said, that there was no provision here that any of the commissioners should go to the West Indies. He had therefore an amendment to propose, which was, that three of the commissioners at least should positively go to the West Indies.
§ The Speaker
informed him, that his amendment ought to be brought forward as one to the body of the bill. He was at present to put the question that the blank should be filled up with the word "two," purporting, that two commissioners should go to the West Indies. If this should be carried in the affirmative, the right hon. gent.'s amendment must be proposed in a subsequent stage.—Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Perceval, Mr. Long, and Mr. Sturges Bourne, contended that it was absurd to send only two commissioners to the West Indies, where the burthen of the business lay, and where there was the greatest risk of mortality, while three remained here doing almost nothing.
§ My Ryder
also contended that most of 677 the evidence might be better taken in the West Indies, and therefore thought it absurd the commissioners abroad should not have that power of residing which the commissioners here had. He thought the measure was only calculated to increase the patronage of the treasury.—Lord Henry Petty, lord Howick, and Mr. Morris, on the other hand, contended that the burthen of the business was not in the West Indies, for the gentlemen on the other side seemed to forget that this commission was not only intended for the investigation of abuses, but also for the bringing up of the accounts in arrear. After a few words from Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Wm. Smith,
§ the House divided on Mr. Rose's amendment, that the blank should be filled up with the word "three" Ayes 21; Noes 72.
then repeated his former assertion, that the places about to be created by the bill would be mere sinecures, and serve only to extend ministerial patronage. This assertion the right hon. gent. expressed his resolution to repeat again and again, however it might be resisted by the noble lord, who ought, in his judgment, to have sought much more experience before he had ventured to originate a measure of this nature, which betrayed a total ignorance of official business.
expressed his surprise at the quarter from which the house had just heard such vehement objections against sinecures. After much lofty declamation upon political purity; after such high tones of independence, and such ardent expressions of solicitude for the economic expenditure of the public money, the house would naturally look for some evidence of the right honourable gentleman's sincerity, and no doubt that sincerity would be evinced very soon, perhaps the next day, by the right honourable gentleman's resignation to his sovereign of the sinecure which he himself held. With regard to the right hon. gent.'s allusion to his noble friend (Petty's) want of experience, it was true, the noble lord observed, that his noble friend was not possessed of that experience which might be looked for from a veteran in office. There was, however, a great deal of the experience to which, perhaps, the political success of the right hon. gent. was owing, which he rather thought not desirable to his noble friend; while such experience as was really valuable, could not be difficult of attainment to that assiduous application of active talents for which his noble friend 678 was so eminently distinguished. But upon the subject of want of experience in the arrangement of this measure, the right hon. gentleman dealt, in fact, only in assertion; for experience, even very recent, was in favour of that provision in the bill of which the right hon. gentleman complained. It was notorious that in consequence of the sending home one of the commissioners from the West Indies in the course of the last administration, the inquiries of the commissioners were materially assisted, and frauds to a great amount were discovered; therefore the right hon. gent.'s assertion was not entitled to credence. It was strange, the noble lord observed, how resolute the right honourable gentleman and his friends were to carry on debate. He had hoped that the debate, on this subject at least, was at an end before that evening; but the right honourable gentleman and co. still determined to persevere—rather more, to be sure, in bringing forward accusations against ministers than in adducing arguments against their measures. Among those accused indeed, he understood the right hon. gent. had thought proper on a former occasion to include him, principally, as he was informed, in consequence of some appointments that were recently made in the department over which he had the honour to preside. Had he been present at the time the accusation was made by that right honourable gentleman, he most probably should not have felt it necessary to take any notice of it. But he now thought it proper shortly to remark upon the cases alluded to. And first, with regard to the removal of sir A. S. Hamond from the navy board, the fact was, that the hon. baronet had made application for leave to resign before the patent of his appointment to the admiralty was actually made out. The application acceded to, and he had felt it his duty to recommend that the honourable baronet should, as is usual in such cases, be allowed three-fourths of his salary during life. At the same time, he had to mention, that the reason of this grant was solely on account of the honourable baronet's length of services. The noble lord added, that the ground of the honourable baronet's application for leave to resign was indisposition, and consequently inability to attend to the duties of the office; but yet he was happy to see that the hon. baronet was already so far recovered as to be able to attend all the debates of that house. To sir A. Hamond a successor (captain 679 Dickens) was appointed, in every point of view unexceptionable; but this gentleman being disqualified by illness to act, capt. Nicholls, an officer of character equally unquestionable, was substituted for him. Of the other three new appointments made in the naval department, the noble lord declared that so far from having any view to patronage, the only desire was to procure persons capable of an efficient discharge of duty in a branch of service where such efficiency was but too visibly wanted; and of those who were appointed he had to state that not one was at all known to himself or any of his colleagues in any other way than from the report of their qualifications. There was a fifth appointment about to be made in his department to which, perhaps, some part of the right honourable gentleman's censure might be pointed; that was with regard to sir C. Saxton's office at Portsmouth: that officer's age unfitting him for his present station, he was about to retire, but required that which he thought it his duty to resist, namely, that he should be allowed to retain the whole of his salary. Upon the retirement of that honourable baronet, the noble lord stated his intention of recommending an officer (captain Grey) to succeed him, his connection with whom should not prevent him from saying that he was fully qualified for the office. With respect then to his own conduct the noble lord felt that the right honourable gentleman's imputations were as unfounded as those which he had thought proper to direct against the proceedings of his noble friend, and the measure before the house.
thanked the noble lord for the opportunity afforded him by the allusion which he had thought proper to make to the subject, of explaining the sinecure granted to himself. He was before disposed to do so, but he now felt it to be necessary, and should enter into the explanation upon a future day. The right hon. gent. panegyrised the talents and public services of Sir A. S. Hamond.
Mr. S. Bourne
was astonished at the line of argument taken by the noble lord who spoke last but one; namely, that because a public man held a particular sinecure, he should be precluded from objecting to the establishment of any further sinecures. Would the noble lord argue, that in consequence of his right honourable friend the secretary of state for foreign affairs holding two sinecures, (Mr. Rose 680 exclaimed three), and his noble friend at the head of the treasury holding two, they were disqualified to resist the proposition of any new sinecures? If the noble lord would not contend for that, upon what grounds could he call upon his right honourable friend, (Mr. Rose) who had got a sinecure, which was but a just reward for 30 years great public services, to shut his mouth, and say nothing upon such a measure as that before the house? With regard to the official conduct of the noble lord, he did not believe that it was the intention of his right honourable friend to cast the slightest imputation upon it. But yet he could not help saying, that he was sorry the noble lord did not, in the administration of his office, rather act upon his own good judgment than follow the advice of others.
The Attorney General
commented upon the species of experience of which the right hon. gent. on the other side (Mr. Rose) seemed to be so very proud. This experience consisted in a knowledge, for the last twenty years, of the abuses which it was the object of the bill before the house to correct, and yet no adequate measure was ever taken by the right honourable gentleman, or his colleagues, to put a stop to them. No; the right honourable gentleman and his colleagues were reposing on the "bed of roses" which they were now using every endeavour in their power to render uneasy to their successors. With regard to the bill before the house, he could not conceive any reason for the earnest opposition made to the provision for appointing a part of the proposed commissioners to inquire, in this country, into the abuses committed in the West Indies. For he could not suppose it possible that any member of parliament would carry his solicitude for public accountants, introduced to office through his patronage, so very far, as to shelter the conduct of such accountants as had taken refuge in this country, from any investigation whatever.
§ Mr. Johnstone,
adverting to the "bed of roses" alluded to by the last speaker, observed that when he first heard the phrase he was certainly rather surprised at it. But, upon subsequent reflection, seeing that the gentlemen on one side felt so much regret on leaving it, and the gentlemen on the other side so much anxiety to get into it, he could not help thinking that there was something in the place much better than he had at first imagined. With regard to the crimination and recrimination upon the 681 subject of sinecures, &c. which the house had witnessed from both sides of the house, such a practice might avail something among the parties themselves, but could have no effect for or against any proposition upon the minds of independent men, or when addressed to the dispassionate understanding of the country. It was of little consequence to those who were anxious for the right to find that both parties were wrong. In the case before the house, he thought that some of the proposed commissioners would be useless; and it was no defence for those who proposed the bill to make out that their opponents had also created sinecures. On the contrary, whenever the present ministers should be guilty of anything prodigal or arbitrary, he would think their guilt, considering their former professions, greater in a tenfold degree than that of their predecessors. When in opposition, those gentleman were perpetually professing a love of economy, an hatred of arbitrary power, and a desire to limit the increasing patronage of the crown. For the fulfilment of these professions he had looked since their accession to office. But he had looked in vain, and he had recently seen them from the lust of patronage make a most extraordinary use of the prerogative in order to dismiss from office an old, meritorious, and highly useful servant of the public (sir G. Barlow). From the conduct, therefore, of such ministers, the honourable gentleman professed his incapacity to entertain a hope of much public good.
in allusion to the remarks of an honourable gentleman on the other side (Mr. S. Bourne), observed, that having been but a short time in office, and being comparatively unacquainted with the business of his department, he should feel it a great presumption for him to act without taking the advice of others.
§ Dr. Laurence
said, whatever sense his hon. friend might now (at the end of three months) find in the expression of "the bed of roses," his right hon. friends about him felt it, however their duty might compel them to occupy it in a situation of toil and anxiety, beyond what they could ever hope to be repaid for by the consideration of the country. He maintained the necessity of an enlarged investigation.
§ Sir W. Young
detailed the manner and circumstances of drawing the bills from the West Indies; and contended, from the facility of suppressing the evidences there, 682 that the best chance of tracing them was through the indorser in this country.—The bill was ordered to be read a 3rd time to-morrow.