HL Deb 17 February 1843 vol 66 cc765-6
Lord Wharncliffe

said, that he had not been prepared to give an answer to the question put to him by his noble Friend (Earl Fitzwilliam) the other evening on the subject of the distribution of funds, collected in consequence of the Queen's letter, and also by private subscription, for the relief of the distress in the manufacturing districts. He begged leave to say that he did not consider that the Government had anything to do with that question. Nor did he admit that any responsibility devolved upon them in connection with that matter; and, in the denial of this responsibility, he was borne out by all former proceedings. Nevertheless, he was willing to give his noble Friend, all the information in his power, and he had made it his business to inquire, and he could state that the first money that had been raised had been raised entirely by private subscriptions. Afterwards a communication had been made to the heads of the Church, and it had been thought right to issue a Queen's letter. When the money had been raised, the question arose as to who should distribute it. His right hon. Friend at the bead of the Home Department, had thought that the best course would be, to place the funds in the hands of a committee which had existed ever since 1826, and which had been formed originally for the purpose of distributing the funds which had been raised in that year for the relief of the manufacturing population, and which had only just then (March, 1842) close their labours, and presented their report to the subscribers. Certain other persons were joined with the committee, and the distribution of the funds was left entirely to them. The amount collected by private subscription was 25,000l., and about 75,000l. had been collected in consequence of the Queen's letter. The whole had not yet been expended but that portion which had been distributed had been spread over all the manufacturing districts of the empire. Scotland, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire—in short, all the manufacturing counties had received a portion of the funds. In all, 63,000l. had been actually expended, and the remainder had been invested in Exchequer-bills.

Earl Fitzwilliam

felt must satisfaction at the candid explanation of the noble Lord, and although the noble Lord seemed to doubt the right of Parliament to make any inquiry with respect to money raised as this had been, still it must be a gratification to himself, as it was to the House, to be enabled to make such a statement. He was glad that the distress of the people had been so far alleviated, but he hoped that whoever advised the issuing of a Queen's letter would, to use an old proverb, "look twice" before they again sanctioned such a proceeding.

Adjourned to Monday.