§ On the question that a sum not exceeding 51,654l. 10s. be granted to defray the expenses of works and repairs in public buildings.
observed, that the sum to be expended on account of the Royal palaces would be greater this year than for some previous years—a sum not less than 49,500l.; and many of these palaces were not inhabited by any Members of the Royal family, but were tenanted by persons who held them by favour and without any public service or any claim whatever. Such was the case with Hampton-court and Kew. The latter was kept up for a foreign prince. The King of Hanover was no subject of this realm; why, then, should the people of this land be taxed to keep up for him a palace which he never used? Then, as to Kensington, only a portion of the palace there was occupied by a member of the Royal family, and it would be far better if the kitchen and other gardens of the palace were thrown open to the gardens, which formed so valuable and delightful a resort for public recreation. The result would be, not only a great public boon, but a great public economy. There were not less than nine of these palaces kept up—there was (besides the palaces at Brighton and Windsor,) the palace at Claremont, kept up at an expence of 14,000l. annually, for the King of the Belgians;—that was a 647 charge which ought not to be imposed on the people of this country. A great deal had no doubt been said about the exceeding liberality of the King of Belgium, and that he did not touch any of the money himself; but what mattered it to the people, who had to pay it, whether his Majesty spent it, or somebody else for him? Really, to look at these estimates, one would imagine that we were in a very prosperous condition. If the expenses he had alluded to were at all connected with her Majesty's comfort, not one of her subjects would wish to stop them; but it was notorious that her Majesty never even saw half these palaces. A great part of these expenses might therefore, without in the remotest degree affecting her Majesty, be retrenched; and as the right hon. Baronet the Premier had stated his intention to effect all possible savings, he trusted that to this subject, so open to retrenchment, the right hon. Baronet's attention would be directed.
§ Mr. Wakley
feared that no advantage would attend the remarks which had been just made. The hon. Gentleman, Mr. Williams, spoke on that side of the House amidst gentlemen by whom all these estimates and expenses were proposed and incurred. Now it appeared to him that the House should submit with becoming humility to their unfortunate position at this time, to take what the constituencies had been pleased to do at the late elections, and endure what might be submitted to them during the coming year. These estimates, without doubt, exhibited from beginning to end a carelessness of the public expenditure—there was no doubt about that, nobody could deny it who looked fairly and dispassionately at them. Every man in viewing them must suppose, if he knew nothing of the financial condition of this country, that we were in a state of extraordinary prosperity, that there was no distress, no calamity, no diminution of trade, and no complaining on the part of the labouring population. Here was a recklessness of public expenditure from beginning to end; but who was to blame? He declared that since he had been a Member of this House he had observed more recklessness on the part of the Members of this House with regard to the public money than by the hon. Gentlemen who were now in office or by the hon. Gentlemen who had left their seats and gone to the other Bide. The real dif- 648 ficulty the country had to contend with, was the wantonness of the House of Commons with regard to the expense. Only a few Members paid attention to the subject; only a few were captivated with figures; the hon. Member for Coventry was one of these, and he regretted that there was not more of his class in the House. The Administration that was now formed was one of great ability, and carried with it a great part of the wealth and intelligence of the country—and it was perfectly useless, in the present state of the House, to contend against a body so constituted; they must be patient, they must bear and forbear, and submit to the propositions that were made to them. After a fair trial had been given them, then, supposing that measures were not brought forward, and curtailments not made which ought to be made, there might be another appeal to the country, and they would see what would be the result. The noble Lord, the Member for the city of London, and the Whig party, had no reason to complain of the existing state of things, or to speak in a tone of discontent or dissatisfaction. This House was constituted as the offspring of the noble Lord's will— the creature of his own choice. He had been entreated and solicited again and again, within the last six. years, to make that change in the constitution of this assembly which was evidently necessary. But the noble Lord said, "No, we don't want Reform or revolution every year; we are satisfied with what has already been done." How then could the noble Lord complain of the hon. Baronet, when he stated he wished for time to produce those measures which he thought were necessary for the public good. The right hon. Baronet had already found that he was reclining on no bed of roses. He did not find a rich Exchequer, he did not find the finances of the country in a flourishing condition; and he, for one, thought that he ought to have time—that time ought to be afforded. He thought hon. Gentlemen would be defeating their own objects, and inflicting injury on the people, by hurrying the right hon. Baronet to the adoption of immatured and indiscreet measures. He was surprised at the statement on the other side, that the right hon. Baronet would not summon Parliament for five months. Now he had heard nothing of the sort from the right hon. Baronet; all that he had heard was, that 649 he desired time to prepare the measures, which he thought it necessary to submit to the House. He did not know whether those measures would be good or bad, but he knew that hon. Members had not the power to compel him to bring forward those measures until it suited his disposition. There was a very large majority against them, and he would repeat that they must submit patiently to what might be the determination of that majority. This House as now constituted, undoubtedly had not the approbation of the small party to which he belonged; and they did not believe that the House, thus constituted, would consult the interests of the people. They might be deceived— and he sincerely hoped they might be deceived; for nothing would give him greater delight than to see measures of a comprehensive character proposed, that were calculated to impart satisfaction to the public and promote their interests. The right hon. Baronet on this occasion, had merely adopted the estimates proposed by the late Ministers; and probably, if Gentlemen opposite had been placed in a similar position, they would have acted in a similar manner, pressed as the right hon. Baronet had been for time. But he would say that if the Minister, in a future Session of Parliament, should come forward and propose measures of this kind, with the finances in their present condition, he would not be deserving of support. In fact, when they looked at the distresses of the working people, to whom this country owed all its reputatation, power, and wealth, it was a crying sin and shame, that 1l. of expense should be incurred that was not justified by circumstances. The noble Lord who had just left the House (Lord J. Russell) had stated that there should be certain sums granted for ambassadors to foreign courts; but he would ask if it was meet and proper that, when foreign princes chose to come to this country to visit their relations here, the poor English public should have to pay their expenses? Why, it was bringing discredit on monarchy—it was bringing discredit on the aristocracy, and was calculated to make the people look on them as their persecutors, and as the persons who ever and anon were placing them in more extreme distress. Now here was a sum of money mentioned in the estimate as paid for the expense of a foreign Sovereign visiting this country; and a sum of 1,000l. paid for an 650 ambassador to go to Frankfort. Was this fair? Could any man believe this expenditure to be just? If the appointment of an ambassador to Frankfort were really useful, he did not object, for he was not one who was disposed to complain of the manner in which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Palmerston) had administered the foreign affairs; on the contrary, he considered that his administration of our foreign affairs had the effect of putting this country in a prouder position than it had ever before attained, and that England was never more respected abroad than at this moment; and this was mainly owing to the exertions of the noble Lord. Now he wished that the noble Lord would come forward and tell the House next year what expenses might be reduced and what might not be reduced. He thought the noble Lord could come down with a long list, showing that very great reductions might be made without the slightest detriment to the public. If he would do so it would be received as a happy climax to his great exertions. Many of the offices were utterly useless, and the estimates were framed with an utter disregard of the public interest; and he did hope that the present Administration would see to what extent the people's burthens might be reduced, and that the principle of economy would be unremittingly applied.
§ Mr. Fielden
was surprised at some part of the speech just delivered. The hon. Member for Finsbury had talked of the justice of giving the Government time. That was just what he wished to have given them, the old constitutional principle being, that the grievances of the people should be first redressed before the supplies were granted; and this appeared to him the only proper course on the present occasion. The distress. of the country was too serious for delay. Lancashire was fast going. The best workmen were departing to foreign countries, to obtain there that subsistence which at home they could not get. He wished to know whether it was the intention of the Government to afford the people any relief before the winter set in?
§ Mr. Wakley
would ask the hon. Member for Oldham why he did not come forward with a measure for the relief of the-distressed condition of the country? If the hon. Member was so fully impressed with that idea, it was his duty to propose any remedy which he (Mr. Fielden) 651 thought would effect the object which he had so much at heart.
§ Mr. Fielden
in reply observed, that if it was his duty to have prepared a remedy, he would have done so at once, and without any hesitation.
§ Mr. Ewart
observed, that if the hon. Member's remedy, patience, were the sole recommendation he had to offer, he feared he would soon have to assist at the inquest on the defunct remains of the country. He would, however, not enter upon the various topics which had been suggested by the hon. Member, but would confine himself to the question before the committee, and he begged to give expression to the satisfaction which he felt in finding that the Regent's Park was now available to the public as a pleasure ground. He thought, that the same course might be advantageously adopted with respect to other parks, and particularly as regarded Richmond Park, which would be a great accommodation if thrown open to the public. There was Kew Park also, which was contiguous to the large and populous towns of Brentford, Isleworth, &c, and which was closed six days in the week, and which might, without inconvenience, be thrown open. He hoped, that Kensington Gardens would be preserved in their present state, and not be encroached upon, as the west-end of town was already sufficiently built in; and unless breathing space was preserved at the present time, there would be no future opportunity for obtaining it.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, that there was no more dangerous and unconstitutional doctrine than that which threw upon the executive Government all the responsibility of originating measures. It was the duly of Members unconnected with the Ministry to propose whatever measures they thought would be conducive to the interests of the state. It was the duly of the hon. Member for Oldham to have stated the other night to the House what he thought would be the remedy for the evils of which he now complained. He should like to know whether the proposition of an 8s. duty on corn instead of 1s would have had the effect of relieving the people from the distresses that now pressed heavily upon them? He thought, that the course which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government intimated to the House his intention of pursuing was both fair and reasonable. The right hon. 652 Baronet did not state that he intended to prorogue, although such appeared to be the general impression. He thought, that it was highly impolitic to wish the right hon. Baronet to come down to the House with ill-digested measures, and trust to chance for their being carried. He would never lend himself to a factious opposition. It was the duty of the House to give the right hon. Baronet a fair and impartial trial.
thought the case of the country stood thus:—The patient was suffering from a severe malady; the late Government had come forward with measures of relief, and they had been rejected, and the present Government refused to administer a remedy. He thought, if the measures of the late Ministry had been carried, that the country would not have been in its present deplorable condition.
§ Sir R. Inglis
did not wish to interfere in the quarrel, it was a very pretty one as it stood. He rose for the purpose of making an observation in allusion to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Dumfries, who appeared to have taken the position formerly occupied by the late Member for Kilkenny. The hon. Member, although he reserved to himself the liberty of doing what he liked with his own fields and gardens, wished to deny to the Crown the right of managing its own property. He considered the right of the Crown to Richmond-park to be as strong as that by which any private gentleman held his estates.
§ Mr. Ewart
thought that the hon. Baronet was wrong in the view which he took of the distinction between the property of the Crown and that of private individuals. The property of the Crown was held for the benefit of the people as well as for the interest of the Sovereign. He did not think that her Majesty at all participated in the exclusive views entertained by the hon. Member opposite.
§ Vote agreed to.