HC Deb 31 July 1834 vol 25 cc811-3

Mr. Guest moved, that the House resolve itself into a Committee on the House of Commons' Offices Bill.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

opposed the Motion, on account of the lateness of the hour, and also on account of the late period of the Session.

The House divided—Ayes 49; Noes 1: Majority 48.

The House then went into the Committee. The first Clause proposed to reduce the salary of the Speaker from 6,000l. to 5,000l. a year, but not to affect the present Speaker.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

wished to know what part his Majesty's Government meant to take upon this clause.

Lord Althorp

said, that as the highest salary paid to any of his Majesty's Ministers did not exceed 5,000l., he saw no reason to induce him to object to the recommendation of the Committee, which proposed to cut down the salary of the Speaker to 5,000l. a-year.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

thought, that the salaries of all public officers should be reduced to the level of 1791. When the House was deprived of the services of the present Speaker, the proper time would arrive for legislating on the amount of salary to be paid in future to that high functionary.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

Was the Committee aware that, in 1832, the House had abolished the fees paid to the Speaker, and raised his salary in consequence to 6,000l. a-year? He thought that it was beneath the dignity of the House to be legislating every two years on the amount of salary to be paid to its chief officer.

The Lord Advocate

asserted, that the salary had not been altered since 1790.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

What was it in 1790?

The Lord Advocate

The same as at present.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

Then don't reduce it.

Mr. Edward Ruthven

did not think the salary of 6,000l. too great, considering the great increase of attendance and labour which the Speaker of late years had consented to undergo.

Mr. Alderman Thompson moved, that "6,000l." should be inserted in the clause, instead of "5,000l." Though 5,000l. a year was the highest salary paid to any Minister of the Crown, there was no Minister that had to perform such arduous duties as the Speaker. He called upon the Committee to consider the great expense to which the Speaker was put in maintaining the dignity and hospitality of his high office. He looked upon this clause as a specimen of very ill-judged and very paltry economy, and he should certainly give it every opposition in his power.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

said, that, as the Speaker had to perform more labour now than he had to perform in 1790, he did not see any reason why he should receive less hire.

Mr. Alderman Wood

was of opinion, that his constituents would feel no objection to paying the Speaker 6,000l. a-year.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

reminded the House, that there were officers of the Crown receiving larger salaries than 5,000l. a-year. The Lord Chancellor received more—the Lord Chief Justice of the King's-bench received more. The salary of this last officer had lately been reduced from 10,000l. to 8,000l. a-year. Now he should have no objection to raise the Speaker's salary to 8,000l. a year; but he had every objection in the world to reduce it to 5,000l. a-year.

Mr. O'Reilly

would never support that economy which, by reducing the salaries of high and important offices below their due remuneration, should place the offices themselves in the hands of men of large fortune only. He thought that 6,000l. a-year was not too large a salary for the Speaker.

Colonel Williams

was understood to support the reduction. The Speaker was certainly put to great expense by the number of dinners which custom compelled him to give in the course of a Session. Now, he had never been a friend to eating and drinking at the public expense, either in select vestries or corporations; and he thought that if the Speaker were to be exonerated from giving these dinners, 5,000l. a-year would be sufficient to enable him to support the expenses of his station.

Mr. George F. Young

said, that as a comparison had been drawn between the amount of salary paid to the Speaker and that paid to the Judges, he would remind the Committee, that the Judges were employed all the year, and the Speaker only during a part of it; besides, the Speaker had the advantage of an official residence.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 18: Majority 18.

The other clauses of the Bill were agreed to, and the House resumed.