§ On the Motion for going into Committee of Supply.
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice. He proposed this Motion, he said, solely from a sense of justice, from a strong conviction of what was due on the part of the nation to a most gallant body of men, who, after the most noble exertions—after undergoing the most fearful sufferings,—had been denied their rightful share in the booty which their bravery had acquired. As a proof of it he would read the following extract of a letter from Captain Grey:—The power of the sun during the whole period was very great, and the consequences of the unavoidable exposure of the men to it, and to the perhaps still more prejudicial night air, soon showed itself in the increasing sick lists of every ship. By the beginning of September, ours had reached 120, and before we returned to Chusan, we buried 18 men, including our purser, one lieutenant of marines, and carpenter, and some of the best petty officers of the ship. Our surgeon was invalided and died at the Cape, as well as a second carpenter. The number of men invalided I do not remember; but it was many months before the ship's company recovered their strength. In the number of men ill, many of the transport and troop ships far exceeded our proportion; and in two instances, I had out of my weak ship's company, to put officers and men on board them to take them down the river. The scene on board the Belleisle, when she passed Chin-keang-foo, I shall never forget. Of the 98th regiment, which had landed 680 bayonets at Chin-keang-foo on the 678 21st July, there were not 100 fit for ordinary duty, and of her ship's company, more than half were on the sick list. Fore and aft, her lower deck, every berth, was occupied by a sick man in his hammock, while in the gun room, which was used as a hospital, the men were lying side by side as close as they could be laid, in the last stage of debility. I could multiply the cases of the ships that came under my own observation while charged with the duties of senior officer at Chin-keang-foo; but I have said enough to give you some idea of the effects of the climate. I trust, I may never again witness such sickness and such suffering; at the same time, I cannot sufficiently express my admiration of the patience with which it was borne. Of the officers, one lieutenant, one midshipman, and myself alone escaped the ague. If I can afford you any further information that may be useful to you, I shall be glad to furnish it. I sincerely hope you may succeed in obtaining for the seamen some more adequate remuneration for their services than the miserable pittance of 4l. 2s., which is all that fell to the share of those who served in the Endymion.The pretence set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that no war had been declared previous to the hostilities so gallantly conducted by these men, was shabby in the last degree, and utterly inconsistent with justice and reason. In the case of the Burmese war, grants were made to the gallant Britons who had taken part in it, to the full extent of the military stores and other booty they had achieved. But the men who, by their bravery in China, had realized a booty of two millions and a half sterling, besides the ransom money, were denied the reward of their exertions. Government would not dare to refuse to the army in India the fruits of its valour; why, then, should the gallant fellows who had so nobly maintained the honour of England in China, be deprived of their rights? The officers and men in Sir W. Parker's ship, for instance, had they been justly treated, would have received, on the average, nearly 200l. each; but as it was, they would have got one-third more by working in peace and comfort in Plymouth or Chatham Dockyard for the time, than they realized by all their arduous exertions, their unsurpassed bravery, their terrible sufferings in China. It was sufficient to cause disgust in the mind of the British seaman to offer him such a paltry sum as 4l. as a return for the eminent services which he had rendered in China. Under the system which they adopted of 679 remunerating those men, the boy who blacked an officer's shoes, or waited behind him at table, was as largely rewarded as the able seaman. To his mind, that was using the British seaman most unjustly; and he had no doubt that such a course of conduct would visit itself at a future day upon the authors of it. It was true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said there had been no war in China; but the same argument had been used with respect to the battle of Navarino, and what took place in that case? The claims of the sailors were on that occasion resisted on the ground that there had been no declaration of war; and the consequence of resisting them on those grounds was, that on board one line of battle ship, on two occasions, the sailors said that in future they would make a bargain whether there was war or no war before they went into action. They had the authority of the greatest man that ever the Navy produced, for treating with liberality the sailors who fought the battles of their country. Lord Nelson said—An Admiral may be amply rewarded by his feelings and the approbation of his superiors, but what reward have the inferior officers and men, but the value of the prizes? If an Admiral takes that from them on any consideration, he cannot expect to be well supported. However, I trust, as in all other instances, if to serve the State, any persons or bodies of men suffer losses, it is amply made up to them; and in this I rest confident my brave associates will not be disappointed.He trusted that the House would on this occasion act in the same liberal spirit which was exhibited when Admiral Codrington brought forward a Motion for the purpose of obtaining remuneration for the men who fought at Navarino. On that occasion Mr. O'Connell said that his principle was—not to pay those who did not deserve it, but to pay liberally those who deserved it. The only dissentient from the Motion was the present hon. Member for Montrose; but he did not divide the House on his opposition, and the Motion was carried. Now he would turn to Syria, and ask the House what course had been adopted with respect to the forces employed by this country on the coast of Syria? The petty officers employed in that service received each 12l., or 14l., or 16l.; whilst the petty officers who had served in China for a much longer period 680 received but 4l. He had the honour of serving in that expedition, and he did not mean to put the services which were performed there in serious competition with those which had been performed in China; and he would add, that the men who were employed in Syria were not occupied in that service more than a few months, whilst those who served in China had been employed during periods of three years, two years, or one year. Notwithstanding this difference in the length of service, and the fact that the Chinese force had captured merchandise and other property equal in value to the amount of three millions sterling, which was bonâ fide their property, yet they received less per head than the men composing the expeditions to Syria and Algiers. Lord Exmouth received 100,000l. for seizing a fleet in the Bay of Naples, although he did not keep it in his possession for five minutes; and he would ask the House of Commons, would they, when they considered that, say that the men who were employed in those most valuable and important services in China, ought to receive so small a sum as 4l. each? For the service which had been rendered in other parts of the globe, liberal remuneration had been given; and he did not see why the seamen in China should be neglected. Sir H. Gough obtained a pension for life for his services; Sir W. Parker was created a baronet, and received a most important command; and Sir Henry Pottinger was created a baronet, and obtained a pension for his services. Those rewards were not too much for the valuable services which had been rendered; but he would ask, would any man in that House say that 4l. each was sufficient to compensate the sailors and soldiers who had been employed in China? It had been urged as a reason for giving so small a sum, that the victory in China was an easy victory; and he should remark that such an objection was a premium to officers not to put out their force or apply their science and skill in time, and with sufficient effect at once, but rather to let some of their men be killed before they injured the enemy. He trusted the House would not, on this occasion, forget the services which had been rendered by our seamen in China; that they had made the Chinese succumb to our terms, and had taught them a lesson which they would never forget. They 681 had achieved a triumph which, in every point of view, was calculated to ccnfer the greatest advantage; and in addition to all the other benefits which were to be expected from our proceedings in China, it ought not to be forgotten that facilities were obtained for introducing amongst the Chinese people the spirit and blessings of the Christian religion. He therefore earnestly entreated the House to assist him in doing that which he believed to be simple justice to the British seaman; and he thought that by doing justice to his claims, they were pursuing the only course which could most securely attach him to his country; and if they refused to compensate him for that which he had so hardly won, it would be useless to endeavour to make up afterwards for that injustice by emoluments or rewards, or offers of advantage. He had brought forward this Motion, not at the request of any party, but solely from his own desire to obtain justice for the British seamen; and if they refused to accede to it, they would, in his opinion, give the greatest blow to the British Navy which had been struck at it for many years. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving that—This House will, upon Wednesday, the 23rd day of this instant July, resolve itself into a Committee, for the purpose of considering the propriety of an Address to Her Majesty, humbly requesting that She will be graciously pleased to take into consideration the claims for further pecuniary recompense of the Officers, Seamen, Soldiers, and Marines engaged in the operations against the Chinese Empire, in the years 1840, 1841, and 1842.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that if he rose for the purpose of opposing, on public principle, the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, he hoped the House would believe that he was not less impressed with a sense of the merit vigour, and ability of those engaged in that war, than the hon. Gentleman. He was perfectly sensible not only of the valour and skill displayed by our forces in China, but also of the humanity which they exhibited towards their foes, and the sufferings which they endured, not only from the military operations, but also from the effects of the climate. For all these the forces employed in China deserved the respect and admiration of their fellow countrymen; but when he expressed his admiration of those who were so engaged, he would add that the 682 House was now called upon to discuss a question totally distinct from the merits of the officers and men employed in the late operations in China. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had called upon them to adopt a course which had never yet been taken by Parliament, and which was opposed to the constitutional principles on which the rule applicable to prize was founded. It had been always recognised as a principle that the remuneration of those engaged in naval and military operations should be left to the discretion and liberality of the Crown; and so strictly had that power been reserved to the Crown, that when the Crown made over to Parliament the revenues arising from droits of the Admiralty and property captured in war, the power was reserved to the Crown, in terms the most stringent, of apportioning at the discretion of the Crown the amount of what was captured from the enemy to the soldiers and seamen employed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman stated that all the property and money which had been captured in China belonged to the Crown; and when he alluded to the observation which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had made with respect to there being no war in China, he was aware that the observation was meant to apply to the right to seize that property. He had said that we had embarked in the operations against China, for the purpose of recovering from the Chinese an amount of money of which our subjects had been improperly deprived, and obtaining compensation from the Chinese Government for the expenses of the war, and bringing it to a proper sense of what was due to the honour and character of this country. It was not enough in order to establish a right prize, to show that it was captured as reprisal: instances without number had happened in which reprisals were made, and the property captured only retained for a time until satisfaction for injury was obtained — such captures were not prize of war. In order to establish a right to prize, certain formalities were necessary; there should be a declaration of war and a proclamation from the Crown, assigning the rights in property captured, which would give to the captors the power of making it a prize. He mentioned these circumstances, because he thought it was important that those in the House who had to decide the question should know the point on which it turned. It was true that in the case of the services performed at Algiers, 100,000l. were given 683 by Parliament to the forces employed; in the case of Navarino, 60,000l.; and in the case of Syria, 60,000l. also; but these sums were not given as prize, they were given as remuneration to the men employed in those services. As soon as the operations in China had successfully terminated, the Government took into their consideration what sum ought to be given to the forces employed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complained that the sum then awarded, gave but a miserable pittance to each soldier and seaman; and he went on to compare that sum with a magnificent account of the prizes captured by our forces in China, when in reality no prizes had been captured. There were orders given to seize certain vessels and property as reprisals, to be given up at the end of the war; but there were directions sent out to take no vessels which were engaged in carrying on the intercourse along the coast of China; and so far were those in authority from looking at the property seized as prize, that when Sir Henry Pottinger was asked to consider the captures as prize, and to appoint a prize agent, he positively refused, and appointed a public officer to superintend the vessels captured; thus laying down the principle that they were seized for satisfaction of our demands in China, and not as prize. The Government had then to consider the proportion in which remuneration to the officers and men engaged in the service of their country should be assigned and distributed. The hon. Gentleman stated that property to the amount of 1,500,000l. was captured. He did not know upon what data that calculation was founded; but there was a return on the Table of the House, from which it appeared that the value of prizes captured from the 25th of August, 1841, to the 22nd of August, 1842, amounted to 540,000 dollars, or 117,700l.; and he apprehended that the Government, in allotting 166,000l. for the operations in the Canton river, and 255,000l. for the services performed in the Yantesekiang river, amounting in the whole to 420,000l., could not be said to have given a remuneration inadequate to the prize money to which the troops would have been entitled, if there had been a proclamation of prize at the time when the captures were made. The gratuities given on such occasions—as in Syria and elsewhere—were not equal to the amount of property captured. The hon. Gentleman complained that the distribution of money 684 was made according to the Indian mode. He admitted that to be the case; but it was because above one half of the land forces employed belonged to the East India Company's service, and a great portion of the naval force belonged to the Indian navy: they were, accustomed to the Indian mode of distribution of batta. If the other mode of distribution had been adopted, there would, doubtless, have been complaints of the distribution operating prejudicially to individuals in that branch of the service. Distribute prize money as you would, the lower ranks of the service could not receive those large amounts which the hon. Gentleman contemplated. He wished that gratuities could be distributed in proportion to the merits of the individual, and the value of the services rendered; but that could not be the case, if the amount be distributed in proportion to the prizes made. In the late war many men, for very brilliant services, received inferior remuneration to that which was gained by those who captured merchant vessels without exertion. The hon. Gentleman might say, "Look at the Nile and Trafalgar, where men received 7l. a head for the most brilliant victories and valuable services; while the crews who captured a merchant fleet in the chops of the Channel received 16l. or 20l.:" the remuneration from prize must depend upon the accidental circumstance of the service upon which the individuals were engaged. Nothing was more painful than to resist a demand made on behalf of branches of the public service, which had done so much both for the honour and interest of the country; but still Government had a duty to perform, and in its performance there was a principle of which they should not lose sight. They objected to parties on every occasion of successful enterprise coming to that House and seeking to make it the instrument of giving to the different branches of the service—to the army and to the navy of the country—pecuniary rewards. When the hon. Gentleman talked of seamen, before going into action, considering what would be the chances of their being rewarded in this way, he was attributing motives to both officers and men by which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was sure they were not actuated. If such were the case, if they were actuated by such motives, it would be a melancholy consideration, for nothing more clearly indicated the ruin of empires, than when troops would not march without a cer- 685 tainty of additional largess, and when the military power embarked in a system of competition which had only money for its object. He resisted the Motion in the firm belief that the amount which was already given, was adequate to the amount of the captures made by the force in the war referred to, and a fair compensation for any prize which, under the circumstances, could have been laid claim to by the parties; and he was sure, whatever might be the feeling of the hon. Gentleman on the matter, that the gratuity would be thankfully acknowledged by the troops and by the navy, as a liberal acknowledgment of the services which they had rendered, and as an incitement, if any such incitement were required, to the cheerful and proper performance of their duty on any future occasion on which the country might have need of their services.
observed, that he never stated that the officers and men were actuated by the feelings alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, but that the system pursued was one which held out to them temptations to act upon such motives.
§ Sir C. Napier
wished to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how long were vessels taken to be considered as droits of the Admiralty?—and he also wished the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House exactly, if he could, what money, after the expenses of the war, that was to say, after the expenses of the additional ships required by the transactions in China were paid, went clear into the Treasury? [The Chancellor of the Exchequer: None.] The right hon. Gentleman included the whole of the force that was there, and he thought it very probable that it had absorbed the whole of the money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer intimated that, in the case of China, there had been no declaration of war. But he would wish to know whether, when they sent a squadron of four frigates, in 1804, to intercept four Spanish galleons, a declaration of war had taken place or not? He believed not, and yet prize money was served out both to officers and men; and in consequence, as the Spaniards conceived, of our improperly seizing their vessels, a declaration of war followed. Was there a declaration of war after the Treaty of Amiens? He believed there was no such declaration, and yet all vessels taken, whether merchantmen or men of war, were regarded as prizes. Nor did he believe that there was a declaration of war 686 even in the case of America, and yet the same rule obtained. Nor was there such a declaration in the case of Denmark, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to give the Danish claimants any remuneration for their losses because the war was not declared; and now the Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to give prize money to the seamen engaged in the Chinese war because war was not declared. He would leave the right hon. Gentleman to reconcile these two cases if he could. In China, an active, severe, though not bloody war, was carried on for three years; and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that, notwithstanding this, there was no war at all. He remembered the Duke of Wellington, in the other House of Parliament, complaining of little wars; when he also said that if we had not war, it seemed something very like it, as war was going on in America, in Syria, and in the East Indies; and yet, although these were regarded by the illustrious Duke as wars, they were now told that that which they carried on in China was no war. If such were the case, then were they nothing better than pirates in seizing the property and the vessels of a nation with which they were at profound peace. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that the sum of 420,000l. was given to the army and the navy in the East Indies. But let them consider the magnitude of that army and navy. They should then examine whether that sum, for a war of three years' duration, was a sufficient remuneration for those who had taken an active part in it. A numerous army and a large fleet were employed in the operations on the coast of China; and the question for consideration was, whether the sum mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman would afford sufficient remuneration to the forces engaged in those operations. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that no captures were made on the Chinese coast, because it was thought prudent to let vessels go along the shore, in order to insure supplies to the fleet; but was the right hon. Gentleman aware that a levy of 10 per cent. was made upon all Chinese vessels entering or leaving the ports? He believed that no account of the amount derived from that source had yet been furnished to the House. The battle of Navarino was an affair of one day; and yet 60,000l. were given for the services of one day, he might say of a few hours, for a fleet consisting of three sail of the line and 687 two or three frigates. A large sum was granted at Algiers for the work of a few hours, although no war was declared. And in these cases, the Secretary of the Admiralty did not forget to take his war pay. He then said it was war, though war was not declared, and did not refuse his war salary. The petty officers at Navarino got 17l. For six weeks' service in Syria the same rank of officers got 13l.; whilst here, for his hard services in this the Chinese war, covering a period of three years, the petty officer received but 16l. He would ask the House if that was a fair and proper remuneration for a seaman who went to an unhealthy climate, who staid there for three years, and performed his duty like a man, insomuch that he, in common with all who shared with him the hardships of that service, was thanked by the House of Commons for so performing his duty? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House that the British army and navy in India were always in the habit of receiving batta. But when their placards were stuck up in Portsmouth, and in our other seaport towns, inviting men to enter the service, and holding out hopes to them that they might make their fortunes by prize money in the Chinese war, did these men then think of batta? The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of the honest pride and gallantry of our seamen, and of their love of glory and honour being sufficient as an incitement to the performance of their duty. But the sailor well knew, notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's panegyric, what prize money was. It was an idea which went down with him from father to son, and he would and must get his prize money. The British sailor also knew very well when he was well treated, and when he was ill treated. He was extremely sensitive. To prize money he looked as his own, as his right. He went to sea for his prize money. That was the plain English of the matter. He knew nothing of honour and glory. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] Let hon. Gentlemen hear him out. The British seaman, whatever might be his love or his regard for his country, fought for his prize money, and to do so was natural to him. To that he looked forward as his remuneration, as an addition to the scanty pay which was given him. The right hon. Gentleman asked the gallant Officer if the 21,000,000 of dollars which were given by the Chinese as a condition of peace, were to be considered as prize money? That they should be so 688 considered, never for a single moment entered into the head of his hon. and gallant Friend. But the 6,000,000 of dollars paid for the ransom of Canton was as much prize money, as if our men had stormed the town, and seized as much property. In addition to that, other transactions took place, such as at Chusan, Amoy, &c., by which large amounts of property came into our possession, of some of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given no account, and much of which was given back to the Chinese, in order to enable them to pay the 21,000,000 of dollars which were to go into the Treasury. Why was not all this property taken into the account by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to see whether it would not amount to a larger sum than the 420,000l., which the right hon. Gentleman contended exceeded the value of the prizes taken? If this was to be the course to be in future pursued by the Government, he would recommend that the Admiralty, whenever it became requisite to equip another armament, should send down orders to their officers not to deceive the men, not to put into their placards that the men were to be sent to this or that place to get prize money, but to tell them honestly and plainly that they were going to fight for their country, with a clear and perfect understanding that they were to have no prize money; but that Parliament, instead, was to take into consideration the services which they should render, and to reward them according to its pleasure. He would like to see if they would then be able to man their ships; he much feared that, in such a case, they would be compelled to have recourse to impressment.
§ Mr. J. A. Smith
observed that there never had been a war in which a greater amount of property was exposed to British seamen; and never, perhaps, on a former occasion, had the force of discipline been manifested to a greater degree. With regard to these men, the course which the Government was now adopting was a most unwise course, as they did not hold out that reward for conduct of such a nature, which in true wisdom, and with a due regard to the interests of the country, they were bound to hold out. He was persuaded that, when, on similar occasions, vast amounts of property were exposed to plunder, the recollection of the decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be lost upon our seamen, as they would find 689 that the most profitable course for them to pursue was not to respect the property thus put in their power, in obedience to the orders of their superiors, as they had done on the occasion now alluded to. He much regretted the course taken, in reference to this matter, by the Government.
Mr. Henry Berkeley
said, as there appeared a great disinclination on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to open their lips on this debate, and as his hon. and gallant relative, by the rules of the House, on a Supply night, had no right of reply, he should venture to offer a few remarks. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke under great uneasiness, and mingled his refusal to do justice to our seamen, with much praise of their merits. By his account, so that you gave them hard knocks and glory, pay or prize money was a matter of indifference to them. Now he differed with the right hon. Gentleman, and believed that English seamen were well described in the words of an old writer—they were men who preferred "solid pudding unto empty praise." The right hon. Gentleman was ready with his praise, but not with his pudding. But did not the past bear him (Mr. Berkeley) out in thus thinking? Look to the last American war. Who assisted in taking our frigates? British seamen in the pay of the enemy. He appealed to the gallant Admiral opposite (Sir G. Cockburn) for the fact. Who assisted to lower the flag of the Guerrière, the Macedonian, the Java? Who were found in the Chesapeake, Argus, and Essex, when captured? British seamen. And why? Because they found better pay, and more prize money in the American service than in the British. Let the House remember that 80,000 English seamen were now serving in the American mercantile and national navy. Was this a time to disgust those who remained in our service, by refusing them justice? What the nature of the service was on which they had been employed might be ascertained by the loss in one frigate, which was a fair average for the others. The Blonde had dead, or invalided, during the China expedition, 1,094 men, besides 84 killed and wounded; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer assured us, we had not been at war. He hoped the House would put aside precedent for justice: prudence dictated that course, and not run the risk of disgusting, 690 by turning the cold shoulder upon a body of men who, in the event of a war, must be looked upon as the best bulwark of the British Empire.
§ Captain Pechell
said, that in addition to the ordnance referred to by his hon. and gallant Friend, the Government had not accounted for the brass ordnance taken at China, and the ransom received in respect to Canton and other places in China. It was said by the Government, this Motion was an interference with the Royal prerogative. That was the way they were always met when the claims of the navy were advanced; but he contended that the question was not one for the Royal prerogative at all, but for the House of Commons. As to the batta, it was never understood that the seamen were to be paid in that manner—they expected to have their fair proportion of prize money, and very great dissatisfaction existed as to the way in which they had been treated. The Government were in possession of sufficient funds which had accrued from the services of the army and the navy, to do justice to both services. Then, again, was the large field which those services had opened to British commerce to be considered as nothing? He called upon the House to support the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ Sir R. Peel
trusted the House would be sensible of the great importance of the question at issue; and that, notwithstanding the appeal which had been made to them, they would not consider it their duty to interfere with the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown; and that, unless a case were satisfactorily and fully made out, they would not, by agreeing to the present Motion, hold out to the army and the navy that they were to look in future to the House of Commons, instead of the Crown, as the dispensers of favour and rewards for military services. There could be nothing more dangerous, or more replete with evil in its consequences, than for the House to interfere as a court of appeal from the Crown, as to those acts of favour and indulgence which it might think fit to show to the army and navy for great military services performed. Then, again, let the House recollect what was due from public men in regard to the public interest. It seemed to be thought the Government had no duty to perform to the country in the matter; that they had nothing to do in guarding the public 691 purse. According to some of the arguments which had been advanced by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, it might be thought that the Members of the Government had appropriated the money received from China to their own private purposes; at all events, the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman went to this, that they should show the greatest liberality to every claimant who came forward, and take no care of the public interest. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, be liberal to the army and navy; but all he could say, was, that if the commercial community were not to have more reason to complain than the army and navy, of being defrauded of a portion of the money they had a right to expect for the purpose of meeting their demands—their claims must be considered; and if their claims, and those of naval and military men, were to be liberally treated on the principles now advocated, all he could say was, that the House would set an example to the Crown which former Parliaments had not thought it prudent to set. Nothing could be more easy than for responsible Ministers to recommend the Crown to be liberal in these matters, and thus to gain popularity and favour. All their sympathies and prepossessions were naturally in favour of acceding to these demands; and nothing was so easy, if the House of Commons would support him, than for a Minister to be liberal in this way, and to concede claims of this nature, if he was sure, that in so doing, he would receive the support of those who were the guardians of the public purse. He did not deny that the House of Commons had a right, in some measure, to control the Crown, and to compel the Crown to be liberal under circumstances in which great liberality might be required; but it would be a most dangerous interference with the Royal prerogative, and would place the House of Commons in a most invidious position with respect to those services, of the value of which the Crown was then the natural and the constitutional judge. He repeated, that the House possessed the right to interfere; but, before they did interfere, they must ask, had the Crown so acted as to make interference necessary? The question, then, for them to consider was, had the Crown acted in this matter with that indulgence and justice to those two great branches of the public service of this country—the army and the navy—which 692 they had a right to expect on account of their gallant exertions and good conduct in the Chinese war? With regard to those exertions there could be no doubt. He admitted at once, and no one could estimate higher than he did, the important and gallant services of the commanders of that expedition, and the resolution, the determined valour, and the exemplary forbearance of the troops engaged. He did not, therefore, place his opposition to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Officer on the ground of denying the distinguished services of that portion of the army and navy which had been engaged in the military operations in China. With regard to the character of the war, whether there had been a formal declaration of war or not, it could not be denied that the service in China was of a very peculiar nature. When we entered upon a course of hostilities with China, we felt that we were in the position of a most powerful country coming into hostile contact with another far less advanced in civilization, and of far less experience in military proceedings. All the instructions given by the noble Lord opposite to the conductors of the expedition were founded on that admission of the inferiority of our opponents. We had no wish, in carrying on the war, to take that advantage of China which we should have taken of a more powerful and a more civilized country, under similar circumstances. The instructions, therefore, which were given to the officers commanding the expedition were, "Try to make an impression on the Chinese—by the occupation of a portion of their territory if you will—but conduct the war upon novel principles (he admitted they were, and even after hostilities had broken out), suffer the commercial marine of the enemy to go unmolested—take the war junks and destroy them; but in order to make a favourable impression upon the Chinese, permit those merchant vessels which were the property of private persons, of Chinese merchants, to pass unmolested." The natural consequence of this course was, that the number of prizes was materially diminished. He would not deny that the state of our relations with China during those proceedings was that of war; but what had been the result of that war, conducted upon the principles he had described; and what were the objects for which it was undertaken? We were, in the first place, to recover a certain sum of money from the 693 Chinese for injuries sustained by our merchants; we named a stipulated sum to be paid by the Chinese, part of which was to be applied to the payment of those merchants whose opium had been seized, part to the payment of the Hong debts, and another part was to be applied to the defraying the charges connected with the expedition. 6,000,000 dollars was the sum required to compensate the opium merchants; 3,000,000 on account of the Hong debts, and the remainder was to go to pay the expenses of the war. That was the understanding of the noble Lord (Palmerston). Now, he apprehended, when they had paid all these charges, so far from having any surplus—and if there had been any surplus after paying all these expenses, there might be some force in the present demand—but after payment of these expenses, he apprehended, that, instead of a surplus, there would be a great deficiency, notwithstanding that we had recovered a large sum from the Chinese as ransom for Canton. But suppose there had been a declaration of war, and all the formalities had been gone through; suppose there had been a proclamation of prizes, and an Act of Parliament passed appropriating those prizes; supposing this had been the case, still, was there any ground for saying that the claims to prize money on the part of the army and navy engaged in that war had been defeated by the Government? 117,000l. was the total amount of prizes that had been realized. [Sir C. Napier: But the merchant vessels?] They were given up in accordance with the principles upon which the war was originally commenced and afterwards conducted; but the hon. and gallant Officer took into his account the ransom for Canton; that had never been considered as prize money, nor was it usual so to appropriate money obtained under such circumstances. In the case of the Spanish galleons, which had been referred to by the hon. and gallant Officer, one-eighth only had been appropriated as prize money. In the present case, the whole amount realized in the shape of prizes was, as he had said, 117,000l. Now, what was the amount which had been awarded? The Government had awarded to the naval and military force engaged 420,000l., not as prize money, he granted, but in the shape of batta. It might be true, that by such an appropriation one might suffer and another might gain; but it was considered 694 by the authorities on the spot that as the operations were Indian, the distribution of the money, 420,000l., to be appropriated as rewards, should be on the principle adopted in India — namely, by batta allowance, rather than on the principle of prize money. The Government could have no interest in allotting the money as batta, instead of as prize money. A reference had been made to the proportion which had, in this case, been awarded to the Commander-in-Chief and the principal officers of the expedition, in comparison with what had been given in former operations of a like character. He believed, that on previous occasions the principal officers had received a larger proportion than on this. His right hon. Friend had stated, that in respect to Algiers, a most severe battle, as all would admit, the sum of 100,000l. had been granted by the liberality of the Government, to be distributed as rewards amongst the force engaged; in regard to the battle of Navarino 60,000l. had been allowed; and 60,000l. had also been awarded in the case of the Syrian war. But he asked, was the House now prepared, departing from its proper functions, to act as a court of appeal against the liberality of the Crown in the exercise of its prerogative? Whatever the prevailing opinion of hon. Gentleman might be as to the merits of this particular case, he would appeal to them, whether they thought it was right or prudent to set the precedent of teaching the army and navy to look to the House of Commons for rewards and indulgences for services performed, instead of to the Crown? How easy it would be to say that the value of any particular service depended upon its merits, and not upon the amount of prizes obtained, and how easy it would be to call on the House of Commons to vote on every occasion, where no prizes were taken, a sum of money by way of largess to the troops engaged! But was it not the Crown which should judge of what was a fair return for the service performed? He repeated, he hoped the House would not think this a case in which it would be proper to interfere with the legitimate and constitutional functions of the Crown, and to intimate to the Government that they had no duty to perform in protecting the public interest. And if, as he contended, there was no want of liberality in the present case, he trusted the House 695 would not discourage the Government in their attempt to reconcile a due liberality to the two branches of the service of this country — the army and the navy, with what was due to the interest of the public. Above all, he would say, it would be most dangerous for a popular assembly, like the House of Commons, to constitute itself the judge of military service.
thought the statement of the hon. and gallant Officer (Captain Berkeley) had been completely answered by the right hon. Gentleman; and if the Motion was pressed to a division, he thought those hon. Gentlemen in the House connected with the Navy would act most unadvisedly, and he must oppose them.
§ Viscount Palmerston
was disposed to concur in principle generally with what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, that the House of Commons should be careful and sparing in its interference with that part of the prerogative of the Crown which had reference to the rewards to be given for military and naval services. He argued that the army and navy ought to be taught to look to the Crown for rewards; and, as a general rule, it was most inexpedient for that House to interpose. At the same time the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend was not altogether without example. In the case of the battle of Navarino, the House did interpose repeatedly, and at length the advice of the House prevailed with the Crown; and that payment was made which the Government had, for a long time, thought it their duty to withhold. And he thought the present was a case in which his hon. and gallant Friend was justified in urging the House to express an opinion that the Government ought to reconsider the decision it had come to. The right hon. Baronet stated correctly, that official men were naturally inclined to take the most liberal view of claims of this nature. Their personal feelings in the first place would lead them to look favourably upon them; but considerations of revenue, and considerations connected with the supplies, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Treasury came to look at the expenses of the country on the one hand, and its income on the other, counterbalancing feelings of duty arose in their 696 minds; and after all, it was a question dependent on duty rather than feeling, which would overrule those first impulses and those natural feelings to take the most liberal view of such demands. And if he thought that in this instance the Government had not extended its liberality to that extent which the just claims of the two services required, and their brave and brilliant achievements would justify, he did not impute to them any intention to overlook the just claims of those services; but in taking a less liberal view than he could have wished, they had, he believed, acted under the influence of what they considered their paramount duty, and upon the judgment they had formed upon the merits of the case. It was all very well to say, that soldiers and sailors were men who, in entering the service, were actuated by high and patriotic feelings only; and whose whole object was the honour and advantage of the country. No doubt those motives did influence them, and that those were the feelings with which many enlisted in the service of their country; but, at the same time, it could not be denied, that the expectation of prize money added a zest to the service, and gave an impulse to the soldier or the sailor when the day arrived for exertion, which it would be most unwise to withdraw from the mass of motives which influenced the conduct of men. And there was something of a wild, romantic nature in the very name of prize money, which rendered a small sum so obtained far more gratifying to the man who gained it, than a much larger amount received in the way of mere ordinary pay. Then it must not be forgotten that there were services which both soldiers and sailors were called upon to perform—perhaps the most difficult, the most hazardous, and the most dangerous—services full of continued exertion and painful endurance, for which no reward, no prize money was given. Take, for instance, the sufferings of the troops in Affghanistan; but neither the soldiers in that expedition, nor sailors engaged in a corresponding case at sea, would ever complain that the reward of prize money was not to be looked for by them, for they knew that by the established regulations of the service, no expectation of such reward was held out to them, and therefore no feeling of injustice was felt. But, on the other hand, when they were in a situa- 697 tion in which, according to the established rules of the service, they might expect some such advantage, if they did not receive it, they considered, and most materially so, that they had fair ground of complaint. Now the question was, did that fair ground of complaint arise in this case? Strictly and legally speaking, there could be no capture made before war was declared; but, as had been decided by Sir W. Scott, in the case of the Danish claims, that when, in a case of hostilities, a declaration of war followed, it gave the right of prize money for captures made before. He was not aware whether any declaration of war had been issued in the present case or not; but that was not the question. The Crown had waived the ground of right, and had granted the remuneration. But what was the nature of that remuneration? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that the payment of batta was chosen as the mode of reward, instead of prize money; that part of the force engaged belonged to the India Company; and that batta, and not prize money, was the usual mode in which the troops of that Company were rewarded. He doubted if in this the right hon. Gentleman was altogether correct. He had been informed by persons who had been engaged in the Indian service, that it had been customary to give to those soldiers batta and prize money too, and that in the case of Lord Harris's exploits, and also in the war under Lord Hastings, the troops of the India establishment received both pay and batta. The question, then, was not as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put it, that batta having been paid, nothing more was due; but it was, why was not prize money given as well as batta in this case? In point of amount, comparing it with the nature of the service, its duration, and the importance of its results, the amount which had been paid in this case was not so great as had been awarded on previous occasions. If he was lightly informed, he believed that a petty officer, who had served in China during the three years over which that expedition extended, received 16l.; whereas the same class of officers engaged in the expedition against Algiers, received about 17l.; and the reward paid to officers of the same rank, who had been engaged in the short Syrian campaign, was 18l. But, then, it was said that there was no other fund from which 698 the money could be taken. Now that was not putting the matter quite correctly. The right hon. Baronet had stated very truly, that the orders given to the naval and military commanders before the operations begun, were to abstain in a very signal degree from inflicting the calamities of war on the population of the country. In fact, it was our anxious object, that whereas peace and friendship with the people of China was our ultimate desire, that nothing should be done unnecessarily, in the course of the war, to stir up hostile feelings among the population at large. But the right hon. Baronet was mistaken in supposing that orders were given in the outset of the operation to abstain from taking the junks. On the contrary the seizure and detention of these vessels was one of the modes of reprisal which was to be resorted to, and one of the modes by which it was proposed to exercise a pressure upon the Chinese Government. Our officers then received instructions to blockade the coasts, and to seize upon coasting vessels. The last portion of these instructions was not carried out, for a reason which might sound insufficient, but was not so in reality. It was not that there were not junks to be found: quite the contrary. But the fact was, that the Admiral stated that they were so numerous, that if he began to take them, he had no means of doing anything with them; that to put crews on board of them would entirely unman our squadron; that to keep them at Chusan would be useless, and to try to send them to India or Singapore would be still worse. The plan of capture of the junks was, therefore, given up. But, even were it otherwise—if Government, as a matter of policy, had ordered the force to abstain from these captures—that would be no reason why the troops and the seamen employed should receive a less amount of prize money than they would otherwise be entitled to. But, then, it was said that was no fund from which to pay any increased amount of prize money. The demands upon the Chinese, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, were made in a threefold shape. We demanded money, first, as compensation for the opium seized; secondly, to pay the debts of the Hong merchants; and, thirdly, to cover the expenses of the war. That was all quite true; for if the Government would look back to the instructions given, 699 they would see that our Plenipotentiary was ordered to demand the sum required, in the following manner: — First, the value of the opium, to be ascertained by subsequent investigations; secondly, the debts of the Hong merchants, which were then known and ascertained; and, thirdly, the expenses of the war, which were to be ascertained, and accounts sent in to the Chinese Government after the affair was over, and the Treaty of Peace was signed. These were the instructions; but the last time that he saw Sir Henry Pottinger before he set out—on the very morning, indeed, that he left London—Sir Henry suggested to him that there might be some advantage (supposing that the Chinese acquiesced in the principle of our demands) were he authorized to treat for the payment of the whole in one round sum. "I said (continued the noble Lord) that may certainly be an advantage; how much do you think now, we may be able to get? 'Why,' said Sir Henry, 'the Emperor is a rich old gentleman enough, and I fancy we might look for five millions sterling from him—do you think that would do?' Well, I thought the matter over for a moment, and then I said, 'I think that will do very well if we can get it—it will probably pay for the opium, for the Hong merchants debts, and the expenses of the war.'" That was when Sir H. Pottinger left England; but the war did not conclude so soon as was then anticipated. The expenses were, of course, great in proportion, and the sum actually obtained fell short of what was required to meet the expenditure for which we had become liable. Certain communications then passed between the Government and the Plenipotentiary as to the sums which might be sufficient, and if it was deemed expedient to accept from the Chinese Government a sum which fell short of the full amount which might be demanded to include the expenses of the war. That was an act of political expediency, which formed no sort of answer to the demand made in the Motion now before the House. The ransom paid for Canton would have been considered, had the declaration of war followed, as prize money; and this circumstance ought not to be left out of the reckoning in discussing the present question. It had been said that 450,000l. was a large sum. Abstractedly it was so, perhaps; but sums were large or small in proportion to the objects for which they were paid; and if 700 the sum in question was not sufficient to give to the troops and naval force employed that which would be a fair reward for their successes and achievements, then he maintained that it was not the aggregate sum which they must consider, but the amount per man that that sum would afford to pay. That the operations in China constituted a series of remarkable exploits would be admitted by everybody. He believed that Lord Stanley wrote a letter to the commander-in-chief of the expedition, in June, 1843, in which he stated that it was the determination of Government to cause a medal to be struck in commemoration of these services. In that document his Lordship expressed himself nearly as follows. He stated—That, although Her Majesty was of opinion that the award of a distinction of this nature should be reserved for very peculiar and special occasions—as, no doubt, it ought to bs—and that great evil would arise from the frequent and indiscriminate granting of medals, in order to commemorate military and naval exploits, yet that it appeared to Her Majesty that, in the instance of the recent events in China, an exception could properly and usefully be made from the rule to be generally observed. The difficulties with which our forces had to contend on the recent expedition—difficulties arising from the absence of that local information which would have been accessible in respect to almost, every other country—had been of the most formidable character; but they had been as gallantly met and triumphantly surmounted. Wherever opportunities had offered—and they were not wanting—for displays of skill and courage, our naval and military forces had nobly kept up the character of their respective services; and Her Majesty was happy in the belief that the great moral effect which had been produced upon the Chinese people, and to which Her Majesty principally looked for permanent advantages, had resulted not more from the irresistible power displayed, than from the moderation shown in victory, and the studious abstinence from unnecessary aggravation of the horrors of war; the discipline which prevailed during the excitement of success, and the good faith with which, on the first intimation of acquiescence in our demands, the invading forces had been withdrawn. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty was of opinion that the Chinese war, and its important results, should be commemorated by the issue of a medal, to be granted to those whose skill and valour had brought about its termination.If, then, this war was so remarkable by the circumstances under which it was conducted, and if it had led to commercial 701 advantages, so great that no man could trust himself beforehand to calculate them, he thought that it was an occasion on which Government would be justified in taking a more liberal view of the claims now submitted to them, than under the different circumstances they would be inclined to apply to similar demands. He thought that the Government had not, on this occasion, given way so much as they might to that spontaneous impulse which, the right hon. Baronet stated, was apt to animate a Ministry upon such questions. He could only hope that, whether Government would, or would not, refuse the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend, that no course which they might take, that no majority which they might command, would prevent them from giving these matters a fair and liberal consideration; and should it be found, on a comparison of what had been done in similar cases with what had been done in this, that the scale of recompense to the naval and military forces had been lowered from its old standard, then, he hoped, that nothing which had passed would be taken to pledge Government so as to preclude them from giving the united service a more ample reward.
§ Captain Harris
had no doubt the soldiers and sailors who had been engaged in China would perform their duly in the same manner that they had done if they were called on to do so. But he certainly did not think the batta donation was a fair reward; 210,000l. had been distributed to the navy; but in such a way that only 4l. was paid to the petty officers. That was not a fair remuneration. He would not say what sum ought to be given; but he hoped that Government would increase the grant, and give such a sum as seemed fair under the circumstances.
thought that the appeal made by his hon. and gallant Friend was to the justice, not to the liberality, of the House. The shares awarded to petty officers were no payment for the services they had performed, and the dangers they had undergone. He contended that the petty officers had a right to a larger share of the prize money that the common sailors and boys. It was all very well to talk about honour and glory to seamen, but prize money was the great, stimulus to which they always had and always would look.
§ Sir James Duke
deplored the tone in which the discussion had been carried on on one side of the House, and deprecated the mercenary spirit so frequently during the debate attributed, but he believed upon no good grounds, to the seamen of the British Navy.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 69; Noes 27: Majority 42.
|List of the AYES.|
|Antrobus, E.||Greene, T.|
|Arkwright, G.||Grogan, E.|
|Baird, W.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Barkly, H.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Henley, J. W.|
|Benbow, J.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Botfield, B.||Howard, P. H.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Broadley, H.||Hutt, W.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Buckley, E.||Kemble, H.|
|Cardwell, E.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Lockhart, W.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Collett, W. R.||McNeill, D.|
|Corry, rt. hn. H.||Masterman, J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Cripps, W.||Nicholl, rt. hn. J.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Darby, G.||Peel, J.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Pringle, A.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Ewart, W.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Fielden, J.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Forman, T. S.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Forster, M.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Williams, W.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||TELLERS.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Young, J.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Baring, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Bannerman, A.||Moffat, G.|
|Barnard, E. G.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Paget, Col.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Bowes, J.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Butler, P. S.||Somers, J. P.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Duncan, G.||Troubridge, Sir T.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Harris, Capt.||Wakley, T.|
|Hawes, B.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Langston, J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Maher, N.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Berkeley, hon. Capt.|