§ The Bill was read a third time.
§ Mr. Hume
wished at this stage to place upon the votes the amendment that he had moved in Committee. As, in accordance with the present mode in which the proceedings in Committee were conducted, it was impossible for the public to know what was proposed in them, he was now obliged to move his amendment. It was, that instead of 385,000l. there should be substituted 335,000l.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Grote
spoke as follows: Sir, I propose to move the entire removal of the sum allotted to pensions from the Civil List. There are several reasons which lead me to think that the House ought not to suffer any such item to continue. 1280 My first reason is, that it is not proper or convenient to fix any amount to be granted in new pensions pending the inquiry into the pension list. The House has now appointed a Committee for the express purpose of investigating the names on the existing pension list. It has recognised the principle that all names which appear on that list wrongfully, improperly, or without legitimate grounds, shall no longer be continued upon it. This inquiry is about to be immediately commenced, and I need not remind the House that it is of a nature which permits no delay nor postponement: it must be prosecuted continuously until its termination, and until some result is arrived at. What that result may be is as yet of course unknown; nor do I at all presume to anticipate it. But in reasoning on the present posture of affairs it is impossible to avoid looking at it hypothetically; it is impossible to avoid contemplating the various results which may perhaps ensue. Perhaps it may happen that the Committee will recommend nearly the whole list to be maintained; but perhaps they may recommend that two-thirds or three-fourths of the list shall be struck out—they may pronounce a large and unequivocal condemnation on the purposes to which the pension list has been turned —they may find reason to believe that it has been made a means of systematic and extensive corruption. Remember again that I do not at all presume to anticipate that such will be the judgment of the Committee; I only say that it may be: the case is possible, and that is sufficient for my argument. Now, Sir, I think it cannot be denied that the judgment of the House, as to the sum which it is right to allot in future for the civil list pensions, may be materially influenced by the use which has been made of the pension list in times past. Suppose it turns out that the pension list in times past has been distributed upon the very worst principles—that abuse has been the rule, and propriety the exception—that most of the pensioners are persons who ought never to have been there at all, and ought not now to be continued there—may not the House, when informed of these facts by the report of its Committee, very reasonably say: "We were not before aware of the extent to which abuse had been carried in this list; we see that in future the Minister cannot be trusted with the disposal of so large a fund; we will not run the risk of having such glaring prodigalities in future 1281 years; we will lessen the possibility of wrong doing by curtailing the pension fund at the disposal of the Minister? "I maintain, Sir, that in the view which the House may take of the sum proper to be allotted for a pension fund, the consideration of the use to which it has been turned during the past is a very material item—a fact tending to affect our conclusions on the subject in the most powerful manner. And to call upon the House to fix at this moment what the sum allotted for pensions shall be for the future, is to call for a decision in the absence of most important evidence—in the absence of evidence which you are now beginning to collect, and which the lapse of a short time will most certainly furnish. On this ground, Sir, I contend that we should do wrong in fixing the aggregate amount of the pension list for the future while the inquiry into the pension list for the past has yet to be undertaken. To do this is to anticipate in part the result of that inquiry—it is to assume beforehand that no possible disclosures which that Committee can elicit can make any difference in regard to the amount lit to be awarded in future. I contend that we have no right to make such an assumption—it is an assumption not at all just or reasonable in itself, and it is moreover, calculated to impress the public with a belief that our inquiry is not intended to be searching and decisive. Those Gentlemen who have looked at the minutes of the Committee on the civil list will see that the question which I am now starting was mooted in that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer originally proposed to continue the sum of 75,000l. on the civil list to be devoted to pensions, as it had stood in the preceding reign. On this matter the Committee decided against him, but they acceded to a proposition afterwards made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, that the sum proper to be allotted henceforward in pensions should be fixed, not in the shape of principal money, but in the shape of annuity—that a sum of 1,200l. should be recommended to the House to be placed annually in the power of the Sovereign to be given away in new pensions. I confess, Sir, I cannot see any greater reason for determining the amount fit to be granted under the one shape than for determining it under the other. For how is it that you arrive at the result of 1,200l. per annum as the just amount assignable for distribution by the Crown in new pen- 1282 sions? It is by examining the annual vacancies likely to occur in a given principal sum; and, in point of fact, to fix a certain principal sum, and to fix a certain annual amount to be distributed in new pensions is to do one and the same thing under a different name: and if the former be unwise or improper, I do not see upon what grounds you can defend the latter. Both the one and the other are alike open to the objection which I have been urging. Indeed, if the House do resolve to name at this moment the exact amount of the pension fund, I question whether it be not preferable to name the principal amount rather than the annual sum capable of being so applied. Because, by naming the principal amount, you know more accurately the charge upon the public in each year; by naming the sum annually disposable, you know the amount of charge only upon the average of years. The sum of 1,200l. annually given in new pensions, will correspond to a greater or less amount of principal charge, according as the lives selected are young and old, of greater or of less duration. I may be told, perhaps, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that unless the amount annually disposable for pensions is now fixed, he will not be able to settle the civil-list at present. But it is plain that, whether the right hon. Gentleman carries the present Clause or omits it, still the old pensions will remain unsettled until the conclusion of the inquiry about to be undertaken by the Committee; and if he settles the civil list now, he will be obliged to call upon Parliament, at the end of that inquiry, to make a separate provision for those pensions which are adjudged to have a right to continue. If the provision for the old pensions is postponed, I do not see why the provision for new pensions should not be postponed until the same time, and why it should not form part of the same measure. My next reason for thinking that these clauses ought not to be allowed to stand is, that a fund for pensions seems to me to have no proper place in the civil list. Assuming that a certain sum ought to be allotted to pensions—that it is right to name that sum now—admitting both these positions, still I contend that the charge ought not to be considered as forming a portion of the civil list. Gentlemen will recollect, that the provisions of the Civil List cannot be in any way altered during the reign of her present Majesty, which promises to be long, and which I sincerely 1283 hope will prove long. It may be right, that those arrangements which are connected with her Majesty's household and establishment, and which conduce to personal dignity and comfort, should be thus defined once for all, and that her Majesty should not be disturbed by the inconveniences attending upon any change in those matters after they have once been fixed upon a precise scale. The necessity of thus determining the amount of the civil list generally, for the entire duration of the reign of the Sovereign, is founded upon reasons connected with the personal comfort of the Sovereign herself. But what necessity of a similar kind exists for irrevocably determining the amount of the pension list, not to be again altered until the termination of the reign? How is the comfort or dignity of the Sovereign connected with the power of distributing a certain sum of money in pensions? Why is the House called upon to fix the amount of pensions placed at the disposal of the Sovereign for an entire reign any more than the House fixes the number of civil offices, or the extent of naval and military forces which shall be placed under the command of the Sovereign for a whole reign? The power of appointing to a place in the pension list, is in no way more essentially connected with the comfort or dignity of the Crown, than the power of appointing to civil or military offices; it would be most unwise to determine at the beginning of the reign, how many offices the Sovereign should have the power of conferring, and to restrain ourselves from varying that number until the demise of the Crown; and I contend, that it would, in like manner and for the same reasons, be most unwise to fix an unalterable and irrevocable pension list. If pensions are to be continued at all, we ought to reserve for Parliament the power of discontinuing them, as to future grants, whenever it shall think fit. We ought to retain in our hands the option, of modifying or terminating the system, if abuse or profligacy should demand our decisive interposition. It will be remembered, that the Committee of 1831 distinctly recommended that nothing should be retained on the civil list, except such charges as conduced to the personal comfort and dignity of the Sovereign. Now, I again contend, that in the true meaning and in the just spirit of that recommendation, the pensions ought decidedly to be removed from the civil list; for pensions are obviously not con- 1284 nected with the personal comfort of the Sovereign, and they are no otherwise connected with the dignity of the Sovereign than as the army, the navy, the civil and military appointments are also connected with it. I shall be told, Sir, that the Committee of 1831, notwithstanding their own general principles as to the civil list, nevertheless retained the pension fund as an adjunct to the civil list. The reasons why they did so retain it, are embodied by the Committee of 1837 in their Report, and sanctioned by their concurrent opinion. These reasons appear to me not only most unsatisfactory in themselves, but utterly inconsistent with the resolutions passed by the House of Commons in 1834, which the Committee cite and adopt in the very same page. What are these reasons assigned by the Committee of 1831? They say— "Some provision ought, in all cases, to be made for such payments as it is to be presumed the Sovereign would have been desirous of making, had he remained in possession of his hereditary revenue. That one class of such payments would consist of payments to those of his subjects whom he wished to favour cannot be doubted." Now, Sir, let me ask, is this the definition which the House are disposed seriously to set forth of the persons whose names ought to stand upon a pension list? What is this but making the pension list an instrument and evidence of courtly caprice and favouritism? On this definition, it is idle to talk of abuse of the pension-granting power—abuse of that power is impossible —the titles of all individuals on the pension list are all equally good and equally unassailable—the most worthless individual who does now stand, or ever has stood upon the pension list, comes under the class of "those of his Majesty's subjects whom his Majesty wishes to favour, and of payments which his Majesty would have been desirous of making, if he had remained in possession of his hereditary revenues. "Suppose ourselves in the reign of Charles the 2nd. What are the payments which that monarch would have been most anxious to make; and who are the persons whom he would have been most desirous to favour? Why, the Duchess of Cleveland, and the Duchess of Portsmouth, and Mrs. Eleanor Gwyn would have stood at the head of the list, with pensions on the largest scale assigned to them; of all payments, the payment assigned to these ladies would have been most certain to be made, while the Sovereign remained in 1285 possession of his hereditary revenues. I, might make the same remark with regard to the royal mistresses in the days of George the 1st. and George the 2nd.; and I make it with the view of showing what is the real value of the definition set forth in the words of the Committee of 1831. The Committee of 1831 tell us in plain terms that the pension list is intended simply as a means of gratifying courtly favour and caprice. Upon such a supposition they do right in connecting it with the civil list; but, then, upon such a supposition it would be idle to talk of investigation or inquiry into the pension list, or of separating the good names from the bad. Now, Sir, I complain of the Committee of 1837, that they have adopted the recommendation of the Committee of 1831, to keep these pensions in connection with the civil list, while they only profess to adopt—but in reality reject—the definition furnished by the prior Committee, on which alone such recommendation was founded. For this definition was virtually overruled and abrogated by the resolutions of the House of Commons passed in 1834, prescribing the conditions on which alone pensions should hereafter be granted—resolutions which the Committee also adopt and incorporate in their report, and which they expressly recommend as the basis of all future grants. Moreover the House of Commons has sanctioned an inquiry into the existing pension list, with the view of distinguishing the good and deserving names from the bad and undeserving. Now, Sir, I contend that by this inquiry; coupled with the resolutions of 1834, now engrafted on the civil list Bill, the pensions have ceased to be that which the Committee of 1831 defined them to be; they are no longer payments "such as it might be presumed that the Sovereign would have been desirous of making had he remained in possession of his hereditary revenue: "they are "payments made to such persons only as have just claims on the Royal beneficence,' &c. I contend, further, that though the Committee of 1831, who describe pensions as mere arbitrary manifestations of the Royal favour towards individuals, and mere substitutes for the presents which he would have made out of his hereditary revenue, might consistently recommend them to continue as appendages to the civil list; yet the Committee of 1837, and the House of Commons of 1837, who describe pensions in a very different manner, cannot consistently adopt the same re- 1286 commendation. Grants of pensions are now to be made only to persons who come within certain predetermined conditions. The responsible advisers of the Crown are placed under formal obligations to see that this rule is observed; and in order to make assurance still more sure, a return of the new pensions granted is to be laid annually before the House of Commons. Now, surely, Sir, it is plain that the formal imposition of this limit diverts the pension of that immediate connection with the simple and arbitrary preference of the Sovereign which alone constituted the ground for uniting it to the civil list. In the spirit of the resolutions of the House of Commons in 1834 the pension list ought to be disconnected with the civil list, and to be placed upon the consolidated fund; and the Committee of 1837 seem to me to have committed a great inconsistency in recommending the contrary. Sir, I have hitherto confined myself to the. task of showing that the amount assignable in future pensions ought not to be named now, pending the inquiry; and that if named, it ought not to form any part of the civil list. But, in addition to these objections, I do not hesitate to add, that there are others which he still deeper, and which lead me to call in question the wisdom and policy of the civil list pensions generally. In introducing this topic to the notice of the House, I have first to remind Gentlemen that the position of affairs is materially changed since the subject was discussed last year and in preceding years. A wider field of debate is now open to us; we are not only at liberty to entertain considerations which were formerly closed, but we are imperiously and unavoidably called upon to discuss a question of principle, involving all the bearings of the pension list, and the foundation upon which it rests. In former years when this matter came under the notice of the House, no question could ever be started except as to the character of the names on the pension list. The existence of the pension fund, the time of its continuance, and the limit of its aggregate amount, were all distinctly provided and prescribed by Act of Parliament; no debate could be entertained respecting either of these points, until the decease of the late Sovereign. The only question then open was respecting the character of the names by which that pension list was to be filled. Accordingly, it was upon this point that all the previous discussions in the House have turned; it was 1287 to the correction of this infirmity that all the precautions of the House have been directed. The resolutions passed by the House in 1834 were intended to guard against the introduction of any improper names into the list for the future; the various motions made for inquiry were intended to purify the list of names assumed to be exceptionable, and to substitute better names in their place. I wish the House to recollect that at the present moment they are not circumscribed in the way that they were then. You are not only at liberty to prescribe rules for the character of those who shall be admitted to partake of the pension fund, but you may either lessen the amount, or suspend the continuance of the fund. Parliament is called upon to make a new decision, affirmative or negative, whether the pension list shall be permitted to remain open for future grants or not; and it is, therefore, incumbent upon us to take a comprehensive survey of the purposes which these pensions are expected to fulfil, and of the advantages which the public are expected to derive from them. My opinion is, that no sufficient public advantage arises from these pensions to warrant us in creating a special charge on the nation for the purpose of providing them. The House will, of course, understand that I speak entirely of the pension fund which has hitherto been connected with the civil list. I do not at all allude to those pensions of retreat, or retiring pensions, which come to the public servant according to certain fixed and determined rules, as one particular portion of his reward for devoting his time to the service of the public. To give retiring pensions may or may not be a beneficial system of reward: on that I do not now pronounce any opinion—I do not mean to raise the question. But admitting the system of giving retiring pensions or superannuations to be ever so good, I maintain that the pensions hitherto annexed to the civil list by no means belong to the same class or category. They differ in this material respect: the retiring pensions are awarded after a fixed method, and according to certain determinate rules; the pensions which we are now considering are by their very nature exceptional, irregular, and discretionary. The retiring pension is looked for and relied upon, and forms part of the regular expectations of those who enter the public service. The civil list pension can only be the lot of a select few—it comes without notice and without being reckoned upon—and it can 1288 be regarded only as a lucky windfall or accident. This constitutes a broad and marked distinction between the two—and in questioning the expediency of the one, I employ arguments which have no necessary application to the other. Apart, therefore, from all question respecting the regular pensions of retirement, the matter which the House is now called upon to determine is this: is it right to create a public fund for the purpose of enabling the Minister of the day to grant pensions annually to a few select individuals, prescribing by certain general indications the character of the persons who are to be thus favoured? Supposing the person who receives one of these pensions to be really a man of merit, still more if he be a man of merit in distressed circumstances, there is doubtless a disposition on the part of the public to sympathise with him in the satisfaction of obtaining it. I do not wonder at this feeling—still less am I disposed to blame it— but I will only entreat Gentlemen to consider that this is neither the only consideration nor the leading consideration in the case. If any great nobleman chose to distribute a portion of his income in annuities to persons of merit and ability, most undoubtedly it would redound greatly to the credit of his disposition. But when we are called upon to provide a fund by charges upon the public, to be distributed to any class of persons whatever, we cannot suffer ourselves to be guided implicitly by sympathies for the individuals benefitted. We must require to have some public purpose shown, which such a fund is calculated to answer—some national advantage which is to accrue, and in which the people at large are either directly or indirectly to partake. Now, Sir, I look in vain for any such public advantage arising out of this fund for pensions on the civil list. Does it operate as a reward for public service? I say it does not, for 999 public servants out of 1,000 go through the whole career of their public duties without ever obtaining it. Does it operate as an incitement to superior activity or good behaviour in the public service? Impossible; for scarce any one can ever look forward to obtaining it—the chance is too small to be capable of being appreciated, or to act upon the imagination of any one: it is a prospect far too uncertain to be contemplated as a motive for exertion. Does it operate to encourage pursuits and habits of a scientific or literary tendency, which, though beneficial to the public generally, are not profitable for the individual person 1289 in whom they are exhibited? It cannot be so: the prize is one which is both too small and too much out of reach to produce any-such effect upon any one. Does it enable you to reward any great and signal benefit conferred upon the nation, which outstrips the measure and obligation of ordinary service? Sir, the history of the country shows that whenever such signal services are believed to have been rendered, it has been the practice to make application to Parliament for a special grant, as in the case of Dr. Jenner's discovery of the cow-pox, and other similar special grants which might be mentioned. If you look with any attention upon this matter you will see that the pensions on the civil list neither operate as an ordinary reward for ordinary service nor as an extra reward for extra service, nor as an incitement to useful ambition and energy. I cannot see any way in which they conduce to a really good public effect, and that is the reason why I advocate their discontinuance. The only real effect which these pensions produce is confined to a select circle under the Minister's eye—you enable the Minister to pay a compliment to some one amongst a certain select class of individuals, and to make a certain addition to that his income. The classes amongst whom the choice is to be made have been defined by the resolutions of the House of Commons, now embodied in the Bill before us—the individual to whom a pension is given must be either known in the public service, or eminent to a certain degree in science and literature—but though the Minister is tied down to choose among these classes, his preference amongst the individuals belonging to them is perfectly unfettered. He must choose a literary man, or a scientific man, or a public servant, of some pretensions: but he may choose any one of these whom he pleases. Now, what public benefit arises from enabling the Minister to single out some one mathematician, or some one natural philosopher, or historian, or poet, for a public compliment, leaving all the others unrewarded? Let us just reflect upon what happens. The Minister has a vacancy on the pension list, and he wants to pay a compliment to the science of mathematics: he selects some one distinguished mathematician to fill the vacancy. Will it not constantly happen that other distinguished mathematicians feel themselves aggrieved by this preference? They will say, we do not care about the money, but the compliment paid to Mr. So and So implies that he is the 1290 first mathematician in the country, and this is a pre-eminence which we cannot admit. Sir, I say, that this is a feeling both natural and justifiable. For why is this compliment to be paid to any one particular man of science or man of letters, at the public expense, when there are others equally deserving of it? I might easily illustrate this argument by repeating comments which I have heard made on various pensions which have been granted during the last few years; but I avoid any such allusions, because I neither intend to criticise, nor wish to appear to blame, any of these recent pensions. But I repeat, that if you place in the hands of the Minister a public fund, to be distributed in pensions, either to public servants or to men of science and letters and philosophy, the public is entitled to require that he shall single out the most exalted merit of its kind; and the moment that the Minister fixes his choice upon any one, merely upon his own responsibility and without any public competition, he is sure to arouse the sensitive feelings of literary pre-eminence and personal comparison. You pay a compliment to one man of science, or to one public man, but you create a feeling of dissatisfaction and wounded pride in the bosoms of a dozen others. The difficulty which I point out is inherent in the case. And let it not be said, that I am dwelling upon something too minute and trivial, when I thus talk of jealousy and dissatisfaction among the scientific or literary competitors of the person to whom the Minister gives a pension. Why, Sir, the only good which the pension does is the gratification which it imparts to the favoured individual, and it surely, therefore, is not improper to take some account of the contrary feelings experienced by others. But then we are told, that the pensions on the civil list are not to be distributed according to public services alone, or to scientific merit alone, but partly to charitable purposes also. I cannot think, Sir, that this new ground on which the pensions are placed will be found more tenable than the other. Your pension list is then to be an asylum for public servants or for persons of literary eminence when they happen to be in a state of comparative distress. Let me ask, whether this test will be found to hold if it is applied to pensions granted during the last few years? I am quite sure, that there are persons on that list among the literary and scientific men placed there since the last few years, who would feel 1291 much hurt if any one were to ascribe their pension to the fact of their being in distressed circumstances, or to any other cause except their own personal title and deserts. But I believe, that when we are told that the pension list is to be devoted partly to persons of public service or literary excellence, partly to purposes of charity, it is not meant that in every individual case the two grounds of claim must both be combined, but that some pension shall be given on the one ground, and some on the other. Now, this seems to me to introduce entire confusion and perplexity into the distribution of pensions. On one of the same list, you see one person placed there on the score of public services or scientific excellence alone; another on the score of charity alone; and a third on the score of both combined. The distribution of pensions will become more arbitrary and irregular than ever. It was but the other day, that the question was expressly put to me by a scientific man, in reference to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the night when he first proposed the civil list. "I observe (he said) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer sometimes rests his pensions on the ground of distinguished eminence on the part of the recipient, sometimes on the ground of benevolence and charity. Now, it is essential (he continued) that the point should be distinctly understood, whether they are granted for the one ground or for the other. For the value of the compliment, the meaning and inferences deducible from it by others are entirely different according as the one or the other is the true reason for which it is conferred." Sir, I perfectly agreed with the gentleman who made this remark to me. I think the scientific world have a right to know when any particular man of science is singled out for a pension charged on a public fund, whether the grant implies scientific superiority, or whether it is intended as mere relief and assistance. If you leave this question doubtful, you greatly impair the value of the pension even as a compliment to the pensioner himself, and you entirely destroy its value as a compliment to the general body of scientific and literary men. If we look at the real state of the case, we shall find that the only persons who are in any way affected by a pension list, are a select circle of persons whose position and circumstances make them known to the Minister, who may expect to receive pensions themselves, and who may consider themselves, in a certain sense, 1292 as competitors of the person preferred. To the public generally, no benefit whatever accrues: they receive no service which they would not have received just as much without the grant of any such pension. But what is the effect produced upon this select circle of rivals and expectants? Sir, I cannot but think, that whatever effect is produced upon them is of a very undesirable character. If there be any of them who desire to recommend themselves for a grant on the pension list, the most effectual way of doing so will be by keeping well with the Minister of the day—by pliant and obsequious behaviour in regard to his views—by acting so as to obtain patronage and support from the Minister's partisans. If, I say, there be any person amongst the narrow circle to whom pensions may be given who seeks to recommend himself for a preference, this is the path which he will probably and naturally follow. And is it a desirable thing that he should be encouraged to follow this path? I think not. The habit of looking up to the Minister for vague and uncertain favours is one which is the very reverse of exalting to the character of literary men or of public servants. Instead of trying to create these habits, we ought rather to inculcate the lessons of independence and self-reliance. We ought to teach them to look to the natural and constant reward of their own exertions rather than to the accidental breath of ministerial favour—I would at any rate abstain from holding out to them any artificial temptation to servile or obsequious conduct. When Gentlemen speak of the importance of encouraging literature and science by means of pensions to literary and scientific men, I beg them to recollect what proportion of the existing pension list is occupied by names of celebrity in these departments. So far from forming the general rule, names of literary or scientific celebrity form rare exceptions on the present pension list. Out of a total expenditure of 130,000l., something between 4,000l. and 5,000l. is devoted to persons of literary and scientific eminence. There cannot be a greater mistake than to imagine that the pension fund has been either wholly or principally devoted to the sustentation of men of letters. But if it were so devoted wholly and without reserve, would the effect be good? Sir, I think the effect would be any thing but good. The employment of a large fund in this way would give the Minister a degree of controlling influence over the literary and 1293 scientific world, which would be fraught with a large balance of evil. It would enable him to corrupt and buy over to his own service a large proportion of those distinguished minds, by whom the intellectual character of every age is formed; and that, too, without being guilty of any apparent wrong, or seeming to deviate at all from the line of his duty. He has but to let it be understood according to what principles he will dispense his rewards, what particular tone of writing he will please to recompense, and there will be abundance of authors to tread the path chalked out for them. The integrity of literary men would be undermined, and their independence of character assailed, by temptations to which assuredly but too many of them would succumb. A large pension fund in the hands of the Minister, applied in the way of discretionary rewards to what is called the encouragement of literature and science, would be apt to degenerate into a fund for the corruption of literary and scientific men. If the pension fund be small, undoubtedly the effects will be less mischievous. But the tendency will still be the same: it is the force and effiacy only which will be diminished. And surely, if the continuance of the pension fund is to be justified upon any sound principles, we ought not only to prove that it is productive of little or no evil—we ought farther to demonstrate that it will bring about some positive and assignable good. I know, Sir, that Gentlemen when they discuss this question commonly state some particular cases in which some pecuniary aid is both urgently needed and specially deservedb— the case of an author struggling with want, and engaged in useful studies which are not widely appreciated—the case of a scientific man prosecuting researches of which the result must be long deferred— and other such instances which touch powerfully upon our sympathies. Sir, I do not deny that such cases exist, and that it is a great delight when persons are found who have both the means and the will to relieve them. But the question to ask is, are these the cases to which the pension fund in the hands of an English Minister will be devoted? Whether we consult past experience or future probability, we may confidently affirm that such cases will occur but rarely in the pension list. If they are found there at all, it will be by a happy accident rather than by any natural result of the system. It is not such cases as 1294 these which make themselves vividly present to the eye of a Minister, or which are forced upon his attention by influential partisans. Those authors in whose favour our sympathies are most strongly enlisted during the present discussion are precisely the persons least likely to benefit by the pension list. Unless their cause is espoused and enforced by some powerful patron, they will be left to work and to suffer unheeded, and their claims will be postponed to those which are more in the highway and blaze of public celebrity. And therefore the existence of cases such as these described, of unrewarded talent struggling against the pressure of poverty, cannot be held to constitute a sufficient reason for levying a pension fund at the public expense. Surely Gentlemen will not be inclined to reason this case as if there were to be no abuse whatever in the distribution of pensions—as if the Minister was always to seek out for the best and fittest recipient, without any other object whatever. Is it at all to be imagined that this will be the fact? Has it happened during the past, or will it happen during the future? In this matter of the pension list especially, there always must be a peculiar liability to abuse. There is so much discretion and favour in the case, that an absence of abuse here is altogether incredible. The resolutions of the House of Commons, and the necessity imposed upon the Minister of laying on the table of the House of Commons a return of every person upon whom he confers a pension, will undoubtedly operate as a restraint to some extent; the person selected will be one of some pretensions and qualifications, and you are secured against grants which are culpably unworthy; but above that point the protection is not of any efficacy, if the Minister be inclined to evade it. If any man calls to mind the solicitation to which the Minister must necessarily stand exposed, the influence made with him to favour this man or that man, it would be strange indeed if he were unable to bestow his undivided attention on the task of searching for the fittest man. I cannot so far banish the recollection of former experience, and the probabilities derived from influences which are no less active at the present time than they were formerly, as to believe that the distribution of these pensions hereafter will be such as to correspond with the lofty purposes which they are understood to aim at. The recommendation of the Minister's partisans 1295 must be during the future, as the existing list shows that it has been during the past, the most frequent passport to a pension: the large majority of pensioners will have no better title to be on the list than hundreds of others who are not on it, and have no chance of ever being on it. Sir, in regard to that particular defence of the pension fund which is founded upon the necessity of providing means for relieving persons of merit who are in distressed circumstances, I beg the House to reflect carefully upon one particular circumstance —I mean the analogy of the Poor-law Amendment Bill. There may be Gentlemen in this House who think that this analogy has been pressed more closely and frequently than the real circumstances of the case warrant; but they may be assured that there is no one point of our proceedings on which the public mind is more keenly alive, or by which the dispositions prevalent in this House are more likely to be judged. I supported that Bill when it was first proposed, and I still continue to support it now. I think it has worked, as a whole, most beneficially for the great body of the poor; but at the same time, I cannot conceal from myself that there are peculiar cases in which it has pressed hardly upon some individuals, and in which it has imposed the necessity of withholding relief where sympathy and compassion, if we allowed ourselves to consult them without reference to the general results of the proceeding, would have prompted us to give it. The Poor-law Amendment Act involves this very serious principle—that no relief is to be given out of the poor-rates except to entire indigence and destitution—that no relief in aid is to be extended either to cases of peculiar merit, or to cases of peculiar hardship, if they fall short of this unhappy extreme—that all these special cases shall be left to private bounty and charity, and not provided for out of the public fund for the poor. I ask whether it is not altogether inconsistent with this principle of dealing if you now bring into existence a public fund for the express purpose of relieving those same special cases in persons of a different rank from the poor, which you have forbidden to be relieved out of the public poor-fund in the instance of the poor themselves? Will not poor men, who are weighed down by a very large family, or by some peculiar burden of misfortune, have some reason to complain of unequal treatment if you enforce the principle of shutting them out from relief in aid, out of 1296 the public fund, when you think it right to create by public tax a special fund in order to alleviate this precise species of calamities in the dependents and connexions of the rich: I do think, Sir, that this would be unequal treatment: we should teach the great body of the poor the melancholy lesson that we adopted a principle of exclusion in regard to special cases of hardship on the part of poor men, and a principle of indulgence and munificence towards the special calamities of those whose position was nearer to our own. Sir, if any one cause more than another can tend to make the Poor-law Amendment Act odious to the bulk of the community, it is the idea that the poor are dealt with unfairly and unequally, and upon principles which are not supposed to apply to the ranks above them. I think that we shall be doing much to encourage and sanction this idea if with the present administration of the Poor-laws we proceed to create a fresh pension list for the Crown at the cost of the people. Gentlemen may, perhaps, ask me whether I would think it fit to take away altogether the means of recompensing extraordinary merit or special service to the nation. I reply, Sir, that I think Parliament is the quarter to which application ought to be made, in the event of any special reward being necessary. A case ought to be made out before this House, if there be any extraordinary services or any remarkable excellence in other ways which is supposed to demand a recompense at the hand of the nation. I know I shall be told that Parliament will be both profuse and partial, and I am well aware that this is true to a certain extent. But still I contend that the best security which you can take against excess or error is to require that the case shall be previously proposed and approved in Parliament before any grant is made. This is the same security which we have against extravagance in any other department of the public expenditure: and imperfect, as I confess it to be, still I think that the charge upon the nation would be both smaller in amount and more conducive to really beneficial purposes, than it is likely to be under the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman now before us. I think that propositions of this kind would not be lightly submitted to the House, when it was necessary to sustain every one of them by a statement of positive merits or services, open to comment or discussion in this House, and when every separate grant 1297 carried with it a specific addition to the public burdens. I think that propositions for special national recompense would not often be made; and would be still less often successfully made; and most assuredly in a good system such interpositions ought on all accounts to be rare. If it be contended that the Crown would be deprived of the means of rewarding ancient and faithful personal servants of the Sovereign, I submit that the proper way of obviating this objection would be to make a moderate addition to the privy purse, or to the sum allowed in the fourth class of the civil list for royal bounty. In my view, I confess, these sums as they now stand are quite sufficient, and more than sufficient, to meet all the reasonable wants of the Crown, of the kind which I am now considering: nevertheless, if the House thought otherwise, these amounts might receive a moderate increase. Upon the principle which I propose the reward of merit would stand pointedly distinguished from relief to distress, as I think it ought to be: it would neither be dispensed through the same hands nor out of the same fund. Sir, I have now endeavoured to state to the House the grounds on which I propose that this sum of l,200l. annually for new pensions shall no longer stand on the civil list. I have stated objections which I consider to be weighty and forcible against the continuance of a pension fund generally; I have endeavoured to show that no public advantage accrues from it, sufficient to induce us to create such a fund at the cost of the people; I have endeavoured to show that whether we consider it as a fund for relieving distress or for rewarding merit, in either case there are objections which more than outweigh all the benefit to individuals which can be supposed to arise from it. I have also sought to impress upon the House my conviction that, in creating a public fund for the relief of those special cases of distress, in favour of which the pension fund is invoked, you place yourself in awful contradiction with the strict principle involved in the Poor-law Amendment Act, and that in the present temper of the nation, you cannot too carefully avoid the suspicion of administering relief strictly towards the labouring classes, and indulgently towards others. These objections point, of course, to an entire discontinuance of the pension list for the future, and it is my opinion undoubtedly, that the list ought to be discontinued. But even if Gentlemen are disposed still to maintain 1298 a pension list of the amount here defined, I have endeavoured to show the House that there are grounds for striking this particular clause out of the civil list at present. For I contend that the provision for pensions does not properly and conveniently belong to the civil list, and ought not to be fixed irrevocably and unalterably for the duration of a long reign; and I contend farther that there is a peculiar impropriety in fixing the amount of the pension fund for the future, at a moment when a full inquiry into the administration of the pension fund for the past is just commencing —an inquiry which may supply materials most important for determining the deliberate judgment of the House as to the future amount which it may be wise to allot for this object.
§ Mr. Hume
rose to second the motion, As his hon. Friend had completely exhausted all the arguments that could be adduced on this subject, he would only say that his opinion was strengthened more and more every day, from the working of the pension system, that no pension whatever ought to be granted to any individual out of the public funds. He hoped that the time was coming when this principle would be acted upon. The reason why he was anxious to second the motion was, that he did not consider the continuance of the pension fund consistent with the report of the Committee of last Session. The very word "pension" was rendered odious from the abuses that had crept into the system. And such was the general feeling throughout the country, that he did not think that this grant of 1,200l. a-year would, in the words of the Committee, add either to the honour, the comfort, or the dignity of the Crown.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
had no reason to complain of the mode in which the hon. Member for the City of London had introduced this subject, on the contrary, the calm tone in which the hon. Gentleman had treated it, was to him perfectly satisfactory. But having done justice to the mode in which the hon. Gentleman had introduced the subject, the hon. Gentleman would excuse him if he took the liberty of saying that he differed essentially from some of the principles laid down by the hon. Gentleman, and he would also show that the hon. Gentleman was in error in some of his facts. He admitted that the latter objection was not that which was most material, inasmuch as the hon. Gentleman had rested his chief argument upon principle, but whether a refer- 1299 ence to the mistakes in fact were more or less material in arguing this subject, he thought it essential that the House and the public should be precisely informed with respect to the money part of the argument, and the exact charge which by the new plan was intended to be cast upon the public as compared with the previous plan. The hon. Gentleman had strangely stated that the charge of 1,200l. a-year, created in each year, and continued for a period of twenty years, would amount at the end of that time to an annual charge of 40,000l. In this the hon. Gentleman was completely and evidently mistaken. The fact was clear, that 1,200l, accumulated in any way for the youngest and best of lives even if no life dropped in the time, could not produce 40,000l. He was, therefore, surprised that the hon. Gentleman had fallen into this singular mistake. His statement was this, that the combination of the old pension list and of the new pension list would amount to that sum, and it was arithmetically demonstrable that this statement applied to the combination of both lists. This was a mere question of fact; he called the attention of hon. Gentlemen to the reduction which had been made on the previous civil list as a most material consideration. Under the old system of fixing the maximum at 75,000l., which was supposed to be filled up, as in all probability it would be, during the period of, say twenty years, this sum would be annually charged upon the pension list. By the new plan, as adopted in the Bill before the House, this charge would be reduced in a period of twenty years to the sum of 41,000l., thus showing an absolute saving of not less than 34,000l. The hon. Gentleman's argument might be justly said to apply to the lesser sum as well as to the greater, but as the House had been told that no reduction was effected; but rather that there was an increase in consequence of the provisions of the present Bill, he thought he had a right to call the attention of the House to the fact. It might be ascertained by calculations what was the actual value of the faculty vested in the Crown under the old system of filling up vacancies to the maximum amount of 75,000l., taking the average of the lives of the pensioners, if they took this, and compared it with the value of the faculty of creating new pensions to the amount of 1,200l. a-year, the difference in the amount was not less than 700,000l. This was a direct saving to the country. He apprehended 1300 that the real and main argument of the hon. Member for the City of London divided itself into two points. The one was, whether pensions should be granted at all, and the other whether, if granted, they should be granted by the Crown? He would say one word of a preliminary nature on the second point. He was afraid there was a decided difference between the principle on which he was disposed to act, and the principle laid down by the hon. Member for London. That hon. Gentleman wished altogether to separate from the Crown of England the power, under just regulations, and under strict Parliamentary responsibility, of conferring any rewards. He wished on the contrary, that this power should attach inseparably to the Crown. Such a power must exist somewhere, and he thought it was consistent with our fixed monarchical principles of government, that the source of honour and rewards should be the Crown. He thought that such a power could be more safely lodged with the Crown, under Parliamentary responsibility, than elsewhere, and it was in accordance with the principles on which that House had on former occasions thought proper to act. Upon those principles there arose an irreconcilcable difference of opinion between the hon. Gentleman and himself, and he thought that if the argument against the Crown was good for any thing, it must go further, and make all rewards, honours, and distinctions proceed from Parliament, and not from the Crown. The argument of the hon. Member, if it were good for any thing, went this full length, and the principle he advocated struck at the root of the monarchy itself. But the argument of the hon. Gentleman went farther. The principles of the constitution, as he understood them, regarded the Crown as the source of all honours and distinctions. But the hon. Member for the City of London called upon the House to affirm a principle with regard to the grant of rewards, which, if applied elsewhere, would be destructive of the best interests of the country. Would the hon. Member contend that Parliament should appoint the judges and all the other judicial officers who were now nominated by the Crown? If the hon. Member would make the Crown the source of other honours and distinctions, why attempt to deprive the Crown of the right of granting rewards of the description of these pensions. But he would come to the argument with respect to the question, whether 1301 pensions should be granted at all? He had endeavoured to show, that in point of economy the provisions included in the Bill before the House were such as to recommend themselves to their adoption. But there were other grounds on which he rested his economical argument. The hon. Member for the city of London had said, that he would exclude altogether superannuation allowances and rewards for retired public servants from his argument. The hon. Gentleman was very wise in so doing. There were many cases in which rewards for public services might be safely and properly given as pensions granted under Parliamentary responsibility, which would not come under the strict rules applicable to ordinary cases of superannuation allowances. There were many cases in which the strict rules on which rewards were granted for wounds and public services would exclude persons who might have the strongest claims upon the gratitude and good feeling of the country. The effect of the hon. Gentleman's proposition would be to place them in this difficulty, that conceding a right to retired and superannuation allowances, these grants would be subjects of indefinite application, sources of infinite inconvenience and expense to the country. They had now in the pension list another fund from which public servants, subject to Parliamentary responsibility, might obtain those rewards which they could not and ought not to obtain under the strict rules of the Superannuation Act. If he had the list before him he could show innumerable cases of this description. The hon. Member for the city of London was himself a Member of the Civil List Committee, and he would take upon himself to say, that the hon. Gentleman would admit, that the Committee had had before it many cases of this description. The hon. Member said, that he wished that a line of distinction should be drawn between those pensions which were granted for scientific and literary attainments, and those which were granted from charity. He admitted that the class of argument which applied to the one and the other was essentially distinct. The hon. Gentleman said, that on the part of the scientific and literary, world he was desirous that there should be no such thing as pensions at all; and the hon. Member gave as his reason, that he apprehended that these rewards would be given for the purpose of influencing the opinions of authors or men of letters Now, he did not think it pos- 1302 sible for any individual in these days to suggest such motives or consequences. Did any man think that such motives would apply to the name of Mr. Dalton. Did the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) hesitate for a moment to grant a reward to Professor Airey, or did the right hon. Baronet inquire beforehand into Mr. Airey's politics. Or was the reward withheld from that Gentleman because he had happened to hold entirely opposite opinions to the right; hon. Baronet. If he was not entirely in error, he knew not whether he had been misinformed, but respecting one pension which had been brought into question early in the present Session, namely, the pension granted to Mr. Moore, he believed that expressions of the greatest kindness had been used by the right hon. Baronet, who had stated, according to report, that if that pension had not been already granted he should not have been indisposed to have taken into consideration the claims, the genius, and the talents of Mr. Moore. He knew not whether that statement were true, but this he did know, from the evidence of the papers before him, and the facts that had come to his knowledge, that whether Mr. Moore were a Whig, or Mr. Southey a Tory, whether Mr. Wordsworth or any other distinguished person had been in question, no Minister would be base enough in the days in which we lived to make a selection on a reference to the politics of the parties; and, if a Minister had been base enough, he would not have been fool enough, to commit himself to such a prostitution of the power reposed in him. But he must say, that he had a better opinion of the character of literary and scientific men than the hon. Gentleman. He believed, that if any Government were so disposed to prostitute its power, there was a spirit in literature and science which would not allow literary and scientific men to be insulted, or their talents to be disgraced by their being turned to such a miserable purpose of political profligacy. Did any one ever ask what were the politics of Dr. Johnson? ["Hear, hear!" from Mr. Wakley.] The hon. Gentleman must have means of information from which he was excluded, if he had reason to believe that the pension which was given to Dr. Johnson was at all given on political grounds. Why, Mr. Fox, who was as good a judge of literary merit as of politics, objected to the grant it is true, and said it was a disgrace to the Ministry to propose it, but he objected on the ground 1303 that it was an insufficient reward for the great philosopher's literary labours, and declared that the grant ought to be doubled if given at all. With respect to service pensions, it had been attempted to draw an analogy between these grants and the system of relief under the Poor-laws. Such an analogy was wholly untenable. The relief granted under the Poor-laws was not a return for public service, but a contribution for the relief of the pauper's necessities. If the analogy which the hon. Gentleman who used this argument set up, could be maintained, he ought to apply it further, and declare that in every case where an officer or public servant received a service pension, whose family or relations were rich or well off, the pension should be withdrawn. With respect to the pensions given as bounty, the hon. Gentleman said, that they had always been abused. He did not deny that this had been at times the case; but what was now the object of the House in legislating upon the subject but to prevent abuse for the future? But the hon. Gentleman said, he would not have any grant at all for bounty, but only as the reward for public service, and that these rewards should be voted by Parliament. He doubted whether the power would be well exercised. The country would not gain by the change. He asked the hon. Gentleman to compare the case of Captain Ross, rewarded by Parliament, with that of many of the pensions granted under Parliamentary responsibility, and he would say that this would furnish one of the best tests of the value of the two precepts. It was a case of claim, but one in which the Crown would not have made any grant without inquiry; but so eager were the House of Commons to grant that gallant officer relief, that it actually made the grant before the publication of Captain Ross's book, and left the public afterwards to judge of its propriety. That case showed the liability of the House of Commons to commit abuse, if the appointment of pensions were vested in its hands. But though he entirely denied that the House of Commons was the best authority to bestow these grants, he admitted that it was the most fitting tribunal to judge of the conduct of Government in administering them. Let the House recollect that it was to have all in the way of supervision that it could require; the pension list would be laid before Parliament every year, when the House would be able to object to any one grant which it did pot think justified 1304 by the circumstances of the case. If the House were to exclude the clause for the very limited grant which he proposed, it would be for the first time in the history of this country that its Sovereign would be left without the means of rewarding personal or public service, or literary and scientific merit; the Crown would thus be deprived of one of its highest and most graceful prerogatives. Let not the House of Commons, whilst it made ample provision for the comfort and splendour of the Crown, deprive it of the means of rewarding desert, and marking its sense of great literary acquirement and meritorious enterprise. It was upon the grounds which he had stated that he should oppose the motion of the hon. Member for London.
§ Sir R. Peel
should vote against the motion of the hon. Member, because he conceived its object to be to deprive the Crown of the power which it at present possessed of rewarding merit and honourable personal distinction. At the same time he would not say that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was altogether satisfactory. The first objection which he entertained to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was, that the sum of 1,200l. a year which it was proposed to grant to the Crown for this purpose was too scanty. This was his opinion at the outset; and when the right hon. Gentleman went on to inform him that at the end of twelve years a saving of 30,000l. would be effected by the dropping in of lives in the present pension list, that opinion, that the proposed sum was too small, became confirmed. At the same time he admitted that the principle of granting a fixed sum was a good one, provided the grant was a liberal one. The granting of a pension depended in a great measure upon the means in the hands of the Crown to pay it, and where the means of so doing were, as in the reign of William 4th, contingent upon the falling-in of existing pensions, it would often happen that at the time when there were the most calls for grants of this kind there were no means of making it, whilst at other times the Crown would have more abundant means at its disposal than the occasion of the day required. He thought, therefore, that a fixed sum, provided it was of such an amount as to be a fair equivalent for the means already at the disposal of the Crown, would be an improvement. But he must say again that he considered the sum of 1,200l, a-year too small when it was con- 1305 sidered that out of it were to be provided all the pensions for the three great divisions of the kingdom. There was another feature also in the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of which he disapproved, namely, that in any year if the Crown did no grant pensions to the full extent of the 1,200l. it was not to have at its disposal the residue for the ensuing year; but that in no year the Crown was to grant more pensions than to the amount of 1,200l. He must say, that he thought it would be better not to limit the discretion of the Crown in this way, as it must naturally occur that in some years there should be more proper occasions for the bounty than in others; and the object of Parliament in affixing a limit at all would be fully answered by providing that the grants of the Crown in pensions should not exceed an average of l,200l. a-year, taking one year with another. He trusted, therefore, that this part of the Bill would be reconsidered, and altered in a way, as he thought, tending manifestly to the public advantage. The next objection which he had to the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the proposal to call upon the Crown to lay upon the table of this House every year a list of the pensions granted by virtue of this bill. There were some hon. Gentlemen in the House who really did not seem to be at all disposed to be satisfied with any arrangement whatever on this subject. They first made a regulation to govern the Crown in the distribution of all future pensions, a resolution to which the Crown had shown every disposition to adhere, and which it had hitherto acted up to most implicitly. Yet with this regulation the very hon. Members who assisted in passing it were now finding fault. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of their bounden duty to preserve the monarchical prerogative in the distribution of these bounties, he wondered that he did not premise that the very arguments which he used bore directly against his own proposition. The fact was, that the right hon. Gentleman, in his anxiety to conciliate both sides of the House to his scheme, had necessarily been betrayed into inconsistencies which would hardly escape observation. When the right hon. Gentleman, addressing his own friends behind him, said that the House of Commons ought to exact a yearly statement from the Crown of the manner in which it had disposed of the sum of money granted to it by this act of Parlia- 1306 ment, he wondered that the right hon. Gentleman did not perceive that such an exercise of authority would almost amount to a veto upon, if not actually to a directional power over, these bounties. The right hon. Gentleman declared that the Crown was the fountain of honour and favour; and that being the case, he could not see that the prerogative of the Crown applied more directly to one than to the other, yet what would the right hon. Gentleman say if it were proposed to make the Crown give in a return to this House of all the titles and honorary distinctions which it had conferred from year to year? Would not this be objected to as a pretence on the part of this House to exercise an inquisitory authority over the exercise of the royal prerogative? He was aware that returns of pensions in existence had been given from time to time; but this was at particular periods, and upon a requisition made either when they were about to legislate upon the subject of the civil list, or when a strong feeling of jealousy or misgiving existed as to the application of these funds. But he thought there was a very clear distinction to be drawn between an occasional return of this kind, and a yearly legal presentation for the purpose of challenging inquiry into the acts of the Crown. He must confess that when he heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman he was very much surprised at hearing him make use of observations so very contrary to what he had been accustomed to hear come from that side of the House. It only showed what rapid changes they had to expect from that quarter; and they ought not to be at all surprised if seven years hence they were to see a proposition emanate from the right hon. Gentleman's party to take away all power to grant pensions from the Crown, and to vest it entirely in the House of Commons. He had already said that he considered the grant of l,200l. far too limited for the proper exercise of the royal prerogative in the rewarding literary and civil merit. This was his opinion, and he predicted that the country would participate in it before very long. What would be the consequence? The feelings of the country would revolt at seeing men who had devoted their talents and their energies to the prosecution of literary and scientific pursuits, for the practical benefit of the community, languishing in distress and want. The Crown would be applied to for succour, but applied to in vain; for, 1307 with every disposition, it would not have the means to grant a pension so loudly demanded by all the dictates of humanity, of gratitude, and of sound policy. What would be the case then? The House of Commons would have to step in and avert the consequences of an error of which it had been guilty, but at the same time take to itself the merit of the grant, to the obvious disparagement of the Crown. All this might not be the consequence of a premeditated step towards republican principles; the desire might not perhaps now exist to establish the power of the House of Commons on the ruin of that of the Crown; but as the power to grant bounties must be exercised, and must rest somewhere, so if this grant in the hands of the Crown be now so restricted, that power must eventually be taken out of the hands of the Crown altogether by the House of Commons. Having expressed his opinion that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, limited as it was, was fraught with dangerous consequence to the monarchical principle, he should proceed to another branch of the subject. He must say that it was rather extraordinary to find hon. Gentlemen who formerly required that all bounties should be confined to rewarding literary or scientific merit, and who caused a resolution to be passed to that effect, should now be quarrelling with their own regulation. The hon. Gentleman opposite said, that giving a reward to a meritorious individual was a very invidious proceeding, and calculated rather to give offence than otherwise to the other Members of the same class. Now, this he must be allowed to say was a most extraordinary argument. Why, what used to be said of this country in comparing it with surrounding nations? Was it not said that despotic nations rewarded science, and selected eminent scientific and literary men, anxious to pay them a just compliment, whilst they also afforded them a substantial reward? See what despotic Governments did—they rewarded science—they selected eminent men—and were anxious to pay a compliment to them by conferring upon them some substantial reward. The argument of the hon. Member was conclusive against Sir Walter Scott being made a baronet, because it applied equally to granting a dignity as a pension. Doubtless the hon. Gentleman would say that the honorary distinction cost nothing, while the pension would put the country to the expense of 300l. a year. It was the 1308 argumentum ad pecuniam which seemed altogether to influence the hon. Member's views. He always thought that when a literary man of eminence was selected for royal favour that the whole class was elevated and complimented in that act. He well recollected what was said over and over again on the former debates on this subject, that by granting pensions too exclusively to persons connected with the military profession or with politics, those two classes of public characters were elevated into undue importance, to the disparagement of meritorious conduct in other useful pursuits. It was then that a resolution was passed for rewarding literary merit and scientific acquirement; and now that this resolution was being faithfully acted upon, the hon. Gentleman complained that by rewarding members of the literary profession with pensions literature itself was degraded, and some members of it have cause to complain of an invidious selection having been made for the royal bounty. Then it appeared that the real ground of complaint now was, not what it was formerly, that literary merit was not rewarded, but that it was rewarded. In other words, hon. Members quarrelled with their own resolution. In his opinion it was proper that literary and scientific men of merit should receive the occasional aids which they required, and be honoured with the conventional distinctions which were established in a monarchy—he thought that these rewards should be conferred only by the Crown; and that unless there was suspicion of abuse in the exercise of the power of the Crown, it should not be questioned by that House; still less should those rewards and distinctions be conferred by the majority of that House. On those grounds he should, as he had before said, oppose the motion of the hon. Member for London.
§ Mr. Clay
should vote for the hon. Member for London's proposition, because he thought that on the authority of the Committee on the civil list, at the commencement of the last reign, the pension list ought to be separated entirely from the civil list of the Crown, and because he thought that the proposition for granting 1,200l. a-year to the Crown for new pensions was an injudicious, a crude, and an improper one; involving the Crown in much difficulty and responsibility, in its exercise of which it might entail upon itself much of public odium and disappointment. At the same time he begged 1309 to be understood that he could not go along with his hon. Friend (Mr. Grote) to the full extent of his argument, and say that no pensions should be granted except by this House; still less was he prepared to say that no pensions ought to be granted at all. On the whole, he thought that there was much indiscreet haste in bringing forward this proposition at the very moment when a Committee was sitting on the subject. He thought that at least such a grant should have been withheld until that Committee had made its report. With regard to giving the right to the Crown of granting any pensions at all, he was not prepared to affirm that there were no conceivable circumstances under which the Crown, as the fountain of honour, should not have the power of bestowing pensions. He maintained that there might be a certain combination of circumstances under which no rule a priori, could be made to determine what was the privilege which the Crown should enjoy in remunerating eminent public services. He was, however, quite averse to the proposition for allowing such a power to be reposed in that House. A popular assembly never wisely interfered with the distribution of patronage; and no instance could be found, either remote or proximate, in the history of that House, by which it could be proved that Parliament ever wisely performed the appropriate duties of the executive. If there was any privilege with which that House could be less wisely and advantageously intrusted than another, it was, beyond all doubt, the power of originating money grants to individuals. An assembly such as the House of Commons was too much governed by impulse for the just exercise of such a right. The course of their proceedings, he feared, would be this: that, under certain circumstances, they would give a great deal too much, whilst under the influence of other considerations, and swayed by some feelings of the moment, they would be tempted to neglect public services of the highest order. The temper in which a popular assembly would grant pecuniary remuneration to individuals was, he thought, well illustrated in an expression used in the celebrated character of Yorick. He was represented to have said, when touched with compassion for the sufferings of an individual, "that he gave him all the money in his pocket-" He did not inform the reader what was the exact amount, but in giving his reflections on it afterwards, he 1310 said, "that he considered it at the time much too little, but he since deemed it a great deal too much." Such he was convinced was the spirit in which a popular assembly would act, if invested with the power which was contemplated. With the limitations which he had laid down, he should give his support to the motion of the hon. Member for London. He held himself at perfect liberty, when the report of the Committee for inquiry into this subject was laid before the House, to support a resolution for granting a specific sum annually for this object out of the consolidated fund, nor was he at all sure that it ought not to be a larger sum than the l,200l. a-year then proposed. He looked upon that sum as either too much or too little; and that the grant proposed by the present Bill was hasty without the report of the Committee.
§ Sir R. Inglis
differed from the hon. Member who introduced, as well as from the hon. Gentleman who on very distinct grounds had just spoken in favour of, the amendment. He could not concur in the opinion that the sum which the Crown now received for this purpose, could be found too large, though he was quite willing to join with him in the conjecture that it might be too small. The first words which he had heard from the hon. Member for London, as he entered the House, were grounded on the proposition that as the Crown was, according to the popular maxim, considered the fountain of honour, that House should also be viewed as the fountain of special pecuniary reward. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with great consistency in argument, but very inconsistently in conduct, asked the hon. Member for London this question: — "If we concede to the House of Commons the privilege which you require, with what colour afterwards can we deny that it must also be looked upon as the fountain of honour?" He understood the hon. Member for London to assent to that conclusion. [Mr. Grote: No!] He certainly understood the hon. Gentleman to have concurred in the view suggested by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Giving the hon. Gentleman, however, full credit for his denial, he still conceived that any other conclusion at which he might arrive was imperfect; and that if he maintained that the House of Commons should exercise an exclusive control over the expenditure of 1311 money for compensating individuals who had contributed to the public service, there was no reason why it should not also preside over the distribution of honours. Then came the admission which the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had made, that the bounty fund of the Crown ought to be increased; but that it should be disbursed, not in the shape of pensions, but of alms. What were stated alms but pensions? It appeared to him that the wisest course would be to leave the Crown unfettered in the disposal, not only of this 1,200l. a-year, but of the larger sum under this head. They had diminished the amount of the income of the Crown by taking away the hereditary revenues, and after having deprived the Sovereign of one half-of the funds irresponsibly distributed, they required that an account should be rendered of the whole amount which was now received. They were not justified in holding out to the Crown the semblance of free agency, whilst its revenues were periodically subject to the revision of that House. He trusted that some Member—he hoped it would be his right hon. Friend near him (Sir Robert Peel)—would move that this clause should be altogether omitted. Parliament was not a tribunal which ought to decide the mode in which a sum once settled upon the Crown for such purposes ought to be divided; it should be left to the determination of the Crown itself. It was a mockery of the prerogative of the Crown to have its income first granted, and, then, its disbursements subjected to the controlling power of Parliament. It tended to add to the growing power of the House of Commons, and to place the present Sovereign in a more invidious position than that of any one of her predecessors: and it was a proposition which certainly ought not to come from Ministers of the Crown when that was in the possession of one who was necessarily less acquainted with the precise extent of its rights and privileges than most of her predecessors. He believed that the country would have sustained the Ministry in upholding the just privileges of the Crown: but they took a course which satisfied neither party, and yielded the principle without remedying what was considered by some of their supporters a practical grievance. The hon. Member for London was against any pensions, and was equally opposed to the grant of 1,200l. a-year as to one of 12,000l. He, himself, on the other hand, felt that Ministers had conceded a principle when 1312 they first granted to the Crown a particular sum, and then required an account of its application. Looking with no feeling of approbation on the general proposition, he still felt bound to prefer it to the motion of the hon. Member for London.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
said, he felt bound to take a part, though he did so reluctantly, from an indisposition to trespass on the attention of the House in this discussion, because he was compelled to vote against those with whom he was in the habit of acting, and he wished to convince them that it was from no unwor by motive that he at present opposed them; but that his opinions, however erroneous, were taken up with sincerity, and were the subject of much reflection. He wished in the first place to state, that of all those who had spoken on this question, he most agreed, indeed, he might say that he almost entirely concurred with the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. He did not think there was any great force in the special argument used by his hon. Friend, the Member for London, and it struck him that the views of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Clay) were contrary to the general principles which influenced his vote. He admitted, that if the amount of pensions had not been reduced to a large extent, the argument would be, that hey should be stultifying their own vote for inquiry if they resolved to grant the same, or almost an equal amount as that now submitted to the Committee. If the labours of the Committee led to any important results, it was probable that some portion of these pensions would be found to be misapplied, and that a reduction to that extent ought to be made. But when he heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which had not been rebutted or even touched upon by any hon. Member who had spoken, that the enormous reduction had been effected in the amount of pensions from 75,000l. to 40,000l., he felt that such a diminution must exceed anything which the Committee could effect. He could not conceive that a Committee, admitting the principle of granting pensions at all, could come to the conclusion that 40,000l. could not be usefully employed for such a purpose. He was of opinion that the fear of making too great changes, and shaking public opinion too much, would fix the reduction which had been made, as one large enough for the demand of the country. He could not but recollect that seven years ago 1313 the Crown of England had the unlimited disposal of 150,000l. and that that grant was cut down to 40,000l. with strict and annual responsibility. He did not agree with the assertion that the proposed 1,200l. a-year was too small an amount, though he fully concurred in the opinion that the distribution of pensions should not be correspondent to that amount in any particular year. The result of this resolution would be that the full amount being given to be applied to each separate year and carried over to no other, unmerited pensions would be granted in order to expend the whole sum of 1,200l. a-year. But his hon. Friend, the Member for London, objected altogether to the principle of granting pensions by the Crown. He wholly differed from his hon. Friend, because he conceived it was a power which should be reposed in some authority in this great and civilised country. He thought it desirable that men of letters should be fostered by the Government when labouring, not for popular applause, or for the sale of works of the day, but that their spirit should be sustained whilst contributing to the advantage of posterity, without receiving the recompense of popular favour. If they looked to the authority of those who had done the most friendly services to, and conferred the greatest benefit upon, posterity—if they went back to history, they would find that of all those who had implanted the impress of their own thoughts on future generations, there had not been one who was not supported by the bounty of the Crown or of individuals. He might give the challenge to produce any great name in our literature, from Chaucer down to those of our own time, and ask whether there was any considerable portion of them who were not supported by regal or individual generosity. Let the House look to those who were maintained by the Earl of Essex and by Queen Elizabeth, as well as by the dissolute and worthless Charles 2nd, whose pleasure, interest, and taste it was to cherish literary excellence. Let the House look to the munificence of our nobility. He must confess that he was afraid the spirit which formerly actuated the nobility was passed away, or at least that public feeling was so altered that men of eminence would not brook to receive the bounty of an individual. He was afraid that such a philosopher as Hobbes would be loathe to confess that he lived on the bounty of an Earl of Devonshire, or that the free and independent spirit of such a man as Locke would never 1314 consent to be looked on as supported by an Earl of Shaftesbury. One of the brightest ornaments to the pension list was Dr. Johnson, who when party spirit ran most high, did not disdain to receive the bounty of the Crown. Nothing could better illustrate the doctrine of bestowing the bounty of the Crown on those who applied their genius to the benefit of posterity than the comparison between the pursuits of the two eminent men Messrs. Dalton and Wollaston. The first applied his powers to extending the limits of science, whilst the other felt it his interest to engage in practical discoveries, which was not the fittest occupation for so great a mind. He was convinced also that public remuneration ought not to be confined to great men, and that such characters as Lord Chatham and his descendants should be alone—be might say profusely—provided for. Was it proper or decent that great merits only should be regarded, and that such individuals as Colonel Stewart, whose services were perhaps equally useful, should be neglected, and their children left without any remuneration? If a proposition were made in that House for giving some reward to Colonel Stewart, scarcely any one would be found amidst the turmoil of party contention, to recognise his claims on the public generosity. Well, then, this was a case in which the power vested in the Crown might be most beneficially and judiciously exercised. According to the spirit of every wise constitution such a privilege should be confided, not to a representative assembly, but to the executive. He knew not of what use an hereditary executive or any executive at all was, if it were not better adapted to decide, by its individual discretion such matters than if they were trusted to the judgment of a numerous assembly. At the present moment, when it was desired to introduce a new system, and when a check was to be put to jobbing, it was wise, for some time at least, to have these matters made the subject of annual investigation. He must confess, however, that the best course would be to postpone passing judgment on these grants until after the lapse of a considerable time. He did not consider the time at which they were given the best for determining the merits on which they were founded, biassed more or less as they must be by the expressions of popular favour, or the animadversion of the day. It would, perhaps, be best to have the pension list revised at certain periods—say on the accession of every 1315 monarch. He was certainly favourable, for the reasons which he had stated, to establishing annual returns of the pensions granted at the present time; but he must protest as strongly as any hon. Gentleman at the opposite side of the House against making that House the arbiter of individual claims to the public bounty. Such a change must lead inevitably to a system of jobbing, of profusion, niggardliness, and unwise distribution of patronage which would produce a deplorable waste of the public money, and be attended in all respects with the worst possible consequences to the country. He really believed that it would often happen that the best pension would be that which was least favoured by the opinion of the day. It must be recollected that there was no pension which excited more animosity than that conferred on Dr. Johnson; and yet we looked back to that just tribute to the unquestioned abilities of a great man without any prejudice as to his support of the American war, but a firm conviction that it proved the discernment of a government in enabling a powerful mind—whose opinions, though they might be considered erroneous, must be admitted to have been consistent and comprehensive—to keep its energies alive, and to labour for the instruction and advantage of posterity. He must refer to an instance in their own times, which proved the truth of the proposition which he had laid down. He alluded to the pension of Mr. Coleridge, which had been granted by Lord Grey's government, and which reflected great credit upon it. Of all those who had contributed to the literature or philosophy of the country, the opinions of half the thinking men of the present day were more influenced by the writings of Coleridge than those of any other individual, but at the same time he was very obnoxious to a particular party, and the consequence was, there was a greater outcry raised against his pension than almost any by which it had been preceded, and it was in consequence withdrawn. Against the allowances given to Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. Southey a most illiberal outcry was raised, which, in conjunction with the disapprobation expressed in the case of Mr. Coleridge, proved to him that public opinion was not always exercised for the benefit of the community or for the promotion of the interests of science. It had been said that this power of granting pensions might be converted into a means of bribing literary men. Now, in the first 1316 place he did not consider that influence the most dangerous which they had to fear. He thought there was much greater danger that literary men would for profit flatter the passions of the multitude than that they would be subservient to the interest of the Crown. By such a course, too, they would be likely to acquire a larger portion of that honour to which all superior minds aspired, namely, the good opinion of their fellow-creatures. But was it prudent to deprive the Crown of the means of direct corruption while there was left to it the power of effecting that object much more effectually? If it were really the object of the Crown to corrupt Mr. Wordsworth, it had the power of doing so much more effectually by giving him the situation of stamp distributor than by selecting him as the recipient of a pension which must attract public attention. It appeared to him that the danger of corrupting literary men did not apply to the pension list when there were so many modes of accomplishing the same object. It had been remarked that pensions were sometimes given as a compliment, without reference to the wants of the individual. Now he looked upon the power of granting pensions as one of the most important trusts which could be confided to the Crown. The Crown was enabled by it to render great and immortal services to posterity by fostering that species of ability which was most worthy of protection. The pension which appeared to him in this light to be the worst since the new system had been established, was one which had been given at different intervals by the Government of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, and that which had succeeded it—he alluded to the allowance made to Mrs. Somerville. That lady, he understood, was in perfectly easy circumstances, and her husband received large salaries from offices which he held under the Government. However meritorious her researches might be, and no one wished less than he did to depreciate them, they were confined to the acquirement of branches of learning to which her sex had not aspired, and no one could undertake to say that they added anything to the stock of human knowledge or enlarged the bounds of science. Such a waste of money was to be the more deplored when he recollected the circumstances under which that grant had been made. He could not but consider that allowance a cruel perversion of the application of the fund, when he reflected that Dr. Wallace, the professor of mathematics in the univer- 1317 sity of Edinburgh, who next to Ivory, was the best scientific scholar this country had produced in the present century, and who had spent his life in writing books of great value and in teaching, was refused a pension when he found himself reduced to poverty in his old age, He was very much obliged for the attention which the House had given to him whilst explaining his views on this subject, upon which he felt constrained to dissent from those to whose judgment he was accustomed to defer, and in whose principles he mainly agreed. He must, however, give his assent to a mode of rewarding literary merit which, if not the most wise and honest, was more so than any other means which the constitution afforded.
§ Sir Ronald Ferguson
begged to correct an error into which the hon. Member for Liskeard had fallen as to the circumstances of Mrs. Somerville. Her husband was physician of Chelsea Hospital and if he were to die, his wife would be left without a farthing.
Mr. F. Baring
had followed the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard through his admirable and ingenious comments on this subject, and he could not help thinking that the manner in which the hon. and and learned Gentleman had canvassed the peculiar merits of particular individuals, would tend to illustrate what might be the course of argument and discussion if the House were to grant these pensions and not the Crown. The hon. Gentleman, though not intending to be offensive must have felt that the allusions made to Dr. Wallace and Mrs. Somerville were objectionable. Perhaps he might be allowed to give some explanation of two of the cases which had been mentioned He meant only to justify the course which the Government pursued, and not to dwell on individual merits. Dr. Wallace was refused a pension because, when an application on his behalf was made, there was no vacancy on the list; and he was very much misinformed if that Gentleman had not received out of the pecuniary means of the Crown the same amount as he would have received had there been an opportunity for giving him a pension. With regard to Mr. Coleridge, he was placed on the list of pensions granted by George the Fourth to literary men. At the death of George the Fourth these allowances dropped, and were not renewed in the succeeding reign, but the recipients were continued on the pension list for the amount which they had previously received, when vacancies oc- 1318 curred. Mr. Coleridge's pension had not been withdrawn, if he recollected right, but the offer of it from Lord Grey to Mr. Coleridge was declined by that Gentleman, or by his friends in. his name. It had been asserted that the sum of 1,200l. a-year was too small; but the Government could neither be blamed nor praised for the reduction, for it had been made at the suggestion of a Select Committee. The right hon. Baronet had objected to the names of the parties receiving pensions being laid before the House; and it had been further urged that they ought not to interfere in this matter, because they did not examine into the cases of persons who were promoted in the public service, or who received honours, and because their names were never laid upon the table of the House. But the names of all persons receiving such promotions and honours were published to the world in The London Gazette, and by other means, and the public could judge of their merits. In Mr. Burke's bill relative to the pensions certain checks upon the indiscriminate grant of pensions was shadowed out, and the Government was bound to take care not to break through them; but distress and good deserts were expressly stated to be good grounds for granting them, and the House would have to say whether the intentions of the Legislature had been fairly carried into execution. The practical working of the proposal to lay the names upon the table would be, not to raise a discussion upon the individual names, but to check the profuse grant, to cause a strict examination into the merits of the original claim, and to place a severe control over the Government.
§ Mr. Hawes
was anxious to state why he differed from his hon. Friend the Member or the City of London, and to state why be should pursue the same course in the House as he had pursued in the Committee. He fully agreed in the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. In his view of his hon. Friend's motion, it did not raise the principle whether pensions ought to be granted by the Crown or not; for if it did he (Mr. Hawes) should certainly give it is support; but all that he did was, to say that the annual sum of 1,200l. should not be charged on the civil list, such a sum being equivalent to the annual average of pensions now dropping in; and as his hon. Friend did not affirm the general principle, he could not see the utility of his proposition.
§ Mr. Warburton
thought, that great injustice had been done to his hon. Friend the Member for the city of London by the manner in which this question had been treated. It had been argued as if there were no other means of paying these pensions except by the present grant. It had been forgotten that besides the privy purse of 60,000l. a-year, there was an unappropriated annual sum of 8,000l. Now, his (Mr. Warburton's) conviction was, that the avowed object of the grant of this pension list of l,200l. a-year, namely, that it was destined for the assistance of literary and scientific men, was a bad one, because it would interfere with the independence of the literary and scientific character. On political grounds he thought that a pension granted on the grounds formerly held tenable, and subject to the observations which were made on the old list, was a much less evil than a pension granted on the grounds now suggested. The old pensions were granted to great families, who were already so corrupt that it might fairly be said, that they could not be further corrupted. It was not thought an honour to be on that list, but the very reverse; and literary and scientific men looked with discredit upon the insertion of their names in it. And he thought that those individuals ought still to depend upon their own exertions, and ought not to look to the patronage or be subject to the control, of any Government.
§ Mr. Grote, before the House proceeded to a division, begged their indulgence whilst he explained one or two points which seemed to be misapprehended by hon. Members. His hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, seemed to think that the motion was nothing more than a transfer of the payment of the l,200l, a-year from the civil list to the consolidated fund; but it was not so; all he moved for was, that the power of granting pensions to this amount annually should be struck out of the Civil List Bill, and if any hon. Member then chose to move that they should be charged on any other fund it was perfectly competent for him so to do. He (Mr. Grote) had not stated what his opinion of the abstract question was; he did not even propose to pledge the House on the question, whether the same amount ought to be granted or not—all he did was to expunge it from the present bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University had stated that, from the tenor of his (Mr. Grote's) arguments, he gathered that he 1320 was hostile to the grant of all honours by the Crown. He had no objection to any inference to which hon. Gentlemen might think that his arguments might lead; he would not pronounce any opinion upon this distinct question which was not before the House; and the only point which he wished them to affirm or reject was, "whether the House ought or ought not to create a public fund, by the taxation of the people, to be at the disposal of the Crown, or as a means of patronage in the hands of the Government of the day." This was the proposition which he was anxious that hon. Gentlemen should decide in the affirmative or the negative, and he had only to observe again, that the propriety of the grant of honours by the Crown formed no part of the question.
§ The House divided on the question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill:"—Ayes 125; Noes, 23:—Majority 102.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, Captain||Elliott, hon. J. E.|
|Adam, Sir C.||Ellis, J.|
|Alsager, Captain||Erle, W.|
|Anson, hon. Colonel||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Baker, E.||Ferguson, right hon.|
|Baring, F, T.||R. C.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Fitzalan, Lord|
|Barrington, Viscount||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Fleetwood, P. H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Forester, hon. G.|
|Bernal, R.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Blair, J.||Freshfield, J. W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gaskell, James Milnes|
|Browne, R. D.||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Buller, C.||Goddard, A.|
|Byng, G.||Godson, R.|
|Callaghan, D.||Gordon, R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Grey, Sir G.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Chapman, L.||Hardinge, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hastie, A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Crawford, W.||Hay, Sir A. L.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Hayter, W.|
|Darby, G.||Henniker, Lord|
|Denison, W. J.||Hobhouse, ri. hon. Sir J.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Hobhouse, T. B,|
|Hope, G. W.|
|D'Israeli, B.||Hope, H. T.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Howick, Viscount|
|Duke, Sir J.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Duncan, Viscount||Hutton, R.|
|Duncombe, T.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Dundas, F.||Irving, J.|
|East, J. B.||Knight, H. G.|
|Easthope, J.||Labouchere, H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Lambton, H.|
|Eliot, Lord||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Lennox, Lord G.||Rose, Sir G.|
|Loch, J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lockhart, A. M.||Seymour, Lord|
|Lucas, E.||Sheppard, T.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Macleod, R.||Smith, J. A.|
|Macnamara, Major||Smith, R. V.|
|Maher, J.||Staudish, C.|
|Melgund, Viscount||Steuart, R.|
|Mildmay, P. St. J.||Steuart, J.|
|Murray, J. A.||Steuart, I.|
|Muskett, G. A.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Strangways, J.|
|Paget, F.||Style, Sir C.|
|Palmerston, Visc.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Parker, J.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Parker, R. T.||Thompson, C. P.|
|Pechell, Captain||Tracy, H. H.|
|Peel, Sir R.||Vere, Sir C.B.|
|Polhill, F.||Wall, C. B.|
|Ponsonby, J.||Wilberforce, W.|
|Price, Sir R.||Wilshere, W.|
|Protheroe, E.||Yates, J. A.|
|Pryme, G.||Young, G. F.|
|Rice, T. S.||TELLERS.|
|Rich, H.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Rolfe, Sir R. M.||Wood, Mr. H.|
|List of theNOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Lushington, C.|
|Chalmers, P.||Marshall, W.|
|Clay, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Phillpotts, J.|
|Fielden, J.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Finch, F.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Hall, B.||Wakley, T.|
|Hawes, B.||Warburton, H.|
|Hindley, C.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Hollond R.||Williams, W.|
|Jervis, S.||Grote, G.|
|Leader, J. T.||Hume, J.|
§ Sir Robert Peel
rose to move an amendment. It had been argued in the Committee that the pensions should be regulated by a fixed annual sum, and not by a varying amount up to 75,000l. and a resolution had been moved to that effect. He adhered to the principles which were laid down by Lord Althorp in the year 1830, and had given his vote accordingly. He had, however, been overruled, and it was decided that the Crown should be enabled to grant an annual sum of 1,200l, He wished to move an amendment to that part of the Bill providing that if the whole sum were not granted in any one year, the remainder might be carried over to the next year, and then granted in addition to the 1,200l. allowed for that year. He might perhaps make his meaning more clear by supposing that the amount of pensions granted in one year was only 1322 800l. which would be less by 400l. than the amount allowed by the Bill. He would in such a case carry that sum over to the next year to the advantage of the Crown, and empower the Crown to grant pensions in the following year to the amount of 1,600l. The intentions of the House would not be defeated by such an arrangement, because upon an average of years the annual sum granted would not exceed 1,200l.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
had no objection to effect the purpose intended by the hon. Baronet by adding the provisor to the Bill.
§ Mr. Hume
hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not thus give way and yield to the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, for if there were no meritorious individuals worthy of receiving in any year grants to the amount of 1,200l., the public ought to have the benefit of the saving, and the surplus of one year ought not to be carried to the next.
§ Mr. Wakley
was surprised to hear his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny use the word yield. The Chancellor of the Exchequer certainly had not yielded to the right hon. Baronet; the most perfect harmony existed on both sides of the House upon this question. He must confess that he with other hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were most awkwardly situated —they ought, undoubtedly, to move to the other (the Opposition) side of the House;; and if the right hon. Baronet, with his train of friends, knew their proper places, they would remove to the seats of those Gentlemen, who were really the opposition party, but had unfortunately been reduced by divisions sometimes to nineteen, sometimes to twenty, and had scarcely gone beyond twenty-one or twenty-two. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer meant to change the present wording of his own Bill he would lose all appearance of wishing to save the public money; he seemed afraid that the whole would not be expended; and so if for ten years no demand were made upon this fund, all the accumulation might be expended at once, so that not one farthing would be saved to the public. The question was, whether 1,200l. should be added every year to the already enormous grant of 385,000l. for the civil list for the purpose of bribing the literary and scientific men in the country nominally by the Crown; but it was absurd to say that the Crown would have any thing to do with the matter; the whole would be in the 1323 hands of the Minister of the day to grant to whomsoever he chose. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) seemed to enjoy the situation in which Ministers were placed, by doing the work of his party. The right hon. Baronet expected in a short period to have the distribution of the money, and of course, would not oppose the extravagance of Ministers, even when they went beyond what the right hon. Baronet would have ventured to suggest. The danger he (Mr. Wakley) feared arose from the circumstance that the people would allow the Whigs to do that which they would not hear of for one moment if it were proposed by the Tories. The consequence of this was, that one mischievous proposition after another was brought forward, and acquiesced in, with only nineteen or twenty Members voting in opposition to them. It was obvious that the Radical Reformers when they sat behind Ministers were sadly out of place. They would be as much so on the other side. The floor was their only proper situation; and he trusted that during the recess the Speaker would have the goodness to order a few cross benches to be placed for their accommodation.
§ Lord John Russell
observed, that the question was not one of great importance; but supported the omission of the proviso. The hon. Member for Finsbury had done her Majesty's Government the honour of paying them a very high compliment. For he had said that whatever might be their propositions, they were sure to have the confidence of the House. He certainly felt this to be so high a compliment, that he scarcely knew how to find terms in which suitably to acknowledge it.
§ Mr. Leader
contended for retaining the proviso. The noble Lord had misapprehended the observation of the hon. Member for Finsbury, which related to the confidence of only a portion of the country. He must say, that if the two large parties in that House had been differently placed; if the Gentlemen on the other side of the House had been on the Treasury benches, and if the Gentlemen on the Treasury benches had been on the other side of the House, the former would not have come forward with this measure so indecently, or with so little desire to give sufficient time for its consideration as the latter had done. And, above all, he was sure, that if the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had made a similar proposition from the Treasury bench, the noble Lord 1324 would have raised strong objections against the extravagance of the measure, in which case the opposition to it might have gone out with a number of 120 instead of 20.
§ Mr. T. Duncombe
opposed the striking out of the proviso. It would give rise to a number of jobs and to much corruption in the granting of the pensions. He had voted with the majority in favour of the Bill, in the hope that her Majesty's Government would stand by its integrity. But it now appeared that they were disposed to acquiesce in a proposition which proceeded from the Tory side of the House. He hoped, however, that the House would stand by the integrity of the Bill, and would thereby rescue the Government from that vacillation which was so prejudicial to the country. It had been said by an hon. Gentleman, that her Majesty's Ministers had not given satisfaction to the Radical portion of the House, and at the same time had alienated the affections of the opposite benches. This was the first time he had heard that her Majesty's present Ministers possessed the affections of the opposite benches.
§ Mr. Hume
wished to ask the right hon. Member for Tamworth, if the House were not bound to adhere to the resolutions of the Committee on which the Bill was founded? Now, one of those resolutions declared that a provision should be made, enabling her Majesty to grant a sum "not exceeding in any one year 1,200l." Ought not that to be conclusive? Why was the present motion not made in the Committee? Why was it reserved for the third reading of the Bill? Her Majesty's Ministers ought not to yield to the right hon. Baronet's proposition; but should do justice to their own purpose. He should certainly take the sense of the House on the question.
§ The House divided on the question— "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:"—Ayes 26; Noes 114: Majority 88.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hindley, Charles|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Leader, J. T.|
|Callaghan, D.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Chalmers, P.||Marshall, W.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Melgund, Viscount|
|Duncombe, T.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Fielden, J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Finch, F.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Grote, G.||Pattison, J.|
|Hall, B.||Phillpotts, J.|
|Hastie, A.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Vigors, N. A.|
|Whalley, Sir S.||Hume, J.|
|Williams, W.||Wakley, T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|A'Court, Captain||Hutton, R.|
|Adam, Sir C.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Alsager, Captain||Irving, J.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Knight, H. G.|
|Baker, E.||Lambton, H.|
|Ball, N.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Lucas, E.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Lushington, C.|
|Bernal, R.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Blair, J.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Borthwick, P.||Macleod, R.|
|Buller, C.||Macnamara, Major|
|Byng, G. S.||Maher, J.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Clay, W.||Murray, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Courtenay, P.||Paget, F.|
|Craig, W. G.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Crawford, W.||Parker, J.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Parker, R. T.|
|Darby, G.||Pechell, Captain|
|Denison, W. J.||Peel, right hon. Sir R.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Perceval, Colonel|
|D'Eyncourt, right hon. C. T.||Polhill, F.|
|Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|D'Israeli, B.||Price, Sir R.|
|Divett, E.||Pryme, G.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Redington, T. N.|
|East, J. B.||Rice, right hon. T. S.|
|Easthope, J.||Rich, H.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Rose, right hon. Sir G.|
|Eliot, Lord||Russell, Lord J.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Seymour, Lord|
|Ellis, J.||Sheppard, T.|
|Fergusson, R. C.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Smith, J. A.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Smith, R. V.|
|Forester, hon. G.||Standish, C.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Steuart, R.|
|Gaskell, James Milnes||Stewart, J.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Godson, R.||Style, Sir C.|
|Grey, Sir G.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Grimsditch, T.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Hawes, B.||Tracy, H. H.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Vere, Sir C, B.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Wall, C. B.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Wilberforce, W.|
|Henniker, Lord||Wilshere, W.|
|Hobhouse, Sir J.||Wood, C.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Wood, T.|
|Hodgson, F.||Yates, J. A.|
|Holmes, William||Young, G. F.|
|Hope, G. W.||TELLERS.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Baring, F. T.|
|Humphrey, J.||Labouchere, H.|
§ Mr. Chalmers moved the omission of 1326 the 15th Clause, which provides "that it should be lawful for the Lord High Treasurer, or the Commissioners of the Treasury for the time being, or any three or more of them, to direct the issue out of the Consolidated Fund, to such person or persons as shall be named in any warrant or warrants under their hands to receive the same, the sum of 10,000l. in each and every year, to he applied to the same purposes and under the same authority as the sum of 10,000l. per annum formerly-charged upon the fourth class of the civil list for home secret service has hitherto been applied."
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he would not take up the time of the House by entering into any discussion on the question then before the House. He would simply state, that the vote was in strict conformity with the recommendations of the Committee up stairs. The Government were anxious to reduce the sum annually charged for this service, and had already reduced it from 45,000l. to 35,000l. a-year.
§ Mr. Hume
thought, the right, hon. Gentleman bound to tell them what the distinction was betwixt this sum of 10,000l. and the 35,000l. voted in Committee of Supply for the same purpose. In his (Mr. Hume's) opinion, there ought to be no distinction. He allowed that reductions had taken place in the grants for home secret service, and he was sorry that the reduction had not been greater than it was.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, it would be perfectly obvious that the amount of 10,000l. was not adequate to the demands on the home secret service money. It had, however, been thought advisable that something should be fixed for that service, and accordingly the present sum was provided for, and charged on the consolidated fund, and the deficiency would have to be made up by a vote in a Committee of Supply. He really thought it would be seen that the Government had reduced the annual charge for home secret service as far as they possibly could.
§ The House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 100; Noes 25:— Majority 75.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Adam, Sir C,||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Alsager, Capt.||Bernal, R,|
|Anson, hon. Colonel||Borthwick, P.|
|Ball, N.||Byng, G.|
|Canning, Sir S.||Macleod, R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Macnamara, Major|
|Craig, W. G.||Maher, J.|
|Crawford, W.||Melgund, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Darby, G.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Denison, W. J.||Murray, J. A.|
|Divett, E.||Paget, F.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|East, J. B.||Parker, R. T.|
|Easthope, J.||Pechell, Captain|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Perceval, Colonel|
|Eliot, Lord||Phillpotts, J.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|Ellis, J.||Protheroe, E.|
|Fergusson, C.||Pryme, G.|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Redington, T. N.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Rice, right hon. T. S.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Rich, H.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Rose, right hon. Sir G.|
|Gaskell, James Milnes||Russell, Lord J.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Seymour, Lord|
|Grey, Sir G.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Grimsditch, T.||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Smith, J. A.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Smith, R. V.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Hobhouse, Sir J.||Steuart, R.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Hodgson, F.||Style, Sir C.|
|Holmes, W.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Hope, G. W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hope, Henry T.||Thomson, C. P.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Tracy, H. H.|
|Hutton, R.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Wall, C. B.|
|Irving, J.||Wilberforce, W.|
|Knight, H. G.||Wilshire, W.|
|Labouchere, H.||Wood, C.|
|Lambton, H.||Wood, T.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Yates, J. A.|
|Lefroy, hon. T.||Young, G. F.|
|Lennox, Lord G.|
|Lockhart, A. M.||TELLERS.|
|Lushington, C.||Baring, F. T.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Parker, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hume, J.|
|Beamish. F.B.||Humphrey, J.|
|Buller, C.||Leader, J. T.|
|Callaghan, D.||Marshall, W.|
|Clay, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Pattison, J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Duncombe, T.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Finch, F.||Wakley, T.|
|Godson, R.||Warburton, H.|
|Grote, G.||Williams, W.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Chalmers, P.|
|Hindley, C||O'Connell, M. J.|
§ On the question that the Bill do pass,
§ The House was about to divide, but Mr. G. F. Young withdrew the amendment.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that, as the Bill had been completed by the House, the question was whether the Bill do pass. As he had given his opposition to several of the items he would not now proceed further with his opposition to the Bill. At the same time, he would explain to the House the nature and extent of the civil list fixed upon the country for years to come. If his amendment had been carried they would have kept the civil list within what it was by 12,000l. As it now stood, the civil list for 1837 and 1838 would exceed that of former years by 62,000l. The civil list of William 4th amounted to 510,000l. The support of the Members of the Royal family amounted to 206,000l., making, on the whole, 716,000l. They were now called upon to grant for the whole civil list 385,000l., in which was included the grant for secret service money. Then there was the 8,000l. additional to the Duchess of Kent, and as 75,000l. was allowed for pensions on the civil list this made the aggregate amount 778,000l., making a difference of 62,000l., as between the amount required last year and this year. He must say that, for a reforming Parliament, in the situation in which the country was placed, to sanction all these proceedings was a matter of deep regret to him. Her Majesty's Government ought to have considered the additional sum becoming payable to the Queen Dowager. He might be told that he was not fond of Monarchy and the support of its dignity; but he would say that the man who created confusion, and increased the expenses of royalty, was not the friend of monarchy. If they looked back at the page of history, they would find it was the extravagance of the Monarchs in France that led to the destruction of that monarchy. Unfortunately they were now taking the same course, and rendering the monarchy unpopular in this country, and he could tell them comparisons would be made between the expenditure of royalty in this country and in other countries. He held in his hand a return of the whole expenses of the American Government. He knew the comparison was not a pleasing one, and it was considered ungracious to refer to the simple forms of Republican Government; but the House would recollect that there were individuals in that country who 1329 looked at the expenses of royalty in England as compared to the expenses of other Monarchical Governments and with Republican Governments, and it was highly injurious to the very existence of monarchy to see the extravagance and profusion displayed at the present time. Look at the salaries of the President of the United States and the Secretary's down to the lowest Consuls, and they would find that 33,600l. was the whole expenses of the American Government. The President had only 5,000l. per annum, and let the House compare that with the sum of 778,000l., which they were now voting, and, if they took into account the expenses of keeping up the royal parks and other matters, they would find the cost to the country little short of 800,000l. or 900,000l. With regard to the expenditure of this country, he felt bound to say that they were proceeding upon a system of extravagance unparalleled. Look to the Master of the Horse. The income of that department was raised from 12,000l. to 27,000l. He would give the House an instance of extravagance in that office. There was a sum of no less than 6,000l. allowed for liveries in the department of the Master of the Horse— 3,000l. in the Lord Chamberlain's department. What was allowed in the Lord Steward's office he could not tell, as that return had not been furnished. Was it fit, he would ask, when the country, was in such a state as to render it necessary to call for relief from taxation—was it fit that 120 servants belonging to the Master of the Horse should be allowed upon an average of 50l. a-year each for liveries? When he saw men going through the streets with clothes standing almost erect with gold, he could not but complain when he recollected that it was paid for by the country Such things as these had arisen through the folly and mismanagement of George 4th. He would venture to assert that the monarchy had been ruined by the extravagance of the livery of that monarch. Those liveries ought to be put down. The extravagance of them was unparalleled, except in France previous to the Revolution. In his opinion Ministers, if they had done their duty, would have told their youthful Sovereign that her ancestors had set a bad example with respect to the liveries of their servants. It might be said, that the people were taken by such gaudy shows, but he denied that they were so. The example of the Court had, in his opinion, led to the excessive ex- 1330 travagance of the aristocracy. They were about to give to the Royal Family more than had been given in the most extravagant times. This he considered highly impolitic, and a course not at all friendly to the Queen. Ministers were acting a very unfortunate part in beginning a new reign with extravagance, instead of advising the Queen to carry on the Government with economy, so that she might obtain the love and affection of her subjects. He found a sum of money was granted to the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward, and the Master of the Horse which would maintain 14,600 families, or 25,000 persons, for the whole year, at the rate of 8s. a-head per week. And why was there to be such an enormous expense incurred, merely for the purpose of keeping up an additional number of Lords and Ladies of the Bedchamber, beef-eaters, and yeomen of the guard, with cocked hats and fine gold liveries? [Laughter.] This might be a laughing matter to those who had an abundance of everything, but when the pinching hour of poverty came, and food was wanted, when comparisons were made by hungry men who asked why every article of food was taxed, it would be no laughing matter. If the system of extravagance which had been commenced at the beginning of a new reign was followed up, the day might soon arrive when, discontent arising from the enormous amount of taxation entailed by this extravagance, her Majesty's Ministers would incur a heavy responsibility.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did not wish to introduce a debate, but merely to say a few words with respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny. The hon. Member had complained of the expense of keeping up royal parks and gardens, but the people had a great interest in having them properly kept up. Who enjoyed St. James's Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens but the people of this great metropolis? It was they who had the benefit of them, and he would like to know whether the people would like to see them discontinued. The enjoyment of these parks was conducive to the health and good habits of the people. The hon. Member had remarked on the expensive liveries of the Court attendants, and had found fault with the liveries worn by her Majesty's Ministers; but let him follow up his own analogy, and go to one of the levees, and notice the costume worn by the representative of the United States, and he would find that, so far as costume was con- 1331 cerned, his excellent friend Mr. Stevenson, might be shuffled in amongst her Majesty's Ministers without having the error discovered by his dress. The hon. Member said, look at the expenses of the monarchy, and then compare them with, the expenses of a small republican form of Government. He certainly felt it his duty to protest against such a principle, which would be subversive of the Constitution of the country. If he were forming a new Government he would not look out for a cheap one but would at once and always keep in view what would be for the benefit of the governed. He owed his allegiance to the Throne of his country; his hopes, his feelings, his gratitude, were all bound up in his loyalty; and he would resist every such principle as was laid down by the hon. Member, as subversive of the Constitution of the country.
§ Mr. Wakley
was much disposed to blame the Ministers for extravagance, but he considered that the greater blame rested upon the Members of that House he had voted the immense sums granted by this Bill—granted by those who called themselves the representatives of the people. Considering the temptation thrown in the way of the Minister, it was to be wondered that the sums asked for had not been greater. The country would bear in mind that, when his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) proposed to reduce the grant by only 50,000l. out of 200 Members only nineteen were found to support so reasonable a proposition.
§ Bill passed.