HC Deb 25 February 1848 vol 96 cc1334-73

The Order of the Day for the House to go into a Committee of Supply having been read,

On the Motion that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,


was very sorry that he felt himself called upon by an imperative sense of duty to interfere in any way with the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government, in obtaining those supplies which they thought requisite to carry on the services of the country; but he appealed to the House whether, when they agreed to advance 3,200,000l. towards the expenses of the Army and Navy, it was not distinctly understood that they were not to be called upon to vote any estimates until the Committee to be named on the subject had reported. It would be recollected that when the vote for the excess of the Navy was proposed the other night, it was pronounced to be one of the most objectionable votes on the Paper. He, therefore, for one, could not subscribe to the opinion that this vote should be taken without debate. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: It was distinctly understood that the vote on account should be taken on Friday night.] He objected to any money being voted until they had ascertained what was the situation of the revenue, and how far the circumstances of the country would warrant the imposition of new taxes, or the increase in the establishments at the rate that was proposed. He would not go into details, his only object being to impress on the House the necessity of inquiring into the estimates, and to get from the House a pledge that no additional taxation and no additional estimates should be made until an inquiry had been instituted as to the absolute necessity of such a course. The universal opinion throughout the country was, that the Government had proposed an unwarrantable increase in the expenditure of the country. The House was much to blame for having permitted the gradual increase in the expenditure that had taken place. He himself had always protested against it; but the Government proposed an increase at a time when the commerce of the country was paralysed, and when the utmost distress prevailed. Such was the uncertainty of affairs, that the mercantile community were averse to enter into any enterprise which should extend beyond a few months. Was that a time for the Government to propose a large increase in the expenditure? The noble Lord had alluded to the increase from 135,000l. to 196,000l. in the Army, Navy, and Ordnance estimates with the utmost sang froid, as if it were only for the noble Lord to announce it, and for the people to yield and pay it. The Army had been increased from 100,000 in 1833, to 138,000 in 1847. The coast guard had been increased from 8,000 to 13,000. The entire increase of expense had been from 240,000 to 350,000 for the public service. He conceived he was only acting with common charity towards the Ministers in stopping them in this downward career. They were mistaken if they supposed the country was in a condition to bear increased taxation. It was proposed that they should convert this peaceful country into a nation of arms; and to such a proposal he decidedly objected. He submitted that they ought not to advance a shilling until they had compelled Her Majesty's Government to adopt measures of retrenchment. He said compelled, because no suggestion of his or of any other hon. Member had any effect. At the end of last Session he recommended the appointment of a Committee to revise the taxation of the country, and to ascertain whether the amount of money required for its service could not be raised in a less burdensome and less objectionable manner. He had, therefore, expected that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have made a statement to meet in some degree the clamour—if they chose to call it clamour—which had taken place; for great discontent prevailed on the subject; and the universal feeling in Scotland was, that the whole of the laws relating to the Excise ought to be reconsidered. It did not appear from the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that any preparation whatever had been made to meet the just expectations of the country in this respect. It appeared to him that the Government had been asleep, and he thought it high time to wake them now, and to let them know what the country thought and required. He ought not to be accused of taking them by surprise. On the 30th of November last he had asked the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) whether he intended to appoint a Committee to examine into the revenue and expenditure of the country; and, on receiving the noble Lord's answer, he had given notice that he himself should move the appointment of such a Committee. He did not, however, follow up that notice, because he knew that the demand would be made upon the Government whenever the House should be called upon to renew the income-tax. He wished to undeceive the country with regard to the state of the revenue. Every hon. Member who had spoken in favour of our taxation, had talked of the decrease in the revenue. A more fallacious statement never had been made. He would presently show the House what was the state of the revenue. Meanwhile, he wished it to be recollected that he had always said, that whatever distress there might be in the country, one of the most disastrous results to all classes would be any attempt to interfere with the public credit. Well, then, what course would a private individual pursue to preserve his credit if, after an examination of his affairs, he found himself involved? Would he launch out into further expenses, or would he revise and curtail his expenditure, and so maintain his honour? He called on Her Majesty's Ministers to adopt the course which every honest man would pursue in the conduct of his own affairs. His object was to promote, and not to injure, public credit. If the House would not interfere, it was clear that Her Majesty's Ministers would not; and he put it to hon. Members to say whether the House was not responsible to the country for the proper administration of the public taxes and expenditure? If the House was satisfied that it had hitherto done wrong in sactioning a lavish expenditure, they ought to retrace their steps. He had several returns which had been made to the House, and among them was the Parliamentary Paper No. 324 of the Session 1846, being an account of the public income and expenditure in each year from 1822 to 1845. It appeared to him an extraordinary thing that, after so many years of peace, we should come back to the same state of income and expenditure as was found in 1822. In 1825, 1826, and following years, when he pressed for a reduction in the expenditure, he was told that matters on the Continent were not settled—that France had not yet settled down to her regular government. For his part, he had always protested against interference. Any meddling or interference on our part with the affairs of other States, could only produce rancour and ill-will among the people there. Could we now, after a settled dynasty of fifteen years in France, maintain that our army had tended in any degree to maintain the established order of things? On the contrary, from all the accounts he had heard, he expected to see Louis Philippe arrive in London in the course of a very few days. He (Mr. Hume) was anxious that the House and the Ministry should not be led away with the idea that it was a military force that would maintain a Government in those days. He could only say that he marvelled at the folly of a man so wise in his generation—who, taking upon himself the honourable and immense charge of the representative of a large, free nation, should believe that by expending seventy or eighty millions of their money to surround his capital with forts, and by adding to those forts 100,000 men, he could secure his dynasty. Why, what did the Times tell them that day? "The people were"—["Question!"] He would apply this passage immediately—he would show them that if they were to proceed in the same way, and make this a military nation, they would create dissatisfaction and distress amongst all classes. He would only read three lines— The people were in the presence of an army of 100,000 of the finest troops in the world, with artillery and stores unlimited in number and amount, and who were congregated in barracks, forts, citadels, nearly impregnable, with the king's name to support them. Those unarmed men defied and withstood charges of cavalry in the largest square of Europe throughout an entire day, and formed barricades, and committed what, but for the object, would merit the name of outrage, with a coolness and audacity perfectly marvellous, and in the very presence of troops four times more numerous than themselves. Was not that a lesson? And who was the party that did it? It was that party for whom he was now anxious to appeal to that House. It was the middle class, with its strength and sinew, the labourers of the country. He hoped no Sovereign of England would ever forget the language of Queen Elizabeth when asked where were her battalions to meet the Spanish invasion? She replied that her support was in the hearts and sinews of her people. He would ask the noble Lord why 30,000 or 40,000 men more were now wanting in England than were wanting in 1833? He looked back—he had been abused for looking back—to 1792; he looked back to 1822, when such another attempt was made as the Ministry were now making. He then wasted six weeks in trying to reduce the military and naval expenses of the country: he divided the House some seventy or eighty times; but he was beaten on every division. When the appropriation came on, he gave notice of an address to His Majesty, that the circumstances and situation of the country required that they should consider the amount of military and naval forces; that they should consider the situation of the country, and grant such a reduction as would assimilate them to the establishments of 1792. He made his Motion; but Mr. Bankes, jealous, probably, lest it should be carried, moved an Amendment, leaving out two or three words. The House then negatived his proposition, but it adopted the country Gentleman's; and what was the result? The estimates were reduced before the next year, 1823, 3,000,000l., and 10,000 men cut off from the Army. Therefore he would now say to the House, "Adopt the course which was then wisely adopted, retrace your steps, look what you have to do, and retrench if you be satisfied that the pressure of the country requires it." His noble Friend (Viscount Duncan) had on a former night said they might take off 1,600,000l., and adopted the plan of suggesting substitutes. He thought in the present state of the revenue the noble Lord might have left it to the Government to find the substitutes. He recollected some words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, last year, with regard to what he considered their responsibility, which the right hon. Baronet repeated in his speech the night before last. He was sorry to hear those words from the right hon. Gentleman: he said he was prepared, without any other statement than the assurance of the Government, to support the estimates as proposed by the noble Lord. The right hon. Gentleman was actuated no doubt by what he himself expected when in office—obedience to his dictum. He no doubt expected that the present Ministry, and all future Ministries, should, on their own responsibility, be supported in their estimates. However, he thought it became the House not to rest on the responsibility of Ministers alone, but to consider whether each Member was not individually responsible. If they were only there to subscribe and register the acts of the Minister, they had better stay at home. But they were told the other night that the House from time to time had sanctioned every increase. True, a majority of the House had done that; and he had never ceased repeating that the majority of the House had not attended to the interests of the country. However, perhaps they should not blame those hon. Members, but blame the electors. The electors were the men who ought to look after their interests; and they should not blame them, if all who were affected by their votes had not a voice in the choice of the representatives. When he heard hon. Gentlemen assert, as a reason why they should not extend the franchise to artisans and other classes, that the interests of the middle classes and those of the artisans was one and the same, he could not expect that those who were electors would attend to the masses of the community. The whole tenor of the legislation of this country had been to favour the few at the expense of the many; and it was time to consider whether they were not raising by means of their exactions a state of discontent and distress which would render property of little value, and make its enjoyment impossible from the people being so distressed. He would call the attention of the House to the revenue in the year 1822, and the expenditure. The expenditure in 1822, and in this year, would be within about 500,000l. of each year. He would take his stand on the years 1833, 1834, and 1835. At no period had matters been better conducted than during those three years in this country. And what was the state of the revenue in these years? The ordinary revenue, after drawbacks and repayment, was on an average 50,524,545l.. Now, what was the revenue in 1846? It was about 57,589,000l., there being an excess of taxation on the last year of about 7,000,000l. more than on an average on each of the three years to which he had referred. At that time wise counsellors guided His Majesty; but from the year 1836, when they began to arm and meddle with other countries, by degrees, year after year, additions were made—first one and then another, until at length they arrived at their present state. He would protest against any man saying the revenue was falling. The revenue had kept up to a degree that scarcely could have been anticipated. However, he was sorry to say that from what had taken place within the last eight or ten months it was impossible not to expect a considerable amount of defalcation. The noble Lord had pointed out what, according to his view, the defalcation would be; but he thought it would be larger. Although it was uncomfortable to be told that there was an empty exchequer, he was always anxious to keep the Chancellor of the Exchequer very close indeed, in the hope that he might not waste money. He found that the estimates always rose exactly in proportion to the increase of revenue; for the expenditure for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance in the years 1833–35 was on an average, 11,996,215l., while in 1846, with an increased revenue of 7,800,000l., the expenditure for those services amounted to 16,864,697l., and in the present year the estimates were 900,000l. more. Let that be compared with the 11,000,000l. in 1833, and they would find the exact proportion of taxation which he maintained ought to be reduced. He found that the present increase in the estimates arose mainly in the Navy; and he could show, when the proper time came, that one half of the ships built were not required. In the opinion, he would not say of the Lords of the Admiralty, but in the opinion of others, looking to what took place in former times, and what other countries had done, the number of ships required for the service of the country, and the number of ships at present existing in the Navy, was very disproportioned. He would not say a word as to the manner in which these ships were built or provided, but merely refer to the application or use of them. He submitted here was one case made out which showed it was apparent that unless they kept the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer close, and that could only be done by reducing taxation, all other efforts would be fruitless to keep down the expenses. It was on that ground that he called upon the House to support the Motion which pledged the House to what the country required; the object not only was, that they should not admit of the increase that was proposed by the noble Lord, but that, on the contrary, they should, as soon as possible, try to go back and reduce our establishments to the footing on which they stood before the present career of extravagance was commenced. He might refer to a variety of items that were unnecessary, and which he had at various times endeavoured to prevent by a constitutional opposition in that House. The immense brevets that took place from time to time were altogether uncalled for, and led to heavy expense. In the same manner they had a right to complain on the part of the public on another most important point. When, after a long war, he urged in 1822 a reduction of the estimates for the Army and Navy, he was told to look to the ineffective list, and the number of pensioners that were thrown upon them, and that in proportion as those pensioners died off, they would obtain relief. And in that year Lord Bexley, one of the greatest manœuverers that ever lived, borrowed 13,000,00l. to pay off the dead weight. He cajoled the country by saying, that it should be relieved of the debt as individuals died off, and enabled them to keep up their establishments. They accordingly gave postponed annuities for 580,000l. for 44 years, in order that they might have the benefit of paying off this dead weight. Such was the way in which the financial matters of the country were managed. The public, however, were now awake; and though distress and dissatisfaction might proceed to a certain extent without injury to any individual, he cautioned hon. Gentlemen not to press the willing horse too long, but to see whether the means were not in existence by which they could, with perfect security to the public creditor, reduce seven millions of money without any difficulty whatever. He would state in what way he would at once propose to proceed. Taking the finance account that was before them in the last Session, the ordinary and extraordinary revenue, agreeable to the paper he held in his hand, was 58,439,000l., and it was proposed to make additions to that which would raise it to upwards of 60,000,000l. Now, he objected to that. After deducting the amount that was required to pay the funded debt, 28,077,987l., they had about 30,351,346l. There were charges on the Consolidated Fund for the London metropolitan police, for the police of Dublin, and other charges that ought never to have been removed from the annual vote of that House. Taking them at 2,736,807l., if they looked in the items they would find there were two or three Lord Chancellors receiving pensions of 5,000l. and other charges, in which, if examined with a willing hand, large reductions would and ought to be made. Now, suppose they had altogether 27,614,539l. to deal with, did they not think that some 20 or 30 per cent, in many instances, some less and some more, might be reduced, when they saw the increase that had taken place in a few years? Let them take for example the charge for the collection of the revenue. Did any man believe that the whole revenue might not be collected for 3,000,000l., instead of 4,500,000l.? And to show how negligent the Government had been, there were upwards of 7,000,000l. of the public taxes that never reached the Treasury, but was deducted and made ducks and drakes of. The Government in this case abdicated their functions. He did not speak particularly of this Government, for all the Governments were the same. Here, for example, was the Customs Department. He would venture to ask any man of business if two Commissioners would not be sufficient instead of twelve? and instead of eight or ten Commissioners of Excise, he might venture to ask his hon. Friend the Chairman of the Excise Department, if he would not be pleased to get rid "of many of his Colleagues? He did not mean to refer to any Gentleman—his expressions were not meant to apply to any individual; but it was to the system he looked. There was the sum of 4,639,000l. for collection, which ought to be brought strictly under review; and next he would take the Army, Navy, and Ordnance. Last year the expenditure under these heads was 16,864,497l., and the Miscellaneous Estimates were 3,264,339l., which formed, in round numbers, a sum of 25,000,000l. Was not this enough to arrest the attention of any thinking man? And he would ask, if the House was prepared to rest satisfied without probing the whole system to the bottom? He should mention that, in a Finance Committee, the question had been put, whether they could not convert all the debt of the country into terminable annuities, so as to gradually pay it off? They were told, that from year to year, at stated periods, they would find relief as those annuities fell in. He was not prepared to say how far the annuities falling in, and the annuities granted, balanced each other; but they ought, by this time, to have experienced considerable relief; and yet their payments for the funded debt remained the same. He begged to call attention to the expense for the Army in 1821 and 1822; also the expense for the year 1835, and for the years 1847 and 1848. He had taken up the Irish estimates that morning, and had selected some items, from which the House might judge of the necessity for reconsidering them. He found that since the Committee, of which he had the honour to be a Member, sat in 1830, considerable augmentation had taken place. In 1830, the charge for the Dublin police was 7,000l., now it was 35,000l.; the charge for the Presbyterian clergy was in the former year 11,000l., now it was 36,000l.; law charges had risen from 17,000l. to 34,000l. In short, what in 1822 involved an expenditure of 100,000l., had in 1847 amounted to 274,000l., being an increase of 174,000l., or nearly 180 per cent. He did not state these things to reproach Gentlemen from Ireland, but to show the necessity for inquiry. He asked the House whether this large increase did not warrant him in saying, now was the time when they ought to examine and trim their expenditure within their income. And not only within the income, but he should be prepared to prove that they could go much further. They could bring back the taxation to what it had formerly been, and relieve the country from the taxes on windows, soap, cheese, and many other articles. The country felt those taxes, but they little knew what was the cause of keeping them on. Diminished expenditure would give them the means of relieving them from all those taxes, and from those troublesome practices connected with the excise. On all those grounds he asked the House not to delay what might be done at once, or, at all events, not to wait until they had heard the debate of Monday. He would say, those two votes were extraordinary charges, and ought not to be moved without special and specific examination. He certainly had strong objections to all votes which went back upon the expenditure of last year. If it turned out that 500,000l. was incurred last year, he would ask why was it not put in the estimates for that year? He would suggest that a separate Committee should be appointed to take these extraordinary charges into consideration. He was not to be challenged now with making any fresh objection, because, when he first saw the estimates, he put a Notice on the Paper for the purpose of having a return of the circumstances under which the expense was incurred, that they might judge of its propriety. He did not care whether it was a debt incurred by the late or present Government; for it was the principle of the thing he looked to. He did not mean to blame the present or the late Government; but between them and the public there should be an inquiry. Since he gave notice of his Motion, the enlightened community of Liverpool had re-echoed the proposal he had made; and he was also glad to find, from other petitions coming up, that the attention of the country was directed generally to the subject, and that they protested against one farthing of money being voted till the estimates for the coming year were thoroughly investigated. He begged the noble Lord, on whom he might have rather freely remarked, not to think that he addressed him personally. His remarks had reference to his office; and those who accepted office must take the burden and blame of it. He asked the House of Commons to bring back the taxation of the country as much as possible to what it had been. He was sorry to say that he had in his possession communications from many parts of the country, all bearing upon the melancholy position in which thousands of our countrymen were placed—pressed down by the want of employment and the burden of taxation—men who shrank from the dreadful necessity of going into the workhouse, but who could find no means of supporting themselves and their families by their own industry. The details of many of these cases were deeply calculated to lacerate the feelings; but they afforded the very strongest reason why that House should pause before it inflicted new burdens upon a people already pressed down by a heavy weight of taxation. He hoped, in conclusion, that the House would not give one shilling of money till the debate of Monday should have decided what course was to be pursued with regard to the estimates for the coming year. He begged to move— That it is expedient that the Expenditure of the Country should be reduced, not only to render an increase of Taxation in this Session unnecessary, but that the Expenditure should be further reduced as speedily as possible to admit of a reduction of the present large amount of Taxation. He would rather, if necessary, provide for any present demand by the issue of Exchequer-bills to a small amount, than consent to the proposition of the Government. There might be some such thing as that done; but eventually the reduction to which he had called attention must take place.


As my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose has, in the comments which he has just made on the recent expenditure of the country, thrown a large portion of the blame of the excess that has occurred upon the Navy Estimates, and as I have not had any opportunity of making any statement to the House on the part of the Naval Department, perhaps I could not take a more appropriate one than that now afforded me by the speech of the hon. Member, to call attention to some few circumstances strictly bearing on the case, and tending, I think, to place it in a fairer and more favourable light than that in which it is now presented. I admit that a great addition to the Estimates has occurred, in the course of the last ten years; but I affirm that it has been progressive, and gradual, and has been assented to by all parties and all Governments. I will prove this. In the course of the last ten years, not one single division has taken place on any one increase of expenditure proposed. Not one! My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose himself was in his place last year, as he was reminded the other night, when the intention was announced on the part of the Government to make an addition of 3,000 men to the Marines. I stated the grounds of this increase—the perfect concurrence that had prevailed respecting it amongst the four last First Lords of the Admiralty—Lord Minto, Lord Haddington, Lord Ellenborough, and Lord Auckland. The first 1,500 men were voted without a dissentient voice, without a division, and without a remark of any kind whatever; and it is only now, when we have to pay the bill, that faults are found with the great expenditure. Now, Sir, I am ready to make every allowance for the altered position of the country, and the distress which pervades the great mercantile communities. I know how severely this presses on every man, who represents in this House a large constituency, and who is anxious to do his duty. But, admitting the increase of expenditure, I say that there have been good reasons for every addition to the Naval Estimates; and I am prepared to show that the country has had full value for what it expended. The right hon. Baronet opposite, who has the merit and credit of having introduced this new system—for he began that larger expenditure on the Navy, which we are now following up—consulted most truly and correctly, as he has done in many instances of his remarkable career, the interest, safety, and dignity of the country. Sir, I admit the full extent of the increase that has taken place, and I will take three of the principal votes, as the best illustration of it. First, I will refer to the vote for Works, which is one of the largest items of naval expenditure. The vote for Works in the year 1835 was 62,440l.—I take 1835, because it is universally taken as the starting point by all who criticise the present estimates. The vote for Works which is proposed for 1848–9 is 688,252l. Now, I will give my hon. Friends behind me the full benefit of that broad statement. That vote has increased annually. Up to 1841–3 it did not amount to more than 200,000l.; in 1843–4, it increased to 234,000l.; in 1844–5, to 298,000l.; in 1845–6, to 486,000l.; in 1846–7, to 526,810l. For the year 1847–8, we introduced a similar vote for 559,600l., which the House passed without one word of observation; and for the present year we propose a vote of 688,252l.; showing an addition of 129,000l., which is only apparent, and not real; for in point of fact the whole of the new works are now brought under Vote No. 11, instead of being distributed over four votes, as was the case previously; and of course there is a corresponding reduction in the three other numbers. The next vote that I will take is for Stores; and I find that in 1835–6 the House voted 426,958l. for this purpose; while in the present year the sum proposed is 1,511,671l. The vote for wages in the dockyards has risen precisely as the expenditure in stores has augmented. What is the cause of this? The cause is, that, in the course of the last six years, a new power has come into existence, far which it was absolutely indispensable that the country should provide—which calls upon us to change to a certain extent the system of shipbuilding—to change sailing vessels for steam vessels, and to provide establishments where repairs can be carried on—to build steam factories and steam basins—and to commence those admirable works which the right hon. Baronet opposite has the credit of having sanctioned when there was not a vestige of anything of the kind in the country, and which we have carried out, with the full consent of the House of Commons. Look at the vote taken for Stores. The aggregate is enormous. It amounts to 13,000,000l. in the last ten years; but out of that vote no less a sum than 2,689,000l. has been paid for steam machinery, and 500,000l. for iron steam vessels. The outlay for permanent works, in contradistinction to temporary purposes, has been 3,500,000l. In the year 1835, our dockyards were acknowledged to be in a state of absolute destitution. And now I will challenge the world to find naval arsenals in a more splendid and efficient condition. But these things are not to be had without money. We have laid out 500,000l. on the basin and docks at Portsmouth. We are also expending a still more considerable sum at Devonport. This expenditure was not made in order to meet any extraordinary exigency—it was necessary to the creation and existence of our steam navy. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose that we have no business to interfere in the affairs of other nations. I am of opinion with him when he says, "Let every country look to its own business." But we did look to our own business when we felt it to be dangerous and discreditable to this empire to remain without that element of defence comprised in the possession of a steam navy. Russia had availed herself, and very extensively, of that important invention. The United States of America had introduced steam vessels into their navy. You, the Parliament of England, saw, as I have already stated, the peril to which negligence on this head would expose us—you desired that everything necessary to the efficiency of the steam navy should be provided; and you have no right to turn round upon us now, when you are called upon to pay the bill, to complain of a reckless and profligate expenditure. I think it would be more reasonable to take the same view as would be taken by any railway company of this expenditure—to treat it as so much capital sunk, as so much money capitalised—and not as an addition to the annual estimates. Sir, I may farther remark, that the period to which the hon. Member for Montrose alludes, and which he makes his starting point in drawing these invidious comparisons, was signalised by the exercise of a forced and bad economy—an economy in necessary works and in the purchase of stores totally unworthy of a great maritime country. We had then no provision for the accommodation of steam vessels at Malta; we have now a magnificent steam-dock at the island of Malta, and factories capable of undertaking steam repairs; and a very great advantage they will be found to the commercial as well as the national marine. I fearlessly and distinctly assert, therefore, that the country has had full value received for the money that has been expended. If the House means to say that the money has been ill spent—if the House means to say that it was not necessary to introduce steam into the Navy—then I am ready to admit that the present estimates form a fair ground of impeachment. I will not say the present, but former Houses of Commons, ever since the year 1835, have held a contrary opinion, and have regarded the expenditure as essential. Everybody was pressing a claim of some kind upon our predecessors in office—the cry of Gentlemen opposite was, that we spent too little, not too much—that our Navy was shamefully neglected. They never grudged the expenditure at the time it was proposed; and it is only when the bill comes in to be paid, that any objection is made to it. Sir, I say again, that the country has had value received in the new works that have been constructed. We have now a magnificent steam navy, which ten years ago did not exist; and the increased estimates owe their origin entirely to the new force which has been thus created. In the year 1835, we had only 23 small steam vessels, employed as yachts, packets, dockyard lighters, and in all the odds and ends of the service. These vessels indicated a total of 4,153 horse power. In 1841, when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth came into power, the steam navy comprised 41 vessels, amounting altogether to 9,503 horse-power. In the year 1848 we have belonging to the Navy 148 steam vessels of 35,565 horse-power, with all the establishments necessary to keep such a navy in a state of perfect efficiency. If I have brought forward estimates large and extravagant, as they are said to be, I am also enabled to state that the increased expenditure is drawing to a conclusion. But the estimates themselves are as much misrepresented in their amount as in their objects. They include many things which, however useful or desirable for the commercial interests of the country, have nothing to do with its naval expenditure. I will, with the permission of the House, read the items of this new naval expenditure. The first item is the contract packet service, which did not exist in 1835. The vote for contract packets in the present year amounts to 611,662l., an increase of 45,000l. having been incurred by the opening of the double line of packets to New York. With this service the Admiralty has nothing to do, except to superintend and to pay. The whole of the receipts go to the Post Office, as do those of the Government packets at Dover, Liverpool, and Milford Haven, the annual charge for which is 161,698l., making a total of 773,360l. upon the Naval Estimates for the packet service alone. Then, there are similar services for other departments to a very large amount. The conveyance of troops for the Army and Ordnance in 1848–9 is 181,322l. in addition to 23,555l. for the wages, and 11,571l. for the victuals of troop ships, which are not ships of war. The Home Office requires freight to the amount of 43,000l. for the conveyance of convicts to Port Philip, Bermuda, and Van Diemen's Land; and the supplies of provisions to other departments, are estimated at 24,000l., making a total of 1,057,410l., which appears in the Naval Estimates, for matters in which the Navy is in no way concerned. If to this we add 1,395,072l., for half-pay, and military or civil pensions, which, being regulated by Act of Parliament, the Government cannot reduce—and if the House went with me, as I think it did, when I said that at least four-fifths of the vote for new works should be regarded as a permanent investment—as so much money sunk—not as an annual expenditure, to be perpetually renewed—this would give 588,601l. more to be deducted from the effective naval service of the year, making 3,041,083l. in all, out of a net vote of 7,726,610l., and thus reducing the sum really required for the effective service of the Navy, to 4,685,527l. Sir, my hen. Friend the Member for Montrose has endeavoured to make out such a case against the department with which I have the honour of being connected, that I really imagined, while listening to him, that we had been guilty of some enormities perfectly incapable of defence; but I think I have satisfied the House, in the first place, that the charges have been greatly exaggerated; and, in the second, that the course deliberately embarked in, and pursued, for the last six years, not merely by the present Government, but by the last, is not to be ascribed to low and sordid motives—the love of patronage, or of wasteful expenditure—but to something higher and better—to considerations of national policy, and to the supply of wants which it would have been unwise and unsafe to neglect. No doubt there have been mistakes—no doubt much of the money thus laid out might have been better spent if we had had the benefit of the experience since acquired. But the whole system was new; and the greater the zeal, the more patriotic the feelings, with which measures were entered upon, on which it was supposed that the national honour and safety might depend, the greater was the probability of mistakes. But, looking at it in a large and statesmanlike view, I believe that this policy was a sound policy—that the expenditure was necessary, and therefore wise—that it has given us an efficient steam navy, and led to the complete renovation of our dockyards; and I feel confident that in completing what they found unfinished, and thus associating themselves with this great work, Her Majesty's present Government has consulted equally the interests of the country, and the feelings of this House.


hoped the House would not be led away by the eloquence of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, and consent to vote the Naval Estimates, until the Select Committee had made their report. The speech of the hon. Gentleman, in his opinion, would rather have the tendency to prejudge the judgment of that Committee. He should like to know, if the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was so well satisfied with the estimates, why his Lordship had referred those estimates to a Select Committee. No other Minister would have adopted such a course. The noble Lord could find no precedent for the appointment of such a Committee. And when the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Admiralty told the House that up to the year 1835 the dockyards of this country were in a disgracefully destitute state, he forgot to draw attention to the fact, that since that period the Naval Estimates had been increased to the extent of 4,000,000l. a year. He was not prepared to follow the hon. Gentleman through all his statement, nor did he think it necessary; but he would just remark, that when the hon. Gentleman mentioned that we were now in possession of 135 steamers—a force which the hon. Gentleman mentioned in terms of great laudation—he could tell the hon. Gentleman that many men connected with the Navy, and well qualified to give a correct opinion on such matters, derided the character of our whole steam force, and very much doubted its efficiency. He did not rise for the purpose of criticising the speech of the hon. Gentleman. He rose for the object of protesting against the whole system adopted by the present Government. He was not prepared to submit to an increased expenditure. And no Member would properly discharge his duty to his constituents if he did not oppose such a mistaken policy. He hoped the House would not be led away by the mention of the Caffre war, and be induced to vote the estimates en masse. When he looked back, and considered the present extraordinary state of the country, he could arrive at no other conclusion than that the people had strong reasons for being dissatisfied. The House and the country well knew the way in which the present inevitable Ministry came into office. Hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, and people out of doors, thought they had got two good Radicals in office; but the hon. Gentlemen (Mr. M. Gibson and Mr. Ward) were only placed in subordinate positions. Since they had been in office, their vocal powers had very much deteriorated. Who could have supposed that the very parties who opposed the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth in 1842, would have afterwards proposed not only the continuance but the increase of the income-tax? The Whigs, when out of office, had uniformly opposed any increase of taxation. In 1798, when Mr. Pitt first proposed the property-tax, he was met by the whole Whig party in a tone of execration. Mr. Tierney designated it as indiscriminate rapine. Lord Henry Petty, then the infant Roscius of the Whigs in the House of Commons, and now their Nestor in the House of Lords, opposed the tax most strenuously while in the Opposition benches; but no sooner was the noble Lord in power, than he came down to the House and doubled the property-tax. There could be no mistake as to the character of the noble Lord's (Lord J. Russell's) financial statement. It was not very cordially received on either side of the House. And so very unsatisfactory did the noble Lord consider the proposition, that he prevailed upon his right hon. Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come down on the following Monday and offer an apology for it. The apology of the right hon. Gentleman was very much like the apology of the lady who was accused of a rather unfortunate increase in her family—the unwelcome stranger was a very little one. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the increase in the estimates was undoubted, but that it was a very small increase. And the right hon. Gentleman, with an energy rather foreign to him, moved that the small increase be referred to a Select Committee; but so thoroughly a master had the right hon. Gentleman made himself of this subject, that he was totally ignorant of the proposed name of that Committee. He (Mr. Osborne) hoped that the House would not be misled by the dubious assent of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. The House should recollect that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had lately taken upon himself to act in the new character of an officer of the Royal Humane Society. Directly he saw the Ministry drop into a dangerous hole, he produced his drags, and restored them to a safe footing on terra firma. He would enter his protest against the estimates being referred to a Committee. It was very natural for the right hon. Baronet to view with affection and humanity his own converts; but he (Mr. Osborne) should be astonished if the House gave its assent to the proposition. Then, in addition to the apology that the increase in the estimates was very small, the House had been told that this country, if not about to go to war, was, at any rate, in a very dangerous position. It was quite true that many respectable gentlemen had been greatly frightened by the letter of the illustrious Duke, whose name it was impossible to mention without the deepest respect. Many respectable elderly ladies were more alarmed when the letter of the Earl of Ellesmere appeared. But when the whipper-in of the Government was gazetted to an appointment in the West Middlesex Militia, the alarm of the nation reached its culminating point. He should be sorry to see the duties of the Horse Guards monopolised by the amiable Mr. Sturge; but he was anxious to enforce the strictest economy in all the public departments. The whole system of Government led to increased expenditure; and so long as men were crammed into office only on the ground of their position, and without any reference to their talent or fitness, the expenditure would increase. To say that there were no men to take office if the present Ministers felt disposed to resign, was absolutely preposterous. If they examined the mode in which houses were conducted east of Temple-bar, they would see that there were thousands of men as capable of carrying on the Government as any Minister who ever sat on the Treasury bench. There might not be a supply of Lords of the Bedchamber; but was the Government not to be carried on because Lords of the Bedchamber could not be got? The House had been called upon to vote the expenditure incurred by the Caffre war; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had kindly informed them they should have the papers detailing that expenditure after they had voted the money. He was not disposed to admit the necessity of the Caffre war. The war was brought on by the mistaken policy of the Government at home. If the Government had not dispensed with the services of that able man and gallant officer, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, we should not have been involved in that expensive war, for which we were called upon at present to pay the large sum of 1,100,000l. But he was not going into detail. He was looking simply at the whole tendency of our expensive Government, and he would say that Secretary after Secretary might jump up as they pleased and say that there was no necessity for inquiry; but the determination of the people of this country was, that they would have a cheaper Government. If there was one system more than another that required a strict inquiry, it was the system of our Colonial Office. Had hon. Gentlemen ever looked into the report of the Royal Commission upon the subject of the Army and Navy m 1837? From that report they would find that the Colonial Minister was not only the administrator of the colonies of Great Britain, but actually the head of the Army; that it was the Colonial Minister who decided the number of the forces in this country. When the Go- vernment talked of sending the Estimates to a Select Committee to make inquiry into them, he begged the House to recollect how few of the recommendations of Committees were ever attended to. It was true that they agreed to strike off a few unnecessary offices in 1828 in compliance with the recommendations of Sir H. Parnell's Committee; but no Government had the nerve to go to the bottom of the system of patronage. He maintained that it was possible to cut down the expenditure at least 6,000,000l.; and although the Government might bring admirals and generals, who were all interested in the expenditure, as witnesses before the Committee, to say that any reduction was impossible, he held that it was the business of that House to say that the Government should spend such a sum of money only, and that they must make their estimates correspond with that sum. Did any one ever hear of any reform proceeding from the public departments who were interested in opposing it? Was it the Judges who reformed the criminal law? and did they expect that the generals and admirals would reform the Army and Navy? He looked upon the appointment of the Committee as a mere ignis fatuus. Look at the recommendations of reform which had been made already. In 1837 the unfortunate Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches recommended that the office of Secretary at War should be done away with, and a Minister at War appointed, and that there should be a simplification and consolidation of certain offices; but to this day they had never carried out their own recommendations. He believed that the appointment of a Committee on the Estimates—like the Banking Committee—was a shirking of the whole question of retrenchment. But he would tell the noble Lord when he endeavoured to increase the unjust and iniquitous income-tax, which he voted against in 1816, and which he protested against in 1842, with a numerous Opposition to back him, that this was not the time to raise the taxation of the country to the extent proposed. He believed we had reached the limits of peace taxation. He thought the noble Lord would do well to take a note of the events which were passing around him. When the Ministers of Europe were being dissolved one after the other, and when the prevention of a dinner involved the destruction of a dynasty, this was not the moment to come to that House and call for a 5 per cent in- come-tax in a time of peace. They talked of the national defences; but he believed—and he hoped the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets would support him in this—that the best national defence was to be found in the hearts and affections of the working and middle classes, and that they were not likely to conciliate the one or the other by putting on a war-tax in a time of peace.


said, that as he intended to oppose the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall) for the imposition of the income-tax on Ireland, he felt bound to inquire how far it was necessary for England. Admitting, as he did to the fullest extent, the absolute necessity of making provision for meeting all the public expenses which were required for the defence and maintenance of the country, he confessed he had not yet heard anything to justify the proposal of increased taxation; on the contrary, he thought that the proper remedy was a reduction of expenditure. There was a squadron on the coast of Africa, which ought either to be withdrawn or placed on a more efficient footing. He considered, also, that there was great justice in the complaint of the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) respecting the awful expenditure on the New Houses of Parliament. Then there was a large sum for the Caffre war; and here he would ask the Government what apology had they to offer for asking the House to vote 1,100,000l. for that purpose, when the papers regarding it had been put into the hands of hon. Members only that day? He was persuaded that the expenditure of the country might be greatly reduced by a strict surrey of the present public departments; and with that view it was his intention to give his support to every proposition for the reduction of taxation, and to resist every proposal for an increase. The proposition for increased taxation was grounded upon apprehensions of the position of this country in reference to France; and although he did not participate, in all respects, in the opinions and views of the hon. Member for Youghal, yet he certainly agreed with him in thinking that the policy adopted by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Syria and the East, in 1840, was the cause of the present increase in the Estimates. He was certain that the collision which then took place might with common prudence have been avoided, and the friendship of France towards this coun- try have been maintained. And believing that France was the great curb upon the despots of Europe, he regretted that the feeling of friendship with England should have been weakened. Had the good understanding remained, they could have prevented Cracow from being absorbed by Austria, as it had been last year. They could have prevented Russian aggression upon Turkey, and they could also have prevented Russia from assailing Circassia. But, after all, the great weakness of this country lay in its conduct towards Ireland. Had they managed Ireland fairly, they need not fear invasion from France. Had they acted justly, they need never fear the Lord Mayor of Dublin having to issue billets for the accommodation of the French soldiery. Had they earned the friendship of the Irish people, no Frenchman would ever set foot in Ireland. The real danger to England arose from the state of Ireland, and not from the designs of France. If they had Ireland with them, they could have at any time a supply of 200,000 fighting men; and would not that, he asked them, be a better guarantee for their safety than their paltry increased estimates? But at the present moment Irishmen feared England more than they did France. England had shown herself their enemy, and had made them enemies in return. Irishmen had called upon England for a redress of wrongs, and redress was denied. They then asked for the management of their own affairs, and Ministers threatened them with war. It would be well, he could tell them, to let Irishmen have a Parliament of their own before England became involved in any difficulties. They ought to take warning from the events of the week. He would tell them, as an Irishman and an Irish representative, that if they meant to use their power, that increased power for which they were seeking, to repress his countrymen, he would not aid them to gain additional power for such purpose. They were trying to keep Ireland weak; but he warned them to look around and remember, that when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth wished to do an act of justice, by repealing a law that pressed unfairly upon the people, he was obliged to talk of a cloud that was rising in the west, in order to compel them to listen favourably to his proposition. He had spoken in his capacity of a Member of the Imperial Parliament, and also as an Irish representative, and he had attempted to state distinctly and honestly his opinion. He might be told that Parliament had shown great liberality and munificence last year in the grant of money, and in the great efforts that were then made to assist the Irish people then suffering from famine. But he should say as regarded that grant, that the calamity having been a natural one, it was just as incumbent upon a man in the county of Middlesex to contribute his aid, as for a man in any part of Ireland. But upon that branch of the question, he saw no reason whatever for increasing taxation either here or in Ireland. They had given five times as much to emancipate negro slaves as they had given to Ireland. But he should be glad to hear from the noble Lord what he intended to do for Ireland this year. He should be sorry to impute such a policy to any Minister; but if they were trying to convert Ireland into a sheep-walk for England, they could not adopt a better line of policy for the purpose. He wished to know if the noble Lord were acquainted with the appalling condition of the people in Ireland at present. The English newspapers had declined altogether of late to report the number of deaths from starvation in that country. He would therefore read for the noble Lord a very short extract from a report in an Irish newspaper, which he believed had never been noticed in any English newspaper. There were a number of persons mentioned by name, seventeen out of twenty of whom had died of actual starvation within one week in Mayo. In the same paper he found that in the county of Galway a very large number of persons—one hundred, he believed—were stated to have died within the week in the poorhouse, gaol, and hospital. And it was remarked that they always came into the poorhouse only when they were in the last stage of famine. In the same paper was also to be found a statement of the wholesale deaths that had taken place in one district, where four, five, and six dead bodies had lain for days together over ground, no person being found to bury them. One old man had died; and there being no one to inter his body, it was not until after the dogs had begun to eat him that the body was at last interred. Four persons in another place were taken up for killing and eating a filly. In the parish of St. Bride, county of Roscommon, a man named Lamb, rather than commit a robbery, if such it could he called under the circumstances, had killed and eaten his ass. Several persons who were charged with having broken windows, stated in their replies that they did it to get into gaol, they being in a starving condition. A coroner's jury in Athlone returned a verdict that two boys, into the cause of whose deaths they had to inquire, had died of starvation. These were matters which required consideration. But he could not read the accounts without asking how all this was to end? The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had heard within the last few months something, at all events, about the condition of the country; and he must be aware that there were many districts in which all the property of the landlords would be insufficient to keep the people from starvation. What, then, did the Government mean to do? Did they intend systematically to allow the people to die of starvation? It was not for him to suggest any plan or any mode for averting the calamity and supplying the wants of the people. Since the poor-law had come into operation, it had been his desire, and the desire of many others who thought with him, to see it carried into operation fully and effectively. But it was insufficient. And it was the bounden duty of the Government to give the people of Ireland some assurance that means would be taken during the present spring to keep them from dying of starvation, as they had done last year, to the number of several hundreds of thousands.


I cannot, I confess, Sir, say that I think there is any great meaning in the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, or any unanimity of views on the part of those hon. Gentlemen who have supported it. The hon. Member for Montrose thinks it a great matter of reproach to the Government that they did not adopt some time ago his suggestion that a Select Committee should be appointed to consider how the expenditure could be so decreased as to enable a reduction to be effected in the taxation. The hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne), on the other hand, thinks it a great reproach to us that we should have submitted to the appointment of such a Committee at all, and is of opinion that it is an abdication of the functions of the Government to appoint such Committees, though they had been previously appointed in the years 1786, 1797, and 1817. Then comes the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick, and he, in supporting this Motion for retrenchment, says he is prepared to resist all further taxation; but he, at the same time, calls upon the Government to vote some large amount of money for Ireland, leaving us to get out of the difficulty as we best may. He will have the money, but he leaves us to find the means of raising it, for he will oppose, he says, any proposal for further taxation. Such being the case, Sir, one is a good deal at a loss to know what is the purpose of the present Motion, and what is the object that any one of those hon. Gentlemen has in view. During this debate a great deal of fault has been found with the speech that I made last week in introducing the financial statement; and yet it is very remarkable that no single proposition which I made in that speech has been contradicted, or even shaken. I said that it was our interest to keep—and that we should keep—well with France. No one has yet found fault with that assertion. I said that it was our interest to keep at peace, and to preserve our present peaceful attitude. And no one has attempted to find fault with that proposition either. The hon. Member for Montrose to-night charges me with the manner in which I spoke of the condition of our forces and our expenditure in 1835, and the increase that has since taken place. Sir, I stated figures, of which he did not deny the accuracy. He has frequently stated them himself; but then, he says, I stated them with so much coolness—with such sang froid. I never heard such a charge brought forward before. The hon. Gentleman admits that I quoted the figures correctly; but because I did not state them with fervour, and passion, and a certain degree of excitement, he says that he is exceedingly surprised, and he wonders how I could be so exceedingly cool. The hon. Gentleman wonders that I did not attempt to suggest any reduction. I will tell him, that although his opinions are very well known to have been always for economy, and in favour of a diminished expenditure, there are many persons in the country and in this House who are of a very different opinion, and who think we have not sufficiently increased our warlike establishments. There are many who think that our Army is far too low, that our Navy is not fit to meet an enemy, and that our Ordnance is not sufficiently cared for, and that all these establishments are very defective. And I thought it might be well to meet charges such as these, and to show how much had really been done, and how much our expenses had been thereby in- creased. I thought it necessary to show how effective our armaments had been made, and that it was not necessary to increase our establishments. But all was thrown away on the hon. Member for Montrose, and on the hon. Member for Middlesex, from whom I thought that we should have had a proposition for more defences than we possess already; for I found a notice of Motion' placed upon the books before Christmas opposite the name of Mr. Osborne, "to call attention to the state of the national defences of Great Britain." I inferred very naturally from that, that the hon. Gentleman intended to make a speech to show that our defences were insufficient. [Mr. BERNAL OSBORNE: No, no! I wanted to prevent an expenditure for such a purpose.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman intended to make a speech in favour of the estimates; and to show that enough had been done, and that we need not do any more. If so, I can only say it was an extraordinary notice for him to have given; and I am told that many of his constituents took alarm upon seeing it, and wrote to him to ascertain if it were true that he was going to propose a great additional armament. Well then, Sir, if the hon. Member's intention was not to speak in favour of an increased armament, it was a purpose which he has kept concealed until this night; and it seems now that he has not such an intention. I must say, however, that the ambiguity of that notice was partly the cause of my considering it necessary, as I stated at the time, to explain to the House and to the country, that whilst some persons in this country, and in foreign countries also, think our defences inadequate, we have already ample means for that purpose. But, Sir, the hon. Member for Middlesex thinks that we purpose to delegate to the Committee our responsibility with regard to the amount of the Army and Navy. In that respect the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I think those Committees which have been appointed from time to time, and which used to be appointed every ten years, to inquire into these subjects, might be very useful, and that they may in some respects show to the country that these expenses have been rightly increased, whilst in others they may find a mode by which the expenses may in future be reduced. But with regard to the establishments for the Navy and the Army, Her Majesty's Government are responsible for making the propositions. And as to the Ordnance, I trust that when the question relating to it shall come before the House, it may be as well defended by my hon. and gallant Friend, as the Navy was by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) to-night. And I certainly shall not, for my part, be afraid to meet the discussion that will take place; nor shall I be afraid of standing by the decision. But, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick has turned to another subject, and he has asked the House to consider the situation of the people of Ireland; and he has, I think, done so in a somewhat ungracious manner. He has attacked the Government, who are, of course, blameable for everything. He had received, in fact, very ill the greatest effort that ever yet was made by any people on behalf of their fellow-subjects. Sir, I do not take too much credit to the Government for that great effort. It was not the will of the Government—it was not the benevolence of the Government that could have effected it. It was the act of this Parliament, and it was more especially the act of this House. This House it was which, in the most generous manner, gave an amount of money necessary for meeting the wants of the Irish people; and that money was spent in the most economical and useful manner possible in giving rations to three millions of people. And yet the hon. Gentleman takes occasion to talk of the demoralising effects of feeding the people in such a manner—people who must have starved were it not for such supplies of food—and he compares the effort with that made for the release of the West India slaves. Why, Sir, what have these topics to do with the question? How does it affect the giving of the large assistance for which the people of Ireland feel grateful—for which, I believe, notwithstanding all that the hon. Gentleman says, the people of Ireland do feel grateful. And whilst the English and the Scotch people were doing all this for their Irish fellow-subjects, what was the hon. Gentleman doing but attempting to spread discontent amongst his fellow-countrymen. In what manner was he aiding and assisting his poorer brethren? And now he asks us what we are going to do this year? Sir, we have not left Ireland without laws to make the rich contribute to support the poor. We passed a Bill last Session for that purpose; and I believe that law, with the exception of some unions, will be found sufficient to preserve the people from the effects of famine. I do not believe that a rate of 3s., or of 4s., or of 5s. in the pound ought to deter people of property in Ireland from supporting their poor. But the law—and in that respect the Government could not prevent it—that law has not been everywhere justly or properly applied. I was reading this day in an extract from an Irish newspaper (for I do look into the Irish papers) an account of an examination which took place in a court of justice. The circumstances were these: a farmer, named M'Cabe, brought a man before a bar of criminal justice for stealing a sheep. It was proved that this farmer had many sheep—more than a score of sheep. He had also three or four cows, and a considerable quantity of barley in his haggard; and he was what is generally termed in good circumstances. He was asked, "Was not the poor man starving?" And as a proof of hunger having caused him to commit this crime, he was asked whether the poor man and his wretched family were not found eating the sheep raw in their miserable dwelling, if such the wretched place where they were might be so called? He said it was so. He was asked, "Had this man ever applied to the board of guardians, and to the relieving officer for relief, and was he refused?" The farmer said he had applied, and he was refused. This farmer was then desired to attend particularly to the next question that would be asked him. And the question was—" Whether he himself, the possessor of those cows, of those sheep, and of this barley in his haggard, had not himself been receiving a sum of money every week by way of out-door relief as a pauper?" And he admitted that he had. Why, Sir, if persons are found to starve in circumstances such as these; and if, as we frequently find, those who are not destitute receive the benefit of the relief, and that in many cases those who have the means to pay their poor-rates have not paid them; I say it is not right to ask the people of Sussex and of Buckinghamshire, who are paying their own rates for their own poor, to pay for the relief of Irish destitution. That tax—and a heavy tax I admit it is—that poor-law tax in Ireland must be enforced. And it is only in exceptional cases, where it can he proved that the property of the country does not afford the means for the relief of the destitute, that either public or private charity can be called on. And let me say one more word upon this subject. Her Majesty was advised some months since by a person whose name I shall always mention with reverence—I mean the late Archbishop of Canterbury—to issue a Queen's Letter for the purpose of recommending a general collection in the churches for the relief of the Irish people. That collection had by no means the same success as the collection made last year. A sum of 26,000l. was collected, which has been applied to the education of children in Irish schools. But why was not the sum collected greater? Because those who had contributed so largely last year, those who had contributed 300,000l. or 400,000l., found nothing but invectives uttered against them by those who had the ear of the people of Ireland. They were disgusted and deterred from doing more because they were held up as enemies to the people of Ireland, and as persons who generally wished that the people of Ireland should be allowed to starve. I earnestly beg the hon. Gentleman to learn some experience, to take a lesson from the past, and to see that there is no disposition on the part of the people of England to allow those of Ireland to starve. I beg him to remember that violent invectives and harangues against the people of England are not calculated to improve the relations between the two countries. I thought it necessary to say thus much. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government have looked day by day to the condition of Ireland. There is no day in which reports from Ireland do not attract my attention and that of my Colleagues who sit near me. We have shown, I think, our readiness to incur some obloquy in not proposing a tax for Ireland which we think she is not able to bear, whilst she is paying a tax of 2,000,000l. a year for the relief of her poor. But, we believe, that in relieving the poor of Ireland from the property of Ireland—by encouraging the people themselves to assist themselves—by encouraging people of property in Ireland to try to obtain from the soil more than they do at present, and that which should be easily drawn from it—indeed almost without limit—we are doing more good for the country, than by repeating, in a year which is not a year of calamity, that large and liberal system of relief which was given in a time of deep calamity, and which, although not perfectly administered, was yet so useful. But that ought not to be taken as a rule, or as the usual condition of Ireland; and if we do not propose a similar grant this year, let it not be said that it is from any indifference to Ireland, but because we think the course we are pursuing is more likely to tend to its happiness and prosperity.


said, that not one single sentence of the noble Lord's speech had been directed to the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose. The noble Lord should recollect that the hon. Member for Manchester had told him that the present was a middle-class Government. If he reduced the expenditure to meet the income, instead of increasing the income to meet the expenditure, he would have the support of the middle classes and the working classes with him. But by inflicting the tax he was about to levy, and the weight of which would fall upon the middle classes chiefly, and injure the working classes thereby, he would cause the middle and the working classes to unite for the first time, and their union would be against him. He objected to the manner in which Ireland was made use of by Irish Members in that House. He objected to the hon. Member for Limerick telling the Government, that if a certain policy were adopted, they had only to whistle, in order to get 200,000 Irishmen to fight the battles of this country. That was the manner in which the Irish mind had been always debased and destroyed; and for his part, he could see no chance of regeneration in England until Ireland was regenerated in the first instance. He felt grateful for the aid which was extended last year by this country to Ireland; but what would be said if the Irish had to apply for further aid to the people of England next year? Would they not be told, "You have since taken another tax out of our pockets, and we are no longer able to afford you relief?" The noble Lord told them that he had not made a warlike speech; but neither he nor the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a retrenchment speech. At a time when the industrial classes of this country were selling everything they had, in order that they might keep out of the workhouse, was it right to tell them that this was the very moment to increase the pay of the soldiers, and the rations of the sailors? He would tell them that there were events passing around them that neither the noble Lord nor he could shut their eyes to. The noble Lord must be aware that the present state of France was one which would not warrant an increase of the expenditure of this country. The sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire on this subject had his most cordial assent. That hon. Gentleman had the confidence of the middle classes of this country, and the confidence of the working classes also. The noble Lord, however, seemed to feel that he might rely on Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, who might be led away in the present state of Europe by a feeling that it was necessary to have a strong Government in this country. But the people would not be satisfied. Since 1835 there had never been a division in the House against any proposed increase in the expenditure. As long as there was a farthing in the wallet, the cry was "Let us spend it;" but now the country was resolved that there must be retrenchment; and if the Government asked how they were to save the public money, let them look to the placemen and the pensioners who were sitting behind the Treasury benches. The country demanded reform. The people felt that what led to the struggle for reform in France, was the tampering with the public money by the Government. The people would oblige the noble Lord, or whoever was Minister, to find out from what quarter economy should come. The noble Lord might ask the supporters of this Amendment where economy was to come from. If Ministers gave them their salaries, they might perhaps get an answer. There was a saying in Ireland, "It is not fair to keep a dog and bark yourself." The course pursued by the noble Lord reminded him of the man who had ordered his servant to cut the tail off a young dog. Hearing the dog barking every morning for some days after, he inquired the cause, and the servant said he was cutting off its tail. "Did I not order you to do that a week ago?" said the master. "Oh yes," was the reply, "but I cut off a joint every morning, because I was afraid as the dog is young that he could not bear to have it all cut off at once." That was precisely the policy of the noble Lord, in trying the extent to which the people could bear taxation. When this question came before the public, it would be hard to reconcile them to the belief in their poverty that the country required more soldiers. It would be hard to satisfy them that all those items of expenditure were innoxious and harmless. When they were seen in one bulk, the people would have a very strong opinion as to the greatness of the amount, al- though, when they were better able to bear it, they might not have been so ready to find fault with the amount. He felt grateful to this country for what had been done for Ireland; but at the same time, he should deny that Ireland had any right to come for assistance as art alms to England which wanted her agricultural produce, or that the existence of a nation should be left to depend on the begging letter of an archbishop. The noble Lord might rest assured that while the religion of the Irish people was made a charge against their loyalty, they would be tempted to look to another country professing the same religion, that had liberated itself, for relief, rather than to a country of a different religion.


said, the question was whether the Speaker should leave the chair preparatory to the House going into a Committee of Supply? to which his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose moved an Amendment, to the effect that the expenditure of the country should be reduced; and his hon. Friend intimated that not only should there be no increase in the expenditure, but that such reduction should be made as speedily as possible. The Amendment was, he thought, one of the most rational and consistent that could possibly be made, for if the House was disposed to go on with regard to the expenditure as it had latterly proceeded, the country must be involved in ruin. He would beg of hon. Members, especially of those who were in the House for the first time, to recollect what the language of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had been. For his own part, he must confess that he felt the force of the lecture the hon. Member had read to them. The lesson was pregnant with instruction, and he was determined that it should not be lost upon him. He had received most excellent practical advice with regard to his future conduct from the lecture of the hon. Gentleman that evening. The hon. Gentleman spoke with considerable eloquence and ability. As usual, when expenditure was concerned, he obtained not only the hearing, but the sanction of the House, in a very short time. The hon. Gentleman had the records in his hands, and he asked them "What have you been doing for the last ten years? In that time there has been increase after increase, and yet there has been no resistance on the part of this House to such a course. During that period, there has not been a single division on a question of increase." After such a line of argument on the part of the hon. Gentleman, he was determined to regulate his conduct for the future, so that he should not expose himself to a repetition of such taunts. Seeing that the Ministry would not profit by the generosity shown in former years, the time was come when they must offer a determined and unyielding resistance to a profligate and extravagant expenditure. He would repeat that the expenditure was most extravagant and most unnecessary. He shought the Government was exceedingly to blame for not having made that necessary examination into the finances of the country, which would have enabled them to come down to the House and propose such a reduction in the expenditure as the circumstances of the country demanded. Did the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty mean that it was proposed to fix the expenditure for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, at between 17,000,000l. and 18,000,000l. a year? Did he deny that such was the intention. And if the hon. Gentleman did not, then, he would ask, was such an expenditure warranted by any circumstances that now existed? If that were so, was not the Motion of his hon. Friend required, and was it not right that they should not again expose themselves to the taunt which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had thrown out? They should be told next year, "You yielded to our demand last year, and why should you not do so again?" The allusion of the hon. Member for Middlesex to the Executive Government was one that should be followed up. The question should be discussed, who was it that involved this country in such overwhelming and frightful expenditure? He would ask, had the people of this country ever enjoyed any real influence in that House? Insinuations had been thrown out against the party to which he belonged—the Radical party—if indeed there was any party except the Whig party in the House. He considered the leader of the Radical party to be the hon. Member for Montrose. He would ask whether the individual exertions of that hon. Member for the reduction of taxation had not been more beneficial to the people of this country than all the labours of the whole aristocracy put together? His hon. Friend deserved well of his country. The time was come when the scattered elements of the Radical party in that House ought to combine for the public good, in the hope that they might save the country from some awful convulsion. But from past experience it would appear as if it were impossible to govern this country except under some lordly influence; and it was really curious to observe how remarkably industrious the aristocracy became whenever the public money was to be received. There was no office, not even the meanest, the lowest, and the most paltry, that a Lord was not ready to poke himself into when it would enable him to touch the public money. Why, they had a Lord now the Secretary to the Poor Law Commission—his office being to see if the poor old women's gruel were thin enough. While the people of this country consented to be governed by the aristocracy, they should make up their minds to have their affairs mal-administered. It was the same thing whether Whig or Tory was in office; for both, as the man of Kent said, were tarred with the same brush. There were many things which the Whigs had done for which he felt grateful. He would never forget what the noble Lord had done in the cause of reform, and in raising the human mind from thraldom, and giving liberty of conscience to the people. He never could think of the noble Lord's conduct in this respect without feeling the most ardent gratitude to him; but at the same time gratitude was not the only feeling that a man should entertain. He should have some regard for the constituents by whom he had been sent there. He knew the difficulties which they had to encounter in practising economy in their domestic concerns. He knew how they laboured and toiled, and how severe were their duties in endeavouring to maintain a respectable position in society; and when he saw any party in the State coming before the House heartlessly and recklessly to take from them the fruits of their toil, he could not help raising his voice against such an unjust practice. No matter who the Ministry were that adopted such a course; he felt it to be his duty to give them every opposition in his power; and if necessary, to combine for the purpose of driving them from power. But, without organisation, without arrangement, without understanding among themselves, it was utterly impossible that the Radical Members could fight the battle with effect. He would call therefore on the Radical party to adopt as their leader the hon. Member for Montrose. [Laughter.] That very night he ought to be in- stalled in that position; and he could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that, if such a course were taken, instead of laughing ironically at his proposal, they would, if they were sensible and reasonable men, as he believed them to be, rejoice at the great national results that would follow from his hon. Friend having that political influence which he ought to enjoy in that assembly. Where was there one in the present Administration that had the practical knowledge of the details of business which his hon. Friend possessed? His hon. Friend had laboured for thirty years in the public cause. He had differed from his hon. Friend on many occasions: but still, when he looked to the knowledge which his hon. Friend had displayed, and to the industry which he had exhibited, and when he remembered the taunts and scorns so often directed by the members of the aristocracy against him, he could not but feel indignation at the treatment which the hon. Gentleman had met with, knowing as he did that if any member of a noble family—as it was termed—noble by courtesy, but by nothing else—had exhibited only a fraction of the talents and acquirements of his hon. Friend, he would be worshipped by the whole body. He thought they ought at once to place his hon. Friend in the position to which he alluded; and if his hon. Friend declined to yield to their call, he would desert the position which he had occupied before the country for the last thirty years. He saw those around him who knew the position of the country, and the mischievous consequences that resulted from so much aristocratic influence in the State; and they would, he hoped, concur with him as to the necessity of such an effort as he suggested. It could not but he gratifying to his hon. Friend to know how his services were appreciated; and his fate would influence aspiring and patriotic young men, who would hereafter come forward in the cause of their country. The people of England were a social people. They loved their homes—they loved peace, and they abhorred war in all its shapes. They were terrified at the thought of war—not because they felt fear, for a more courageous people did not exist; but because they dreaded the cruelty and misery which existed from confusion, anarchy, and bloodshed. They desired not only to be happy among themselves, but to be free from all conflicts with foreign nations. When countries went to war, the quarrels originated with those high in office, and never among the people, or among merchants or shopkeepers. The people therefore felt that it was unjust to ask them for money for a purpose horrible in its results to human nature, and offensive in the eyes of the Deity. He trusted that his hon. Friend would press his Motion. It could only delay the public business for a short time, and it would compel the Minister to come before the House with a new proposal, which he believed would be utterly at variance with his present one, when such a proposal was made. Now, he should like to know what proposal the noble Lord would have made with regard to the expenditure if the country were in a prosperous position? Only a few weeks had passed since the House was called together in consequence of commerce being at a complete stand-still, and the mercantile world reduced to such a position that merchants could not even raise money on Exchequer-bills; and yet the noble Lord came forward with an expenditure which was, in point of fact, a war expenditure. What then would have been the proposal of the noble Lord, if the country were in prosperous circumstances, and actually at war? Taking these circumstances together, he would say, that the Government had shown itself absolutely incapable of managing the finances of the country; and that unless the noble Lord was checked by that House, he would plunge the country into irretrievable ruin. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, that the House, in voting these reckless supplies, was infinitely more to blame than the Government; and he would tell the new Members who listened to him, that when millions of the public money came to be voted away, they would see nothing but empty benches night after night on the Opposition side of the House. He trusted, however, that the new Members would pay more attention to the circumstances of the country, and that they would adopt as their motto "Economy and Peace."


denied the right of hon. Gentlemen opposite to arrogate to themselves the exclusive advocacy of economy. He was himself most anxious for economy in the public expenditure; but at the same time he felt that he could not vote in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member. He thought that Motion extremely vague. It was— That it is expedient that the expenditure of the country should be reduced, not only to render an increase of taxation in this Session unnecessary, but that the expenditure should be further reduced as speedily as possible, to admit of a reduction of the present large amount of taxation. It was a delusion to agree to such a Motion unless it was contended that they could reduce the Estimates by the amount of the deficiency, 2,900,000l. He could not hold out any expectation to the people of this country of so material a reduction of expenditure; and as he regarded the Motion, therefore, as a delusion, he could not support it. There were many incidents to increase the national expenditure. Within a few years they had in succession the Canada rebellion, the dispute with the United States about the north-west boundary, an expensive war in India, a serious famine in Ireland, and, lastly, the Caffre war; and could they expect to escape without encountering similar difficulties in future? At the same time, when the Estimates came before the House, he should be as ready as the hon. Member for Finsbury to vote in favour of all possible curtailment.


said, he could not admit that the Irish representatives were not interested in the question under discussion. He could not forget that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, when he first introduced the income-tax, also imposed a stamp duty on Ireland, as an equivalent to her proportion of such tax. The right hon. Baronet stated that Ireland's capability of bearing the tax was in the ratio of one to nine to that of England, and the stamp duty being in that ratio to the income-tax, it was, in point of fact, a permanent income-tax on Ireland. He could not forget that the right hon. Baronet on another occasion stated, that if the income-tax became permanent in England, it would become a question whether it should not be introduced into Ireland. The income-tax was now to be a permanent one; and he felt persuaded that nothing but the distressed condition of Ireland now saved her from the imposition of that odious, because inquisitorial tax. That country would ultimately be visited with it, unless the expenditure was kept down to something like a peace condition. Therefore was it that, independently of the principle "of doing unto others as we would be done by," the Irish representatives, were deeply interested in the vote of that evening. Besides, there was, without necessity, an army of 27,000 men in Ireland, costing over a million a year, and proclaiming to the nations of the world that it was still governed as a conquered country. Cut down the expenditure, and Ireland would be saved that disgrace. He had risen principally to make a remark on what had fallen from the noble Lord Her Majesty's First Minister, in some irrelevant observations which were drawn from him by the speech of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Smith O'Brien). The noble Lord had accused the Irish people of ingratitude. He respectfully but emphatically denied the charge. The people, whatever may have been the conduct of the gentry, appreciated what was done by Parliament, and warmly acknowledged the munificent subscriptions of the English people, who subscribed over 700,000l. to assist them in their destitution. The Irish were not an ungrateful people; but they were also a well-judging people, and they saw that there was much mismanagement in the distribution of the funds at the disposal of the Government. They saw their countrymen in the western and north-western part of Ireland dying from famine, because no depôts of food were provided for them; and, therefore, while they appreciated in other respects the efforts of the Government, they freely und unsparingly condemned them for this neglect.


expressed his intention to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose, on the ground that it was unconstitutional to vote any part of the national expenditure before the House had decided how the means to meet it were to be provided. Because Members of that House had omitted the full discharge of their duty in not being watchful over the Estimates, that was no reason why they should now be wasteful of the public money. Their former negligence was not owing so much to their apathy as to the sense of their hopelessness of success against the power and influence of the Government. With regard to the starvation in Ireland, alluded to by the noble Lord, there was no doubt it had been truly stated in its main features; but the noble Lord had not informed the House of the cause of the unfortunate man being in a state of starvation. The cause of it was the carrying into effect the quarter-acre clause of the Poor Law Act. He acknowledged the liberality of the people of England towards the starving people of Ireland; but whilst making this admission, he must state that every one of the measures introduced by the Government for the benefit of that country had been blundering and defective, and none more so than the poor-law.


hoped to be more successful in calling the attention of the House to the real subject before them than the hon. Member for Finsbury. At any rate he would not follow the example of the hon. Member, by diverging into the numerous topics upon which the hon. Member had touched. Although the hon. Member had paid a panegyric, in many respects well deserved, to the hon. Member for Montrose, who undoubtedly had long been a most energetic advocate for economy, he trusted the hon. Member for Montrose would not be induced to persist in his Motion, because it was really necessary for the public service that the House should go into Supply. Many hon. Gentleman had argued as if the proposal to be made in Committee would entail great future expenditure; but the fact was, they were votes for past expenditure, which it had been necessary to incur, as he would explain in Committee. He intended to show, if he were allowed, under what circumstances the Caffre war had been commenced, and that no blame could attach to anybody for this vote not having been submitted at an earlier period. He repeated, that it was absolutely necessary these votes should be passed, in order to enable the Paymaster General to discharge the current expenses of the Army and Navy. He assured the House he admitted the desirableness of reducing the expenditure of the country, and that he would not be a party to any estimates which were not, in his Opinion, absolutely required for the public service. Surely, too, when at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Montrose a Committee was to be appointed to inquire into the Estimates, it was rather extraordinary that he should by his present Amendment endeavour to prejudge its inquiries.

The House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.

The numbers were:—Ayes 157; Noes 59: Majority 98.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, T. N. Bagshaw, J.
Adair, H. E. Baring, H. B.
Adair, R. A. S. Baring, rt. hon. F. T.
Anson, Visct. Baring, hon. W. B.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Barnard, E. G.
Armstrong, Sir A. Bellew, R. M.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Berkeley, hon. Capt.
Bernal, R.
Bernard, Visct. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Bowles, Adm. Locke, J.
Boyle, hon. Col. Lockhart, A. E.
Brackley, Visct. Lockhart, W.
Bremridge, R. Macnamara, Major
Broadley, H. M'Naughten, Sir E.
Brockman, E. D. M'Tavish, C. C.
Brooke, Lord Martin, J.
Bruce, C. L. C. Masterman, J.
Buck, L. W. Matheson, Col.
Bunbury, E. H. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Burghley, Lord Miles, W.
Busfeild, W. Moffatt, G.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Monsell, W.
Christy, S. Moody, C. A.
Clay, J. Moore, G. H.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Morpeth, Visct.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Newdegate, C. N.
Compton, H. C. O'Brien, Sir L.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Paget, Lord A.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Paget, Lord C.
Craig, W. G. Palmer, R.
Cubitt, W. Parker, J.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Davies, D. A. S. Perfect, R.
Denison, J. E. Pinney, W.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Plumptre, J. P.
Dundas, Adm. Plowden, W. H. C.
Dundas, S. D. Power, Dr.
Dunne, F. P. Power, N.
Ebrington, Visct. Prime, R.
Edwards, H. Rendlesham, Lord
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Ricardo, O.
Farrer, J. Rich, H.
Fitzpatrick, rt. hn. J. W. Robinson, G. R.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Russell, Lord J.
Fortescue, C. Sadlier, J.
French, F. Sandars, G.
Fuller, A. E. Seymour, Lord
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Shelburne, Earl of
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Sheridan, R. B.
Glyn, G. C. Slaney, R. A.
Goring, C. Somers, J. P.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir, J. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Spearman, H. J.
Guest, Sir J. Spooner, R.
Gwyn, H. Stafford, A.
Haggitt, F. R. Stanton, W. H.
Hamilton, G. A. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Hay, Lord J. Strickland, Sir G.
Hayter, W. G. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Heathcoat, J. Stuart, J.
Henley, J. W. Tancred, H. W.
Herbert, H. A. Tollemache, J.
Heywood, J. Towneley, J.
Hildyard, R. C. Townshend, Capt.
Hodges, T. L. Trelawny, J. S.
Hood, Sir A. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Hope, Sir J. Tynte, Col. C. J. K.
Hornby, J. Vane, Lord H.
Hotham, Lord Verney, Sir H.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Walpole, S. H.
Ingestre, Visct. Ward, H. G.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Watkins, Col. L.
Jervis, J. West, F. R.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Westhead, J. P.
Ker, R. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Kildare, Marq. of Wyld, J.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Wyvill, M.
Lemon, Sir C.
Lennard, T. B. TELLERS.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Hill, Lord M.
Lewis, G. C. Tufnell, Mr.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Marshall, J. G.
Alcock, T. Mitchell, T. A.
Anstey, T. C. Molesworth, Sir W.
Blewitt, R. J. Mowatt, F.
Bright, J. Nugent, Lord.
Brotherton, J. O'Brien, W. S.
Brown, W. O'Connor, F.
Cobden, R. O'Flaherty, A.
Crawford, W. S. Osborne, R.
Deering, J. Pattison, J.
Devereux, J. T. Pearson, C.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. Peto, S. M.
Duncan, Visct. Pilkington, J.
Duncan, G. Raphael, A.
Duncuft, J. Salwey, Col.
Evans, J. Scholefield, W.
Ewart, W. Sibthorp, Col.
Fagan, W. Sidney, T.
Fordyce, A. D. Smith, J. B.
Fox, W. J. Stuart, Lord D.
Gardner, R. Sullivan, M.
Hardcastle, J. A. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hastie, A. Thompson, Col.
Henry, A. Thompson, G.
Hindley, C. Thornely, T.
Humphery, Ald. Walmsley, Sir J.
Jackson, W. Wawn, J. T.
Kershaw, J. Williams, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. TELLERS.
M'Gregor, J. Bowring, Dr.
Meagher, T. Hume, J.
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