HC Deb 18 May 1846 vol 86 cc856-9

House in Committee on Viscount Hardinge's Annuity Bill. On the 1st Clause,


moved that the annuity to Viscount Hardinge be payable to him, during his life, irrespective of any grant by the East India Company.


trusted that on such a Bill as this there would be general unanimity exhibited. The Government had proposed that an annuity of 3,000l. should be paid to Viscount Hardinge; the East India Company voluntarily, and without any communication with the Government, had determined to give to his noble Friend an annuity of 5,000l. The Government, acting in deference to the principle laid down by the House of Commons, proposed that the 3,000l. a year should not be received along with the larger grant.


conceived that the principle on which the House acted was entirely erroneous. He had no objection to the House bestowing Peerages for life on deserving persons; but he did not see why pensions should be given to their descendants to support those titles. Why should the House, having once granted the money, propose to stop their hands because the East India Company came forward to give a grant also?


said, it was a strange measure of justice that, because the East India Company did one thing, the House should do another. He thought, instead of granting a pension for a limited period to Viscount Hardinge, that a sum of money should be laid out for the purchase of land, which would cost no more to the country; whilst it would be a permanent advantage to the noble Lord and his family.


said, the Bill as brought into the House contained a clause declaring that none of the money to be granted to Viscount Hardinge should be allowed to him, because the East India Company had acted liberally towards him. He thought nothing could be greater than the merits of that distinguished individual, which deserved every reward the House could confer on him.


begged the hon. Gentleman not to suppose that he individually, or the House collectively, had anything to do with the grant of the East India Company. The grant was complete as it stood, and required no sanction from the Parliament. It was only necessary to have the sanction of the Crown, of the First Minister of the Crown, or of that Minister more immediately connected with India. The clause was introduced to restrict the operation of a prohibitory clause, which enacted that the Viscount Hardinge should not receive any addition to his salary as Governor General of India.


said, he should certainly oppose the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He would make no objection to the Bill before the House, but he should offer his decided opposition to the Amendment. He thought such Peerages ought to be granted for life, and also that the House of Commons ought to come to a decision to withhold any grants to future generations.


agreed fully with the hon. and gallant Officer opposite. Considering the services of the noble Lord, the pension was a very small one, and he was sorry to see the mean disposition shown by the House of Commons in attempting to hold back. The hon. Member for Coventry and his party were very fond of preaching economy, but they did not always practise what they preached. He was sorry that the pension was not more, and he was sure no Englishman would be found to object to it.


said, he was an Englishman who would vote against the Amendment. When they knew that the Prime Minister was connected with the noble Lord by ties of the closest intimacy, he could not, without the deepest regret, perceive an attempt made in the House of Commons to urge the right hon. Baronet to go farther than he thought necessary. He supposed the hon. and gallant Officer was actuated by a certain esprit de corps in bringing forward the matter, but when the First Lord of the Treasury, who was, besides, the intimate private friend of the noble Lord, proposed what he considered to be a sufficient grant, he thought it was an outrageous thing to endeavour to increase it.


would wish the House exactly to understand the way in which the question stood. He could not take credit to himself at all for having made this proposition on account of the distress of the country. This country was undoubtedly rich enough to grant any amount of pension that might be considered advisable; but, looking back to the precedents when distinguished general officers had performed those services for which Peerages had been conferred, he found that the usual rule was to grant a pension of 2,000l. a year with the Peerage. When the Duke of Wellington was made a Viscount the pension attached was, he thought, 2,000l. for two lives. Again, when Lord Combermere was made a Viscount, some objection was raised to giving a pension at the same time, as it was alleged that his private circumstances were such as did not require any pecuniary provision. An explanation was afterwards made to the effect that his private fortune was not so large as had been supposed, and a pension of 2,000l. a year was then attached. He thought the general rule was to attach to the Peerage a pension of 2.000l. a year. In some cases this pension was permanently attached to the Peerage; but in others, and, he believed, the greater number of instances, the pension was granted for three lives. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government made the proposal to attach a pension of 3,000l. a year to Lord Hardinge's title, to continue for three lives; and a pension of 2,000l. a year, for the same duration, to Lord Gough. Subsequently, however, the East India Company signified to the Crown that they wished to reward, by a personal grant, the services which Lord Gough and Lord Hardinge had performed. The consent of the Crown was necessary for the validity of that Act; and the intervention of Parliament was also necessary, because, by the existing law, Lord Hardinge could not receive the pension of 5,000l. a year until he resigned his office of Governor General of India. The East India Company wished to make their pension take effect immediately, and, therefore, as long as his noble Friend retained the office of Governor General of India, he would receive his pension and draw his salary in addition. There- fore, looking to the consent of the Crown being given to the provision of 5,000l. by the East India Company, and looking also to what other distinguished men received on similar occasions, it did appear to him that if they should provide a pension of 3,000l. a year concurrently with his salary as Governor General of India, and the grant of the India Company, it would be a much larger remuneration than was usual. On the retirement of a Minister of the Crown, however distinguished his services might be, his pension never exceeded 2,000l. a year; and even for that sum it was necessary that his circumstances should require the grant. From all these considerations, he did think that, giving credit to the East India Company, which was a great public body, and considering that both the Crown and the Parliament were required to give their assent to the pension proposed to be conferred upon his noble Friend, it was on the whole better that the House should agree to the clause as it now stood.


referred to the instances of Lord Beresford, Lord Lynedoch, and Lord Combermere, and called upon the House of Commons, in gratitude to services unequalled, to settle their annuity for three lives.

The clause agreed to.

House resumed. Bill to be reported.

House adjourned at half past One o'clock.