired commissioners, solicitors, clerks and other persons in the said department, and the sums which each of the said retired persons receives annually. And also stating the names of all the distributors of stamps, county by county, in England Wales, and Scotland; and stating the salary or sum that each distributor annually receives for his services.

Lord Althorp

said, that the number of names of persons, for a list of which, with the salaries attached to their offices, &c., the hon. Member now moved, amounted to no less than 525. He just stated that fact, to show the enormous trouble that would be occasioned in making out this return. He should like to know, therefore, from the hon. Member, what object he had in view in moving for such a return. As yet the hon. Member had mentioned no grounds for this Motion, to which he (Lord Althorp) should certainly object, unless good parliamentary grounds were established for complying with it.

Mr. Cobbett

said, in the first place, with regard to the enormous trouble which the noble Lord asserted the taking out of this return would occasion, that he (Mr. Cobbett) had one clerk, and that he would most undoubtedly discharge him on Saturday night unless he would in the space of twenty-four hours make out such a list as that of those 525 persons, with the salaries attached to their offices. What he (Mr. Cobbett) wanted to ascertain by this return was, who the persons were who pocketed a quarter of a million of money out of the collection of the stamps. He had a motion for the 26th instant relative to the Stamp duties, upon which occasion he would prove clearly to the House that those who should not pay those taxes—namely, the poor of the country—did pay them; that the rich, who ought to pay them, did not pay them; and his object in moving for this return was to prove that the rich actually received them. If the noble Lord should refuse him this return, which he did not ask as a favour from him, he (Mr. Cobbett), when he brought forward his Motion, would be obliged to proceed upon presumption, as the facts were withheld from him.

Lord Althorp

had never supposed that this return was asked as a favour. What he said was, that good parliamentary grounds should be laid for such a Motion, and he did not think that the hon. Member had stated such grounds. If the hon. Member had stated that there were more persons employed in those departments than there ought to be, or that improper persons were employed in them, such would be good grounds for granting the return; but he had not made any such statement.

Mr. O' Connell

contended, that sufficient grounds had been stated for granting the Motion. The mere fact that a quarter of a million of money was spent upon this department was sufficient to induce the House to call for such a return.

Lord Althorp

begged to correct the hon. and learned member for Dublin. So far from this department costing half a million, or a quarter of a million, the whole of the salaries of the persons employed in it amounted only to 140,383l.

Motion negatived.