HC Deb 28 February 1834 vol 21 cc961-3

On the Motion that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply, Colonel Davies rose, in pursuance of notice which he had given to move, as an Amendment to the Motion for a Committee of Supply, that a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the Military Establishment and Expenditure of the country; but, as he understood from his right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, that the Government would have no objection to the appointment of such a Committee, he should not trouble the House with any remarks. He intended to move, that the whole of the Establishments of the country should be referred to a Committee; but as he found such a liberal disposition on the part of the Government, he would be content with a Committee, for the limited purpose he had stated, as he had no wish to create embarrassment. The chief part of our Military Expenditure was occasioned by our colonies, in which it was necessary to keep large bodies of troops, and that required a large military force at home to relieve the troops in the colonies.

Mr. Cobbett

said, that as the military expenditure of the colonies was now under the consideration of the House, he would call its attention to the case of Mr. Burgess, who had presented a petition to it last Session. On that occasion the noble Lord opposite—acting, no doubt, upon information which he believed to be true—had made certain allegations to the House, accusing Mr. Burgess of insanity. Now, he had received from Mr. Burgess proofs of his sanity, sobriety and respectability. Mr. Burgess was not a native of Canada, but of Dorsetshire. He offered to dis- prove all the charges which had been preferred against him. He wished that the papers which Mr. Burgess had placed in his hands, should be referred to the Committee which the hon. member for Worcester had just moved for, and that they should be there submitted to examination. Mr. Burgess said, he was sure that he could state facts which would bring back into the Treasury 300,000l. or 400,000l. which had been squandered improperly in Canada.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

could only speak of the subject which had been adverted to by the hon. member for Oldham, from recollection, for the official papers relating to it from the Ordnance department were only laid upon the table at the end of last Session. His recollection of the matter was, that Mr. Burgess had been employed on the Rideau canal. Some disputes respecting accounts had arisen between Mr. Burgess and the Ordnance Department. Mr. Burgess claiming a very considerable sum as his due, and the Ordnance Department conceiving that he was, on the contrary, in their debt, an investigation before a board of military officers was set on foot spontaneously by the Ordnance Department, who promised to bear all the expense of the inquiry; but, during its progress, Burgess and some of his witnesses disappeared, and the accounts, consequently, remained unsettled up to this period. Mr. Burgess, it had been since ascertained, was at present in the United States. In the course of the inquiry, a medical certificate was brought forward, which he was ready to produce, if required, that Mr. Burgess had laboured under the influence of insanity from drinking ardent spirits. Of this fact he (Mr. Stanley) believed he could bring positive proof. Into the question of the military expenditure of the colonies generally, he would not at present enter, because he did not believe the discussion would lead to any satisfactory result; but he could assure the gallant Colonel (Davies), that he (Mr. Stanley), in common with the rest of his Majesty's Government, would give the gallant Officer every assistance in his power to elucidate the whole of the accounts and the whole military expenditure of the colonies, and he thought he should be able to show the Committee that the expenses were not only not extravagant, but that, as far as the military service was concerned, a considerable reduction had taken place, He hoped the gallant Colonel would, therefore, for the present, withdraw his Motion, and allow the House to go into Committee upon the Army Estimates, for the purpose of facilitating business, on the understanding that no opposition would be made to his Motion after the other business was disposed of.

The Motion withdrawn.

On the Speaker putting the question, that he now leave the Chair,

Mr. Cobbett

said, Sir, I hope yon will not leave it to-night. [Loud laughter]. I think it monstrous to vote away 6,000,000l. of the public money at this hour of the night, nine o'clock.

The Speaker

observed, that he was surprised the hon. Member should complain of the lateness of the hour, when he had mainly contributed to render it so.

Mr. Cobbett

again rose, and was about to address the House, when

The Speaker

said, the hon. Member had already spoken on the subject.

The House went into a Committee of—