HC Deb 03 May 1849 vol 104 cc1239-47

rose to move that the remaining names on the list formerly nominated by him as a Select Committee on Savings Banks be agreed to. He observed from the amended lists which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put on the Paper, that he had now named the Marquess of Kildare and Sir G. Clerk, neither of whom were on the Committee last year. He wished him to explain this deviation from the rule he had laid down. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Motion were carried, there would be eleven English and four Irish Members on the Committee. He (Mr. Reynolds) originally proposed that there should be eight English and seven Irish Members. The House had rejected Mr. Napier by a majority of 37, on what ground he could not tell, for a more scrupulously honourable man did not exist. It was said, he was not on the Committee of last year; but neither was the Marquess of Kildare nor Sir G. Clerk. He had put the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge in his former list; but he would not do so now, because it was when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer that the fraud commenced. [Mr. GOULBURN dissented.] If the fraud did not commence when the right hon. Gentleman was in office, it was at least fostered during that time. His attention was called to the frauds that were committed by a dozen credible witnesses who waited upon him; but he never directed the accounts to be closed with the bank, as it was his duty to do. What was the meaning of this attempt on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to select this Committee? Should the House carry the Committee against him (Mr. Reynolds), he would retire from the duty he had imposed upon himself altogether. In the list he had originally handed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there were eight English Members and seven Irish. That list he would again, in the name of peace and fair play, and in the name of the unfortunate paupers whom he represented, tender to the right hon. Gentleman. He had used the word "pauper" advisedly, for they had been rendered poor by bad laws badly administered. He thanked those hon. Members who supported him on the former evening; and he begged also to thank the conductors of the public press for the assistance which they had rendered him. He believed that without a single exception the press of London had advocated the cause he was now supporting, and had called upon the Government not only to improve the law, but to prevent those unfortunate people being victimised. Nay, the Times, the Morning Chronicle, and he believed other papers, had even gone to the length of demanding that the people should be reimbursed from the public exchequer. He might be told that he wanted a Committee pledged to put their hands into the public purse: he did not want any such Committee. He wished for a Committee that would inquire and report; and if their report should not be based on evidence, then it would have no weight with the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. John Abel Smith be one other Member of the said Committee."


said, he certainly should make no objection to the name of his hon. Friend, Mr. John Abel Smith, as he was a Member of the Committee of last year. He begged to assure the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, that in opposing the insertion of his name the other evening, it was for no other reason than that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not on the Committee last year. When he endeavoured to effect an arrangement for the nomination of the Committee, he actually had put the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman on his list; but, finding that the only ground on which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could stand, was by the reappointment of the Committee of last year, and the hon. and learned Gentleman not having been on that Committee, it became necessary to omit his name from the list. He had hoped that the division the other evening would have been taken as expressing the opinion of the House, and that he should have been able to reappoint the members of the late Committee without any opposition on the present occasion. It was true he had proposed no names which were not on the Committee of last year; that was in consequence of Mr. Hume having expressed his wish not to be put on the Committee; he, therefore, had substituted for Mr. Hume an additional Irish Member. The name of Sir J. Graham had also been left out, because there was little probability of his being able to attend the Committee, and he had nominated Mr. Goulburn as a substitute. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Dublin had said, that this being an Irish case, he ought to have more than seven Irish Members on a Committee; and he made a general complaint as to the constitution of Committees on Irish affairs. Now, what was the fact as to the Committee on Irish fisheries? Fourteen out of the fifteen Members on that Committee were Irish Members, and the fifteenth was an Irishman, though sitting for an English county—his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire. [Mr. STAFFORD: I am not an Irish Member.] Though his hon. Friend had changed his name, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could not say that he had changed his nature, for he had heard his hon. Friend advocating Irish affairs with as much zeal as if he were a Member for an Irish, instead of an English county. Now, he must observe, that three Irish Members in a Committee of fifteen was rather more than the proportion that was due, according to the number of Irish Members in that House; and, as he considered the question relating to savings banks an imperial question, it could not be said that he had acted unfairly by allotting to Ireland four members out of the fifteen.


begged to toll the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that if he would refer to Mr. Dod's Parliamentary Companion, he would find out his mistake. All he could say was, that if he were an Irish Member, he was not so fortunate as to obtain the celebrated summons for the recent attendance of that body in Downing-street. He was not surprised, however, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that Dovor was a Scotch borough, that he should take Northampton to be an Irish county. The right hon. Gentleman had not met the statements of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin; and, depend upon it, that no majorities in that House could control public opinion on this question out of doors, which had already unequivocally declared itself through the public press, and which would determine how far the Government were liable to the charge of evading inquiry, and of attempting to intercept justice to these poor depositors. It had not been alleged by any Member of the Government that the inquiry about to be made was the same as that instituted last year; and why the Government should depart from the usual courtesy of allowing a Member to nominate his own Committee of Inquiry, he was at a loss to conceive. The question was—had these paupers or not been deluded by the bad working of a bad law? It was possible for the Government, by packing the Committee, to stifle inquiry and get a favourable report adverse to the claims of these poor people, while at the some time they shielded their own neglect or something else; but they could not eventually stave off an inquiry which they knew must be unfavourable to them. If the Committee should report in favour of a grant from the Consolidated Fund to these unfortunate persons, the House might reject that report, but it would be impossible for an hon. Member to bring on a Motion in favour of such a grant in the teeth of an adverse report from the Committee. He had listened with great pain to the charges made by the hon. Member for Evesham in a former debate on this subject, with reference to the conduct of Mr. Tidd Pratt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge ought to be the last persons in the House to give the shadow of an opinion that they were shirking inquiry into a question respecting a subject for which, upon investigation, they might be held responsible.


The charges made by the hon. Member for Evesham were that he (Mr. Goulburn), having a knowledge of the state of the St. Peter's savings bank, had brought in a Bill for exempting trustees from their liability. Now, that Bill had been brought in and passed in 1844, and the communication made to him on the subject of the savings bank was not made until late in the year 1845.


observed, that from 1833 to 1848 the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt were cognisant that the bank was insolvent—and if hon. Gentlemen doubted the fact, he could refer them to question 1646, page 120, of the report of the evidence taken before the Committee. Moreover, he was enabled to state that the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt had consulted with Mr. Tidd Pratt as to the possibility of closing the bank in 1839, and therefore that person must also have been cognisant of the position of the establishment. The question, therefore, which the House had to consider was, whether the Government, knowing that the bank was insolvent, and knowing that the depositors had a remedy against the trustees, was justified in passing a Bill to exonerate those persons from their liability? The Chancellor of the Exchequer might personally know nothing of the matter; but it was clear beyond doubt that the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt were well aware, in 1839, that the bank was insolvent.


hoped the House would not be led into a discussion upon the general question of savings banks, but would confine itself to the question at issue—namely, the composition of the Committee. He protested against the "doctrine laid down by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire, that any discourtesy was intended to any hon. Member, because the Government wished to make an alteration in the names proposed by him to serve on the Committee. If the Government were not to have some control in such matters, the object of appointing Committees would be, in a great measure, frustrated. He assured the hon. Member for the city of Dublin that no discourtesy was intended to him; and he begged other hon. Gentlemen, to whose names exceptions might be taken, not to consider that any discourtesy was intended towards them.


was not disposed to withhold his sympathy from the Government in its struggle to get a Committee nominated by itself appointed, because it had all along most consistently attempted to quash inquiry. Let it be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, in the first instance, done all in his power to prevent the appointment of the Committee, and that had it not been for the justice and humanity of the House, they would not be now engaged on the present debate. He admitted that the question was an awkward one, for there were grave and serious charges to be brought against persons in high places, and because the question had been shirked by an officer of the Government, who felt that his conduct was blame-able on the recent occasions in which he conducted inquiries, and who, instead of feeling sympathy for the poor persons who had lost their money, had made a report containing the most unfounded calumnies and falsehoods that ever came out of the mouth of man. ["Hear, hear!"] This perhaps was strong language, and he admitted it would be disgraceful in him to use it if he were not prepared to prove the charge. He was prepared to do so, and he would not have made the statement if he had not documents in his possession to prove it to the letter.


reminded the House that the debate was extremely personal, and expressed a hope that the Government would select Gentlemen to serve on public Committees in the manner they did private Committees, in order to prevent those scenes of personal recrimination.


regretted that the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin had been excluded, as its retention would have given great satisfaction in Ireland. He proposed that the debate be adjourned, in order that some amicable settlement might be entered into.


suggested that an arrangement might be made to prevent the disagreeable necessity of sixteen divisions. The question appeared to be, not that a certain number of Irish Members should be put on, but that an equal number should be substituted. He begged to second the proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend, that the debate be adjourned.


said, he did not believe any arrangement would be come to by any adjournment, though he had no objection to the debate adjourned sine die. After having discussed the matter for an hour and a half, he thought it would be a pity to waste further time.


supported the Motion for an adjournment. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had excluded every Irish lawyer from the Committee.


said no man was less disposed to interrupt their sleeping hours than he was, but he thought an adjournment ought to take place.

Motion made, and Question, "That the debate be now adjourned," put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Grogan be one other Member of the said Committee."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the name of "Mr. Grogan," and to insert the name of "Sir George Clerk," instead thereof.

Question put, "That the name of Mr. Grogan stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 123: Majority 42.

List of the AYES.
Alexander, N. Lowther, H.
Bailey, J. jun. Mackenzie, W. F.
Baldock, E. H. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Bankes, G. Masterman, J.
Beresford, W. Miles, P. W. S.
Bernard, Visct. Miles, W.
Blackall, S. W. Milnes, R. M.
Blair, S. Monsell, W.
Blake, M. J. Moody, C. A.
Boyd, J. Mullings, J. R.
Christy, S. Napier, J.
Clements, hon. C. S. Nugent, Sir P.
Clive, H. B. O'Brien, J.
Coles, H. B. O'Brien, Sir L.
Crawford, W. S. O'Brien, T.
Dawson, hon. T. V. O'Connell, J.
Dodd, G. Ogle, S. C. H.
Duncuft, J. Packe, C. W.
Du Pre, C. G. Pearson, C.
Edwards, H. Pilkington, J.
Fagan, W. Portal, M.
Farrer, J. Rawdon, Col.
Fellowes, E. Renton, J. C.
Forster, M. Repton, G. W. J.
Fuller, A. E. Salwey, Col.
Gaskell, J. M. Sandars, J.
Gooch, E. S. Scully, F.
Gore, W. R. O. Sheridan, R. B.
Greenall, G. Sibthorp, Col.
Greene, T. Spooner, R.
Halsey, T. P. Stafford, A.
Hamilton, G. A. Stuart, Lord J.
Henley, J. W. Talbot, J. H.
Herbert, H. A. Tenison, E. K.
Hildyard, R. C. Thompson, Col.
Hodgson, W. N. Turner, G. J.
Hood, Sir A. Walpole, S. H.
Horsman, E. Willoughby, Sir H.
Hughes, W. B. Wyld, J.
Kershaw, J. TELLERS.
Lawless, hon. C. Reynolds, J.
Lowther, hon. Col. Dunne, Lieut. Col.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Deedes, W.
Adair, R. A. S. Denison, W. J.
Aglionby, H. A. Denison, J. E.
Anson, hon. Col. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Armstrong, R. B. Drummond, H. H.
Baines, M. T. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Duncombe, hon. O.
Barrington, Visct. Dundas, Adm.
Bass, M. T. Dundas, Sir D.
Bellew, R. M. Ebrington, Visct.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Birch, Sir T. B. Evans, W.
Boldero, H. G. Filmer, Sir E.
Brackley, Visct. Fordyce, A. D.
Brotherton, J. Fortescue, C.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Freestun, Col.
Bunbury, E. H. Glyn, G. C.
Cardwell, E. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Carter, J. B. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Childers, J. W. Greene, T.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Grenfell, C. P.
Cocks, T. S. Grenfell, C. W.
Coke, hon. E. K. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Grey, R. W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Grosvenor, Earl
Craig, W. G. Hardcastle, J. A.
Crowder, R. B. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Headlam, T. E. Pryse, P.
Heneage, G. H. W. Pusey, P.
Henry, A. Raphael, A.
Heywood, J. Ricardo, O.
Hindley, C. Rice, E. R.
Hobhouse, T. B. Rich, H.
Hodges, T. L. Romilly, Sir J.
Hope, Sir J. Russell, hon. E. S.
Howard, Lord E. Russell, F. C. H.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Rutherfurd, A.
Howard, hon. G. G. Sandars, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Seymer, H. K.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Seymour, Lord
Langsten, J. H. Simeon, J.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Smith, M. T.
Legh, G. C. Smollett, A.
Lemon, Sir C. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Lewis, G. C. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Stanton, W. H.
Lockhart, A. E. Stuart, Lord J.
Maitland, T. Talbot, C. R. M.
Mangles, R. D. Talfourd, Serj.
Martin, J. Tancred, H. W.
Matheson, A. Thicknesse, R. A.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Thornely, T.
Melgund, Visct. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Milner, W. M. E. Townley, R. G.
Mitchell, T. A. Townshend, Capt.
Morris, D. Wilson, J.
Mulgrave, Earl of Wilson, M.
Owen, Sir J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir G.
Paget, Lord A. Wood, W. P.
Paget, Lord C. Wyvill, M.
Parker, J. TELLERS.
Patten, J. W. Hill, Lord M.
Pigott, F. Tufnell, H.

Question, "That Sir George Clerk be one other Member of the said Committee," put, and agreed to.

Mr. Gibson Craig nominated one other Member of the said Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. George Alexander Hamilton be one other Member of the said Committee."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the name of "Mr. George Alexander Hamilton," and insert the name of "Mr. Herries," instead thereof.

Question put, "That the name of Mr. George Alexander Hamilton stand part of the question."

The House divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 120: Majority 59.

Question, "That Mr. Herries be one other Member of the said Committee," put, and agreed to.


observed, that he had promised the House sixteen divisions, but as there had only been two, he was fourteen in arrear. Having consulted, however, with those who were joined with him on the present occasion, he found they were of opinion that, under all the circumstances, it would be better for him not to press his own list any further on the House, and he had, therefore, resolved not to put them to the trouble of another division. He found that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was sure to carry his point, and he, therefore, threw upon the right hon. Gentleman the whole responsibility of the nomination of the Committee. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take care that a good and efficient Committee were appointed, and that they would inquire into the matter submitted to them with carefulness and impartiality.


thanked the hon. Member for not persevering in his intention to take sixteen divisions, and assured the hon. Member that he was quite as anxious as himself that the Committee should be a fair one, and that its inquiries should be characterised by a spirit of impartiality.

The other names as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman were then adopted. They were as follows:—Mr. Poulett Scrope, Sir John Yarde Buller, the Marquess of Kildare, Mr. Ker Seymer, Mr. Shafto Adair, Mr. William Fagan, and Mr. Bramston.

The House adjourned at half-after One o'clock.