HC Deb 08 May 1833 vol 17 cc1063-5
Mr. Hume

rose to call in question the right of his late Majesty to grant a pension to Lord Dunglass. The question he was about to bring before the House was one of great importance, because it involved a principle which, if disallowed, would put an end to all sinecures and pensions. The Country was staggering under the weight of its burthens, and one way to relieve it would be to repudiate the principle he alluded to. He held a table of pensions in his hand, from which he would select one or two, to show the evil effect of granting civil pensions. There were two sinecures which dated from the year 1694, and which had, calculated to the present time, cost the country 50,000,000l. sterling. The sinecures he meant were those of the two Chief Justices in Eyre. Another instance of this system of civil pensions, was the money paid to one of the predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, to Mr. Sergeant Onslow. The money which had been paid to him and his son was 163,000l., which, calculating principal and interest, would now amount to the sum of about 373,000l. paid by the country for services he was sure no Member of that House would be willing to pay so highly for. Another instance was the pension of 276l. paid to the Earl of Home, the father of the young nobleman whose claims he was calling in question, for services no one knew anything about, and which, calculated with interest from the time it was granted up to the present time, would amount to 36,560l. or thereabouts. Happening, in a Committee up-stairs, to make an inquiry as to the disbursements paid out of the Scotch Exchequer, he found one which struck him exceedingly. It was the sum of 300l. paid to Lord Dunglass as Chamberlain of Ettrick Forest. This sinecure dated from before the Union, and was originally 8l. 10s., Scotch money. In a Committee of Inquiry on sinecures and pensions held in the year 1810, a Resolution was passed relative to this identical pension. Now, what he complained of was, that, after that Resolution, the sinecure should be renewed. He contended that the Sovereign, having a right to the Crown revenues only during his life time, had no power to make any grant out of them which should endure beyond the period of his life, because such a grant would interfere with the rights of his successors in the event of the grantee surviving him. This was the case with Lord Dunglass, who had survived George 4th. He (Mr. Hume) thought that they should put an end to proceedings of this kind, as a useless and improper expenditure of the public money. He concluded by moving, "That a humble Address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he would be graciously pleased to issue a Commission to the law-officers of the Crown to inquire into the validity of the right of Lord Dunglass to hold the office of Chamberlain of Ettrick Forest after the demise of George 4th, and if necessary, to bring the question of its validity to trial."

The Lord Advocate

said, that his own opinion was, that this grant was illegal; but he thought that it would be indecorous in the House to adjudicate upon it, and to deprive the noble Lord of it in his absence, and without hearing what he might have to urge in support of it. He was, therefore, of opinion that the best plan which the House could follow would be the adoption of the Motion of the hon. member for Middlesex. It was certainly a curious thing to give Lord Dunglass 300l. a-year for the collection of quit rents which did not amount to more than 230l. a-year. It was unfortunate for the noble Lord that this appointment of 300l. a-year had not been a pension upon the Scotch pension-list; for in that case he might have continued to hold out, inasmuch as the pensions on that list, which expired with the Sovereign, had been continued by the liberality of Parliament.

Motion agreed to.

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