HC Deb 21 July 1834 vol 25 cc323-7

On the Motion of Lord Althorp, the House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply.

Mr. Labouchere moved, that a sum not exceeding 60,000l. be granted to his Majesty to enable him to bestow gratuities to the Officers, Seamen, and Royal Marines, present at the Battle of Navarino on the 20th of October, 1827.

Colonel Davies

asked, whether the distribution was to be upon the same scale as that made to the fleet engaged in the battle of Algiers?

Mr. Labouchere

said, that the precedent of the distribution relative to the battle of Algiers would be followed as nearly as possible upon this occasion. The distribution would be made, not under any Prize Acts, but according to the provisions of an Order in Council. The Commander-in-Chief would receive 7,888l.; the first class of officers, including captains, 1,068l. each; the next class 94l.; the next 61l 1.; the next 15l.; the next 6l. 3s.; the first class of seamen 4l. 10s.; the next class 3l. 2s.; and the last class, consisting of boys, 1l. 10s.

Mr. Potter

said, that if he had known that so large a sum as 60,000l. would have been granted for this purpose, he never would have supported the proposition. He had understood the gallant Admiral to disclaim any share of the reward for himself.

Mr. Labouchere

said, that if the distribution were to take place under the Prize Acts, the gallant Admiral's share would be larger than it was now proposed to be. It was intimated to the gallant Admiral, that the reduced allowance was considered sufficient, and he immediately admitted that it was.

Mr. Sheil

thought, that the sum of 4l. 10s. was a pitiful allowance to the seamen. He wished to know, why the rule laid down as to prize money by the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir James Graham), by which a more liberal allowance would have been given to the seamen, had not been followed?

Mr. Mildmay

said, that however the gallant Admiral might wish to avoid receiving any share of the reward, he was bound, for the sake of those who might succeed him in the service, to accept it. The hon. member for Wigan, who said, he would not have supported the proposition for rewarding the persons engaged in the action if he had thought that 60,000l. would have been appropriated to that purpose, seemed to measure his justice by the amount it would cost.

Mr. George F. Young

objected to the proposed distribution by which the Admiral would obtain as much as seven years' pay, and a seaman only as much as two months' pay.

Mr. Goulburn

protested against the principle on which the grant was made. It was establishing a dangerous precedent to make an action, entered into without the distinct authority of the Government, and in consequence of accident, of the same credit as battles fought in the discharge of instructions given to Commanders by the Government.

Lord Althorp

had opposed the grant originally, but yielded to the almost unanimous feeling of the House.

Mr. Goulburn

was sure, that the House would have yielded to the noble Lord if he had persisted in his opposition.

Sir Edward Codrington

said, that he should have had more pleasure in pressing this vote to the utmost if he had been allowed to relinquish his share of the grant; but he had been told, that such conduct on his part would be an unfair precedent for officers who might be subsequently placed in a similar position as he was, and who might not be able to afford such a sacrifice of their claims. He thought that the distribution in the case of the battle of Algiers was a fair one to be adopted in the present instance, for the two battles were fought under circumstances remarkably similar. Lord Exmouth, in the former case received orders to negociate with the enemy, and in default of success by those means, to fight. He (Sir Edward Codrington) had received similar instructions: he bad acted upon them, and it was not till the enemy had fired upon his ships that he acted hostilely towards them. He was prepared to show, that according to the instructions with which he was charged, it was impossible for him to act otherwise than he had done. He would trouble the House by reading the order which he issued to all the Captains of the ships under his command, which, after informing them, that the Ottoman Government had rejected the proposed armistice, which had been accepted by the Greeks, instructed them to "intercept every supply of arms or men which might be sent against Greece, whether from Turkey or elsewhere; but to take most particular care that any measures they might adopt against the Ottoman navy might not be such as to lead to general hostilities." These orders were in strict accordance with the instructions he had himself received from home. He read those instructions to Ibrahim Pacha himself, and showed him, that he could not do otherwise than he did, and the latter acknowledged that such was the case. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by expressing his sincere thanks to the house for their kindness in coming forward, forgetful of all party feeling, on the present occasion.

Mr. Sheil

said, that in accordance with the views and sentiments he had already expressed, he should move, as an Amendment to the present Motion, in place of the words "to be distributed in such proportions as his Majesty in Council shall direct," the words "to be distributed according to the recent regulations for the division of prize money."

Mr. Labouchere

interfered. The hon. and learned Member's Amendment would interfere with the undoubted prerogative of the Crown in the disposal of its bounties.

Colonel Davies

said, that the proposed distribution was an extremely inequitable and unfair one.

Mr. Labouchere

admitted, that the new prize regulations were much more fair and satisfactory; but it should be recollected, that the battle of Navarino was fought seven years ago, and any bounties which might be given on account of it should be distributed in accordance with the practice and expectations of the parties at the time.

Mr. Sheil

said, it was very true, that the battle was fought before the new prize regulations were established; but it was also true that the present grant was to be made after these regulations had been adopted, and he could therefore see no reason in equity why its distribution should not be in accordance with them. He would persevere in taking the sense of the House on his Amendment.

Colonel Davies

said, that there was no analogy between this distribution and that of prize-money. It appeared from the reply of the hon. Member for Taunton that the distribution in the case of Algiers was made out of the droits of the Admiralty, which were, undoubtedly, at the disposal of the Crown. But the present was a grant from Parliament, who had, undoubtedly, a right to have a voice in its distribution.

The Committee divided on the original Motion: Ayes 129; Noes 35—Majority 94.

The Vote was agreed to.

List of the NOES.
Barham, J. Kennedy, J.
Beauclerk, Major Lister, B. L.
Bellew, R. M. Lynch, A. H.
Bish, T. Nagle, Sir R.
Blake, J. M. O'Connell, J.
Chapman, M. L. O'Connor, D.
Darlington, Earl of O'Dwyer, A. C.
Duncombe, T. Phillips, M.
Evans, G. Potter, R.
Ewart, W. Ruthven, E. S.
Ewing, J. Ruthven, E.
French, F. Scholefield, J.
Gillon, W. Vigors, N. A.
Gully, J. Walker, C. A.
Hughes, Hughes Wallace, —
James, W. Williams, Colonel
Jephson, C. O. TELLER.
King, B. Sheil, R. L.

A Vote of l00,000l. for allowances to the warrant and petty officers of the naval and military services, according to the new scale of 4s. per month, was agreed to after a few observations.

On the Vote for 12,232l. to defray the salaries of the officers and members of the household of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, Colonel Davies moved a reduction of 1,070l. That sum was the amount of several small sums paid to the Attorney and Solicitor Generals, for which he saw no reason whatever.

Mr. O'Dwyer

said, the gallant Member would find room enough for his display of economy in the English Pension-list without going to Ireland to cut down such a paltry sum. The reductions in Irish expenditure were already carried too far, and caused much dissatisfaction in Ireland.

Mr. Secretary Rice

said, the present Irish Estimates were fixed by some of the stoutest economists in the House, and among them his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex.

Mr. Ruthven

said, there could not be worse authority on Irish financial affairs than that very Gentleman. He carried his notions of retrenchment in Irish matters far beyond the mark. He might be a respectable Member and a useful economist in England, but a very bad one for Ireland.

The Committee divided on the Vote: Ayes 99; Noes 6—Majority 93.

List of the NOES.
Blake, J. Vigors, N. A.
Davies, Colonel Warburton, H.
Gillon, W. D. Williams, Colonel
Ruthven, E.

The House resumed.