HC Deb 05 March 1841 vol 56 cc1348-54

The Order of the Day for bringing up the report of the committee on Lord Keane's Annuity Bill having been read,

Mr. Hume

said, that before the report was brought up, he wished to make some observations which, he hoped would induce the House to postpone any further proceedings with the bill. The bill had inserted in it a grant of 2,000l. a-year to be paid out of the consolidated fund, to Lord Keane and his two next male heirs. He wished the House to consider the peculiar circumstances attending this bill. He would state what had been the usual course on making grants of this description. On several occasions of this kind it had been the course for her Majesty, by message, to suggest her desire that the House should confer some signal mark of their liberality on certain individuals, and what had been the invariable rule in those cases? He would take the case of Lord Seaton as an example. On the 23d of March last, a message came down from her Majesty, recommending that some special favour should be conferred by the House to Lord Seaton and his two next surviving heirs. Notice was then given that her Majesty's message should be taken into consideration. On the 30th of March it was taken into consideration; and although a great deal of opposition was made by him to the grant, yet the House concurred in the proposition made by the Government, and voted 2,000l. a-year to Lord Seaton and his two next male heirs, and the bill passed into a law. He now begged to call the attention of the House to what had taken place with respect to Lord Keane. No message came down on Sir John Keane being made a Baron agreeably to the general practice; and a question was asked why that course had not been taken. An attempt was made to explain the reason why the delay had taken place, and it was said that her Majesty's Ministers had not made up their minds as to making a recommendation in favour of Lord Keane having a grant from Parliament, it being thought that the East India Company should give a pension to his Lordship, his services having been rendered in India. A correspondence took place between the Board of Control and the East India Company on the subject. He was not in possession of any documents, but he would state under correction if wrong, that it was admitted that an application had been made to pay out of the East India Company's fund an annuity to Lord Keane, and it had been admitted, also, that the East India Company did not think fit to comply with that proposition, but considered that it would be more honourable to Lord Keane if the money came out of the consolidated fund. Now the point he had to submit to the House was, that they ought not to bring up the report until they had a copy of that correspondence laid before them. He had given notice of a motion for its production, and he trusted the House would not proceed with the bill until that information was furnished; for he was strongly of opinion that the grant ought not to be made out of the consolidated fund. Lords Cornwallis and Wellesley had obtained annuities from the East India Company, voted in open court out of their own funds. He submitted that the House was not in a condition to receive the report until the correspondence between the Board of Con- trol and the Court of Directors was upon the Table, and the delay of a week for that purpose would be of no consequence. Then it would be seen what reasons Ministers had assigned in order to induce the East India Company to do in this instance as they had done in various others. An individual had this morning put into his hand a calculation, by which it appeared that every pound sterling granted for three lives, or fifty years, cost the public no less than 209l.; so that the 2,000l. a-year, at the end of the three lives of Lord Keane and his two next successors, would have amounted to no smaller a sum than 418,000l. He moved, as an amendment, To leave out from the word 'be' to the end of the question, in order to add the words 'postponed, until the correspondence which has taken place between the President of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors of the East India Company, or with the secret Committee of that Court, respecting the services of, and the granting an annuity to, Lord Keane, be laid before this House, in order that the House may be in possession of the reasons why the Court of Directors refused to grant any annuity to Lord Keane from the funds of the East India Company; and the reasons which determined her Majesty's Ministers to recommend the proposed annuity to be paid out of the consolidated fund.

Lord J. Russell

submitted that the hon. Gentleman had made no case for an interruption of the proceedings in the present bill. He had no hesitation in admitting that there had been a correspondence between the President of the Board of Control and the directors of the East India Company, and that his right hon. Friend had asked a question of the company. The result of the correspondence was, that the directors stated, it was not usual for the East India Company, in cases of this kind, to confer grants of pensions; that they could not grant any such rewards beyond the period to which their charter extended; and that it was not their intention to move on the subject. His right hon. Friend had not urged the directors to do anything; all that he had done was, to inquire into their intention. The House had heard from an hon. Member of that House, who was also a member of the Court of Directors, his reasons for the opinion that the East India Company ought not to be called upon to grant this reward in the case of Lord Keane. That hon. Member had said truly, that the East India Company, or rather the people of India, contribute largely to the support of the Queen's army in India, and that, in his opinion, it would be better to take the usual course in this case, namely, that the reward for services should be provided out of the funds of the country. It was not to be denied, that vast sums were paid for the expenses of our army in India, and how far that was or was not a good ground why the directors should not entertain a question of this kind, he (Lord J. Russell) did not mean to argue, but his opinion clearly was, that the Court of Directors, not thinking it their duty to move in the matter for the reasons stated by the hon. Member, it would be totally unbecoming that House to stand huckstering and chaffering with the East India Company whether the services of Lord Keane, which were recognised and acknowledged by all, should be rewarded or not. The reasons alleged on the part of the directors of the East India Company might be perfectly good—it might not be the usual course, but whether their reasons were good, or whether they were insufficient, it would be unjust to Lord Keane, and degrading to Parliament to make this a matter of bargain, of compromise, or of barter, between the East India Company and that House. The correspondence alluded to, was not so far an official correspondence as to urge anything which his right hon. Friend would have had the power officially to enforce, but even if it were produced, it would add nothing to the information already possessed by the House. They had the fact of the correspondence having taken place, and the House might proceed upon that knowledge. If the House thought that the merits of Lord Keane were deserving of a reward from Parliament, he trusted this country was not reduced to a state in which that House should be obliged to try to throw the onus on the East India Company; and if they did not choose to do anything, that Lord Keane should be left without a reward of this kind, and the House should content itself with saying, that the East India Company ought to have done it. This was a case in which the services and merits of the individual were universally admitted, for in the debates which had taken place last year, from the Duke of Wellington down to the hon. Member for Kilkenny—all were agreed in a general acknowledgment of the merits of Lord Keane. He therefore saw no occasion for delaying the vote on this subject, and he hoped the House would not consent to delay it.

Mr. Milnes

said, that after the measure had proceeded so far, no good end could be answered by delaying it farther, as it appeared the House had no power of compelling the East India Company to act in the matter. He hoped, however, that her Majesty's Ministers would remember how severely this grant had been contested, and would hereafter be cautious how they came down with recommendations of similar grants in the present state of the finances of the country. The question was, whether in the present state of the finances of this country, and after the very severe revision to which the pension list was subjected, a little while ago, (which revision he opposed, and which was surely very unnecessary if it led to no other result than this), her Majesty's Ministers should come down to this House and propose a grant of the public money to a person who was successful in one campaign, of the very same amount that was given to Lord Nelson. If her Majesty's Ministers did this, then he would say, that the principles of economy professed by them were not carried out in their practice. He believed that the present Lord Nelson was the last who would receive that pension, and that on his death his family would be left with the great and glorious name of their renowned ancestor, unaccompanied by a grant of public money.

Sir H. Verney

considered, that the opinions of the hon. Member for Kilkenny were founded upon principles that were entirely fallacious. The great object of the expedition under the command of Lord Keane, was to put an end to the intrigues which were carried on by Russia in central Asia. Since the act of 1833, the East Indies had been thrown open to British enterprise and British capital, and to the emigration of British-born subjects; and he thought, that those who were engaged in improving the resources of that great and important part of our dominions, should be protected from the designs and intrigues of any foreign power. He should support the grant proposed.

Lord Stanley

wished to draw the attention of the House to the observation made by his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Milnes), and which should be set right, with regard to the amount of pension granted to the family of Lord Nelson. He said, that the pension to be conferred on Lord Keane would be the same in amount as that conferred on the family of Lord Nelson. He believed, that when Lord Nelson was made a Peer, the pension granted to him was 2,000l. a year; but afterwards there was conferred on him and his family for ever an annuity, not of 2,000l., but of 5,000l. a year; and two sums of 90,000l. and 20,000l. were vested in trustees for his family. Annuities were also granted to his sisters, and a power given to settle jointures upon them. Thus it would be seen that Lord Keane was not placed, even in point of pecuniary reward, on the same footing.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 127; Noes 35: Majority 92.

List of the AYES.
Adare, Viscount Greene, T.
Alston, R. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Antrobus, E. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Baines, E. Harland, W. C.
Baker, E. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Barnard, E. G. Hobhouse, T. B.
Bernal, R. Hodges, T. L.
Blennerhasset, A. Hodgson, R.
Bolling, W. Hogg, J. W.
Botfield, B. Holmes, W.
Bramston, T. W. Hope, hon. C.
Broadley, H. Hope, G. W.
Broadwood, H. Howard, hn. E. G. G.
Bruce, C. L. C. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hughes, W. B.
Busfeild, W. Hurt, F.
Campbell, Sir H. Irving, J.
Campbell, Sir J. Jackson, Mr. Sergeant
Chichester, Sir B. James, Sir W. C.
Clay, W. Jenkins, Sir R.
Clerk, Sir G. Johnstone, H.
Clive, E. B. Jones, J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Jones, Captain
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Kemble, H.
Corry, hon. H. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Dalmeny, Lord Lemon, Sir C.
Davies, Colonel Lincoln, Earl of
Denison, W. J. Lowther, J. H.
Dick, Q. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Mackenzie, T.
Egerton, Lord F. Mackenzie, W. F.
Estcourt, T. Mackinnon, W. A.
Evans, Sir De L. Maclean, D.
Fielden, W. Macnamara, Major
Fitzalan, Lord Meynell, Captain
Fremantle, Sir T. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Gordon, R. Miles, W.
Gore, O. J. R. Morpeth, Viscount
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. O'Brien, W, S.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Ossulston, Lord Stuart, Lord J.
Paget, F. Stuart, W, V.
Palmerston, Viscount Stock, Mr. Sergeant
Parker, J. Style, Sir C.
Perceval, Colonel Thomas, Colonel H.
Philips, G. R. Trotter, J.
Pinney, W. Tufnell, H.
Ponsonby, C. F. A. C. Turner, W.
Price, Sir R. Vere, Sir C. B.
Rae, rt. hn. Sir W. Verney, Sir H.
Reid, Sir J. R. Vivian, Major C.
Richards, R. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.
Roche, W. Waddington, H. S.
Rolleston, L. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Rushbrooke, Colonel Wodehouse, E.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, C.
Rutherford, rt. hn. A. Worsley, Lord
Sanderson, R. Wrightson, W. B.
Seale, Sir J. H. Wyse, T.
Seymour, Lord Yates, J. A.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L Young, J.
Sibthorp, Colonel Young, Sir W.
Smith, A.
Smythe, hon. G. TELLERS.
Somerset, Lord G. Stanley, E. J.
Stanley, Lord Maule, F.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Muntz, G. F.
Blake, W. J. Pattison, J.
Brocklehurst, J. Pechell, Captain
Brotherton, J. Salwey, Colonel
Bulwer, Sir L. Scholefield, J.
Collier, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Dennistoun, J. Strutt, E.
Duncombe, T. Thornley, T.
Dundas, C. W. D. Turner, E.
Easthope, J. Wakley, T.
Ellice, E. Walker, R.
Ewart, W. Wallace, R.
Gillon, W. D. Warburton, H.
Hector, C. J. White, A.
Holland, R. Wilbraham, G.
Hutton, R. Wood, B.
Johnson, General TELLERS.
Martin, J. Hume, J.
Morris, D. Williams, W.

Report received,—Bill ordered to be read a third time.