HC Deb 25 March 1834 vol 22 cc649-51
Sir James Graham

, in moving the further consideration of the Report of the Exchequer Receipt Bill, said, that he intended to propose that two alterations should be made in the Bill. The first alteration he intended to propose was in consequence of a suggestion made by the right hon. member for Harwich (Mr. Herries). He (Sir James Graham) had proposed, that the Comptroller should only be removable from his office in case of the Address of one or both Houses of Parliament; but the right hon. Gentleman suggested, that in case of such removal the Comptroller might consider himself entitled to compensation. He, (Sir James Graham) therefore, proposed an Amendment, that in such case the Comptroller should not be entitled to compensation, but that the office should be subject to alteration and under the control of Parliament. He had also proposed that no person holding the office of Comptroller should be able to hold any office in the appointment of the Crown during pleasure. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) had objected that the Clause was not sufficiently comprehensive, as there were persons holding office during pleasure connected with the Government, and yet not directly appointed by the Crown—namely, such as the Secretary of the Treasury and the Under-Secretary of State. He (Sir James Graham) had felt the force of the objection, and intended, therefore, to propose that the Clause should be amended, so that it would run that no person holding the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer should hold any office during the pleasure of the Crown, or any appointment under the Crown. Some objection had been made to Lord Auckland being appointed to the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer as he held the office of Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital. He (Sir James Graham) did not consider, that there would be any serious objection to the appointment of Lord Auckland; but, to remove all doubt, he would propose a Clause to meet the case of Lord Auckland, which stated that that noble Lord should be allowed to hold both offices. If this arrangement was effected, the noble Lord (Lord Auckland) would give up two pensions he then held—namely, one of 400l. and the other of 300l. a-year. He need not say, that the arrangement he proposed would be of an economical nature. In conclusion, he would only add, that from the manner in which Lord Auckland had performed the duties of the office over which he presided, and from his experience and habits of business, he was more competent to fill the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer than any other person whom he (Sir James Graham) knew. The right hon. Baronet concluded by proposing his Amendments to the above effect.

Mr. Goulburn

admitted, that the two former Amendments had removed some of the objections that he had entertained. He was extremely loath to enter upon a discussion in which there was any thing like a personal matter; but he felt bound in duty to object to the appointment of Lord Auckland. He would much rather that Mr. Ellis, the Clerk of the Pells, should be appointed to the office of Comptroller than the noble Lord. The very principle of the measure of the right hon. Baronet was, that no person holding any office under the Crown should be the Comptroller of the Exchequer. That officer had some check and control over the expenditure of the public money; and it was most desirable that he should be perfectly independent of the Treasury. He approved of the Clause establishing that principle; but, in proposing to make an exception of Lord Auckland, the right hon. Baronet was, in point of fact, destroying his own principle. What was there to prevent future Governments from claiming similar exceptions? It was most objectionable that the first appointment should be a violation of the principle laid down in the Bill.

Mr. Tennyson

said, that the office which Lord Auckland now held in Greenwich Hospital being held at the pleasure of the Crown rendered it impossible for him, without contravening the principle of this Bill, at the same time to hold the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer. He did not mean to cast the slightest reflection on the character of Lord Auckland; but he could not help saying, that making the noble Lord an exception to a general rule applicable to all persons who should come after him was, to say the least of it, inconsistent. Without some further explanation, therefore, he could not consent to vote for the proposition of the right hon. Baronet.

Mr. Herries

agreed with his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn) that it was incompatible, according to the principle intended to be established by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer, and another office held at the pleasure of the Crown should be filled by one and the same person. Although he approved of other parts of the measure, he could not give his assent to such a proposition as that.

Mr. Warburton

observed, that the proposition which the right hon. Baronet had made for rendering the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer independent was in conformity with a proposition which had been thrown out by his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex. Nominating any person to the office who held another situation during good behaviour would be such a violation of the principle of this proposition that he should certainly resist it.

Sir James Graham

said, that after what had passed he did not think he should be justified in pressing for a division on the Clause relating to the appointment of his noble friend to this office. He should, however, persist in introducing the clause establishing the principle which had been adverted to, although he would not undertake the responsibility of bringing forward the other clause.

The Clause relating to the appointment of Lord Auckland was withdrawn, and the other Clauses were agreed to, and Report received.