HC Deb 05 December 1837 vol 39 cc611-30
Sir F. Pollock

, who had given notice of his intention to call the attention of the House to the Report of the "Select Committee on the losses of the late Speaker and officers of the House by fire of the Houses of Parliament," with a view to give effect to their claims on the consideration of the House, said, he was about to move that the House should resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House; but he should, if ii, were necessary, state the case then upon which he meant to rely. He did not wish, however, to occupy the time of the House unnecessarily, and he should, therefore, move that they resolve themselves into a Committee of the whole House. When in Committee it was his intention to move for an Address to her Majesty, praying for compensation to the late Speaker and other officers for losses sustained by the burning of the Houses of Parliament.

Mr. Hume

hoped, that some reason would be assigned for such a motion.

Sir F. Pollock

had, he said, no objection to state it at any length which the hon. Member might wish. The reason why he did not at once state the reasons for submitting his motion was, that he did not wish to make the matter the subject of a double debate. If it were, however, the general sense of the House, he should proceed to the discussion; though he should prefer the House resolving itself into a Committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought, that if an objection were taken to the proposition on the matter of principle, then that would be the proper time for the discussion; but if the objection were only to the amount of the vote, then they might go at once into Committee and consider what that amount ought to be. He for one was prepared to say this, that after due inquiry, after the evidence that had been given, and after an attentive consideration of the report which he held in his hand, he had come to the conclusion that there was an insuperable objection to the principle for which the hon. Member contended, and he was prepared to oppose the Speaker leaving the chair. Entertaining such an opinion, he considered that the discussion ought then to be proceeded with.

Sir F. Pollock

would then shortly relate to the House the circumstances under which Lord Canterbury sustained losses to the amount of several thousand pounds. During the whole time that that noble Lord had been Speaker of that House he had been under the necessity of occupying a part of the buildings attached to that House, and of being there with his family. For the purposes of maintaining the hospitality connected with his station, Lord Canterbury had. been under the necessity of living in a style of splendour and magnificence. According to the report which he held in his hand, it appeared that in October, 1834, during the absence of Lord Canterbury, his residence was burned down, and the furniture, &c., materially damaged, the greater portion being entirely destroyed. Under these circumstances he had to present the case of Lord Canterbury to the House as one highly deserving of their consideration. He would state very shortly the grounds on which he thought the claim of Lord Canterbury to compensation rested. He thought it sufficient to state that Lord Canterbury was a public servant of this country, compelled to reside in a certain house at a great expense, and that he had incurred a loss of many thousands in consequence of that house having been destroyed by fire, through the negligence of other public servants over whom he had no control. He would remind the House of what had been said on this subject in the last Session of Parliament by the hon. Member for one division of the county of Durham (Mr. Pease). That hon. Member said, that in any case where a servant of his occupied a house or part of a house, and a fire broke out, not through his negligence, but in a separate part of the premises, he should consider himself bound not to inquire whether the party had insured or not, but to grant him compensation. He would say a single word on what he considered to be the common law of the case. By the common law of England, the late Speaker, having lost his property by a fire which originated elsewhere than in his own house, and through the negligence of persons over whom he had neither a direct nor indirect control, was entitled to redress somewhere. He would not take up the time of the House in citing authorities—he would merely mention to the Attorney- General where they were to be found, namely in Comyn's Digest, letter A, number 6. It was there distinctly laid down, that an action on the case would lie against the owner and occupier of a house if a fire broke out there and destroyed the house, of his neighbour. This was the state of the law before the statute of Anne. It was clear, therefore, that in the case of a private individual a right of action would lie; and could the House, either in generosity or justice, say, because there might be a technical difficulty in bringing the action in respect of premises occupied under the Crown, that, therefore, the Speaker was to be disentitled? The right of parties to obtain compensation for losses occasioned by fire was regulated by the 6th of Anne, c. 81, s. 6; which statute was rendered perpetual by the 10th Anne. That statute enacted that no action, suit, or process should be had, or obtained, or prosecuted against any person in whose house or chamber any fire should accidentally begin, in consequence of damage occasioned by such fire. This Act only applied to houses and chambers, the object of it being to protect persons against domestic accidents. The case of factories did not come within the statute of Anne, neither did the case of warehouses, &c. But by the Building Act it was required that party-walls should be erected between every building. There was a remarkable provision in the Building Act, which provided that the operation of the Act should not extend to any of the royal palaces. By the 69th section, it was provided that nothing in the act should be construed to extend to any of the King's royal palaces, or to any house or building in the possession of the King, his heirs, or successors, or to any house employed in his use or service. There was good sense, reason, and justice in making this provision with respect to party-walls; and if the residence of Lord Canterbury had not formed part of a royal palace, and if the Building Act had been or could have been enforced, the fire would not have extended to the Speaker's house. Lord Canterbury being thus compelled to occupy a portion of a royal palace, in which, through the gross negligence of others, a fire originated, had become a sufferer to a great extent. He was aware that in the last Parliament, when there had been some opposition offered to this claim, it was asked was Lord Canterbury insured? To this he would give two answers. At the time the fire happened, in point of fact, the place was not insured; but he begged to say that Lord Canterbury was under no obligation to be insured in respect of this House. If Lord Canterbury, in virtue of his office, had been giving a dinner party to the Members of the House of Commons, and had found his house on fire and his property destroyed, and then had come to the House for compensation, that House might ask him why he had not insured? But Lord Canterbury had a perfect right to take upon himself his own domestic risks, and he had an equal right to call upon the House to protect him against consequences arising from the negligence of other servants of the Crown. If the negligence had been Lord Canterbury's own, he could understand the argument respecting his not being insured; but another argument arose on this point. Even if Lord Canterbury had been insured, his policy would not have been worth one farthing in point of law, as from the negligent construction of the premises, forming, as they did, part of the royal palace, and from the mixture of bricks and wood, there was in reality no party-wall within the meaning of the Act. The late Speaker had, for fifteen years, insured this property. He retired from the chair, not expecting that he should be called upon to fill it again, and his insurance had, therefore, been permitted to expire. The circumstances under which he had resumed the Chair at the request of Government, were well known; but even then, the late Speaker expected to remain in the Chair but a short time, and this was the reason why he did not insure. But if he had insured, the insurance company would have been under no obligation to pay the amount of the policy, inasmuch as the conditions of an insurance policy were not complied with. It might be said, that no insurance establishment would make the objection. That might be so; but in that case, the late Speaker would have received a certain sum of money, not by right, but as a matter of grace and favour at the hands of the insurance company. But even in that case, he was not sure that a public insurance company, in thus awarding money, would not be guilty of a breach of faith to the shareholders. He would, however, be glad to ask this question—"What could the late Speaker expect from any body of men whatever, if he could not expect it from that House?" He would ask hon. Members on both sides of the House this question—"If the fire had occurred, and the late Speaker had been insured, and the policy had been declared void; if the late Speaker were compelled to throw himself on the mercy of any assembly, what assembly should it be if not that House?" He had no doubt, at the same time, but that it was optional for the late Speaker to insure. The owner of a ship generally insured, but he was not bound to do so. Suppose such a person, without insuring, were run down by the negligence of another vessel, was it any answer to say, when the injured man came into a court of law to claim compensation, "Why did you not insure?" He had a right to say, that he had confidence in his own watchfulness and care to preserve his vessel, but he did not expect to be run down by others. This illustrated what he considered to be the state of the present case, and upon these grounds he was willing to present the case to the attention of the House. He had no complaint to make against his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or against her Majesty's Ministers, as he had no doubt they were discharging what they sincerely believed to be their duty, in endeavouring to learn what was the sense of the House with respect to this claim. He was inclined to rest the case upon its legal rights; but whether hon. Members looked upon it as a matter of right, or as one of grace and favour, or whether they referred to the particular circumstances of the case, or to the circumstances under which the late Speaker was called up to fill the Chair, on all and each of these grounds he felt it was a case in which justice and good faith were involved; and he therefore hoped that the House would support his motion for going into Committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that it was at all times painful to interpose any difficulties in the way of a grant, but it was particularly unpleasant in the case of the noble Lord, at whose hands, during the many years he had presided over the deliberations of that House, he had had so many opportunities of experiencing kindness. His feelings of respect towards the late Speaker, were felt by other Members of that House, and on. their behalf, as well as his own, he protested against any inference that might be drawn as to those feelings from the vote which he, for one, and others believed themselves bound to give on this question. If it had been a question of regard—if it had been a question of voting this money to the late Speaker, independently of the principle involved in it, he, for one, should have been happy to have had an opportunity of agreeing in the motion. But the question was, whether, upon the facts set forth in evidence, the House would be warranted in granting the sum of public money claimed? His hon. and learned Friend, knew, he said, no cause to reproach him with the course he had taken. He hoped, that the House would find no reason to complain of the course he was about to take—a course which would stand justified on the grounds of public duty. This subject had come under the consideration of the last Parliament. On that occasion, his hon. and learned Friend introduced the matter to the attention of the House. He then stated, that the Government having had the question before them, did not feel justified, on their own authority, in awarding compensation to the late Speaker, but that, considering the circumstances under which the loss had been sustained, they did not consider it an unfit subject for the consideration of the House itself. Under these circumstances, the subject was brought forward. It was found, in the course of the debates, that matters of fact, as well as of law, were very much in dispute. It was then suggested that the matter should be referred to a Select Committee, impartially constituted, and which within a short period, would have the power of forming a just decision. The appointment of the Committee was opposed by those Gentlemen who were adverse to the grant. It was, however, appointed; they had reported the evidence, and upon that evidence, the House was now called upon to decide. What, then, were the facts of the case, and what were the principles involved in it? It appeared that the late Speaker, during the many successive years that he had occupied the chair of that House, had insured his property. He thought, that this fact met something of the argument of the hon. and learned Member. Undoubtedly, the late Speaker was not bound to insure; he was not compelled to insure; but, if he did not insure, the risk was his own. But the hon. and learned gentleman said, that he was not bound to insure against risks brought on by acts of other parties. Now he would appeal to any Members of that House connected with insurance companies, whether such a distinction had ever been made? It was impossible. Suppose the fire had occurred during the period the late Speaker was insured, would the circumstance of the origin of the fire deprive the late Speaker of the benefit of the insurance? He would be paid the amount of the insurance, whether the cause of the fire originated in the burning of tally-sticks or in his own house. They had the authority of Lord Canterbury himself, that during a period of many years he did insure; but the hon. and learned gentleman had stated, that no office in London was bound to pay the insurance. He begged the House to notice upon what fallacies the hon. and learned Member had rested his whole case. These fallacies of which he complained were contradicted by the very evidence which the hon. and learned Member held in his hand. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say that the insurance company would not be bound to pay? They had it distinctly in evidence in page 6 of the printed minutes, that it was stated by one of the officers connected with the very company in which Lord Canterbury had insured, that the practice of the company was, in case of a defect in the policy like the present, that a statement of the facts should be presented to the court of directors, by whom it would be taken into consideration, and in most cases favourably received, wherever it was proved to the court that the deviation was not known to the party who had made the contract. Now, there was no suggestion that the deviation, in the present instance, was known to Lord Canterbury; and there could be no doubt, therefore, that if he had continued his insurance, the insurance company would not have hesitated for a single moment to pay. But this was not all. There was a further question and answer in respect of the mode adopted at insurance-offices. The witness was asked, whether a party by such a deviation would forfeit his legal right? The answer was, certainly not. He was then asked, whether the paying the money was a matter of grace or a matter of right? The answer was, decidedly; if the person deviated from the contract, he must come before the company for mercy. He sometimes found hon. and even learned Gentlemen weakening their ease by asking a question too much, and the present was a marvellous instance of the impolicy of asking too many questions, for the next question was, "In those cases where you extend grace and favour, does the amount at all affect their decision?" The answer was, "Not at all, whether the sum be 5,000l. or 6,000l., or any other sum; if the case should be taken into favourable consideration, we look at the principle, and not to the amount." The next question was, "What is that principle?" "That it should be proved to the satisfaction of the court of directors, that the deviation was not known to the party making the contract." But was it suggested that the deviation was known to Lord Canterbury, and could there, then, be the least doubt but that his claim would have met with a favourable consideration from the insurance company, if he had been in a situation to bring it forward? But he begged to call the attention of the House peculiarly to this. Was Lord Canterbury the only person who came under the category of claimants? Was there no body else in the same situation, whose case ran upon all fours with the case of Lord Canterbury? Was there nobody whose case came before the insurance company, and in which they had the decision of an insurance company, and from which decision they would have a right to infer what would have been the decision in Lord Canterbury's case. He would pass from Lord Canterbury to a very worthy and excellent officer, Mr. Bellamy. That gentleman was an officer of the House of Commons, and had also a deviation in his policy; so that, in this respect, his case and Lord Canterbury's were exactly alike. He had suffered loss by the fire as well as Lord Canterbury. So far their cases were identical. Mr. Bellamy had, however, insured, as Lord Canterbury repeatedly had done before, but which latterly he had ceased to do. Mr. Bellamy applied to the insurance office, and was paid the whole amount of his policy without any difficulty being raised; on the contrary, the amount was paid readily and cheerfully. Was there a man, then, who could doubt, if Lord Canterbury had insured as Mr. Bellamy had done, whether the result to Lord Canterbury would have been the same as to Mr. Bellamy. His not being insured, therefore, was owing to the neglect or forgetfulness of Lord Canterbury himself. It might be stated, that there were particular grounds which entitled Lord Canterbury to a distinction which did not apply to the other case. He had endeavoured to show that, if Lord Canterbury wished to be protected, he ought to have insured. He had shown, by the evidence of an officer of the company with whom Lord Canterbury had before insured, that, if he had continued to insure, even as a matter of grace, a favourable consideration would have been extended to him; and the example of Mr. Bellamy showed that this was no hypothetical case, but one of absolute demonstration. It was stated, that there were two precedents to justify the present claim, namely, one with respect to Sir Robert Gordon, and the other with respect to the fire in St. James's Palace. Now, neither the one nor the other applied in the slightest degree to the present case. In Sir Robert Gordon's case there was a distinction which was perfectly obvious. The case gave rise to a great deal of discussion, and was only decided after a great deal of difficulty, but the point upon which the decision in that case turned was this, that the property was situated at Constantinople, where Sir Robert Gordon had no power to insure his property, and therefore he had a right to come upon the public for some degree of protection. But what did the House do? They did not give the full amount—they merely gave the amount of the outlay. In the case of the fire in St. James's Palace, there was this distinction, that the loss fell upon the domestic servants, and it was an act of bounty on the part of the Crown to make the compensation then granted out of the civil list. But supposing they granted the present claim, see to what the principle would lead. There were a great many public buildings in the country, in which officers were compelled to reside these officers were distributed throughout the whole country, in the revenue, the excise, the Post-office departments, as well as in the barracks. Now every one of those officers at present, as a matter of common prudence, insured the property of which he was possessed; but if they were to affirm the principle that every individual thus compelled to reside in a public building was to be relieved from the necessity of insuring his property, he would undertake to say that they would have abundance of claims like the present brought forward. On these grounds he felt bound, as a matter of principle, to resist the present motion. He thought it right, however, before he sat down, to advert to the particular circumstances of Lord Canterbury's case. It was stated by Lord Canterbury in his evidence that as long as he considered himself permanently in the service of the House of Commons, so long he insured his property; and that he discontinued insuring it when, not of his own seeking, but at the request of the Government and for the public convenience, he, not permanently, but for a temporary purpose, resumed his functions. This was the real point of the case. But there was no ground whatever for saying that if Lord Canterbury came back for a year or a session it was not optional with him to insure; so that such a reason for acceding to the present motion—although be stated it that Gentlemen discussing this question might not overlook any point bearing upon it—was altogether untenable. He could only repeat, in sitting down, that as a matter personally affecting Lord Canterbury it would have been exceedingly gratifying to him if he could fairly and justly accede to the present proposition; but having opposed it as a member of the Board of Treasury, and the question having been referred to a Committee of that House—having before him the evidence of that Committee, which, so far from supporting this claim, in his judgment, negatived it—and finding, further, that this principle could not be carried without being followed by consequences full of mischief, he was compelled, however reluctantly, to say no to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Warburton

entirely agreed with the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He adhered to the ground which he had taken last Session in opposition to the present motion, and that was, that the House of Commons should not show greater favour to Lord Canterbury than they would be disposed to do to any other individual. He thought they were disposed to act in the manner which he had pointed out; at least he was of that opinion last Session; and from the papers laid before the House he was inclined to form the opinion that the Members of the House of Commons and of the Government—he meant the Government of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel)—took that unfair view of the subject. He alluded to circumstances which came incidentally before the House in an appendix to the report of the Committee which investigated this case. He must say that if any one transaction deserved to be characterised by the name of a downright job, that to which he was about to refer came under that designation. It appeared that after the fire had taken place, and that the whole house of the Speaker was in a dilapidated state, an application had been made by Lord Canterbury the Treasury to purchase eight chairs, two screens, and two sofas, for the sum of 500 guineas, that he had given for them. These eight chairs, two screens, and two sofas had been purchased from Lord Gwydyr, who claimed them as a perquisite, because at the coronation of his Majesty George the 4th, that monarch had slept in that House the day preceding his coronation, and this event, by some old grant, bestowed the property on the individual who held the office which the noble Lord to whom he referred filled. The demand was made before the Court of Claims and granted. The late Speaker having purchased this furniture, it was preserved after a fire took, place on the premises; and in order to make it available to the new Speaker, it would be necessary to build a house to suit the furniture, and not the furniture the house. This offer was made during the short administration of the right hon. Baronet, and it seemed to have been accepted, and on the very point of being concluded, when a change in the administration took place. And thus was the most arrant job that was ever attempted to be perpetrated by any Government defeated. Having, then, this proof that there was a greater disposition to favour Lord Canterbury than any other person, he asked hon. Members not to outrage their own feelings of justice by voting unjustly towards others; and he begged of them, as they regulated their conduct by the rule of acting, necprece necpretio, not to suffer their sense of the hospitality and urbanity of the late Speaker, which he cheerfully acknowledged, to lead them into the commission of an unjustifiable act. One of the arguments used in support of this claim was, that in consequence of the neglect of the Government officers with respect to a party-wall, the premises were rendered uninsurable, and Lord Canterbury was consequently entitled to compensation. Now, in the first place, they were not uninsurable; and if Lord Canterbury had acted the part of a prudent man, he would have compelled the Government officers to save him from the liability to which their neglect exposed him. But suppose the property was uninsurable, were the Government, therefore, bound to compensate the party for their act? He would give them an instance in which it was proved that they did not consider themselves thus liable. The case to which he alluded was that which he had submitted last night, and in which money had been paid into the Treasury for the express purpose of relieving the suffering party. By the act of the Government the straits of Copenhagen were seized, and the ships that had to go up the Baltic, in consequence of his Majesty's fleet having quitted Copenhagen, were taken as it were in a trap, and wholly prevented from insuring their property. When these parties came forward and asked to be compensated, so far from the act of the Government being allowed as a valid ground for acceding to their claim, this was the very class that was excluded from relief. He, therefore, contended that, even where the act of the Government made property uninsurable, it was not their habit to grant compensation.

Sir E. Sugden

hoped that the fears of the hon. Member for Bridport with regard to his clients' chance of compensation would not be further entertained after that night's discussion, and that he would be persuaded that the Treasury was fully competent to meet that as well as the present claim. At all events, he thought that the reasoning of the hon. Gentleman was somewhat singular, and tended to press personally and severely on Lord Canterbury, to whom, every Member of that House was deeply indebted for his impartiality and courtesy in performing the duties of Speaker. The hon. Gentleman asked whether it was intended that the present motion should be considered as a matter of favour. Why, no man doubted that this claim to compensation was urged as a matter of favour. No one rested it on the ground of absolute right. His hon. and learned Friend who introduced the motion showed how the legal right would have existed, and how very nice a point it was to say whether, in point of law, Lord Canterbury was not entitled to compensation. He gave the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, full credit for entertaining the feelings which he had expressed with regard to Lord Canterbury; and he could not help thinking that the course which the right hon. Gentleman took was dictated rather by his sense of the duty which devolved on him in his present position than by his own intimate conviction. He thought it was most unreasonably feared that this case might be drawn into a precedent. The offices of other public servants were not at all analogous to that which the Speaker of that House filled. He put it to every hon. Member in that House whether there did not exist a feeling of generosity towards the man who was placed in the exalted position of Chairman of the congregated Representatives of the people; whether there was not, in fact, an acknowledged title to favour and consideration in the case of such a man to which no other public officer could possibly pretend. He was persuaded, therefore, that if this claim were acceded to as a matter of grace, it would never lead to inconvenience as a precedent. Much stress had been laid on the allowance made to Mr. Bellamy by the insurance office at which he had insured. It did not, however, follow, that the company at which Lord Canterbury might have insured would have followed the example thus set, because the buildings differed in situation and in description. He believed that no Gentleman in that House or in the country would hesitate to compensate his steward, if by no act of his own, but through the intercession of his master, he was induced to continue in the occupation of premises which, being destroyed by accident subjected him to a loss of property. He appealed to the House, then, whether they would refuse to act in a gracious manner towards one who had long presided over their deliberations, and the justice of whose case was at least as strong as those which the hon. Member for Bridport had last night advocated.

Mr. Hume

was rather surprised to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman complain of the allusion which his hon. Friend (Mr. Warburton) had made to the purchase by the late Speaker of the eight chairs and the two sofas.

Sir E. Sugden

I never referred to chairs or sofas at all.

Mr. Hume

should be glad to know, then, why the right hon. and learned Gentleman had at all reflected on the course of argument pursued by his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had adduced a case which, in his opinion, was an apt illustration of Tory jobbing, and which certainly called for explanation from the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Somerset) who was Commissioner of Woods and Forests under the Administration of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. He did not blame Lord Canterbury for getting what he could; but he considered the conduct of the noble Lord opposite highly censurable in promising five hundred guineas for five old chairs and three old screens, in order that they might be retained until a new Speaker was appointed, and a new House built. The case which his hon. Friend had laid before them was the most arrant job which had ever come under his knowledge. He had assisted in raking up many jobs in that House, but he ventured to say that a more disgraceful one than that which had been that night submitted was never yet disclosed. The Government of Lord Melbourne presented in this instance a strong contrast to that of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, in as mach as it demonstrated how anxious the existing administration was not to yield to the claim of any one as a matter of favour, but to rest every case upon its merits. This was rather a strange time for bringing forward such a claim. The fire took place in October, 1834, and no demand for compensation was made until April, 1837. He understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman, Sir E. Sugden, had abandoned the law of the case, though it had been mainly relied upon by the hon. and learned Gentleman who made the motion. "We give up," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "our right as legal claimants, hut we ask you to be generous in your conduct towards a public servant." Now he told the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he ought to be just before he was generous. No man had a right to be generous with the public money. That was a doctrine which he could never admit, acting in his capacity of trustee of the public. Supposing, then, that Lord Canterbury appealed to them in forma pauperis, what could be produced to establish such a demand? Why should they be generous? Why should they give away the money of the people unjustly, and establish the precedent of partiality? He repudiated altogether the right of any Member of Parliament to be generous. Of the urbanity and impartiality of the late Speaker it was unnecessary to say more than that every Member, young and old, preserved a strong sense of them; and as for himself, he had ever had kind and generous feelings towards him. That generosity shall not, however, be exercised at the expense of the people. It was very easy for hon. Members opposite to give to their extravagant acts the praise of generosity; but if they had such a very strong regard for Lord Canterbury, why not put their hands to their pockets and pay him the amount of his claim? He was, in the present circumstances of the case, compelled to ask, what right had Lord Canterbury to appeal to the generosity of the public? His office was worth 7,000l. a-year, with house and every convenience. The noble Lord then retired on an allowance of 4,000l. a-year, whilst his son would gain, under a Bill to which he had in that House given the most strenuous opposition, and which was forced through Parliament in the most unusual manner, a sinecure in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury of 10,000l. a-year. If any individual, therefore, received full and ample compensation for his public services it was Lord Canterbury. He trusted the House would not countenance a proposition which would establish a bad precedent.

Mr. Pease

was convinced, by much consideration of this case, he ought to support a proposition similar to that which was now submitted; and, under all its circumstances, he saw no reason for changing that opinion. He was not swayed by feelings of private friendship or by the recollection of hospitality. He had never partaken of the one or received the other; and the view which he felt bound to take, in opposition to those with whom he generally acted, was founded upon a sense of justice, and of the propriety of the course which he adopted, if called for in a case in which he was himself personally interested.

Mr. F. Baring

meant to detain the House with but a very few observations, as the legal question which arose out of the case had been completely answered by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the question were one purely of law, the arguments which bore upon it might be much more conveniently urged before a legal tribunal than in that House. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Sugden) had said, "This is a case calling for an act of peculiar grace and favour towards an officer of the House of Commons, and, as such, placed in a superior position to all other public servants—who has served you faithfully for a long series of years." He must venture to request the House to be a little cautious how they admitted that principle. He for one could not admit that those who served that House should be favoured beyond those public officers who were not equally fortunate in point of emolument or of the distinction of their position. He knew of cases of great hardship which occurred with respect to persons in public situations. He would mention one which occurred by the destruction of the Kent East Indiaman. After the occurrence of that event the officers were told that they could not receive anything more than the sum which, upon a strict calculation of their services, they were entitled to. He knew how invidious was the position of the Ministers of the Crown when the dictates of their duty required them to adhere to harsh official rule in opposition to humane and generous appeals; but he submitted to hon. Members how far it would be expedient for them, how far it would look well in the eyes of public officers or of the community, if they proclaimed this practice—"Here is a servant of our own, and we will treat him differently from other public servants. This was a case which had received much deliberation, and was sifted with the more care as Lord Canterbury was politically opposed to the Government; but he felt bound to declare that the claim urged in it was not established, and that if he were to give way to it he must also sanction other demands which might be urged incessantly upon the House as often as a public servant fancied himself aggrieved by the Government.

Colonel Sibthorp

agreed with the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Pease). The hon. Gentleman who spoke last asked what right Lord Canterbury had to any peculiar mark of favour from that House? He would answer that question by a quotation from the evidence before the Committee. Lord Canterbury, being under examination, said, "I received a letter from the present Lord Spencer, then Lord Althorp, saying that Lord Grey and his colleagues requested that, as I was returned to Parliament, I would retake the chair that Session, in order that the House should have the benefit of fifteen years' experience."

Sir Robert Peel

must, in the first place, state his sincere conviction that the opposition given by her present Majesty's Government to the present motion was free from the alloy of any political feeling, but that it was offered under the impression that imperative duty required them to act as they had done. He was desirous of removing a prejudice to the consideration of this claim which was attempted to be raised by the hon. Member for Bridport. The consideration of that point had nothing whatever to do with the matter properly before the House; but as the hon. Member had thought proper to attach to it the epithet "job," and, as if this term applied, he was, as forming part of the administration when the transaction took place, more or less implicated in it, he begged the indulgence of the House for a few moments while he endeavoured to place it in its true light. Previously to the coronation of George 4th, certain rooms connected with the Houses of Parliament, being royal property and furnished by the Crown, were attached to the official residence of the Speaker, and were by him used as reception rooms for the House of Commons when they visited him. They did not in the slightest degree contribute to the comfort of the Speaker; but on state occasions were, as well as the furniture, used by him when holding levees. During the coronation of George the 4th, these rooms were occupied by the Crown, and upon its conclusion the Great Chamberlain laid claim to the furniture; and upon investigation of his demand by the Court of Claims, it was awarded to him. Lord Canterbury (the then Speaker), instead of going to the Treasury and complaining that he had been deprived of the use of the furniture, and urging that he could not, in its absence, entertain the House of Commons as he had been accustomed to do, or call upon them to re-purchase the property, generously determined upon making a sacrifice to keep up his state, and, without referring to any party, stepped forward to purchase the furniture from the Great Chamberlain. The Parliament Houses were burned, and all that remained after the fire was this very furniture so purchased by Lord Canterbury. Seeing this, the Treasury, taking into consideration all the circumstances—considering in the first place, that for a long period the Speaker of the House of Commons, virtute officii, had had the care of this furniture, and that upon its being declared after the coronation no longer the property of the Crown, but of the Great Chamberlain, he had purchased it, not for his own comfort, but to enable him to receive the House of Commons as he had been accustomed—the Treasury determined, not upon giving Lord Canterbury the price he had paid for them, but upon having them valued by an upholsterer, and then giving him for them the sum which this person should decide as being their actual worth. Now in how far this transaction deserved the term job he left to the House to decide. With respect to the case under the consideration of the House, it would be affectation in him not to say that he thought it one of considerable difficulty. Thus much he would say, that had Lord Canterbury sought to remain in the office of Speaker, or had he continued in it without the expression of any wish to be permitted to retire, and, having insured for fifteen years, had discontinued without any visible motive, he did not think the noble Lord would have any valid claim. He admitted that the strong point against the claim was the discontinuance of the insurance. But what were the facts of the case? In 1832 Lord Canterbury, after seventeen years service in the office of Speaker, contemplated retiring, on the ground of indisposition entailed upon him by a constant attendance to the duties of his situation. He communicated his intention to Lord Grey, and in consequence, in the year 1832, Parliament on the recommendation of the law officers of the Crown, passed an Act securing to him the usual retiring allowance. A general election soon after took place, and Lord Canterbury having been returned to the new Parliament, Lords Grey and Althorp, on the part of the Government of the day, signified to him their wish—a wish which they alleged was entirely founded on considerations connected with the public service—that for one Session at least he should continue to occupy the Speaker's chair. Previous to this application he had discontinued paying the insurance on the furniture in the official residence, and calculating that his retention of office would be at most a year, he did not think it worth while to renew his insurance. Now, he put it to every Gentleman present if under similar circumstances, he would not have acted in the same manner. But, unfortunately, during this very year of discontinued insurance the fire took place, not originating, be it observed, in the Speaker's house, but in a distant part of the building; and the property having been destroyed, Lord Canterbury thought proper to present the matter to the House, not as a claim of right, but as the claim of the first servant of the House of Commons, praying for a generous consideration of his case. (He Sir Robert Peel) felt disposed warmly to support the claim. It appeared to him that the House of Commons stood completely in the situation of the Crown, and Lord Canterbury in that of a servant of the Crown, and he saw no more reason why the one should receive compensation in such a case as the present more than the other. In the case of the Crown the civil list would have been made available. He did not see why in the present instance the public funds, which represented the civil list of the House of Commons, should not become so. In a matter of this kind, which was not a matter of strict law, and looking to the peculiar circumstances of the case, which was not likely to be drawn into a precedent, he thought that the generous test applied by the hon. Member for South Durham was after all the best. The appeal made by that hon. Member was not to be defeated by the cold and calculating question put by the hon. Member for Middlesex—he meant Kilkenny—who asked, ''What right had they to be generous?" There were some occasions when generosity, though not perhaps required by the strict letter of the law, was most consonant with the honour and permanent interest of a great country. Let that House put itself in the place of a master in the present case; let it suppose itself in the situation of a private individual, whose steward had, on account of indisposition incurred in service, demanded permission to retire, but who, at the urgent request of his master, continued in office, to his own great inconvenience. Let the House further suppose, that this servant, after a short period, suffered a loss in consequence of a calamity for which he was not in the slightest degree responsible; and he then asked, whether it would not be consistent with justice, if not with law, to take an equitable view of the case? It was on this ground, that looking to all the various circumstances of the case, and considering that it was not likely to occur again, he should, not concealing from himself the difficulties of the question, but consulting the dictates of a liberal and generous justice, vote in favour, not of the grant of any particular sum of money, but of the motion for a Committee made by his hon. and learned Friend.

The Solicitor-General

was glad to perceive, from the speech of the right hon. Baronet who had preceded him, that the question of right in the case under consideration was abandoned, and that it now stood in the only position it could reasonably present itself, namely, as an appeal to the generosity of the House. In this point of view, he was willing to enter upon its consideration; and having said so much, and dissenting entirely from the position of his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, that Parliament had no right to be generous, he expected a favourable construction would be put upon his words when he stated, that upon this very ground of generosity, he felt bound to oppose the proposition under discussion. It was a very easy thing to be generous with other people's money; but he feared the public would be a little suspicious of the disinterestedness of the House, should they find that a different measure of justice was dealt out to Lord Canterbury, on the ground that he was a servant of the House, than that which the Government was almost every day, on equally, if not better founded cases, meting to humbler individuals. The right hon. Baronet had asked them, how they would individually act if the case of Lord Canterbury was the case of their private steward? Certainly, before he allowed his generosity to act, he should ask himself, had his servant done that which it was reasonable in him to expect he should do. Now, had Lord Canterbury done so? In his opinion he had not. In 1832, at the end of the year, he ceased paying the instalments on his insurance, having, as he alleged, the intention to retire. He, however, did not retire, and allowed all the years 1833 and 1834, up to the time of the fire, to pass over without renewing his insurance. Had the fire taken place immediately after he had been invited to return to the chair by Lords Grey and Althorp, and before he had time to arrange himself in the office, then the case would be different; but, as it was, a long period had been allowed to elapse, and even at the time the fire did take place, the noble Lord did not contemplate carrying into effect his plan of retirement. It was for this reason he had come to the conclusion that there had been such neglect on the part of Lord Canterbury as disentitled him to the favourable consideration of the House, and he, therefore, would resist the motion which his hon. and learned Friend had introduced.

The House divided—Ayes 163; Noes 173: Majority 10.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. Copeland, W. T.
Acland, T. D. Courtenay, P.
A'Court, Captain Creswell, C.
Adare, Viscount Crewe, Sir G.
Alexander, Viscount Dalrymple, Sir A.
Attwood, W. Darby, G.
Baillie, H. D. De Horsey, S. H.
Baker, E. Dick, Q.
Bannerman, Alex. D'Israeli, B.
Baring, H. B. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Barneby, J. East, J. B.
Barrington, Viscount Eaton, R. J.
Bateman, J. Ellis, J.
Bateson, Sir R. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Estcourt, T. H. S.
Bethell, R. Farnham, E. B.
Blair, J. Fergusson, R. C.
Blennerhasset, A. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bolling, W. Follett, Sir W.
Borthwick, P. Forbes, W.
Broadley, H. Forester, hon. G.
Broadwood, H. Freshfield, J.
Buller, Charles Gibson, T.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gordon, hon. Captain
Burr, D. H. D. Gore, J. R. O.
Canning, Sir S. Goulburn, H.
Cantelupe, Visct. Grimsditch, T.
Castlereagh, Visct. Grimston, Viscount
Chandos, Marquess of Grimston, hon. E. H.
Christopher, R. A. Halford, H.
Chute, W. L. W. Hardinge, Sir H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Conolly, E. M. Hillsborough, Earl of
Hinde, J. H. Pakington, J. S.
Hodgson, R. Parker, M.
Hogg, J. W. Parker, R. T.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Patten, J. W.
Holmes, W. Pease, J.
Hope, G. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hope, H. T. Peel, Colonel J.
Houldsworth, T. Pemberton, T.
Howard, W. Perceval, Colonel
Hughes, W. B. Planta, J.
Humphrey, John Powerscourt, Lord
Ingestrie, Viscount Praed, Winthrop M.
Ingham, R. Pringle, A.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Pusey, P.
Irton, S. Rae, Sir W., Bart.
Irving, J. Ramsay, Lord
Jackson, Serjeant Reid, Sir J. R.
James, Sir W. C. Rolleston, L.
Jenkins, R. Round, C. G.
Jermyn, Earl of Round, J.
Johnstone, H. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Jolliffe, Sir W. Rushout, George
Jones, J. Sanderson, R.
Kemble, H. Sandon, Viscount
Kerrison, Sir E. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Knatchbull, Sir E. Scarlett, hon. R.
Knight, H. G. Shaw, F.
Knightley, Sir C. Sheppard, T.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Shirley, E. J.
Liddell, H. T. Sibthorp, Colonel
Litton, E. Sinclair, Sir G.
Lockhart, A. M. Slaney, R. A.
Logan, H. Smith, Abel
Lowther, Viscount Somerset, Lord G.
Lucas, Edward St. Paul, H.
Lygon, General Stuart, H.
Lynch, A. H. Sugden, Sir E.
Mackenzie, T. Talfourd, Sergeant
Mackenzie, W. F. Tancred, H. W.
Marton, G. Thompson, Alderman
Maule, W. H. Trench, Sir F.
Maunsell, T. P. Vere, Sir C. B.
Maxwell, H, Verner, Colonel
Miles, W. Vivian, J. E.
Miles, P. W. S. Wall, C. B.
Miller, Wm. Henry Wilberforce, W.
Milnes, R. M. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Neeld, J. TELLERS.
Norreys, Lord Fremantle, Sir T. W.
Packe, C. W. Pollock, Sir F.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Blewitt, R. J.
Anson, Sir George Blunt, Sir C.
Archbold, R. Brabazon, Sir W.
Attwood, T. Bridgeman, H.
Barnard, E. G. Briscoe, J. I.
Barron, H. Brocklehurst, J.
Beamish, F. B. Brotherton, J.
Bellew, R. M. Browne, R. D.
Benett, J. Brownrigg, S.
Berkeley, hon. F. Bryan, G,
Bewes, T. Bulwer, E. L.
Blackett, C. Busfield, W.
Blake, W. J. Butler, hon. P.
Blake, M. J. Callaghan, D.
Chalmers, P. Melgund, Viscount
Chapman, M. L. Morpeth, Viscount
Chichester, J. P. B. Morris, D.
Clay, W. Muskett, G. A.
Collier, John Nagle, Sir R.
Collins, W. O'Brien, C.
Craig, W. G. O'Callaghan, C.
Crompton, S. O'Connell, D.
Currie, Raikes O'Connell, M. J.
Curry, W. O'Connell, Morgan
Dalmeny, Lord O'Ferrall, R. M.
Davies, T. H. Paget, F.
Dennistoun, J. Palmer, C. F.
Duckworth, S. Palmerston, Viscount
Duff, James Parker, J.
Duke, Sir J. Parnell, Sir H.
Duncan, Viscount Parrott, J.
Dundas, C. W. D. Pechell, Captain R.
Dundas, F. Philips, M.
Dunlop, J. Philips, G. R.
Easthope, J. Phillpotts, John
Elliot, hon. J. C. Potter, R.
Erle, W. Power, J.
Evans, Colonel de L. Price, Sir R.
Evans, G. Protheroe, E.
Evans, W. Pryme, George
Fenton, J. Ramsbottom, J.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Redington, T. N.
Finch, F. Rice, E. R.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Fitzsimon, N. Rich, H.
Fort, J. Roche, E. B.
French, F. Roche, D.
Gibson, J. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Gillon, W. D. Rumbold, C. E.
Grattan, H. Rundle, J.
Greenaway, C. Russell, Lord J.
Grey, Sir G. Salwey, Colonel
Guest, J. Seymour, Lord
Hastie, A. Sharpe, General
Hawes, B. Smith, R. V.
Hawkins, J. H. Somers, J. P.
Hayter, W. G. Standish, C.
Hindley, C. Stanley, E. J.
Hobhouse, Sir J. C. Stanley, W. M.
Hobhouse, T. B. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hollond, R. Steuart, R.
Horsman, E. Stewart, J.
Hoskins, Kedgwin Stuart, V.
Howard, F. J. Strickland, Sir G.
Howard, P. H. Strutt, E.
Howick, Viscount Sturt, H. C.
Hume, J. Style, Sir C.
Hutton, R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Jephson, C. D. O. Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
Jervis, John Thornley, T.
Johnston, W. A. Tollemache, E. J.
Labouchere, H. Troubridge, Sir T.
Langdale, hon. C. Tufnell, H.
Lennox, Lord G. Turner, W.
Lennox, Lord A. Vigors, N. A.
Lushington, C. Wakley, T.
Macleod, R. Wallace, R.
Macnamara, Major Warburton, H.
Mahony, P. Whalley, Sir S.
Marsland, Henry White, A.
Martin, J. Wilbraham, G.
Williams, W. Woulfe, Sergeant
Williams, W. A. Wyse, Thomas
Wilshere, W. Yates, J. A.
Winnington, T. E. Young, G. F.
Winnington, H. J. TELLERS.
Wood, G. W. Baring, F.
Wood, T. Godson, R.
Paired Off.
Egerton, W. T. Hall, B.
Houstoun, G. Leader, J. T.
Lowther, J. H. Molesworth, Sir W.