HC Deb 08 December 1837 vol 39 cc844-933
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

addressed the House nearly as follows: Sir, I rise for the purpose of redeeming that pledge which in the earlier part of the Session, on moving a Committee on the Civil List, in the face of this House, in the face of the country, on the part of my colleagues, and in my own name I gave. I rise for the purpose of moving that the pensions charged on the civil list of his late Majesty in virtue of 1st William IV., c. 24, and in virtue of 2d and 3rd William IV., c. 116, charged on the consolidated fund, be referred to a Select Committee.

Undoubtedly I had not apprehended from what occurred on the occasion on which my pledge was given, from the absence of any declaration that a serious obstacle would be thrown in the way of my proposition, and above all, from circumstances that have arisen since, I had not apprehended that I was to expect more than a protest on the part of hon. Gentlemen who might differ from me against the course I intend to pursue; certainly it did not enter into my belief that hon. Gentlemen would oppose the motion which I am about to make. [Hear!] My right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn) cheers me. He undoubtedly stated on the occasion to which I have adverted that he would reserve his full opinion on the subject; but I take the liberty of saying, that if, as I have heard it rumoured, there be on the side of the great Conservative party in the House a determination to resist this inquiry, as contrary to principle and justice if they are resolved on pursuing that course, in the face of the public and of the House, and if their resolution has not been very recently formed, I should have expected that on the occasion on which my statement was made, that some virtuous indignation would have been manifested, and some decided declaration would have announced their intention to oppose the motion. I have said that my pledge was solemnly given, and let me now ask, under what circumstances is the motion, made in redemption of that pledge, to be opposed? I am glad to see on the benches opposite some hon. Gentlemen who, I believe, cannot oppose my motion. Amongst the hon. Members who are so circumstanced is the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln, who has always been one of those who have called for an inquiry into pensions. [Colonel Sibthorp: I have.] I may mention, as another of the hon. Gentlemen opposite to whom I look for support on this occasion, the hon. Member for Caithness, who voted with the hon. and learned Member for Southwark on some former divisions on this subject. I am glad to see that, though there may be a resolute determination on the part of some to resist this motion, yet we may find in the formidable phalanx opposed to us the hon. Gentlemen I have named, and with them many others whose votes I ask for in the course of this evening, and who must give us their support.

In order to bring the present question clearly and distinctly under the consideration of the House, and in order to avoid the slightest misconception, I wish, in the first instance, to state that it is my intention to make this motion in the precise terms of the original notice given by the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Harvey). I intend to submit that motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman without altering one single word or proposing to alter any one proposition contained in it. Why do I adopt his resolution? Because it contains at once a recognition of the principle of inquiry, and a recognition also that that inquiry is to be made with a due regard to the just claims of the parties. [Hear!] Gentlemen seem to cheer me because I say I am disposed to take the words of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark. Is there anything, I would ask, unusual in proposing a resolution in the words of a political opponent? Have we not high authority for this? I take these words, Sir, because, while they assert the principle of inquiry in favour of which I address the House, they put that limitation to it without which I should oppose the principle as strongly as I now support it: because they declare that the inquiry is to be carried on, subject to the just claims of the parties.

I shall now, Sir, endeavour very shortly to state the principal historical circumstances which connect themselves with the pension list, and with Parliamentary interference on the subject Gentlemen, no doubt, are aware that all Parliamentary interference has been an interference of restraint. Originally, and in early times, so far as the possessions of the Crown enabled the Crown to confer pensions as marks of royal favour, they were conferred without any control or limitation, and without any condition; but as soon as the constitution of England developed itself in its further maturity—so soon as ministerial responsibility was brought really and virtually into operation, the principle of restraint was considered necessary, and was frequently enforced. This constitutional jealousy itself, as hon. Gentlemen are aware, from the earlier time of Charles the Second down to the time of Queen Anne; although the greatest restraints originated only in the great discussions of 1782.

Sir, at the time when the Parliamentary opposition of this country comprehended the names of individuals whom we on this side of the House have been accustomed to look up to with deference and respect, and whom even the Gentlemen who are opposed to us will not be disposed to undervalue—I mean the names of Sir George Saville, Mr. Dunning, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Burke—the Parliamentary investigation on the subject of pensions began. Sir, in those days the first question that was urged, was the disclosure to Parliament of the names of the pensioners and of the amount they received. The first attempt made in those days was to mark by the distinct interposition of Parliament its sense of the responsibility of the minister who recommended the pensioner to the bounty and favour of the Crown. On these principles it was contended by those great and illustrious men whom I have named, that the pension list was a document which ought to be laid on the table of the House of Commons. I need not go further than to state that the principle of the responsibility of Ministers was maintained, and was carried to an extent as relating to the civil list beyond any which it is necessary for me to appeal to in support of the present motion. But it was in the year 1782, when Mr. Burke first brought forward, in his unrivalled and master-speech—the speech upon economical reform; a Speech which, no doubt, I shall hear extracts read from on the opposite side of the House, but which extracts I shall be prepared to meet by distinguishing this case from the case he then argued—it was at that time he brought forward the question of the reform of the pension list. He then called the attention of the House and the public, first, to the principle on which pensions should be granted, and, secondly, to the limitation of the amount of such pensions.

Sir, what are the principles laid down in the preamble of the Bill, or rather in the preamble of the clause by which the power of granting pensions was conferred? Mr. Burke, in the preamble of that Bill, states, and I will read the very words, because they are so clear and they are so applicable to the argument which I shall make use of hereafter:—" Whereas," says Mr. Burke, "it is no disparagement for any person to be relieved by the royal bounty in their distress, or for their great desert, but, on the contrary, it is honourable to be thought worthy of such reward, be it enacted," and then, Sir, he proceeds to place a limit of 95,000l. to the amount of the pension list of England. Before this, there existed also the power to grant secret pensions. There was a statement made that this practice prevailed in the time of Mr. Burke—I know not with what truth it was, at that time, suspected, but that in other times those secret pensions were applied to purposes of Parliamentary corruption, I believe there is no doubt. Mr. Burke first struck at the root of that corruption; next he procured the acknowledgment of the principle that pensions should only be granted on the ground either of distress or of desert; and finally, he limited the amount to which the Crown might go in granting pensions on the civil list. This was a great step in advance—indeed there never was a greater step made in constitutional and economical reform.

I need not trouble the House with the intermediate discussions which took place between 1782 and the times to which we belong. I have now to refer to the discussion which took place in this House in the year 1829. It will be remembered that in that Session Mr. Hume moved for a return of the pensions upon the civil list, which motion was objected to by the Government of the day, and was supported by Lord Althorp on the ground, that Ministers ought to be responsible for the persons whom they recommended to the bounty of the Crown, and that Parliament had a right to hold them to that responsibility. In the year 1830 a demise of the Crown occurred; the civil list was referred to a Select Committee, and I perceive by the resolutions which the right hon. Baronet opposite has printed, that he attaches great and becoming weight to the recommendations of the Committee to which the whole of the civil list was on that occasion referred; by the words quoted by the right hon. Baronet in his proposed amendment, it was decided in reference to pensions granted previously, that the lapse of time, the fact of undisturbed and undisputed possession enjoyed from reign to reign, nay, continued even in cases of a change of dynasty, gave to the individual, if not a legal right to the renewal of his pension, at least an equitable claim, which was not to be treated lightly. That Committee reported, that it was inexpedient to enter upon a revision of the pension list, and, therefore, determined that the pensions should not be disturbed.

But, with respect to my present motion, there are words in the report that would make it impossible either for the right hon. Baronet, or any other man who approves of that report, to resist on general grounds a proposition of appointing a Committee of inquiry. I beg to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the concluding words of the passage to which I have referred. It runs thus: "These observations, however, do not apply to the granting of future pensions on the civil list, if granted with a distinct notice to the individuals receiving them, that they are not only legally terminable on the death of the sovereign by whom they were granted, but liable to be revised or to be discontinued on the settlement of the civil list." I maintain, Sir, that this report has laid it down as a principle that the pension list of William 4th is subject to the consideration of Parliament. Therefore, Sir, I say that if even the right hon. Baronet is disposed to throw his shield over all antecedent pensions—with respect to which argument I shall speak hereafter; if he contends that the House cannot inquire into them, that they were settled at the time the civil list was settled on the proposition of Earl Spencer; it is not just, it is not legitimate reasoning that he should object to a Committee of inquiry to examine the pensions granted subsequent to that period; because the right to examine into them was clearly, and in the strongest manner, reserved in the report I have quoted; it is inconsistent in the right hon. Baronet to adopt the principles of that report and refuse an inquiry into the pensions since granted.

It may be asked on what terms have these pensions been granted? Have they been granted with any distinct notice? I wish the House to understand how that case stands. True, no distinct notice was sent to each pensioner, supposing it was necessary that a letter should be sent informing him that his pension would be revised; but was it necessary? This report was brought up by the Minister of the day, Earl Spencer, representing the Government of Earl Grey. He brought in the civil list act founded on that report; he arranged the pension list on the principles of that report; he granted pensions in accordance with that report; and shall it now be said, this report having been the authority for the deliberate acts of the House of Commons and of the Government, that the individual to whom the pension was granted is not to be held to have received notice? Can it be contended that this report did not in itself give clear notice to each pensioner that every one of these pensions was liable to the revision of Parliament? Sir, I say that to suppose that notice was necessary but was not given, would be; to attribute to Earl Spencer, upon whose character no imputation was ever thrown, and whose memory as a Member of this House is still valued and dear to all those who are his friends, and to many of those who are his opponents—it would be to attribute to Earl Spencer the basest of disingenuousness. Can it be thought that, having brought in the civil list on the principles of this report, he would have protected the pensioners from the consequences of any further inquiry? Therefore, Sir, I think I have shown that the principles of the report, of 1830, lead inevitably to the conclusion that Parliament, if it think fit, can appoint a Select Committee to inquire into every pension which was granted during the reign of his late Majesty William the 4th. I do not now stop to ask what test should be applied to these pensions—that is another question —but I contend that they are subject to inquiry. But even if this were otherwise, I appeal to the common sense, the common understanding of this House and of the country, even supposing that those pensions granted in the early part of the reign of William 4th, are protected from revision, I ask fearlessly whether those pensions which have been granted subsequently to the resolution of February, 1834, are not subject to the revision of this House? Are they not? Why the House of Commons, on full deliberation, adopted certain resolutions which were to impose certain limits on the discretion of the Crown in future. Is it of no importance to hon. Gentlemen —is it of no importance to the House— is it of no importance to the public—to know whether these resolutions have or have not been adhered to? Gentlemen may say, "O! but you have had an opportunity of examining into that fact before a Select Committee up stairs. No doubt the Government did not shrink from their duty of justifying those pensions before the Committee on the Civil List." It may be said by hon. Gentlemen, "We must presume that the Government, coming before a Select Committee for the first time with these resolutions, would not have hesitated to show the grounds on which every pension was granted by them. Now I beg the attention of the House to this point, because here is an argument which I hold to be irresistible in favour of my motion.

Sir, the Government did feel it to be their duty to justify those pensions, and account for every one of them. I was prepared to lay before the Committee, in reference to every pension, the fullest and most minute details, and was I allowed to go into those details? No. It was said, "You are about to have a Select Committee on pensions, and that is the fitting place. Produce your details there— go into your justifications there—we will not examine your pensions. We will not open one of your papers." The right hon. Gentleman may say he differs from me as to his impression of what occurred before that Committee, but I appeal to the other Members of it whether the statement I have made as to my own acts is not the fact. I ask the hon. Member for Somersetshire and the hon. Member for Lambeth, whether I did not tender to the Committee the fullest information respecting every pension for which we are responsible as having been granted since the date of those resolutions? Was I not stopped, and did I not thereupon state that I felt I should not discharge my duty unless I justified every pension. I was not then allowed to enter into the discussion, and am I now to be stopped by the motion of the right hon. Baronet? I say that this is not fair play. It is not fair or just to preclude an individual or a minister from giving information in which the public interests are concerned. It is not just to stop inquiry before the Select Committee by reference to future proceedings in the House; and then in the House to stop the proceedings again, by an amendment like that proposed to-night.

It may be said that such inquiry was a matter of indifference, and that no one charges abuses on pensions granted since 1831. It may be so; but is it of no importance to ascertain whether these resolutions have accomplished the objects of those who proposed them? We wished in 1834 to provide a remedy for a previously existing abuse; we introduced resolutions for that purpose; is it of no importance for the House to inquire whether these resolutions have or have not protected the public from the previously existing abuses? If the right hon. Baronet opposes this inquiry on general grounds, the House will be excluded from examining into the pensions granted since 1831—it will be also precluded from that investigation with a view to ascertain whether its resolution can be acted on with safety to the public. The House is to be precluded from an examination of the pensions granted since the year 1830, though such an inquiry is expressly suggested and provided for by the terms of Earl Spencer's report; and precluded from examining those pensions—with what object? I will not say with what intent, but with what effect? Is the House to be precluded from examining those pensions into which it has, on every ground of argument, a right to inquire, and is it to be thus precluded for the purpose of shielding and sheltering other pensions, but which do not come within the same category which I have set forth. Now let us examine whether Gentlemen are warranted in saying that no inquiry ought to take place into that earlier list. I admit that nothing could be more unjust, both to the Government which granted the pensions, and to individuals by whom they were received, than to apply either to the one or the other a test subsequently enacted, and having its origin in 1834. Nothing could be more unjust than such a course. But before I admit that such a course would be unjust, am I therefore called on to admit, that, previously to the adoption of that resolution, there was no test at all? On the contrary, every statement that was fairly made goes to show that a test existed at a period anterior to the year 1834, although the test was not so clear or distinct; still a test did exist as far back as in the time of Mr. Burke. What did that statesman say, and on what grounds, did he defend pensions? On two grounds. The act of 1782 stated the grounds on which these grants could be justified: the one was desert, and the other was distress; in the statute of 1782 these grounds were distinctly specified. I admit that the granting of pensions in ancient times was loose—was unfettered by those obligations to a considerable extent, and, therefore, I also am bound to admit that those ancient pensions ought not to be lightly disturbed; but what is the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's notice of amendment? He does not advert to the words in my resolution saving existing claims and rights. I do not assert, however ancient the pension might be, if you prove that it originated in fraud or corruption, I do not assert, that in such event, it ought for a moment to protect it from inquiry. On the contrary, I main- tain that if a case of that description were to be made out, and if it could be proved, let the guilt and responsibility rest on the Government that advised the grant or the continuance of a pension of that kind, and let the pension be also struck off. But does the present motion decide whether one single pension is to be struck off? Certainly not. But what you have to decide is this; when about to be called upon to grant a certain sum for a pension list, when the vote for pensions is virtually before you, whether you will first inquire into the facts of the case.

The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harvey) is not to think because I have taken his words that I am disposed to strike out pensions without just and adequate grounds; but if he can show that any pension has been granted subsequent to the resolutions referred to, and which pension is contrary to those resolutions, then I am ready to say that such pension ought not to be granted. And if there be any pensions granted prior to those resolutions, I am ready to say that if it can be shown that it was granted from corrupt motives, then I shall be prepared to strike it out. I do not enter into the inquiry with any previous disposition to condemn pensions; on the contrary, I think that when the pensions are of ancient date we should throw the burden of proof upon those who impugn them. But this I say, that when we ask of the House of Commons to grant us 140,000l. a-year for pensions, the House of Commons has a right to consider whether those pensions ought to be continued. I do not ask the House of Commons to condemn either the pensions for which we are responsible, or for which prior Governments may be responsible; but I do ask them to remember that here we have to vote an annuity of 140,000l.; I ask them to recollect how they will be answerable to their constituents if, in giving that vote, they also negative my proposition, and refuse to inquire into the necessity of continuing the pensions to which the public money is to be applied. You are not asked to condemn the pensions or pensioners—it is not wished that you should go into the Committee with the desire to reduce what may be just claims and equitable demands from any mere sordid desire of effecting some trifling saving and accomplishing some paltry economy; you are asked to inquire whether these pensions ought to be continued, having a just view to the fair claims and rights of the parties. I, then, take the liberty of saying, that if the House of Commons now refuses an inquiry into this matter, it will be preposterous hereafter for any party in this House, or in the public, to speak of the responsibility of the Government in recommending these pensions. The clanger of your voting for the amendment is great —it would be a declaration for the time— it would be a declaration to any Government that may succeed us. "Do just as you will with the pension list; appoint whomsoever you may fancy to select as a fit person to be on that pension list; the House of Commons will never question it." [No, No!] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say "No,' but I say that my argument is this—that if ever you are to enforce responsibility the time at which you can do it with the greatest justice, with the greatest precision, and the most constitutional propriety, is the present; for the money has now to be granted. Is not the present, then, the proper time for enforcing responsibility; the time before the money has been voted, and not after the vote? This, I say, is the time in which you are bound to inquire. Surely, if you now vote an annuity of 140,000l. without inquiry, your mouths will be stopped for the future. If, then, you are ever to inquire, it is at the present moment, when you are called upon to vote so large an annual sum as 140,000l. or 150,000l. for the pension list. I say that the time for such inquiry is upon the occasion of a new Sovereign—it is upon the settlement of a new civil list. In entering upon the inquiry you are, in my opinion, bound to enter upon it in a just and liberal spirit; you ought not to assume that every thing is wrong of which you do not happen to have a just and fair account. On the contrary, I believe that if ever there was a subject that will bear investigation, and be useful particularly to the just rights and the just claims of the parties themselves, the inquiry which I propose will be of that nature, and will be essentially useful to the parties most interested. I say this, Sir, with a knowledge of the facts; I have had the honour of communicating with many of the parties; and I must say, from the communications which it has been my fortune to receive, that I have obtained information, in the performance of my duty, which resolved many doubts I might previously have entertained; these communications have satisfied me that many of the grants, and amongst them several given at an early time, would, if given in later times, have been defensible not only according to the letter, but to the spirit of the resolutions of 1834. On the part, then, of the pensioners, upon that list, I ask for inquiry. If you were to enter upon it without having a just regard to their claims I should not ask for inquiry.

What, I ask, have you gained by mystery upon this subject? In my opinion, mystery has prevailed over it for too long a time; and instead of being beneficial to those whom you sought to protect, it has only been productive of danger to them. I repeat it that the general distrust which that mystery has engendered has been mischievous to the pensioners themselves. The refusal to investigate has produced upon the minds of the public on this subject impressions as to the individuals on the pension list which have been more injurious to them and more disparaging to the pension list than the consequences of the most searching inquiry.

I have, to suggest another argument in favour of inquiry. There may be Gentlemen amongst those who hear me who are afraid to take any course calculated to endanger what they consider to be the just rights of these pensioners; there may also be persons indifferent to those rights, (I hope there are not many), but without appealing to either class exclusively I am sure it cannot be contended by the House generally that the holder of a sinecure office had less of a vested right in his sinecure than a civil list pensioner in his pension; the sinecurist held office for life, and it might be found passing in his hands from one reign to another. The present is a case in which you are called upon to vote public money and to justify the vote. In the case of sinecures, where the House of Commons was not called upon as it is now for a sum of money, it went into an inquiry upon the whole subject of the sinecure offices. That inquiry, it will be admitted, was conducted with perfect fairness and impartiality. Did that inquiry lead to any injustice to the parties interested? No. Did it lead to the contentment of the public? Yes; it put an end for ever to the outcry upon the subject of sinecures, and I am sure if a Committee be now granted, it will in like manner for ever put an end to the outcry against the pension list. I say, Sir, that the outcry against pensioners can be mainly traced to the mystery which has prevailed respecting them to the present period. Delusions have been kept up day after day, through the public press, and by means of other agencies respecting these pensions. These delusions have been increased by reason of the mystery with which the subject was surrounded, I want to do away with these delusions, and to put an end to the mystery by subjecting the whole question to a full and fair inquiry, believing that such an inquiry is calculated to remove many of the false notions now entertained upon this matter. On these grounds, then, I recommend the appointment of a Committee for an inquiry. I again say, that unless you wish to relieve the Government from all responsibility upon all future occasions you will not miss the opportunity that a new reign presents to you for inquiry.

In what manner does the question practically present itself to you? The report of the Committee upon the civil list has been laid upon the table; it is not, however, yet in the hands of Members, and consequently, I am not at liberty to go into its details at the present moment, nor to remark upon them; but it is essential to my argument to state the arrangement that has been recommended upon the subject of pensions by that Committee.

It is proposed in the report, that a provision should be made by law to enable her Majesty to grant to the extent of l,200l. a year in pensions, and no more. Provision is to be made to that extent and no further; no provision is made for the former civil list pensions. I could have wished that provision had been made prospectively for those pensions. I stated my opinion in reply to the hon. Member for Southwark, when I was questioned by him upon this subject. When he asked me, "Do you mean to interfere with the pensions pending the motion of which you have given notice;" I stated to him distinctly that I had no wish to prejudge the examination by the Committee, and therefore that I did not think her Majesty ought to be advised to re-grant a single pension. But, nevertheless I asked the Committee to affirm the amount of the sum expedient, to be assigned to the branch of expenditure, reserving to the House the full examination into the pensions already granted. I say, that such a course was just.

I request the attention of the hon. Member for Southwark. I have no right to complain of him upon the subject. From his observations in reply it was plain that he agreed with me in the course that I was taking; but it has been stated most untruly that the course I followed upstairs was contrary to my declarations in the House of Commons, and that it was calculated to defeat inquiry. I now take the earliest opportunity of giving the most direct and most authoritative contradiction to the statement I have alluded to, not only as unsupported by truth, but as directly the reverse of truth; because, if one man could more than another have been careful to reserve for the future Committee, the full consideration of the propriety of re-granting every one of those pensions, I appeal to the members of the Committee above stairs to support my assertion, that I was that very individual. It did not, however, suit the opinion of the Committee to vote the definite sum which I proposed for the annual pensions.

We commence, then, upon new ground, and in some respects I rejoice that we do so. We have opened as it were a new account on the settlement of the civil list. Instead, then, of taking a sum apparently excessive, we take a sum respecting which the public can form a clear opinion, and will not differ from the Committee when it is declared that it is expedient that her Majesty should be enabled to grant 1,200l. in new pensions every year. Now, unless we are prepared to grant a Committee of inquiry, a very unfair arrangement has been entered into as to the earlier pensioners. We ought not to cast them off unprovided for. We ought to examine, not with jealousy and suspicion, but with justice, and even, I would say, with generosity, into their respective cases; and that, too, with a view of making a permanent provision.

The right hon. Gentleman means, I perceive, to move resolutions in opposition to my motion for a Committee, but if his resolutions be adopted will he undertake that the House of Commons will vote the money without a previous inquiry. This, Sir, is the simple question. The right hon. Gentleman had a short experience, an experience highly honourable to himself, of the duties of that office which I have now the honour of filling; I appeal to him, and ask whether does his short experience as Chancellor of the Exchequer enable him to look with confidence to a vote for an annuity of 140,000l. after negativing the inquiry now proposed by me? Will he undertake that his own friends will support me, if I venture to make a proposition of that kind? Has he, I ask, any doubt upon this subject? I take the liberty of saying, that at the commencement of a new reign, when it is necessary to ask for a new vote of 150,000l. a-year for pensions, a man must have a very slight knowledge of the state of parties or of the opinions prevailing in this country, if he thinks that he has a chance of obtaining such a vote from Parliament if he resists inquiry. I take up a contrary position, in defence of the pensioners themselves, I advocate a due inquiry into their claims. The only mode to obtain from Parliament that which it would be just for Parliament to grant—is to examine into the whole claims of the parties interested, conducting the inquiry on the principles laid down in the words of my motion, namely, "having a due regard to the just claims of the parties."

I have, Sir, little more to add upon the present occasion. I defend the course which I have suggested to the House, first, as being necessary to justify so large a vote of public money, and next, as it is as far as the resolutions of 1831 can be appealed to, that to which we are pledged by these resolutions. It is also a course to which we are pledged by Lord Althorp's report upon the pensions granted by King William the Fourth; it is a course from which we are not precluded by the principles of the act of 1782. Every thing should be presumed in favour of the earlier grants until a case is made to impeach such claims. With respect to the earlier grants, if a case of fraud or of corruption be made out, then I say, in that case, as in all similar cases, the grant of the Crown ought to be revoked, and it behoves Parliament to interfere. I do not know whether there is a greater chance of the failure of the present motion being defeated because it is brought forward by me rather than by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harvey). I have ventured, upon my own responsibility, to propose this motion, and upon many grounds I think that the question is one of that delicacy and importance which the Government, if prepared to support, ought to originate; if there is to be inquiry, I think that the inquiry ought to be carried on, not only with a just sense of the claims of the parties, but with a due respect to their feelings also. I think it ought to be carried on in a generous and gentlemanly spirit, so as not to indispose the public or the House towards the Committee, and prevent Parliament from giving full effect to their recommendations.

Do I mean to deprive the Committee of the power of examining into the truth? No such thing; but from the outset it should be avowed and understood that there would not be any impertinent inquiry into private affairs in which the public have no interest. I beg to state, that unless the inquiry be carried on in a spirit of just and liberal feeling it will defeat itself. It is on this account that I think it most necessary that the examination should be undertaken upon the responsibility of the Government; and I think, too, it will have more authoritative effect upon the public if so undertaken. I doubt, nevertheless, very much whether the right hon. Gentleman will not divide more strongly when the motion is made by myself rather than by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harvey); it might be a matter of some Parliamentary curiosity, to know if the motion were proposed by the hon. Member for Southwark, whether more of the hon. Gentlemen opposite would not have voted with him than with me. But, whether that be so or not, I have taken upon myself the responsibility of the motion; and, in doing so, I must take the liberty of repeating that I do anticipate the votes of some hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I find that upon former occasions many of them who are considered to be Conservatives, have supported this proposition. I shall not now go through the names of all; but I find the name of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kent, voting for it on a former occasion; I find, too, the name of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, and the name of the hon. Member for Frome, of the hon. Member for Caithness, that of my hon. Friend, the hon. Baronet who sits below the bar (Sir Eardley Wilmot), and that of the hon. Gentleman, then Member for Coleraine, and now Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, (Mr. Alderman Copeland). Each and all have supported such a proposition.

But it may be said, if you change your course now, why are not other Gentlemen justified in changing theirs? But circumstances call for this inquiry. The difference on which I rest is this, when former discussions, as in 1834 took place, Parliament had already settled the civil list for the Sovereign, the House is now called upon to settle a new civil list, and to vote 150,000l. for pensions: I cannot deny that it is just and proper to have an inquiry in order to justify such a vote. Having staled this, I shall not now stop to defend my own consistency. I know that an attack may be made upon me, and probably will be made, for the different course I have pursued upon a former, and that which I am adopting upon the present, occasion. If it be so, I shall not shrink from justifying my present course in preference to that which I took upon a former occasion; for there is a palpable difference between the two cases. But it is not the defence of my consistency which is the subject of discussion, but the merit of the question on which the House is asked to decide. Consistent or inconsistent, as I may be, I say to hon. Gentlemen fresh from their constituents, and with pledges of economy upon their lips, that now is the fitting opportunity for redeeming their pledges—we tender to them the fairest and the fullest inquiry, unfettered, and unrestricted. Nay, we say to them, by the obligations of eternal justice, by the obligations of every kind and generous feeling, the more fair, the more just, and the more honourable they consider the claims of the pensioners to be, the more are they bound to enter into that examination undertaken by her Majesty's Government.

Under these circumstances, Sir, and putting the vote upon these grounds, I take the liberty of moving for "A Select Committee to inquire how far pensions granted in virtue of I William 4th, c. 24, charged on the civil list, and in virtue of 2 and 3 William 4th, c. 116, charged on the consolidated fund, ought to be continued, having due regard to the just rights of the parties, and to economy in the public expenditure." I have taken the very words of the motion of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, and I mean unreservedly to give my best assistance to the inquiries of that Committee. I now conclude, hoping, Sir, that I have redeemed my pledge of acting fairly and candidly upon this subject of the proposed inquiry.

Sir R. Peel

Sir, if this proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, involved merely some consideration of temporary policy or expediency, I might have felt myself at liberty to advert to some of the considerations to which he has referred for the purpose of enabling me to decide upon the course which I should pursue. I might possibly have occupied myself, as he has done, in ransacking the past votes of Members upon this side of the House— I might have referred to pledges given to constituents; I might have contented myself with a vehement protest and violent declamation against the proposed inquiry; and, having done so, I might have imitated the recent example of others, and tried to evade a vote upon this question. But, if the proposal does not merely involve considerations of prudence and policy—if it violates as I will show it does violate, the principles of equity and justice—then I care not how the votes of my friends may have been given upon former occasions; I care not whether this he a favourable opportunity for bringing, or not, parties into collision; I am determined, in satisfaction of my own feelings, and in vindication of the eternal interests of justice, by my vote, at least, upon the division, of which the right hon. Gentleman shall not be disappointed, whatever bearing it may have upon party interests, to show the sincerity of my own conviction. It is said the pension list is unpopular; that it will be a popular measure to consent to its revision. Yes; but if that revision be unjust, the popularity of it is no argument in its favour. It is, no doubt, prudent, it is right, in respect to measures involving merely considerations of expediency, I will not say, to defer, servilely, to popular feeling, but to permit it to enter largely into the elements of your decision. A measure may be abstractedly wise, and highly beneficial in its ultimate results; but if the public mind be not ripe for its reception, if it be revolting to the feelings, the prejudices, the passions of the present generation, there may be more evil in provoking opposition and in disturbing public harmony, than in abandoning or postponing a wise but unpalatable measure. Even the interests of the measure itself may require its temporary abandonment. But this is not true where justice is concerned. Resistance to a measure which inflicts wrong may be very unpopular; but, on that very account, the duty of resistance may be the more imperative. Then is injustice the most dangerous, when its deformity is covered under the veil of plausible pretences of economy, or recommended by the supposed sanction of the public voice, or when it is called for by the vindictiveness of party feeling, disguising itself under the semblance of superior purity. It is because I am deeply impressed with these truths, that I shall pro- ceed to consider the proposal now made under two aspects. First, as it would present itself, independently of the transactions of 1831; that is, independently of all that occurred on the settlement of the civil list of King William. Secondly, as it does actually present itself, changed in its features and colours by the events of 1831.

Let us place ourselves, then, in the position in which Parliament and the Government stood in 1831. We find that the invariable preceding usage had been, on the accession of a sovereign, to respect the grants of his predecessors. There is not a solitary instance, since William 3rd succeeded to King James, in which the pensions granted by one king have been discontinued by his successor. We wish to establish new regulations in regard to the grant of pensions, to confine the future grant to the reward of acknowledged merit, to exclude the operation of mere personal partialities and favour, to make all future pensions liable, on the demise of the Crown to revision; and if we think fit, to discontinuance. Nothing can be more unquestionable than our right to do so. But what course shall we take with respect to pensions actually existing? to the pensions granted in conformity with the uniform preceding usage, and on the presumption of the continuance of that usage, believed by the grantor and the grantee to be renewable on a fresh accession? We may doubt the policy of such grants in some instances; we may think there has been, occasionally, too lavish a distribution of royal favour; but if it have not exceeded the bounds prescribed by Parliament, are we called upon, by justice or policy, to apply a new rule of retrospective severity? What is the probable profit we shall derive from it? [Cheers.] Oh! do not suppose I give your sordid construction to the word profit! I do not mean the mere lucre—the amount in pounds, shillings, and pence, that a great nation can screw out of a few pensioners. I take profit in its comprehensive sense, I include, in my meaning of national profit, abuses detected, corruption brought to light, prodigality checked; —I include, all the influences of exposure, of punishment, of example.

But what is your prospect of profit, of combined profit, pecuniary and moral? Let us take the English pension list as it stood in 1830, on the demise of George 4th. Upon that list there are 383 pensions. Out of that number there are only fifty-eight which have been granted by any Minister now surviving. Nineteen of these were granted by Lord Sidmouth more than thirty-three years since. Out of the total number of 383 pensions, there are only thirty-nine granted within the last thirty years, of which the Ministers who granted them are living to give an account. The pensions granted for considerations of charity, you will probably not seek to disturb; those granted as the reward of acknowledged service, will probably be respected; those of a very remote date,— those, in respect to the motives for granting which no responsible Minister can be summoned to answer, can hardly be withdrawn in the absence of all satisfactory evidence, unless there be very strong presumption of corrupt motives for the grant. The Report of 1831 expressly states, that many of the pensions, in reliance on their permanence during the lives of the parties, have been made the "subject of family settlements and pecuniary arrangements of various kinds," which it would be harshness and injustice now to disturb. In respect to pensions granted from mere considerations of charity, the following is the testimony of Lord Althorp, who did not propose the arrangement of 1831 blindly and inconsiderately, but after a minute review of the pension list, and a reference to individual grants upon it. In speaking, on the 4th of February, 1831, when the question was entirely open to the consideration of Parliament, when the House was much more at liberty, as I will presently show, than it now is, to enter upon an inquiry into the Pension List, when Lord Althorp was as much unfettered as the youngest Member of the House of Commons now present, he gave this account of the general circumstances under which pensions had been granted. His Lordship said:— I shall now proceed to state the grounds which induce me not to take away from their owners any pensions that now exist. It is certainly true, and no man is more ready to admit it than I am, that many of the pensions on that list are such that ought never to have existed; hut, on the best examination that I have been enabled to give them, it appears that a large majority of these pensions are purely pensions of charity, and therefore to take them away now, after they have been so long enjoyed, will be to inflict great distress on many individuals. I admit that the House has a legal right…… but I doubt whether it has an equitable right, to discontinue them. Adverting, then, to the fact, that a large majority of these pensions were granted from mere charity—that many of them, though the propriety of the original grant might be questioned, have been made, as stated in the Report of 1831, the subject of domestic settlements and pecuniary arrangements of long standing—considering that only fifty-eight pensions out of the 383 on the civil list of England have been granted by any surviving Minister — I ask the House, without reference to what passed in 1831, what they can hope to gain in point of economy, from the most rigid scrutiny into the pension list?

You may answer, that economy, that pecuniary gain, is not your object; that you have higher ends in view; that you want to scrutinize the acts of Ministers, to trace the motives for the grant of suspected pensions, to expose the grounds on which the public money has been lavishly wasted on unworthy objects. But how many of these Ministers survive? Where will you find the evidence by which you can ascertain the grounds on which they advised a particular pension? And do you, who refused to inquire in 1831—do you, who have let seven years, and a whole reign elapse; who have thereby confirmed the impression that you were averse to inquiry; who have, by your own acts, justified the destruction even of such evidence as might have been accessible in 1831—do you think it a just or a decorous course now to arraign the memory of those who are in their grave, and have not the means of justification or defence? From the date of the earliest pension to the accession of King William 4th, there have been eleven Ministers holding the office of First Lord of the Treasury, and responsible for the grant of pensions. The Duke of Grafton, Lord North, Lord Shelburne, Mr. Pitt, Lord Sidmouth, Lord Grenville, Mr. Perceval, Lord Liverpool, Mr. Canning, Lord Ripon, and the Duke of Wellington, have successively held this appointment. Three only of the eleven are now surviving; namely, Lord Sidmouth, Lord Ripon, and the Duke of Wellington: Lord Sidmouth is accountable only for pensions granted before the year 1805. I ask, then, what is your prospect that you can now make an effectual inquiry, consistently with the principles of justice, for the purpose of passing judgment upon the acts and the intentions of those Ministers of the Crown by whom pensions have been heretofore granted?

Suppose they were all alive, and able, in person, to explain their acts, would it be just to try their conduct by the test of newly-assumed principles?—to apply to their conduct a standard of which they were wholly unconscious? — to subject them to a rule to which neither Parliament nor public opinion invited them to conform? The right hon. Gentleman quotes Mr. Burke, and cites Mr. Burke as an authority for the inquiry he is about to institute. But in the first place, when Mr. Burke delivered his speech on the reform of the civil list in the year 1780, the circumstances were wholly different. The civil list was in debt, the Crown applied to Parliament for the discharge of that debt; and thus gave Parliament the clear right of investigating every item of expenditure (the pension list included) before it consented to an extraordinary advance of money, for the purpose of relieving the civil list from debts not sanctioned by Parliament. In the second place, notwithstanding this altered position of the civil list, which would have prevented Mr. Burke's opinion, had it been in favour of inquiry, from being an authority to which the right hon. Gentleman could appeal, Mr. Burke's opinion was directly against inquiry; and, so far from affording a sanction, supplies a striking and peculiar condemnation of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct. That opinion is of the more importance, because it indicates the prevailing feeling of the House of Commons of that day; of that part of the House of Commons which was most jealous of the influence of the Crown, and which was demanding measures of practical reform with respect to the civil list expenditure. Surely, the Minister who conformed to that opinion, must have thought himself safe from any subsequent impeachment of his acts. Mr. Burke said:— The King, Sir, has been, by the constitution, appointed sole judge of the merit for which a pension is to be given. We have a right, undoubtedly, to canvass this, as we have to canvass every act of Government. But there is a material difference between an office to be reformed and a pension to be taken away for demerit. In the former case, no charge is implied against the holder; in the latter, his character is altered, as well as his lawful emolument affected. The former process is against the thing, the second against the person. The pensioner certainly, if he pleases, has a right to stand on his own defence, to plead his possession, and to bottom his title in the competency of the Crown to give him what he holds. Possessed, and on the defensive as he is, he will not be obliged to prove his special merit in order to justify the act of legal discretion. The very act, he will contend, is a legal presumption, and an implication of his merit. If this be so (from the natural force of all legal presumption) he would put us to the difficult proof that he has no merit at all. But other questions would arise in the course of such an inquiry; that is, questions of the merit, when weighed against the proportion of the reward; then the difficulty will be much greater. The difficulty will not, Sir, I am afraid, be much less if we pass to the person really guilty, in the question of an unmerited pension—the Minister himself. I admit, that when called to account for the execution of a trust, he might fairly be obliged to prove the affirmative, and to state the merit for which the pension is given; though, on the pensioner himself, such a process would be hard. If in this examination we proceed methodically, and so as to avoid all suspicion of impartiality and prejudice, we must take the pensions in order of time, or merely alphabetically. The very first pension to which we come, in either of these ways, may appear the most grossly unmerited of any. But the Minister may very possibly show—that he knows nothing of the granting of this pension—that it was prior to his time—to his administration—that the Minister who laid it on is dead; and then we are thrown back upon the pensioner himself, and plunged into all our former difficulties. Abuses, and gross ones I doubt not, would appear, and to the correction of which I would readily give my hand; but, when I consider that pensions have not generally been affected by the revolutions of ministry, and as I know not where such inquiries would stop, and as an absence of merit is a negative and loose thing, one might be led to derange the order of families, founded on the probable continuance of their kind of income. I might hurt children; I might injure creditors. I really think it the more prudent course not to follow the letter of the petitions. If we fix this mode of inquiry as a basis, we shall, I fear, end as Parliament has often ended under similar circumstances. There will be great delay, much confusion. much inequality in our proceedings. But what presses me most of all is this, that though we should strike off all the unmerited pensions, while the power of the Crown remains unlimited, the very same undeserving persons might afterwards return to the very same list; or if they do not, other persons, meriting as little as they do, might be put upon it to an undefinable amount. This, I think, is the pinch of the grievance. For these reasons, Sir, I am obliged to waive this mode of proceeding as any part of my plan. In a plan of reformation, it would be one of my maxims that, when I know of an establishment which may be subservient to useful purposes, and which at the same time, from its discretionary nature, is liable to a very great perversion from those purposes, I would limit the quantity of power that might be so abused. The security against abuse which Mr. Burke proposed, was the limitation of the power to be abused; that is, the appropriation of a specific sum from which pensions might be granted, and which must on no account be exceeded. He did not seek to define the proper objects of royal favour; he laid down no regulations controlling the distribution of it; and of course, therefore, he left it to be inferred, that the Crown had the discretionary power to grant pensions, not merely for the reward of official service, but for the support of decayed rank, or for the gratification of the private feel- ings of the Sovereign, or for any of the various motives which influence an opulent and liberal nobleman, in private life, in bestowing marks of grace and favour, or rewarding the fidelity and attachment of humble friends. No doubt, if there were abuse,—if the pension fund were prostituted to the purposes of corruption, —the abuse would not be protected from inquiry, on showing sufficient grounds of strong suspicion; nor from punishment, if proof of corruption could be established. But there has been no concealment of the names of those now in the receipt of pensions; every name has been repeatedly published; and yet there has been no allegation of corruption in the grant of pensions; there has been merely the assertion that the Ministers of other times did not conform to doctrines, with regard to the favour of the Crown, which they never heard of, and did not anticipate—regulations, in respect to pensions, which were established after their death. What a mockery of justice will it now be, either to deprive the grantee of his pension, or to impeach the grantor for his misconduct!

So much for the considerations which would appear to me to call for the maintenance of all pensions existing previously to the accession of the late King, quite independently of the transactions of 1831. I now approach the discussion of that part of this question which rests upon the transactions of 1831, and my object will be to show that it is nothing short of absolute and flagrant injustice, after what then took place, now to revise that pension list.

What are the circumstances of the case? George 4th died in 1830. It was necessary, in the course of the year 1830, for the Government of the day to propose a new arrangement of the civil list. They did propose it; and, on their responsibility, submitted it to the consideration of Parliament. A motion was made, by the opponents of the Government, for referring the civil list to a Select Committee. The Government thought it their duty to resist that motion. The motion was, however, carried by a majority of 29; and, in consequence of that majority, the Members of the Government retired from office. A new Government was appointed, owing its accession to power to this very question of the consideration of the civil list by a Committee; and, of course, every person was alive as to the course which the new Government would pursue. Lord Grey came into office as First Lord of the Treasury, and Lord Althorp as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lord Althorp moved for a Select Committee on the civil list, and that Select Committee made a full and detailed report upon the subject of pensions. That Committee was appointed by Lord Althorp, as Chancellor of the Exchequer; was presided over by him as chairman; the report was indited by Lord Althorp, and was assented to by the Committee. In the report of the Committee, so appointed by the Government which succeeded the Government of the Duke of Wellington, it is stated, distinctly:— It is more than probable, therefore, that parties relying on an adherence to an invariable custom, have made family settlements, and pecuniary arrangements of various kinds, with all of which his Majesty must necessarily interfere, should the continuance of these pensions, for the first time, on his accession to the throne be refused. Adverting to all the circumstances of the case,—considering that no material relief to the finances of the country could be derived from the most rigid measures of retrenchment applied to the pension list; that in many cases severe distress, in some actual injustice, would arise to individuals from the general discontinuance of pensions; that such discontinuance on the occasion of his Majesty's accession, would be a departure from an usage invariably observed on the accession of his Majesty's predecessor,—your Committee do not think it advisable to withdraw from the Crown those funds which may enable the Crown, if it shall so think fit, to continue the pensions on the civil list of his late Majesty. How could the right hon. Gentleman refer to this report, and assert that it was an authority for the course he is now pursuing? I shall be disappointed, indeed, if I do not convince the House that whatever else the right hon. Gentleman may have shown, he has at least manifested a degree of intrepidity which is without parallel. He says, that he finds in the report of the Select Committee—that Select Committee which had Lord Althorp at its head—that they contended for the right and equity of revising pensions. Why, no doubt they did, of revising pensions of a certain and particular description; but, if this report means anything, it means this,—that with respect to pensions granted before the accession of the late King, in respect of which an invariable usage had been observed, those pensions ought to continue, and ought to be exempted from revision. What says the report?— These observations, however, do not apply to the grant of future pensions on the civil list: if granted with a distinct notice to the individuals receiving them, that they are not only legally terminable on the demise of the Sovereign by whom they have been granted, but that they are liable to be revised or discontinued on the settlement of a new civil list, there can be no obstacle to the reconsideration at that time of the then existing pension list. And yet the hon. Gentleman, concealing the distinctions so plainly and unequivocally drawn by the report, between pensions granted without notice of revision, and pensions granted with such notice, appeals to this report as an authority for the revision indiscriminately of all pensions whatever! The right hon. Gentleman then appeals to Lord Althorp as an authority in his favour. He says, "Would the ingenuous Lord Althorp have countenanced the impression that pensions could not be revised on the demise of the Crown?" Why, what was the whole purport of the language of Lord Althorp, and the whole tenor of his proceedings, on this very question? It was a decided maintenance of the principles of the Report of the Committee; a decided maintenance of the distinction between pre-existing pensions, and pensions to be granted in future. And what was the position of Lord Althorp and of Lord Grey? They had no interest in maintaining the old pension list. If they had been influenced by grovelling motives of party hostility, or of vindictive feeling against Ministers whom they had opposed, they would have called for inquiry into the pension list. But they were influenced by higher motives; they thought it was indecorous towards the Crown, unjust towards those who had been the objects of the royal favour, that a Committee of the House of Commons should scrutinise the motives, in each individual case, which had prompted the liberality of the Crown. They refused to institute an inquiry; and Parliament sanctioned their refusal.

It is necessary that I should refer to the precise expressions used by Lord Althorp, —not in 1834, when he opposed the inquiry then proposed into the pension list, on an additional and distinct ground,—but in 1831, when the question was entirely open to Parliament, and when Lord Althorp was as free, nay, infinitely more free, than we now are, in consequence of what then took place. Lord Althorp said: — I admit that the House has a legal right to take away all these pensions if it pleases. They certainly expire with the demise of the Crown; but though the House has a legal right to discontinue them, I doubt whether it has an equitable right, for they have hitherto always been granted on the supposition that, when once obtained, they were to be held, not merely for the life of the Sovereign who granted, but also for the lives of the parties who held them. This was the language which Lord Althorp used, dissatisfying many of those who had hitherto supported him. Mr. Portman, the Member for Dorsetshire, came down to the House before the question for the settlement approached, and, remonstrating with the noble Lord, said, "Beware, lest you should be overruled by a hostile majority of the House, and lose the confidence of those who have hitherto supported you." What was the language employed by his Lordship in answer to this,—by a Minister who knew that the pension list was unpopular; to whom it was signified that the abandonment of his opinion on that question must be the condition on which he would retain the support of his friends? What was the answer which he gave to the warning, "Beware, lest you provoke a hostile feeling amongst your former supporters, and be overruled in the House?" It was this,—and so noble, so high-minded, was it, that Lord Althorp, and his friends may for ever refer to it with proud feelings of satisfaction heightened by the contrast with the present proceedings, —the following was the reply of Lord Althorp to the caution and menace of Mr. Portman: — On the subject of the pensions I beg to say a few words. I can never conceive it is my duty as a minister of this country, or of the House, as a part of the Legislature, to take advantage of a technical point of law, in order to do what in my conscience I believe to be unjust. The pensions in question, as I stated on Friday, were considered, and always have been considered, as granted for life. It is undoubtedly true, that by taking advantage of a technical point of law, those pensions might be made to expire on the demise of the Crown. There would be a strict legal justification for making them so expire; but I put it to the House—I put it to the country, whether it would be a worthy cause for Government to take advantage of such a circumstance, and whether the relief which would be thereby obtained could be put in competition with the discredit of such a proceeding. Having said this, I have only to add that I await the decision of the Committee and of the House with the deference and respect to which it is entitled; and that it is my most earnest wish that I may be able to comply with any alterations or modifications which may be suggested. At the same time I must observe, that I can never consider myself as bound to submit to the decision of any Committee, or of the House itself, or of any other power whatever, if that decision should involve in it what I deem to be an act of injustice. Now, let me ask, what was the legitimate inference which parties entitled to pensions must have drawn from this? They did not look to technicalities, or ponder over nice verbal distinctions. They saw a great revolution in the Government, —one party dispossessed of power, the other succeeding to it. They saw that the question of the civil list was the instrument by which the mighty change; was effected. They saw the new Ministers adopting the principles of the old, with respect to inquiry into the pension list; and the Legislature approving the principle thus held in common by the great parties of the State, and advisedly and deliberately sanctioning, at the very time that departure from it was within their competence, an adherence to that which had been the invariable preceding usage. Could they entertain a doubt that, so far as the past was concerned, the question was settled for ever? and that their pensions were guaranteed to them for their lives, not, perhaps, by the letter of an Act of Parliament, but by the higher sanctions of the public faith, and the honour of the Crown and Parliament?

But, supposing it had been foretold to them that the proposal for inquiry would be made on the accession of a future Sovereign, the last man in the House from whom they could have expected such a proposal is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was the colleague of Lord Althorp at the Treasury, the confidential secretary of the department over which Lord Grey and Lord Althorp presided. He is the man on whom they would have relied for protection. That reliance would not be founded on the mere fact of official connection with others; it would be justified by all the acts and declarations of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I am not about to taunt him with inconsistency in respect to a political course. If he has changed his opinion in a question of policy, let him manfully avow it. Policy may change its aspect, varying its chamelion hues according to the vicissitudes of human affairs. But, surely, justice cannot. That which was expedient in 1830 may, possibly, be the reverse in 1837; but that which was injustice in 1830, cannot be justice in 1837. I will take some of the declarations of the right hon. Gentleman, and I will leave the House to judge whether the parties, to whose interests they referred, had not a right to expect that they should find in him their most strenuous defender. While I am reading these extracts, I must ask you not to confound my speech with his. The sentiments are identical, the quotations are so appropriate, so exactly becoming my present position, that you will hardly believe that the speech which I am reading is any other than my own. The right hon. Gentleman said:— You passed those acts with your eyes open, and why should the House of Commons now be called upon, at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Colchester, to go into the most fruitless, the most painful, and I will say, into the most disguisting inquiry? Now if that inquiry would have been painful in 1834, would it not be equally so now? If it were disgusting then, shall we he betrayed into it now? I proceed with the quotation:— I do not quite understand that cheer from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Undoubtedly such an inquiry must necessarily be painful and disgusting to the good feeling of all mankind. After this declaration, I ask, would not the parties whose cases are thus spoken of have a right to calculate, whoever might propose such an inquiry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at least would not be the man? If one of them were told that such an inquiry were threatened, he would say, "I have looked to the Speech of Lord Althorp and to that of the then Secretary for the Treasury, who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I find that both of them have declared themselves against such a proceeding,—that the latter has even characterised it as fruitless and disgusting; and, looking at these declarations, I have a perfect security, as perfect a security as can be grounded upon the characters and pledges of public men, that the family settlements and pecuniary arrangements into which I have entered, depending upon the continuance of my pension, will not be disturbed." Suppose the case of a military officer of limited means, the holder of a small pension, casting about to see what provision he can make for those dependent upon him for support. His attorney says, "This pension is only given for the life of the Crown, and therefore it is not such a security as is good for a settlement, or for the advance of money." To this the military officer replies, "I have perfect confidence that my pension is safe; the declarations of public men on both sides unite to assure it to me. You (the attorney) are the slave of technicalities; you do not understand that species of security which is above the words of a deed or the letter of a law. Read the Speech of Lord Althorp, read that of the hon. Secretary of the Treasury, who succeeded him in the Ex- chequer, and then say whether I am not safe—whether the provident foresight of Mr. Rice has not guaranteed my pension?" The military man would then read with exultation, to the astonished attorney, the following speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer:— Let me suppose the case of a meritorious military officer; suppose such officer to have received a pension for years; is this House disposed to call upon him either to forfeit the grants to which he has now a legal right, or to come before a Committee to recite his services, proclaim his own merits, to make out a case, and substantiate his claim to what his Sovereign has granted? Why, Sir, I say that this is a species of inquiry which must necessarily be painful to every well-regulated mind. " There," says the military officer, "there is my security. While this man remains in office, I shall never have to loiter about the lobbies of the House of Commons, inquiring for the Committee Room No. 13., where I am to recite my case, and proclaim my merits, and justify the suspected bounty of my sovereign."

Mr. Rice said further:— I should like to know what it is that hon. Gentlemen propose to themselves if they go into Committee. I only beg to state to the House, as among my objections to this inquiry —I only ask them, as practical men, what they expect to extract from it, unless, indeed (this was addressed to the hon. Member for Southwark)—unless indeed they proceed upon motives which I will not attribute to any hon. Member—motives of undue curiosity, and a desire to investigate the private circumstances of individuals? But we are told by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they seek to trace the origin of these grants. Now, the hon. Member for Bath stated that most of those who were the responsible advisers of these grants are no more—their evidence and their responsibility are therefore alike excluded. Are we, then, to call all the parties who are themselves in the receipt of these pensions before us, and the responsible Ministers who advised them not being in office or in existence—are we to go into an examination of the private case of each of these parties? If so, what is to be the course of your inquiry, and how are you to conduct it? I cannot imagine an inquiry that could by possibility be of so disagreeable a character; I cannot imagine an inquiry so painful not only to the feelings of those who are the subjects of it, but to those who have to conduct it. I only ask the Gentleman, whoever he may be, who is a candidate for the honour of the future chair of this Committee, whether he anticipates any very useful or agreeable duty. I repeat this question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I ask the Gentleman, whoever he may be (it cannot be the Chancellor of the Exchequer), who is a candidate for the honour of the future chair of this Committee, whether he anticipates any very useful or agreeable duty? I ask you, the House of Commons whether you will sanction this "fruitless and disgusting inquiry," which, seven years since, your predecessors refused to enter into? Remember, that your position is different from theirs; that seven more years have elapsed,—that a whole reign has intervened,—that evidence which might have been had in 1831 is no longer attainable in 1837,—that expectations entertained in 1831, founded upon the uniform preceding usage, have been converted into certainty by the deliberate re-adoption of that usage. Remember that of the whole list of the pensions there is but a fraction for which any living Minister can answer; that those Ministers who, fretted to premature decay by the restless agitation of political life, are now in their graves, entertained, and were justified in entertaining, different views from yours with regard to the grant of pensions. They little dreamed, after rewarding with a moderate pension the faithful services of some confidential servant, the depository of all their secrets, the sharer of all their labours, that years after their death, in the absence, possibly, of all evidence, the motives of the grant would be scrutinised with unsparing severity, and tried by inapplicable tests and new and unheard of principles.

Consider the life,—the life of intolerable labour and care,—the briefness of the career,—the causes of the death of many of those who have reached the summit of pre- carious power in this country! Look back upon the history of this country, from 1804 to 1830, a period of twenty-six years, and you will find that death has swept away all the Ministers, with two exceptions, who had successively presided over the destinies of this country during that eventful period, and that the united tenure of office by these two embraces only three out of twenty-six years. Call to mind the fate of Castlereagh, of Canning, of Liverpool, whose deaths were hastened by their devotedness to the service of their country! I shall never forget the words addressed to myself by Lord Liverpool but a few days before that fatal blow which ended in his decease, when I remarked to him, with satisfaction, that I thought him looking better than I had seen him for some time previously. "Ah!" was Lord Liverpool's reply, "no man knows what it is to have been the Prime Minister of England for seventeen years, and never, during that period, to have received his letters by the post in the morning without a feeling of anxiety and apprehension." The Ministers are in their graves. These pensions were granted by their advice. They are unable to give an account of them, or of the grounds upon which they were given. Do you think it just,—do you think it decorous towards their memories, to ransack with severity their advice to their sovereign with respect to the distribution of the royal favour? Would it have been fitting to do so in 1830? Is it tolerable in 1837?

William 4th. has descended into the tomb of his ancestors. He has been succeeded by a sovereign in the bloom of youth and promise. That painful and revolting inquiry which we would not sanction when a king of mature age ascended the throne,— shall we insist upon it now? Shall we take advantage of the tender age and unsuspecting confidence of a youthful Queen, to demand those scrutinies into acts of royal favour which were characterised at a previous accession, not merely as fruitless, but disgusting? There is not a pension on the list which was not granted as the reward of service, or the mark of favour, by the grandfather of the present Queen, George 3rd, or the succeeding sovereigns, her, uncles. Shall her first act be to question the exercise of their discretionary favour, and put upon their trial the objects of their bounty? Shall she, who is the fountain of honour, of grace, of privilege, of favour, be forced to this act of unusual severity and harshness? You have offered to her the respectful assurance, that the Commons of England will make ample provision for all that can contribute to her personal comfort, or enable her to maintain the high dignity of her exalted station. Let not the kind and grateful feelings which this assurance must excite in her mind be embittered by the sad reflection, that she, of all sovereigns, is the first who has been called upon to depart from the liberal and generous usages of her ancestors—the first upon whom has been imposed the harsh and painful necessity of rudely invading those family settlements and domestic arrangements which were made in just reliance upon the permanence of royal protection. I will now conclude by moving the following resolution, as an amendment; to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the question, in order to add the words— That upon the occasion of the accession of his late Majesty, King William 4th, a Select Committee was appointed in 1831, on the motion of Lord Althorp, then Chancellor of the Exchequer to take into consideration the accounts presented by order of his Majesty relating to the civil list. That the Committee so appointed took into consideration, together with other classes of the civil list, that of the pensions, and after stating that they felt it to be their duty to explain to the House fully the case in respect to pensions, made in their report the following, among other observations: —' At the same time, it would be a harsh measure to overlook, on this present occasion, that which has been the uniform usage on all former settlements of the civil list. Pensions, on the civil list, have always hitherto been considered to be granted for life, and, in fact, no instance has occurred wherein a pension on the civil list granted by one Sovereign has been discontinued on the accession of his successor. It is more than probable, therefore, that parties relying on an adherence to an invariable custom, have made family settlements and pecuniary arrangements of various kinds, with all of which his Majesty must necessarily interfere, should the continuance of these pensions, for the first time, on his accession to the Throne be refused. Adverting to all the circumstances of the case, considering that no material relief to the finances of the country could be derived from the most rigid measures of retrenchment applied to the pension list; that in many cases severe distress, in some actual injustice, would arise to individuals from the general discontinuance of pensions; that such discontinuance on the occasion of his Majesty's accession would be a departure from an usage invariably observed on the accession of his Majesty's predecessors, your Committee do not think it advisable to withdraw from the Crown those funds which may enable the Crown, if it shall so think fit, to continue the pensions on the civil list of his late Majesty. These observations, however, do not apply to the grant of future pensions on the civil list; if granted with a distinct notice to the individuals receiving them that they are not only legally terminable on the demise of the Sovereign by whom they have been granted, but that they are liable to be revised or discontinued on the settlement of a new civil list, there can be no obstacle to the re-consideration at that time of the then existing pension list.' The Committee proceeded to recommend that the pension lists of England, Scotland, and Ireland should be consolidated into one alphabetical list; that pensions to the amount of 75,000l., on the first part of the list should be placed on the civil list, and the remainder charged to the consolidated fund. That his Majesty's Government proposed, and Parliament sanctioned, measures in respect to the civil list pensions, founded upon the recommendations of the Committee, and in precise conformity with them, making provision to enable the Crown, if it should so think fit, to continue the whole of the pensions on the civil list of King George 4th. That, at a subsequent period, the House of Commons passed resolutions in respect to the grant of all future pensions by the Crown, expressing an opinion that they ought to be confined to such persons as had just claims on the royal beneficence, or who, by their personal service to the Crown, by the performance of duties to the public, or by their useful discoveries in science, and attainments in literature and the arts,—have merited the gracious consideration of their sovereign, and the gratitude of their country. That it appears to this House, that the course advisedly taken on the accession of his late Majesty, by the Crown and Parliament, was calculated to justify increased confidence in the continuance of the then existing pensions, and in the permanence of 'family settlements and arrangements of various kinds,' made by parties 'relying on the adherence to invariable custom,' and that whatever harshness or injustice there might have been, on the accession of his late Majesty, in overlooking on that occasion the uniform preceding usage, would, on the present occasion, be greatly aggravated, not only by the lapse of time, and the intervention of a whole reign, but by the direct sanction given in 1831 by the Crown and Parliament to an expectation that the principles then acted on, so far as applicable to the then existing pensions, would be thereafter adhered to. That, under these circumstances, it is the opinion of this House, that regulations having been established in respect to the grant of future pensions, and precautions having been taken in respect to the revisal or discontinuance of them on new settlements of the civil list; it is advisable now to make such provision as shall enable the Crown, if it shall so think fit, to continue those pensions which were continued by the Crown on the accession of his late Majesty, or which were granted by his Majesty."*

Lord Eliot

had not the presumption to rise for the purpose of adding to, or even confirming by any observations of his, the splendid and convincing arguments of the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down, in support of the amendment which he had moved at the end of his speech. He merely rose, as an individual member, to answer the challenge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who called upon the Members who had recently returned from amongst their constituents to express their opinion on this subject; and in so doing he should explain the reason of the vote which he should afterwards feel called upon to give on the motion before the House. He really was quite unaware, before he heard the speech of the Chan- * From a corrected Report. cellor of the Exchequer, that there was any intention to apply the inquiry moved for to any pensions granted antecedent to the year 1830; he thought that it could only have been intended on the part of Government to apply it to those granted subsequently to that period. The right hon. Baronet had admitted in his resolution that the case was very different, in a Parliamentary point of view, between the latter and the former. With respect to the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he thought that every Member who voted for it, who had voted with the right hon. Gentleman on former occasions in respect to this very subject, would be called upon to state his reasons for considering that an inquiry which would have been fruitless and disgusting in 1830 would have become wise and proper in 1837. The right hon. Gentleman, in coming forward to make this proposition, alluded to the state of parties in this House, and seemed to shrink from the disgrace of being left in a minority, and of sacrificing some small share of popularity out of doors. Her Majesty's Government should recollect that many of these pensions had been granted as far back as the year 1780; that it had been the invariable practice of Sovereigns of this country to grant such pensions upon grounds which seemed sufficient, and of their successors to confirm them. He believed that hitherto no Minister of the Crown had ever stood forward to advise the Sovereign to depart from this principle, and that the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was the first Cabinet Minister who had ever come forward to advise a Sovereign of these realms to venture upon a step of so much acknowledged hardship and difficulty. He thought that no one should receive a pension on any other grounds but those of services rendered to the public, and in no case upon considerations which might not be openly stated to the world. But the question which they now had to decide was, whether that principle should be applied retrospectively? He was aware that there were a great number of persons connected with high and noble families in the kingdom who enjoyed some of these pensions, and he must say that he should be glad to see many of these individuals come forward and withdraw their names from the pension list. He had only one more observation to make. It was in re- ference to a powerful and eloquent speech which he had heard on a former occasion from the hon. Member for Southwark, in the course of which the hon. Member taunted the Conservative party of England with, whilst they stood up for the inviolability of the pensions granted to persons in higher rank, consenting to the alleged cruelties and hardships practised upon the poorer recipients of public bounty under the new Poor-law Act. He did not wish to enter into the accuracy of the latter allegations against the Poor-law Act; all he would say was, that one case of cruelty or hardship could not justify another. What he should advise would be, to leave to the dependents on the Poor-rates of the country the pittances they had been accustomed to receive, and in like manner to those in higher life the pensions to which, he conceived, the honour and dignity of the country were pledged.

Mr. H. G. Ward

assured the House, that he never felt more reluctance in rising to address the House than he did when he followed a man enjoying talents and influence like those of the right hon. Baronet whose speech he had just heard. He must be permitted to say, however, with all his admiration and respect for the abilities of that right hon. Gentleman, that he thought his arguments were based on such mistaken principles, that they could not command that weight and consideration, which all that fell from the right hon. Baronet generally did. The right hon. Baronet called upon the House to proceed upon the dictates of justice. But who was to decide what the justice of this case was? Were there not two parties whose claims were to be considered—namely, the persons whose names were on the pension list, the recipients of the public bounty, and the people who contributed the funds, whose Representatives he and hon. Gentlemen there were? Between these two parties the House of Commons had to decide, upon a simple question of justice; and for his own part he could declare that no taunts or insinuations should deter him from doing what he considered right and equitable. The party on his side of the House were taunted with being driven to support this motion by the apprehension of losing some portion of their popularity out of doors. For himself he could only say, that he came into this House in 1833 strongly convinced that the abuses of the pension list were great; but he had always supported the arrangement which had been entered into between the Government and the House of Commons on the subject, because he considered that the practical justice of the case required it. If he voted this evening in a way which seemed inconsistent with his previous line of conduct in reference to this question, he begged to say that it was not because he happened to represent a larger constituency than he did before, nor with the slightest view to catching a little temporary popularity. He should give his vote as he to-night intended to do because he considered the case to be now entirely altered from what it was before. They were now for the first time in a condition to consider the pension list with a mind perfectly free and unfettered by any previous arrangement. They could now, therefore, freely do their duty to the people, whose representatives they were, tempered at the same time with every feeling of leniency and consideration towards those who depended in a great measure upon public liberality for the means of subsistence. But he would say that Parliaments had a right to examine the list of these individuals, in order to see that there was at least some shade of a plea of public service to warrant the continuance of these allowances. He was not an opponent of a properly regulated pension list. Far from it. He believed that in a country like this, where there were so many roads to distinction and fortune opened to men of ability and acquirement, if they did not hold out the expectation of a permanent provision to those who devoted their services to the public good, they would exclude all men of talent from the public service except those who were connected with large hereditary estates. It was always most repugnant to his feelings to see men who had wasted their strength and faculties in earlier life in the public service discarded in their more advanced years, and left to beggary and want. He had always considered it disgraceful to America that such men as Jefferson, who had sacrificed to the public cause talents which, if exerted in other ways, would have ensured fortune and honours for life, should be deserted without provision in their declining years. He had witnessed a delightful instance the other day of the principle that great pub- lic service should meet its reward even after a long lapse of years; and he could wish that all faithful public servants should be treated as the East India Company had recently acted towards the Marquess Wellesley. If treated in this light, a pension list would then, indeed, be sacred to all who loved the glory and prosperity of their country. He would go further, also, and allow that private secretaries to ministers, even though their public services were not so signal, should not go unrequited. But when he looked at that list, and found on it the names of the wives, the mothers, the aunts, and relations of some of the richest aristocrats, he felt that, however noble might be the feelings displayed by his noble Friend opposite, he (Mr. Ward) was bound as a trustee of the people, to ask the Government, on the renewal of the pension list, how it happened that a public fund of this nature was made to contribute to the support of such individuals? When he saw, too, on the pension list such singular marks of partiality, of general and undefined favouritism—he would not mention names, for he did not think it fair that persons about to submit to examination should be publicly noticed, when they could not be mentioned with favour—but when he observed six names of one family, and seven of another, and ten of a third, and twelve of a fourth, and fourteen of a fifth (for he had noted these numbers down) he had a right, and felt compelled to demand how this singular distribution of a public fund had taken place, and on what principle of utility these persons had been favoured by the Crown? Making every allowance for the merit of these individuals, he could not conceive that their claims to reward should run in such a continuous stream that the individuals bearing these several names should be deemed worthy of some mark of their Sovereign's approbation. Great use had been made in that discussion of the authority of Mr. Burke. But he begged to remind those hon. Members who rested so securely on the favourable tendency of that Gentlemen's opinions to their views, that he might be quoted most effectively on either side of a question. Why, he had at all events been quoted that night for and against the present motion, though he thought the right hon. Member for Tamworth had somewhat misapprehended the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he adduced the testimony of that author against the present motion. Whatever he might have laid down in his speech on economical reform, when he subsequently grew warm and irritated, when he found the minister of the day thwarting the just demands of the people, he used very strong language as to the limitation which the House of Commons had the power to impose on the Crown in the distribution of this fund. Adverting to the question of the responsibility of the Crown, he held "that it possessed no public right or property in these pensions. That the power which it possessed over them was held in trust, and enjoyed for certain purposes—those of good government and the well-being of the community." That principle, if fairly carried out, would justify no pension except as the reward of some act of public service. There might be cases of charity having a fair claim to relief; but these ought not to overbear the number of pensions given for ostensible and acknowledged merits. It should not be forgotten that there was a great difference between the case now before the House and the motion for economical reform made by Mr. Burke in the middle of a reign and during the life of an existing sovereign. The House of Commons had the constitutional and acknowledged right of refusing, on the demise of the Crown, to renew the pension list without an examination into the merits of those whose names were placed upon it; and this situation differed very widely from that in which the same tribunal was placed when a sort of tacit agreement was entered into by the Crown and Parliament to leave its privileges, with regard to pensions, uncontrolled and undisturbed. Our present position was not at all similar to that in which we then stood. All the supposed rights which appertained to the late Sovereign were now passed; there was no constitutional existing privilege conferred on the Crown until the list was confirmed by the House of Commons, and on these grounds the maxim that summum jus might be converted into summa injuria, was not at all applicable to the question then under discussion. The matter had been, as it were, forced on them. They stood at the commencement of a new reign. The right hon. Baronet asserted that the proceedings of the House in the year 1831 strengthened the claims of those on the pension list. Now, what was the value of that precedent? In the year 1831, the question being open whether the House should grant a shilling in support of pensions or not, a proposal was made by the Crown that his then Majesty would give up half the amount of funds to which he was entitled on this head, provided all the existing pensions were continued during that Sovereign's life. They had had the benefit of that agreement on one side, and the Crown on the other. They fulfilled the pledge and kept it with a fidelity that made nature almost tear the seal from the bond into which they had entered not to revise the pension list. He could not, therefore, attach the slightest weight to the argument contained in the amendment, that the injustice of interfering in the manner contemplated by the present Committee would be greatly aggravated by the expectations held out in 1831 to the objects of the bounty of the Sovereign. The contract entered info in the year 1831 was not even considered binding for the duration of the existing reign. If a doubt could be entertained on this point—that the question of the revision of the pension list was misunderstood by the country, or at least that the people refused to confirm and ratify the agreement not to dispute it —that doubt must be removed by the fact that the subject was submitted for discussion in that House. And though he believed it to be a motion which neither the Government nor Parliament could be found to assent to, yet the majority on the division consisted only of eight. And that was the number which was obtained with great difficulty against a motion for rescinding the bargain entered into with the Crown, supplied as it was in many instances by those who, though favourable to a general inquiry, were yet unwilling to disturb the existing engagement. An appeal had that night been made in favour of the existing sovereign. Now, though Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House might claim the merit of exclusive loyalty, yet he could safely say, that however democratic the feelings of some might be at his side, they were not deficient in respect for, and confidence in, her present Majesty. All the freedom and happiness which could be procured under a republican form of Government were, he was sure, attainable under the reign of her present Majesty. And as for affectionate regard towards her person, and an anxious desire to promote her comfort, these were feelings in which he believed no man in the country would be found wanting. But they with whom he acted did consider it essential to the peace, and comfort, and tranquillity of that royal person, if her name were coupled with that odious pension list, that there should be such a revision of it as would satisfy the people of the country, who did not enter into all the technicalities of their personal inconsistencies, but who looked to the great principles which ought to regulate the conduct of all public men, and who are determined that there should be a full, fair, and honest investigation. Such an inquiry, tempered by the feeling of leniency and indulgence which would, he was sure, be displayed by every Member whose painful duty it was to sit upon that Committee, was what could alone convince the people that the pension list ought to be maintained, because it alone could make it, what it never yet was, beneficial to the empire, honourable to the Crown, and satisfactory to the people of this country.

Mr. Acland

was anxious to answer the question of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, who had asked what was justice, and who seemed to rest satisfied with such answers as he himself had given. But although he rose on the second bench on his side of the House, as the hon. Gentleman had spoken from the second bench on the opposite side, he had not had the benefit of any of that communication with the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) which had been so constant on the other side betwixt the leaders of the party and the Members on the second bench. He would confess that he expected the hon. Gentleman would have shown some great difference betwixt what was justice in 1830, and what was to be justice in 1837. The hon. Gentleman, however, had not done so, and had left the difference unexplained. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be greatly pleased with the support which had been given him by the hon. Member who had last spoken. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the onus probandi was on those who assailed the pension list; but the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Sheffield, had contended, that before any pension should be allowed the holder should make out a primâ facie case that he was entitled to it. And, then, in talking of justice to the Crown and of the honour due to her Majesty, the hon. Gentleman proposed to deprive the Sovereign of the power of rewarding merit, and of fulfilling those engagements which her predecessors had entered into, and which had hitherto been understood to be binding on the new Sovereign. All those pensions which had been granted by her predecessors were to be investigated, and none to be allowed who could not make out a claim satisfactory to the Committee. What was the footing of justice on which this principle went? It was, that all, whether distinguished or undistinguished, should be obliged to appear before this tribunal; and as the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had said, stand in the lobby and make out a primâ facie case satisfactory to the committee before their claim was allowed. The hon. Gentleman had said, that all should make out a primâ facie case, and if they did not make out a fair claim to their pensions, then they were to be discontinued. Such were not his notions of justice, and such he was persuaded would not be considered justice by England, Ireland, or Scotland, for all were equally interested in the present question. He thought that when her Majesty had entered so fairly on this negotiation, in regard to her civil list, with the House of Commons, it ought to be considered that it was only proper, that it was necessary, for the honour and dignity of the Crown, that she should have the means of rewarding merit, and providing for faithful servants. He had not yet heard any answer to the statements contained in the papers which had been moved for by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, and which had since been laid on the table of the House, and from which it appeared that the revenue surrendered by the Crown to the country far exceeded the grants which were made by Parliament in return. When her Majesty made that surrender, and when she entered on the negotiation in regard to her civil list, she must have felt that she had not placed the matter in the hands of her Ministers, but that she had reposed her confidence on the 658 Gentlemen, the Members of that House. And would she not be disappointed if her Ministers were to go back to her and say that the House of Commons was indifferent to everything but cold necessity, and that they were not inclined even to regard the rights of individuals? Let them not disappoint her Majesty's just expectations, let them act in the spirit of liberality, and let them justify the frankness with which their Sovereign had entered into this negotiation, by providing for the maintenance of the dignity of the Crown, and by affording her Majesty an opportunity of discharging the engagements of her predecessors, and of rewarding merit and faithful services.

Mr. Wilbraham

was of opinion, that the motion of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would do justice to all parties. However anxious, from feeling, he might be to allow these pensions, yet when he heard them contended for on the ground of right he felt bound to rise and oppose such a doctrine. It was a dangerous principle to hold that those pensions were in the nature of a freehold, and that they were not to be questioned. He considered those pensions drawn from the pockets of the people, and when they were taking away two or three shillings from the poor on the ground of economy, he conceived the House bound to take the first opportunity of investigating the grounds on which the pensions on the list had been granted. It was not, however, the amount of which the people complained, but of the principle on which those pensions had been granted. They considered the principle to be an improper one, and the question of the pension list had created more excitement in the country than any other. By giving pensions to improper persons, Government deprived itself of the means of rewarding distinguished merit; and when he saw one of the greatest philosophers of the age receiving only 250l. and other persons drawing 2,000l. and 3,000l. from the public funds, whose services to the country he had yet to learn, he could not but think that some investigation was necessary. He considered that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer did him honour, and he would cheerfully give his vote for the Committee.

Mr. Plumptre

was understood to say, that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would not be disappointed in the expectation which he had expressed of having his (Mr. Plumptre's) vote on the present occasion. He had before voted for inquiry, and he had heard nothing that night to change the opinions which he formerly entertained, and still continued to entertain. Strange statements had been made in that House in regard to the pension list, and its revisal was a question in which the country felt deep interest; and he for one had not changed the opinions which he had always entertained, that inquiry ought to be granted. But while his sentiments on the subject were unchanged, he must confess he could not understand what had taken place to produce so great an alteration in the views of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer from what they had been on former occasions when the question of the revisal of the pension list had been debated. Perhaps the reason might be found in the position which the right hon. Gentleman held in regard to a certain class of his supporters. For himself he should vote as he had done before.

Mr. Pendarves

was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, come forward and propose this investigation, and he would most willingly give his vote for the Committee.

Captain Wood

rose and said, that nothing but the feeling that he was the representative of a large and most important constituency could have induced him to trespass on the time of the House. Before he expressed his sentiments on the question which had been brought under their consideration, he wished to state that there was a name of a near relative of his on the pension list, and, if any hon. Member thought that that circumstance influenced him in the decision of the important question before the House, he would at once explain the circumstances under which that pension had been granted. Should he state the case? If they would allow him he was anxious to state the matter to the House, that they might see there was no reason why he should be actuated by any personal or private feelings in expressing his sentiments on the pension list. He would, then, explain the grant of a pension to his relative. The gentleman to whom he alluded had been secretary to Lord Castlereagh, and when that noble Lord retired from office after the Walcheren expedition, and in consequence of his disagreement with Mr. Canning, the gentleman in question was appointed by Lord Castlereagh to the situation of Vendue Master at Malta. The situation was an extremely lucrative one, and the Government, wishing to make some change, proposed that he should retire from it, and accordingly it was taken from him, and his name placed, as an exchange, on the pension list for, he believed, 1,000l. His relation went to Malta, and remained there to the year 1808, when he returned to this country, and became one of the clerks in the Home-office. In that situation he remained till the other day, when, after a period of forty years' service, he retired, and, receiving no retiring allowance, his name was continued on the pension list, Such having been the case, he hoped it would not be supposed that he was actuated by personal feelings in the opinions he might express. When he rose he had stated, that he claimed the attention of the House solely because he was the representative of a large and important constituency. He was sincerely anxious to retain the confidence of that constituency, and there was not anything he would not gladly do to maintain his popularity with them and secure their favour —there was not anything he would not willingly perform to promote their interests and happiness; but whatever might be the consequences, he could not consent to violate the laws of justice. The hon. Member for Sheffield had told them what he considered to be justice, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given them his definition of justice, the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, had informed them of his opinion of what justice was, and, indeed, all her Majesty's Ministers had defined what they called justice; but of this he was sure, that Lord Althorp did define what justice truly was, and he knew and felt, and the country would feel with him, that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had stamped in letters never to be obliterated what eternal justice was. He alone had taken an enlarged view of the matter, and shown, by unanswerable arguments, that what was justice in 1830 must also be justice in 1837. He would not appeal upon the subject to the shadow of a Government—for he could not call it the substance — which now existed in this country; but he would ask the Gentlemen of England—he would appeal to the Irish Members, who were so fond of claiming justice for their country—to be just in the present instance. He thanked the right hon. Baronet for giving him an opportunity of thus doing his duty to his constituents, and he trusted that the speech of the right hon. Baronet would have the effect of preventing the House from doing what he considered to be an act of the most flagrant injustice.

Colonel Sibthorp

begged to congratulate the right hon. Baronet near him upon the convincing speech of that evening, the most powerful appeal which he had ever heard within the walls of the House. He had not originally intended to address the House upon this question, but when the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons he best knew, seemed to look at him at the outset of his speech, and did him the honour, too, of introducing into it the name of so humble a person, he had thought, perhaps, that the right hon. Gentleman meant to question that consistency of conduct which, through good report and evil report, he had ever endeavoured to maintain. It would be well for the right hon. Gentleman if he could lay claim to the possession of the same consistency. He feared that the course which the right hon. Gentleman had chosen to adopt, with reference to the question now under the consideration of the House, must for ever preclude him from being able to apply to himself the line of the satirist— Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri."— For was it not notorious that the right hon. Gentleman had taken out of the hands of the hon. Member for Southwark the very same motion which that hon. Member had made upon a former evening, and which he certainly thought was much less becoming in the Chancellor of the Exchequer to move? Were there no cogent reasons for this? Was there nothing in the altered numbers of the Ministerial supporters in that House to induce this change? Was there, he would ask, no reason to justify the right hon. Gentleman, with reference to himself and his colleagues, in exclaiming— Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis? He had voted on this question at the time that the right hon. Baronet went out of office with all the honour that could attach to man. He hoped soon again to see that right hon. Baronet fill that situation which he had filled with honour and advantage to the country. He was not interested in the pension list. He never held a pension. No part of his family, who for centuries had sat in that House, had ever held a pension or received one penny of the public money. They had heard much about justice, and of the justice of the House. He admitted that the House was composed of doubtful materials; but he was sure that no Englishman, Scotchman, or Irishman, would deny to merit its reward, or refuse to listen to the appeals of distress. He for one did not object to an inquiry. If those who held pensions deserved them, the House, he felt convinced would not interfere. Such claims, in his opinion, would be strengthened by inquiry. On looking over the pension list, they might find one or two names which perhaps ought not to be there, but he believed the greater number would be found the reward of services rendered to the country. Many patriotic names figured on that list—they all recollected the Marquess of Camden. He had returned 300,000l. to the public. He feared that this inquiry would prevent many from following his example. Those who had deserved their pensions, who had lived on them for a long period, should not now be driven forth to starve; no Member would suggest such a proceeding. It was said, that all pensions, the awards of former Ministers, should not be interfered with by the present Government, but the House of Commons was the guardian of the public money, and it had a right to see how that money was spent. He thought those who feared an inquiry were not deserving of their pensions. It was better to receive 10l. as a just award than 1,000l. which one was ashamed to acknowledge. With this view he would not oppose the motion.

Sir Charles Douglas

begged the attention of the House for a few moments, whilst he protested against the species of intimidation by which the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer sought to coerce the recently-elected Representatives of large constituencies. He was a recently-elected Member, and he would not be deterred by any threats from expressing his opinion on every political subject that might come under discussion. Although recently elected, he was a Member of a former Parliament, and present at the settlement of the civil list by Lord Althorp. He well remembered having perfectly concurred in the plan of that noble Lord, who would have his respect to the last moment of his existence. Concurring in that settlement, he would now give his decided support to the resolutions of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, without the slightest fear of afterwards meeting his constituents. The hon. Member for Southwark had taunted that side of the House on the subject of the new Poor-law. He had always been anxious to remedy the defects in that law, and therefore the taunt did not apply to him. That hon. Member had said that Ministers were forced into the present motion. He believed that fact; especially when he remembered what had occurred on the second day of the present Session. He then witnessed with pain a Minister of the Crown turning round and negociating with the Member for Southwark, and then agreeing to his amendment; and not satisfied with that, proposing to include the pensions due the coming quarter in his inquiry. He would certainly oppose this motion.

Mr. Handley, as representing an agricultural district, was anxious to say something on this subject, in consequence of an observation which had fallen upon a former occasion from the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, to the effect that the farmers, as a body, were adverse to the payment of these pensions. The noble Lord might have probably denied that supposition from certain country newspapers, which conveyed the sentiments of the landlords and not of the farmers; for the latter had no opportunity whatever of expressing their sentiments. He, however, could assure the noble Lord that the farmers of England entertained opinions generally in common with those of the noble Lord himself. They felt deeply and strongly on this subject; but at the same time were not imbued with any feeling of hostility to the aristocracy of England; nor, on the other hand, with any parsimonious feeling which would withhold the means of extending bounty to those individuals to whom the favour of the Crown was extended; but as the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had sought to justify the pension list by its antiquity, and by the consideration of family settlements, let him recall to that right hon. Gentleman's recollection the fact of his having been a party to the Poor Law Bill. And could not the right hon. Baronet picture to himself cases occurring in the agricultural districts, in which the married children of yeomen, owing to family distress, were reduced to destitution, and upon applying to the parish, were thrown upon their parents for support, and other cases of a nature nearly similar, in which the children were obliged to support their parents. And could the right hon. Baronet suppose that the board of guardians throughout the different counties, upon some of which these yeomen sat, would be indifferent to the proceedings of the House of Commons in a nearly analogous case, for that House might not inaptly be termed the great board of guardians of the state? Could they be indifferent to the operations of that House, if in one instance they enforced the law against the poor, and, in another case, where the aristocracy was concerned, upon a different principle? The question had been met by an appeal to the passions, and by an allusion to the principles of eternal justice. Now justice was, in this instance, at least, altogether upon the side of the people. He could assure hon. Members, that the agricultural constituencies would by no means view them with an eye of indifference, dealing out with one hand a measure of niggardly support to the poor, and with the other throwing the mantle of concealment over the indiscretion with which a lavish munificence was distributed among the more elevated classes of society.

Mr. Milnes

said, that after the crushing speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, it was not for a neophyte like him to enter into any detailed argument upon this question. The hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House had spoken of the introduction into this debate of topics appealing to the passions. Now the only topic to which such a description could apply, was one which had been casually introduced a few nights since by the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Southwark; a topic which had been commented on by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and to which he (Mr. Milnes) did not deny the possession of some validity. He alluded to the analogy which that Gentleman attempted to draw between the concession of the pension list, and the conduct which, in certain instances, had been recently exhibited towards the poor of England. He had risen for the sole purpose of protesting against so monstrous an imputation, against such detestable sophistry as to assume that, because they showed themselves unwilling to violate in cold blood the memories of great men who were no more, they were therefore insensible to the miseries of the poor. Of the hardships which had been inflicted under the Poor Law Act he would not then express any opinion. But from which side of the House had that Act proceeded? If some hon. Members on the opposition side of the House had agreed as to the frightful necessity of passing that Bill, were they indiscriminately to bear the cold brunt of the injurious observation, that they were insensible to the distresses of the poor, because they would not inflict something of a similar injury on the rich.

Lord Ebrington

would assure the hon. Gentleman who had just sat clown, that it was not his intention, in any observations which he might think it his duty to make, to allude either to him or to any other hon. Gentleman at his side of the House, or to attribute to them any other than the best and purest motives for their conduct. His object in rising was in order that, as his vote that night would in some degree be at variance with that which he had given on a former occasion, he might state to the House, as briefly as he could, his reasons for that change. He trusted he might, in the outset, be permitted to say that he was under no pledge to his constituents on this subject, as, knowing the part he had taken on former occasions, they had never pressed him upon it. In order that he might explain to the House any apparent inconsistency in his conduct, he would state his belief that the long possession of pensions constituting a sort of prescription, gave to the persons holding them a strong claim, and that, if he yielded upon this subject only to his own feelings and inclinations, independently of those feelings which a consideration of the public service prompted, he should not be disposed to yield this motion his support. But he felt constrained to remember that he had a public duty to discharge. Hon. Members had alluded during the course of debate to the new Poor Law Act. It had been part of his duty to curtail a portion of those allowances that were made to paupers under the old law, and, therefore he felt that he must not flinch from doing his duty with respect to the rich. However he might expose himself to the charge of inconsistency, he hoped he should, from his general conduct, obtain credit from both sides of the House for honesty and sincerity in the course which he pursued.

Sir E. Sugden

was anxious to call back the attention of the House to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, which, if it were intended to guard against improper grants of pensions in future, should have been supported, he thought, on Parliamentary grounds. The House knew that as the resolutions were intended to be embodied in an act of Parliament, which was to be the guide of future Ministers of the Crown, there could be no motive for looking into the pension list in reference to past giants. An inquiry into past grants could not, therefore, have any effect on future giants. The proposition was for an inquiry into all the past grants, without exception, and he should apprehend that there were men in that House who had made up their minds upon the subject, without reference to any discussion upon the merits of the question. This was a question on which every Member must give an answer to his constituents, and therefore they were bound to hear, not one side only, but both and all sides—not only that side which hon. Gentlemen chose to call the popular side, but also that which they also called, and with equal fairness, the unpopular side. "This is not a time," continued the right hon. and learned Gentlemen, "to refuse to hear both sides." The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had examined many cases, and, as the result of his examination, he had told the House that in none of those cases was there any thing to confirm the doubts he had held with regard to them. Was there any reason, therefore, that he should stigmatise those pensions with the character of fraud and corruption? Was there any reason for any further inquiry? The right hon. Gentleman after that statement had proposed to the House a motion which went to stigmatise with fraud and corruption some of the best men, and some of the best blood, in the country. The right hon. Gentleman charged those who sat on his (Sir E. Sugden's) side of the House with inconsistency while the fact was, that it was the right hon. Gentleman and his friends who were inconsistent. In 1830, her Majesty's Ministers held a different opinion; but a change in those opinions had been brought about by the pressure of parties. There were many more reasons for inquiring into the subject on the death of George 4th, than on that of William 4th. All that he had risen for was to justify the vote which he was about to give, and he only hoped that other hon. Members would be able to do the same.

Mr. Harvey

hoped the House would favour him with their attention while he addressed a few observations to them on this question. In the first place he wished to remove an impression under which an hon. Member appeared, in common with many other hon. Members, to labour, namely, that the motion which had now been brought forward by her Majesty's Government, was the result of some suspicious compromise which had taken place between her Majesty's Government and the Radical Reformers. For himself, he might be allowed to say, although at the hazard of whatever imputation might be thrown upon him, that when he entered the House on the night of the discussion of the civil list, he had no reason for believing but that the amendment which he had it in contemplation to propose would be resisted, and would be resisted as effectually as any of his former propositions. He would also say, that up to the present hour he was not aware whether or not he was to be a member of the Committee. If, therefore, hon. Members were apprehensive of his disposition to inquire too closely into such matters—if they thought he entertained too great an anxiety to pry into the circumstances under which pensions had been granted by either party—the best course they could adopt, in order to relieve themselves from those apprehensions, was to omit his name altogether. He thanked the Government most sincerely, and he congratulated Government, for having at length emancipated themselves from the thraldom on this subject, under which they had hitherto laboured. He rejoiced extremely that they did now, and that in a most intelligible and efficient manner, what he believed they must deeply regret they had not done at a former period. By their conduct at a former period they had furnished arguments to their opponents at present; for, he would ask, but for Lord Althorp's letter—but for Lord Althorp's resolution—but for the report of the former Committee, declaring that there should be no inquiry — where would the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, have been that night? Those documents, the letter of Lord Althorp, the resolutions of Lord Althorp, the report of the Committee, had been the entire text of his speech. When, therefore, he heard from the right hon. Baronet a desire expressed to impart to the present discussion a more than usual moral tone, he hoped her Majesty's Government would derive some advantage from that friendly advice, and would at least avoid those quick sands of experiment and expedience on which they had well nigh foundered, and given great advantage to their adversaries. Before he noticed the prominent points in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, who, it was said by one of his youthful admirers, had began and ended the discussion, so conclusive was his speech, he wished to say a few words on what had fallen from the hon. Member for Middlesex. The course which that hon. Member had pursued, showed that he so felt the pressure of the justice of the case, that it became his duty to throw the shield of his sympathies over his relative, whose name appears upon the pension list. But he extends his aid in a manner neither advantageous to his friend, and with injustice towards others. For if it be really true, that the gallant Officer's near and dear relation really merits his pension, why not support that inquiry which will dispel all suspicions respecting it? While, if the gallant Member finds it incumbent upon him to give an explanation to guard his friend from suspicion, why does he not extend the same protection to those who are not so fortunate as to have a representative in this House to guard their honour, and to tell of their deserts. Injustice, then, to all parties not so fortunate, he contended the gallant Officer was bound to support the motion for a Committee. Yes, he would stand up for those who had no helpers. Now, how many ancient dowagers were there on that list?—and he protested, notwithstanding the delicate insinuation of the right hon. Baronet, that with those ancient dowagers he never had aught to do —he did not know how many of those darling charmers, the list taking its rise so far back as the year 1764, there might be upon it, who had not in that House a friend like the hon. Member for Middlesex, to stand up for them, and defend their case, as the hon. Gentleman had defended his relative who had held an appointment on the sunny shores of Malta. He rather thought, however, that there were not many persons on the pension list, and more especially among those who had been placed on that list at a remote period, who could avail themselves of the advantage of having a representative of a county to stand up in his place in the House of Commons for the purpose, not of apologising, but of justifying their pensions. He confessed that he had rather lagged behind in the debate, in the hope that other hon. Members might start up, like the hon. Member for Middlesex, and defend their near relations from the imputation of having had pensions improperly bestowed. Many hon. Members had near relations on that list, for there were many who had not been on it so long that all their family connexions were extinct. There were some who had been placed on the list within the last seven or eight years, whose minds must still be fresh with gratitude for the rewards which they had received in return for their services. Why did not the friends of those persons stand forward in the same way the hon. Member for Middlesex had done?—Was it that they would not take an unfair advantage of those less fortunate individuals who had not the benefit of powerful connexions; and as they meant to vote against the Committee they would vote in becoming silence? But it appeared that hon. Members could not bear the indignity that persons of high blood, connected with the first families of the country, should be exposed by having their claims open to a Committee of the House of Commons. Was it to be endured, they said, that the feelings of honourable and of right honourable persons of eighty years of age were to be thus outraged? All sympathy with such persons was, it seemed, fair and proper, but not so that sympathy which melts at the woes and wrongs of the poor. Oh! pity for the wretched and the miserable is an ignoble sentiment. He was now anxious to come to that speech which had been characterised as the alpha and omega of the debate, as having comprehended, nay, exhausted, every thing that could be said on the subject. He willingly admitted that the right hon. Baronet had availed himself of every argument both for and against himself, distorting and misstating them with an ingenuity that was incapable of imitation. If the right hon. Baronet had made that speech in a court of law, any experienced critic who had listened to him would have exclaimed, "There's the ablest man I ever heard, with the worst cause I ever knew!" After dwelling on Lord Althorp's letter, and on Lord Althorp's resolutions, the right hon. Baronet proceeded to dwell on what he stated to be the fact, that these pensions were made the subjects of family settlements—things which he begged to observe were very different from Poor-law settlements.—Really, any one would presume from hearing the right hon. Baronet that pensions were really the subject of family settlements, assigned to trustees, with declarations of uses and trusts, set forth in a deed as long and intricate, as his learned Friend near him could draw. [Sir Robert Peel: That was a quotation.] It certainly was a quotation, but the hon. Baronet had contrived to make that quotation one of the most prominent parts of his speech. When he made it, he turned round and addressed himself to the Lords of the soil, who clustered around him in faithful numbers. The right hon. Baronet knew that he was appealing, not only to powerful heads, but to iron chests; he knew that he was appealing to persons who would be highly indignant at the notion of having all their family papers ransacked, and their contingent remainders exposed. Of this he could assure all who might be interested in the subject, that if he were on the Committee, and it should be made to appear with reference to any lady on the list, whether she were old and ugly, or whether young and beautiful, that her pension had been made the subject of a marriage settlement, he would instantly sanction, and with a smile pass by the case without further notice. But let the House consider these facts. There were 1,300 grants on the pension list, many of them under 50l. in amount. Taking the whole of the grants, the average amount of each was 180l. Now, really, the idea of making a pension of 50l. or of 45l., to be received as long as the person to whom it was granted, old or young, might live, or as the granter might live, the object of a grave family settlement, with three or four trustees, with a deed larger in dimensions than any land which the annuity would purchase if turned into money, was a fancy so extravagant that only a skilful debater like the right hon. Baronet, knowing the character of the persons whom he was addressing, would have ventured to indulge. It was indeed a large draft upon the credulity of his Conservative forces. The right hon. Baronet also contended that in some cases these pensions had been made the subjects of assignments for the payment of debts— that they had been made over by way of security. Now although he was perfectly satisfied that there was nothing to warrant any such supposition, he was ready to declare that wherever he found such an assignment, or such a security, the integrity of which could not be disputed, he would readily afford protection to it. The right hon. Baronet also observed, that Mr. Burke was decidedly opposed to any investigation of the pension list; and proceeded to compare the power of the Crown, at the time Mr. Burke made that statement, with its power at the present time. It certainly was well known that up to the year 1780 there was scarcely any limit to the extravagant grants of the Crown; that could the property be restored, the present rental would far exceed the entire civil list which it was proposed to grant to the Crown. Such was the disgusting cupidity that surrounded the Court, that the fairest estates of the monarchy were at this moment in the hands of the proudest families of the realm. And well might Mr. Burke say, after he had checked this boundless flood of corruption, that he did not heed the continuance of a few grants, however suspicious. He struggled for a great principle, the objects of which we now are struggling to extend. The right hon. Gentleman who made the motion had asserted that this was not a vulgar question of pecuniary calculation, but that it was a question of moral profit, aye, of eternal justice, of that justice which surrounds the throne of heaven, and Which sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall. But it was maintained on the other side that the country would view with very different feelings the deprivations of the persons on the pension list of their incomes, and the deprivation of allowances granted under the old poor laws to persons who had spent all their lives in hard labour. So it had been stated. The House had been asked if there was any just comparison between the sympathy excited for the persons whose names were on the pension list, and the sympathy excited for merely the aged widows of the poor, and the decrepid labourers borne down by toil rather than by age— (for there would be found no pauper in the country whose claim went back as far as the year 1764)—worn down by heavy labour, by privations, by exposure to seasons, and by all the other hardships of which the poorer classes were the heirs.— Oh false and heartless was the distinction! Are you, continued the hon. Gentleman, who invite the poor to the temples of the living God, to find comfort for their sorrows, in the soothing assurance that the inequalities of the world are no eventual injury to them? are you, I ask, prepared to maintain this degrading, this unchristian, this fiend-like distinction. Yes, you are; look how you desecrate the temples of the most high by insulting the objects of heaven's care. "This," is to be found in your own reports; and are not the temples of your living God—the places into which the poor are invited to enter to find comfort in this world, and the assurance that in another all inequality shall be removed—are not the doors of these temples placarded with the names of the aged matrons and ancient fathers who have toiled to enrich the soil upon which they were born, and you possess, and from which you, its hereditary possessors, have derived your wealth? Are not their names from day to day, and from week to week, posted upon your church doors, the objects of the most searching scrutiny, for the purpose of ascertaining whether by some miserable contrivance they may not be made to maintain themselves, or be fixed for life upon the support of relatives whose condition, perhaps, is slightly superior to their own. But then we are told that under the righteous decree of eternal justice there is a distinction between the artificial forms of society the humble and despised but most useful class. Let the hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose delicacy is so refined, find comfort in the assurance that no individual whose sentiments coincide with my own can be guilty of acting with an iron heart towards any of the persons whose names are upon this list of pensions. The very imputation that we bring against those who have acted with unfeeling se verity towards the poor will be found to be the protection of discerning merit; and unless you are prepared to say that the persons whose names are placed upon this list—that the relatives of many of the hon. Gentlemen opposite are ashamed and afraid to undergo the ordeal to which they are to be subjected—unless hon. Gentlemen are prepared to say that, I would ask, can anything be more severe, can anything be more cruel, than the course they propose to pursue in denying this inquiry? Whether it be a prejudice that has been fostered by ungenerous imputations, or whether it be grounded upon facts and circumstances that cannot be denied, it is an universal sentiment that an inquiry ought to take place. It is a sentiment that runs through every class and every rank—it is entertained by persons of every grade, and of all ages, from the richest to the poorest, from the youngest to the oldest—it is common to all; and you who will vote against the inquiry believe and know that there are names upon the list which you are sorry to see there at all, and which must give way to inquiry. Is it not a fact that there are persons, whose names are upon this list, who have for their relatives persons proud of their heraldic bearings, proud of their ancient families, and of their extensive and almost boundless possessions? Do you not find persons of this description upon the list? And is it not a matter of deep shame and deep regret that those who cannot help it, that persons who have the means of doing so do not interfere to rescue their honourable and right honourable relatives from the imputations which are cast upon them in consequence of having their names appearing upon this list. If I were upon the Committee I have no difficulty in stating to the House the course I should take. And here, without indulging in the slightest suspicion as to the course which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to pursue, I must be allowed to say that I do not subscribe to the limitation which he intimates. I gather from him that he will place the onus of establishing the impropriety of contested claims, not upon the party who urges the claim, but upon the party who challenges it. If that be so, it appears to me that it would be better if we had no Committee at all. If I may speak for myself, and it may be presumed that my curiosity is not peculiarly dull upon this matter, I at once disclaim the ungracious office of being the accuser—of being the relieving officer who is to be hunting out grounds of objection—such is not my taste —nor is it my duty—I should shrink from it as belonging not to me, to ransack the claims, and to enter into evidence as to the title which these persons have to the pensions which have been allotted to them. I think the parties ought to be invited, or rather required, in terms, of course, as delicate and respectful as possible, to state the grounds upon which they rest their claims to be reinstated upon the pension list. Let the request be delivered by private hand, or by some liveried attendant of the court. Do it with all the respect, all the deference to which these high personages are entitled; but call upon them in some way or other to state the grounds on which the grant was made originally, whether it was granted to them individually, for services rendered, and if so, request them to specify its nature. And if the grants have been made for services not rendered by themselves, but by some near relative, surely there is not so much ungrateful oblivion as to prevent them from calling to mind those ancestral virtues to which they are indebted for their present pay. And if it should happen that some individuals were placed upon the list in past times solely and exclusively upon the ground of charity—if it should be found that the circumstances which justified the original grant, unfortunately for the individual, still continue—and if it should further appear that the grantee has nothing else whereupon to subsist— has no near relative, no father, no mother of title and affluence—no brothers, no sisters rolling in wealth, boastful of their titles and proud of their possessions—if he should appear to be one of the deserted of mankind, scarcely knowing his origin, disinclined to say what he believes of it, having no connexions that can be called legitimate,—if upon the list there be found any unfortunate wanderers of this kind, though there may be some extraordinary evidences in their features to tell the tale of their origin—yet I for one would say, "Pity their sorrows and continue them upon the pension list." When I see the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) opposite, who has a right to be proud of his title and property, apparently sneering at these suggestions, I am a little surprised that he has not called together men like himself for the purpose of looking over this list, and of providing a fund from their own vast resources for the support and maintenance of their own poor relatives. Allow me to tell the noble Lord that hereditary sneers are not natural eloquence—and that whatever in private life may be our differences in point of rank and fortune, we are all equals here as Representatives of the people. Moreover, the noble Lord will allow me to tell him that there are examples, though of a lowly kind and amongst a despised class, which it would be no discredit for his class to imitate. Are there not funds of every kind—trades' funds, widows' funds, funds of every variety—to aid and support mankind from the cradle to the tomb, all of which have their rise and owe their continuance to the honourable and independent spirit which actuates the humbler classes, and renders them disdainful of deriving assistance from any other than their own resources?— Have not these funds been sanctioned and protected by Acts of Parliament? There are upwards of 5,000 of them in the country. Is it not the object of your boasted Poor-law Amendment Act to foster and encourage them? Allow me to tell the noble Lord that he may learn something from "the simple annals of the poor." I was about to state, that in dissecting this list I can suppose, without knowing it, that there may be persons upon it whose merits justified the grant; and though their fortunes might be great at the time that they received the grant, may be greatly improved since, yet it may be possible that their services were such as deserved some mark of royal favour, surpassing in their estimation, the value of mere pounds, shillings, and pence. If there be any such, I would continue them upon the list. But then, I say, let these cases—let these bright examples be plucked from the scenes of obloquy and vice by which they are surrounded, let them stand forth in their original purity, recommended by the circumstances which justified the grant at the time, and which no age nor years have been able to tarnish. Spare, I say, spare these spotless gems of purer rays — protect them by inquiry. Are you afraid, when the report of the Committee shall be made, that the mass of the people, and especially the despised poor, will fail to recognise those cases of real merit which at wide intervals may be found upon the list? Do not deceive yourselves—do not misunderstand the poor of England: they would be the first to denounce any act of an unjust or an ungenerous kind. If there be any case, any circumstance that can be stated—any story, even, that can be exaggerated in favour of anyone of these pensioners, the best way of protecting them will be not to attempt to shield them under the pretence and artifice of an amendment, but by an appeal to the sympathy, the kind hearts, the generous feelings of an unsophisticated people.—I will presume that, there are persons upon the list who have been placed there not in consequence of any service immediately rendered by them—not in consequence of any of those influences to which I will not now refer, but solely for their poverty. If their poverty be not exaggerated by them I should not be the individual to apply a stern rule to cases of that kind.—Although there has been an obvious desire to avoid the parity of the Poor-law Amendment Act with this inquiry, yet I maintain that whatever weight or plausibility might have belonged to the arguments put forth by the right hon. Baronet, yet they avail nothing, the Poor-law overthrows them all. — For what is the principle upon which the Poor-law Act proceeds? That no man nor woman shall be allowed to live upon the labours of others, whose strength or years enable them to labour for themselves—or whose relations are in a condition to extend to them that support which nature requires and kind and proper feelings prompt.—Upon what principle, then, do those Gentlemen, who are so anxious to maintain these pensions—I will not say, who are benefitted by them — upon what principle do you defend them? I ask you to apply the same rule to these state pensioners that you apply to your parochial paupers.—And here let me advert to a remark made by the right hon. Baronet He says, "Looking over this list I see there have been eleven prime ministers, eight of whom have been gathered to their final account, three of whom only remain; will you call upon a person who had the grant of an annuity or a pension made to him during the life of either of the eight ministers who have ceased to exist, to explain and justify the circumstances of that grant." Now, let us carry this analogy a little further. A poor woman who has been receiving 2s a week shall be told by the guardians that she can no longer have this relief, and is asked under what circumstances it was originally granted to her. "Oh," says she, "it was granted to me twenty years ago by old Brown the church-warden — I was at his funeral fifteen years ago. Lord love you do not deprive me of it." What do the guardians say to this? "You were very lucky in having such a church warden as Mr. Brown; there is a different race now, we must have some little conversation with you, my good old lady; you look strong and hearty; can't you go out to charing?" —"Why," says she, "I do sometimes go out a charing, now and then I get sixpence a day, and once or twice I have got a shilling"—"Don't you think if you were to go a little more about the parish you could contrive to get more? You must learn to be more active, to be more industrious; you must seek to maintain yourself; our anxiety is to infuse into your mind the moral, the high sense of the eternal principles of justice—but you say that you are frequently afflicted, and that you find it impossible, except when the weather is very tine, to go out charing even for the few times you speak of. Have you got a son or a daughter?"—" Yes, thank God," says the poor old creature, "I have a son and a daughter." "Are they your own children?" [That is a question I shall not put in the Committee.] "Are they your own?"—"Lord love you, sir, whose do you think they are?" "Well, then, what is your son?" "Oh, he is a lad, and as good a lad, though I say it, as any mother ever had." "And what does he earn?" "Fifteen shillings a week." "And what does your daughter do?' "She is married." "Has she any children?" "Yes; two pretty babes." "And what is her husband?" "A journeyman carpenter "And what does he earn?" "Why, when he is at full work, he earns a matter of five and twenty shillings a week." "Then," exclaims the indignant guardian, with wonder in his eye, and stern displeasure on his brow, "why, my good woman, how can you have the impudence to come here, how can you have the impudence to come here and ask for the continuance of the relief that old Brown gave you, when you have a boy and a girl, of whom you are so justly proud, the one earning 15s a week, and the other having a husband who gets 25s a week? Get away, you hussey?"— Such would be the predicament of many of these pensioners, if we were to inquire into the real circumstances of their case.— I will venture to say that there are many men and women upon this list who, if asked as to their relatives, and what was meant by their having attached to their names the appellations of "hon. and "right hon." of "lady," "dowager," and "dame," after recovering from the first surprise occasioned by the impudence of the inquiry, would tell you that they had a long line of ancestry, who had their origin with the Plantagenets, and those who came over from "Faery land."—Yes, they would tell you that there was no monarch, from Harold to the present day, with whom they were not in some way connected.—Some of them would be so proud of their superior blood—of having in their veins none but the best blood—that I very much doubt whether they would not be disposed to carry their pretensions even further than the ancient and noble house of Stanley. And if you inquire further—if you say to these persons, "If such be your connections with living titles, have they survived their inheritances?" what would be the reply? Assuming the attitude, and speaking in the tones of injured dignity, they would say, "No, Sir; the noble Lord or the noble Duke, who is my relation, is rolling in wealth, has the largest estates in the county in which I dwell, commands the representation of that county, and has two Conservatives at this time in the House of Commons." Are we, then, to be told by those who passed the Poor-law Amendment Act to improve the condition and give a high moral tone to the labouring community—are we to be told that the only example you are prepared to set to the humbler classes, for whose welfare, moral and physical, you have so carefully, so wisely, so generously provided—are we to be told, I say, that the only example you are prepared to set them of your virtue and sincerity is to make them (the poor and humble) labour for the maintetenance and support of these your relatives and friends. I am not aware that anything more need be said upon the subject. Undoubtedly many suggestions occur to my mind; but having frequently, under the indulgence of the House been permitted to express my views upon this interesting question—the more interesting because it assumes now a practical, and, I would fain hope, a successful form—I will not at this moment intrude further upon your time. I will not abuse the indulgence I have received on former occasions as well as the present, further than to express my deep regret that the Gentlemen who form the Conservative party, avowedly, as it is said, the unpopular side—who have upon the hustings been speaking of the Poor-law Bill—many of whom have been returned to this House by exaggerating the defects of that measure, and often denouncing its merits—who have occasionally spoken of pensions and pensioners—I deeply regret, nay, I will not believe, that Gentlemen, who pride themselves upon their high stations and the purity of their principles, will so soon forget those influences through which they excited the popular resentment, those assurances by which they awakened the popular expectation, as now to rally round their leader for a mere party purpose— with the view of preventing an inquiry which it would reflect great discredit upon our new Sovereign to reject—which confers great honour upon the Government that countenances it—which will cheer the hearts of many who are now afflicted by a sense of oppression arising out of the inequality of the laws as between the rich and the poor, and who will be taught by your vote to know that there is something less than base hypocrisy in your strong expressions of attachment and devotion to the cause to which you appeal when you invite us to recollect that in the small and comparatively insignificant inquiry into which we are about to enter, we shall involve that great principle of eternal justice which is indeed the gate of heaven. And though you may now be proud of your artificial condition, of your high rank and lordly possessions, recollect that the humblest of those to whose prejudice these injurious distinctions exist, that they are the heirs of those promises, and are destined to share the same rewards with the richest and proudest amongst you —remember, ye proud of the earth, that you must pass with the humblest of the despised through the same tomb, to that scene where honest poverty will find acceptance, under that eternal principle of justice which proclaims the equality of mankind.

Lord Stanley

said, if one fortnight ago I had been asked who would be the person who, at the close of these tumultuous cheers, would now, as upon many previous occasions have greeted the conclusion of the speech of the hon. Member for Southwark —if, I say, I had been asked who, at the close of those cheers, would be the first to rise with alacrity, and on the foundation of the policy of the Government, their past professions and principles, their constant and continued course of adherence to what they felt to be the principles of truth and justice—if I had been asked who upon those grounds, would be the first to rise to repudiate and reject the motion of the hon. Member for Southwark, a fortnight ago, I should with confidence have said, that man will be the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Because I felt persuaded that no light cause, no fear of unpopularity, no fear of Parliamentary desertion or defection, no fear of offending this party or of pleasing that, would have turned aside her Majesty's Ministers from that course which one and all of them have declared to have been founded upon no temporary expediency, but upon immutable justice. As last night I had the satisfaction of seeing her Majesty's Government, and a small portion of their supporters, in concurrence with the large body on this side of the House, and, I speak it to their credit, in the maintenance of that which they felt, to be the continuance of justice, go out against even a considerable body of their own supporters, so I had hoped that I should on this occasion also have followed my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after hearing him in a manner which would have rendered it unnecessary for me to say anything, which his accustomed and wonted eloquence, on a subject on which that eloquence had frequently been exerted, refute, as I have heard him before refute, the arguments and refuse acceding to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark. But I know not how it is, the tables are strangely turned within these few years. I now see the Chancellor of the Exchequer moving the very resolution which he two years ago condemned. I have seen the leader of the House of Commons approving and supporting the doctrine which he has constantly repudiated, and I see now both him and the Chanceller of the Exchequer adopting and taking even the part of voting on the very question which they have always rejected when moved by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Southwark. I congratulate that hon. and learned Gentleman upon the victory he has gained. I cannot, however, congratulate her Majesty's Government upon the submission which they have exhibited. But if there were anything which could make still more satisfactory the feelings which must be caused in the minds of her Majesty's Ministers by the necessity of thus replying to their own speeches, as well as to those of the hon. an learned Gentleman, it must have been the triumphant and contemptuous tone of congratulation at their emancipation from their late scruples, in which they had been hailed in the speech of their new ally. But whatever may be the course taken by her Majesty's Ministers, I for one cannot forget that I was a Member of the Cabinet of Lord Grey. I for one will not forget that I shared the credit to which I think that Government was entitled for introducing a reform of the abuses which had been for a length of time in the system of administering and granting pensions; neither will I forget—nay, I look with equal, with greater pride, to the fact that I was one of those who shared in the part which was taken by Lord Althorp, which was taken by Lord John Russell—I speak of the Minister of that day—and which was taken by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (the then Secretary of the Treasury), and in which we, one and all, declared that great as was the benefit which the country would derive from the adoption of a sound principle for the future—great as was the popularity which might be derived from it to the Government by yielding to popular clamour, and making an instantaneous and retrospective reform, yet we would purchase neither popularity to ourselves, nor benefit to the public, at the expense of the national faith, and at the sacrifice of private interests. But since that time the Government has been emancipated from some of the scruples which it then entertained. We have been told by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, over and over again, of the vast difference there is between the Whigs of 1835 and the Whigs of 1836; we are told that the dross has been purged from the cabinet since then. [Cheers.] If the right hon. Gentleman who so loudly cheers, thinks that it is evidence of anything of the nature of dross, unworthy and base of a man to adhere to the faith of Parliament, to remain unflinchingly the advocate of a conscientious act, to maintain a strict determination not to be tempted by any consideration to infringe those rights which private individuals claim, and which they are defenceless to enforce except by your sense of justice—if this be considered unworthy I am willing to be purged off, as such dross, but I share that misfortune with gentlemen of the names of Graham, Spencer, and Grey. I have no right to speak of Lord Grey's present opinions; but if I know anything of Lord Grey I know this, that sooner than he would have yielded to the demand which he once declared and believed to be most unjust he would have cut off his own right hand. I know nothing of Lord Spencer's present views; but if I may trust Lord Spencer's declarations—his Parliamentary conduct—his unchanging language up to the last hour of his presence as a Member of this House—I know from those declarations and that conduct this, that so long as he remained a minister of the Crown, he never would consent to that which he ever characterised as an act of flagrant injustice. If Gentlemen are inclined to dispute that as I state it, and as I think so much to the honour of Lord Althorp, permit me, in addition to those passages which have been quoted by my right hon. Friend to-night, to read one passage from a speech made by Lord Althorp in the year 1832 upon this question, and before the pension list was finally settled. It was made upon the question of the introduction of that act which provided for pensions which were charged upon the consolidated fund. '' I still remain of the opinion," says Lord Althorp, "that if we take advantage of this fact, that these pensions were settled during pleasure, we shall, as the Representatives of a great country, be taking an advantage most unworthy of us; because I believe that nothing can be more detrimental to the honour of England than to act contrary to our promise, and proceed in consequence of having a mere technical excuse for such a proceeding. This appears to me so clearly a debt of honour, that, whatever I may think of some of the appointments, I feel bound, as a Gentleman not to consent to the taking away any of these pensions so long as "—what does the House think?—during the life of the present Sovereign? no; but "so long as I shall be a Minister of the Crown."* Was Lord Althorp speaking of his individual capacity? No, he was speaking as the leader of Lord Grey's Government in the House of Commons; and in that declaration he pledged not himself as Lord Althorp, but he pledged himself as the colleague of Lord Grey, as the leader of Lord Grey's cabinet in this House, in the name and on the behalf of the cabinet who, had passed the act whereby the pensions were reduced prospectively. Now, Sir, * Hansard (Third Series) vol. xiv. p. 942. there is no person who has more strenuously maintained this doctrine than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He did so in the year 1834. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of the speech. He is well aware how strenuously he resisted the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Southwark—this very motion—this very motion for an inquiry into the pension list, and does he recollect the quotation he made on that occasion? My right hon. Friend appealed to the authority of Mr. Burke in 1834; and he has appealed to the authority of Mr. Burke this night. Will he permit me to recall to the House the passage which the right hon. Gentleman then quoted, not in vindication of the pension list, not in vindication of the course which the Government has now taken, for while admitting that the public convenience might be promoted, and that public advantage might be derived in the way of economy by the introduction of a more sound principle, he yet held it to be a gross and scandalous injustice to interfere with any of these pensions during the lives of the existing holders. I will not quote my right hon. Friend's own Speech, but I will make the quotation which he himself made from Mr. Burke, because, as he has said, it would seem to imply an absurd vanity on his part of wanting to compare any argument he could offer even with the poorest part of the works of that great statesman. As an introduction and an illustration of his own precise views on this question my right hon. Friend quoted the following passage:—" Those places, and others of the same kind, that are held for life, have been considered as property. They have been given as a provision for children—they have been the subject of family settlements—they have been the security of creditors. What the law respects shall be sacred to me. If the barriers of law should be broken down upon ideas of convenience—even of public convenience, we shall have no longer anything certain among us. If the discretion of power is once let loose upon property, we can be at no loss to determine whose power and what discretion it is that will prevail at last. It would be wise to attend upon the order of things, and not to attempt to outrun the slow but smooth and even course of nature." Some Gentlemen may think that Mr. Burke was neither a good speaker nor a sound reasoner, but the majority of mankind are of a different way of thinking; and certainly this is a passage in which the beauty and harmony of the language is only equalled by the dignity and justness of the sentiment. Mr. Burke proceeds—" There are occasions, I admit, of public necessity, so vast, so clear, so evident, that they supersede all law. Law being only made for the benefit of the community, cannot, in any of its parts, resist a demand which may comprehend the total of the public interests." There was a cheer from the hon. and learned Member for Southwark at that part of my right hon. Friend's quotation, who goes on— "Let the hon. and learned Gentleman prove that the 'total of the public interest' is at issue on this motion, and then, and not till then, will his cheer be justified." Mr. Burke continues—no law can rest secure and set itself up against the cause and reason of all law; but such a case very rarely happens, and this most certainly is not such a case." To which my right hon. Friend interpolated— "I perfectly agree in that sentiment as being perfectly applicable to the present motion." "The mere time of the reform is by no means worth the sacrifice of a principle of law. Individuals pass like shadows; but the commonwealth is fixed and stable. The difference, therefore, of to-day and to-morrow, which to private people is immense, to the state is nothing. At any rate it is better, if possible, to reconcile our economy with our laws, than to set them at variance—a quarrel which in the end must be destructive to both."* Now this was the quotation which my right hon. Friend made use of from Mr. Burke in 1834; and he objected to the motion of the hon. and learned Member because the direct assertion of the persons in authority, because the report of the Committee, because the sanction of Parliament, because the unvarying assent of every authority to which any human individual could look for security to his property had given to these persons on the pension list the right, according to the plainest sense in which the most indifferent words could be used, of believing that they had a claim which Parliament would terminate only with their life; and I defy the Government, and any Member of the House, to point out a single passage used by a single Member of Lord Grey's Government which was either at variance with, or which did not positively maintain that construction * Hansard (Third Series) vol. xxi. p. 575. and that interpretation. I know, however, that my right hon. Friend will say, "Oh! but this was in 1834; the Act had passed, the compact was made with the Crown." I know that as far as the case of compact with the Crown goes, there was a distinction between the year 1834 and 1831. There was also a distinction between 1834 and 1837. But as to the compact between the law and the individuals on the list, as to the case between the faith of Parliament and those persons, show me what is the distinction between the years 1830 and 1834, or between the years l834 and 1837, if the distinction be not this, that all your acts from 1830 to 1837 have given them additional reason to be positively certain that they will remain in possession of their pensions? But the question never was put upon this issue—never at any time by any Member of the Government' has the question rested upon the compact with the Crown. In every argument, it has been maintained that in the compact made with individuals, the justice that applied to them was that of their remaining on the list till in the course of nature they should drop off". The principle of the Pension Act was to be applied prospectively for the benefit of the public, but not retrospectively to the disadvantage of individuals. I know not what course the Government intend to take upon this point, so mystified, so obscure has been their conduct as to the line they intend to take, or the measure of justice or of favour which they intend to deal out to those miserable persons who are to be cited to the bar for their acquittance before the Committee. I know not whether you mean to take the pension from a single one of these individuals. I should like to hear whether you mean to deprive any of them of these pensions which you—individually you—when you asked for a change in the law, and pledged the faith of Parliament—told them that they were entitled to receive, so far as you as a Ministry could control it, for the remaining period of their lives. Do you mean to take one of these away? If you do, I say without hesitation you violate the faith of the Parliament—you commit, as Lord Althorp told you it would be, an act of fraudulent injustice. If you do not—why, what a mockery—what a poor, what a wretched proceeding is this! In what terms can I characterise it strongly enough, if you really mean that you will only cite to your bar those individuals who for a period of sixty years have been in the receipt of the pensions, more or less merited, I care not —but to which they believe that they have a right, but of which in many cases it would be impossible for them to produce any proof—if you only mean to call upon them in this way, with no serious design of taking away a pension from a single one of them, can anything be more shuffling, can anything be more disgraceful, can anything be more unjust? But fortunately for me I need not take the trouble of seeking for any expression of mine to qualify such an action. I find it characterised in the forcible language of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in April, 1836. The noble Lord on that occasion said—"The question was, whether the House, on the bare statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, unsupported by any witness and unaccompanied by any proof, would be induced to enter into an examination of the pension list, and to go through it name after name, and person after person, in order to hunt out some circumstance which might show that at the time the pension was granted it was not conferred for meritorious services, or that the person on whom it had been conferred was not in circumstances which entitled him to the benefit."* Do you mean to take that course now? Is it not the very mildest course suggested by the most moderate supporter of the present proposition? Hear, then, how it was characterised by the leader of those who support that proposition? The noble Lord exclaimed— "Could any proposition be more odious or degrading? Could any proposition he better calculated, by raking up the personal affairs of individuals, to gratify private animosity and malignity? And all was to be done without any object." The noble Lord goes on to talk of the poor and miserable saving which would be effected even if you were to diminish the amount of existing pensions to the extent proposed— "Let," said that noble Lord, "that House compare the small amount which could by possibility be deducted from the pension list with the great and mighty reduction of nearly 5,000,000l. effected by pursuing the honest and straightforward course of reducing only where they had a right to reduce, and where no expectations had been entertained, and justly entertained, from interference. Let that diminution be com- * Hansard, (Third series,) vol. xxxii. p. 1226. pared with the small diminution that alone could be hoped for from acquiescing in the hon. and learned Gentleman's petty and unjust proposition. The one had the features of wise, great, and national retrenchment, while the other assumed the appearance of private pique, and miserable malice."* These are the terms in which, in 1836, the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, qualified the miserable saving which would be effected by this petty and degrading proceeding as compared with that great saving which had been effected, without compromising the honour of the Government and the public faith, by making reductions only where no expectations of freedom from interference had been entertained. And when is this proposition made? Why, when my noble Friend, the Member for North Devon (Lord Ebrington), apologises for the alteration of his opinion, and for the vote he is about to give, and for which he expects to be severely commented upon, but which I only deeply regret without for one moment entertaining the least doubt of the honourableness and integrity of that change of opinion. What was it? Why was he of a different opinion now than he was in 1834? Because the Poor-law Bill had since passed. The circumstances which have since passed, even if it were strictly accurate to give such a reason, is the strangest argument which I have ever heard uttered why a difference of opinion should now exist, or why we should now commit an act of injustice. But I will strip him of this argument, if argument it can be called, for the new poor-law had passed in 1834, and was therefore just as much a reason then as it is now. And, for the further satisfaction of the noble Lord the Member for North Devon, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheshire and that no hon. Member may be induced to institute comparisons between the poor-law and the pension list, and for the information of the supporters of the present motion, I will read another passage from the same speech of the noble Lord, in which the noble Lord replies to this argument, and after most justly deriding it, and showing that there is no analogy between the two, proceeds to point out the difference between the principle of the poor-law and the intention of its provisions, and then adds: — "a more odious comparison, and no less * Ibid. p. 1227. founded in the real nature of the two subjects, I think that I never heard attempted to be palmed upon any public assembly than that drawn by the hon. and learned Member for Southwark between the principle of the Poor-law act and the pension list." I regret to have to quote so much from the speeches of the noble Lord, but when I find that those with whom I have been in the habit of acting in defence of what were our common principles have abandoned those principles, and when I find myself compelled to come forward in support of those same principles opposed to the same hon. Gentlemen, it is a great satisfaction to me, and a considerable weight is removed from my mind, when I find that they have expressed my sentiments with so much more force than could be done in any language which I can utter. Why Sir, the argument derived from the comparison between the pension list and the Poor-law Bill, if even it can be called an argument, made in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, is calculated by the most plausible sophistry to create the most mischievous feeling in the country, an argument more calculated to drown unfounded and invidious distinctions between the rich and the poor, or more likely to lead to the supposition of degradation to the poor, and of excess on the part of the rich, I never heard than was contained in that speech. Does, Sir, the hon. and learned Member mean to carry out in the revision of the pension list the principles of the Poor-law act? [Mr. Harvey,] precisely so, This, Sir, this I say, that I do trust and believe that her Majesty's Government will never sanction the hon. and learned Member's principle of interference. I believe that they will not be influenced by this comparison, and I believe that they will never place the pension list in such an unjust and false position. What is the object of the Poor-law bill? Is it not to provide from the public funds, as a last resource, for those who through misfortunes have been led into unavoidable distress. I for one, Sir, would never have supported the Poor-law bill if I believed that in carrying out its provisions I was pressing with hardship upon those who are in penury and in distress. Nor do I believe, Sir, and I state it without regard to any popularity or unpopularity which may attach to my avowal, that by carrying out the main principle of that act we can produce such a result. But to say that the pension list is the last resource of public charity, and that no one has a claim by its means to receive any honourable distinction from his Sovereign or his country, to say that we cannot provide for any person who cannot prove his absolute destitution, that no person who has a single relation in good circumstances is to be placed upon this list, is, in the first place, going far beyond the principle of the Poor-law; and, in the next, is viewing what is now an honourable distinction in the light of public charity. There are persons on the pension list of all ages, of both sexes, of every class in life; there are persons who have received a pension either for their own services or for the service of others; and are all these to be dragged before the Committee and to be examined, according to the leaning of the Members, either in the strict manner pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, or are they to be subjected to the more limited inquiry which I flatter myself will be recommended by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Are all their rights, is all their fortune, is all their property, and are all their characters to be subject to this most searching investigation and inquiry. The hon. and learned Member for Southwark has hinted to us the course of examination which he would pursue. He tells us, first, that among the names of those on the pension list there are several hundreds who receive below the amount of 45l. a-year, misinterpreting the powerful speech of my hon. Friend behind me, and he sneers at the feelings of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who would accept such paltry sums; and the hon. and learned Member would then ask of these persons whether they have no near relation who can support them, whether they receive their pensions from mere necessity, whether they have no wealthy relative basking in the sunny clime of Malta who can afford them assistance, whether they have no friends to keep them off the parish? and lastly he says, that, having made these inquiries, he would look with kindly favour upon those who came before his tribunal; and after, by your vote this night, subjecting these parties to this delicate cross-examination of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, you will, on the presentation of the report of your Committee, bring them before the House of Commons and in the face of the country, to maintain their right to what they have ever considered their undoubted inheritance; and unless they can prove that they are without father that they are without mother, that they are without brother, that they are without any sisters, and without any relation of any kind, or at least, as the hon. and learned Gentleman who reproaches me for sneering says, unless they are without any legitimate claim on any person, unless they are very wanderers on the face of the earth, they are to be subject to condemnation; and to this condition, to this investigation, and to this trial, is to be subjected every person who has any claim to the gratitude of the public. When the hon. and learned Gentleman hinted at this debasing inquiry, not debasing to the person subjected to it, but to the party making it, I could not suppress my feeling of disgust at such a proposition. I have been taunted with possessing an indecent pride of ancestry, and with an indecent arrogance of station. I hope that I am not fairly subject to this imputation; but whether I were moving in the highest or the lowest rank of society I should consider myself disgraced if it had ever entered into my imagination to subject any of my fellow creatures to such a degrading inquiry. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, states that he would deal with all parties most tenderly, and that he would take for inquiry only suspicious cases; but when the right hon. Gentleman has carried his present motion, will he be master of his own Committee? Will he be able to prevent inquiries by Members into this or that pension? Why, the hon. Member for Southwark says, that such a limited inquiry will be a mere mockery, and that it will be better to have none at all than such a curtailment; and if the Committee is granted I am persuaded that there will be a full and searching inquiry into the domestic circumstances of every person in the list, and into pensions which, if they have not the sanction of the law, have at least the authority of prescription, and by the recorded declaration of this House. But the hon. and learned Member sneers at the idea that these pensions are made the subjects of family settlements; and he asks how can you expect that a settlement will be made of a pension of 45l. a-year? Why, Sir, nobody supposes that such a pension is so used, and the notion would not have entered into the brain of any Member of this House except of the hon. and learned Member himself. But, Sir, he does treat lightly the claims which arise, not perhaps in the strict legal form of a family settlement, but still in effect the same, upon these pensions. Let us remember, Sir, that many a faithful servant of the public has been cheered in his last hours, after a life of labour and responsibility, for which he has been poorly recompensed, and has closed his eyes in peace, secure, under the sanction of his Sovereign, of Parliament, and of the law, that those whom he has left behind would not after all his toils be left entirely destitute—that for his services, which had perhaps hurried his dissolution, a remuneration would be bestowed on those whom he valued more than himself. If, Sir, such a person has closed his eyes in confidence that his wife will not be entirely destitute, that his children will not be beggars, how would his peace of mind have been shaken, how would his last hours have been disturbed, if he believed that, through any technical form, any minister of the Crown would be found who would propose, or any Parliament who would sanction, the appointment of a Committee on the claims of his widow or his orphan, or that they would ever be subjected to an examination or cross-examination before such a tribunal. I know, Sir, that a Committee will be appointed— I know that they will have before them persons of all ages and of both sexes, that they will demand of them an explanation which will not be given, that they will pry into family circumstances which many must be naturally anxious to conceal; and I know, Sir, that many persons who have been provided with little more than the mere necessaries of life, and who can scarcely exist with the help of a paltry 50l. pension in that decent competency which their birth, their education, and their former station have entitled them to expect, rather than subject themselves to such a degrading inquiry, will throw themselves upon some scarcely richer relative, will part with those few comforts to which they have a right to look, and will go back to not disgraceful poverty. But what, Sir, will be thought of the justice of Parliament which shall compel them to do this? How shall we answer for adding to the bitterness of their declining years by depriving them of their small allowance, without any knowledge of the facts of their case. You say that unless they subject themselves to this strict examination, that if they are not acquitted on their trial at the bar of this House, they shall not be entitled to their trifling pensions you will receive the abdication of their miserable pittance, and you will come down and congratulate this House on the economical saving which has attended your great measure of practical reform. But even in the cases in which you continue the pension, will you call before the Committee those who have passed a long life in the service of their country? Will you summon before this tribunal the veteran officers of our army and our navy? If you will not do this, will you call before you their widows and their orphans? And if you will not do this, you are not about to apply the pure principle of the Poor-law, and your inquiry will be useless And how many a veteran officer who has faithfully served his country, and honourably earned a higher reward than a paltry pension, when he his called upon to recount his services, and to justify the honour conferred upon him, will, in the words of the proud and high-minded, but perhaps mistaken Coriolanus, exclaim— It is a part That I shall blush in acting— To brag unto them. Thus I did, and thus; Show them the unaching scars, which I should hide, As if I had received them for the hire Of their breath only. It is not, however, among the rich and great alone, but among the poor also, that the degradation will be keenly felt of being called from the retirement in which they have lived in comparative comfort, and of being dragged before the tribunal which you now propose to constitute, and to give before your Committee a detail of the pecuniary remuneration which has been bestowed upon them in gratitude for the services which they have rendered to their country. It is you who give this Committee, and on you must rest the responsibility of departing from the pledges which you have given; and if I had given a silent vote upon the question I should have felt that I participated in the reproach and the guilt which, though I say it with regret, I yet think that her Majesty's Government have incurred by their patronage of this motion. And let not hon. Gentlemen fear that they will be reproached for resisting this motion—let them not think that they will thereby incur unpopularity. Popularity, in its strongest and best sense, is but a poor stimulus, and a still poorer guide to the performance of our duty; but I say to those hon. Gentlemen, "though you may fear and justly expect that you will be visited with unpopularity by those whose judgment is founded only on the effects of political excitement, who are influenced only by the mere watchword of party, and with whom it is only sufficient to name the single word pension to insure their opposition—with such acute, and keen, and logical reasoners you may reasonably expect unpopularity; but among those who look more deeply into the matter, who can scan motives, who appreciate intentions, and who will see in your acts no other motive than a sense of public justice, you will only have to show that you have given a strict adherence to the public faith of Parliament, that you have maintained what you found already sanctioned by law; and whilst you tell them that you have done this you add that you have also established a check upon abuses for the future, and you may safely rely upon, you may firmly trust to the judgment, to the reason, and to the sound sense of the enlightened community of this country—you need fear no unpopularity in its true sense, and you will never regret the vote which you have given."

Lord John Russell

In rising, Sir, to address this House, I should not have thought that any Member of this Assembly, after the imputations which in the course of this debate have been thrown out, would have denied me the opportunity of replying to them. I remember perfectly well, Sir, that when in the year 1829 the right hon. Baronet opposite, after a long debate, began his reply to the observation which had been made upon the measure of Catholic emancipation; his first and most impressive observation was, that three-fourths of the debate had been filled with personal recriminations; and I must say, Sir, considering that the only motive for their present opposition avowed by hon. Gentlemen opposite is a deep sense of public justice, and judging from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord, a love of justice to an opponent is marvellously prevalent among them. It has been contended that the Government, in giving its support to this motion, entirely abandons the principles which they formerly professed; but, at the same time, I must point out that notwithstanding this the Government may not so entirely concur in the terms of the motion, but that they, nevertheless, may think it matter which the House may adopt in its discretion; and the speeches of the hon. Members on the other side have been directed to show the injustice and impropriety of the proposition, they have sought to fill their periods and to round their sentences with quotations from the speeches of the Ministers, to fix the sentiments which they contend are ours upon us. Surely that is not enough for the House, and I cannot but conceive that the subject is grave and important; that even now, when I rise on my defence, some hon. Members will say, "We do not care for the particular imputations or the defences which may be made; we wish to know whether it is or it is not the duty of the Members of the House of Commons to decide whether an inquiry and investigation should or should not take place;" and on that subject I must say the noble Lord has given little light to the House, or, at least, if he has, it has been entirely reflected light. But I must say that these attacks and those imputations which came from the noble Lord are not now new from him; nor is it only upon the Members of the present Ministry, upon those who now occupy the Treasury bench alone, that this censure has fallen. He speaks of himself as having been cast out with Lord Grey and Lord Althorp. I do remember when one of, I think, the least justifiable attacks possible was made on the Ministry, in their being compared to "thimble-riggers," and that was made when Lord Grey was Premier, and Lord Althorp was the leader of the House of Commons; and therefore, although the present Ministry have fallen under the censure of certain Members of this House, yet I must say, that the imputations now cast upon them are mild, that the accusations preferred are as milk and water, when compared with those with which Lord Grey and Lord Althorp were assailed. The question now is, as I take it, whether this House ought or ought not to appoint a Committee with regard to the pensions; and I must agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that if it could be made out that this was a case of justice in 1831, and that in that year justice absolutely forbade an inquiry, that it should equally forbid it in the year 1837. But I cannot find, except in answers given by Lord Althorp to the present Lord Portman in the House of Commons, in any Act of Parliament, and least of all in the report of the Committee of the House, which the right hon. Gentleman quoted in his amendment, anything to make me think that it is a case of injustice. The Committee stated generally that the pension list had fallen on the death of the Sovereign; and at the same time that it would be a harsh measure to adopt a new course in a subject on which the practice had been long established. In making this statement, however, that they did not condemn such a measure, I do not mean to say that it may not be liable to objection: a harsh measure may be extreme of justice. The report of the Committee, then, having gone on to state some particulars with regard to the amounts of various pensions, proceeded to say that, adverting to all the circumstances, no doubt could exist that in some cases severe distress and actual injustice would arise from taking away the pensions. That proved that in their minds there would not be actual injustice in every case, for if that had been their opinion they would have gone on to declare their sentiments, and to have pointed out the cases to which this opinion referred. If in some cases they say that there would be injustice worked and distress produced, we must presume that the Committee would not have stopped there, and would not have overlooked the other cases in which also injustice would be produced. If the inquiry is not injustice, am I to suppose that the Committee of 1831 would not have been as well able to see that injustice as the Committee appointed in 1834? The authority of Lord Althorp has been so frequently appealed to in the course of this evening, and so much was founded on what he said in this House, that I cannot forbear from reading to the House the opinion which he expressed in 1884 with respect to some of the pensions. He said:— He was aware that many persons held pensions who had public employment for which they received remuneration, or who had other property on which they could depend for support; and, although he could not enter into the feelings of others, yet he was ready to declare that if placed in such a position, in being possessed of means of supporting himself, and, at the same time, that he was entitled to receive a pension, he would not, under such circumstances, consent that the payment of the pension should be continued to him. The question, then, before the House was simply this, would the House, by its vote, deprive those of their pensions who had a legal right to receive them?"* *Hansard, (Third series,) vol. xxiii, p. 538. That was the argument then employed, and in what position does it place the argument now? The slate of the question as regards that argument is this. In 1834, the parties had a legal right to their pensions, and because they had that right they could not be taken from them. That legal right now exists no longer, as it ceased on the demise of the Crown. Then what equitable claim is there? None; and there is only that demand can be made for the pensions which Lord Althorp declared he should be ashamed to urge. Now I do say that this is a case for inquiry. The obstacle in 1834 was, that there was a legal bar to the removal of the pensions. The pensioners then had the law in their favour, and they could not be deprived of their right. Now there is no legal right, and there is so little of an equitable claim that no injury would be done by the loss of the pensions, because if it were so, how could Lord Althorp say, that the persons in the receipt of pensions were in affluent circumstances, and that they ought to abandon them? In my opinion it is the conduct of these persons in not following the advice which was given by the noble Lord that is the great cause of the want of public confidence. There are occasions, although I regret that they are not frequent, when persons having a right to pensions make a voluntary surrender of them; and I cannot but say, that in most instances the persons who thus sacrifice their own interests to the general public welfare, are those who have the best right, from various causes, to keep the pensions which have been granted to them for past services. Lord Sidmouth was an honourable instance of this; for he was a person who had a perfect right to retain the pension which he gave up, from his long services to his country; and to instance two other cases, Mr. Graham More and Mr. Marsden were gentlemen who, with equal generosity and liberality of feeling, refused any longer to accept funds from the Government for their support, and they also voluntarily gave up their pensions. I do not believe that the Committee would have refused to continue some of the pensions; but with respect to those persons, whose claims, as compared to those I have referred to, are as nothing, and who retain their pensions, is no inquiry to be made? The noble Lord has referred to a denial which I made, that this case could be compared to those under the New Poor-law. I am of that opinion still, I think with some excep- tions, which are where pensions have been given on the ground of distress, those are the only cases; and when the regulations under the Poor-law Act are compared with those cases in which pensions have been earned by long service, and have been given on that ground, I have no hesitation in saying that there is manifestly not the smallest analogy. But it is asked, what is intended to be done with regard to the pensions, and whether the proposition is to continue them all, or to take them all away? I say that is the question which this House will give to the care of the Committee to determine, and on which I think the Committee will come to a fair decision, and in their inquiries I have no doubt that they will act with due regard to the feelings of the parties called before them. The benefit I look for is, that the public shall be satisfied with respect to the question, and if they are satisfied, I, personally, should be content to continue the name of every pensioner on the list; but I think that the public have a right to ask for an inquiry when a strong feeling intervenes, and in a case in which no injustice shall be done, and I do not agree with those who say that this House or that a Committee of the House has not a right to be liberal or to be generous upon the subject. I think they have a right to represent the people in this respect as in every other; and I think that, if it were possible to place this question before the people in the first place, there could be no doubt of there being a majority in favour of the inquiry; and, secondly, if the whole people had this case before them, and were to know all the circumstances connected with the business, I think there could not be a provision more liberal, or more beneficent, than that which would be made by them, if, on the ground of public service, any one had claims on their generosity or liberality. In putting the question, therefore, before the Committee, I would put it as I would before the whole nation. Suspicions have prevailed with regard to the pension list in the minds of the public, which the frequent refusals of the House to grant an inquiry have tended to increase. Had it been a question of justice, I should have felt myself bound, on the demise of the King, as a question of justice, to maintain it; but it being now not a question so founded, that argument must be put aside. I say that the question of the justice of the case no longer exists, the pensions have ceased by law, and Lord Althorp having declared that the persons by whom many of them were received should in justice have given them up, I will read that portion of the speech of Lord Althorp, which I have already read, in which this is stated: "Though he could not," said Lord Althorp, "enter into the feelings of others, he was ready to declare that if he was possessed of funds sufficient for his own support he would not receive any pension from Government." Well, then, when he says that the pensions ought not to be received, does he not say that they cannot justly be taken? Such being the case, then, the only question is, whether the inquiry shall take place or not, and on this point not one single Gentleman opposite has said a word—they have all been silent. There will be this satisfaction, that it being felt that it is proper that an inquiry shall be gone through with respect to all the pensions, with regard to those on which the Committee shall be satisfied the public will be satisfied, and the persons thus selected will receive their pensions to the end of their lives, and the public will feel no further curiosity on the subject, knowing, as they will then, that due inquiry had been made. I am sure, however, that if we take the opposite course, and refuse to grant a Committee, that we lay the foundation for another motion with respect to this subject—for increased mistrust in the minds of the public—for increased difficulty with respect to the civil list. I am confident that the people wish to do justice to the parties, and, if by the inquiry taking place, they should think injustice would be done, I am sure that they would have instructed hon. Members not to participate in permitting such a proceeding to take place.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The proposition of the right hon. Baronet opposite amounts to this, that provision shall be made to enable the Crown to continue the whole of the pensions, whether continued by the Crown on the accession of the late King, or subsequently granted by his Majesty. This amounts, then, to a resolution that the House shall without any inquiry vote an annuity of 150,000l. to meet the demands of the pension list; while the proposition which I make to the House is, that the whole shall be voted if, on inquiry, the whole shall be found to be justified, and that at all events such portions shall be voted which the inquiry shall prove to be just and proper; such are the two proposals: on the part of every individual on this side of the House, I believe I may say that there is not one who votes to-night that does not do so with a sincere desire and resolution of making provision for every one of the pensioners whose claim shall appear to be founded on justice. The noble Lord opposite, with whom I had been long on terms of intimacy and friendship, and to whose remarks, therefore, I will make no answer that can appear discourteous or unkind, will, I trust, on his being undeceived on the point to which he has mainly relied in his attack on me, and on the Ministers, he will be the first to acknowledge the error into which he has fallen. He made use of the speeches made in 1834, and of the opinions which he alleged those speeches expressed; but in doing so he excluded altogether those portions of the speeches which were of a tendency adverse to the argument which he desired to urge, but which, if I had opposed in place of having made this motion, would have been quoted very justly against me. My noble Friend—for I must still call him so, notwithstanding what has taken place this evening—I cannot sacrifice a friendship even for a triumph in debate—My noble Friend says, that the question which I now support is the very proposition which I before resisted. I say most distinctly that it is not. The proposition of the 18th of February, 1834, was, that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into and consider each grant on the pension list; but the terms of the present proposition are of a far different character: they are, that a Select Committee shall inquire how far pensions granted ought to be continued, "due regard being had to the just rights of the parties, and to economy in public expenditure." Are hon. Gentlemen indifferent to the distinction in principle between the two motions? how often have we been asked, in bringing forward any proposition of this nature, to insert the clause, "subject to the just claims of the parties!" Again, Sir, I am taxed with inconsistency, inasmuch as that it is said my present course differs from that which I pursued on the 6th of May, 1834. Sir, the proposition on the 6th of May was, "for a Select Committee to inquire how far the rules adopted in February, 1834, were applicable to the whole of the pension list, as it then stood." I resisted that proposition. I say that it would have been most unjust to apply those rules subsequently adopted to the whole of the pension list. We had no right to adopt rules made in 1834 to pensions granted fifty years antecedently. I repeat, therefore, that neither of the propositions referred to was at all similar to the present one; there is a clear distinction, moral as well as verbal, between them. Sir, the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman have been good enough to quote lavishly from my speech in February, 1834. Let me state to the House expressions which I then used, but which the noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman have not quoted, and I will leave the House to judge between us, as to our fairness as well as our consistency. Sir, when I was taunted with what my own constituents would say as to the vote I then announced it to be my intention to give, my answer was in 1834, I have already told the electors of Cambridge that I was not prepared to resume what had been conveyed to individuals by the law of the land, and by these sentiments I am willing to abide. Be the origin of the Act rightful or objectionable, as relating to those who advised it, have not these parties who hold under these grants the security of an Act of Parliament—passed after full deliberation, with all means of inquiry in our power—passed, too, above all, with the character of a compact? —I say that these parties have a peculiar right, and a right, too, that from our engagements with the Crown is of the nature of a compact entered into by the Legislature, after full deliberation and with all the means of judging in its power; for, during all the discussions on the Civil List Act and the other act alluded to, this pension list was in the hands of hon. Members who were then, as now, aware of all the objections existing against it. The question was then an open question—till these statutes were passed—but it is no longer so. At present, the motion, if it be made, ought to be framed, not with a view to strike out certain parties from this list, but to censure the House and Government for passing those acts. I have said that these engagements were in the nature of a contract. At the time of the accession of his present Majesty, we obtained from his Majesty an entire and absolute abandonment, not only of the hereditary revenue which upon any former occasion had been surrendered by the Crown, but of other revenues which, up to that moment, had been kept within its uncontrolled dominion. The House of Commons looked naturally, but it looked justly, to the restriction of this vote for pensions; and therefore the Committee suggested, and the House and Legislature acquiesced in the suggestion, that there should be imposed a limitation on the civil list pensions greater than was ever agreed to by any former Sove- reign. And yet it is now expected, the compact having been executed, that we should proceed to revise such portion of it as we may think it advisable to alter. Up to the period of such contract it was undoubtedly open to any hon. Member to raise such objections as he might think proper; but I say that his Majesty's faithful Commons, having made this compact with his Majesty, the case is now far different, and the lime for inquiry has passed away. I again say that I object to this motion, because I think it is opposed to the acts we have passed—because I think it is contrary to the compact we have made with the Crown— because I think it will lead to fruitless and painful personal discussion—and because I am of opinion that, without a forcible violation of existing rights, it cannot be productive of any beneficial result. Sir, I appeal to the House, to those who heard the noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman, whether the grounds I then rested on, namely, the circumstance of a compact having been entered into with the existing Sovereign, does not precisely leave the question an open one at the present moment, when we have no compact on the subject with the Crown? Were such a compact now in existence I would again as strenuously insist upon our strictly adhering to it as I then did; but there is no such compact with the Crown. But, Sir, though we have no compact with the Crown, have we no compact with the people? What is the question on which we are to divide, and which is to go forth to the people? According to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, we are to vote for the lives of these parties annuities of 150,000l. a-year; and I say, too, let us vote these annuities if they be just ones, but let us first enquire whether they are just. I might rest the case on this statement, but I will go further. The principle of immutable justice has been loudly appealed to. Now, let me ask you —you who take upon yourselves so high a tone in speaking of the decisions of Parliament— do you mean to put such a judgment on the proceedings of Parliament as to say, that the appointment of a Select Committee is synonymous with injustice? Whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may think, I have a better or higher opinion of the Members of this House than to concur in any such judgment. I do not believe that the Committee will act unjustly. I do not believe that its recommendations will be contrary to authority and reason. I will say, for myself, that no more than Lord Spencer, will I ever be a party to injustice towards any individual; but I say further, that in justice to the pensioners themselves, we ought to grant the inquiry. Let us grant the inquiry, and go through it seriously and discreetly, but at the same time honestly and searchingly, for by such means—and do not let it be said that the two are inconsistent—we may reach the truth, which is all we wish to reach. Let us act with the greatest consideration, with the greatest deference, nay, with the greatest delicacy, for the feelings of all parties; this way of proceeding, so far from being inconsistent with the search for truth, will be found the best mode of attaining it; and having so conducted the inquiry, having found that the pensions have borne the brunt of searching investigation, let the House dispose of them at once, by putting them on the consolidated fund, and let us have no more annual discussions on the subject. You may rest assured that the persons whose names are deservedly placed on the pension list, will be relieved and rejoiced at the altered state of things. I thank the House for the opportunity it has given me of making this brief personal explanation. The point on which we are about to divide, I repeat, is this:—The noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman ask us to vote annuities of 150,000l. for the lives of these parties, without any inquiry into the merits of the respective cases: we tender him an inquiry first, accompanied with the pledge to vote all or any part of these annuities, which shall appear on inquiry to be just.

The House divided on the original motion:—Ayes 295; Noes 233: Majority 62.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir C. Bentinck, Lord W.
Aglionby, H. A. Berkeley, hon. F.
Ainsworth, P. Berkeley, hon. C.
*Alsager, Captain Bernal, R.
Anson, hon. Colonel Bewes, T.
Anson, Sir George Blackett, C.
Archbold, R. Bake, M. J.
Attwood, T. Blake, W. J.
Bainbridge, E. Blewitt, R. J.
Baines, E. Blunt, Sir C.
Ball, N. Bowes, J.
Bannerman, Alex. Brabazon, Sir W.
Baring, F. T. Bridgeman, H.
Barnard, E. G. Briscoe, J. I.
Barton, H. W. Brocklehurst, J.
Barry, G. S. Brodie, W. B.
Beamish, F. B. Brotherton, J.
Belfast, Earl of Browne, R. D.
Bellew, R. M, *Brownrigg, S.
Benett, J. Bryan, G.
Buller, Charles French, F.
Bulwer, E. L. Gibson, J.
Busfield, W. Gillon, W. D.
Callaghan, D. Goddard, A.
Campbell, Sir J. Gordon, R.
Carnac, Sir J. Goring, H. D.
Carter, J. B. Grattan, J.
Cavendish, hon. C. Grattan, H.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Greenaway, C.
Cayley, E. S. Grey, Sir G.
Chalmers, P. Grote, G.
Chapman, L. Hall, B.
Chichester, J. P. Hallyburton, hn. D.G.
Clay, W. Handley, H.
Clayton, Sir W. Harvey, D. W.
Clements, Viscount Hastie, A.
Codrington, Admiral Hawkes, B.
Clive, E. B. Hawkins, J. H.
Collier, John Hay, Sir A. L.
Collins, W. Hayter, W. G.
Colquhoun, Sir J. Heathcoat, J.
Copeland, Alderman Heneage, E.
Cowper, hon. W. S. Hindley, C.
Craig, W. G. Hobhouse, Sir J. C.
Crawford, W. Hobhouse, T. B,
Crompton, S. Hodges, T. L.
Currie. Raikes Hollond, R.
Curry, W. Horsman, E.
Dalmeny, Lord Hoskins, Kedgwin
Dashwood, G. H. Howard, F. J.
Davies, Colonel Howard, P. H.
Denison, W. J. Howick, Viscount
Dennistoun, J. Hume, J.
D'Eyncourt, C. T. Humphrey, John
*Dick, Quintin Hurst, R. H.
Divett, E. Hutton, R.
Duckworth, S. Jephson, C. D. O.
Duff, James Jervis, Swyfin
Duke, Sir J, Johnston, General
Duncan, Viscount Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Duncombe, T. Labouchere, H.
Dundas, C. W. D. Langton, H.
Dundas, F. Langdale, hon. C.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Leader, J. T.
Dundas, Captain Lefevre, C. S.
Dunlop, J. Lemon, Sir C.
Easthope, J. Lennox, Lord G.
Ebrington, Viscount Lennox, Lord A.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Leveson, Lord
Ellice, Captain A. Loch, J.
Ellice, right hon. E. Lushington, Dr. S.
Ellice, E. Lushington, C.
Erle, W. Lynch, A. H.
Evans, De Lacy Macleod, R.
Evans, G. Macnamara, Major
Evans, W. Mactaggart, J.
Fielden, J. Maher, J.
Fenton, J. Mahony, P.
Ferguson, Sir R. Marshall, W.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Martin, J.
Ferguson, R. Maule, W. H.
Fergusson, rt. hn. R. C. Melgund, Viscount
Finch, F. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Fitzalan, Lord Milton, Viscount
Fitzroy, Lord C. Molesworth, Sir W.
Fleetwood, P. Morpeth, Viscount
Fort, J. Morris, D.
Murray, rt. hon. J. A. Somers, J. P.
Muskett, G. A. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Nagle, Sir R. Standish, C.
O'Brien, C. Stanley, M.
O'Brien, W. S. Stanley, W. O.
O'Callaghan, hon. C. Stanfield, W. R C.
O'Connell, D. Stewart, J.
O'Connell, J. Stuart, Lord J.
O'Connell, M. J. Stuart, V.
O'Connell, Morgan Strangways, hon. J.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Strickland, Sir G,
Paget, Lord A. Strutt, Edward
Paget, F. Style, Sir Charles
Palmer, C. F. Surrey, Earl of.
Palmerston, Viscount Talbot, C. R. M.
Parker, J. Talbot, J. Hyacinth
Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H. Talfourd, Sergeant
Parrott, J. Tancred, H. W.
Pattison, J. Thomson, rt. hn. C.P.
Pechell, Captain Thompson, Alderman
Pendarves, E. W. Thornley, Thomas
Philips, M. *Tollemache, F. J.
Philips, G. R. Townley, R. G.
Phillpotts, John Tracy, H.H.
Pinney, W. Troubridge, Sir T.
*Plumptre, John Tufnell, H.
Ponsonby, C. F. A. C. Turner, W.
Ponsonby, hon. J. Verney, Sir H.
Potter, R. Vigors, N. A.
Power, J. Villiers, Charles P.
Price, Sir R. Vivian, J. H.
Protheroe, E. Vivian, J. E.
Pryme, George Vivian, Sir R. H.
Pryse, P. Wakley, Thomas
Ramsbottom, J. Walker, R.
Redington, T. N. Wallace, R.
Rice, E. R. Warburton, H.
Rice, rt. hon. T. S. Ward, H. G.
Rich, H. Westenra, hon. J. C.
*Rickford, W. Whalley, Sir S.
Roche, E. B. White, Andrew
Roche, D. Wilbraham, G.
Roche, D. Wilde, Sergeant.
Rolfe, Sir R. M. Williams, W.
Rumbold, C. E. Williams, W. A.
Rundle, J. Wilmot, Sir E.
Russell, Lord J. Wilshere, W.
Russell, Lord Winnington, T. E.
Russell, Lord C. Winnington, H. J.
Salwey, Colonel Wood, Charles
Sanford, E. A. Wood, Sir Matthew
Scholefield, J. Wood, George W.
Scrope, G. P. Worsley, Lord
Seale, Colonel Woulfe, Sergeant
Seymour, Lord Wrightson, W. B.
Sharpe, General Wyse, Thomas
Sheil, R. L. Yates, J. A.
*Sibthorp, Colonel Young, G. F.
*Sinclair, Sir G.
Smith, J. A. TELLEHS.
Smith, hon. R. Stanley, E. J.
Smith, R. V. Steuart, R.
* Usually vote with the Conservatives.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. A'Court, Captain
Acland, T. D. Adare, Viscount
Alexander, Viscount Estcourt, T. H. S.
Alford, Viscount Farnham, E. B.
Ashley, Lord Fielden, W.
Attwood, W. Fellowes, E.
Attwood, M. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bagge, W. Fleming, J.
Bagot, hon. W. Foley, E.
Baillie, Colonel Follett, Sir W.
Baker, E. Forester, hon. G.
Baring, hon. F. Gaskell, James Milnes
Barneby, J. Gibson, T.
Barnes, Sir E. Gladstone, W. E.
Barrington, Viscount Glynne, Sir S.
Bateman, J Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bell, M. Granby, Marquess of
Bentinck, Lord G. Grant, hon. Colonel
Bethell, R. Greene, T.
Blackstone, W. S. Grimsditch, T.
Blair, J. Grimston, Viscount
Blakemore, R. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Blennerhasset, A. Hale, R. B.
Bolling, W. Halford, H.
Borthwick, P. Harcourt, G. S.
Bradshaw, J. Hardinge, Sir H.
Bramston, T. W. Heathcote, Sir W.
Broadley, H. Henniker, Lord
Broadwood, H. Herries, rt. hon. J.
Bruce, Lord E. Hillsborough, Earl of
Bruges, W. H. Hinde, J. H.
Burr, H. Hodgson, R.
Burrell, Sir C. Hogg, J. W.
Calcraft, J. Holme, hon. W. A.
Campbell, Sir H. Holmes, W.
Canning, Sir S. Hope, G. W.
Cantelupe, Visct. Hope, H. T.
Castlereagh, Visct. Hotham, Viscount
Chandos, Marquess of Houldsworth, T.
Chaplin, Colonel Houstoun, G.
Chapman, A. Hughes, W. B.
Christopher, R. A. Ingestrie, Viscount
Chute, W. L. W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Clive, Viscount Irton, S.
Clive, hon. R. Irving, J.
Codrington, Sir C. Jackson, Sergeant
Cole, Viscount James, Sir W. C.
Compton, H. C. Jenkins, R.
Conolly, Colonel Jermyn, Earl of
Corry, hon. H. Johnstone, H.
Courtenay, P. Jolliffe, Sir W.
Creswell, C. Jones, T.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Kemble, H.
Darner, hon. D. Kerrison, Sir E.
Darby, G. Kirk, P.
Darlington, Earl of Knatchbull, Sir E.
De Horsey, S. H. Knight, H. G.
D'Israeli, B. Knightley, Sir C.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Dowdeswell, W. Law, hon. C. E.
Duffield, T. Lefroy, rt. hon. T.
Dugdale, W.S. Lewis, W.
East, J. B. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Eastnor, Viscount Lincoln Earl of
Eaton, R. G. Litton, E.
Egerton, W. T. Lockhart, A. M.
Eliot, Lord Logan, H.
Ellis, J. Lowther, Col.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Lowther, J.H.
Lucas, Edward Richards, Richard
Lygon, General Rolleston, L.
Mackenzie, T. Rose, Sir George
Mackenzie, W. E. Round, C. G.
Mackinnon, W. A. Round, J.
Maclean, D. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Mahon, Viscount Rushout, George
Maidstone, Viscount St. Paul, H.
Manners, Lord C. Sanderson, R.
Marton, G. Sandon, Viscount
Master, T. W. C. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Maunsell, T. P. Scarlett, hon. R.
Meynell, Captain Shaw, right hon. F.
Miles, W. Sheppard, T.
Miles, P. W. S. Shirley, E. J.
Miller, Wm, Henry Smith, Abel
Milnes, R. M. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Moneypenny, T. G. Somerset, Lord G.
Morgan, C. Stanley, Edward
Neeld, J. Stanley, Lord
Nicholl, John Stewart, J.
Northland, Lord Stuart, H.
Ossulston, Lord Sturt, H. C.
Owen, Hugh O. Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Packe, C. W. Thornhill, George
Pakington, J. S. Trench, Sir F.
Palmer, Robert Trevor, hon. G. R.
Palmer, George Tyrrell, Sir John
Parker, M. Vere, Sir C. B.
Parker, Robert Verner, Colonel
Parker, Thomas A. Villiers, Lord
Patten, J. W. Wall, C. B.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Welby, G. Earle
Peel, Jonathan Wilberforce, W.
Pemberton, T. Wilbraham, hon. B.
Perceval, Colonel Williams, Robert
Perceval, hon. G. J. Williams, Thomas P.
Peyton, Henry Wodehouse, Edmond
Polhill, Frederick Wood, Colonel T.
Pollen, Sir John W. Wood, T.
Pollock, Sir F. Wyndham, W.
Powell, Colonel Wynn, rt. hon. C W.
Powerscourt, Vis. ct. Yorke, E. T.
Praed, Winthrop M. Young, John
Price, R. Young, Sir W.
Pringle, A.
Pusey, P. TELLERS.
Ramsay, Lord Baring, H. Bingham
Reid, Sir J. R. Fremantle, Sir T.
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