HC Deb 11 February 1840 vol 52 cc134-54
Mr. Liddell

said, that on rising to bring forward the motion of which he had given notice, he trusted it was unnecessary for him to disclaim, at starting, being actuated by any feeling at all adverse to the parties involved in the transaction to which that, motion had reference. He had long had the pleasure of a friendly acquaintance with the noble Lord, whose name appeared on the face of the notice, and for that noble Lord he entertained feelings of friendly regard—feelings which he believed pervaded Members sitting on both sides of the House. Nothing but a sense of public duty induced him to bring the matter under the consideration of the House, and if in the course of the discussion, any observation should be made calculated to wound the feelings of that noble Lord, he could only say, he should feel deep regret. He was aware, that according to law, if he had waited until a later period of the Session, some of the papers, for which he meant to move, must be laid upon the Table of the House; but the reason why he forestalled the time prescribed by the Act of Parliament, was, that he considered there were matters in question, which warranted him in entertaining suspicions as to the circumstances of the transaction. Those circumstances it would be his duty to detail to the House in the clearest, and at the same time the shortest manner possible. In doing so, he should best discharge his duty, and meet the convenience of the House, by first stating the simple facts connected with these appointments. In 1834, shortly after the death of Lord Grenville (the last auditor of the Exchequer), a bill was brought in by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Pembroke (Sir J. Graham), founded upon the report of the commissioners on public accounts for remodelling the office of the Exchequer, which Bill ultimately passed into a law. Antecedently to this period, Mr. Henry Ellis, a gentleman admitted to be an active and able officer, held the office of clerk of the pells, and did the whole duty of the office at a salary of 1,400l. The office of Comptroller of the Exchequer, had been created by the Act 4 William 4th, chapter 15, entitled "An Act to Regulate the Office of the Receipt of his Majesty's Exchequer." The preamble of that Act stated, "that a more economical execution of the duties thereof should be adopted." The offices of auditor, tellers, clerk of the pells, and other subordinate offices, were abolished, and a great saving had accrued to the public, expenditure by the adoption of that Act. The second clause provided for the appointment of Comptroller and assistant-Comptroller, and the Act came into operation in the month of October, 1834. Immediately after this, Sir John Newport, then at a very advanced period of his life, being upwards of seventy-eight years of age, received the appointment of Comptroller of the Exchequer at a salary of 2,000l., with an assistant Comptroller under him at a salary of 1,000l., and Mr. Ellis was permitted to retire upon a pension to the full amount of his former salary, viz. 1,400l. per annum. Now, if, he (Mr. Liddell) was desirous to make any accusation against Sir John Newport in accepting this appointment, he might allude to the part taken by that right hon. Baronet in the debates which took place in the year 1810, on the question of the superannuation allowance to the treasurer of the Post-office in Dublin; but it formed no part of his duty to make any accusation against the right hon. Baronet, whose advanced period of life entitled him to respect, and that respect he should receive from him. But, however, the right hon. Baronet at that advanced period of life which he (Mr.Liddell) had stated, received the appointment in question and retained it five years, namely, until the month of September, 1839, when, by some arrangement, very convenient no doubt to all parties concerned, he retired, and was succeeded by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, now raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Monteagle. Sir John Newport naturally declined to give up a good place for nothing, but being specially exempted from a retiring pension by a clause in an act passed after the date of the act he had already mentioned, entitled "An Act to amend the laws regulating pensions for civil officers," he was recommended by her Majesty's Government to the notice of the Crown, and a pension of 1,000l. per annum was given him out of the Civil List—a pension which was no less in amount than five-sixths of the whole sum placed at the disposal of the Crown for the satisfying of all claims of every description which might be preferred in the course of the current year. This one grant, therefore, left only 200l. for the Crown otherwise to bestow in that year. It appeared that at the present moment there were no less than four persons in receipt of the public money, and that this arose from the changes in an office, the duties of which were, previous to 1834, performed by an individual still in the prime of life, at a salary of 1,400l. The first of these persons was Mr. Ellis, who had a retiring pension of 1,400l.; secondly, there was Sir John Newport, with a retiring pension of 1,000l.; thirdly, there was Lord Monteagle appointed to the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer, at a salary of 2,000l, and lastly, there was the Assistant-Comptroller, with a salary of 1,000l. Such he believed to be the simple facts of the case, which he had stated without comment, for upon those facts he was ready to call upon the House to accede to his motion. But he must now claim the attention of the House to the provisions of certain acts of Parliament which had reference to, or were connected with, these transactions. He need do no more than mention the statute 4 Will. IV., chap. 15, to which he had already alluded, to account for the mode in which these changes had taken place. But in the year 1834 another act was passed for the regulation of pensions, compositions, and allowances which required the attention of the House in one or two respects. That act conferred on the First Lord of the Treasury, the Secre- taries of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the President of the India Board, and the President of the Board of Trade retiring pensions not exceeding the sum of 2,000l. each, but the act contained a proviso that no such pensions should be granted unless the party should have held one or more of the said offices for a period of not less than two years in the whole, either uninterruptedly or at different times; nor should any greater number than four such pensions hereafter to be granted be in force at the same time. It appeared that Lord Monteagle would have been entitled to receive a pension of 2,000l. under this statute, but he believed that at the time of these arrangements not one of them was vacant, and therefore the noble Lord had felt it more convenient to step into the situation of Comptroller of the Exchequer at once. The 15th clause of that act provided That nothing in this act contained shall extend or be construed to extend to, or authorize the adding to such list any offices held under military and naval commissions, entitling the holders of the same to half-pay, or any military or naval allowance in lieu of, or in addition to half-pay, &c, or the Comptroller of His Majesty's Exchequer, or any offices in relation to which the granting of any allowances for past services has been specially regulated by any act," &c. Therefore, the late Comptroller of the Exchequer, on his retirement, was particularly exempted by this act from his receiving any retiring allowance, and hence it was, that the Government had thought fit to pension him out of the Civil List With what propriety they did so, having in view the spirit of that act, he left the House to determine, after hearing the terms of that particular clause. He repeated again that, under the provisions of the 5th and 6th clauses of Act 1 Victoria, chap. 2, 1,200l. per annum was all that was permitted to the Crown to defray the charge of pensions to any claimant of this class, and he must, therefore, say, it was a strong case that, out of that sum, 1,000l. should be granted to an elderly gentleman who had not performed any great public duties. [Cheers.] From that cheer he inferred that it was intended to make out the claim to the satisfaction of the House; but whether it was satisfactory either to some hon. Members who sat behind the Treasury bench, or to bon, Members on his side of the House, would depend, upon the explanation he supposed was intended to be given. Having now brought the facts of the case before the House, he would take the liberty of referring to the feelings expressed in the House on the debate which took place, when the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke, introduced his Bill for re-modelling the office of the Exchequer. Giving that right hon. Baronet and the Government of that day full credit for the saving they proposed to effect—giving the present Government the credit or the discredit of the appointments which had since been made, he must read to the House some of the expressions made use of on that occasion by hon. Members who consistently advocated economy on that and all other occasions. It was then strongly urged on both sides of the House that Mr. Henry Ellis was still competent to perform the duties, and that if he was appointed to the office a saving would be effected of the 1,400l per annum, upon which he had now retired. Indeed he (Mr. Liddell) had never heard any valid reason assigned why that Gentleman had not been appointed; but in the course of the debate to which he alluded, the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Hume) said, I must confess I see no reason why the Clerk of the Pells should not perform the duties of the Comptroller, by which means an additional saving of about 2,0001. a-year would be effected. He has had considerable experience, and undoubtedly it is necessary that the individual appointed to this office should be thoroughly acquainted with the business. Lord Auckland had then been named as the future Comptroller of the Exchequer. On the same occasion Mr. Attwood proposed that Mr. Ellis be called upon to fill the office of Comptroller General. Mr. Goulburn said he did not object to the retiring pension, but he thought the justice due to Mr. Ellis would be equally satisfied by making him Comptroller, which at the same time would enable the House to relieve the public from a charge of 1,400l. a year. Colonel Evans said, "If any hon. Member will bring forward the proposition as a substantive motion, it should have his support." In short, a great deal was said about the propriety of appointing Mr. Ellis to the office, and of saving this retired allowance to the public. This view was not followed up, and an ap- pointment was made to which he had already called the attention of the House. Having stated the facts as they occurred; having referred to the Acts of Parliament bearing upon the subject, he must be permitted to draw his own inferences, and these inferences were that the whole transaction partook greatly of the nature of a Ministerial job. Such was the impression which the facts conveyed to his mind, and he thought the circumstances he had stated justified him in asking for the papers for which he intended to move, before the time appointed by the Act of Parliament for their production, and in demanding from those hon. Members who so loudly recommended economy and retrenchment, their support on this occasion. He had implied a censure on the Government by asking for those papers, and it remained now for the Government either to refuse or grant them—in either case, however, the public would draw their own inferences as he had done. The Government had, however, now heard the indictment against them, and he would only add "God send them a good deliverance." The hon. Member concluded by moving "that there be laid before the House a copy of the warrant, granting a pension to the right hon. Sir John Newport. Also a copy of the warrant granting the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer to Lord Monteagle."

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

assured the hon. Gentleman, that he should certainly hear no complaints from him, that he had brought this question before the House previously to the production of the papers, one of which, at least, he was bound to lay on the table of the House, by act of Parliament, within a short time; so far from offering any complaint, he was most happy that an opportunity had been afforded to him of meeting those insinuations and those accusations which he confessed he had never expected to hear in that House, but which had been faithfully put forward by the hon. Gentleman. And, first, he would allude to the most novel and most extraordinary doctrine propounded, in the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. He said, I will move for papers; if you refuse them I will call Upon those Gentlemen who are in the habit of carrying on economical investigations, to join with me for the purpose of compelling their production; but if you, the Government, consent to give, not only the papers but any other information you may happen to possess, for the purpose of elucidation, then we will draw our own deductions; we will take it for granted, because you do not refuse the papers on which may be founded some subsequent motion, that your conduct is the conduct of persons who are guilty of the charges brought against them. To that doctrine he could not subscribe. There appeared to be three points in the hon. Gentleman's accusation. The first referred to the pension granted to Sir John Newport; and in the course of the hon. Gentleman's speech, he did, in spite of his promise, let slip some words which were calculated to question the services and the general conduct of Sir John Newport. The next objection of the hon. Gentleman, was to the appointment of his noble Friend Lord Monteagle, and the last and most important accusation was the connection which, as the hon. Gentleman argued, subsisted between the appointment of Lord Monteagle and the pension to Sir John Newport; and he, without referring to any precedents to justify such an arrangement, would admit at once, that if this last imputation were correct, the hon. Gentleman had good reason for his accusation. He understood the hon. Gentleman, that he had a grave suspicion that this was a ministerial job; that, in fact, Sir John Newport was bought out of his place by a pension, for the purpose of putting into that same place his noble Friend. To that accusation he gave, as well on the part of the Government as of all the parties concerned, the most distinct and the most explicit denial. Whatever were the claims of Sir John Newport to the gratitude of his country, those who knew him better than the hon. Gentleman opposite, would feel that his word was to be fully trusted. Sir John Newport thus wrote with respect to his part of the transaction:— That my intended resignation was entirely unconnected with your appointment, and adopted, on my part, without concert with you or any other person is most certain, and that it arose wholly from those increased infirmities of age which rendered retirement to my native home most desirable, even if I had been obliged to relinquish all claim to the pension which I enjoy, and which the pecuniary embarrassments that have, by parliamentary pursuits, involved heavily a very moderate, and, I might say, a very small private fortune, compelled me to look for very reluctantly. Thus, three things were fully proved in this letter—first, that Sir John's retirement was unconnected with his noble Friend's appointment; next, that the pension was granted on Sir John Newport's own solicitation, and that it was not offered on the part of the Government, but on Sir John's application in consequence of the state of his health, and of his pecuniary circumstances. He had received from his noble Friend, Lord Monteagle, a complete denial in the same terms. On the part of Lord Duncannon, to whom the application was made, he had the same statement to give; Lord Melbourne had that morning authorised him to confirm this statement. And he himself happened to know, although he had not at that time the honour of a seat in her Majesty's councils, that the retirement of the one officer, and the appointment of the other, were entirely unconnected. He knew not what the hon. Gentleman would require more by way of contradiction or explanation, but if he did, there was in addition the testimony of his noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland (Viscount Howick), who was now unconnected with the Government, and who could confirm what he had said. He did not think that anything further could be stated; but if he could give any further answer, or if any further information were required, he would be most happy to give it. He knew not how he could do more than he had done. He could only meet such an insinuation by the distinct and positive denial of all the parties concerned. He now came to the other points—the grant of the pension to Sir John Newport, and the appointment of Lord Monteagle. The hon. Gentleman had argued as if the pension had been given to Sir John Newport for services in the Exchequer; he looked to certain acts of Parliament which deprived the party acting as Comptroller of the Exchequer of any right to one class of retired allowances, and he said that what had been done, had been done in breach of an act of Parliament. He was prepared, however, to contend that the pension granted to Sir John Newport was equally justifiable and proper, if granted after he had been Comptroller of the Exchequer, as if he had not held that office. It was not, however, for his services as Comptroller of the Exchequer, that the pension was granted. The hon. Gentleman said, that he was unaware of Sir John Newport's services; and it might be so, for Sir John Newport lived in an age which was now historical, and if the hon. Gentleman would refer to the page of history, he would find that Sir John Newport was the intimate friend of Wellesley, of Grenville, and of the other great men who were active Members before the hon. Gentleman entered that House. Hon. Members were apt to forget, that there had lived before them Members as zealous, as industrious, and as active in bringing forward good motions, as the hon. Gentleman opposite himself. Perhaps, therefore, the hon. Gentleman would allow him to refer to some of those services, which, as he thought, justified the grant of the pension. And, first, he must say that he did not understand that it was contended that pensions were not to be granted to persons engaged in the civil service; but if it had been so intended, he would mention several cases in which pensions had been most honourably conferred on persons in the civil service—among them he could refer to the name of Burke, and to the family of Tierney. Sir John Newport had been for thirty years in Parliament, and there had scarcely been an important question agitated in that House in which Sir John did not take a considerable share. On questions relating to Ireland in particular, he took a leading and active part; and he was the most useful in the situation which he held. When he filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland, he introduced that great alteration which made the corn trade between England and Ireland a free trade. It had been the fashion to treat Ireland as if she were placed on the same footing as a foreign country, but from that time Ireland was treated as a portion of England, and it had become the granary of this country, receiving back a large portion of our manufactures. Again, Sir John Newport was the first to recommend to the Crown the issuing of a commission of inquiry into the state of education in Ireland, and all the great measures for Irish education had been principally framed on the recommendations of that commission, which Sir John Newport was the first to suggest. His tenure of office was indeed short, but his after life had not been useless. There was scarcely a year in our parliamentary history, in which his name was not to be found introducing measures of utility to both countries. It would be sufficient now to mention one: he introduced a resolution, which he carried against the minister of the day by a majority of one, for the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the fees and salaries received in courts of justice. The labours of that commission had been followed by greet improvements in the Irish courts of judicature, and valuable amendments in the English courts of justice. He had a calculation in his hand, a return which showed that the saving thereby effected for the public had been very considerable; he was told that it amounted to 75,000l. As an Irish member, too, Sir John Newport's course was characterised by great attention to even smaller measures of practical benefit. To him was to be ascribed the introduction of lunatic asylums and the fever hospitals; and, with regard to the tithe question, the recommendations which he had urged upon the then Government, had been carried into effect either by the Government of that day, or by subsequent administrations. Now he must say, that to his mind, services of this kind, extending through a career of thirty years, and which had injured Sir John's private fortune, rendered him" a proper object for the royal consideration; and he thought that if, on the termination of his long and active life, having filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland, although he had been subsequently appointed Comptroller of the Exchequer, a pension were granted, it was not ill-deserved; and that it was not a transaction to be charged against the Government in the terms employed by the hon. Gentleman, if the Crown did grant a sum to Sir John Newport when he had arrived at the age of eighty-four years, which" should secure for the remaining days of his life, at least a competency, if not a comfortable provision. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to the amount, and he admitted that it was difficult to say what particular sum was exactly fit in such cases, but he thought he could show that sums much of the same character had been granted as pensions in cases somewhat analogous. He held in his hand a return of pensions granted as pensions for civil services, and he found, among the names of many noblemen or gentlemen, with equal, if not larger amounts annually given, Lord Bexley, 3,000l.; Lord Auckland (although it was not now received), 2,0001; the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn), 1,500l.; the right hon. Stephen Lushington, 1,500l.; the right hon. John Wilson Croker, 1,500l.; the right hon. Joseph Planta, 1,500l.; Mr. Hamilton, 1,000>l.; Mr. Hobhouse, 1,0001.; Sir John Barrow, 1,000l.; Mr. Hay, 1,000l., and so on. He did not mention these names invidiously. He was very far from saying that these pensions had been in any case improperly granted; and he had next to say, that if he had entertained any suspicion with regard to the services of these individuals, he would have felt it his duty to consider that the services they had rendered, had been rendered under another Government—under persons to whom he had been opposed in politics all his life, and that it would be scarcely fair in him to judge of the value of such services. If the Government in whose views they agreed, and under whom they had acted, considered that they had fair claims to their pensions, it was not for those who had been constantly opposed to them, to come lightly to a different conclusion. Last of all, he would notice the appointment of Lord Monteagle. He hardly knew what was the objection which was taken to that appointment; the only one that he could discover was, that Lord Monteagle had stepped into the place without waiting for a political pension. He had only to say, that his noble Friend had never applied for one of those pensions. With regard to the appointment itself, he should be perfectly surprised if any hon. Gentleman should get up in his place, and should venture to tell him that his noble Friend, if not the very best man, was not one of the best men who could have been chosen. His long connection with the finances of the country (Cheers.)—that cheer showed the utter ignorance of the Gentlemen who cheered of the nature of the functions to be discharged. He ventured to say that no man could fulfil the duties of the office properly without a previous knowledge of financial transactions. His noble Friend was as well acquainted with the nature of the business, as any man alive; and he confessed that it appeared to him that the appointment was one of the best that could have been made. But then he was told that Mr. Ellis ought to have been appointed. The same charge of the rejection of Mr. Ellis existed, and indeed it was to be enforced more strongly: when that change in the management of the Exchequer took place, by which 31,000l. a-year was saved to the country. If Mr. Ellis had any claims to the office, they were more powerful at that time than they are now. And yet what had been done by the Government of that day? Lord Auckland was appointed. His appointment was discussed in that House; those right hon. Gentlemen who were now cordially sitting side by side took part in it; his right hon. Friend on the left (Sir James Graham), answered the right hon. Gentleman now sitting beside his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn); the one said that Mr. Ellis ought to be appointed, and the other justified the nomination of Lord Auckland. At any rate there was no secresy about Mr. Ellis's rejection. He was aware that his right hon. Friend would say that they did not at that time discuss the question of Mr. Ellis's appointment as comptroller, but as assistant-comptroller. But when he did so, he was immediately told by his right hon. neighbour (Mr. Goulburn), that Mr. Ellis ought to have been appointed comptroller. It made, however, no difference in principle. His noble Friend, Lord Spencer, who was not in the habit of letting his opinions be hidden, said upon that occasion,— With regard to the propriety of the Government appointing Mr. Ellis as comptroller, instead of appointing another individual, I will simply state the grounds on which I think the House ought to leave this matter to the Government. Every man must agree, that the appointment to the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer is an appointment of the greatest importance; and as his Majesty's Government are responsible for the appointments they make, they will naturally nominate persons such as they may think fit for the duties assigned to them. I am most happy to hear from every hon. Member who has spoken (and which meets with my most entire concurrence), that Mr. Ellis is a gentleman deserving of the compensation assigned to him. The question, however, is whether the Government ought to have appointed that Gentleman as comptroller-general or assistant-comptroller. That is a question which it is scarcely possible to argue in this House, it being one which Government have always had intrusted to them to be disposed of on their own discretion and responsibility. Government have a right to make the choice of their own officer free and unencumbered, and I certainly shall decline entering further into this question, upon the principle that it is for the Government, and not the House of Commons to make this appointment. The construction which he put upon that statement was, that as his noble Friend and the Government of that day had decided not to appoint Mr. Ellis, there was nothing additional in the present case to cause an alteration in that determination; and especially as there did not exist in 1835, any political reason for not appointing Mr. Ellis, who was connected with a nobleman, at that time a cabinet minister (the Earl of Ripon). He was not aware that it was necessary for him to touch upon any other point. With regard to the gravamen of the charge, he had given the only answer that could be given—he had given the most entire and the most distinct contradiction to the insinuation of the hon. Gentleman. To the papers mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, he was perfectly welcome; one of them, the act of Parliament required to be laid on the table; but he could not acquiesce in the construction which the hon. Gentleman put upon their production. He hoped that to all the cases that might be brought forward against the department with which he was connected, he should always be able to give the same contradiction as he did to the present accusation, and certainly he never could agree to the notion that the Government by producing all the documents which might be required therefore admitted the charge.

Mr. Hume

did not wish to make any observations upon the present question; but he would ask whether there would be laid before the House a copy of the application of Sir John Newport, for retirement, and for a pension, and also a statement of Sir John's services? Because he did not take the services in Parliament as a justification for a pension.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The only ground on which he assented to the motion was, that he was not aware of any application having been made. If the hon. Member moved for the letter it would be necessarily discovered whether it really existed.

Mr. Hume

said, that he did not mean to move for a letter, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, did not exist. He only asked if there was any letter. An extract had been read, and he thought, that the House should be put in possession of the date of the letter from which that was taken, which would at once remove all cavil.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that it was quite impossible, nor did he understand his hon. Friend, the Member for Durham, to contest the claims of Sir John Newport to some provision. Although opposed to Sir John Newport on political subjects, he could not but say, that his claims to some provision out of the public funds was undoubted, at the expiration of his labours, which were, however, not so much in office as in his place in Parliament, if his circumstances required it. If they asked him, whether (at the age of eighty-four, after the long Parliamentary life of Sir John Newport, in the course of which he maintained the highest possible character, when it appeared from the statement of the right hon. Baronet himself, that his circumstances were embarrassed, and unless it had so appeared he should not have attended to it) he ought to be permitted to retire without a provision, he was bound to state, that it would not have been just or expedient that he should have answered yes. But now the question was whether or not it was expedient to make the civil list available for the reward of public services? He had opposed the limitation of the grant when it was under discussion, and he should have thought that 1,200l. per annum was quite inadequate to meet the claims which would arise in the course of the year. The prima facie complaint now was, that having 1,200l. only with which to meet the demands upon the civil list, to meet every claim which might arise, whether from science, from the arts, or any other source, five-sixths of the allowance for the whole year had been appropriated to one person, leaving only 200l. as the miserable sum which the Crown could appropriate to meet all other claims. He was not one of those who complained of the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown, or who repined at the appointment of Sir John Newport to the office of Comptroller of the Exchequer. He thought, that that office was properly bestowed as the reward of public services in the case of that right hon. Gentleman, but the Government had appointed that Gentleman to the situation when he had arrived at the age of seventy-nine—at a time when they could not expect from him either active or very efficient service, and of the duties of which he would have been incapable if they had been of an active character—it being of the nature of—he would not say a sinecure, but of a most honourable provision, the proper and befitting reward of long public exertions. He would, however, ask why Ministers had now allowed him to retire? Having appointed him at the age of seventy-nine, not having placed him in any political office requiring active service, they had not shown any circumstances which required his retirement. Was the office one of inadequate establishment? Was there no provision made for the temporary absence or indisposition of the principal? There was; for there was a deputy at a salary of 1,000l. a year, empowered to act in such cases. What he wanted to know was, not why they withdrew any reward from Sir John Newport, but why they did not permit him to retain his office, and, if necessary, call upon the deputy to act in his absence? It was perfectly consistent, therefore, in him to admit the claim, and yet at the same time to contend, that the explanation which had been given by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer was not at all satisfactory. Even if the retirement of the right hon. Baronet took place, however, he must say that the services he had performed were not of that nature which should have entitled him to remuneration from the civil list. He did not believe, that in limiting the fund to 1,200l. per annum, it was meant, that that sum should afford the means of reward for public services like those of Sir John Newport, and he considered, that it would be very bad precedent if a Government, applying their own construction to the services of one of those connected with themselves, drew on that fund to reward his services. He begged it to be particularly observed, that these were not official services. He admitted, that Sir John Newport had rendered great public services out of office. Let them take the case of Mr. Burke. He held office for a very short time, and a pension of 4,000l. a-year was granted to him from the civil list; but that was granted at a time far different from the present, and was taken from the civil list without drying up those sources which were open to other claims. He was, however, now arguing under a different state of things, when 1,200l. was all that could be appropriated to the reward of services, of whatever character. If the Government had contemplated adopting the course, which in this instance they had taken, would they have imposed the limitation which had been adopted? Would they not have extended the power of the Crown, when in the very second year of the regulation, five-sixths of the sum granted were given as a reward for political services? But the Chancellor of the Exchequer had detailed the services of Sir John Newport—services which he admitted were highly meritorious, but which at the same time were not of an official, but of a Parliamentary character. He said, that it would be a dangerous principle to adopt, that mere Parliamentary services should be so rewarded. The limitation of such a principle could not be determined. A powerful party had a friend, not holding any official station, but taking an active part in politics, bringing forward useful measures; but would such a circumstance entitle them to remunerate him from the funds at the disposal of the Crown? The Crown was the judge of official services performed, but it would be dangerous to make it the judge also of those of a Parliamentary nature. Here was a special instance standing on its own grounds, and he thought that that authority which had witnessed the useful and meritorious employment of the person to be rewarded, should also be the judge of the remuneration to be given, and the claims of any person for services performed in Parliament should be recognised and attended to by Parliament, and not by any other power. When the hon. Member for Durham first brought forward this motion, he could have no knowledge of the real facts of the case, and he was perfectly justified in soliciting an explanation, because, supposing the pension to have been granted for the purpose of facilitating any political arrangement, a grosser or more scandalous perversion of authority could not have taken place. If the grant of the pension to Sir John Newport had been made in consequence of any claim or application from Lord Monteagle, which they were bound to suppose was not the fact, after the explanation of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, then he should have considered this one of the most scandalous appropriations of public money possible to be made. He had already given his ample testimony to the merits of Sir John Newport, and he was sure that every one would at once recognise the Very fair remuneration which he possessed; but the ground of complaint was, that the Government had not proved the necessity for his retirement. With respect to the appointment of Lord Monteagle to the situation of Comptroller-general, he for one could not insist on the appointment of Mr. Ellis or any other person to that office; but he thought that, although the duties attending it were not laborious, yet it should be retained to be given as a reward for the most eminent public Services which any public man could tender to his country.

Lord John Russell

said, that after the explanation which had been given by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the very few observations offered to the House by the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down, with respect to this pension, he certainly should not think it necessary to make many remarks. The right hon. Baronet admitted, at the commencement of his speech, both that the office was worthily filled by Sir John Newport, and that he did not object to that right hon. Gentleman receiving a pension from the public. [Sir Robert Peel: If his retirement were necessary.] Exactly so: the right hon. Baronet had stated certain qualifications, and the first was, that the pension of l.000l. a-year should not be granted out of the civil list. He thought that it would be exceedingly difficult to lay down a rule of this kind. He had never heard such a suggestion made before, and it appeared to him, that it would be a most inconvenient rule, that having 1,200l a-year for distribution, it should be said that that sum should be given in certain portions, and not according to the claims of the persons to whom pensions should be granted; and he was of opinion, that where a person possessed a clear claim to the grant of a large sum of money, it was the duty of the Crown to grant that sum in the mode adopted in this instance. The main argument urged by the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken was, that Sir John Newport had not been permitted to retire. That was a matter, however, which was entirely dependent upon the particular state of the health of the person who held the office, and it would be impossible for any House of Parliament to lay down a rule in reference to such a question. The fact was that Sir John Newport, in 1838, was attacked with a severe illness, and expressed to Lord Melbourne a wish to retire. Lord Melbourne regretted the state of Sir John's health, and there was a possibility of his illness assuming a more serious character, but he became better, and did not give up the duties of his office. In 1839, however, his indisposition increased, and, after a prolonged stay abroad, he said that he could not return to England with any comfort to himself. The right hon. Baronet had described this office very properly as one of no very great or very irksome labour, but it required an accurate knowledge of financial details, strict attention, and the greatest care that no error should be committed while the comptroller was in the management of the office. He thought, then, that they might easily determine whether a man of eighty-four years of age was well qualified to fill such a situation, and he was of opinion that the First Lord of the Treasury would not be justified in saying to a man in the position of Sir John Newport, who had so long and so faithfully served the public, that he must continue in office, when the effect of his doing so might be to shorten the duration of his life, and even to bring it to a sudden termination. It appeared to him, that the repeated remonstrance of Sir John Newport to Viscount Melbourne was quite sufficient to authorise the step which had been taken. The right hon. Baronet had likewise stated that there was considerable danger in allowing the Crown to become the judge of Parliamentary service. He should say the same thing, if this pension had been granted to a man in the vigour of life, or to one who had taken or was taking an active share in Parliamentary contests. Nobody, however, would make an objection, if a statesman were cut off in the midst of his career, to the Crown's granting a pension to his widow, or to his children, if they stood in need of it. And as Sir John Newport's life had been prolonged beyond the ordinary run of human existence, and as he was unfortunately in circumstances which rendered it necessary to the comfort of his declining life that some assistance should be rendered to him, he was of opinion that there was not the less reason for granting that assistance to Sir John personally, than there would be for granting it to his widow or children. He would not enter into an enumeration of Sir John Newport's long Parliamentary services. He had had the good fortune to act with him for many years, and from family circumstances he happened to know a good deal of his labours whilst in office in 1806. He happened to know, that on the subject of education, on that of the Established Church, on that of Hospitals and Fever-houses in Ireland, Sir John Newport had bestowed great labour. As a proof of it, he would state that no less than nine acts of Parliament were passed, as the fruits of the attention which he had devoted to those subjects during the short period he was then in office. It was not on mere party subjects or mere party struggles that his attention was engaged, but it was on those objects in which he took a deep interest, as thinking that they would promote the interest of his native country. He could not help thinking, that at the end of Sir John Newport's long career, when he stated conscientiously that he could not longer discharge the duties of his office, Lord Melbourne did nothing but what was right and constitutional in recommending that he should have a salary of 1,000l. a-year. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this motion stated that he was ignorant of Sir John Newport's public services. That statement only showed that the hon. Gentleman had paid but little attention to the Parliamentary history of the times during which Sir John Newport lived, and he thought that it would have been better for the hon. Gentleman, before he proposed this motion, to have made himself acquainted with Sir John's services, than to have made a speech, not indeed of direct attack, but of indirect charge and insinuation against the hon. Baronet's integrity. The other part of the question which arose upon this motion was connected with a totally different subject. It was whether Sir John Newport, being unable to continue in office any longer, the Crown was right in acting upon the advice given by her Majesty's Ministers, and appointing Lord Monteagle to the vacant situation. He was fully convinced that no man was better competent to perform the duties of the office, who would pay more assiduous attention to them, or whose private habits better fitted him for their fulfilment. When the office was first formed, it was proposed that Lord Auckland should hold it, and the Government of the day was so anxious that it should be conferred on him, that they determined that it should be given to him, in conjunction with the situation of Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital; but that was successfully opposed by his hon. Friends opposite. Though it was not an office which required the active services of a Minister of state, and though it did not require continued labour without any absence from the metropolis, still occasions might arise when it would be found highly inconvenient to the public service if it were placed in either, careless or ignorant bands, He could only say that he did not believe that the Government could place before the House the particular services for which the appointment was conferred on Sir John Newport. These were matters which must be left to the general responsibility of the Government, and he must say that upon the whole case there was not a shadow of a charge against the Government for the conduct pursued with reference to Sir John Newport in granting him a pension, or for the appointment of Lord Monteagle to the Comptrollership of the Exchequer.

Lord G. Somerset

was not about to enter into the case of Sir J. Newport, but he must say, that the question put by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, had not been answered either by the hon. Gentleman or by the noble Lord. Did the noble Lord mean to say, that there were to be found no means of affording information to the House as to the date of the application made by Sir John Newport? He apprehended the noble Lord must be able to say at least, whether the application was made by letter or not.

Lord J. Russell

could not say whether the application was made by letter or not, nor did he know, as the transaction was in no way connected with the office which he held, whether there were any means of ascertaining the exact date of Sir John Newport's application. All that he knew on the subject was from Lord Melbourne and Lord Duncannon. Lord Duncannon had received the application from Sir John Newport, and had mentioned to Lord Melbourne that Sir John Newport wished to retire. He believed it was frequently the case, that applications of that nature were not made in writing; but he was not able to say, whether the application was in this instance made by letter or not.

Mr. Serjeant

Jackson had understood the noble Lord to say, that Sir John Newport was in Ireland at the time the application was made. It must, of necessity, therefore, have been made by letter.

Mr. Hume

said, that he had asked a particular question of the noble Lord, because he did not wish to offer any opinion on the subject, before he was in possession of the precise facts of the case. He should say nothing now upon the grant made to Sir John Newport, but he must enter his protest against the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, that the House of Commons were to be the judges of the propriety of granting pensions. If that were the case, there would be the greatest corruption, because a strong party in the House might at any time press upon the Government the propriety of granting pensions to any individuals belonging to their party. At the same time, he must say, that having been a Member of the committee which sat to inquire into the circumstances under which former pensions had been granted, he considered, that it was no defence in the present instance, to quote examples of pensions granted under the former practice, as a new rule had been established, and ought to have been adhered to. His opinion, from what he now heard, was, that Sir J. Newport had no right to the pension which had been given to him, and with regard to the transaction being a job, that depended on the date of the application.

Sir R. Peel

remarked, that all he had said was this, that it was laying down a most dangerous precedent to reward Parliamentary services. He did not say, that occasions might not arise when it would be proper to confer a pension for Parliamentary services, when a man had spent his life in Parliament, and was not in affluent circumstances, as in the case of Mr. Burke; but, at the same time, if there were special circumstances which justified a departure from what ought to be the general rule, he thought it was the duty of the Government to lay the facts before Parliament for its consideration.

Mr. Liddell

in reply, said, that he had never denied that public services ought to be rewarded; but what he maintained was, that the reward should be given, not for Parliamentary, but for official services. With regard to the character of the transaction, when he considered that the retirement of Lord Monteagle from the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, was simultaneous with that of Sir John Newport, and that he had not heard the explanation which had since been offered by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he might be excused for saying that the transaction was prima facie suspicious. Having now heard the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman had given, he must say, that it might have been more satisfactory.

Motion agreed to.