HC Deb 22 April 1850 vol 110 cc668-9

then moved that the following Members constitute the Select Committee on Official Salaries:—Lord J. Russell, Mr. W. Patten, Mr. Bright, Sir J. Y. Buller, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Napier, Mr. Home Drummond, Mr. W. Evans, Sir W. Molesworth, Mr. Henley, Mr. Ellice, Mr. Bicardo, Mr. Walter, and Mr. Deedes.


said, that instead of appointing this Select Committee, which was, indeed, a select, very select. Committee—for he believed that its labours, when they should be completed, would only show that there had been "much cry and little wool"—the noble Lord at the head of the Government had better have said candidly, "I mean to take care of myself and of my own salary." "I shall look after my friends, and I will stand by them as long as they stand by me; ubi mel, ibi apes. Let them support me, and they shall have plenty of turtle and venison." He (Colonel Sibthorp) felt bound to protest against such a partial and packed Committee as that now proposed. There seemed to him to be something in the atmosphere of the Treasury bench which rendered men, when they got there, quite different beings from what they had been before. It was his painful duty to say that he looked with extreme suspicion upon all official men; and in such a case as this it was not likely that they would cry "stinking fish." He did not know how the Committee would go to work, but he knew very well what would be the result of their investigation. He considered the appointment of such a Committee most delusive and unsatisfactory. He entertained great respect for the noble Lord in private life, and he admired his transcendent abilities, though he was somewhat cunning; but it was evident that this step was only a ruse de guerre, and that the noble Lord did not want to be disturbed in his rest. The noble Lord was attempting to get rid of one of the most important questions that could be considered, especially under the existing circumstances of the country, when poverty was staring them in the face, and people of all classes were suffering. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had brought forward a most important Motion; but the noble Lord had shrunk from it. Did the noble Lord mean to reduce salaries or not? If he did, why not frankly avow it? He (Colonel Sibthorp) and his hon. Friends on that side of the House were anxious to express their opinion in favour of a reduction of official salaries; they were anxious to go into them and examine them. But the noble Lord said, "You shall not consider the matter in the House; it shall be inquired into upstairs, clausis foribus." He (Colonel Sibthorp) considered that the noble Lord's conduct, in thus referring the subject to a secret conclave—a Star Chamber—was unworthy a Minister of this country, and was an insult to the British House of Commons. He called upon the noble Lord to give up this truckling, secret, underhand, Star Chamber mode of proceeding, and to take up the position he ought to maintain. If the noble Lord would pursue a manly, open, honest course, and would show himself to be the friend of the people, he (Colonel Sibthorp) would be proud to render him his humble assistance in maintaining his authority.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.