HC Deb 09 February 1843 vol 66 cc335-8

Mr. W. Williams moved for an account of All salaries, pensions, profits, pay, fees, emoluments, grants, or allowance of public money held and enjoyed by all persons, between the 5th day of January, 1842, and the 5th day of January, 1843, the total amount of which shall exceed one thousand pounds; specifying with each name the total amount received by each individual, and distinguishing the various sources from whence the same are derived; and also the aggregate amount thereof; specifying the amount received by Privy Councillors.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

had no objection to afford the hon. Gentleman all the information he could possibly require upon the subject of his motion; but at the same time he felt very considerable objection to the latter part of the return asked for,—namely, the amount received by Privy Councillors. It could not by possibility furnish any useful information. He therefore hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press for that part of the return.

Mr. W. Williams

said, that his object for moving for the return in its present shape was to contrast it with a return made in 1828, on the motion of the right hon. Baronet who now held the office of Secretary for the Home department. On that occasion the country was astounded at being informed that 113 privy councillors received out of the public funds no less a sum than 650.000l. per annum.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that upon the hon. Gentleman's own showing it was not necessary to call for a return in the present form, because the return made in 1828 was granted in the very shape in which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) now proposed to give it.

Mr. Hume

could not understand why it should be considered invidious to state the sum actually received by any man out of the public money. It was of great importance that the House should see how many privy councillors there were who received the public money. Upon that ground he would advise his hon. Friend not to accept the return in the shape proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was of opinion that a great reduction had been made in the payment to privy councillors since the return made in 1828, and he was anxious to know how great that reduction had been.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the hon. Member for Montrose seemed to misunderstand the nature of the objection which had been made by his (Sir R. Peel's) right hon. Friend. His right hon. Friend had not the slightest objection to present the name of every person, without exception, who had a salary of 1,000l. a-year, whether judges, or colonels of regiments, or any other description of persons. The hon. Gentleman relied upon precedent, in justification of the latter part of the return called for; but the proper way to institute a comparison between a new return and the former return, would be to call for a return in the exact shape of the former return. It had been suggested that those who were Privy Councillors should be pointed out by an asterisk; but the designation of "right hon." was quite sufficient. The object, however, of the hon. Gentleman in moving for this return, he (Sir R. Peel) conceived to be, not that of merely ascertaining who were privy councillors, and what they received from the public money, but whether there had been an increase or a diminution in the actual amount paid out of the public fund since the making of the former return. His particular object was to ascertain whether, for instance, the Secretary of the Treasury at present received a greater amount of income or less than formerly. The Secretary of the Treasury was not a Privy Councillor; but the return asked for by the hon. Gentleman was, that of an account of money received by persons as Privy Councillors. Now, no man received payment as a Privy Councillor; he received it only on account of the office he held. The hon. Gentleman did not call for the aggregate amount paid to the Judges, or to the Army, or to the Navy, but he selected one particular class of persons who were not, as such, paid any salary at all. Surely that was not essentially necessary for the object which the hon. Gentleman had in view. His right hon. Friend had, in effect, said to the hon. Gentleman, "You shall know the fact, but do not assume it to be a fact that Privy Councillors, as Privy Councillors, are entitled to any salary." It might he that the amount paid to persons who were Privy Councillors was larger now than when the former return was made; because, since then, two new Vice-Chancellors had been appointed, and they were made Privy Councillors, but they were not paid their salaries because they were Privy Councillors, but because they were Vice-Chancellors. It was on this ground that he and his right hon. Friend objected to the return as shaped by the hon. Gentleman. There could be no necessity for that part of the return. It did appear by the terms as if the hon. Gentleman meant to imply that Privy Councillors, in the capacity of Privy Councillors, were entitled to salaries. That was the simple ground upon which he (Sir Robert Peel) offered any objection to the motion. He hoped, therefore, as the sub stance of the motion would be granted, the hon. Gentleman would not persist in calling for that portion of the return which was calculated to countenance a delusion.

Mr. F. Baring

would advise his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Williams) not to press for that portion of the return which the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had objected to.

Mr. W. Williams

was quite willing to withdraw the latter part of his motion; and he did so the more readily, inasmuch as his object would be obtained by the words "right hon." being prefixed to the names of those mentioned in the return who were privy councillors.

The return (as amended) was ordered.