§ On the motion of Lord Althorp, the Order of the Day was read for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Supply. The noble Lord then moved, that the Speaker do leave the Chair.
§ Mr. Hume
rose to explain the grounds on which he could not concur in the motion that the right hon. Gentleman should leave the Chair. Ever since Parliament had met he had been anxious to know from his Majesty's Ministers whether they intended to make any and what reduction in the taxation of the country. The Ministers, however, carefully evaded giving any explanation on the subject in the Speech from the Throne, and the noble Lord had as carefully avoided the subject ill all his speeches delivered in that House; and the House was at that moment in complete ignorance whether Government intended to afford any relief to the people or not. The noble Lord had indeed plainly said, that he did not intend to offer any explanation, or to give an answer to any question on the subject till the termination of the financial year. The great objection to terminating the financial year on the 5th of January was, that the service for each year was begun before the House was in possession of the amount of the expenditure of the year preceding; and it had been resolved in consequence of that objection that the financial year should in future terminate on the 5th of April, instead of the 5th of January. He understood, that the object of the alteration was to give sufficient information to the House at the commencement of the year, to enable it to know what ought to be voted; but if that information was to be withheld till the 5th of April, it would be perfectly impossible that the object which they had 1006 in view in adopting the new regulation could be effected. He understood that the object of granting Supplies for five quarters of the year, last year, was, that the Government should have one quarter of a year in advance, so as to enable the House to consider the expenditure of the past year, before it was imperatively necessary that they should vote the Estimates for the next. What situation were they in now? In consequence of the refusal of the noble Lord to give any information, the House would derive no advantage from the change. They would come to the consideration of the establishment of the country without having previously ascertained what the state of the financial affairs was; and it was impossible that hon. Members could know what amount of Supplies they would be justified in voting, as they were in total ignorance of the income and finances of the country. He thought that after the long discussion on the Irish Bill, the people of England would expect that the House should take their grievances into consideration, and afford them some relief from the load of taxation under which they had so long groaned. He had just been reminded that the discussions on the Irish Bill were not unimportant; he did not deny, that they were important; but he doubted the propriety of having brought forward that Bill at all. The opposition to the Bill was most proper, and such as he trusted any similar Bill, should one ever again be brought forward would receive. He wished, however, to ask the House whether they met to consider in what manner the people should be relieved, or merely to echo the sentiments of his Majesty's Ministers, and whether the noble Lord was prepared to afford that relief which the nation expected? Undoubtedly, every Member in that House who had anything like a popular constituency, was pledged to economy and to a reduction of taxation; and the proper time to redeem that pledge was before they voted the Supplies for the different establishments of the year. The noble Lord had given the House no information as to his future plans of finance, or as to the extent of relief which he should be able to afford to the people. But, notwithstanding that, sufficient had appeared to show that no relief could be expected unless they reduced the establishments of the country. By the papers 1007 laid on the Table of the House up to April last when the accounts of the previous year were made up, it appeared that on the 5th of that month they had actually exceeded the income of the country to the extent of 1,200,000l., and had increased the public debt to the amount of 1,263,000l. It was perfectly evident, therefore, that no relief could be afforded and that no reduction of taxation could take place unless the charges for the public service were reduced below what they were last year. It further appeared, from a paper laid upon the Table during the present Session, that the surplus income from the 5th of April, 1832 up to the 5th of January, 1833, amounted to about 600,000l., so that the deficiency of the former year was half made up; still, however, there was a deficiency of more than half a million. He would submit to the House, therefore, whether any circumstances had taken place in the last quarter to warrant a supposition that the surplus of this year would more than equal the deficiency of last year, thereby balancing the difference between the former years, but leaving nothing over from which the country could expect relief. That was the true state of the case; and he would unhesitatingly assert, that unless the establishments of the country could be cut down, it would be impossible to reduce taxation. It was impossible to afford permanent relief by following the system which had been acted upon by former Ministers—that of borrowing money when the taxes did not cover the expenditure. He had proposed to the noble Lord opposite to take a vote of credit on account of the Estimates for three months, and in the mean time the House could be informed of the intention of his Majesty's Ministers, and be able to form a correct view of the amount of the Army and Navy, which ought to be kept up. The noble Lord, however, did not choose to accede to that proposition, and had now come forward to ask the House for the whole of the Naval Estimates of the year. He called on the House that night to vote 27,000 men for the service of the Navy; meaning to ask them on Wednesday to vote 89,000 men for the service of the Army, and on some future day to vote a proportionably extravagant establishment for the Ordnance. If they voted that number of men for the service of the year, they must necessarily vote money 1008 for the support of that number. And he wished to ask them if they voted that money, how could they consistently demand a reduction of taxation, or give that relief which the people so fully expected? In order to show that these were not his own ideas and that he did not state them on his own authority, he would read a passage from the Report of the Finance Committee which sat in 1828, which would show what the opinion of that Committee on the subject was, after a careful examination of the circumstances of the country. They said that "as the army and navy were the great source of expense to the country, it was only by keeping them within proper limits that any great saving could be effected." It was not by reducing a small and trifling office here and there, that they could make any reduction in the taxation worthy of notice. No real reduction could take place, unless they assailed the army, the navy, and the ordnance; and the Finance Committee had accordingly said in their report, "the Committee, after full consideration, adopt the opinion expressed by the Select Committee of finance of 1819, that it is difficult to determine the proper medium to be preserved between a position of complete preparation for defence, and that state of economical reduction which may prudently be conceded to the resources of the country. But during a period of peace the Committee must advert, as that Committee did, to the necessity of turning times of tranquillity to the improvement of the revenue, by retrenchment and economy, without which the best means of defence may be rendered incapable of exertion in moments of alarm and danger; they beg earnestly to press this observation upon the serious attention of the House." lie would ask if they were not then in profound peace? In the Speech from the Throne, they had been told that no fears were entertained of external hostilities, and he hoped none were entertained of internal commotion—consequently they were in a situation to adopt the recommendation of the Committee, and to give the people that relief which they so much required. At present they kept up the war establishment in a time of profound peace. This was, in his opinion, altogether inconsistent with the welfare and happiness of the country; and he therefore felt it his duty to call the serious consideration of the House to the 1009 subject. Clime was increasing in the country, and they could have no hope of checking that increase unless the people could more easily than at present attain comfort and preserve themselves from poverty. There could be no doubt that the increase of crime was caused by the poverty and misery of the people, occasioned by excessive taxation. That in his opinion was the proper time for them to pledge themselves to those reductions in the expenditure which their constituents expected, and it would be out of their power to reduce the expenditure, unless they reduced the army and navy. It was only by so pledging themselves, and redeeming the pledge, that they would get the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any Chancellor of the Exchequer, to do what the country expected of them. He believed the present Chancellor to be as honest a man as had filled the situation for some time, but, like all his predecessors, the change of place seemed to have changed some of his opinions regarding economy. The report of the Finance Committee of 1828 laid it down as a principle, that no greater establishment, nor any more money than was absolutely necessary should be taken from the people at any time, and if that were true as a general principle, how especially applicable was it at a time of great distress and peculiar difficulties arising from the excess of taxation. He was prepared to show that the taxes were now as heavy as they were in the year 1817; for although a large amount of taxes had been taken off since that year, still the country paid as much in taxation measured in ounces of gold and quarters of wheat at the present time as it did in 1814, 1815, and 1816, when the taxes amounted to 69,000,000l. Many instances came within his own knowledge of the distress which taxes created, one of which only he would mention. In the parish of Covent-garden, out of 500 houses the occupiers of only fifty had paid the Assessed Taxes, while 357 out of the remaining 450 refused to pay those taxes, either in consequence of surcharges, or from inability to pay. He was one who had concurred in the re-establishment of the standard, for he thought that right; but then the Government ought to have reduced the expenditure of the country in the same proportion. Had that been done, the present difficulty would not have existed. He had made a 1010 statement in 1826, which showed that the average amount of taxation (it being 70,000,000l. during the three years commencing in 1813 and ending in 1815, was equal to 15,853,000 quarters of wheat, and that the average of the three years from 1823 to 1825 was equal to 17,434,000 quarters. There had been an actual increase in the burthens of the people of ten per cent, though the nominal taxes in the latter period was only 52,000,000l., while they amounted to 69,000,000l. during the former period. Then as to gold, if the amount of taxation were measured in ounces of gold, it would be found that as many ounces of gold, reduced only three per cent, were paid in taxes during the years 1823, 1824, and 1825, as had been paid during the years 1814, 1815, and 1816. A similar observation might be extended to the present time. He thought that our taxes were heavier at present, measured in corn, than they had been at any former period; and as long as corn and bullion were taken as the standard which regulated the transactions of men, the amount of them, paid in taxes, ought to be taken as the real criterion by which to judge the amount of the taxation of a country. There was one point more to which he wished to draw the attention of the House, as being of great importance. He considered that poverty was the great cause of the increase of crime in England. The average number of persons committed for offences during the five years from 1805 to 1809 was 4,692; while the average of the years from 1820 to 1825 was 13,005; and from 1828 to 1832 the average was 18,764; in 1805 the number of commitments was 4,605; in 1832 the number was 20,825. That deserved great attention, because the amount of crime might be taken as a criterion of the distress and difficulties to which the people were reduced. If poverty and distress were the result of taxation, they ought to use every effort to reduce the amount of it, in order to give the people relief. They ought, then, to take the view of the subject which had been recommended by the Finance Committee of 1828, and make every reduction in the naval and military establishments that was practicable. No man could doubt that if a large reduction were made in the expenditure, that general distress would be relieved and crime diminished. They were in the habit of looking at the amount of those establishments 1011 in detail; but when they summed the whole together, it was surprising to see the amount to which they swelled. This year, for instance, they were asked to vote 27,000 men for the service of the navy, 89,000 for the army, and between 8,000 and 9,000 for the ordnance; making a total of 124,000 men. This was exclusive of Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, which cost the country at least half a million sterling. He thought that 120,000 men were quite disproportionate to the wants of the country, and the means of the people. The House would do welt not to vote that force for the present year, but to insist on a large reduction as the only means of reducing taxation. He did not wish them to go back to the Estimates of 1792, but they ought to look to them as a pattern, and endeavour to bring back the establishments of the country to their state at that period. The Finance Committee of 1828 thought, that a large reduction in the navy was, at that time, not only possible but necessary. The number of men voted for the service of the navy in the year 1792 was only 16,000, marines included, and now, though there was no prospect of war, nor any cause for our increased force, the question was, whether they should vote 27,000 for the service of the present year. Ministers ought certainly to have the confidence of their supporters; but, at the same time, when such a large demand was made on the resources of the people, it was proper and necessary that the House should receive every explanation before voting the Estimates. He would remind the House of the opinion of Sir George Cockburn, whose long experience gave the greatest weight to what he said. That gallant Officer had been asked his opinion as to the keeping up so large a force as 30,000 men. He said, that nothing but State necessity could justify it. He was then asked what number of men he should consider necessary to be kept up in time of peace? He had made an Estimate, which altogether amounted to about 16,000 seamen and 4,000 marines. This was the opinion of that gallant and most experienced officer of the amount of force requisite to be kept up in time of peace; and he (Mr. Hume) would ask, what was there in the state of the country at this moment which required the maintenance of more than a peace establishment? We had certainly embroiled ourselves in meddling with Holland, though he trusted 1012 that this unlucky affair would soon be settled—but even if it were not, such a very large naval force would not be necessary. The present Administration had called themselves an economical one, and very great things had been and were expected of them; yet it was a fact that a larger naval and military force was kept up by them than by their predecessors. The Estimates of the Duke of Wellington's Administration were considerably exceeded by those of the present Ministers. The right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had taken great credit to himself for reducing the establishment to 27,000 men; but the House would scarcely credit the fact, that he had scarcely reduced them one single man. The Duke of Wellington's Estimates were 29,700 men, 2,700 of whom were for the blockade service. These 2,700 men the right hon. Baronet had struck off, and transferred the duties to the Custom-house department, by which department those men were to be paid. Where then was the reduction? In the year 1817, there had been a Finance Committee appointed; and if hon. Members had an hour or two to spare, they could not employ them better than in studying the Report of that Finance Committee, where they would find the strongest recommendations of strict economy—recommendations which he was deeply grieved to see had not been attended to. If they had time, also, to look at the speeches of Lord Castlereagh, they would find that Minister expressing his deep regret at being unable, from the hostile demonstrations displayed, and armies kept up, by other European nations, to make any reduction in the number of our force; expressing, however, a determination to make the most decided reductions as soon as ever these hostile demonstrations should subside. There were no such reasons for keeping up an enormous military force at present, and yet our naval and military establishments were greater than ever. With respect to the marines, there were now 9,000, and 5,000 were heretofore found sufficient. Taking an average of the number of seamen and marines for six years, from 1817 to 1823, it appeared that this average was only 20,000; and he should be glad to know what there was in the state of England, or in the state of Europe, to warrant the keeping up such a preposterous force. There were full 11,000 more seamen, he asserted, than could pos- 1013 sibly be wanted. These facts were a full explanation as to what rendered it necessary to levy such an enormous and overwhelming amount of taxation from the people. In the year 1823, there had been a very large increase in the number voted on account of piracies. One year the state of things in India was an excuse for a further increase; and, the next the state of Portugal called for an addition to our already enormous force. But there had, on these occasions, at least, been some grounds alleged for the various additions. Now there was no reasonable pretence for keeping up such a preposterous force, everything was quiet, and none of the causes which had been assigned for former additions could now be brought forward; and, indeed, if we had not so unwarrantably and blameably taken upon ourselves to meddle with the affairs of other people, we should not have occasion to keep up a greater force than 16,000, or at the utmost 20,000. The noble Lord proposed to the House a vote for 27,000; but he would strongly urge upon the House the necessity of not voting more than 20,000. It was true, that we were obliged to keep up a naval force in Portugal for the purpose of protecting our merchants. He would again earnestly entreat the House, before they voted for these Estimates, to show the Government and the people, by a large majority, their full determination to make large reductions in the taxes. He did not mean to go back so far as 1792 for a standard, though, as the whole of the troops including those stationed in Ireland, consisted but of 45,242 men, he did not see why there should be a larger force kept up now, when there was less occasion than ever for large establishments. Speaking of Ireland, he could not but express a feeling of deep regret at the apathetic indifference with which the English people had for the last twenty years suffered themselves to be taxed for the support of 11,000 or 12,000 soldiers in Ireland, for the maintenance of despotism and tyranny in that country. The number of our troops was gradually increasing up to the year 1824, when their number was 73,000; but our army was never so great as at present, since those years when we required such large forces to be kept up in France. At the present period, making an ample allowance for our additional colonies, there could be no possible necessity for more than 55,000 1014 men; but as to the number of forces proposed to be kept up by Ministers, amounting to no less than 89,000, he conceived such a proposition to be monstrous, and one to which the House ought never to give its consent. The artillery had formerly been about 4,000, and had hitherto been found quite adequate for every purpose, but the present Ministers required 8,800. The whole amount of men composing the three descriptions of our forces exceeded 120,000. Adding to this number the Military Staff, the Volunteers, and the Yeomanry, making altogether an additional armed force of nearly 60,000 men, there would altogether be found to be the enormous body of 180,000 armed men. There could be no possible necessity or excuse for maintaining such a monstrous force as this. There must be a decided and effectual reduction in their numbers; it would be no use to strike off a quarter-master here, or a drummer-boy there—no, they must set to work in earnest, and reduce ail the services to a great extent. This was the only way in which that House could perform its duty to the people; they ought not to vote a single estimate without coming to a fixed and unanimous determination of reducing the establishments. It was not proper that one man should be kept up more than the service required, or than the people could pay for. It was quite vain to think that they could satisfy their constituencies, or afford them relief in any other way than that of reducing the taxes and the public establishments. Owing to the extent to which these had been kept up to, to the change in the currency, and other circumstances, the people, he repeated, were now paying an amount of taxation more grievous, if not greater, than they were paying in 1813. Was it therefore fit that they should persevere in their present extravagant course? The best means of securing general tranquillity at home, would be, to reduce taxation, and so to relieve the oppressive burthens of the people: the best way to secure us from aggression abroad, was to reduce our establishments, and refrain from meddling with the affairs of other people. He should conclude by moving as an Amendment on the Motion, for the Speaker leaving the Chair, the following Resolution;"That it is expedient, before voting the Estimates for the Naval and Military Establishments for the public service of the year, that this House should 1015 be informed of the state of the finances of the country, and whether any, and what relief to the people from the burthen of taxation, in order that the establishments may be suited thereto. If that were carried, he should also move a Resolution, "That it is imperative on this House to require a large reduction of taxation, as the best means of affording relief to the country." He trusted that no Member of that House would think that, in proposing these Resolutions, he had the remotest intention of throwing any difficulty in the way of Ministers. He did not at all wish to interfere with them; but lie intended to give them a hint, it might be a broad one certainly, that they must reduce their Estimates so as to allow of a proportinate reduction of taxation.
§ Lord Althorp
said, to reply to the first observation of his hon. friend, relative to the change in the financial year, his hon. friend had not correctly stated the objects which had been contemplated by Ministers in that alteration; but which, unfortunately, had not been accomplished. The intention had been, that the Estimates for the ensuing-year should be voted before the commencement of the financial year, and not that the statements of the revenue for the previous year should be laid before the House before the end of that year; that was plainly impossible. It was true that Ministers would not be able to get the Estimates for the ensuing year voted before the commencement of the year; but that was owing to the House having been so much occupied with more important business. The hon. Member gave, as his object in proposing his Resolutions, that Parliament and the country at large should be informed, in the first place, as to the state of the finances, before they voted the Estimates, so as to know exactly what they had to expend. This, he believed, was a fair statement of the hon. Member's proposed objects. He must say he had been somewhat surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman refer, in support of his views, to the Report of the Finance Committee. The recommendation of that Committee certainly was, that Parliament should not vote more than was absolutely necessary for the purposes of the State. It was unnecessary to cite this recommendation, for the principle it laid down was one which every government admitted, and the present Government was guided by—namely, to cut down taxation to the lowest possible 1016 amount consistent with the interests of the State. The Committee properly said, that whatever might be the state of the finance,. Ministers were not justified in asking a single farthing more than the public service required. The hon. member for Middlesex, however, made it out that the establishments must be reduced, because the revenue was not flourishing. Why, if that principle were admitted, the consequence would be, that the Government might be extravagant whenever the revenue was ample. The proper principle to act on was, to cut down the establishments to the lowest amount consistent with the public service, and then raise the sum necessary to defray that expenditure in the least objectionable manner. The hon. Gentleman said, that the only way by which a reduction of taxation could be produced, was by a reduction of the expenditure; this, of course, was one great mode; but there might also be a reduction of taxation produced by an increase in the revenue. The hon. Gentleman had truly stated the deficiency at the close of last year, 1,240,000l.; but the hon. Member had forgotten to take into account the immense reduction in expenditure in the Estimates for this year, amounting to upwards of 2,000,000l. In fact, the hon. Member altogether took too gloomy a view of the condition of the country. The hon. Member, in proposing the Motion, had said that he felt it necessary to press upon Government for a reduction of taxation, from his persuasion that they would not institute such a reduction, if left to themselves. He (Lord Althorp) thought this charge very unjust, and one which could not be borne out by facts. The very first step he himself had taken upon entering into office, had been to make a large reduction of taxes—a reduction so large, that the revenue had considerably suffered from it. Surely, therefore, he could not be accused of any want of inclination to promote every possible reduction. He perfectly agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that the only effectual means of giving relief to the people was the reduction of taxes. The greatest portion of the hon. Member's speech, he must observe, had been inapplicable to the present Motion, for they related to the number of men which should be voted for the naval and military services, which would be properly discussed when the House was called upon to vote the number of men; 1017 he should, therefore, decline entering on this discussion at present. The question they had now to decide was, whether they would vote the Estimates for the year, before a statement was laid before them of the balance-sheet of the year? He contended, that the proper principle was, that the House, in voting supplies, should not be guided by the balance-sheet of the past year, but by what was considered requisite for the service of the year. He objected to the principle laid down by the hon. Member, for he thought that the expenditure ought to be regulated solely by the necessities of the country.
§ Mr. Robinson
did not consider the noble Lord's answer such as at all to impugn the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex, in which he entirely concurred. With respect to the alteration in the financial year, the noble Lord had corroborated the statements of the hon. Member.
§ Lord Althorp
explained. What he had said was quite the reverse. It would be utterly impossible for him to give the balance sheet of the year ending April 5th before April 5th came.
§ Mr. Robinson
contended that on general principles the House ought to be in possession of the fullest information as to the state of the general finances before they voted the Supplies. He had not heard the slightest answer to the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex, to takes vote of credit for three months; and if that hon. Member divided on the question, he should most certainly have his support. He did not blame the Ministers for the delay in bringing forward the Estimates; the engrossing nature of the business which had hitherto occupied the attention of the House sufficiently answered for them.
§ Mr. Herries
could not concur with the hon. member for Middlesex in the Motion he had made; but he did concur with him in many of his observations, and thought that they had received no answer from the other side. He could not concur with the noble Lord in the propriety of going into a Committee of Supply before the noble Lord had given that information which he, in common with the hon. member for Middlesex, thought necessary. He did not agree, indeed, with all the principles laid down by the hon. member for Middlesex. In his opinion, the first step was to ascertain the exigencies of the State, and next to make the revenue of the State accord 1018 with them. If the House were to be guided by the amount of the revenue, in framing the Supplies for the service of the year, it would, he believed, frequently run into great extravagance. One of the reasons which the noble Lord assigned for not giving a satisfactory explanation was, that the financial year was not yet ended, and that he was not able, accordingly, to make a complete statement of the finances for the year. But one quarter made very little difference in such a vast revenue as ours. It should, however, be remembered, that one advantage of the change which was much dwelt upon at the time it was proposed was, that it would enable the Government to bring before the House the expenditure for the year, and all the wants of the year. The House of Commons, it was said, would not have the consideration of the votes for the year brought under its notice till it had had time to consider the revenue and the resources of the country. He called upon the House to consider the situation in which the Government had placed itself with reference to this subject. The present Government had, in the present Session, gone far beyond any other Government in calling upon the House prematurely to vote the Supplies of the year before it had given the House any information. The Ministers were most backward in giving the House that financial information which was necessary; and the noble Lord had not stated any good reason why he should not give the House that information before calling on it to vote the Supplies. The noble Lord might have laid before the House an account of the produce of the revenue and his general views of the finances of the country. The noble Lord had now had one year's experience of the change made in the date of the financial year, and he wished to know what advantage the noble Lord had found from the change? This was the first year when it might be expected that the new system would be exhibited to the best advantage, and he asked, therefore, what benefit the public had derived from it? The noble Lord assigned as a reason for not making his financial statement, the great pressure of public business; but the noble Lord and his colleagues knew of this business, and they might have assembled Parliament sooner, rather than have infringed the new regulations. They might too, and he thought they ought to 1019 have dissolved the Parliament earlier, and called the Parliament together sooner for the despatch of business. The noble Lord might also have proposed the votes at an earlier period. He must complain that even yet the miscellaneous Estimates were not laid before the House, and that no reason had been given to satisfy the House on account of this remarkable omission. Again he called on the noble Lord to state, after one year's experience, if any advantage had been derived from the change in the financial year, and if any were derivable from it? in conclusion, the right hon. Gentleman declared, that he could not vote with the hon. member for Middlesex, though he by no means thought that the noble Lord had given any satisfactory answer to the observations of the hon. Member.
§ Sir James Graham
referred to the statement made by Mr. Herries before the Finance Committee in 1828, to show, in opposition to the statements of the hon. member for Middlesex, that the first duty of the Government was to provide for the exigencies of the State, and that the revenue ought to be made to depend on those exigencies, and not the expenditure to depend on the revenue; that it was after the necessary expenditure was settled within the narrowest limits, that the Government ought to consider the ways and means for meeting it. The right hon. Baronet eulogised the financial talents of the right hon. member for Harwich, and stated that he looked upon that as a most valuable document.
(interrupting the right hon. Baronet) was understood to say, that his statement before the Committee was meant to apply only to the Ways and Means of the year, and not meant to exonerate the Chancellor of the Exchequer from stating to the House the expenditure of the past year, and his view of the financial resources of the country, before calling on the House to vote the Estimates.
§ Sir James Graham
was content with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, and he called upon the House to notice the consistency of that with the statement he had just made. He understood it to admit that the expenditure of the country should first be regulated with the strictest regard to economy, and that then the taxation of the country should be. regulated accordingly. The right hon. Gentleman 1020 complained, too, of the Estimates not having been laid before the House; but he called the House to witness that the Navy Estimates were, within two days after the assembling of Parliament, laid upon the Table of the House. He had been willing to give every information to the House; and, of about forty returns moved for by the hon. member for Middlesex, he had objected to only one. He admitted that the experiment made as to the change in the date of the financial year had failed, but the House was aware of the cause why the Ministers could not accomplish their own views. They had felt it to be their paramount duty to bring the state of Ireland before the House, and on account of that every other business had necessarily been postponed. The right hon. Gentleman accused the Ministers of delay in assembling the Parliament; but the House was assembled the very first day possible, that was, the first day after the writs were returnable. The right hon. Gentleman also complained of them for not having dissolved the Parliament sooner. In making that complaint he could believe that the right hon. Gentleman was very sincere. But the fact was, that under the new Act for regulating the constituency, the first day on which the Parliament could be dissolved was the second of December, and the Parliament was dissolved on the third. It was not necessary for him to enter further into the subject, and he hoped that he had satisfied the House that the objections of the right hon. Gentleman were not well founded.
Sir Thomas Freemantle
concurred with the right hon. member for Harwich. He did not want an explanation of the Ways and Means of the year, but a financial statement of the expenditure of the last nine months, and the views of the Ministers as to the future financial prospects of the country.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, the noble Lord was determined not to make the statement demanded, and perhaps it was hardly worth while to carry the contest to a division, in which the noble Lord was sure of obtaining a victory. With such a determination on the part of the noble Lord, the House could only anticipate the result. The Motion, however, was full of benefit, and he could feel comfort in his anticipations. The Government was most anxious, as they all knew, to reduce the expendi- 1021 ture, and it only delayed the statement the more agreeably to surprise the public by showing that it had fully redeemed those pledges of economy which the Ministers made on taking office. He derived great comfort from the delay, and had no doubt that the disclosures of Ministers, when they were made, would surpass public expectation. He hoped his hon. friend would allow Ministers to go into a Committee, and make out, if they could, that the number of the army and navy they meant to propose was needful for the security of the country. If that number was not necessary, he had a well-placed confidence in the hon. member for Middlesex, that he would propose such a diminution as was proper. It was the duty of the House to diminish that number as much as practicable. As yet that House had done nothing' to show what it meant to effect in the way of economy.
Mr. Hume would not press his Motion to a division.
§ Amendment negatived, and the House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Sir James Graham
rose to propose the Navy Estimates. He hardly, he observed, needed to impress upon the House the importance of the subject he was about to submit to their consideration, inasmuch as it was the first vote connected with the great and expensive establishments of the country which had yet been brought before a Reformed House of Parliament. The country, he believed, had looked forward to the occasion with great anxiety, and so had he, because he expected to meet Gentlemen returned to the House, the faithful representatives of the wishes of their constituents, and resolved to enforce the most rigid economy in every branch of the public service. He had looked, however, to this period without apprehension, because he was confident of the determination of his Majesty's Government to enforce all practical economy to the utmost extent; and he felt assured that the House would use proper precaution in dealing with those great establishments on which the safety and honour of the country mainly depended. He was satisfied that the House of Commons would in all the questions of finance, which would be submitted to it, act with due caution and deliberation in the work of alteration or revision, in order that they might not compromise the safety or honour of the 1022 country. They would do nothing hastily or inconsistently with their duty to secure the happiness of their country. He had no hesitation in declaring that his Majesty's Government had done, and were determined to do, their utmost in promoting a reduction of the expenditure in this as well as in other departments of the public service; and it did appear to him that such reductions would be much better effected through the direct instrumentality of the Executive than by the immediate agency of that House, acquainted as the Executive must be with all the various details upon the subject, and responsible as it was for the proper performance of the duty that devolved upon it. He would proceed to call the attention of the House to the reasons which had induced him to come forward with the resolution with which it was his intention to conclude, and in doing so, it would be necessary for him to advert to the arguments which had been urged in the debate that had taken place previous to their going into Committee that night—arguments which were principally founded, or professed to be founded, upon the report of the Finance Committee of the year 1828. As this was an important point, the House would perhaps, forgive him for trespassing upon its time at some length with respect to it. With regard to the expenditure in 1828, he could not state any thing new, and he should only have to repeat the facts which were then laid before the House in the able and perspicuous statement of the present right hon. member for Harwich (Mr. Herries). He would compare the expenditure as it then stood, and the reductions that since that period had been effected in it. It appeared, from the finance report of the Committee of 1828, that the average annual amount of the public expenditure for the five years preceding 1827, from which were excluded all drawbacks, repayments, allowances, advances for public works, &c., but which constituted the expenditure connected with the revenue of the country, was 55,744,863l.; but this expenditure was divided by the Committee into two branches, first into that branch which could not be reduced consistently with the maintenance of the public faith, and the honour of the country; and into that susceptible of reduction. In their report the Committee say—"It may, in the first place, be proper to point out how large a pro- 1023 portion of this expenditure of 55,744,863l. was for charges of such a fixed nature as not to be susceptible of diminution by any measures of retrenchment that could immediately be adopted. Of this description are—
|The interest and charges of the debt, funded and unfunded||£28,940,701|
|The civil list||1,057,000|
|Pensions, not included in the civil list,||499,139|
|Half-pay, pensions, and superannuation allowances||5,455,990|
§ Thus, of the 55,000,000l. of expenditure in 1827, it was decided by the Finance Committee that there was above 35,000,000l. of such a nature that it could not be reduced; leaving at that period a sum of somewhat more than
|Charges of collection||3,816,435||3,736,792||3,671,053||3,627,529||3,629,983|
|Payments for bounties and other services charged on the gross revenue||1,470,157||1,411,489||1,204,621||960,638||904,348|
|Payments for interest, &c., of funded and unfunded debt, including the Russian loan raised in Holland||28,801,086||29,268,376||29,228,308||28,454,935||28,433,646|
|Permanent civil services, inculding civil list||2,084,713||2,140,236||1,922,449||1,435,254||1,738,403|
|Occasional expenditure and advances under acts of parliament||132,914||…||127,400||…||…|
|Civil services voted under the head of miscellaneous||2,012,116||2,485,661||1,9,50,109||2,854,013||2,396,921|
|Military and naval services annually voted||15,198,984||15,1,80,801||13,914,677||14,379,096||13,805,026|
|Total for the five years||£262,378,259|
§ Comparing the gross expenditure of 1832, with the gross expenditure of 1827, it would appear that government had made a reduction in that 20,000,000l. over which alone it had any control to the amount of nearly 5,000,000l. It was, proper that he should direct the attention of the Committee more specifically to the fixed charges of 1832, which were
|The interest and charges of the debt, funded and unfunded||£28,433,646|
|Pensions not included in the Civil list||607,670|
|Half-pay, pensions, and superannuation allowances||5,348,684|
§ It would appear, from these accounts, that the sum of money over which the 1024 20,000,000l. which, consistent with the maintenance of the public honour, and the faith of the country, might, in the opinion of the Committee, be beneficially reduced. He would now state what reductions in each successive year, from 1828 up to the present time, had been made in that sum. The following account, which had been prepared for him by his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would show how far those reductions had been progressively effected in the last five years, and exhibit, at the same time, the amount of the fixed expenditure for the year 1832;—He would proceed to read an Account of the Expenditure in the last five years, exclusive of Advances for Public Works, and exclusive of Repayments, Allowances, Discounts, &c.
§ Government had no control was, in the year 1827, in the proportion of seven to eleven to the whole expenditure; in the year 1832, it was in the proportion of seven to ten. If the reduction of five millions were compared with the whole sum which was under the control of Government, it would be seen that a reduction of no less than twenty-five per cent had taken place. He had thought it right to lay these statements before the House, because they would tend to show how narrow the ground was upon which Ministers had it in their power to operate. In 1827, it was narrow, extending only to about 20,000,000l.; but, in 1832, it "was still narrower, and only extended to 16,000,000l. He had no wish, whatever, in the observations which he had thought it his duty to make upon this subject, to 1025 claim great credit for his Majesty's Ministers, or to throw any imputation on any Administration which had conducted the finances of the country, previously to the period when the present Ministers came into office; but he deemed it necessary to make these statements, in order to show that his Majesty's present Administration had really not been guilty of that culpable negligence with respect to reductions in the expenditure of the country of which some hon. Members, who ought to have better understood the subject, seemed inclined to accuse them; and to prove, on the contrary, that they had exerted themselves to the utmost, to introduce the greatest possible economy in every department. It was his wish, in the next place, to call the attention of the House to the proportion (as compared with the whole of the savings) of the reductions which had taken place in the departments in which those Estimates were included which they were now more particularly discussing—he alluded to the Naval and Military Expenditure. In the year 1827, out of those 20,000,000l. that could be reduced, the naval and military expenditure amounted to 16,205,212l. In the year 1832, out of the 16,000,000l. to which those 20,000,000l. had been reduced, the naval and military expenditure was 13,805,000l. The House would sec from that, that of the 5,000,000l. which had been reduced, since 1827, 3,000,000l. consisted of redactions in the naval and military expenditure of the country. Since the present Government had come into office, every effort had been made by his colleagues, and by himself, to reduce the naval and military establishments, and that he should think would appear sufficiently from the fact, that out of those 3,000,000l., more than 1,000,000l.
|As compared with 1830.||As compared with 1831.||As compared with 1832–33.|
|Wages to seamen, & c||115,000||0||0||207,000||0||0||2,300||0||0|
|Victuals to seamen, & c||200,000||0||0||210,000||0||0||24,465||0||0|
|Wages to artificers||52,500||0||0||82,126||0||0||44,000||0||0|
|Timber and matrials||265,000||0||0||408,486||0||0||54,733||0||0|
|Other heads of service||144,321||0||0||90,280||0||0||18,652||0||0|
§ "The foregoing," the right hon. baronet continued to read, "rnay be considered as permanent reductions, as a 1026 had been saved by the present Government since it came into power. He would first establish that fact more clearly by a reference to a comparative account of the navy Estimates since 1829. In 1829, the navy Estimates were 5,878,794l.; in 1830, they were 5,594,955l.; in 1831, these Estimates, (though brought forward by the present Government, should be considered as the Estimates of the preceding Ministry, as it was in a forward state of preparation when the present Government accepted office), they amounted to 5,870,551l.; in 1832, they were reduced to 4,878,634l., and those to be voted for the present year would amount to 4,658,134l.;—that was to say, that the navy Estimates for the present year would be less than the navy Estimates for the year 1830, by 946,821l.—that they were less than the navy Estimates for 1831 by 1,212,417l.; and he was glad to say, that by reductions which he had been enabled to make since last year in the civil departments, and in the dock-yards, the navy Estimates for the present year would be less by 220,500l. than the navy Estimates for the past year. He would next proceed to call the attention of the House to the various departments in which the reductions, amounting altogether to 220,500l. upon the estimates of last year, had been made, begging the House to bear in mind that the number of seamen to be required for the service of the present year was preciscly the same as that of the last year. He would first read a comparative estimate of those reductions:—The decrease in the estimates for 1833–34—viz., as compared with those for 1830, 1831, and 1832, might be placed under the following heads—viz.:—peace establishment, except the number of men, and the purchase of stores and provisions, which must vary from political 1027 causes, with reference to the possibility of approaching hostilities. The amount of pensions granted to persons reduced, in consequence of the junction of the Navy and Victualling offices, is £20,234. The expenses for the three months from the 1st of January, to the 31st of March, 1832, were defrayed out of the balance of
|12||Commissioners, with salaries of||14,200||0||0|
|1||Paymaster of marines||1,000||0||0|
|61||Superior officers of yards, &c.||19,712||0||0|
|37||Inferior officers, ditto||3,885||0||0|
|Reductions between the 16th of November, 1S30, and the 1st of April, 1832||£45,763|
|Ditto, since the 1st of April, arising out of the consolidation of the Navy and Victualling-offices||28,310|
|Of which||£16,800||is for salaries of and above||£800 a-year;|
|and||£57,273||for salaries under||£800 a-year.|
§ The House would be aware that the whole amount of the reductions would not be immediately saved to the public—a large sum must be deducted, in order to provide for superannuation allowances. But it was not to be concluded, therefore, that the public would not benefit by those reductions. The reduction was permanent, while the payment of the superannuation would be only temporary, and continually decreasing till it was extinguished; and the saving therefore amounted to the I difference between an annuity of a less amount, terminable at a short, though indefinite period, and a permanent annuity. He would now call the attention of the House to the debt of the navy: that debt, as the House was aware, arose from this circumstance—that though the payments for seamen were voted annually, they were only paid as their ships arrived from the foreign stations where they were employed, and the long bills that it was the custom to draw for such purpose had been one cause of the increase of that debt. There were also always some arrears of pay due to the officers and sailors, but the best exertions had been made to reduce the debt of the navy. In 1830, it amounted to 1,314,060l.; in 1831, to 1,317,724l.; in 1832, to 977,179l.; and he trusted that he should be able to make a still greater reduction in it this year. The plan by which he proposed to effect that reduction was this—by making the bills, of which he had 1028 former years, by a pro formâ vote, but without any additional Ways and Means." He would next show what reductions had been made in the Civil Establishments by the Board of Admiralty since the 16th of November, 1830. The right hon. Baronet read the following Account;—
§ already spoken, payable at once, instead of being drawn as at present with long dates. He thought he had some right to complain of the cross-fire to which he had been subjected in the course of the debates which had taken place on this subject. By one set of Gentlemen opposite he was blamed for the reductions which he had made in the dock-yards. He was told, that he was proceeding upon the principles of a false economy, and that the interests of the navy and the interests of the country would suffer from such a system of reduction. On the other hand, he was attacked by the hon. member for Middlesex for not doing enough; and he was told, that he ought, to satisfy the House and the country, to proceed much further in carrying into effect the principle of economy. He should, in the first instance, confine himself to the charge which had been preferred against him, of indulging in an indiscreet and uncalled-for reduction of the expenditure connected with this department of the public service. The hon. member for Cambridgeshire (Captain Yorke), on the 14th of February, made the following observations:—'He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had reduced the expenditure of the navy; but he impaired its efficiency. He knew, from his own experience, that the efficiency of the navy was impaired by the reductions effected by the right hon. Gentleman. That 1029 righthon. Gentleman had saved one million on the whole expenditure; but that saving was effected on the most useful part of the naval force. It was effected by the reduction of 1,000 marines, and of 4,000 seamen, and by diminishing the expenditure on naval stores by 400,000l. He had seen the dock-yards at Portsmouth within the last six weeks, and he never saw a dockyard so clean swept. There were neither stores, nor timber, nor masts, nor cordage. He believed, that if a line-of-battle ship were to put into that harbour with the loss of a mast, there would not be a lower mast ready for her, nor even a top-sailyard. He thought it the duty of the Government to look not only to the saving, but to the efficiency of the service.'* On the very day after this charge was made, he sent an order down to Ports mouth for a return of the stores of the description referred to by the hon. Member then actually there, and the following re turn was immediately transmitted to him:
§ An Account of Masts, Yards, Rigging, Sails, and Stores,&c., in Portsmouth-yard.
|SHIPS OF THE LINE.|
|Rigging and blocks (fitted complete)||13 sets.|
|Sails (fitted complete)||16 suits.|
|——in store (not fitted)||4—|
|Rigging and blocks (fitted complete)||5 sets.|
|Sails (fitted complete)||2 suits.|
|——in store (not fitted)||6—|
|Sails (fitted)||7 suits.|
|Boats of sizes||138|
|Iron water-tanks for ships||3,613|
|Cables and cordage||1,053 tons.|
* Hansard (third series) xv. p. 692–3.1030
|Ditto, ditto, in yarns||1,601 hauls.|
|Oil, train||5 tuns.|
|Copper in bolts||98—|
|——old, for re-manufacture||186—|
|Iron bolts, fats, &c.||611—|
|Timber, English oak||4,802 loads.|
|Timber, foreign, oak and teak||12,826—|
|Thick stuff, English||209—|
|Spars for masts, large||218|
|Spars for hand masts||1,692|
§ He should not attach much importance to the charge which had been thus incidentally preferred against him by the hon. member for Cambridgeshire; but as a similar charge had been preferred against him by a noble Duke in another place just at the close of the last Session he felt called upon to give an explanation to the House. He was ready to acknowledge, that though it might be right that the people of foreign countries should not be minutely acquainted with the amount of stores in our naval yards, yet, as there was no danger of our ever being inferior to any other country in the case of a naval war, he thought it due to himself, and not likely to be injurious to the public interests, to make a frank and plain statement upon the subject. He would just, in the first instance, state the average expenditure for materials and stores when the noble Duke that had made the charge left office, and the average expenditure on the same account upon the 31st of January, 1832, He would confine himself to those articles which it was necessary to keep in store. Commencing, then, in the first instance, with ship-building timber, the number of loads in store, in 1830, was 56,633, and the expenditure was 15,401 loads. In 1831, the number of loads in store was 67,329, and the expenditure was 11,331. In 1832, the number in store was 64,023, and the expenditure 12,406; showing a 1031 difference of 9,565 loads more in store on the 31st of December, 1830, than upon the 31st of December, 1829. Then, of hemp, including yarn, the average annual expenditure of which for these four years was 2,347 tons, there were in store, in 1829, 9,950 tons; in 1830, 7,394; in 1831, 11,706; in 1832, 11,416, showing an increase of 1,466 tons. Of cables and cordage, the annual average expenditure of which was 2,069 tons, there were in store, in 1829, 3,388; in 1830, 3,500; in 1831, 3,746; in 1832, 3,649; exhibiting an increase of 261 tons. Of canvass, of which the annual average expenditure was 19,191 bolts, there were in store, in 1829, 38,121; in 1830, 33,667; in 1831, 43,069; in 1832, 36,041; decrease on 1829, 2,080. Anchors, annual average expenditure, 470¼; number in store, in 1829, 2,304; in 1830, 2,509; in 1831 2,538; in 1832, 2,516; increase in 1829, 212. Chain cables, annual average expenditure, 250: in store, in 1829, 641; in 1830, 724; in 1831, 748; in 1832, 780; increase in 1829, 139. He would next proceed to what was of considerable importance, in relation to the observations of the hon. member for Cambridgeshire, because on the deficiency of spars and masts, in stores, the hon. Member chiefly grounded his charge.
|LOWER MASTS I N STORE.|
|Ships of the line.||Frigates.|
|TOPMASTS IN STORE.|
§ Note.—The prices of 1831 are taken at the same rate as 1832, except for salt meat, which was £4. 15s 3d. per tierce in the former year, and £5. 19s. 8d. in the latter, amounting to £25,287,1032
§ Having gone through the various items, he hoped it hoped be apparent to the House, that the interest of the country had not been neglected by leaving the naval arsenals deficient of the means of fitting out our fleets. So far from there being a general diminution of the stock, there was, with a single exception, an increase of every article. He would next refer the House to the sums that had been expended in stores in the three years of the noble Duke's Administration, and to the sums that had been expended in the two years subsequent to the present Ministers coming into office, with also the amount that would be expended under the present Estimates. The right hon. Baronet then read the following table of the sums of money paid for the purchase of stores in the years 1828, 1829, and 1830; and in the years 1831,1832, and 1833:—
|1st of January to the31st of December.|
|(Estimate for 1833.)||£1,946,110|
|Increase in the last three years||£147,790|
§ Some doubts had been thrown on the quantity of victualling stores purchased, and with a view to showing the accuracy of those doubts a Return had been moved, for, which showed that the consumption of victualling stores last year exceeded the quantity purchased, to the amount of 46,900l.; but if the Return had been extended to two years, it would have been seen, that the excess purchased in two years amounted to 38,537l. He would read to the House, in order to show, that the purchase of stores exceeded the consumption in the last two years, an account of provisions and victualling stores purchased and consumed in the years 1831 and 1832. 1033 It might be said, he observed, that this was a fallacious proof, and that the proper way to have an accurate return on the subject would be to have an account, not of the stores purchased, but of the stores issued. If the hon. member for Cambridgeshire wished to have such an account, and moved for it, he (Sir J. Graham) would be most ready to let him have it. It was true, that there were more victualling stores consumed in the last year than purchased, but the fact was to be explained in this way. There was a large quantity of salt provisions always kept in store for the army and navy on foreign stations, which, from being kept too long, frequently caused a great loss to the public. In consequence of that fact, the Admiralty had last year come to the determination not to purchase so much of that description of stores, as had been purchased in former years. He would also mention other articles of stores, in the purchase of which a reduction had been made in consequence of the consumption of such stores being in no degree proportioned to the large supply of them that was actually in store. He felt almost ashamed to trouble the House by entering into such details; but he thought it expedient for the purpose of rebutting so grave a charge as that which had been brought against the Board of Admiralty on this head. He would, therefore, now proceed to point their attention to some particulars relative to the stores which were purchased on account of the Board of Admiralty. They were compelled, by existing contracts, to take a certain quantity of pipe staves, and the quantity, reckoning on the average of the consumption of a certain description of these during last year, would last 808 years; the stock of butts would last 535 years. The quantity of hoops would last 900 years. If the hon. member for Cambridgeshire would say, that the articles to which he referred—iron hoops, butts, &c., were an unfair specimen upon the subject, he would refer him to the article of salt provisions, to which he had already alluded. He would just mention an instance with regard to that description of stores to show how, by over-purchasing, the public were finally losers. He found, on looking back to the year 1816, that in that year there was serviceable salt meat sold by auction out of the navy stores to the amount of 10,357 tierces, which fetched 22,662l. It might have been very well if there was too much 1034 of that provision in store at the time to sell it out, though it would have been much more advantageous to the public, that it had not been bought at all. He found, however, on referring to a subsequent period of the same year, that 13,000 tierces had been purchased for the navy at a cost of 68,250l., thus making a loss to the public upon the transaction of no less a sum than 45,588l. The rule which he had laid down and acted upon with regard to the purchase of victualling stores was, to keep up a certain proportion of those articles which could not be got immediately in the British market; with regard to the articles which could be obtained in our own markets, Irish beef and pork were the only ones of which it was necessary to keep a considerable stock on hand, and the Estimates provided for the purchase of articles of that description for the navy and army to the amount of about 148,000l. He would next state the reductions which Ministers had made in the half-pay expenditure of the navy, and that would he hoped satisfy the hon. member for Middlesex, that his repeated admonitions on this subject were not so very necessary as he was pleased to suppose. The right hon. Baronet then read the following table:—
|Half-pay of all officers in the Navy in the years1829, 1831, and1833.|
|1st of January,||1829||1,023,248||0||0|
|Less in two years||1,235||0||0|
|1st of January,||1831||1,022,013||0||0|
|Less in two years||41,643||0||0|
§ The House would see from this table, that his Majesty's Ministers had, in the course of the two last years, reduced that portion of the expenditure by 41,643l.; that was to say, at the rate of about 20,000l. a-year. He did not wish to claim the credit of this for the existing Administration, as it" arose out of a regulation which he found in existence at the Admiralty on coming into office, and that regulation was, that only one officer should be promoted upon the occurrence of every three vacancies. He merely claimed credit for the present Government for having rigidly adhered to that rule, and the result was, the reduction he had already mentioned. He should now return to the objections which 1035 had been urged by the hon. member for Middlesex in reference to the promotions in the navy. He would take three periods—1828–29, 1829–30, and 1831–32, and state the number of promotions that occur-ed in those several periods. In 1828–29 213 midshipmen were promoted to be Lieutenants; in 1829–30,152 were promoted to be Lieutenants; and in 1831–32, 88 were promoted to be Lieutenants. In 1828–29, 130 Lieutenants were promoted to Commanders; in 1829–30,100 Lieutenants were made Commanders; and in 1831–32, only 31 were made Commanders. In 1828–29, 57 Commanders were made Post-Captains; in 1829–30, 51 were so promoted; and in 1831–32, there were only 17 promoted to that rank. It should be recollected, that on the accession of his present Majesty, in 1830, there was a flag promotion; and it was expected, upon his Majesty's Coronation in 1831, that a similar promotion would have taken place; but his Majesty's Ministers did not feel it consistent with their duty to the public to recommend it at that time. The next point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee was the number of labourers and artizans employed in the dock-yards. In 1830, the total number employed was 7,634. In 1832 the number was reduced to 6,683—that was to nearly one-seventh of the whole employed. The reduction of wages to the artificers employed in the dock-yards, at home and abroad, in the present Estimates—as compared with the Estimates of last year—was 44,000l. He trusted, that such arrangements would be made as to effect still further reductions in this part of the Estimates. He was sorry to detain the House at such length; but when so many charges were made, he considered it inconsistent with his duty to leave any of those topics untouched. He would next state distinctly to the House, but certainly with regret, that on a review of existing circumstances, and after the best consideration they had been able to give to the subject, his Majesty's Ministers felt that it would be inconsistent with the honour and safety of the country to propose a reduction in the number of seamen for the present year. On the most grave consideration, and with a view to all the circumstances of the case, they felt it their duty to propose the same number of seamen as was voted last year. The number voted last year was 18,000 seamen, 1036 and the number actually employed was about 19,000; the number of marines voted was 9,000, and the number employed about 8,000. There were three vessels of war about to be paid off', which would reduce the number of seamen employed, precisely to the number voted. And he must observe, that although a greater number had last year been employed, than was actually voted, no debt had been incurred. With reference to the observations of hon. Members, that they should like to see a balance-sheet of the naval expenditure. He certainly took credit to himself for the introduction of the principle of laying a special balance-sheet before the House every year. The act for that purpose would not come into operation for the first time as regards the final accounts till January, 1834. In the mean time a provisionary account would be prepared as soon as the financial year ended, upon the 31st instant; and thus the House would be put in possession of the manner in which the money had been last year applied at the moment they were about to vote the Estimates for the current year. As complaints had been made by the hon. member for Middlesex of sufficient reductions not being made in the navy, especially in a time of peace, he would just state to the House what was the total number of ships of war possessed by this country at present, compared with two antecedent periods. In doing so, he felt no apprehension at communicating such information, as there was no naval power in the world of which this country could be afraid. He held in his hand a statement of the amount of our naval establishment from the Revolution in 1688; but he would confine himself to a statement of what it was in the year 1778, and in the year to which the hon. member for Middlesex was so fond of referring. In 1778 the total number of vessels which we possessed was 440; the total number which we now, in 1833, possessed, was 348, being 92 less than in 1778. The total number of vessels of war we possessed in 1793 was 488, making 140 more than we possessed at the present moment. He must add, that though the number of vessels was less, the proportion of vessels of a large size had been greatly increased, and that the number of men necessary to be employed was also much greater. He would mention what was the present naval force of France, Russia, and America. France, at the 1037 present time, had thirty-four sail of the line and thirty-seven frigates; Russia thirty-six sail of the line and twenty three frigates; and America eight sail of the line and ten frigates. If to that, the naval force of all other states were added the whole number of ships of the line possessed by the maritime states of the civilized world would be 114 with thirty-two on the stocks. He would not mention the precise amount of our force; but would merely state, that we had more at sea and fewer building than any other naval power. It would be perceived, then, from this statement, that this country had nothing to apprehend from an inferiority in her maritime force. In reply to other objections which the hon. member for Middlesex had raised against the naval Estimates, particularly the objection on which he had upon a former occasion differed so much from the hon. member for Middlesex; namely, the necessity of being provided with timber and stores in our yards to meet any sudden emergency that might arise, he could not do better than read the following extract from the report of the secretary of the American navy to Congress, dated no longer ago than the 3rd of December last. It embodied an admirable answer to the cavils of those who were carrying reduction to an extent that would be really injurious to the service. (Here the right hon. Baronet read the following extract from the report in question:—) "The property on hand at the several yards, consisting chiefly of timber, iron, copper, and arms, continues to increase in amount. The whole now exceeds in value the sum of 5,579,917 dollars (B). Independent of what is provided for repairs of vessels, we have on hand the frames for four ships of the line, seven frigates, four sloops, and three steam batteries; 900 tons of iron, 458 tons of copper, 93 tons of lead, 2,232 cannon and carronades 3,504 muskets, about thrice as many pistols and cutlasses, 228,908 round and double-headed cannon balls, besides grape and canister; 35,600lb. of powder, 198,382lb. of sulphur, and about double that quantity in nitre. For further particulars under this head reference may be had to the annexed report (C). Increased attention has been bestowed on the due arrangement and preservation of ail these materials, and new securities for their proper use, and the accountability for them, will probably be introduced into the 1038 revised naval regulations now preparing. Without much previous attention to the extent and quality of these materials it will never be in our power, in any future emergency, to develop suddenly, and employ efficiently, the great naval capacities of this country for annoyance of an enemy and for protection to our commerce, as well as for maritime defence. The Act of Congress for the gradual improvement of the navy will expire next March; and this occasion is seized to recommend the continuance of its appropriations for the purchase of these materials, as well as for other valuable purposes, at least six years longer. If these materials are gradually collected, and well preserved, in such quantities as to enable us, in addition to the force usually in commission, forthwith, in any crisis, to put our vessels that may be in ordinary and on the stocks into a condition for active and efficient service, and to build and equip suitably such other vessels as our great commercial marine will assist us fully to man, we shall then exercise that true foresight and that sound and sagacious economy in respect to this branch of the public service which all experience of our own and other nations recommends, and which the present flourishing state of our country justifies. Without any increase of the number of seamen actually serving in the navy during peace, every sailor on our 2,000 miles of seaboard, on our noble rivers and vast lakes, can then be considered as in a course of training to man the numerous vessels of war which our interests, our rights, and our honour, may at any future period require us to arm; and our countless steam-vessels on the navigable waters connected with some of our frontiers could then, in an emergency, be at once supplied with the proper munitions of war, and be so far equipped as floating batteries that they would furnish new and powerful aid, not only in the rapid transportation of men and stores, but in repressing hostile depredations near our shores, and in repelling an invading foe. Though nominally, as to vessels in commission, only the fifth or sixth naval power in the world, and not expending over one-eighth of the annual amount paid by some nations to maintain a naval establishment, yet, if we look to the true elements of naval power, to our ships in ordinary and on the stocks, to our materials for building and equipment collected and collecting, to our large commercial 1039 marine, whether of merchant vessels or steam-boats, to out flourishing fisheries, our extended sea-coast, and excellent harbours, to our large number of navigable rivers and inland seas, and, at the same time, to our position with regard to other nations, with few neighbours bordering on us by land, and an ocean rolling between us and most of the governments with whom we are likely to have collision it must be manifest that our greatest exposure and danger are on the water, and that our means of attack and defence there, if duly husbanded and developed, will probably always prove equal to sustain us with credit in any hostilities into which the convulsions of the world may hereafter plunge our peaceful confederacy." He repeated, that he could not employ more pointed terms in replying to the hon. member for Middlesex than were laid down in that report. He agreed entirely with the American secretary as to the propriety of preparing in a season of tranquillity for the future emergencies of war. He now came to the immediate vote which he was about to have the honour of proposing to the Committee. It was proposed to vote for the service of the year 18,000 seamen and 9,000 royal marines, that most valuable and double-handed force, which was equally available at sea and ashore. Below this it was not proposed to reduce the naval establishment of the country. The hon. member for Middlesex said, that he would refer to the statement of Sir George Cockburn before the Finance Committee, in order to show that it was the opinion of that gallant Admiral, that, in 1828, the navy might safely be reduced to what it was in 1792. The number of seamen voted in 1792 was 17,038. It must be recollected, however, that we were at present obliged to keep up a naval force, both at the Cape of Good Hope, and on the South American station at neither of which places, in 1792, had we any naval force whatever. The number of seamen employed on those two stations was 5,000. There were also 800 men employed in the packet-service and if these two numbers were added to the establishment of 1792 our force compared to the employment for it would be actually less than in 1792. He had now, fairly stated to the House the reasons which induced him not to propose any reduction of the naval Estimates on the present occasion. The hon. member for 1040 Middlesex had said, that at the present time, in a period of profound peace, there were no reasons for keeping up such a naval establishment. He altogether differed from that hon. Member. He thought there were many reasons for our keeping up a large naval force. Whether we considered the importance of our East-Indian Empire, and the necessity for its security of maintaining a fleet in the Indian seas—whether we considered the importance of keeping up on the coast of South America for the protection of British Commerce, a naval force equal to that of France and the United States—whether we considered the importance of protecting our fisheries and our West-India Colonies—whether we considered the importance of having a naval force on the coast of Africa to prevent the revival of that detestable traffic in human beings which it was so highly to our honour that we had done so much to put down—whether we considered the importance of preserving our naval superiority in the Mediterranean, that scene of the frequent triumph of our flag—whether we considered the importance of maintaining a moderate naval force on our own shores, for the purpose of affording regular relief to foreign stations—we must feel that there were many grave and serious considera-ations which should operate to prevent us from diminishing our strength so extensively as to endanger the interests and honour of the country. He was well aware that that House was pledged to public economy but he was quite sure that he should not call upon them in vain for such a measure of expense as was indispensable to preserve those interests and that honour. It was upon the maintenance of her naval power that Great Britain depended for her national character, and even her national existence. Let but her naval superiority be once lost, and owing to her insular position, and to various other circumstances, she could no longer maintain her present high rank in the social system—she must necessarily fall into the place of a second-rate power. On the other hand if we maintained our navy as it ought to be maintained, we should have nothing to fear, and England must always be what she is at present, first among the nations of the world. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving, "That it is the opinion of this Committee that 27,000 men, including marines, should be voted for the service of the navy for the thirteen 1041 lunar months ending the 31st of March, 1834."
§ Captain Yorke
, referring to the statement of the right hon. Baronet, in answer to a former statement of his (Captain Yorke's), respecting the want of spars and masts in the yard at Portsmouth to supply those injured in men of war coming in to be refitted, could only say that his statement was made from ocular inspection and he was convinced that the masts to which the right hon. Baronet alluded, could not have been in that part of the yard which he had seen and where they were generally deposited. They must have been elsewhere. He had more than once had occasion to object to the practice adopted in the dock-yards in fitting out ships. On almost every occasion it was found that the necessary spars were wanting. He had made this statement on a former occasion, and if the right hon. Baronet could contradict him let him do so. Why, he would ask, ought there not to be in the different dock-yards a sufficiency of spars for the different ships which came into repair. As a proof of the accuracy of his statement, he would mention, that when the Spartiate, on coming into port, was obliged to have all her lower masts taken out, the Nelson's foremast was placed in her as a mainmast. Now it might be the practice for ships in ordinary thus to afford the means of supplying masts and spars that were suddenly required. He was not however aware that such was the practice and he thought the double operation both inconvenient and expensive. Much had been said about masts and spars, and though he was one of those who thought there ought to be a sufficient supply in the different dockyards, he never meant to go the length of saying that there ought to be forty-two lower masts in any one of those establishments, but surely it was not too much to expect, after, for instance, a cruise in the North Sea, and requiring a refit, a vessel should find at least three or four masts and yards ready for her when she got into dock. They had, indeed, been told that there were at present double the masts and yards to be found in the dock-yards to the quantity kept in them at any former period. But this he denied. The right hon. Baronet said, that there were more stores in the dock-yards than when the Duke of Wellington's Administration terminated. When the right hon. Baronet 1042 came into office in 1830, there was a great accumulation of stores, owing; to apprehensions which were entertained at that period of the possible disturbance of the peace of Europe; and those stores, as well as the surplus of 130,000l had been employed by the right hon. Baronet in the naval service. There could be no doubt that every saving that was compatible with the efficiency of the service ought to be effected; but he was convinced that the system now pursuing by the right hon. Baronet would in the end be ruinous to the public service. The consolidation of the Boards, which had taken place last year, had been attended with much inconvenience. Under the existing system introduced and carried on by the right hon. Baronet, officers were kept continually going from the Admiralty to Somerset House, and from Somerset House to the Admiralty; in room of which he thought it would be much more advisable to adopt the regulations of Sir George Cockburn, that of having two Boards. Of the abolition of the College of Naval Architecture after the manner in which the right hon. Baronet had treated the students he could but approve. The appointment of Captain Symonds, a naval officer, to a situation which was naturally looked up to by the regularly trained and experienced shipwrights of the King's yard, was, in his opinion, inexpedient, and a gross act of injustice to all those young men. He would now make a few comments on another and a recent proceeding of the right hon. Baronet's; and in doing so he would apply his remarks to the principle of that proceeding, and not to the individual immediately affected by it. It had been lately held by the right hon. Baronet that a naval officer commanding on any station was thereby incapacitated for being a Member of that House. This was doctrine which he (Captain Yorke) had never before heard successfully maintained. He had always understood that an English officer if properly qualified in other respects, had an undoubted right to offer himself to the choice of any body of his countrymen as their Representative. The right hon. Baronet had in this respect proceeded on the principle advocated by the hon. member for Middlesex, who, however, had contradicted that principle on a recent occasion on which he had presented a petition to that House. How was it that at the time that the right hon. 1043 Baronet refused to give Sir Harry Neale the command of Portsmouth, upon the ground of its being inconsistent with his duties as a Member of that House, he allowed Sir Thomas Trowbridge, being also a Member of Parliament, to continue in the command of a frigate? Surely, the two duties were as inconsistent in the one case as they were in the other; and if the principle upon which the right hon. Baronet professed to act were good for anything, would it not have looked quite as well if he had put it in force in the case of a supporter, as well as that of an opponent of Government. When a naval officer, or any officer engaged in the service of the country, came before a body of constituents with a full and perfect understanding of the liabilities to which his situation might subject him, those constituents, of course were at perfect liberty to choose or to reject him as their representative in Parliament. If they elected him it ought to be no bar to his appointment to any situation, such as that of Port-admiral, which would not carry him beyond the shores of England. But in every point of view, the right hon. Baronet's conduct in this instance had been perfectly inconsistent; for having refused the appointment to his gallant friend because his duties here would render it impossible for him to be constantly present, the right hon. Baronet appointed another Admiral Commander-in-chief at Portsmouth; and the gallant officer immediately received leave of absence for six months. He should like to know how far the right hon. Baronet's principle was to extend. Would he refuse to appoint a Peer of the realm to the command at a seaport, because he would have duties to perform in Parliament? The right hon. Baronet's conduct appeared to him to be without a precedent. It was wholly unnecessary (and on previous occasions it had never been held to be necessary), that a naval officer, holding the command at a sea-port, should be compelled to be constantly present. He had always under him a flag-captain capable of doing the duty when he was not present; and from time to time it had always been permitted to the Port-admiral to be absent on leave. But if this were allowed in former times, how much more consistently might it be permitted now, when the right hon. Baronet had placed a second flag at Portsmouth, with all the powers in the absence of the Commander- 1044 in-chief, to perform the duties which belonged to him. Then he must beg leave to ask for what reason it was, that the situation was refused to his hon. and gallant friend? It was not necessary for the Commander-in-chief at a seaport to be constantly present; it had not been the custom heretofore, and it was perfectly unfair and unjust on the part of the right hon. Baronet, to insist upon constant residence. A British officer had a right to sit in that House if he could procure a seat; and, having one he should not be prevented from holding such a situation as that of Port-admiral. The hon. and gallant Member said, he must also comment upon an order of the Admiralty, which permitted seamen who were dissatisfied with their condition in any vessel to apply for an exchange; and he must maintain that the tendency of such an order was to destroy all discipline. Every officer, he observed, knew how difficult it was to discipline a crew, and must feel how utterly impossible it would be to keep a ship in an effective slate for service if sailors, who were notorious for their love of change, were allowed to shift about at their caprice from one vessel to another. He should be very happy to hear that the order to which he alluded should be rescinded.
§ Sir John Pechell
felt himself called upon to reply to the observations which the hon. and gallant Member had made with reference to the state of Portsmouth dock-yard. The gallant Officer stated that there was not the means of supplying a ship of the line with a lower mast, without taking it out of a ship in ordinary,—an expensive process which would not have been necessary, if proper care had been taken to provide a certain number in the dock-yard. As a measure of economy as well as of expediency the process objected to had an advantage. The mast-houses in the dock-yards were not intended to be store-houses, and it was found necessary to place the spare masts in ships in ordinary, from whence they could be removed as occasion required. It would be apparent to the House that these masts must decay if not occasionally supplied to such ships as required them, instead of those ships being supplied with new masts from the store in the dock-yard. If the gallant Officer had looked under water as carefully as he appeared to have looked in other places, he would have discovered a 1045 quantity of materials equal to any casualties which might arise. In his endeavour to censure the present Board of Admiralty he had indirectly censured his own friends whose stock in hand had been reduced at the present time by only two or three masts. With reference to the order issued to the Commanders-in-chief upon the home stations, authorizing them to discharge such seamen from the ships under their command, as might wish to quit their ships with the sanction of their respective captains; it was still in force. It was given to enable seamen who could better their condition, or were discontented, to quit the service, at a time when there was a large number of seamen out of employment, and anxious to rejoin the service. By such, as well as other regulations, which had been made from time to time, the naval service of this country had become so justly popular, that he had no doubt if any emergency should arise, which would require an extension of our naval force, a fleet might be equipped without having recourse to impressment.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
said, he believed that the dock-yards were in a greater state of efficiency at the present moment than at any previous period. With respect to pensions, he must observe, that the clamour which was raised against the pensions given to officers who had long and faithfully served their country in active service, was most unjust; and the more especially so when the larger amount of the retiring incomes of those persons who had been connected with the civil service of the country was considered. What was greatly wanted was, that pensions should be fairly bestowed, and only given to those who had earned them by their services. In looking over the list of pensions and allowances, he found it stated, that the hon. G. A. C Stapyl-ton received 1,000l. a-year, for fifty-nine years of service; and Mr. John Jackson, Master-attendant at Plymouth, 443l. for thirty-two years of service. He knew that both these gentlemen were in service forty-three years ago; and he did not understand the reason why, in the one case, the number of the years of service was increased; and in the other decreased. He also saw the name of Mr. Marshall W. Clifton, to which a pension of 660l. a-year was attached for twenty-seven years of good service. He really did not believe that the gentleman 1046 was old enough to have served that term; and yet the 660l. a-year, which he received was pretty nearly 100l. a-year more than he (Sir Edward Codrington) was entitled to, who had been in the service of his country since 1785. He could assure the House that the way in which pensions were bestowed created a feeling of great dissatisfaction throughout the service. The late Secretary of the Admiralty was entitled, at the end of five years' service, to retire with a pension of 1,500l. a-year. Now, he asked the House on what ground could the grant of such a large pension as that be justified? He did not think that the circumstance of that gentleman having been in the receipt of a great income when in office was any reason for giving him a large annual allowance on his retirement. He repeated, he knew not what right the Government had to give that gentleman so large a retiring allowance. But this was not all. He found that Miss Rosamond Croker also received out of the public purse 300l. a-year. Now, he would state a case to the House, to which he begged to call their serious attention. It was the case of a lady, the sister of three distinguished officers, all of whom died while engaged in the active service of their country. She was left with the children of one of her brothers to provide for, and she was also obliged to contribute to the support of an aged father: yet not one farthing did the Government, even after repeated applications, grant to that lady, in consideration of the services of her gallant relation, until his present Majesty was appointed Lord High Admiral when, by his kindness, she was put in possession of 50l. a-year. Now he begged to put the case of this lady in contrast with that of Miss Rosamond Croker. The rule seemed to have been to give the largest pensions where the least services had been performed; but he hoped the contrary principle would be acted upon in that Reformed Parliament. Sir Robert Sep-pings, a man who had saved the country hundreds of thousands of pounds, and who had been in the service upwards of fifty years, was put down as having served only thirty-nine years, in order that his pension might be reduced to 760l. The gallant Admiral next called the attention of the House to the condition of the pursers in the navy, whom he described as a most valuable class of persons, and re- 1047 gretted that their claims were not sufficiently attended to by the Admiralty. He instanced several cases of these officers, after the discharge of laborious and important duties for a space of forty years, being put upon a retiring allowance of only 4s. a-day. An order was given at the end of the war that no promotion should take place among this class of officers, until the number of ships and of pursers became equal. But what did the Government do? They sold off the ships, but not the pursers, and consequently all hope of promotion for them was lost, and they were reduced to the condition of captains' clerks. He recollected that one of these officers, of the name of Wickham, was with him at the battle of Navarino. He wanted some person to carry an important message, and a man, covered with blood came limping to him, and received his directions. He employed the same person two or three times on a similar errand, and on making inquiries he learned that this individual was the captain's clerk. He had received five wounds, and had several times gone to get them dressed, but had as often retired on observing that the surgeon was engaged in attending to the cases of his equally unfortunate shipmates. He requested the captain of the ship to see that he was properly looked to; but eight months elapsed before he could even be discharged from the hospital. This man had been round the world with Captain Parry, and was the life and soul of the ship's company during the winter in which they were enclosed in the ice. He contributed to the amusement of the crew, by his compositions both in poetry and prose, and he remained to the present moment a captain's clerk, without any prospect of promotion, though he (Sir Edward Codrington) had not failed to exert himself in his behalf. As another instance of the conduct of pursers, he would name Mr. Kerigan—many years a captain's clerk with him, and who had latterly composed the best book upon nautical astronomy that ever was published. His first work was placed before the Board of Longitude by that great and good man, the late Dr. Wollaston. The Secretary to the Admiralty—not knowing at whose instance the book was placed upon the table—seeing upon the title-page the words "Thomas Kerigan, Purser," immediately exclaimed, "What have butter 1048 and cheese (alluding to the writer's situation as a purser) to do with astronomy and navigation?" The Board would not sanction a work coming from such a source, and the book was immediately withdrawn, and a new title-page substituted, at a loss of no less than 300l., and all for the sake of getting rid of the obnoxious word "purser." And why was that name obnoxious? Merely because a purser's pay was 3s. a-day, and no more. Not because the parties were not entitled to more, but simply because they were limited to that small stipend as the reward of their services. He had no doubt that he should be told that pursers frequently made their fortune. That might be the case during the war, but the per centage allowed them had been greatly reduced since that period. He did hope that the First Lord of the Admiralty would turn his attention to the situation of this neglected class of persons, and do them something like justice. If pensions were taken from the undeserving, there would be plenty of money to bestow on the meritorious. There was another point with respect to which he should like to sec some reform effected, and that was the power assumed by the Admiralty, on the one hand of dismissing officers against whom no charge had been brought before a Court-martial, and on the other, of retaining them on the list in the teeth of a verdict pronounced against them by a Court-martial. Of the improper manner in which this power was exercised, he would cite two instances, one having reference to a gentleman of high character, and the other to a man of no character at all. In 1819, Mr. George Booth, who had been a purser for twenty-seven years, sent into the admiralty a certificate of his service, signed by Lord Exmouth. On attending at the admiralty, he was, in consequence of some incorrectness in the signature, charged by Mr. Croker with forgery, and happening to be somewhat of an irritable disposition, he obliged Mr. Croker to retire, notwithstanding George Cockburn came to his aid. Well, this gentleman, because he would not quietly submit to be called a forger, was erased from the list, and was only restored in consequence of a remonstrance made by an hon. Member of that House, who threatened to bring the case before Parliament. The other instance he would allude to was of a very different 1049 description. It was the case of a purser who was convicted of robbery by a Court-martial, and who was, notwithstanding, reinstated on the list two years after his conviction. Now, whether it was right or wrong for the Admiralty to possess this power, there could be no doubt that the mode in which it was exercised was exceedingly improper. In his opinion, no officer ought to be erased from the list until he was condemned by a Court-martial. He recollected the time when it was in agitation to take his name off the list, because he would not submit to the censure which was cast upon him. Had a Reformed Parliament been in existence at that period he would have been the first to stimulate inquiry into every part of his conduct, but unfortunately from former Parliaments very little justice was to be expected. They were Parliaments without responsibility, and it was well known that officers were obliged to bear with the most unjust aspersions on their character. Assertions highly derogatory to his character as an officer, had been made by a right hon. Gentleman below him (Sir Robert Peel). His character was his all; his conduct was known to his profession; he defied mortal man to point out a portion of it which deserved such imputations; and he trusted that to the hour of his death he would stand on the same fearless and irreproachable footing before his country. Imputations had been thrown out by the right hon. Baronet, which, among other unfounded statements, went to assert, that if he (Sir Edward Codrington) had obeyed the orders sent to him by the Admiralty, the battle of Navarino would not have occurred. In April, 1828, it was stated in this House, that the Egyptian fleet, with some 16,000 Greek slaves on board, had been allowed to pass through the combined squadron for Alexandria. That statement, made a great sensation at the time; and the right hon. Baronet, being from his situation, under the necessity of replying to it, stated, (he was quoting from The Mirror of Parliament), that upon this point, he could assure the House, that within eight-and-forty hours after the intelligence of the fact reached this country, communications were made to the British Admiral, and a full inquiry was directed to be instituted for the purpose of ascertaining under what circumstances the Egyptian fleet had ar- 1050 rived with those unfortunate people on board; and then he added, that if the instructions of his Majesty's Government had been strictly acted upon, the transaction—namely, the removal of Greek slaves—which had given rise to the discussion, could not have taken place. He first saw this statement in Galignani's Messenger, and, of course, was not a little surprised at it. So far from his having received instructions, dated within forty-eight hours of the event alluded to, the despatch which he received from Government was dated twenty-eight days after the receipt of the information, which he had transmitted respecting the Greek slaves, and contained no authority whatever to prevent the transmission of Greek slaves, nor a single word in reference to such transactions. The only allusion to the subject was in reference to circumstances of some years standing, when the gallant Officer whom he succeeded was in command of the station. He therefore felt himself bound to call upon the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) to either disown, defend, or explain, the assertions imputed to him by the Mirror of Parliament, and which conveyed most unfounded aspersions on his (Sir Edward Codrington's) professional character, and had remained uncontradicted up to that moment. With respect to sinecures, all he would then say was, that he conceived the principle which had been urged in that House of granting a specific sum as the special reward of eminent services, such as those of Sir Thomas Foley, and Lord de Saumarez, for example, worthy of consideration, provided the choice did not remain solely with the First Lord of the Admiralty. If it were made compulsory on that officer to propose a vote for eminent services, he should prefer that mode of extraordinary remuneration to a sinecure appointment, but if it rested solely with him he should prefer the present mode. He had some remarks to offer also on the system of intrusting the command of the Marines to officers of another service, which he should submit on a future occasion.
§ Mr. Goulburn
should not have said one word on this occasion, but for what had fallen from the hon. Admiral, who had thought tit to cast an imputation upon a a right hon. Gentleman no longer a Member of that House. As his right hon. friend was absent when thus attacked, and would have no opportunity of replying to 1051 that attack in the place where it was made, he thought it his duty to say a few words in answer to it. [Sir Edward Codrington said, he wished an answer from the right hon. Baronet, who was there to answer for himself]. He had not had the presumption to interfere in order to explain the conduct of his right hon. friend the member for Tamworth, who was present, and well able to defend himself; he rose only to defend the conduct of a right hon. friend who was absent, and who had been made the subject of the hon. Admiral's attack; he meant the late Secretary to the Admiralty. The hon. Admiral had spoken of his feelings as a Gentleman, he (Mr. Goulburn) respected those feelings of which the hon. Admiral was so tender; he entered into those feelings; but when the hon. Admiral made his remarks as he had done, it was impossible not to think that it would have been more consistent with the feelings of a Gentleman, if the hon. Admiral had considered in his remarks, that a man who held a civil office had a title to have his feelings respected as much as any other person; and that a man who made an accusation, was bound to know the facts on which he made it, and was doubly inexcusable if he did not know them, when he had ample means to be acquainted with them. The hon. Admiral had drawn a contrast between a Secretary to the Admiralty and an Officer afloat. He (Mr. Goulburn) did not object to that comparison. He did not object even to the hon. Admiral's opinion concerning it, if that opinion were justified by the facts of the case; but he did object to the hon. Admiral's stating, that the retiring pension which his right hon. friend now enjoyed, was the reward of five years' service. He thought that there was not a man in the whole country, except the hon. Admiral, who was ignorant of the length of time during which his right hon. friend had filled a situation of great responsibility and difficulty: it was a period, not of five years, but of twenty-three years, during nine of which the country was engaged in active warfare, and the right hon. Gentleman was laboriously occupied, not only during the day, but often even through the night, in the business of his office. The papers on the Table showed this to be the fact—papers of which the hon. Admiral ought not to have been ignorant when he made his statement respecting the length of service of the right hon. 1052 Gentleman. The hon. Admiral had accused a party who was absent, and had given no person the chance of knowing that the accusation was to be brought, so as to be prepared with the means of contradicting it. Of that part of the hon. Admiral's speech, he should, therefore, say nothing, he had not the means of contradicting it; but he must again repeat, that the hon. Admiral could not have been ignorant of the fact, that the retiring pension of the late Secretary to the Admiralty had been granted not for only five years' service, but for upwards of twenty years.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
, in explanation, observed, that he had said the right hon. Gentleman was, by the rules in the book, entitled to a pension at the end of five years' service. That was his statement, God knows, added the hon. Admiral, I well remember, that many—many years—all too many for the officers of the navy, was the right hon. Gentleman at the Admiralty's Board.
§ Mr. Goulburn
The hon. Admiral said, that he well knew the length of time that the right hon. Secretary had served in the Admiralty. He (Mr. Goulburn) asked why, well knowing it, he had taken especial care not to state it?
§ Sir Robert Peel
observed, that if he did not rise immediately upon the hon. Admiral's sitting down, it was that he felt justice required that the explanation relative to a right hon. Gentleman who was absent should first be given. He must say, that in the whole course of the parliamentary experience of any man who now heard him, there had never been a more extraordinary appeal than that which the hon. Admiral had just made. In 1827, the battle of Navarino was fought. He (Sir Robert Peel) was recalled to office in 1828. A question was then put to him on the subject of the battle, or of the affairs of Greece, and it was his duty to give the best answer he could to it. In giving that answer, and in making some comment on the remarks on the subject of that engagement, it appeared that he had made some statement which had given offence to the hon. Admiral. The hon. Admiral said, that he had read that statement in Galignani's paper, and that that statement did not correspond with the fact [Sir Edtvard Codrington said, that he found the same report in the Mirror of Parliament]. Well, then, in the Mirror 1053 of Parliament. But was he to be made responsible for statements published of him in Galignani's paper or in the Mirror of Parliament—statements made four years since, and the subject of which had of course in that time escaped his memory? He was always willing enough to do justice to any man about whom he had made, or was reported to have made, an erroneous statement; but was there any fairness in withholding from him an imputation of this sort at the time, when, if he had made it, he could have best explained it, and then calling on him five years afterwards for an explanation, and not even then condescending to state what Galignani had put into his mouth, and what he was expected to answer! Surely the hon. Admiral might have had the courtesy yesterday or this morning to have given him notice of this matter—to have said that he was to be accused of doing the hon. Admiral wrong. Had this been done, he should have done his best to have satisfied the hon. Admiral—he should have referred to particulars about the several thousand slaves, and he should have then been prepared to meet the accusation of the hon. Admiral. But now he was totally unprepared; the more especially, as he had had no concern with the instructions which led to that battle. Under these circumstances, and above all, because he had no communication from the hon. Admiral, he was now quite unable to give any explanation from memory alone.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
said, he had made communication about this matter in three official letters. He wrote to Lord Melville, requesting him to lay the letter before the right hon. Baronet; he did so because that was the more regular and business-like way, and he mentioned it afterwards to the right hon. Baronet's brother, Mr. William Peel.
§ Sir Robert Peel
observed, that the hon. Admiral ought to have given him notice that he was to be called on to-night. He had at first intended to give an answer to this matter from the Debates themselves; he accordingly asked a friend to fetch him, not the Mirror of Parliament, for that was not in their library, but the Parliamentary Debates; but the volume he wanted could not be procured at the moment. He was now glad that it could not, for he did not think that he was called on, in justice to himself, to give from such materials alone an answer to a 1054 matter thus unexpectedly put forward. He again protested against being made responsible for what appeared either in Galignani's paper or the Mirror of Parliament, and repeated, that he ought to have had notice of this matter.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
said, that he should take the opportunity of asking this question again at another time, when he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be better prepared.
said, he wished merely to remind the Committee, that the question before it, was the vote for the number of seamen. On that question after the admirable statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, he had nothing to say, but he should feel himself called upon to support the vote now proposed.
§ Mr. Hume
insisted that the vote ought to be reduced. Much of the money voted for the navy was uselessly expended. We had paid away uselessly since the peace as much money as would more than equip two such fleets as the Americans had now. We had great quantities of stores that were now rotting away. That was the way in which the public money was wasted. The Americans had but five frigates at sea, three of the larger and two of the smaller class; they had a commerce, as extensive as ours, and yet they found this force sufficient to protect it. Now, in 1828, instead of the five or six ships of the Americans, we had no less than 170 ships-of-the-line, exclusive of frigates; and the number now was 118. He believed that half that number would be sufficient for us. He did not want to go back to the standard of 1792, as he was accused of doing; but to that recommended by the Finance Committee in 1817. Our navy was kept up merely as a means of patronage. There was no justice done to men serving in it, unless they had Parliamentary or Aristocratic connexions. Such men rose in four or five years to high promotions, while others served for twenty or thirty years without any promotion whatever. The question the Committee now had to decide was, whether they would vote a body of 27,000 men for the navy, when 20,000 had been thought sufficient six years since. He should move as an Amendment, that the vote should be reduced by substituting 20,000 men for 27,000 men, as he thought the 20,000 were amply sufficient.
§ Mr. G. F. Young
said, that he had but a few words to say, and those were, to express his gratification at the statements made by hon. and gallant Officers on the other side of the House, that the British naval service was becoming popular among seamen, and that for the future it would not be necessary to have recourse to the odious system of impressment. That matter was one that had long engaged his attention, and he was prepared to move, if no other hon. Member did, that a Select Committee he appointed to inquire into this subject.
§ Mr. Charles Ross
was anxious to state his opinion to the Committee, but finding great impatience manifested he would only say, that he doubted whether the consolidating of the Navy and Victualling Boards with the Admiralty, which took place last year, and was so much praised, would be productive of any beneficial results. It would take another year to see how the plan worked, and before a positive opinion could be formed on the matter.
§ Mr. Guest
considered that, under the present circumstances of the country Ministers should adopt practical measures of economy. At the same time he must say, that, looking to the state of affairs in the east of Europe, and our relations with Holland, the reduction of men proposed by the hon. member for Middlesex was too great. He thought that Ministers might begin with a reduction of 2,000.
§ The (Committee divided on the Amendment:—Aves 44; Noes 347—Majority 303.
|List of the AYES.|
|Baldwin, H.||Morrison, J.|
|Barry, G. S.||O'Brien, C.|
|Beauclerk, Major||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Butler, Colonel||O'Connell, John|
|Clay, W.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Faithfull, George||O'Connell, Maurice|
|Finn, William F.||O'Connell, Charles|
|Fitzsimou, C.||O'Connor, Fergus|
|Galwey, J. M.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Gaskell, D.||Potter, Richard|
|Gillon, W. D.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Grote, G.||Romilly, J.|
|Guise, Sir W. B.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Gully, John||Ruthven, Edward|
|Hawkins, John||Thicknesse, R.|
|Hutt, William||Torrens, Colonel|
|James, William||Turner, W.|
|Lalor, Patrick||Trelawney, W. M.|
|Lister, Ellis||Vigors, N. A.|
|Maclaughlin, L.||Wallace, Robert|
|Marsland, T.||Warburton, Henry|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||White, L.|
§ On the Question, that 955,220l. be granted to his Majesty, to defray the charge of wages for seamen and marines for the ensuing year,
§ Mr. Hume
, said, that nothing could be more stupid than the way in which Navy Estimates were voted. The number of admirals and other officers were not specified, but officers and men were huddled together in the greatest confusion. With respect to the army, it was very different, for the number of generals, colonels, and regiments were stated, so that an insight into the Estimates for each might be obtained. A Return had been mode to the House of the sinecures held by naval officers, which he wished to get rid of; and he should, therefore, move that the Estimates be reduced by that sum—namely, 6,975l.
§ Sir James Graham
objected to the reduction. The sinecures complained of were the colonelcies of marines, which were held by the most distinguished officers in the service. Would the House deprive such men as Lord Saumarez and Sir Sidney Smith, of the only especial reward they received for their long and arduous services?
put it to the Committee to say, whether or not they were prepared to vote away the money of the public for the avowed purpose of maintaining sinecures? The question had reduced itself to one of sinecures or no sinecures; and the question for a Reformed House of Commons to determine was, whether or not they would support the Motion for economy of his hon. friend the member for Middlesex?
Mr. Ayshford Sanford supported the Estimate as laid before the house by his Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Robinson
observed, that no exception whatever had been taken to the personal merits or services of the individual officers—the question was one entirely of principle; but after the best reflection which he could bestow on it, he did not find it in his power to support the Motion of his hon. friend the member for Middlesex; for, if that Motion were agreed to, it would go at once to deprive six or eight meritorious officers of their means of subsistence, and of the reward for honourable and useful services to which they were justly entitled. He should be for putting an end prospectively to those sinecures; whereas the Motion of his hon friend would have a retrospective operation.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that all he contended for 1057 was, that those places should be removed as sinecures. He should be perfectly willing to support a Motion for giving to all naval officers of high desert the rewards to which their services might entitle them. By adopting his Motion they would get rid of the existing sinecures, and prevent the possible abuse of them in future.
§ Mr. Nicholson Calvert
would certainly support the Estimate as it stood; for though there had been in times past a grievous abuse of the power of granting sinecures, yet he did not apprehend there was now much danger of the continuance of that abuse; and he thought those offices against which the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex was directed, formed means of rewarding meritorious officers, which it would be highly inexpedient to abolish.
said, he had reason to know, that, by many of the officers of marines, those appointments were considered degrading to the corps, and he should, therefore, support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Briscoe
said, that on a former occasion he had voted against a motion of the hon. member for Middlesex on the subject of sinecures; he had since seen reason to regret that vote, and he should endeavour to repair the error by voting with him on the present occasion. The persons filling the offices now under the consideration of the House had no duties to perform, and should, therefore, as he conceived, no longer receive any portion of the public money.
§ Viscount Palmerston
hoped, that the Mouse would not allow itself to be carried away by words. Sinecure was always an odious word in that House; but he denied that this question was one of sinecure or no sinecure. It was a question whether they should continue to reward meritorious officers, in a manner most congenial to their feelings. Those places were rewards, and cheap rewards, for gallant services performed towards the country, and it was most unjust to attach to them the name of sinecures. As to the argument, that it was not sought to deprive the present possessors of their honourable reward, he put it to the Committee, whether such must not be the inevitable result, if the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex was carried. His Majesty would be deprived hereafter of the means of giving those gallant officers that recompense which they had hitherto enjoyed, and to which they were so well entitled.
§ Mr. Gisborne
observed, that when, upon 1058 a former occasion, the hon. member for Middlesex had brought the subject of sinecures under the consideration of the House, he was met by the argument, that if there were, under that Motion, and that time, any step taken, it would amount to a direct interference with the prerogative of the Crown; and a great many other arguments of equal force were urged against it; and his hon. friend was told to wait until the several Estimates were brought before the House of Commons—now a Reformed House of Commons; but the bringing forward of the Estimates afforded that opportunity to which his hon. friend was referred; and now they were assailed with an appeal ad misericordiam. That he thought should not for a moment be attended to, and for this simple reason, that the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex did not go to do the slightest injury to the present incumbents of offices, since he and all who supported him were perfectly willing to make suitable provisions for all those officers.
§ Sir Robert Price
contended, that the offices in question were not sinecures, properly so called, and that the cheapest and most advantageous mode of rewarding public services of the nature referred to, was by offices which carried with them honourable distinction, and at the same time some small emolument.
§ Mr. Plumptre
would not depart from the vote which he had given on the former occasion, and would again support the hon. member for Middlesex.
§ Lord Ebrington
, whilst he voted against the Amendment, wished to guard against being supposed to yield in this case upon an argument ad misericordiam. As long as those offices were properly bestowed, as he had no doubt they now were, he thought them the best and cheapest reward for public services. If any office was improperly bestowed, he thought the Committee should express their sense of such a proceeding by withholding the salary for that particular office. It was his intention to vote with the Government.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, that on every side the people were demanding a reduction of taxation; and yet, whenever any proposition for economy was submitted to the House, Ministers were always prepared with an excuse for not adopting it. He wished some hon. Gentleman would state where and when the reduction of expenditure should commence: for whatever specific reduction was proposed had innumerable 1059 objections started against it? On a former evening, the general proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex was objected to, because it did not go enough into detail; and now, when a motion of detail was brought forward, that was objected to because it was not sufficiently general.
§ Sir James Graham
replied, that reductions had been effected up to the last year to the extent of 2,100,000l. He was asked would these reductions go on? He should say yes; and for proof of that assertion he should refer to the Estimates then before them. Already reductions to the extent of 400,000l, or 500,000l. had been effected.
§ Mr. Herries
said, the last Administration had been as fully desirous to reduce taxation, and as successful in doing so, as the present Government. The administration of the Duke of Wellington, with which he had had the honour of being connected, had made a reduction of 3,000,000l. in one year.
An Hon. Member
said, that he was ready to support the hon. member for Middlesex in any specific case which he brought forward.
§ Mr. Hume
could not reckon upon such support; it was the loop-hole through which they all got out. If officers were to be paid salaries, he wished that each individual case should be laid before the House, in order that it might be deliberated on. It was said, that such subjects should not come under the consideration of a popular assembly; but he wished that the Representatives of the people would pay more attention to them than they did. He trusted, that before the end of the present Session there should be an end to all sinecures and unmerited pensions. If officers were to receive pay, it should be given to them under the real—not a fictitious denomination.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes SS; Noes 224—Majority 141. Vote agreed to.
|List of the AYES.|
|ENGLAND.||Buckingham, J. S.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Bulwer, E. L.|
|Bayntun, S. A.||Chaytor, Colonel.|
|Beauclerk, Major A.||Clay, W.|
|Bewes, T.||Collier, r.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Cornish, James|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Curteis, E. B.|
|Dawson, E.||Warburton, H.|
|Divett, E.||Wason, R.|
|Evans, W.||Wilks, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Williams, Col. G.|
|Fenton, J.||Gillon, W. D.|
|Feilden, John||Oliphant, L.|
|Fort, T.||Oswald, J.|
|Gaskell, D.||Wallace, R.|
|Gisborne, T.||Wemyss, Capt. J.|
|Gully, J.||Baldwin, H.|
|Hall, Benjamin||Barry, G. S.|
|Handley, Benjamin||Bellew, R. M.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Butler, Hon. P.|
|Hawes, B.||Evans, G.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Finn, W. F.|
|Hutt, W.||Fitzgerald, T.|
|James, W.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Lalor, P.|
|Lister, C.||Maclaughlin, L.|
|Marsland, T.||O'Brien, C.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||O'Connell, D.|
|Morrison, J.||O'Connell, C.|
|Parrott, J.||O'Connell, J.|
|Philips, M.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Philipotts, J.||O'Connell, M.|
|Potter, R.||O'Connor, F.|
|Ricardo, D.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Rider, T.||Roche, David|
|Rippon, C.||Ruthven, E.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Ruthven E. S.|
|Thicknesse, R.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Tooke, W.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Torrens, Col. R.||White, L.|
|Tynte, C. J. K.||Hume, J.|
§ The House resumed.