HC Deb 26 July 1842 vol 65 cc633-6
Sir F. Burdett

said, he bad given notice of a motion for calling the attention of the House to the propriety of erecting a testimonial to the great merits and services of Sir Sydney Smith. On a former occasion when he was about to introduce that subject it had been announced to him by the noble Lord the late Secretary for the Colonies, that her Majesty's Government were fully aware of the important services rendered to the country by that distinguished officer, and that they were ready themselves to adopt measures for carrying his object into effect. He need not say how great his disappointment had been that no steps had yet been taken in pursuance of that engagement; at the present period of the Session he could scarcely hope to be enabled to bring forward the subject, and, therefore, he wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, felt in common with the late Government upon this matter, and whether he felt disposed to redeem the pledge given by his predecessors in office?

Sir R. Peel

said, that nothing could be more becoming than the conduct of his hon. Friend in this matter, which he was induced to take up from his respect for the memory of a gallant officer in her Majesty's service. In the last Parliament his hon. Friend had given notice, that he should move the House to present an address to the Crown, praying that a testimonial, should be erected to the memory of Sir Sydney Smith; and he was induced to forego that intention solely by an assurance given by the noble Lord, the Member for London, on the part of her Majesty's Government, that they would themselves undertake to propose 'to Parliament that such a testimonial should be erected. The noble Lord added in his place in Parliament, that her Majesty's Government had considered whether other claims of a similar nature might be preferred; that on reviewing the different claims which on such a precedent might be brought forward, they felt that the services of Sir Sydney Smith, Lord Exmouth, and Admiral De Saumarez were equally entitled to commemoration; and therefore it was their intention that a testimonial should be erected to each of those gallant officers. He certainly felt himself under obligations to fulfil an engagement, undertaken under such circumstances by the noble Lord at her Majesty's representative in that House; and he had no difficulty in assuring his hon. Friend that he would propose an address to the Crown with that view. In his opinion, the discretion exercised by the late Government had been a wise one; he did not mean to go beyond the limits they prescribed.

Mt. Brotherton

entered his most decided protest against any grant of public money for such a purpose.

Mr. Hawes

asked, whether it was the intension of the Government to propose a vote for these memorials in the course of the present, Session? If so, he should also move that the claims of Herschell and Watt be considered. It was time that some monument should be erected to men who had performed civil services, as well as to warriors.

Sir R. Peel

said, that after the delay which had taken place, and after the public assurance given by the late Government, he was unwilling to allow any further delay to occur.

Mr. Hume

inquired what public assurance had been given by the km Govern- ment? All that he recollected was, that Lord J. Russell said he would take the circumstance into consideration, as there might be other individuals entitled to memorials as well as Sir Sydney Smith.

Sir R. Peel

said, that if the hon. Member did not know what public assurance had been given by the late Government, he would inform him. A question similar to that put to him was put to Lord J. Russell on the 18th of June last year, and this was the public assurance given by the noble Lord:— It was understood that some description of monument should be erected to Sir Sydney Smith, and the expenditure defrayed out of the public funds; but, upon taking the matter further into consideration, the cases of some other officers who had also been in engaged the service of the country were brought before the Government; and there were two of those cases, which seemed to be of sufficient importance to induce the Government to consider whether, in those instances, as well as in the instance of Sir Sydney Smith, it would not be proper to erect monuments at the public expense- He alluded to Lords Exmouth and De Saumarez. If the session had proceeded in the ordinary manner, it was his intention either to have taken out of the civil contingencies a sum sufficient for the erection Of the proposed monuments, or to have obtained the amount by a separate vote in the miscellaneous estimates. The hon. Baronet was, however, aware that an interruption had occurred in the ordinary proceedings of public business: and, for that reason, Government had thought it better not to bring forward any supplementary estimates, but merely to take those which were necessary for carrying on the public service. But it was the intention of the Government to ask for a grant for the erection of monuments to the gallant individuals he had named. Sir F. Burdett.—Then I still understand the noble Lord to be of the same opinion as to the propriety of erecting a monument to Sir Sydney Smith? Lord J. Russell.—I am. Sir F. Burdett.—That intention is not given up or abandoned? Lord J. Russell.—It is not. This was the public declaration made by the late Government of their intention to erect monuments to those distinguished individuals.

Subject at an end.