HC Deb 16 July 1833 vol 19 cc673-704
Mr. Ruthven

rose to submit a Motion for the reduction of taxation. He did this because much of our expenditure was most unjust; and all must admit, that it was most burthensome. The chief sources of expenditure, and, consequently, of taxation, were our immense establishments, and the long list of sinecurists. Unless these were reduced, it was vain for the country to look for any substantial relief. The establishment for the payment of the National Debt, and the interest of the debt, cost no less than 28,000,000l. a-year. Our naval and military establishments had been of late considerably augmented, instead of decreased. The Ministry took office under a solemn pledge, that they would go further than their predecessors in the reduction of the public expenditure. But they had increased two of the most expensive establishments of the country—the army and navy. They had dismissed a few poor clerks, who were thus deprived of the means of livelihood; but it was not by a pitiful economy of that kind that the people of this country sought to relieve themselves. They wanted to get rid of the sinecurists, who annually receive hundreds of thousands of pounds of the public money, for which they rendered no service whatever. Why had not the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who complained of the difficulty of effecting further reductions, applied himself to the sinecures? Ministers while they were on the Opposition side of the House, were vociferous in the expression of their horror and abomination of sinecures, and now that they had the power, why did they not act? Was it decent to see upon the list of sinecurists such names as Ellenborough, Thurlow, Kenyon, and others who were enriched by fees levied in the Courts of Justice? He wished to see meritorious public officers amply rewarded; but, by the existing system, while the idle and the worthless were loaded with sinecures, the merits of the active and laborious were wholly passed by. A claim for a salary without doing any duty could not be just. Beyond the charity of the country, the sinecurists could have no claim whatever. In Scotland, the list of sinecure places was quite surprising. The Keeper of the Privy Seal had 3,000l. a-year: the Keeper of the Signet, 2,500l., which, considering the cheapness of living in Scotland, might be rated as enormous. While these Leviathan plunderers of the people were suffered to remain, it was vain to seek to appease the public desire for reduction, by casting off a few poor clerks. After the repeated pledges which have been given by the Members of the present Administration, he did not anticipate any objection to the Resolution he meant to propose. He had drawn it up so as to meet the views, he thought, of all parties, and without trespassing further on the House, he would conclude by moving: "That the reduction of taxation and the diminution of the public burthens, by every attention to economy, are objects of paramount importance, and that in justice to the people who pay taxes, all sinecure places should be abolished throughout the British empire."

Mr. Spring Rice

* I confess that I undertake the duty of replying to the hon. Gentleman, less with the view of answering his arguments, or contradicting his facts, than with the intention of showing the fallacy and the injustice of many of the inferences which might be raised from that speech, if it were left wholly unnoticed. As to the general principles which he has laid down, I perfectly and entirely concur in them; and I trust that the House will concur in them also. I hope that, at the present time of day, no individual will be found in the House, or in the country, who can venture to rise, and to defend sinecure offices, or who can pretend to justify any source of expenditure which may be reduced or abolished, consistently with the public interest. Such being the case, it may be asked, why I should take the liberty of occupying any portion of the time of the House, or why I should trespass upon its indulgence, without pursuing the hon. Gentleman through his arguments?—My answer is, that I make my statement for the purpose of overthrowing his inferences—a matter of some importance to the House, to the Government, and more particularly to those hon. Gentlemen who have sat through the present Session of Parliament. The inference to which I mainly object, as one but too naturally deducible from the hon. Gentleman's speech, and that inference to which I shall, consequently, apply myself, and endeavour as far as I can to remove, is the following:—The Resolution proposed may be considered as suggesting a doubt whether the present Government, since their accession to office, have done their duty with zeal and with * Reprinted from the corrected edition. fidelity; or whether they have not been indifferent to the pledges which they had previously given, and unmindful of the duties which they had undertaken to perform—whether they have not deserted that line of close and severe economy to which they had pledged themselves to adhere? I am fully aware, that the relation of dry facts, particularly where it involves references to figures, is never very agreeable to the House; but I think it important, by a simple detail, to make hon. Members acquainted with what has really been effected in the way of retrenchment. The House should be made aware of the facts before they sanction an inference, or even contribute to raise one. They should not lightly suggest to the public, that the conduct of the King's Ministers, or of the House itself, has been such as to disentitle both to the confidence of the people. In this question, the character of the Reformed Parliament, as well as of the Government, is deeply involved; for if we have been careless and profuse, then has this House which supported us been negligent, culpable, and subservient. The question, then, is, have the Government and the House abused or betrayed their trust? In order to decide on what has been really done, I shall try our conduct by a severe test, and shall take the liberty of referring to the highest authority upon a question of this kind. I take a standard which cannot be disregarded, even by the hon. Mover of this Resolution himself—I allude to the hon. member for Middlesex, who, I regret to perceive, is not at this moment in his place. I shall first show what, some years ago, this great economical authority contemplated, as being the greatest reduction of expenditure that could be by possibility effected. I shall next proceed to show the reduction which has actually been effected; and I shall then leave the House and the public to decide, whether our pretensions to economy have been borne out by the results. On the 27th of June, 1821, the hon. member for Middlesex, having laid before the House a very able general statement of the income and expenditure of the country, justly complained of the amount of the latter: he stated, specifically, the items in which he thought reductions might be made, and he pointed out to the Parliament of that day the retrenchments which it was their duty to enforce. Upon that occasion the hon. Member stated, that the amount of the expenditure of the country for the year 1820, after deducting the sum paid for the interest of the National Debt, was 22,087,501l.; and, of this sum, he suggested the following reductions:—in the army, 1,879,818l.; in the navy, 1,108,543l.; and in the miscellaneous expenditure, 250,000l.; making a total reduction of 3,238,361l.; and, consequently, leaving the annual expenditure of the country for the Civil List, Civil Government, and Naval and Military Establishments, 18,849,130l. This sum was the maximum of reduction, which, in 1821, the hon. member for Middlesex thought it practicable to recommend. Now, let us inquire what has been the actual amount of the expenditure of the year 1832. It has been 18,050,240l.; being a reduction below the amount recommended by the hon. member for Middlesex of no less than 798,890l.; and, if a comparison were made with the present year's estimate, the result would be still more gratifying. But the hon. member for Middlesex did not stop here: after suggesting these proposed reductions in the army, navy, and miscellaneous expenditure, he stated, truly, that the expenses of the collection of the revenue were then excessive, and were capable of very considerable diminution. The expense of collecting the revenue in the year 1820, amounted to 4,120,641l. 13s. 5¼d. Now, what did the collection of the revenue cost the country last year?—3,618,158l. 9s. 1d.; showing; a reduction below the expenditure of 1821, of 502,483l. 4s. 4¼d. The account, then, stands thus:—In 1821, the hon. member for Middlesex, anxious (as he always is) to carry a reduction to its utmost extent, stated that the general expenditure of the country was capable of being reduced to 18,849,180l.; and he complained that the expense of collecting the revenue, amounted to 4,120,641l.; and he stated the maximum to which he thought reduction could be carried. In the year 1832, however, the general expenditure of the country was reduced to 18,050,240l., and the expense of collecting the revenue has been reduced 502,483l. 4s. 4¼d.; being a reduction, in the general expenditure;, considerably below the hon. Member's estimate. I, then, venture to repeat, in justice to the Government, and in justice to this House—in justice to our constituents—that when hon. Gentlemen come down and complain of want of economy, they shut their eyes to these important facts. If further reductions are necessary, and if they are practicable, let us make them; but hon. Gentlemen are encouraging an unjust ground of complaint among the people—they are creating undeserved reasons for distrust and discontent, when they impute to the Government and to the Legislature a remissness to perform this necessary duty, and when they erroneously state, that nothing has been done. We, who were zealous for economy in 1821, and who supported the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex, we, are now entitled to turn round to our constituents, and to say—"All we then contended for, and considerably more than was then contemplated, has now been accomplished." But I may be expected to show, in greater detail, the amount of the reductions which have been made; I am prepared to do so. I hold in my hand a comparison of the sums voted for the supply for army services, &c, from the year 1817, down to the present period; together with a statement of the Estimates framed by the Finance Committee of 1817. I beg the attention of the House to this statement:—

Comparison of Votes in Supply, from 1817 to 1827.
Estimate of Finance Committee,
1817 £17,350,000
Amount Voted.
1818 £18,970,959
1819 18,488,447
1820 19,673,717
1821 18,358,651
1822 16,679,633
1823 15,878,313
1824 16,734,713
1825 17,593,252
1826 17,942,963
1827 18,745,360
1828 17,776,999
1829 17,626,855
1830 16,648,762
1831 17,782,487
1832 15,411,571
1833 14,622,219
These figures prove a reduction of 2,727,981l. beyond the economical estimate made by the Finance Committee in 1817; and we have thus the satisfaction of thinking, that the Estimates now upon the Table of the House are the lowest, by a very considerable amount, of any that have been submitted to Parliament since the commencement of the peace. The Estimates for 1833 are 2,728,000l. less than the average Estimates of 1828, 1829, and 1830; and are less than the average of the three years 1825, 1826, and 1827, by the still larger sum of 3,471,000l. Before I proceed further with these details, let me entreat hon. Gentlemen to relieve their minds from many popular delusions which have been industriously circulated, and which have been this night repeated by the hon. member for the city of Dublin. He has reasoned as if, in the discharge of our economical duties, Parliament could exercise a control over no less a sum than 52,000,000l. Gentlemen cannot but be aware, that a very mischievous and a most erroneous impression exists in the public mind upon this point. It is repeated pertinaciously out of doors—" When Government have an expenditure of 52,000,000l. to deal with, how very unreasonable is it, that they should not be able to effect reductions greater than from 2,400,000l. to 3,000,000l." But it should be borne in mind, that a great portion of this gross amount of annual expenditure is placed completely beyond our power. In the first place, there is the interest on the National Debt, amounting to upwards of 27,000,000l.; next follows the dead weight, or half-pay of the army, the navy, and the retired and superannuation charges for civil officers—all of which, as far as an annual vote is concerned, are wholly unsusceptible of reduction—if these are added to the interest of the National Debt, they constitute no less a portion of the yearly expenditure of the country than 32,949,000l., or, as we may say, in round numbers, 33,000,000l. Now, the actual expenditure of last year was 44,922,000l., or, to speak again in round numbers, 45,000,000l; so that, the sum actually within the control of the Government, after deducting the amount of the dead weight of the interest on the National Debt, and of the fixed charges on the Consolidated Fund, docs not amount to 12,000,000l. Therefore, although it may not be reasonable to expect, that the people should be contented with a reduction of 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l. upon an expenditure of 45,000,000l., such a reduction must, I think, be admitted to be very considerable, when it is made upon an expenditure of 12,000,000l. I shall now take the liberty of calling the attention of the House to a paper which has not yet been printed, but which is upon the Table, and which will shortly be in the hands of every hon. Member. It is an account of the reductions made since 1821, in the establishments of the great departments. It must be understood that this relates only to those particular offices, which are fixed on the several establishments—great reductions having also been made in other branches. The annual charge for these offices amounted, in 1821, to 3,772,809l. In 1832, it amounted to 2,819,620l., showing a reduction in the salaries of the officers attached to these civil establishments of 953,189l., to which may be added further reductions now in progress, amounting to 73,000l.—giving a total reduction in this branch of expenditure alone of 1,026,189l. To effect this reduction, no fewer than 5,689 persons have been removed from the public service, and an equal number of places have been actually abolished, I say, then, that this is satisfactory. It is true, that as this comparison is made between the years 1821 and 1833, it of course embraces the reductions which were made by the late, as well as by the present Government. It will naturally be asked how much of this reduction has been the work of the present Government? And, in a few words, I shall endeavour to show what has been the progress of reduction by us since our accession to office. But, I must first repeat what I have frequently stated—namely, that the late Government, in its disposition towards economy, carried reductions in many departments as far as, under the circumstances, and at that time, it might be considered prudent or proper to go. I have never under-valued the reductions of the late Government; but the bolder their economical measures were, the greater, of course, the difficulty of effecting further reductions; and, therefore, when the merit of the late Government in this particular is fully admitted, I trust that, without presumption, I am entitled to take credit on behalf of those with whom I serve, for the additional merit of carrying these economical principles into fuller effect. I shall now show what has been the progress of reduction in these establishments, from the commencement of the Duke of Wellington's Administration. I hold in my hand—
An Account of Reductions effected in the Number of Persons employed, and in the Amount of Salaries, in all Public Offices or Departments, in the years 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1838, exclusive of the Coast Blockade, which was transferred from the Admiralty to the Customs in 1831.—(Extracted from the Annual Accounts of Increase and Diminution;.
Years. Diminution in the number of persons employed. Diminution in the amount of salaries.
1828, ended. 5th January, 1829 307 27,997
1829 ended. 5th January, 1830 124 8,116
1830 ended. 5th January, 1831 478 70,064
1831 ended. 5th January, 1832 652 113,940
1832 ended. 5th January, 1833 613 106,019
Total Reduction. 2,174 persons £326,115
Reductions in the years 1828, 1829, and 1S30 909 106,177
Reductions in the years 1831, and 1832 1,265 219,968
Average reduction ill first three years 303 35,392
Average reduction in last two years 632 109,984
Therefore, had the reductions of the present Government proceeded in the same proportion with those of their predecessors, they would have reduced Persons. Salaries.
606 £70,784
But their reductions in 1832 and 1833 have been 1,265 219,968
Excess in favour of the present Goverment 659 149,184
The hon. member for the city of Dublin has stated, that the whole of this saving has been effected by the reduction of the smaller and inferior offices. Upon that point the hon. Member is entirely mistaken; and I can bring it to issue in one moment by stating, that while the average salaries of the persons reduced under the late Government amounted to 116l. 16s. 1d., the average salary of the persons reduced under the present Government has amounted to 2267. 7s. 8d.; so that our reductions have been made in a class of officers whose salaries were double the amount of those who were reduced under the late Government. But this is not all; some few years since, a paper was laid upon the Table of this House, which very naturally attracted a great deal of attention. It was moved for by my right hon. friend, the first Lord of the Admiralty, before he came into office, and it contained a return of the number of persons employed in the public service, who received salaries of more than 1,000l. a-year, and of the amount received by each. I have ordered a return to be prepared, which shall be laid before the House, exhibiting the reductions which we have made in these higher classes of salaries. It cannot, at least, be said, that these reductions extend only to the salaries of clerks, as this account embraces only such offices as, taken separately or in combination, produce annual emoluments of 1,000l. or upwards. Let us now inquire what is the result of the comparison between the emoluments of these higher offices in 1830, when we came into office, and at the present moment. The return comprehends the Treasury, the Exchequer, the Secretaries of State, the President of the Council, the Board of Trade, the Board of Control, the Privy Seal, the Admiralty, and offices in the Customs, Excise, Post Office, Stamps, and Taxes, the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and various other great offices. Now, by the paper which I hold in my hand, it appears that, when we entered office, the annual salaries derived from these offices amounted to 315,649l.; the amount at the present moment is 166,743l. Therefore, upon these salaries we have effected a reduction of 148,906l. Another branch of expenditure is embraced in the same return—I allude to the diplomatic expenditure. When we came into office, we found that branch of expenditure amounting to 178,000l.; we have reduced it to 127,000l.; and thus we have here effected a further saving of upwards of 50,000l. Therefore, if we add together these two sums, the result is, that salaries amounting to 494,000l. a-year, have been reduced to an annual sum of 294,000l. a-year. In these departments, therefore, we have effected a reduction of 199,000l., and the same public services are now carried on for salaries diminished upwards of forty per cent. Gentlemen may possibly think it to be the duty of the House to compel us to make further reductions; but I do submit that, in common truth and justice, they ought not to shut their eyes to what has been already done; and I take the liberty of saying to those Gentlemen who seize every opportunity of reflecting on the Reform Bill, and who maintain that the Government yield nothing to public opinion—that they have effected no reductions—that they are utterly careless of economy—and indifferent to their pledges and principles—I venture to assert, in reply to those hon. Gentlemen, that, in attacking us, they are undervaluing themselves; and that, in passing over these unexampled reductions, they seek to conceal from the public the reason and the justification of the support with which we have been honoured. But it is said, the House of Commons have not themselves made reductions of the Estimates in Committees of Supply. True; but the more economical is a Government, the less Parliament will have the power of doing. To illustrate this argument, let us take my hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, as the personification of all economy; let us suppose that my hon. friend were Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that in his Estimates every reduction was made which was compatible with the public service—what would in such case remain for Committees of Supply? Hon. Gentlemen who are fond of distinguishing themselves by economical votes—Gentlemen who are ambitious to have their names registered in small minorities—would, like Othello, find "their occupation gone." A Government, perfectly economical, would deprive them of all opportunity of distinction. The work would all be done to their hands. I have not as yet touched on another most important branch of the annual expenditure on which reductions have been effected by the present Government—I allude to our colonial expenditure. Upon this point, I take the liberty of claiming the attention more particularly of the hon. member for Worcester, who has always devoted himself most usefully and honourably to this subject in Committees of Supply. A certain proportion of this reduction is a saving to the colonies, but a very considerable proportion also, is a saving to the British public. When we took office, these colonial charges amounted to 572,802l. 9s. 7¼d., not including the military expenditure. On this sum, my noble friend, the late Secretary of State, the Earl of Ripon, has effected an immediate saving of 133,917l., and there are further prospective savings directed exceeding 90,000l. When these are effected, the whole saving will amount to a sum of 224,200l., which will reduce the permanent charge to 348,602l. There is, therefore, an immediate reduction of twenty-three per cent. and an eventual reduction, which will increase that saving to thirty-nine per cent. I think the hon. Gentleman must admit, that in making these reductions we have effected that which is important, in a pecuniary point of view, and that in thus limiting the patronage of the Crown, much has been done to enforce our constitutional principles, and to realize the just expectations of the people. I proceed next to another important branch of expenditure. I am aware, Sir, how dull and dry these details must appear; but they are important to the people of England; and be assured that Gentlemen will be asked elsewhere what reductions have been made by a Ministry of Reformers in a Reformed Parliament? If I may be allowed to speak of myself, I may venture to add, that the opportunity of making this statement is, in some respects, not only gratifying, but convenient to myself. Very frequently our political friends—and, at times, some political foes—have come to me and asked for a memorandum of the reductions which we have made. I have been told, "There is a county meeting in such a place." "There is the anniversary of my election," says a second. "There is the dinner of our independent club," observes a third. "Will you have the goodness to give us, in some tangible and intelligible shape, a list of your reductions? We cannot rest upon mere professions," say they; "show us your good works, in order that we may justify the faith that is in us." It is to furnish hon. Members, and to furnish the public with answers to these very natural and constitutional inquiries, that I have thus endeavoured to explain at length the reductions we have effected. I proceed to the reductions effected in the collection of the revenue. I have shown the House, that in the interval which elapsed between the year 1820 and 1833, there has been upwards of 500,000l. saved in the collection of the revenue. In the Customs Revenue, in twelve years, 2,742 offices have been abolished, as vacancies occurred; making an annual saving of 273,984l. Of this sum a considerable proportion has been saved during the last few years. By a Report from the Customs called for by the Lords of the Treasury, and made on the 11th January, 1832, reductions were recommended to the amount of 31,438l. Of this saving it was suggested that 6,468l. might be immediate, and 24,970l. prospective. By measures now under consideration of the Treasury, and by reductions in the colonial customs in North America, the West Indies, New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land, we fully expect to male a total reduction of 76,490l. And already during the years 1831 and 1832,414 offices have been discontinued, and a saving of 28,791l. 6s. 6d. has been actually made. The following account explains this statement:—
24 Officers appointed to vacant stations from reducement list, and their allowances saved £1,956 3 0
172 Offices abolished on promotions 9,642 15 6
242 Offices vacant by death and not filled up 17,192 8 0
414 Officers. Total reduction £28,791 6 6
I wish to call the attention of the House very particularly to the first sum in this account, not so much from the sum saved, as from the principle asserted, which the House will see is of the last importance. By bringing forward retired and redundant officers, the amount of their half-pay and superannuation allowances is altogether saved to the public, and the Government prove their sincere disposition to economize, by reducing at once the dead weight of the service, and by making a surrender of all patronage. I set off against the superannuations granted, the amount that is thus saved, by appointments from the retired list. I hold in my hand another Return, by which it appears that there have been brought from the dead-weight list, since 1828, 745 retired and redundant officers, by which a saving of 38,999l. has been effected. For the purpose of proving to the House how active we have been in applying this principle, I shall read a statement of the number of officers taken from these lists in the time of the present and of the late Government. In 1828, twenty-nine such officers were brought forward; in 1829, the number was twenty-three; in 1830, it was 220; in 1831, it was 220; and in 1832, it was 248. Thus we have not only adhered to this important principle, but, year after year, we have endeavoured to apply it more extensively and with greater strictness. In the department of excise, the reductions made in the years 1830, 1831, and 1832, were as follows:—There has been a diminution to the amount of 507 persons in the number employed, and a reduction of 68,058l. in the salaries paid; there has been a decrease in the superannuation and retired allowances of 4,750l., and, in the official expenses, of 72,502l. making the whole annual reduction in the charge of that establishment no less than an aggregate sum of 145,000l. a-year. I will not trouble the House by going through a lengthened statement of the reduction which has been effected in other Revenue Boards—in the Stamps, Taxes, and Post Office—. but I must take this opportunity of warning those Gentlemen who think they can venture much further in reducing the expense of collecting the revenue, that they can only do so at a very considerable risk to the revenue itself. If I could appeal to the hon. member for Hull, to the member for Greenock, and to representatives of other large commercial towns, they would inform the House, that at present the great complaint on behalf of the merchants is, that the reductions have been already carried so very far, that we have run the risk of interfering with the interests of commerce, and of impairing the efficiency of the service. I have now gone through the votes of Supply, and have shown reductions amounting very nearly to 3,000,000l. I have shown, that in the salaries of the high officers of State, exceeding in amount 1,000l. a-year, that we have made a reduction of forty per cent; I have shown that in the colonial expenditure we have made an immediate reduction of twenty-three per cent. and a prospective reduction of thirty-nine per cent; I have shown, that in the collection of the public revenue, the expenses have been reduced to the amount of above half a million. I omitted to state, with respect to the Excise, that a Commission of Inquiry has been named, and is now sitting. Who has been placed at the head of that Commission? The right hon. member for Dundee, whom I presume I may, without irregularity, name in his official capacity. The appointment of Sir Henry Parnell, with his declared opinions, is a proof to the world that the Government is resolved, as well as disposed, to go the whole length in retrenchment that the public interest will permit. Before I proceed further, I must again remind the Mouse, that we have made these reductions on an expenditure—capable of economical review.—of 15,000,000l.; and that there has been, as I have before stated, a reduction effected to the extent of 3,000,000l. I cannot however conclude, in justice to the subject, without fixing the attention of the House upon the fact, that every traction of these reductions—and, indeed, somewhat more than their whole amount, has been applied to the diminution of the taxation of the people of England. There has been no part of it kept back for the purpose of bolstering up an artificial system of finance or a sham sinking fund; nor, as it appears to me, has it been kept up for any other purpose with which Gentlemen have a right to quarrel. The reduction in the amount of the expenditure may be said, in round numbers, to amount to 3,000,000l. The whole of that sum, I repeat, and something more, has been applied to the reduction of the taxation of the country. Here I must be permitted to say, that the hon. member for the city of Dublin, (Mr. Ruthven) and other hon. Gentlemen, in considering these questions, would do well to look to the bright as well as to the dark side of the picture, rather than exclusively to press on public attention, night after night, those parts, only, of every subject which are calculated to excite dissatisfaction and discontent. It is not acting justly towards the public, the Government, or this House, thus to exclude all the more cheering and gratifying considerations, stating, and allowing it to be stated and repeated, without contradiction, that nothing has been done, when, in point of fact, the vast reductions to which I have taken the liberty of adverting have already been achieved. I put it to those Gentlemen who have sat in this House in former Parliaments, if they had been told, when we took office in November 1830, that in the course of two Sessions reductions to the extent of 3,000,000l. could have been effected, and that a corresponding amount of taxation could have been reduced, without endangering the public credit, whether they must not have admitted that although such would be "a consummation devoutly to be wished," yet that it was one infinitely exceeding all their hopes and expectations. [Here, Mr. Hume entered the House.] I rejoice that my hon. friend is at length come to his place. I have appealed to my hon. friend's authority in his absence; I can assure him that I did so with all due respect; and that my argument has not illustrated the French proverb, that the absent are always considered in the wrong; indeed, it is almost indispensably necessary to appeal to his authority, when a question of economy is brought under consideration. The House knows, that in the absence of my hon. friend, I have given the fullest credit to the exertions he has made, in his absence I paid him the highest possible tribute of approval, by erecting him into an actual standard of value, by which I endeavoured to estimate the value of the public services of my friends. I took my hon. friend's statement in 1821, as the terminus à quo from which all my reasonings were to spring. I now repeat my argument, that be may contradict me if I am in error. In a speech, which the hon. Gentleman made in June, 1821, he detailed the various reductions which he thought practicable. Those reductions amounted to 3,238,000l., which would have reduced the expenditure to 18,849,140l. The expenditure of the country has now been reduced below the amount which my hon. friend took as the measure of his economy. In his speech, the hon. Gentleman spoke of a reduction in the expenses of collecting the revenue; in those expenses, reductions of more than half a million have been effected. If, then, the hon. member for Middlesex wishes to act justly by his Majesty's Government, and by this House, he will not argue (as some hon. Gentlemen have done), and he must not make statements as if we had. forgotten our economical pledges. One observation, I omitted to make, during the absence of my hon. friend. In those days, my hon. friend was member for Montrose. I very much rejoice to see, my hon. friend represent the county of Middlesex, although I cannot help thinking, that, when he was the member for Montrose, his arguments were, in some respects, founded on better reasoning and sounder principles of political economy. My hon. friend then said, that if the reductions for which we contended could be carried into effect, he should recommend—what will the House think?—the repeal of the House and Window-tax, the Stamp on Newspapers, or some of those other taxes of which he now complains? No, Sir; the hon. Gentleman was then a good political economist, and the reductions in taxation which he wished at that time to effect, were reductions in the taxes on soap, candles, leather, and salt. Now, Sir, I say that, on that occasion, my hon. friend contended for the sound principles of taxation, because he recommended a reduction in taxes which were the most expensive in their collection, which operated as restraints on trade, and which pressed most severely upon the poorer classes, and on the productive industry of the country. Now, however, my hon. friend is the advocate of the repeal of those taxes which are the least expensive in collection, and from which the poorer classes of the community are most generally exempt. I certainly do not think that my hon. friend is very much improved in this respect, by the results of his migration from Montrose to Middlesex. If my hon. friend, instead of asking for the repeal of the House and Window-tax, of which he has given notice, should come down and demand the repeal of the remainder of the Soap-tax, or of the duty on glass, such a course would be perfectly consistent with his former opinions. A paper for which I moved a few months ago, showing the amount of taxes repealed within the last nineteen years, has been put, for some time past, in circulation. The abstract is as follows:—
Gross. Nett.
Customs £8,990,205 £8,820,526
Excise 14,078,500 12,276,700
Stamps 466,807 461,755
Taxes 18,680,017 18,242,875
Post Office 130,000 130,000
£42,345,529 £39,931,856
Add taxes proposed to be repealed in 1833 1,545,000
Total £41,476,856
Deduct taxes imposed 5,813,118
Actual amount of relief given £35,663,738
From this paper it appears, that taxation, to no less an amount than 35,663,000l., has been repealed between the year 1814 and the year 1833. This enormous sum being more than double the total income of 1792. An amount which has, I am convinced, astonished the public, and I am confident that scarcely any reflecting man could, in 1814, have ventured to expect the possibility of so great a sacrifice of revenue. Of this sum I proceed to state the amount of reduction made by my noble friend beside me:—
Printed Goods £550,000
Coals and Slates 900,000
Candles 500,000
Hemp, Drugs, & 140,000
Deduct impost on Cotton Wool 300,000
Total relief £1,790,000
Tiles 37,000
Marine Insurance 100,000
Advertisements 75,000
Assessed Taxes and Farming Stock 440,000
Cotton Wool 300,000
Soap 593,000
It is thus shown, that the following have been the measures of relief introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer:—
  • Printed Cottons, repealed.
  • Coals and Slates, repealed.
  • Candles, repealed.
  • Hemp, reduced.
  • Drugs, reduced.
  • Tiles, repealed.
  • Marine Insurances, reduced.
  • Advertisement Duty, reduced one-half.
  • Fire Insurances on Farming Stock, repealed.
  • Small Receipt Stamps, repealed.
  • Land Tax on Personal Estates, repealed.
  • Soap Duty, reduced one-half.
  • Cotton Wool, reduced.
  • Duty on Pamphlets, repealed.
  • House Tax on Shops, reduced one-half.
  • Duty on Travellers or Riders, repealed.
  • Tax on Clerks, Book-keepers, Office-men, repealed.
  • Tax on Overseers, Managers, repealed.
  • Tax on Shopmen, Warehousemen, Cellarmen, repealed.
  • 689
  • Duty on Tax Carts, repealed.
  • Horse Tax, payable by Market Gardeners, repealed.
  • House Tax, payable by Licensed Victuallers, reduced one-half.
  • Tax on Houses of 10l. value, reduced one-third.
  • Tax on Houses from 10l. to 18l. value, a progressive reduction.
I cannot sit clown without adverting to the question respecting sinecures, incidentally raised by this Motion. Every one now agrees, that sinecures are indefensible. Where is, then, the necessity of affirming this self-evident proposition? I ask the hon. Gentleman, who brought forward the Motion, to show me one single existing sinecure, the ultimate abolition of which is not now provided for by Parliament; and I, for one, am perfectly willing to meet such a case with an appropriate remedy. The point of difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself would seem to be this—the honourable Gentleman seems to be of opinion, that we ought at once to proceed to abolish every one of these offices, whether the parties have a vested interest in them, or not. In this I differ from the hon. Gentleman. I tell the hon. Gentleman, that when the possessors of offices have had no such vested interests, the Government have not been reluctant or remiss in abolishing such offices. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the legal sinecures of Scotland. Only one of those offices has fallen in since the formation of the present Government—I allude to the office of Keeper of the Great Seal. What course was then taken by his Majesty's Government? Why, they unhesitatingly abolished the whole salary; they left the office to the Duke of Argyle, as an office of dignity; but the salary which had been paid by the public was immediately abolished. With respect to other sinecures, such as those of Lord Ellenborough, or Lord Kenyon, on a vacancy taking place, I believe that no new appointment could be made, even if the Government were disposed to make it. But it should be remembered, that it was to former Chief Judges, whose salaries had not then been increased, that these sinecure offices were left, to enable them to provide for their descendants. An Act has since passed increasing the Judges' salaries, and abolishing these offices. But would it now be just to give that Act a retrospective operation, and to overthrow those life interests which Parliament had protected and recognised? I apprehend, that the hon. Gentleman will not deny it to be a somewhat important principle of legislation, that the Supreme power of the State should extend towards every man a protection for the property he possesses What the law has created the law should respect. Let me direct the attention of the House, by way of example, to the offices of the two Chief Justices in Eyre. These, as the House well knows, are two great sinecures which, by Act of Parliament, are now abolished; but, in abolishing the offices, Parliament also provided for the payment of compensation to the parties. Now, if, after abolishing such offices as these, in consideration of a certain compensation, it is maintainable, that Parliament can, in justice, pass another Act to take away that compensation, I really think there is no description of property which might not be sacrificed under such a precedent. If the Crown has been advised to make a grant contrary to law, that grant is void; and if any technicality be required, in order to effect the avoidance, it is right and just in the Advisers of the Crown to recommend the proper measures to be taken. If a grant be made beyond the powers of the donor, it is one thing; but if the party making the grant have full authority to make it, I cannot think it either just or right subsequently to question the Act, however its recurrence may be properly restrained or prevented. Convinced I am, with respect to national retrenchment, that it is much better economy to reserve all such interferences until a case of vacancy occurs; because, in then taking such a course, there is a probability that the opinions of all men will accompany the Act, and lend it their sanction; whereas, by acting on other principles, men are often deterred, by a sense of compassion and private regard, from attaining a great future benefit. I do not believe that there is now in existence one single sinecure which Parliament has not already abolished prospectively. If there be any such, I say, in all sincerity, let us proceed to deal with such offices, and to abolish them at the earliest possible period. Acting on this principle, this House and the country will recollect, that the Government have no selfish interests to counteract or divert us. We have created no sinecures; but I am not quite sure that the hon. Member and I agree in the definition of a sinecure. He spoke of the Lords of the Admiralty, and the Lords of the Treasury, as if they were sinecurists. Now, I can assure the hon. Gentleman, that if he knew as much as I do of the labour which my hon. friends at the Treasury Board per form, he would feel himself bound to confess that there never was a more preposterous misapplication of terms, than the use he has made of the word "sinecure." If to act at the Treasury Board be a sinecure, all I can say is, that the hon. Member must not quarrel with me, if I call it a sinecure, to go through a contested election for the city of Dublin. If the hon. Gentleman had been a little more behind the curtain, he would have known better. Let me invite the hon. Member, and the hon. member for Middlesex, to pay me a visit at the Treasury, when I shall be very happy to show them, by way of example, the extent of business which my indefatigable friend, the member for Portsmouth, who belongs to our Board, frequently transacts in twenty-four hours. I shall show them, in like manner, the infinite labours of my other friends. Let them tell this House and the public, on their return—(if they can do so with truth)—that "these of ficesare sinecures." I do not justify the permanent continuance of such sinecures as those of Lord Ellenborough and of Lord Kenyon; but when those offices were granted, I again repeat, the emoluments of the Judges were not what they now are, and those sinecures were permitted to exist for the special purpose to which I have alluded. It is certainly true, that the noble sacrifice which was made by the Marquess Camden might have been imitated in other quarters; but whilst we admire, we have no right to prescribe such sacrifices. I cannot allude to that most patriotic act without endeavouring to express my sense of the unexampled and generous public spirit which dictated it; but it is one thing that a statesman should take the course which virtue and patriotism prescribe, and it is another that the State should interpose forcibly, in order to compel an abandonment of private right. We may quarrel with the man who, with the means of generosity at his disposal, is deaf to the wants of his fellows, and refuses to assist them; but we must not steal his purse in order to endow an hospital. In dealing with this matter, we must consider the rights of the parties; and, as legislators, we must maintain a strict adherence to established, or even to implied, legal rights. In these cases other considerations are involved, and considerations, too, far-more important to the public than a mere question of saving a few thousands, and of realizing, at the hazard, if not by the sacrifice of principle, in the sixtieth or seventieth year of an old man's life, what may be justly and safely effected on his decease. If the hon. Gentleman will modify the wording of his Motion so as not to surrender his opinion, or to call upon me to surrender mine, there can be no objection to affirm his resolution; but, in the judgment of some, there might be a considerable objection to affirming a resolution which, without necessarily deciding, would seem to decide this long-debated point. I have to thank the House most sincerely, for the patience with which I have been heard; and to apologize for having detained Members on a subject so dry, and in its details so uninteresting. These are, however, details with which I am necessarily conversant; and thinking the acts alluded to creditable to the Government, I am happy to have seized an opportunity of making this statement. I am entitled to do so without exposing myself to any charge of vanity, because no credit can be personally due to me for these reductions. I have only carried into effect the instructions of those under whom I serve; and I have, therefore, a right, as an individual Member of Parliament, at once to justify my adherence to the present Government, and to refute the charges made by the hon. Gentle man, imputing to us a betrayal of our trust, and a violation of our pledges. I ask the House with confidence, whether I have not proved that our promises have been performed, and that in power, as out of power, we have steadily clung to our principles on all the great questions of economy and retrenchment?

Mr. Henry Lytlon Bulwer

said, that though he did not think they acted rightly, who were always making attacks on the Government, and denying that they did anything, yet it must be admitted, that a watchful Opposition not confining, themselves strictly to recommendations which were easily and immediately practicable, but occasionally going a little beyond that line, and urging the Ministers forward to do something more, were of great advantage both to the country and the Ministers, the latter of whom frequently were glad to have forced on them an excuse for doing what the people required. He admitted that the Government had reduced 40,000l. a-year out of 140,000l. a-year, in our dip lomatic service. Less expense was now necessary in that department than formerly; for then, when Ministers were sent to kings alone, it might be a wise policy to give them the means of expending large sums, and living in the style of those around them; but now that kings were not all-in-all, and were themselves responsible to Representative Assemblies; and now when business was the chief object of the mission the necessity of a large expenditure was considerably diminished. For example, Lord Burghersh, who had been Ambassador at Florence, with a salary of 5,000l. a-year was recalled, and his place was supplied by a Chargé d' Affaires, whose salary was 2,000l. That was an improvement as to the revenue, and no doubt the business at Florence was as well done as when if cost 5,000l. a-year. The Government had certainly done something in the way of reduction; but they might advantageously carry it much further. He wished his hon. friend would withdraw the Motion, which was too general and comprehensive in its nature, and would introduce to the notice of the House some individual case, to which no vague and general answer could be given. He knew that this was the case as to most matters of finance; for he had once undertaken to bring forward a question on that subject, but was warned by the hon. member for Middlesex, that it would occupy him some months to examine the documents necessary to render his statements intelligible.

Sir Samuel Whalley

could not but remember that the present Ministers had come into office upon the distinct pledge of economy, and yet now in the eighteenth year of peace, the expenditure still continued most enormous. He admited, that the Ministers had made some retrenchment; but not enough to satisfy the reasonable wishes of the people. They had come into office opposed to the known wishes of a majority in another place, and had been placed by the people in a prouder situation than any of their predecessors, upon their pledging themselves to economy. Yet he could not congratulate them on their having satisfied the hopes of the people in the reductions they had effected. Perhaps, in answer to this, the noble Lord would appeal to the reduction of the duty on soap, and to the repeal of a few other comparatively trifling duties; but the people would not be satisfied till they got rid of that direct taxation which so much oppressed them. Their wishes on that subject were known to the noble Lord before he came into office, and he must be considered to have taken office with the intention of gratifying those wishes. He certainly could not give his humble support to the Government till the wishes of his constituents in this respect were satisfied. The metropolis suffered most from these direct taxes, and the inhabitants had a right to complain. Nothing made the present Ministers so popular when they were out of office, as their opinions upon the Pension List. But how had the expectations which those opinions raised been fulfilled? He was glad that the Ministers did not mean to oppose the placing of this Resolution on the Minutes of the House, and he should therefore hope that the hon. Member would not withdraw it, but would put it on the records of that House, as a proof that that House did bear in mind the necessity of economy, and was desirous of gratifying the wishes of the people.

Sir Harry Verney

could not let the observations of the hon. member for Coventry pass without some remark. That hon. Member seemed to suppose, that the expenses of the diplomatic establishment of this country might be considerably lessened. Now, he must say, that consuls under the present system were less efficient in maintaining the interests of British merchants than they had been under the former system. In his opinion they should be persons with a respectable salary, and not merchants actually engaged in trade. He recommended the Government to observe the condition of South America most attentively, particularly the extensive dominions of Paraguay, which would present a wide field to British industry and enterprise. He hoped that the Government would establish a good consulship at Monte Video, by the castle of which all ships must pass to make their way to those parts of South America, where, he believed, a most extensive commerce would be called into existence, when the Chinese system of exclusion maintained by Dr. Francia was at an end. In the same manner he advised the Government to watch the trade on the western coast of South America, as he believed it would materially affect our trade with China. It would be the more necessary to do this when we threw open, as we were about to do, the trade of China. The Americans had already directed their attention to these matters, and the Sandwich Islands had recently been made a sort of dépôt by them for their China trade, and their trade with South America.

Mr. Hume

had never stated, that the present Ministry had made no reductions in the expenditure. On the contrary, he knew, and had always said, that consider able reductions had been made, but that these reductions had not been commensurate with the wants of the country, or the wishes of the people. With respect to what the hon. member for Coventry had said about the difficulty of making up the proofs of a financial statement, he wished to observe that since he had given the hon. Member that warning, things had considerably changed. He was happy to say, that a considerable simplification in the statement of public accounts had taken place since 1821. A Committee of Public Accounts had been appointed by Lord Bexley, in consequence of his recommendation; and now any one might make himself acquainted with the Finance Accounts without any such labour as formerly. Indeed, there would be now no difficulty in the matter, save and except so far as related to the sums stopped in their course to the Exchequer. The Civil List Accounts had also been simplified by his right hon. friend, but much yet remained to be done, and be trusted that all the accounts would be still further simplified, as they might be with little trouble, in the course of next year. He was sorry, however, to be obliged to tell his hon. friend that, after all the reductions which had been effected by the Government, they had only just left the expenditure at the level at which he found it when he took up this subject in 1821. The expenditure of 1833 was within a very small fraction as large as the expenditure of 1820. The reduction in the amount of it arose entirely from the diminished charge of the national debt since that time. He would prove that point beyond all contradiction. He must begin by reminding his right hon. friend of what he (Mr. Hume) had stated in 1821. He had said that in the year 1792 our whole expenditure amounted to 15,000,000l. Of this sum 9,000,000l. was devoted to defraying the charge of the national debt, and the other 5,000,000l., or rather more, say 5,500,000l. was distributed over the military, naval, civil, and diplomatic services of the country. He had then put it to the House that in the year 1819 the expense of those services had risen from 5,500,000l. to 22,000,000l., and that the expense of the debt had risen from 9,000,000l. to 30,250,000l. In the year 1821 the expenditure was 53,000,000l.; now it was 50,000,000l. Of this sum 28,000,000l. and upwards went to pay the interest of the debt, so that the difference in the amount of the charge of the debt in 1819, and in 1823, was in round numbers, 2,900,000l. Now this was, within a very small fraction, the sum of the difference between the amount of the expenditure in 1819 and in 1833. He, therefore, contended that he had a right to say, that the difference in the expenditure of the two years arose from the diminished charge of the national debt, effected as everybody knew, by the reduction of the 4l. and the 5l. per cent to stock bearing a lower rate of interest. The saving on the establishments of the year 1820 was now, in the year 1833, not more than 100,000l. He admitted that in that interim the expenses of our establishments had much increased, and that the late Government had done much, and that the present Government had done more, to reduce our expenditure to the level of 1820. One great advantage had been derived to the country from the accession of the present Ministers to office, and that was, that they had reduced the charges on the Civil List, and had brought all the expenses of the State, save about half a million, under the control of Parliament. There was no department into which the House could not at present inquire, nor had any accounts for which he had moved yet been refused to his Motion. Happen what would, the House was now placed in a situation in which, with a little trouble, it could have the amplest statement of the national finances that man could wish. In 1821 he had proposed to make a reduction in the expenditure to the amount of 4,280,000l.; and he had then gone through every branch of the public service, showing, item by item, how that reduction could be made in the then existing establishments. That was not, however, all the reduction which he at that time contemplated; it was only the first instalment which he demanded on behalf of the public. He showed to the House that by a reduction of the duties on candles, leather, salt, and soap, all which duties had since been repealed, a reduction might be made to the great relief of the consumers of those articles, and to the amount of 3,000,000l., in the sums paid into the Exchequer by the people. He had, after the reduction, still 1,000,000l. remaining for the relief of the people. His hon. friend seemed to suppose that, as he then called upon the Government to repeal the duties on exciseable articles, he was changing his ground in now calling upon them to repeal the House and Window-tax; but he denied that there was any inconsistency in his mode of proceeding, as he called upon the House to repeal the House and Window tax (as he called upon it in 1820 to repeal the other taxes), because it was an unfair, a partial, and an expensive tax. Looking at the change in the currency, which was just then coming into operation, he had advised the House, in 1820, if it could not return to the establishments of 1792, at; least to assimilate their condition to that in which they were at that time. He recollected well that when Mr. Pitt and Lord Sidmouth proposed to increase the salaries of different public officers, the reason assigned was, that money was so depreciated in value, and prices had risen so excessively that they could not live upon the amount of their incomes. His argument ever since 1820 had been, that as we had now returned to cash payments, and restored money to its former value, so we ought also I to reduce the salaries of public servants to their former amount. It might be an unpleasant necessity to come to such a determination; but as necessity had no law, so also had it no limit. He admitted, that there had been a change in the mode of taxation since 1820, but he was sorry to say there had been no change in its amount, no relief given to the people by a reduction of the sum which it extorted from their pockets. Besides, if the change in the currency were taken into the account, the taxation of the country was now one third heavier than it was in 1820. For instance, if the taxes were to be paid in corn, it would take one third more quarters to pay them now, than it would have taken in 1820. The point which he wished to bring the House to was this—that though Government had made great reductions, and though several of their changes in taxation had been very beneficial, the same amount as before was taken out of the pockets of the people. Now, he should wish to see the excise taken off all excisable articles; he should also wish to see the duties removed from all raw materials, as such duties were positive impediments to industry; he should wish to see all monopolies extinguished, and particularly the Corn monopoly, because he was convinced that if those beneficial changes were made, the country could bear its burthens with comparatively little trouble. He thought, that where a Government had made a profligate grant, and where it had allowed a man money for which he had performed no service, the same distinction ought to be drawn by Parliament, which, in a similar case, would be drawn by individuals in private life. Parliament ought, he contended, to look at every pension, and to stop the issue of every farthing of public money which was not merited by public service. If it would only adopt that rule, the taxes would not produce misery to the extent to which they did produce it, and which exceeded the credibility of many Gentlemen who then heard him. The doctrine which had been laid down that evening by his hon. friend would not stand the test of examination. He maintained against his hon. friend, that all sinecures ought to be swept away. He held, likewise, that the present Parliament had a right to abolish the pensions which were granted under the authority of a former Parliament. Ought he, or ought any Member of Parliament, to be called upon to destroy the comforts of the widow and the fatherless, and to sell up their bedding, seized for non-payment of Assessed taxes, when the proceeds of those taxes, and he might say, of those sales, went to pay the pensions and sinecures of the rich and affluent? He protested against any such doctrine, as not less monstrous for its absurdity than for its injustice. The time was fast advancing, and even now was arrived, when an inquiry into the circumstances under which every pension and every sinecure was granted, must take place. He should not be acting the part of a good steward to the public if he allowed any inducement to prevent him from instituting such an inquiry. He cared not for the rank of the parties; the higher they were the more strict should be the investigation; the more means they had at command, the less regard should be paid to their complaints and remonstances. He recollected well that on a former occasion, when this subject was before Parliament, the noble Lord opposite had said, "I admit that the parties have no legal claims to these pensions, but I ask the House to grant them on the score of charity." To that assertion he had replied, that "our charity should begin at home, and that we should consider how many of our poorer countrymen were without a home, in order to pamper the pride and swell the pensions of the junior members of the aristocracy." To these sentiments he still adhered, and he would again repeat, that all pensions and sinecures ought to be swept away unless the holders could show that they had deserved them by public services. He thought, that the House had much to answer for, in allowing this Session to go by without fully investigating this subject. He trusted that in the next Session it would show more respect to the rights of the people, and that it would not be induced, either by a feeling of false delicacy or by a deference to individuals of high rank, to sanction grants which had been improperly made by former Parliaments.

Lord Althorp

expressed his surprise at the observation of his hon. friend the member for Middlesex, that no reduction had been made in the expenditure of the country save what had been effected by the reduction of the charges upon the National Debt. It was not easy to follow his hon. friend through a statement of figures, but he thought that if his hon. friend would only compare the same things in 1820, with the same things in 1833, he would find that reduction had been effected to the amount named by his right hon. friend (Mr. Spring Rice). His hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, had taken 53,000,000l. as the amount of our expenditure in 1820, and 50,000,000l. as the amount of our expenditure at present. Now, as he had not the papers of his hon. friend before him, he could not pretend to say on what data the statements were founded; but he could not help thinking that in the former year he had taken the amount of our expenditure exclusive of the cost of collecting the revenue, and that, in the latter year, he had taken the amount of our expenditure including the same cost. He would state the amount of the expenditure of our establishments in 1820, and also in the present year; and, comparing the two, it would appear that, in 1820, they cost 22,087,000l., and in the present year 18,050,000l.; so that the difference beween these two sums was the amount of reduction effected in the interim. If he went to the votes of supply, he got the same simple mode of comparison. In 1820, the votes of supply amounted to 19,600,773l.; in 1821, 18,358,651l; and, in 1833, to 14,623,219l. Deduct this latter sum from the amount of the votes of supply in the years 1820, and 1821, and they would get the amount of reduction stated by his right hon. friend. His hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, had that evening used an argument respecting the reduction of taxation which he had heard his hon. friend use before on similar occasions. His hon. friend had said, that if, when taxes were taken off, the revenue, notwithstanding, sprung up to its former amount, the pressure on the people was not removed, inasmuch as they still paid, though in another way, the same amount of taxation. Now, a greater fallacy than this could not well be imagined, for his hon. friend could not but be aware, that when certain taxes were taken off, the relief which the people received from that remission of taxation enabled them to consume a greater quantity of other taxed articles. His hon. friend, therefore, was quite mistaken in contending that the amount of taxes taken off was no relief to the people, for the direct relief was not the less, because the revenue derived from other taxed articles had become greater. His hon. friend had given credit to the Government for not making any objection to the production of returns relative to the expenditure of the country. Certainly he should be most happy to grant his hon. friend any returns to establish, or to elucidate the case which he had stated to the House, if there were any such returns, as soon as his hon. friend moved for them. His hon. friend, to a certain extent, had misrepresented, though no doubt unintentionally, what he had formerly said on the subject of pensions. His hon. friend seemed to consider that he said, that all pensions were to be considered as charity. What he said was, that, in some instances, the continuance of the pension might be regarded as a matter of charity. The present Government, however, was undoubtedly, disinterested as far as regarded pensions and sinecures. These pensions were not held by friends of the Government—they were not given at the request of the friends of the Government—they were not, in one word, given by the Government. On the contrary, they were, he believed, with scarcely an exception, held by persons who, in politics, were opposed to the Government. Though he concurred in the doctrine that no pensions ought to be granted improperly, and that no sinecures ought, on any account, to be permitted in future; he was, nevertheless, unprepared to state, that where persons have had grants made to them by authorities which, at the time were competent, and upon which they relied for subsistence, it was justifiable to come forward and revoke the grants, and take away the pensions for the future. This was the doctrine which he had always held out of office, and to that doctrine he still adhered.

Mr. Baring

said, that, when at that side of the House, he was in the habit of voting with the noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen, who at present composed his Majesty's Government. They then reprobated principles for which they now stood up, or at least which they now confessedly practised. If any government wished to shroud their operations from the view of the public, they could not adopt any more effectual mode than that which the present Government had adopted in reference to the estimates of the present year; in fact, if they desired to take the House by surprise, they could not have taken a method better calculated to produce that effect, than, instead of laying the estimates before the House in the month of April thus to bring them forward at a period of the year when the attendance in that House must necessarily be thin, or amount to almost no attendance. There could, in his opinion, be no justification for such a practice. There certainly had been no parliamentary reason assigned for putting off the estimates to the present period of the year. The hon. member for Middlesex had said, that an improvident bargain was not binding upon Parliament. How could they expect that any faith could be reposed in public men, if contracts were thus to be disregarded? He for one would never be a party to any arrangement which even approached a breach of faith; but if any case could be shown him—of any fresh case, the arrangement for which was not concluded, he should he as ready as any man to put a stop to any extravagant expenditure. If the hon. member for Middlesex would show a single instance of a public functionary overpaid, or a pension granted for no services, he would agree at once to the abolition of such unmerited payments. The hon. Member must remember a Committee of that House, of which he (Mr. Baring) had the honour of being Chairman, which set very seriously about the work of reduction: they recommended the reduction of all the officers of State, and he believed that the hon. member for Middlesex agreed in every one of the reductions excepting that made in the salary of the Lord Chancellor. After the most careful attention which he could bestow upon the subject, he did not hesitate to declare it as his opinion, that the officers of the Government were not overpaid; that the remuneration they received was fixed at as low a rate as it could be fixed in a great country like this with any safety; for it was not to be doubted that peculation had always ensued upon insufficient payment. Once more be begged to declare, that he should be at all times ready to vote for any measure of economy that was consistent with the safety and efficiency of the public service, whether such vote should or should not have the effect of bringing us back to the scale of 1792, or any other period; but as to any general declarations, such as the present Resolution, he: must say, that he thought them not only waste of time, but open to much more serious objections.

Mr. Robinson

said, that the opinion of the House must be unanimous so far as the first part of the Resolution went, and it could only be as respected the latter that anything like an adverse discussion could arise. It was his opinion, that a most satisfactory case had been made out to show that the present Government had redeemed all the pledges they had given on the subject of economy. It was also his opinion, that the subject of sinecures ought to be separated from any abstract Resolution of the kind which had that night been submitted to the House, and he expressed that opinion with the less hesitation, feeling, as he did, that sinecures ought to be abolished. Much had been said at both sides respecting the improvident bargains made by Government; on that he had only to observe, that those arrangements and contracts had been ratified by Parliament. On the whole, he should be disposed to give his general support to Ministers in their economical arrangements, at least so far as they had gone; and this he did the more readily when he remembered the circumstance of the present Administration being the immediate successors of a Government which had done so much in the way of economy and retrenchment. Upon these grounds he joined in the request to the hon. member for Dublin to leave out that part of the Resolution which related to sinecures, in order that the House might come to a unanimous vole upon the question.

Sir George Phillip

thanked the hon. mover for the opportunity he had given to his right hon. friend (Mr. Spring Rice) to make that exposition of the views and conduct of Government on the subject of reductions. Day after day, and week after week, they had been listening to attacks made upon the Government for not making this or that reduction, and Ministers were made the subject of the most violent attacks, as if they had done nothing in the way of reduction, and bad taken off no tax whatever; it was, therefore, satisfactory that an opportunity had been afforded for undeceiving the public.

Sir Robert Peel

objected to the Resolu- tion for no other reason than because it was so obvious that all persons must fully acquiesce in it. He thought it a bad precedent for individual Members to get up in that House, and move merely abstract propositions, upon which there could be no difference of opinion. Such modes of dealing with public affairs appeared to him calculated to weaken the obligations of duty amongst the Members of that House. What advance was made by such a proceeding? What did they gain by it? They could not, by adopting any such Resolution, hope to get rid of the details of economy, and as nothing practical could be effected by the Motion, he should certainly vote against it, at the same time readily admitting that the days had gone by when public servants could be rewarded by sinecures; and as soon as existing interests expired, he should be perfectly ready to agree to the abolition of all sinecures, for Parliament had enabled the Crown to make superannuation allowances, and upon the faith of the Act which gave that power, the Crown had lent its aid towards the abolition of all sinecures.

Mr. O'Dwyer

said, that the right hon. Baronet objected to the Resolution because it was a truism, which he could not deny; then, if he negatived the proposition, he must contradict himself. [Sir Robert Peel: No, no!] The right hon. Gentleman declared that he would not vote for the Resolution, he would, therefore, vote against what he stated to be an obvious truth. The arrangements which some Gentlemen defended, and others contended ought to be put an end to, were adopted, it should be remembered, before the people were fully represented in that House. He should mention but one instance of unmerited sinecures, though many might be found. There was a noble Lord who drew from a sinecure in Ireland 1,700l. a-year, without ever signing his name.

Mr. George Frederick Young

thought that no hon. Member, in the course of his Parliamentary career, had ever witnessed an exhibition more absurd than that which took place that evening. The House had been occupied for upwards of four hours in discussing a question, which even the hon. Member himself who brought it forward, acknowledged to be a truism—a question, upon which no one out of doors entertained the slightest doubt. When such was the case, it was too bad to waste so much time, particularly when so many important Orders stood upon the paper. The late period of the Session should be taken into consideration, and it should be recollected that many complaints were made that the public business was not advanced. On the present question he did not intend to vote at all, and he was sure that his constituents would not blame that intention. He begged, however, to assure the House, that he refrained from voting, out of no disrespect towards it.

The House divided; Ayes 88; Noes 79: Majority 9.

List of the AYES.
ENGLAND. Scholefield, J.
Aglionby, H. A. Scrope, P.
Attwood, T. Staveley, J. H.
Bainbridge, E, T. Strutt, E.
Bewes, T. Tancred, H. W.
Bish, T. Tayleure, W.
Brocklehurst, J. Thicknesse, R.
Brodie, Captain Todd, R.
Buckingham, J. S. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Chaytor, Sir W. Tynte, C. K. J.
Collier, L. Ward, H. G.
Curteis, H. B. Warburton, H.
Curteis, Captain Whalley, Sir S.
Dashwood, G. H. Wigney, J. N.
Edwards, J. Williams, Colonel
Etwall, R. SCOTLAND.
Ewart, W. Colquhoun, J. C.
Faithfull, G. Dunlop, Captain
Fellowes, Hon. N. Ewing, J.
Fellowes, H. Fleming, Hon. A.
Fenton, Captain Gillon, W. D.
Fielden, J. Hay, Colonel L.
Fryer, R. Oswald, R.
Gully, J. Sharpe, General
Halse, J. Wallace, R.
Handley, H. IRELAND.
Handley, B. Baldwin, Dr.
Hardy, J. Barron, W.
Harvey, D. W. Barry, G. S.
Hawes, B. Bellew, R. M.
Hodges, T. L. Blake, M. J.
Hughes, H. Fitzgerald, T.
Hume, J. Lynch, A. H.
Humphery, J. Martin, J.
Hyett, W. H. O'Connell, D.
James, W. O'Connell, J.
Langton, Colonel G. O'Dwyer, A. C.
Lester, B. L. Roche, W.
Lester, C. Roe, J.
Methuen, P. Ruthven, E.
Parker, J. Sullivan, R.
Parrott, J. Vigors, N. A.
Potter, R. Walker, C. A.
Rickford, W. PAIRED OFF.
Rider, T. Bulwer, H. L.
Robinson, G. R. TELLERS.
Romilly, J. Finn, W.
Romilly, E. Ruthven, E. S.