HC Deb 16 July 1849 vol 107 cc408-52

On the Order of the Day for going into Committee of Supply, Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice. He had had the honour to serve last year on a Committee to which the Government referred certain large branches of public expenditure; and this subject of salaries and wages paid to persons employed in the different Government establishments naturally came under the consideration of that Committee. In making a few observations on the subject, he wished it to be distinctly understood that he had no intention whatever of reflecting on any persons employed in the various departments of Government. It was his firm belief that Her Majesty had the good fortune in all the various departments of the country to have in her employment men as much distinguished by honour, integrity, zeal, and ability, as could ordinarily be expected to fall to the lot of any Sovereign; and he should be sorry indeed if those employed by the Crown were not as well, if not better, paid for their services, than those in any other employment, because he thought the best security for having public offices well filled, was to give adequate remuneration to those employed in them. In the report of the Committee to which he had just referred, there was a paragraph to the effect, that— the Committee had not recommended any reductions of the public services which appeared in the estimates, but that after some consideration, discussion, and division of opinions, they thought such reductions might form part of the general revision of all salaries suitable to the altered circumstances and expenses and condition of the country; that they were of opinion that in the course of examination it would be found desirable to establish a uniform rate of remuneration for similar services performed in different departments. With the latter part of that recommendation he would not trouble the House, but would confine himself to the former part, which expressed an opinion that the House ought to consider generally the salaries paid to the officers in the employment of the Crown, with reference to the altered circumstances of the country. The last time a general review of the financial circumstances of the country took place, was in 1830 and 1831, on the coming in of what was popularly called the "Reform Government" at that time. A Committee was then appointed to revise the salaries of officers, especially those in the higher departments of the State; but he was not aware that any inquiry of a general nature had since taken place. He would shortly call the attention of the House to the condition of the country in 1831 and its condition now, with regard to the expenditure, and with regard to the means of meeting that expenditure, and also to the prices of the various necessaries of life at that period and at the present moment. In this inquiry was to be found the first element of discrimination, in considering the question whether the present amount of salaries paid was just and fitting with reference to the altered circumstances of the country now, compared with what they were then. He would first call attention to the gross expenditure of the country, including the charges for collecting the revenue. In 1831 the expenditure was in round numbers 51,700,000l.; in the year ending the 5th of January, 1848, it was 58,990,000l. This was a very extraordinary increase; but perhaps he would be told that during that time there had been a great increase of the population. In 1831 the population was, in round numbers, 24,000,000; and in 1848 it would be, allowing the per centage for the increase in England and Scotland, he was afraid none could be allowed for Ireland, 28,397,000—showing in the population an increase of about 18 per cent, and in the expenditure an increase of 14 per cent. If, however, they were to measure the expenditure by the price of the various productions of the country—whether corn, or cloth, the cotton manufacture, or any of the staple articles of produce, it would be found, that, tried by this measure, the ratio of expenditure was 44 per cent. Take the average price of corn during 14 years, when the corn law existed, at 57s., and the average price since at 45s., and measure the expenditure in quarters of corn, they would find it amount to 44 per cent. This increase of taxation was evidenced by the continued increase of crime. It was clear that the burdens were increasing in a ratio beyond what the people could bear, and to show this he would shortly direct the attention of the House to one or two population and criminal returns. In 1831 the population of England—he would not include Ireland in the comparison, for the state of Ireland was altogether exceptional—was 13,897,000, and the criminals 19,647. In 1848 the population was 17,497,000, and the criminals 30,349. Now, he did not attribute this increase in criminals to any demoralisation among the people. He believed it was owing entirely to their distressed condition. This could almost be shown to demonstration, because, whenever there was a great cheapening of provisions, joined to plenty of employment, there was a remarkable diminution of crime. Cheapness alone did not produce this result, but it was produced whenever cheapness and employment were combined. When, therefore, he found at the present moment cheapness, but no diminution of crime, be was compelled to conclude that the taxation of the country pressed unduly on the people, and that it was their duty to lessen that taxation as far as they could consistently with the honour and efficiency of the Government of the country. During six out of the last ten years they had deficient revenues; and it was exceedingly doubtful on which side the balance would lie in the present year, though the Chancellor of the Exchequer flattered himself he was on the right side of the hedge. This was very significant as to the state of the country, and called for very minute inquiry. He was in a position to show, that in the period which had elapsed from 1831, when the public salaries were last revised, there had been on almost all the common necessaries of life a reduction amounting to 20 per cent, and he thought, therefore, he had at least a right to call for a diminution in the salaries of public officers of 10 per cent, thus enabling the employers and the employed to divide the advantage of those reductions between them. He did not attempt to effect a diminution according to the respective grades of those in office. He could only speak on general grounds, and propose one scheme of reduction for all, from the highest to the lowest; for he had never heard any good answer given why the system of reduction should not he carried down to the very lowest in the scale, exclusive, of course, of mechanics; for his object was to include only those who were paid by salaries, and not those whose employment might very much depend on the ordinary rules of supply and demand. Take, for example, the lowest class of salaried persons—the country letter-carriers—who were paid in his district 12s. a week, though he was told that in some places they were paid 7s. a week. They were usually taken from the class of labourers, and their ordinary walk was from eighteen to twenty miles a day. A carter, who was much more hardly worked, and walked much further with his horse every day, had 10s. or 11s. a week; and he, along with every other similar class, had long been undergoing a process of reduction of wages in conquence of the falling-off of prices. Now, he did not see why the letter-carrier employed by Government should not suffer the same reduction with the carter. In the case of labourers, the element of supply and demand came in as well as the price of commodities; but in that of the persons employed by Government, the rule of supply and demand did not come in at all. If they were to act in this case on the principle of being supplied in the cheapest market, he believed there would soon be a very different scale of reductions than that which he now proposed to the House. He did not mean to say that the reduction in the price of commodities was altogether owing to recent legislation. That fall of price would, to a great degree, have taken place if they had not legislated at all on the subject. The greater facilities of communication, the doing away with intermediate depôts, by which articles were brought directly from the producer to the consumers, the improvements in machinery, and the vast increase of competition, had all tended to a diminution of prices; but, in addition to these, there was the removal of duties on many articles of consumption, so that on almost every article that could be named a great diminution of price had taken place. The only thing he knew of in which no reduction of price had taken place since 1830 was an ash stick. An ash stick cost 6d. in 1830, and it cost the same still; but every other article had been reduced 10, 20, and 50 per cent. On this subject he would quote as a witness the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, on a former occasion, contended that wages were not reduced more than the prices of food and clothing had been diminished, and that therefore the working classes were better off. Now, he (Mr. Henley) was not asking the House to reduce salaries to the full amount of the reduction which had taken place in articles of common use. He was only asking them to take off to the extent of one-half; therefore, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, those officers must be better off still than those whose wages had only not been reduced more than the prices of commodities. A correspondent of the right hon. Gentleman at Halifax stated that commodities had diminished in price 25 per cent, but that wages had not been lowered more than that amount, and that the parties were now better off. Now, as he did not propose to reduce salaries more than 10 per cent, he must be leaving the parties to whom his Motion referred in a better condition than the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman ought in consistency to give him his support. He would now come to the various departments to which this scheme would apply. There were five heads of revenue in the collection of which salaries were paid. In the Customs there was for salaries and wages, 1,042,274l.; Excise, 628,244l; Stamps and Taxes, 378,125l.; Post Office, 552,089l.; and the Woods and Forests, 44,000l.; amounting altogether to 2,644,732l. as the sum paid for salaries and wages in the various offices in those departments. He found, under the head "Miscellaneous," various sums put down for purposes of education, law, and justice, colonies and consuls, and boards of health, including a sum taken for various commissioners appointed during late years, and which was charged upon the Consolidated Fund to keep it out of the annual revision of Parliament, this last being a sum of 183,700l. These payments amounted in all to 1,191,043l. Then, for diplomatic services there was 140,000l.; and for the Army, Navy, Ordnance, and Commissariat, there were sums amounting to 810,000l; the aggregate amounting, in round numbers, to 4,700,000l. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Is the pay of the Army and Navy included?] No, nothing but the salaries of the Admiralty, the dockyards, and other departments of that kind. He did not include shipwrights, looking upon them as mechanics; and, indeed, he had throughout endeavoured to draw a broad line of distinction between those holding places and receiving salaries, and those whose employment was very much regulated by supply and demand. He did not assert that his calculations were altogether correct so far as the amount went; but whether there was 100,000l. or 200,000l. more or less, did not affect the principle of his question, which was, whether the parties included in the category he had named ought or ought not to have their salaries reduced in the manner he proposed. He would now state shortly what he had done to ascertain the different prices of various articles. It might have been very easy for him to take the common prices current, and quote the various reductions; but that would not have conveyed so clear a view to the House as the plan he had adopted, because in many cases the wholesale and retail prices differed very much from time to time. The retail prices, however, were what most affected the consumer, and he should therefore refer to them. The first article he should take was moat, and he found that in 1831 the best price of meat in Smithfield market was from 4s. to 4s. 6d. per stone; mutton from 4s. 8d. to 5s. 2d. The retail price now in the best price shops was reduced about 1d. or 1½d. per pound, being a reduction of from 10 to 15 per cent. Meat, however, as hon. Gentlemen were aware, was an article the price of which fluctuated very much from time to time, and upon which no man could predicate any steadiness of price for any lengthened period, because it depended not only upon the varying circumstances of supply and demand, like other articles; but, unlike other articles, a great deal of it was produced at a cost much greater than was received for it, for the sake of the manure which it produced; and the greater or lesser profit derived from the manure had a tendency to increase or decrease the production of meat. The consuming power of the country, too, was apt to increase and decrease suddenly; because, if the poor had anything like good wages at all, they consumed a great deal of meat. It was therefore very difficult to speak of the price of meat. With respect to bread, he believed it would not be denied that the price had fallen since 1831 25 per cent. The price of wheat in 1831 was about 60s. per quarter. The average of ten years was 57s.; the average now was 45s., and he believed he was a sanguine man who expected it would continue at that. But, taking it as it was, it showed a diminution of 25 per cent. In the article of groceries there was a diminution of about 30 per cent. The course he took to ascertain the price of groceries was this—he got one of the most respectable tradesmen in town to copy out of his books the prices of the common articles supplied to a family in 1831–32 as compared with the prices in the present year. He obtained from that tradesman a list of fifty-two of the more common articles furnished by a grocer, and he found that the diminution of price amounted to about 25 per cent. He also applied to a party well qualified to give him information on the subject of the prices of articles of earthenware, china, and glass, and he found the diminution in the price of that class of articles amounted to about 20 per cent. With respect to furniture, taking feather beds, mattresses, plain mahogany tables, Brussels carpets, and the like, as fair representatives of the ordinary run of furniture, he found that the reduction of price amounted to about 20 per cent. This referred to articles supplied by first-rate tradespeople, whose profits, as the House was aware, had not diminished quite so much as those of the classes below them. In cotton goods he believed the diminution of price amounted to between 20 and 30 per cent. He spoke in the hearing of Gentlemen who would be ready to correct him if he was wrong; but he believed if he took the diminution in the prices of cotton goods at 30 per cent, it would rather be below than above the mark. Linen might be taken at 15 per cent; woollen, at 10 per cent; and hosiery at from 15 to 20 per cent. There was one article on which, although it was difficult to account for it, there was little diminution of price, and that was shoes. Although everything had been done to cheapen the price of shoes, yet no information he had been able to get had brought him to the conclusion that the price had fallen more than 4 per cent. It was true you could get shoes at all sorts of prices, but it was difficult to compare the quality. By taking the prices of the shoes supplied to Christ's Hospital at both the periods to which he referred, he found that the price had fallen only about 7½ per cent. With respect to beer, the price had sunk about 1d. per pot. What was formerly sold at 5d. was now sold at 4d. Wine was another article on which it was difficult to institute an exact comparison—because there again the quality varied so much—there being all sorts of wines at all sorts of prices; but from the best information he had been able to obtain, from parties who had been in the habit of buying the same quality of wine, he found that the reduction of price amounted to not less than 10 per cent. Many persons had stated it much higher. He might also mention the diminution in the cost of locomotion, which was very much greater than most other articles. They all knew that they now paid 3d. for an omnibus, whereas formerly they were charged 6d.; and he believed that that reduction was carried out all over the country. He was told that on the river a sail, which formerly cost 4d., might now be had for 1d. No matter what it was, the universal principle seemed to be laid down, that in every relation of life there should be more work, and less money. There was only one exception, and that was to be found in the public offices, where the principle was only fulfilled in one of its conditions. He believed fully that more work had been imposed, but there had been no reduction of pay, though he did not see why public servants should escape from being placed in the same category with the rest of mankind. He believed that a reduction was necessary, because within the last thirty years there had been a continued increase in the value of money as compared with the price of goods—arising partly but not altogether from the change in our monetary laws. He was at a loss to understand upon what ground his Motion was to be resisted. If it was to be resisted on the ground that there had been a great increase of labour, he was ready to meet it by the allegation that that increase of labour had only been imposed upon public officers equally with the rest of mankind. If he looked to the agricultural labourer, who received the lowest amount of pay for his work—if he turned to the manufacturing districts, and saw how persons there were obliged to toil and work in order to make a living—if he looked at other classes of life, and saw the vast competition for employment, however humble—how difficult tradesmen found it, for instance, with their reduced profits, to obtain a subsistence for themselves and families—if he looked at all these classes, he could not see why public servants should be made an exception to the general rule. With respect to the clergy, the House had taken care that their income should vary with the price of corn, and at the time that that was fixed, neither the clergy nor those who were interested in them had the least idea of any law being in contemplation to prevent the possibility of an increase in their income. If the House wished to maintain the public credit inviolate, they must apply themselves to cut down the public expenditure in every way that could with justice be done. The Government told them that the number of public servants could not be materially reduced. They must, therefore, endeavour to reduce the amount of their pay. He implored the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to consider whether it would not be wise to give way, on a matter of this sort, to the necessity of the times. He asked them to consider whether by a timely concession in this direction they might not stave off an inquiry of a much more difficult kind? He asked them, for the sake of the public service, to consider that. He begged them to recollect that they had now established the principle of buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market. He put it to them to consider whether, if the people were to continue—he would not say distressed, but to find it difficult to maintain their accustomed position—if they were to find their wages diminishing, and all sorts of employment decreasing, whether they would not find it difficult to stave oft' an inquiry of this sort? Therefore, upon all these grounds, he asked them to make what he believed to be a wise and just concession. He begged them to bear in mind, that although the population was increasing, their power of paying was not increasing in proportion. He begged them to recollect the state of Ireland, with respect to which the boldest could not look forward without fear, the most sanguine hardly with hope, nor the most timid without unmixed apprehension and alarm. It was not the poor alone who were struggling for existence in that country, but a large portion of the higher classes as well. What, therefore, would be their feelings if they found the Government keeping up payments which, in their opinion, ought to be reduced? He asked them to consider whether it was possible that the present state of things could long continue, and whether every farthing they could save ought not to be saved, in order to get the Exchequer into such a state as would enable them to meet all proper demands upon it.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'a reduction of ten per cent be made in all Salaries in the Ordnance Department, and in all other Departments of Government at Home and Abroad.'


said, that the hon. Gentleman, at the commencement of his observations, had stated that he meant no reflection upon any of Her Majesty's servants. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) never supposed that he intended it, nor that he was at all influenced by any personal considerations in the matter. He only hoped, that, on the other hand, the hon. Gentleman would acquit him of being actuated by any personal considerations, and would give him credit for looking only to the general good of the country at large in resisting the Motion now proposed. The hon. Gentleman had said—and, in fact, it was evident from his Motion—that he meant to include all public servants in the proposed reduction, from the Lord Chancellor, who was the highest paid functionary, down to the letter carriers, some of whom, it had been said, received as little as 7s. per week. [Mr. HENLEY: I don't include the law.] If the hon. Gentleman was not to include the law, that would certainly give satisfaction to a large class of persons. [Mr. HENLEY: That will come afterwards.] Oh, this was only a first instalment, then The House should then distinctly understand, that though the Law, and the Army and Navy were exempted at present, they would be included afterwards. He must say, however, that he thought it would have been far better, when bringing; forward a sweeping measure of this kind, to state at once to what extent it was intended to carry it. The hon. Member for Montrose had said, that although he had put a notice on the Paper on this subject, he considered it so much the same as the present Motion, that he did not intend to press it, but would content himself with supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxford. Now, what was the notice of the hon. Member for Montrose? It was, in point of fact, to place the salaries of public servants on the scale of the year 1797. The result of that would be, in many cases, to raise them above their present amount. On grounds of economy he should resist the proposal of the hon. Member for Montrose. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had admitted that public servants were harder worked now than formerly. With great deference to the hon. Gentleman, he submitted that some consideration was duo to that circumstance. On a former occasion, too, the hon. Gentleman said that he thought the Members of the Government the worst paid and the; hardest worked part of the community. After that declaration, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was surprised that the hon. Gentleman intended to include them in the reductions which he proposed to effect. The hon. Gentlemen had referred to the examination which took place in I83I. Every hon. Gentleman must be aware that that was a time when there was a great pressure for economy in that House, and when reductions to a considerable extent were effected. At that time, a Committee sat to investigate the salaries of the highest officers of Government, and made a very careful inquiry into the whole matter; and he should like to read to the House an extract from the report, showing the principle they laid down:— Economy, to deserve the name, must be rational; and no consideration of more money can be set in competition with the paramount evident necessity of securing for offices of great trust and confidence the highest class of intelligence and integrity. It has been frequently observed, and the observation being founded on truth and reason should never be lost sight of, that offices in a free country should not be put beyond the reach of men of moderate fortunes. If salaries should be fixed too low, a monopoly would be created in the hands of the wealthy, the power of selection by the Crown would be most injuriously restricted, and the public would be deprived of the services of men of limited means, educated with a view to the pursuit of liberal professions—a class furnishing, more than any other, the talents and industry suited to official life. It should further be considered that the higher offices of Government require an entire devotion of the whole time and attention of those who fill them, that their own private affairs must necessarily be neglected, and that if care should be taken, on the one hand, to avoid the scandal of private fortunes amassed at the public expense, it is neither for the interest nor for the honour of the country, on the other hand, that they should be ruined in its service. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) very much suspected that if they referred to the annals of the past, they would find that a large number of the higher officers of Government had been more nearly ruined in the public service, than had amassed fortunes in it. The result of the labours of that Committee was, that a considerable reduction took place in the salaries of the chief officers of the Government. The salary of the First Lord of the Treasury was not reduced; but the salaries of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lords of the Treasury were. The salaries of the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretaries of State were reduced 1,000l. a year each; the salaries of the Under Secretaries of State were reduced 500l. a year; the salary of the Lord President was reduced more than 500l; that of the President of the Board of Control, 1,500l. a year; and that of the First Lord of the Admiralty, 500l. a year. With respect to all the other appointments of first-rate importance, the salaries were generally fixed at 2,000l. a year. The salary of the Paymaster General had been reduced the other day, on Lord Granville's appointment, from 2,400l. to 2,000l. per annum. The Committee of 1831 proceeded upon an examination carried on in detail into all the public offices, comparing the salaries with those of 1780; and the result was, as he had stated, a considerable reduction. The hon. Gentleman had said that the pressure of taxation was such that the people were no longer able to pay the present high salaries. But the hon. Gentleman forgot that a large amount of taxation had been taken off principally upon articles of general consumption. No less than between 7,000,000l. and 8,000,000l. had been taken off in that way within the last five or six years. The pressure of taxation upon the great body of the people had thus been greatly relieved. And how had the revenue been maintained? Why, by the imposition of a direct tax on income, which tax had, of course, been applied to persons holding official situations as well as to others, and included all who had salaries at and above 1502. a year. He begged to remind the hon. Gentleman also that a majority of the Committee who sat last year on the public expenditure, refused to concur in the proposal to reduce the salaries of the chief officers of Government. He found that on the division only two Gentlemen voted for a reduction of the salary of his noble Friend at the head of the Government. With respect to the great body of public servants, he was convinced that the salaries were lower in proportion than the salaries of persons of a similar description employed in private establishments. He undertook to say that many clerks in public offices were not so well paid as some domestic servants were. The hon. Gentleman had said that the Government had refused to make reductions in the number of persons employed in the public service, and therefore the salaries ought to be reduced. The hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken in that, because he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated distinctly the other day that there had been a great reduction in the number of persons employed, and that his belief was that the reductions might be carried still further, not only with economy, but with great advantage to the public service. The fact was, that within so recent a period as from 1833 to the present time, there had been 2,000 reductions in one department alone. The hon. Gentleman surely then must admit that he had wholly mistaken the purport of the statement which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had made upon this subject. The next point to which it became necessary for him to direct the attention of the House, was one which he feared he did not very clearly comprehend. He confessed that he did not understand the principle upon which wages and place were to be distinguished one from another—he did not see the ground of that distinction which was sought to be established between the coast guard and the sailor—he was not able to understand how one was to be considered as holding a place, and the other as receiving wages. Further, it became a very serious question whether they ought not to make great sacrifices rather than expose persons engaged in the lower offices of the public service to the temptation which necessarily arose out of insufficient payment. It was notorious that many persons employed in the public service were very insufficiently paid. But then the hon. Member took the case of the postman of the village near which he himself resided, and be told the House that the ordinary wages of a carter in that neighbourhood were as low as 12s. or even 11s., and he made it a matter of grievous complaint that the postman received a salary of 12s. a week. It was to be hoped the House would remember that a postman required higher qualifications and was more largely trusted than a carter. The carter need not either read or write; the postman must do both. The carter was not trusted to anything like the same amount as the postman; and when they were to take reading, and writing, and trustworthiness into account, he must be permitted to say that every reason was in favour of giving to the postman the higher rate of payment. In the West Riding of Yorkshire he found it impossible to obtain even unskilled labourers for less than 14s. a week; and he found it difficult to understand how persons employed by the Government should receive less. But in all these cases it would be impossible, and, if possible, it would be hardly safe, to attempt to carry out anything approaching to universal rules by which salaries were to ascend and descend according to the fluctuations that might occur in the value of produce. It should be one of the first objects of the State to secure the services of the best and most steady men who were to be found in the market, and that was only to be accomplished by fair remuneration and permanent employment. Such persons, if illiberally treated, could not be retained in the public service. Certainty of employment, and certainty in the amount of their salaries, were the only conditions on which their services could be continuously secured; and he professed his inability to understand how the views of the hon. Member opposite could be carried into advantageous operation. The Committee of 1831 gave what appeared to him the best recommendation which circumstances permitted with regard to the salaries of the higher officers; and it had at all times struck his mind that nothing could be worse than the perpetual fluctuations which the plans of the hon. Member opposite would have the effect of introducing. Again, he would say that he did not consider the public servants in any respect overpaid. It was his deliberate conviction that nothing could be more prejudicial, or in the end more expensive, than to subject the public service to such fluctuations as the hon. Gentleman proposed. Upon these grounds, and without going further into detail, he would say that he did not believe the servants of the State were more highly paid than was necessary to their adequate remuneration, and he should, therefore, resist the Motion then before the House.


said, he should certainly vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend near him, notwithstanding all that had been said by the right hon. Gentle- man opposite, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It must, he believed, be obvious to every one who paid the least attention to the subject, that the value of money had been rapidly increasing ever since there had been a reaction in our monetary system. In the previous state of our affairs it was not necessary to raise these nice distinctions; but they were the unavoidable consequence of the system which the present Government had introduced. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House that they must have no fluctuation in the rewards paid to their public servants: that might be just enough in the abstract, but it was not a position that the Ministers could take up, for they had cut that ground completely from under them. They could not now tell the world, because they had repealed certain duties, that the labourer was therefore in any respect in a better condition than before. No labouring man could believe them when they said that his condition was improved merely because the Government had made certain things cheap; they lowered the price of the articles which he produced, and then coolly informed him that his condition was much improved. The country felt, and every man must soon be convinced, that the policy of Ministers was an impoverishing process. But to all this the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought he gave a triumphant answer when he said that in the West Riding of Yorkshire labourers were not to be had for less than 14s. a week. Now, he begged to inform the right hon. Gentleman that from Warwickshire he could supply him with thousands of labourers who would be only too glad to receive 10s. a week. It might be perfectly true that labour in the West Riding bore a price one-third greater than in Warwickshire; but that proved nothing with regard to the rest of England, and he entertained not a doubt that 14s. a week was very much above the common rate of wages in this country. He admitted the wisdom of that policy which declared that the servants of the State ought not to be exposed to temptation; but what had the policy of the Government done? In the year 1844 the monetary system had undergone a violent change, and in 1846 our commercial system was placed upon an entirely now basis. These changes they must look in the face, and meet in the best manner that circumstances would permit; and what did the Government do? They told every one that all prices must come down—to the landlords they said that rents must he lowered; to the merchants that they must carry on their commercial pursuits with less profit; to the manufacturer that he must do a less business, and that all grades of society must sink together. If so—and he did not deny that they made it so—then the lower classes, according to the plan of the Government, must sink the lowest, and be the greatest sufferers. Though his hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire was right in not adhering in his speech to wholesale prices, yet they must judge from wholesale prices of the return for labour, for it was represented by those prices. He found that 150 years ago, when the official value was the same as at present, it was taken as the measure of quantity—for instance, 100l. of official value represented the same quantity in corn, wool, and other articles. If they compared 100l. worth of declared value with 100l of official value, then they would arrive at a positive conclusion as to their exports. In 1817 the declared and the official value were at par; the declared value being 41,817,540l, and the official value, 40,111,157l He would take an average of four years, from 1817 to 1820. In 1817 the official value was 40,111,157l; in 1818,42,702,068l.; in 1819,33,534,176l; and in 1820, 38,393,768l.; showing a total of 154,741, 169l In the same years the declared value was, respectively, 41,817,540l., 46,470,863l., 35,211,401l., and 36,423,959l., making a total of 159,923,763l., and showing an excess of declared over official value of 3¼ per cent. He would next take an average of four years from 1829 to 1832. In those years the official value was 243,081,958l., and the declared value 147,729,186l., showing a depreciation of 40½ per cent. In the years 1845 to 1848, the official value was 525,949,255l., and the declared value 229,952,468l., showing a depreciation according to the declared value of 56½ per cent since 1820, and of 63 per cent according to the market value during those years. He would now refer to one or two other points in connexion with the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire, which he preferred to that of the hon. Member for Montrose. It would be remembered that he had resisted the first measure which rendered that reduction necessary. Hon. Members who agreed with his views said, that the Government had forced on the country measures which "be deprecated; but as they had thus im- poverished and weakened her resources, the Government could not expect her to bear those burdens which she had formerly submitted to. If Her Majesty's Ministers had adopted a wiser system of legislation, hon. Members on his side of the House would no longer ask for a reduction in the salaries, for then they would view such a reduction as unnecessary and unjust; but they said that the Government had by their ruinous policy impoverished all the produce of the land, and that if it were better the country should be poorer—if it were better that all poor men should be more poorly paid—then let them apply that policy to all. They could not persevere in that policy, for the people would become alive to its numerous consequences; and once they became sensible of its injustice there would be a clamour abroad which it would not be easy to silence, and movements which he feared they would not find it easy to control. He condemned that policy on the ground that it impoverished the producing classes of the country—that it took all means to depress him who was adding to his capital by labour, or, perhaps, whose labour was his only capital; and he supported that Motion—for he knew no means by which the great question could be brought before the House more fairly and more justly than by it. They were making the rich richer, and the poor more poor, The great social question was, had the pressure of the last year fallen with the greatest severity upon the rich or upon the poor? Let them take the two extremes of the scale. In the class where the incomes were 50,000l.—although the whole number had been but 20—two had, since 1846, been added to the class—while 1,481 had, within the same period, been added to the number of those who belonged to the 150l. class. They might for the present throw out the Motion of his hon. Friend; but of this no man could doubt, that it would return with a force and frequency against which no resistance could prevail.


had been one of the Members of the Committee referred to by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had truly stated that they had not passed many resolutions on the subject of a reduction of salaries. Several Members had declined to vote, and with reason, for only the miscellaneous estimates were laid before them; and they thought that under those circumstances they should do an injustice if they made the reduction. Upon them alone the Committee had not given any opinion in favour of such a reduction—they only threw hack on the House the responsibility of making such a recommendation. It was his opinion that public representation should urge on the Ministry the necessity of reducing the salaries, and that it would be well if they gradually corrected the many anomalies which existed under the present state of things; but he held that it would be most unjust to take off one-tenth of all those salaries indiscriminately. Let him refer to the history of the Committee in 1831 referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A popular outcry of economy occasionally pervaded this country—he was sorry that the feeling which gave rise to it was not more permanently engrafted in the minds of the people—and on the occasion of one of those outbreaks the Committee was granted by the incoming Government, who added a feather to their cap by being enabled to say that they were studying economic principles. He did not think that Committees ever sufficiently attended to details on such matters; and that Committee had adopted the principle of cutting a little off a high salary, and so on; but they had never thought of adapting the salary to the work performed. Now there were a great many anomalies in existence as regarded salaries. The Secretaries of the Treasury had a salary of 2,500l.; while the Under Secretary of State had 1,500l.; and the President of the Board of Trade (an office of some dignity) had only 2,000l. a year. Since 1831 the House had created some offices. He would take one for instance, the important duties of which were most ably filled by the President of the Poor Law Board. They had gone into the market and bought the host man. He was at the head of his circuit, and the gains from his profession were far more than those which he derived from his present office; but, prompted by a laudable ambition, honourable to himself and useful to his country, he accepted office. That was a case in which they had fixed the salary at 2,000l. per annum; and by such criterions the anomalies which existed could be easily corrected. He felt there was much in what had been said as to the comparison of the salaries of the Ministry in 1831, and that of the Ministry of the present day. They could now no longer go into the market and buy up the best men, and therefore they would reduce where the expenses of life had been reduced. Would any man in his senses say to his son who had ability to go to the bar, "Study politics as a source of profit?" He did not think that such a man could be found. He would here remark that there had been one recommendation made by the Committee which had been disregarded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, the correction of the anomaly of charging some salaries on the Consolidated Fund, and others on the estimates. He knew no reason why the Postmaster General's salary should not be included in the estimates as well as that of the Paymaster General—or the salary of the Tithe Commissioners as well as that of the Poor Law Commissioners. As regarded the principal officers of State, it must be remembered that there was a decrease in their style of living; that they need not now be surrounded by so much pomp as was used in 1831. Instead of a chaise and four to Windsor, the Prime Minister proceeded to Council with a day ticket. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had stated that he would not include in his reduction scheme the Lord Chancellor or the law officers of the Crown. [Mr. HENLEY: Those are patent offices.] Docs the hon. Gentleman exclude all patent offices? [Mr. HENLEY: I do.] If the hon. Gentleman intended to apply the pruning knife to the salaries of those persons only who had embarked in irksome but most useful occupations, relying upon the faith of the country for a certain income during their lives, he could not follow him. Many of those persons had insured their lives, or had made other prudential arrangements whereby they had parted with portions of their incomes; and was the 10 per cent to be do-ducted upon their full salaries, or were inquiries to be made into all engagements of this kind to ascertain whether they should be exempted or not? He considered that this was a matter which required minute investigation, either by the Government or by a Committee, and he would prefer to see the duty undertaken by the Government, upon whom he thought the responsibility ought to rest On the grounds he had stated, he must decline to vote for the whole of the resolution, which seemed to proceed upon no principle but to decimate the emoluments of the most useful and the least laborious public servants alike. Then how did he distinguish between patent offices (of which by-the-by the Lord Chancellor was not one) and offices understood by custom to be durante vitâ?


would say a few words upon this Motion, because he did not mean to vote upon it. His reason for not voting was, that he might be mistaken. The reason why he did not support the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, was because he sincerely believed his Motion was an unjust one. He did not wish to impute motives to the hon. Gentleman, but it appeared to him to be what somebody had called "a flash in the pan." It appeared to be exceedingly deceptive; it bore economy on the face of it, and yet if it was real in its character, it never would be opposed. It was opposed now. Why? Because certain things had been done in this House with respect to various measures of the Government by which corn and other things had been made cheaper. And this, then, was to be the counter blow to the Administration who had been supposed to have rendered cheap various commodities. Could the hon. Member for Oxfordshire really intend this to be a practical Motion? If he had come to the House and said, hero is a thing which is unnecessary, will you vote against it? he would have gone out with him. If the hon. Member had come and said, here is a place overpaid, he would have gone with him; but when the hon. Member came and said all salaries, without exception, are to be taken and reduced ten per cent, Was was not he (Mr. Roebuck) bound to inquire whether all salaries were overpaid—whether all working men were overpaid? He was bound to say that it was not the case. That was the chief argument that he had against the whole system, that there was a most unjust inequality in the way of payment; and hon. Gentlemen who were willing to keep up that which they considered requisite to the state and dignity of the nation, would be the first persons to oppose him if he pointed out what were the sinecures to maintain that state which surrounded our feudal dominion. Was a poor man, who worked from ten to six, to be reduced in his salary and expectations, and sent home 10 percent poorer? He said it was a shame upon the House, it was a shame upon common honour and honesty, when they accompanied it with such a mode of proceeding regarding high offices. The hon. Gentleman excepted the Lord Chancellor, and said it was a patent place. He (Mr. Roebuck) did not care whether it was a patent place or not. The question was, was the man overpaid for the labour which he performed? If he were overpaid, cut him down to the proper and just salary, and every one that had more than enough for the purpose, cut him down altogether; but to take this wholesale way precluded their acting upon it, and that was his great objection to wholesale proceeding. To show the hon. Gentleman's inconsistency, he took the case of a letter carrier, whom he called a placeholder; he said that his carter did as much work as the letter carrier. What was the difference between an artisan in a naval dockyard and the letter carrier? They both did certain service, and good service, for which both were paid. The hon. Gentleman reduced the letter carrier, but not the artisan in the dockyard. What could be the agreement between one part of the proceeding and the other? If it were just to bring down the letter carrier, it must be requisite to bring down the artisan in the dockyard; if it was not requisite to bring down the artisan, it was not requisite to bring down the letter carrier. This unfortunate letter carrier was a very responsible officer, although a humble one. We depended upon his regularity in carrying that paper which was fraught with the hopes, the expectations, the sorrows, and the happiness of mankind; and this man who bore all this responsibility was to be like the common carter, and this was the way they were to deal with all classes of labourers. He would say of the labourer of the State, as he said of all other labourers, and quote the old scriptural rule, "The labourer is worthy of his hire." He would fix that rule to all the offices of the State, commencing with the highest—he made no exception—and would then go from the highest in proper natural and regular gradation; but when the hon. Gentleman went on in his strange way, sweeping off all men as with a sword, and making everything alike without reference to how they were paid or what they performed, he said there was no justice in this proposal, and because it was an unjust proposal he opposed it. He wished the House not to believe that he said that here which he had not said before his own constituents. They had asked him the question, "Will you reduce all salaries?" What was his answer? "No." Why? "Because some are underpaid, although some are overpaid. I will pay all men who do what the State requires. I will give enough to have the office well performed; they who well perform their duty, I will pay well; they who do not, shall have no pay; and those who do little, very little pay. "Those men who lived by honest labour understood that statement. He must say one thing about one class of public servants. There were a great number of public servants so called who were engaged to maintain the splendour of the Government. He thought that the honour on that occasion was quite sufficient pay. There was so much of distinction in tills matter, that he could well allow distinction to be the reward; and if the hon. Gentleman would only begin with those high offices, he would get much more popularity than he was likely to obtain by his present proceeding, and, he would answer for it, more justly. Let him begin with those curious offices, the remains of the feudal times. The offices of grand falconer, the master of the horse, the lords and ladies of the bedchamber. If he would begin with that class of official servants, he (Mr. Roebuck) would answer for it that he would meet with a vast deal of sympathy. When he spoke of the poor letter carrier, he owned he had no faith in his notions of econony.


was surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have concluded with a recommendation to curtail the salaries of persons whom he did not pay, who were not paid out of the public funds, and some of whom were not paid at all. He (Mr. Drummond) considered that Her Majesty's Ministers and their friends had to thank themselves for this Motion. They had boasted that they had reduced the prices of all commodities 50 per cent; but was not that tantamount to raising their own fixed salaries 50 per cent? He remembered that the ground of raising the Judges' salaries was, that it was difficult to get men of eminence at the bar to fill those important offices. When Sir Samuel Romilly was in the full height of his practice, and when he and others were making very much more than the salary of the Lord Chancellor, it might have been exceedingly difficult to induce men of such eminence to accept judicial positions. This, he thought, was a sufficient reason for excepting the Judges; but he believed, also, their salaries were fixed for life by Act of Parliament. It had been said they ought not to introduce the commercial principle into public life, and to get the Government of the country jobbed at the cheapest rate; and in that he fully agreed. He well remembered, when Lord Sidmouth was Secretary for the Home Department, reading in the Edinburgh Review a comparison between the salaries paid to the Ministers of this country and of America, greatly panegryising the system of the Americans, who, it was said, got their Sidmouths for 300l. a year, and their Crokers by the gross for nothing. He wished to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer boldly grappling with this question, and proposing a measure which would reduce every income, from the very highest down to the lowest, and from which he would not exclude the income of any rich man in this country, whether he held public office or not. He had alluded to this subject before, and he was more and more convinced that they must shift the public burdens from the low to the high, and that they must take among the high, not mere placemen, as they were called, but all who had large incomes—who were, in common parlance, called the rich, and must lay a larger burden upon them than they did at present. He could not refuse to vote for this Motion. He knew that a great many persons, when Motions of this kind were brought forward, said, "We are delighed with the Motion—but then." There was always a "but," and for a measure of financial reform of any kind, there were always nineteen "buts" out of twenty Members.


said, that in reply to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield, he thought he could show that a reduction that was intended to be applied generally could not be unjust, and that on general principles the public had a right to be served at as low a rate as any other employer. He believed that on all similar occasions a distinction had been made with regard to those who received weekly or monthly wages, and he hoped that rule would be followed in the present case also, and that these men would be excepted. But he would ask his right hon. Friend, who called this an unjust Motion, whether he thought that up to 1845 or 1847 the public servants had been properly paid? If they were well and properly paid up to 1847 and 1848, would it be said that their salaries were not proportionally higher now, when the means of living were reduced 15 or 20 or 30 per cent below the amount at which they then stood? If he could have brought forward his Motion, he would have asked the House to pledge itself that all new salaries to be hereafter declared should be on a scale commensurate with the altered condition of the times; but, unfortunately, he had not been able to bring that Motion forward. He did not agree with the whole of this Motion, and yet he would vote for it as a pledging the House to reduce the expenditure. Four great Motions had been brought forward on this subject. In 1821, the House unanimously agreed to an ad- dress to the Crown, "to consider all increased salaries granted to individuals since the year 1797." They were then told that reductions could not take place, in consequence of the increase that had taken place in the cost of provisions. The Government of that day appointed a Committee, who inquired into every department of the State. In 1831, another Committee was appointed by the Whigs, and to that Committee he had the honour to belong. The object of that Committee was, that the salaries should be reduced as much as possible, taking into account the effect of these combined periods of increase. He well recollected the time when a landed gentleman of 1,500l. a year was somebody; but now, collectors of excise, and secretaries of public departments, who were formerly considered to be well paid at 400l. a year, topped them with their salaries of 2,000l or 3,000l. Mr. Croker, he recollected, at one time received 4,000l.—the landed gentry of 1,500l a year had been reduced to insignificance. The right hon. Member for Northampton stated that it was now a ruinous concern to enter into the public service. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, for he knew many gentlemen in flourishing circumstances in the public service, who never would have earned their bread and butter elsewhere. But he did not think it was fair to look at exceptions either one way or another; and certainly he did not think that because the late Sir Samuel Romilly commanded large fees, that therefore the Lord Chancellor should retain the salary he now had. He did not know any situation that was more overpaid than the Lord Chancellor's; and he did not know any profession that was more overpaid than the lawyers. [An. Hon. MEMBER: The bishops.] That was a question which must be reserved for another Motion; but if they brought down all other establishments, the bishops must come down too. But the greatest evils had arisen from the increase of lawyers' fees. Because a few individuals made immense incomes, the whole of the profession thought themselves entitled to raise their fees, till now you could not look a lawyer in the face under 2,000l. or 3,000l. a year. But the time must come when lawyers would be content with being looked at for the same price as other people. Their fees would either be diminished, or their practice would be less. Neither did he see why the Judges should be exempted from the present Motion. He could point to a learned individual who had amassed a large fortune—who was at the head of his profession—and who was at last made a nobleman and a Judge; and he believed that few men who ever sat on the bench were more inefficient. Yet he was the best man that was ever employed to plead before a jury. On the other hand, he could point to an individual who was formerly Solicitor General in this House, who had been very unpresuming in his deportment while here, without displaying any brilliant talents—that individual had since been raised to the bench, of which he was now one of the brightest ornaments. For his part, he considered that the Judges were all overpaid; and though an increase was made in the salaries of the Scotch Judges—for which they owed him no thanks, for he did all he could to oppose it—he was of opinion that in Scotland there was as much delay in the administration of justice as ever. If all other establishments were reduced, the income of the bishops and the diplomatists must likewise come down. He supported the Amendment on the ground alone that, if carried, it would be a pledge in favour of economy and retrenchment, which the Government would do well not to disregard.


begged to state the reasons which would compel him to vote in opposition to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire. The hon. Member for Montrose had stated that he would support the Motion, because he regarded it as a pledge on the part of the House to economy. Now, with regard to economy, the House could give a pledge at any time, without at the same time doing an act of injustice to individuals, or of mispolicy to the public service. His hon. Friend was mistaken when he said that no progress had been made in reducing the expenditure of the public service. According to the statement made the other evening by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a progressive and considerable diminution had taken place in the number of persons employed. In the three great departments the number of persons employed was 9,083, with an aggregate salary of 962,000l In 1849 the number was 7,027, at an aggregate cost of 715,000l., showing a reduction of 2,056 in the number of persons, and 247,000l. on the amount of salary. The ratio of that reduction on the amount of salaries was 28 per cent, while the reduction in the number of persons was only 22 per cent—so that it would be seen that there was a greater reduction in the salaries than in the persons employed. Now, while the amount expended in those departments (the Excise, Stamps, and Taxes) was 715,000l., and the total number of persons employed 7,029, the average salary of each person was only 101l 14s., and the proposition before the House was, to take 10 per cent off those salaries—the effect of which would be most materially felt by parties having only 70l. or 80l. a year; and as the average was only 100l., the great majority of salaries must be under that sum. The hon. Gentleman had argued as though the salaries had continued the same ever since 1831, but that was not the fact; inquiries having been constantly instituted, either by the Government or that House, into the salaries of the various departments, and reductions having throughout the period from 1831 been gradaally but surely carried out. Ever since the establishment of peace, the period referred to by the hon. Member for Montrose, there had been constant inquiries and investigations on those subjects. Partly undertaken at the instance of the Government, and partly from the pressure of that House, from the year 1815 to the present time, there had been constant Commissions and Committees of Inquiry. In the year 1817, in 1821, in 1828, in 1830, and in 1831, inquiries had been instituted, and in the latter year reductions were effected in the heads of departments on the amount of 143,000l. to the extent of 21,000l. per annum, being at the rate, not of 10 per cent, but 16 or 17 per cent. Notwithstanding these reductions, they had not been standing still since 1841, but there had been since successive reductions in the public departments. There was one inquiry into the Excise, in which great reductions had been made, both in the number of persons employed and the salaries. In the year 1840–4, when his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth came into office, considerable reductions were effected in the Customs; and since that time the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them, by recent arrangements, a further reduction had been made, and there were more in perspective. All these circumstances his hon. Friend had omitted to consider in bringing forward his Motion. He seemed to think that there had only been one scale of payment from 1815 to 1831—and another from 1831 to the present time. He found from a very able book, Porter's Statistics of the British Umpire, that there had been considerable reduction in the expenditure of the nation since 1815. The total number of public servants employed in 1815 was 27,365 in all departments, and the salaries amounted to 3,768,000l.; while in 1835 (the latest period of which he had any account) the number of persons had been reduced to 23,500, and the salaries to 2,786,000l., showing a far greater reduction in the amount of the salaries than in the number of the officers—the diminution in salaries being 25 per cent, and in the number of persons about 14 per cent. At the commencement of the periods to which he had referred, the average of salaries amounted to 130l., and at the close the average was only 114l., being a large diminution in the average rate of salaries. To show the attention that had been paid to these matters, he might mention that he found the reduction in the salaries between 183 land 1835 to be no less than 269,000l. Now, in 1835, the price of corn was much lower than in the present year, being at 39s. After that it rose, and in 1839 the price was 70s., but there was then no proposition to increase salaries. If they were to regulate salaries by the price of corn, they must look to an alteration almost year by year, and they would be having corn salaries instead of corn rents—a system which would be most detrimental to the interests of men with 60l., 70l., 80l. or 90l. a year. A great part of the expenditure was fixed, and they could not go to their landlords, with whom they had made agreements for seven or ten years, and say, "My salary has been reduced, and therefore you must take 10 per cent off my rent;" neither could they go to the assurance office through which they were endeavouring to make a small provision for their families, and ask for a reduction of 10 per cent in the premium. There were also many other fixed charges which they could not reduce. The hon. Member who had brought forward the Motion, had supported it on the ground that an alteration had been made in the salaries between 1831 and the present time; but the hon. Member for Warwickshire differed from him, and advocated the change, in order to make salaries conformable with prices which had been established by the recent commercial policy of that House. He (Mr. Herries) was not prepared to say what might be the effect of that policy; but he was prepared to say that it had not yet induced such reductions in the necessaries of life as to justify that Motion, and therefore he was not prepared to vote for taking off ten per cent from offi- cial salaries. His right hon. Friend on the other side of the House said that the Committee on the Miscellaneous Estimates did not recommend anything of the nature of the Motion then before them; but they recommended what was wise and just, that the whole subject should undergo inquiry, with a view to a fair and equitable reduction. Had his hon. Friend brought forward a Motion of that kind, namely, for an inquiry into the public expenditure as involved in official salaries, with a view to their adjustment according to the present state of things, he would have gone heartily with him, and voted for it. Then, again, his hon. Friend bad made various exceptions, the justice of which he could not see. If the principle of the reduction was good, he did not see why it should not be applied to all parties. He could not see why the Army or the Navy should be excepted, and especially he could not see why the Lord Chancellor and Judges were to be excepted. Surely it could not be justice that 9l. or 10l. a year should be taken off the salary of the clerk with 90l. a year, and nothing off that of the Chancellor. If an inquiry were instituted into the salaries of the Government officers, he had no doubt that they would find some that were too highly paid, but they would find many that were paid much too low. It was impossible to serve in any Government office without bearing testimony to the zeal, ability, and fidelity with which the duties of the subordinate offices were performed—in fact, the public service was carried on with greater fidelity, despatch, accuracy, and economy in this country than in any other country in the world. He had occasion, some time since, to look into the expenses of a neighbouring country, and he was astonished how different the expenses and the numbers employed were in England and in France, their expenses being much more, and their revenue much less, than that of this country. Since that time the expenses had been increased; but the time to which he alluded was before revolution and democracy had had its full swing; and he then found that, on a revenue not exceeding 44,000,000l. or 45,000,000l., the collection cost no less than 6,000,000l.; while the revenue of this country, amounting to 58,000,000l., was collected at an expense under 4,000,000l. Surely, under these circumstances, they ought not to treat their public servants lightly, and make sweeping reductions in their salaries without due inquiry. The hon. Member for Montrose supported this Motion, on the ground that it was a pledge to the country of economy; but he begged them to recollect at whose expense the pledge was made. Out of 22,000 or 23,000 public servants, upwards of 20,000 received less than 100l. a year, and this pledge must be made at their expense. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the other day, told them that the average of the salaries paid in the Excise, the Stamps, and Taxes departments amounted to 1012.; but those in the Excise alone gave an average of 932. only. He hoped and trusted that the House would look to all these things, and consider that the interest of the employés was the interest of the public, for without good servants they could not collect their revenue at 6 or 6½ per cent with safety and precision, the instances of breach of trust being extremely rare. He thought that some attention ought to be paid to the interests of these men; and here he might call attention to the fact that in a report made by the Minister of Finance of Franco, he explained that the reason why in England the revenue was collected at 6 per cent, while in France it cost 14 per cent was, because the efficiency and zeal of the public servants in England was so much superior to that of any other country. He always differed from his hon. Friend with the greatest regret, and therefore he could not give a vote against a Motion brought forward by him without stating his reasons at some length; and, in conclusion, he would only again implore the House not to sanction the Motion before them.


said, that it would be well for hon. Members to consider with regard to this measure, the crying complaints of the people of England, who considered that some reductions ought to take place in the expenditure. He had no difficulty in voting for the measure before them, though he could have wished that it had been framed in a different manner, so as to include every person from the top to the bottom of the tree—though he should not object to some measure by which those with the lower salaries should be relieved from the effect of the reduction. If they were to wait until they could have a perfect measure, they would never have any measure of reduction at all. The policy of the Legislature was to make this the cheapest country in the world. It might be so for those who had fixed salaries and annuities, but it would not be so for those who had to get their living by their labour. He thought that, as they were making re- ductions in the price of living, there could be no difficulty in making reductions in the public salaries. He thought that the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire would make no great reduction in all conscience; and he would ask on what principle of justice or policy it could be opposed? He took it that their policy had affected materially both the tradesman and the workman. He would ask any tradesman whether, within the last few years, his profits had not been reduced more than 10 per cent, and any workman who was employed on piece work, whether his wages were not more than 10 per cent less than they used to be? An advance had taken place in the salaries of public officers when prices were high, and they ought to go back now that their policy had reduced those prices—the only objection there could be made to that proposition being that the officers now did more work than they formerly did. They ought to place the servants of the public in the same position as those who employed them; and the people out of doors looked to the success of this Motion as a kind of test to determine whether the public servants were to be placed in the same position as themselves. If an alteration took place in the price of commodities, all classes of workmen connected with the manufacture suffered. He would take the iron trade, for example. The price of iron rails was formerly 14l. per ton, and it was now only 5l. Now, he ventured to say, that there was not a man in the iron works, from the foreman down to the lowest boy, that did not feel the effect of that reduction. It might be hard—and, no doubt it was—that the boys and those receiving low pay should have their wages reduced; but the ironmaster must go upon principle, and reduce everybody in equal proportion. Government must do the same, and every one employed under it must be reduced. If this was to be the cheapest country in the world, they must do their duty and bring down the expenses of the Government—for though he did not wish to see any of the public officers underpaid, he considered that those who had seats in that House would not be doing their duty if they did not support this Motion for reduction. To show the reductions that had been effected in the necessaries of life, he would take the article wheat, respecting which they had so often had discussions in that House. Wheat was reduced 30 per cent in price, and he ventured to say, that other things would, ere long, retrograde in an equal degree; and he could not see why the Minister, and those below him, should not also have their salaries reduced. He might be obtuse, and not understand the application of the principle; but he knew that if he was in his own factory he would understand it, and his men would comprehend it also—that if there was a decline in prices they must all share it proportionately, and that if there was a rise, a like result must take place in the opposite direction. Under all the circumstances he felt that he should not be doing justice to his constituents, who were suffering under the effects of the legislation of that House, if he did not support the Motion.


Sir, those hon. Gentlemen who have supported this Motion have all done so—I think every one that has spoken—saying that they did not quite like the Motion—that they wished it were something different from what it is—but that, upon the whole, as it was for a reduction, and as it proposed economy as its object, it was desirable that the Motion should be supported. Now, I own I do not think, if that is the opinion of hon. Gentlemen, that it is a good way for the House of Commons to adopt a Motion which its supporters think objectionable, and leave it afterwards to be discovered how such a Motion can be carried into effect. The hon. Member for Montrose usually says upon these occasions, "Let us reduce things to the level at which they were in 1792 and 1793, and cut off those increased amounts of salary which have been added since that time." I observe that he did not use that argument to-night; but the hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that if there has been a great increase in prices, and salaries have been increased upon that ground, and afterwards prices become much lower, then it is a natural principle in carrying on business to reduce these salaries, and to make them correspond to the prices of the necessaries of life. But the fact is, taking first the higher salaries of the State, that they have not, as the hon. Gentleman supposes, increased from the period when there were not those high prices, remaining now at those rates; but they are, generally speaking, lower salaries and lower emoluments than they were before these high prices. I therefore think that the hon. Member is extremely prudent in avoiding that which usually is his favourite argument. Now, take the principal offices of the State, and which were reported upon by the Committee of 1831. The First Lord of the Treasury, they state, has a salary of 5,000l. a year, which is the same as in 1780; but in 1780, and previous years, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Prime Minister of the day, generally held some other office—some sinecure office—or if he did not, there were generally sinecure offices, some amounting to 3,000l. or 4,000l a year, which he gave to his sons or his family. That was the condition of the Prime Minister in former times. With regard to the Secretaries of the Treasury, they had in 1780 upwards of 5,000l. The Home Secretary in 1782 had 8,148l., and in 1793, 8,733l.; the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in 1782, 8,148l; the Colonial Secretary, when the office was first established, had 6,000. So that it would not answer the hon. Gentleman's purpose to say, "Let us reduce these salaries to what they were in 1780; we should then get lower salaries, and we should have the public service more economically performed." On the contrary, these higher salaries have been settled, first, at 6,000l. generally, and afterwards at 5,000l, in pursuance of the report of that Committee. Now, I should say, with regard to these salaries and these duties, that the principle upon which the Committee of 1831 went—the principle upon which the House of Commons ought to go—is directly the reverse of the principle which the hon. Gentleman proposes that the House should adopt to-night, namely, they considered whether the services would be sufficiently well paid, and whether they could be efficiently performed at certain salaries; and having formed their opinion upon that, they fixed those salaries at an amount very much below what they were in 1782, and lower than they have been in previous times. But if you were to go upon any other principle, the hon. Gentleman, I think, ought to see in what confusion he will place all these public offices. There are some of which the salaries were fixed before the war; there are others which have been inquired into only during the last year, and those salaries have been fixed according to the estimate of what the duties were that were to be performed. If you say you will take 10 per cent from each, you are evidently not doing the same justice to different offices. That which the hon. Gentleman may think proper with regard to one, he certainly would not think proper or wise with regard to another. The office of the Home Secretary was inquired into last year by a Committee of official persons, who reformed the whole establishment, and settled what they thought were the proper salaries for the several persons belonging to the office. That, of course, was with a view to the prices that prevailed at that time; and it would be quite inconsistent with that arrangement to make another reduction now, after those salaries had been fixed according to what was supposed to be the proper remuneration for the duties. But beyond this, there comes the objection which the right hon. Member for Stamford has stated, and which I think is the strongest objection of all, namely, that you are proposing to carry this reduction into effect with regard to a great body of persons who have but very small salaries—100l. or 150l. a year—and you are not taking into consideration at all the amount of duty performed for those salaries. The hon. Gentleman says that everybody is to have his income lowered. I am not aware of that. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tam-worth said, when he proposed the income tax, that he would take 3 per cent from every income above 150l., and that he expected, by the measures he then proposed, and meant afterwards to propose, there would be such a reduction in the prices of the necessaries of life, that persons would be compensated for the loss of the 3 per cent. That was a fair expectation; but then, that was to apply to all the different classes of the community. If you took 3 per cent from the official clerk in the Treasury or the office of the Secretary of State, you took the same from the man who had property in the funds, or property in land. But now, take this case: here is a person who leaves a certain sum in the funds, giving a certain income to one of his sons. Another son has entered a public office, and working up his way by industry, and zeal, and intelligence, has got from 80l. to 160l. or 170l a year. From the first you take 3 per cent, but from the second you would take 13 per cent—3 per cent under the head of income tax, and 10 per cent under this proposition that is now made. Now, that, I say, is not a fair and just estimate of public service. I do not think that the man who is endeavouring to earn his livelihood—a man in a public office, who is showing zeal and intelligence, working every day for many hours, ought to be treated in a worse manner than those who are enjoying an income for which they I do not make those exertions. If the hon. Gentleman were to say, "These clerks are too highly paid—their salaries are excessive," that is a reason for inquiring into them; and no one, I think, would object to an inquiry, if it were shown to be necessary. As I have stated with regard to the Home Office—I could state the same with regard to the Treasury—there have been such inquiries within these two years; with regard to other offices, there have been such inquiries within these ten years; with respect to the Stamps, large reductions have been made; and there are other offices which were inquired into in 1831 and 1832, and altered when Lord Althorp was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and very great reductions made. It may he quite proper to make inquiry with a view to further reductions; but to come with one sweep and say that every one of those salaries should be reduced—that a salary which is hardly sufficient, and which, if a Committee of this House were to look into the case, they would say was hardly remunerative, should be cut down in the same way with an office which, upon inquiry, might be found to have an excessive salary—that does seem to me an absurd way of proceeding, and one which the House of Commons would not he justified in taking. Then, let us consider further, before agreeing to this proposition, what are to be the consequences. The hon. Member himself says he will not touch the Law. I own I think the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose, whether right or not, goes upon a much more just principle; for he says, "I will not touch the Law, so far as salaries are secured to men who have accepted office on the faith of their being continued for the rest of their lives; but as to the future, I will touch them as well as any others." If the salaries of the Judges are to be reduced, and of the Chancellor—though I will not say the Chancellor, because he holds office during pleasure—that is the just principle upon which they should be reduced. But why should they he left alone, as the hon. Gentleman proposes? That a Judge with 5,000l. accepting office six months hence should not be subject to reduction, but a clerk entering a public office and receiving 80l. a year should—I must say I think there is no justice, no fairness in that. But then there is another question. If you were to hold, "We will suit salaries to the duties performed, the labours undergone, the responsibility borne," then you might say, "It is quite right to reduce several officers; they are too highly paid; but it will not be just to reduce the pay of the Array and Navy; their services are of a different kind, they are not too highly paid, and their pay shall remain untouched." I can quite understand that with justice such a principle could be adopted. But if you say that you will take the price of provisions as your rule, and that every kind of pay and salary shall be reduced in proportion to the reduction of the price of provisions—that you will go into the question of what a chair costs, and what a table costs, and what the articles of grocery cost—I cannot see that there is any justice in reducing all civil salaries, and not reducing the military and naval pay at the same time. I think, if this plan were carried out, those who would be for a reduction of the pay of the Army and Navy—reducing every officer, every soldier, every seaman, 10 per cent—would have a case which it would be almost impossible to answer. But that is a very serious question—taking 10 per cent from every soldier in the Queen's Army, and every sailor in the Queen's service, is a question which the House ought well to consider before they adopt it. I own it appears to me that the right way of reduction—the true path of economy—is to consider what are the services to be performed, and whether the pay is too great and the salary too high for those services; and if it is too high, then to reduce it; but to make a reduction of 13 per cent (3 per cent income tax, and 10 per cent by a vote of this House) from every salary—I own there appears to me to be no justice in such a principle, and that, if it were carried, you would find it involve you in other questions that would be exceedingly difficult, leading to inextricable confusion; and, therefore, I trust the House will not adopt such a plan by its vote.


contended that the prospects of the country had been entirely changed by the adoption of the policy of 1846. In a pamphlet written by Mr. Kerr, it was mentioned, that the loss of protection should stimulate the tenant; and it then made reference to "the physician who had taken away the blood." Now, "the physician who had taken away the blood" was not at present in the House, but the tenantry could not forget the language which that physician had used in the year 1842, when he said, "Continue your improvements; I cannot undertake to guarantee to you a particular price, but so long as corn is under 51s., you shall not be exposed to the importation of foreign corn." He was aware of the proposition, shadowed forth on high authority—that of the right hon. Member for Stamford—of an imposition of a fixed duty on corn; and though the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had compared men who would advocate that imposition to him who would "sell his birthright for a mess of pottage," yet he would refer the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, to the memorable words of Mr. Huskisson, uttered in the year 1821. ["Divide, divide!"] He was not in the habit of obtruding often on public time, but as the House seemed impatient, he would conclude by giving his support to the Motion.


would not have troubled the House with any observations, if he had not thought that the motives of the hon. Mover were misrepresented, and some of his statements misunderstood. There was no man more willing than his hon. Friend to raise all salaries which should be proved to be underpaid, nor was any man more willing to enter upon an inquiry relative to the over payment of the higher offices of State. But this was not the proposition at present before the House. His hon. Friend had laid down this principle—that a very great change had been made in the whole commercial policy of this country, and that the class of persons to whom he had alluded should not be exempted from a diminution of salary. It was no answer to refer hack, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford had, to the year 1815, and to display a great amount of official knowledge in pointing out the diminutions which had taken place from time to time. The House must bear in mind the great change effected in our commercial policy, and the necessity of giving satisfaction to the country by making that altered policy bear equally on all classes of the community. His hon. Friend, in exempting one of the great professions from the operation of his Motion, meant merely to exclude men who held their situations by Act of Parliament; but if the noble Lord chose to reduce the salaries of Judges to be appointed hereafter, his hon. Friend would have no objection to any arrangement of that kind. [Mr. HENLEY: Hear, hear!] The noble Lord had, however, said that if the Motion were carried, the pay of the Army and Navy ought to be reduced; but the money pay of the Army and Navy was of comparatively trifling moment. They were found in clothes and provisions. They were not affected by the prices of the day; all that affected them was the margin of money they received, and for the payment of which a regular contract had been entered into with them. He fully agreed with the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Birmingham, because they were well-timed, and appropriate to the nature of the debate; but he found fault with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the hon. Member for Montrose, for having manifested a desire to lead the House from the real consideration of the question at issue, by making allusions to the Currency Bills of 1797 and 1817. He believed the currency question had very much to do with our present state of distress; and at the proper time he would be prepared to discuss it. But at present they must bear in mind that the Motion had no reference to the currency. They had established the principle of low prices. They had said to the producer—" You must be content with low prices for your produce." They had said to the labourer—"You must not grumble with your low wages." They had carried out that saying to every class in life except themselves; and he, for one, protested against such an exemption, and called upon the House to do an act of justice by adopting the Motion.


said, that this was one of those Motions upon which the votes of hon. Members were very likely to be misunderstood unless some explanations were offered. He disagreed with one of the short, pithy sentences of the hon. Member for Birmingham, in which it was stated that the whole country was looking to this Motion. He (Mr. Aglionby) did not believe that the country cared one farthing about it. He professed himself to be as good an economical reformer as any hon. Gentleman in that House, and he was strongly of opinion that the Motion was not intended to have any practical result. It was one of those ordinary clap-trap Motions which led to nothing; and though he himself had sometimes voted for claptrap Motions, he certainly should not give his support to the present one. The hon. Member for Montrose had said that he would vote for it because it pledged the House to something; but the fact was, that it pledged the House to nothing; and, if it pledged them to anything, it was to something bad. In the course of the anti-corn-law debate which had taken place, it had been asserted that wages were reduced. He denied that wages were reduced in the agricultural counties. ["Oh, oh!"] He spoke from experience, and he wished every hon. Member to do the same. He stated a fact when he declared that in his own county—the county of Cumberland—wages had not been reduced; nay, more, that the farms sold were fetching as good prices now as they had done heretofore. But then it was observed that matters were different in the south of England, and that 20 miles from London wheat had been selling at 42s. per quarter. Why had it sold at that price? Because it was unfit for the food of man. When wheat had been selling at 36s. and 42s. per quarter in the south, it had fetched 60s. and 62s. per quarter in Carlisle market. What did they say to that? If bad harvests and bad farming had caused the decline of prices in the south, all he could say was, that within the last month it had sold for 56s. in the north; and if farmers were satisfied with 56s., what necessity was there for a return to protection? He repeated that the same wages were continued to be given in the north which had been given in years past—that there was no alteration, and that there would not be any alteration. Now, the present was a sweeping Motion to reduce salaries, and instead of the country looking to it as a remedial measure, they would view it as something quite monstrous. If it were brought forward in a practical shape, and if it were intended to reduce the salaries of some particular parties who were overpaid, he would go as far as any one in endeavouring to effect that reduction. He believed the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not been clearly understood upon this point, and, if so, it was very desirable that he should repeat his remarks for the information and satisfaction of a considerable number of the admirers of his policy in that House. He understood the noble Lord to say that a Motion to inquire into and revise the salaries of the heads of public departments would be worthy of attention, but that to a sweeping Motion of the present kind he could not lend his support. Believing that the Motion would lead to no good, and that it was calculated to mislead, he—though he might subject himself to some censure—should vote against it, and one of his reasons for opposing it was, that lie did not like Motions of the sort coming from those whom he did not trust.


felt called upon to make a very few observations on the subject, and he trusted the House would allow him shortly to do so. He believed the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire was founded on injustice. The Motion, in the first place, applied to the higher offices of State, which were hold during pleasure, and seldom or never for more than a limited period. It might be a matter of subordinate consideration whether they reduced the salaries of the holders of that description of office or not. If they reduced this class of salaries, they would no doubt find persons among the aristocracy who would amply discharge the duties of those offices, but that they would get men of superior talents from the inferior orders to accept such offices, he decidedly doubted. Under these circumstances, it would be objectionable to adopt any course which would prevent their calling into the public service such a valuable class of persons. It would be most objectionable virtually to say that you must select all the holders of the higher offices from the aristocracy. With respect to the lower class of public officers, he conceived his hon. Friend had not sufficient public experience of them to enable him to speak of their services. He would venture to say that no class of men were so much entitled to the consideration of Parliament as the body to which he had just alluded. He not only alluded to the laborious discharge of their duties, and to the services which they rendered to the public, but to the perfect reliance that could be placed in their integrity and honour; and during his long public life he never knew of a breach of confidence on their part. The rapid changes which took place in the Government of this country rendered it necessary that perfect confidence should be placed in the officers of public departments; and he could confidently appeal to those who had held high offices whether they ever knew an instance of the business of the Government having been betrayed. He did not think the House should be a party to inflict an injury on such a class of men. The hon. Gentleman said that salaries should be reduced because they had been raised at a time when prices were high, and very recently prices had fallen. The hon. Member also spoke as if nothing had been done in this respect. Now, the fact was, that in 1821 the House agreed to an Address to the Crown praying that a minute investigation should be instituted into the expenditure of the civil service. The following was the resolution at that time adopted:— That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, to assure His Majesty that we have regarded with satisfaction the measures which have been taken by His Majesty's commands for a general revision of the Department of the Customs in Great Britain; and to entreat His Majesty to give directions that a similar investigation may be extended to all the other branches of the Revenue, in order to render its collection more economical, and its management more efficient; that, for the purpose of affording a further relief to the country, His Majesty will be pleased to order a minute inquiry into the several Departments of the Civil Government, as well with the view to reducing the number of persons employed in those Departments, which, from the great increase of business, were augmented during the late war, as with reference to the increased salaries granted to individuals since the year 1797, either in consideration of the additional labour thrown upon them during that period, or of the diminished value of money; and further, that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to direct that every possible saving which can be made, without detriment to the public interest, shall be effected in those more extended establishments which the country is obliged to maintain for the safety and defence of the United Kingdom and its dependencies, and more especially in the military expenditure, by a reduction in the numbers of the Army, and by a constant and vigilant superintendence over that and all the other Departments connected with the application of the ample supplies granted by this House. The result was, that the salaries had been reduced, and the superannuations and allowances had been greatly modified. Then, in 1849, the hon. Gentleman came down and said, because the same salaries were now paid to public officers which they received in 1831, they should make a comparison between the expenses of living at the two periods, and as food was cheaper now than then, all salaries should be reduced.


said, that on a former occasion, when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire brought forward a Motion similar to the present, in which he proposed to apply a reduction to one office of the Government, he voted with him upon the distinct explanation and understanding that he did not intend by that vote to re-, duce the wages of the humbler servants or clerks. He (Mr. Cobden) now thought it more important than ever then to explain the way in which he intended to vote, because the hon. Gentleman had gone further than he did before, for he had professed to carry out those reductions even to so low a class of public servants as the humble postman. He thought the hon. Gentleman would be disposed, upon reflection, to depart from that principle. He was assuming that the agricultural labourers were getting 10s. a week in Oxfordshire, and the postman 12s. a week in London. He wished to see the wages of agricultural labourers raised. He wished to see them raised to 12s.; but, under any circumstances, whether as a private employer, or as a Member of that House, acting for the public weal, he would not take part in any attempt to reduce the wages of any man who was receiving 12s. a week. He applied the same principle to porters and messengers. He could not be a party to reduce those small salaries by any means; and the hon. Gentleman had done an injury to his cause by dwelling upon that part of the question, for had he pointed attention to the higher salaries, the financial reformers probably would have agreed with him, and he would have had much greater success with his Motion. But the hon. Gentleman, when he had more experience as a financial reformer, would understand better than he did at present how to frame his Motion. He (Mr. Cobden) was of opinion that the higher offices of this country were excessively paid, and that 5,000l. a year for any Cabinet Minister of the Treasury bench was more than sufficient. He would, as he had stated on a former occasion, go further than 10 per cent, so far as the Treasury bench was concerned. When the general range of profits and prices were so much like in this country to what they were in others, why should we pay our official men double the salaries of other official men in other countries? Take the United States. ["Oh, oh!"] But the United States was a great empire, second to ourselves in maritime importance, and therefore he was not speaking of a country insignificant in extent or influence. The four Principal Secretaries of State received 1,250l. each annually in the United States. They corresponded with our Secretaries of State in this country. They had men like Webster, and Clay, and others, who filled those offices; and there were none on the Treasury benches of that House who would think that he deteriorated from their merits by comparing them with the men of America. He would take our diplomatic service. Our Ambassador at Paris got 10,000l. a year. Our Ambassador at Austria got 9,900l. a year. Our Minister at Spain got 6,500l. a year. Well, the United States did not pay their highest diplomatic functionaries more than 2,500l. a year. Now, had we one Ambassador or Minister abroad who would consider it derogatory to his dignity to be compared with Mr. Bancroft, the American Minister to this country? Had we a superior man to Mr. Bancroft? Had we a man who, apart from his profession, stood higher in public opinion than Mr. Bancroft? Why, then, should we continue to pay our Ambassador at Paris 10,000l. a year, when the Americans paid their Minister here 2,000l. only, and only 2,000l. to their Minister at Paris? Now, he did not propose to reduce our salaries for official men to the scale in America. If they took 10 per cent off those salaries, they would still leave them twice as high as the Americans paid; and if he was answered that this was a monarchy and America was a republic, all he could say was, that he wanted to see functionaries here do something for their loyalty. Now, this was a class of salaries that he thought might be reduced. There were others also that he thought might be reduced, but into which he would not enter at that late hour. He thought there were many of our public servants who might be dispensed with altogether, and that the hon. Mover had made a great error in losing sight of the great number of supernumeraries that we have. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that former Prime Ministers and other officers of State held sinecure offices, and that they had given offices to their sons. Well, but he (Mr. Cobden) did not think that our Ministers of the present day lost sight of their relations altogether—and he must say that the great amount of patronage at the disposal of our Ministers ought to be considered some compensation for the loss of their office. And there was another point. We paid retiring pensions in this country. In America they had no retiring pensions. Now, whilst he proposed to vote for the Motion he hoped he would not be thought one of lose who would make a sweeping reduction of 10 per cent on all salaries. He believed that the hon. Mover did not know what he proposed to do. We had 20,000 persons now getting under 100l. a year. Did he propose 10 per cent reduction on them? He would have a general strike among them if he did. He (Mr. Cobden) was far from believing that there would not be an advance of wages. So far from agreeing with hon. Gentlemen opposite that the alteration in our commercial system had tended to reduce the demand for labour, he prophesied that we were going to have a bettor demand for labour. Under those circumstances they could not effect this general reduction of 10 per cent and, therefore, while he agreed in wishing to see a general reduction in the higher class of salaries, while he repudiated what was said about the reduction of the humble postman, he would vote for the Motion with this understanding, that the question to be put to the House would be this—"That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question." If this was negatived, then the hon. Gentleman's Motion would be put as a substantive Motion, and he (Mr. Cobden) would propose to add the following words as an Amendment:— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the number of servants employed, and the amount of salary paid to them, with a view to the reduction of persons so employed, and such a reduction of salary as was consistent with the public service. He would subject each department to a specific inquiry, and he would have an honest Committee appointed, not by the Government, to carry out the object in view, which was that of a rigid supervision.


wished to make an observation on a remark made by the hon. Member for Cockermouth. His hon. Friend appeared to think that he had said, he had no objection to a general inquiry into the salaries paid at public offices. What he had intended to say was, that he should not object, when it appeared that any case for inquiry was shown, and that it would be deemed expedient to do so. He bad said that be bad not objected to an inquiry into the Home Office, which had taken place last year, and which had led to reductions to the extent of 3,000l. a year.


felt some difficulty with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, If he voted for it, it would be with the view of expressing an opinion that public officers were unnecessarily highly paid. But he thought the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for the West Riding afforded a far better course for the House to pursue. An in-discriminating lessening of salaries could not be justified unless there was an investigation into every case; and that investigation would be useless into a certain class of salaries from 12s. to 30s. a week, unless it were intended to apply the prin- ciple to them also, and to that he objected. The tendency throughout the country, at present, was to raise not diminish wages. He understood that the question before them was, that all the words after the word "that" be left out, in order to add the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire. If the question that the Speaker leave the chair be negatived, and the Motion affirmed, then he believed his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding could propose his Amendment in lieu of that Motion. If that be true, then all those Members who wished for inquiry should vote first with the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and then, if the House resolved that the Speaker should not leave the chair, it would be competent for them to vote for the proposition of the hon. Member for the West Riding.


observed, that the hon. Members for Manchester and the West Riding made the same speeches in 1846 they were making now. They then promised the mechanics and labourers of the country that high wages and low prices were coming. But here was the year 1849, and instead of that prophecy having been fulfilled, they had low wages as well as low prices. But it was not merely that "wages were reduced, in many places there were none at all. He could point to hundreds of mechanics who used to earn 3l. or 4l. a week, and who now considered themselves fortunate if they got one day's work to keep them from starving. He fully admitted the claims of the public service, and the country had reason to be proud of it; but there were other claims to be considered. Look at the public Exchequer. Look at the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Seeing that wages were diminishing, he thought that some bold and sweeping measure was necessary to protect the public credit.


asked the Speaker to explain the exact nature of the question upon which the House was about to divide.


said, that the original question before the House was, "That he (the Speaker) should now leave the chair;" since which it had been moved as an Amendment, that all the words after the word "that" be left out for the purpose of adding certain words proposed by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire. If the original Motion should be negatived, then the words proposed by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire would become the question before the House, and it would be competent for any hon. Member to propose an Amendment upon that substituted Motion.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 149; Noes 102: Majority 47.

List of theNOES.
Adair, H. E. Hodgson, W. N.
Alcock, T. Hollond, R.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hood, Sir A.
Baillie, H. J. Hume, J.
Barrington, Visct. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Bennet, P. Kershaw, J.
Beresford, W. Knox, Col.
Blackstone, W. S. Lennard, T. B.
Blair, S. Locke, J.
Blewitt, R. J. Lockhart, W.
Bright, J. Lopes, Sir R.
Brisco, M. Lushington, C.
Broadley, H. Meagher, T.
Buck, L. W. Martin, J.
Burghley, Lord Miles, W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Mitchell, T. A.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Morris, D.
Carew, W. H. P. Mowatt, F.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Mullings, J. R.
Clay, J. Muntz, G. F.
Clifford, H. M. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cobbold, J. C. Nugent, Sir P.
Cobden, R. Packe, C. W.
Codrington, Sir W. Palmer, R.
Conyngham, Lord A. Pechell, Capt.
Currie, H. Perfect, R.
Deedes, W. Pigot, Sir R.
Devereux, J. T. Pilkington, J.
Dickson, S. Portal, M.
Disraeli, B. Salwey, Col.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Scholefield, W.
Duncan, G. Smith, J. B.
Edwards, II. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Egerton, W. T. Spooner, R.
Ellis, J. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Ewart, W. Strickland, Sir G.
Fagan, W. Stuart, J.
Farnham, E. B. Taylor, T. E.
Fellowes, E. Tollemache, J.
Forbes, W. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Fuller, A. E. Vivian, J. E.
Goddard, A. L. Waddington, H. S.
Gooch, E. S. Wall, C. B.
Gwyn, H. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hardcastle, J. A. Walter, J.
Harris, R. Wawn, J. T.
Hastie, A. Willcox, B. M.
Headlam, T. E. Willoughby, Sir H.
Heald, J. Wodehouse, E.
Henry, A.
Heyworth, L. TELLERS.
Hildyard, R. C. Henley, J.
Hill, Lord E. Newdegate, C. N.

Main Question put, and agreed to.