§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer having moved the order of the day, for going into a Committee of Supply,
§ Mr. Hume
said, he would not consent to the House resolving itself into the committee at present if he could prevent it, and he would state his reasons. In the last session it was stated by ministers, that, for the future, every information would be given that might be requisite to explain the particulars of the proposed estimates. Notwithstanding this promise, which the noble marquis was bound to fulfil, they now refused to grant any account in detail of the application of the large sums which they called upon the House to grant. They on this night called for a sum of not less than 1,781,325l. for charge of wages, victuals, wear and tear, and ordnance for the navy, and this was called for without any other detail than what was contained in four lines, which merely gave the four heads of expenditure under which the money was to be applied. Heretofore it had been the custom of the House to pass such a vote sub silentio, and it was not until the last year that any previous explanations were demanded respecting the details. It would be recollected, that in 1817, the noble marquis, as he (Mr. H.) understood from the published reports of what passed in parliament, which were pretty accurate, stated, 613 that the estimates of that year were brought down as low as could at that time be expected; not as low as it was possible for them to be made hereafter, for it was to be expected that they would become lower every succeeding year of peace. There was then in the estimates, it was said, an aggregate of three millions and a half for extraordinary war charges, which would not occur again; but instead of finding that statement borne out by subsequent circumstances, it turned out that the estimates had rather increased than decreased in the naval department every year since. In 1817, the estimates for seamen's wages, victualling, wear and tear, and ordnance, were fixed at 1,556,100l.; and the committee of finance distinctly stated, that they anticipated a gradual reduction on all the charges for which that sum was a provision, except the head of seamen's wages, which could not take place, as it would be found that the number of able seamen employed during peace was greater in proportion than in time of war; but the committee did anticipate a gradual reduction on all the other heads of expenditure. After this statement, what was his surprise to find, that in the first vote they were called upon to grant for the navy, and he entreated the attention of gentlemen to this point, a sum of 1,781,325l. for that service, for which his majesty's ministers had said in 1817 that 1,556,100l. would be sufficient. Here, then, was an increase of 225,220l. in the sixth year of peace, beyond what it was in the fourth. Now he would ask, why should not the House reduce those estimates to what they were, he would not say before the war, but to what ministers themselves had declared was sufficient in 1817? But this not being the case, he trusted that the House would not consent to vote a single shilling until they got a detailed account of the manner in which the sums called for were to be applied. Here was a demand, in four lines, of such large sums as—for wages of seamen, 593,775l. and for wear and tear of ships, 532,350l.; for victualling, 559,650l., and for navy ordnance, 95,550l. Now, he wanted to know in what manner those four sums were to be expended. In the first place, he wished the House to be informed of the particulars of the first vote; but to his demands, heretofore, on this head a distinct refusal was given. He wanted details similar to those which 614 had been called for and given to the finance committee. By one of the returns before the House, it appeared that the charge for the establishment of the royal marines was 340,666l. for 1821, while in the former peace, the charge did not exceed 130,000l. Now he contended that if the present sums were granted without an inquiry into the particulars of their application, without having a return of the officers employed in various departments, and of the several sums paid to each, members would be precluded at any other time from taking the sense of the House on the staff officers of the marines, which he thought they ought to inquire into, as particularly as into the stalls of the army and artillery. They had a number of situations connected with the royal marine establishments, which he looked upon as little better than, if not in fact, sinecures; and though it might be said that these were given to very deserving officers, yet the House should know, the grounds of an expenditure which cost the country a sum of not less than 20l. per day. There was 5l. a day to a general, 4l. to a lieutenant-general, 3l. to a major-general, 2l. each to four colonels and so on; but the reasons for all this expensive staff should be stated, and examined by the House, before they granted the money. He found that the expense for marine barracks was not less than 12,068l. Was it to be said, that all this was necessary where a great portion of the men were afloat? Was all that sum to go in repairs? If so, he would say, that either the barracks were kept up on a much larger scale than was necessary, or that the repairs themselves were the subject of a job. To have this explained, it would be necessary that the particulars should be laid before the House.—There was, he perceived, an item for contingencies to no less than 12,724l. What was the nature of these contingencies? Was the House to be kept in ignorance of the manner in which this was to be applied? If they were, how could they guard against misapplication? Various branches of expense might be introduced under this head, to which he House might not consent if they were aware of them. He remembered, that on one occasion it had been stated by the commissioners of military enquiry, that the expense of the engineer staff was charged under the head of draught cattle! and, for, aught the House now knew, 615 ministers might apply some of those contingencies in pensions or useless expense: but let them have all the particulars before them, and then they could judge of the application.—He saw also in another estimate, a charge for a paymaster and inspector-general of marines amounting to about 2,930l. per annum. To this subject, he had called the attention of the House on a former occasion. It might be said now, as it was then, that they were very useful; but the information which he had respecting them was, that they might be dispensed with, and from very good authority; and the present was a time when no situation of doubtful importance ought to be kept up. From the returns made to the House, it appeared that the whole effective service of the navy cost the country comparatively but a small sum; while, from the enormous amount of civil establishments connected with it and ship-building, the estimates amounted to 5,500,000l. It was in order that the House should be informed of the details of those establishments to be paid by this vote, that he would move the resolutions which he intended to submit. His first resolution would be for information as to the application of the large sum under the head of wages; his second would call for similar information with respect to the cost of victualling, which would include a return of the prices paid for provisions for the navy in the years 1813, 1817 and 1821. He knew that the victualling department could purchase provisions as cheaply as any other persons, and much more so. The prices of most articles of consumption were fallen to half what they were a few years back; and if so, the provisions could be provided at half their former price: and yet it was singular, that the charge for victualling the navy was 1l. 19s. per head, whilst in 1817 it had been 2l. 1s. each. It might be said, perhaps, that on foreign stations this could not be the case; but he maintained, that if provisions were purchased abroad, they could be procured cheaper than in this country; but if they were sent out, then, as we paid for the hire of transports under a particular head, the prices would be the same in this estimate.
He again repeated, that the House ought not to consent to any vote, until they had full information on those subjects. If the accounts were all fair—if there was nothing in them that ought not to be—why should they be refused? It 616 was treating the House with great contempt to refuse them; but if the House would support him, he pledged himself, that if he remained until ten o'clock tomorrow, he would oppose every vote of supply until those accounts were granted. He took blame to himself for having given way so often last session, and for not having called for details of the expense of various branches of the navy estimates. If ever there was a time when the most minute examination should be made into our expenditure, if ever there was a time when it was important that not a shilling should be voted but what was absolutely necessary; if ever there was a time when the pressure of the most severe distress called for the most rigid economy in every department, that time had now arrived. The time had arrived when we should look with the greatest strictness to the conduct of the chancellor of the exchequer, whose promises had been utterly falsified; for the right hon. gentleman had promised a surplus of revenue of 4,000,000l., and we got only 1,400,000l. in the last year; and he (Mr. H.) maintained that there never would be any efficient surplus unless that House interfered. He had shown on a former evening that the right hon. gentleman was entirely wrong in his calculation as to the surplus revenue. The statements which he then made had remained wholly uncontradicted and the result had proved his (Mr. H.'s) accuracy. Let the right hon. gentleman contradict them if he could.
The third resolution which he should submit would be for details of the estimate for wear and tear of ships: his reason for wishing for this account was, the promise which had been held out by the finance committee, that, after a short time, our expenses under the head of building and repairs would be considerably diminished. He, of course, admitted that it was necessary that ships laid up in ordinary should be well repaired; and he believed that the vessels so laid up were now in a better condition than they had ever been known before, and that the whole system of our ordinary was the best which could be adopted [Hear]; but he could not see why the gross amount of wear and tear under the head he had mentioned should be so great. The sums we had expended for wear and tear in building and repairs of ships in ordinary, since the war were, most enormous. They were not less than 17,000,000l. [Hear, hear, from a member on the ministerial side.] 617 If (continued Mr. Hume) the hon. gentleman doubted the fact, he would read for him, from the several estimates, an extract of which he held in his hand, as printed last session, the particular sums expended in each year. The amount would be found as he had stated it—a sum which one would think large enough to build all the navies in the world. Now, after that large expenditure, it ought to be expected that the estimates, under the head of wear and tear, would not be so much in the present year, and particularly after the statement of the finance committee. Besides, there was not the same cause of wear and tear now, that existed during the war. There was now no blockading in the winter and stormy seasons. Our ships were not exposed to the same hazard; the time of naval officers was now passed in comparative ease and pleasure. [Hear, from the ministerial side.] He would repeat it,—it was passed in ease and pleasure, as it ought to be, compared with former periods. Ships were not now engaged in blockading the Texel, the Gulf of Lyons, and other places, as formerly, with a vast expense in the consumption of stores of every kind, and a great increase in the charges for wear and tear; and when that charge was so low in 1792, he did not see why it should be more than doubled in the present day. But he wanted to know the particular details of this expense, and then the House would judge whether it was well applied. The fourth resolution which he intended to move applied to the fourth head of the public expenditure; namely, to the estimates for the Ordnance and king's stores, which last year amounted to 100,000l. though they had now been reduced to 95,520l.
Mr. R. Ward.—
I wish to inform the hon. gentleman, that since the estimates were presented, a further reduction has taken place, which makes them amount to not more than 81,000l.
§ Mr. Hume
was glad to hear that such a reduction had been made; but still that did not at all affect his argument. He wished to have detailed accounts of the manner in which the money voted for the Ordnance estimates was expended; because he had heard from pretty good authority, that 20,000l. of it had been expended on the Ordnance craft. Now, such an item was no where to be found in the estimates; and he wished to know why it had not a place there, if it had 618 been expended? Indeed, there was not one item given in round numbers which did not require the most minute explanation. Before he had brought forward his motion last year regarding the borough of Queen-borough, he had been told, that the whole of the establishment kept up there was paid for under the head of Ordnance craft. This might or might not be the case, but he never could, until a few days ago, find out where the 20,000l. to which he alluded was charged in the estimates. He found 11,000l. put down there for Ordnance craft, and 4,875l. for magazines for navy stores, making together a total, not of 20,000l., but of 15,875l. Now he intended to say a word or two at a future time, upon the employment of this craft, which was chiefly employed in sailing to and from Sheerness upon mere parties of pleasure. In Appendix, page 96, to Third Report of the Finance Committee, the committee objected to the floating magazines, and to the Ordnance craft, as belonging to the Ordnance, and stated that if such vessels were required they should be supplied by public contract, and not be kept up as government vessels. The committee stated, that the gunpowder kept in these magazines was rendered unfit for public service until it was restored. For what purpose, then, were these magazines kept up? Or of what use could they possibly be, except it were to transfer gunpowder to them from the ships of war that were undergoing repair? Instead of having only one or two floating magazines which might be useful for that service, they had fourteen of them kept up, in direct opposition to a recommendation of that finance committee. In the same manner five or six vessels had been hired from members of the corporation of Queenborough; several of these vessels did not measure more than 17 tons. The right hon. gentleman opposite had stated, that one measured 30 tons, and could not be convinced to the contrary, until he (Mr. Hume) had put into his hand an official return, signed by his own officer, captain Dickenson, that that craft only measured 20 tons, and not 30, as entered in the last return to this House. The House would recollect how much discord they had witnessed during the last session about the ship Harmony or the Howe. Now he had taken the trouble to get that vessel measured, and he maintained, in opposition to all that the hon. gentleman had 619 formerly urged, that she did not measure more than 17 tons. And yet the expense to which that vessel annually put the country was 394l. 10s. for wages and repair. If the papers for which he intended to move were laid on the table, he would pledge himself to prove that the vessels hired from the corporation of Queenborough were not employed more than one or two days in a month; whatever might be the case with vessels which belonged to proprietors of inferior influence. As an example of the class of persons in the Ordnance craft, he would state, that out of 113 mates and men who were employed in the Ordnance craft, there were 74 of them voters of Queenborough.
Whether that was or was not a reason for continuing those vessels in employment, contrary to the recommendation of the finance committee, he should leave to the House and to the country to determine. Besides the vessels that were thus employed as floating magazines, there were 9 hoys, all of them engaged at the sum of nearly 1l. per diem, and all of them belonging to different voters of the town of Queenborough. The total expense to which they put the country amounted to no less a sum than 3,285l. a year, of which a full half was clear profit to the proprietors, the wages of the seamen and the wear and tear of the vessels evidently not amounting to more than the other half. Two of those hoys had, to his knowledge, lain before Woolwich wharf, for four or five years, doing nothing, at an expense of 18s. per day to the nation. Were such proceedings correct or justifiable? He maintained that they were not, and contended that they fully justified the demand that he was making for further returns.
He trusted he had shown enough to the House to convince it that it ought not to consent to vote away 81,000l. for the estimates for Ordnance for the service of the navy, when so large a portion of it had been expended in that manner for very different purposes. He might perhaps again be told by an hon. member (sir I. Coffin) that, in the observations he had just made, he had shown that he knew nothing about the navy. He had, however, been at sea part of his life; and he should never think of going to sea, as he had been advised, on a three-legged stool. He was surprised that any member in a British House of Commons could condescend to talk in such a manner as 620 he had done; which the deference he felt for the hon. member who had used it only prevented him from characterizing as it deserved. [Hear.] The hon. member then proceeded to condemn the manufacturing of gunpowder, at an annual expense of 12,000l. as a very useless and unnecessary expense. He was decidedly of opinion, that in the present state of the trade, private manufacturers could amply supply the wants of the country. He did not know whether government had made the reductions at Feversham and Waltham Abbey which the finance committee had recommended; but this he would say, that, if all the manufactories for gunpowder there were entirely abolished, the country would be in no danger in case of a war of wanting a supply; as it had already in its magazines ammunition that would serve it for 20 years. Why then, under such a state of things, were those expensive establishments continued? When the returns for which he intended to move were laid upon the table, he would leave the House to decide, whether it was not for the support of similar political influence with that exercised at Queenborough, and for the purpose of securing certain votes which were of use in a general election that these establishments were kept up. Until those returns were made, the House ought not to vote away one shilling of the public money. If those returns were laid on the table, every item in them should, as far as he was concerned, be fairly and impartially examined. He said, "fairly and impartially;" because he had no desire to reduce the efficiency of our naval power. On the contrary, he was sorry to see that it was so much neglected in the efficient force, the number of seamen. He would freely confess that he should prefer seeing the whole of its expenditure for seamen doubled to seeing so much of our money expended upon barracks and military stations in every part of the country. He felt as much pride as any man could do in the great and gallant exploits of our army; but he could not forget, that it was our navy which had first raised the character of the country and had protected us from insult during the whole war, and which had even enabled us to make our army as efficient as it afterwards proved itself to be. [Hear.] If, therefore, he were obliged to show a preponderance either to the army or to the navy, his preponderance would certainly be towards 621 the navy. It would give him great pleasure to reduce a part of the army, and to add the number of men so reduced to the 13,000 seamen who were this year to be kept in service. Indeed, if the House were to decide that there should be 21,000 men employed for the navy, he should prefer having 15,000 seamen and 6,000 marines, to having 13,000 seamen and 8,000 marines. He made that declaration, because the marines were to be considered as a part of that immense standing army with which the nation was at present burdened. It was not any dislike to the marines that induced him to express such an opinion; by no means; he was fully impressed with a sense of the important services which they had rendered their country, and was sorry to observe that they had been so much neglected, and, he would say, ill-treated, by government since the conclusion of the war. After some other observations, the hon. member concluded by moving his resolution:—"That there be laid before this House, a return in detail of the manner in which the sum of 593,755l., estimated for wages of seamen, in 1822, is to be expended; distinguishing the number of each rank, of the royal marines, and the pay of each class, and of the whole; the number of officers of each rank, and of men, in the navy; the amount of charge for each class, and for the whole."
§ Mr. Croker
commenced by stating the regret which he felt in having to come forward to oppose any thing like examination into the public expenditure of the country. He was convinced, however, that it was his duty to do so upon the present occasion, inasmuch as the hon. member for Aberdeen had not satisfied him that ministers had been anxious to withhold from him any information which they could communicate consistently with their duty to the public. Of all the myriads of papers for which the hon. member had moved, these would be the first that government had refused him. He trusted, however, that he should be able to show, that they refused them upon grounds that were just and satisfactory, and not altogether unconnected with the public safety. He must premise what he had to offer to the House, by observing, that the navy estimates had been voted for about 160 or 170 years in the very same manner in which they were now proposed, and that the present was the very first time, among all the wild fancies that had entered into 622 the brains of violent politicians, among all the absurd wishes which had been formed in the imagination of would-be-statesmen, and among all the extraordinary feelings in which party men sometimes indulged the one against the other, that a motion such as the hon. member proposed, or any thing like it, had been submitted to the consideration of parliament. He mentioned that fact, not for the purpose of stating that the House, even if the hon. member made out a case, was bound not to institute the proposed inquiry, because nobody had ever instituted it before; but for the purpose of reminding them, that their ancestors, as well as themselves, must have had some good reasons to induce them to treat the subject with the peculiar delicacy they had always applied to it. He asked them to do no more than keep that circumstance in their recollection; and if he did not, before he concluded, rebut every particle of charge which the hon. member had brought against government—if he did not refute all the mistakes into which he had fallen—he would allow that hon. member to say that the present was a case in which they ought to depart from the practice which they and their ancestors had so long adopted. He was sorry that he had to address them upon a subject which would require him to go into many minute, and, he was afraid, uninteresting, details; but as the hon. gentleman's arguments principally rested upon those details, he was obliged, however unwilling he might otherwise be, to follow him over the same grounds on which he had ranged at great length, and apparently with great pleasure.
It might not be known to all the gentlemen whom he had then the honor of addressing, that the naval expenditure of the country, consisted of three divisions; of which the first was at that time before the House, and related to the setting of our fleets afloat, to the embarkation of the men and stores, to their general equipment, and to the keeping of the vessels ready for sailing. The hon. gentleman might say, that a knowledge of the items of that expenditure, and of the services which it was to enable the fleet to perform was attended with much less inconvenience in time of peace than it would be in time of war. Perhaps it might be so; but, what he meant to contend was, that if the argument of the hon. member applied at all, it applied with greater force to the necessity of giving that knowledge to the 623 public in time of war than in time of peace, inasmuch as, from the increased establishments, and the constant employment in which they were all kept, abuse was then most liable to prevail among them. Now, the inquiry which the hon. member wished to institute was an inquiry into the means supplied to set the fleet afloat. In order to show why that inquiry ought not to be instituted, he would remind the House, that the second division of naval expenditure was the ordinary estimates of the navy, and the third division the extraordinary estimates, in which were included the building and repairing of ships, and the various works in our ship and dock-yards. Whilst from all time the expenditure requisite to set our fleets afloat had been considered as a point of the utmost delicacy, the ordinaries and extraordinaries of the navy had been exposed to the most open and rigid investigation. The hon. member opposite could not, as far as those accounts were concerned, complain of the obscurity with which they were drawn up—an obscurity of which, on every occasion, he took care to shew himself extremely jealous. What was the reason of the distinction that had been made between the two accounts? He would shortly inform them. No possible injury could arise to the state from making public that which was known to be daily passing in England, as to the ordinaries and extraordinaries of the navy; but great danger might, and most probably would, accrue to it; at any rate, great inconvenience to the public service must positively accrue, if all the various circumstances under which a fleet was to be put afloat were rendered matters of public intelligence in England, and by that means in every country with which it could open any communication. "But," the hon. gentleman would perhaps say, "how can the kind of information which I wish for, have the effect of betraying secrets?" The suggestion of the hon. gentleman's honourable friend near him, who reminded him, during his speech, of foreign stations, would answer that question. When the hon. gentleman talked of victualling the fleet, he spoke of the provisions as if they were bought in Leadenhall-market, or at the prices current in England. And when his hon. friend reminded him of foreign stations, the hon. gentleman's remark was, "O yes! but we send out provisions to them." Did the hon. gentleman understand the nature of victualling the navy 624 so well as to suppose there was no difference in the expense of victualling ships on foreign stations and at home? If the hon. gentleman knew any thing of the subject, he would know, not only that there was a great difference between the expense of victualling ships on foreign stations and at home, but that there was a great difference in the expense of victualling ships on different foreign stations. Now he (Mr. Croker) asked, whether, if at the beginning of the year these estimates were presented to parliament, in the detailed manner required by the hon. gentleman, they would not exhibit the amount of force which it was intended to maintain on every foreign station? The hon. gentleman might perhaps justify his motion by referring to the information which the committee of finance in 1817 obtained with respect to the manner in which the accounts of this estimate were prepared. This, at least, shewed that there was no desire for concealment on the part of government. And besides, that communication related to the year gone by, and therefore could not be injurious. It was made but once; and it was made to shew from the past the confidence that might be reposed in prospectu. But, because government thus—he would say in their liberality—communicated this information so circumstanced to a select committee of the House of Commons, was that a reason that any hon. member should declare that he would not consent to allow the fleet to go to sea until government explained in what way they intended to direct its force.
The hon. gentleman had proceeded to examine the estimate under three heads;—the wages of the men—the victualling of the men—and the wear and tear of the ships. As to the Ordnance, that was a separate question, on which, however, he would not forget to touch before he sat down. The hon. gentleman had, it seemed, found out, that since the year 1817, seventeen millions had been expended in building and repairing ships, and declared that that was enough to build all the navies of the world; and he had then proceeded to express his wonder how it was possible, after such an expence, that the ships afloat could want any expence for wear and tear. He pledged himself to give the hon. gentleman, not only all the papers he now asked for, but all for which he might in future ask for, if he did not prove that, in the course of that time, the building and repairing of the navy 625 had cost less than seven millions, instead of seventeen millions. The hon. gentleman compelled him to say, that he had been talking what the hon. gentleman metaphorically termed nonsense. Really, the hon. gentleman seemed to have mistaken stones for wood, land for water, storehouses for ships, the works at Sheerness for a fleet of first-rates. [A laugh.] He was the more induced to entertain this opinion, because he found that the whole extras of the navy, comprehending the building and repairing of ships, the erection of storehouses, the construction of works, and among the rest the Breakwater at Plymouth, the expense of which was of itself a million, amounted, during the last five years, to within a trifle of the seventeen millions, which the hon. gentleman declared the building and repairing of ships alone had cost.—He did not wish to be trusted on this subject. He held in his hand the estimates from the year 1817; and he would read the items which related to the building and repairing of the navy, in order to show the accuracy of the hon. gentleman, and he would then put it to the House whether they would call for details never before given, on such information as that of the hon. gentleman's? He would read the statement, and he would be much obliged to the hon. gentleman if he would correct any error in it [Mr. Hume, across the table—"I will"] The sum voted in 1817 was 1,390,000l. [Mr. Hume—"1,600,000l."] He (Mr. Croker) would refer to the Journals. It was there stated that the sum voted in 1817 was 1,391,277l. the sum voted in 1818 was 1,130,000l. the sum voted in 1819 was 1,144,000l. the sum voted in 1820 was 1,142,000l. the sum voted in 1821 was 1,094,000l. hon. gentlemen could not carry all these sums in their heads to add them up; but they would at least observe, that no one of them ever reached two millions; and yet the hon. gentleman did not hesitate to state, that in those five years the building and repairing of the navy had cost 17 millions. To borrow a metaphorical phrase, the hon. gentlemen's "noble had indeed come to nine-pence;" for the fact was, that all the items of the expenditure for the purpose alluded to, added together, amounted only to 5,900,000l.
He would now beg leave to return from this episode—this digression, into which the hon. gentleman had led him. Really, when he considered the gross mistakes 626 which the hon. gentleman had committed, he was astonished how he could come down and dictate to the House of Commons, and declare that he would sit there till ten o'clock to-morrow morning, and keep the House sitting too, unless papers, never before granted were laid before the House to enlighten his misinformation, which, in truth, it would take much longer than until that period to correct. [A laugh.] The hon. gentleman did not even know the meaning of the term "wear and tear." which he chose to call "tear and wear." The hon. member had stated that we were building ships, and keeping them in ordinary to prevent the wear and tear of the fleet afloat [Mr. Hume "no, no," order, order.] He had no objection to the hon. gentleman's interruptions, and he assured him that if he (Mr. Hume) felt it difficult to restrain himself at present, he (Mr. C.) felt it equally difficult to do so, while that hon. member was making his statements. The hon. member had indulged in severe observations upon the holiday yachts, the summer sailings, the airings to commissioners, and the balls and suppers which were every day going on in the navy. He would tell that hon. member, that there was more labour, more active exertion, more wear and tear of human life at sea in the course of the last year, the last dreadful year, than in any other which the hon. member could point out even in a time of war [Hear]. Did the hon. member recollect that, according to a wise and wholesome policy, our sailors, instead of being kept cooped up in guard ships, where they were likely to become weak and sickly, were now employed in the different cruisers off the coast to prevent smuggling; and with what effect they executed this duty was to be seen from the thriving state of the Customs and Excise. Besides, there were four times more wear and tear in the employment of 1,000 men in small cruisers, than if they were all put into one or two large ships. Then down came the hon. member with a mass of information in his possession; he stated that those men who had been buffeting the hard gales of winter, had been pleasuring and summer sailing, and giving balls and parties, and so forth. But this was not all; the hon. gentleman appeared to have forgotten his geography. He had forgotten that we had to send ships to the Mediterranean; that we had the British interests in South America to protect. Did the hon. member know that 627 our ships could not reach South America without doubling Cape Horn? [Hear, hear, from Mr. Hume]. Well, then, if the hon. gentleman knew that, did he mean to say, that cruising off Cape Horn was yacht-sailing in summer, or that a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope was a party of pleasure under an awning? [Hear, hear! and a laugh.] There was also a branch of the service in which he did not know whether the hon. member took an interest, but one in which certainly others did; namely, the naval service on the coast of Africa, for preventing the slave trade. Was that yacht-sailing, too, under an awning? Anybody must be struck with the ridicule of such a description, the moment the thing was properly exposed. He did not wish to misstate the hon. gentleman—[Hear, hear, from Mr. Hume]—nothing would be such a gratuitous piece of malice; for the hon. gentleman himself furnished such ample opportunities of detecting his own mis-statements, that it would be had taste for any body else to take the trouble [Hear, hear]. The hon. gentleman cast aside, in his sweeping allusions, the foreign stations, although reminded by an hon. friend of his of their existence, while he was speaking—he threw them overboard from the debate [A laugh].
He had now dismissed the two first points, and he hoped he had sufficiently shown to the House, that there did not so far exist the slightest ground for granting the hon. member's motion. "But," said the hon. member, "the wages of sailors are small, and I wish to have the returns both of the sums paid to them and to the marines;" and, as a precedent he stated, that he had last year moved for, and obtained, similar accounts. Why, if the hon. member wished to make a similar motion this year, there should not be the slightest objection to its being granted. And why? Because the accounts then furnished were only those of the number of men in England; it did not include an account of those who were to be sent to America, the East Indies, the West Indies, or the Mediterranean. But perhaps the hon. gentleman might object to the accounts of last year, on the ground that he did not understand them. In this he agreed with him; and he would give to the House his reason for saying so. The hon. member had stated, that the wages of sailors and marines amounted together to 600,000l. of which sum he found that 628 350,000l. went to pay the marines, and deducting this from the gross amount, it turned out that the sum voted to pay our seamen—the pride and boast of this country—a country which held such a peculiarly advantageous naval situation, was no more than 250,000l. The hon. member (Mr. Hume) went on to say—"What is our navy reduced to this? Is this the reward which you give to the men who have fought your battles, and who have saved your country?" Now, he would show the House the manner in which the hon. gentleman had made his calculations. He had taken the whole expense of the marines, including wages, the expense of their barracks, their clothing, marching money, beer money, recruiting money, and meat money, and lumping all these together, he at once deducted them from the 600,000l. which was the charge for sailors and marines wages, and in which the above items were not at all included. [Hear.] Did any one ever hear of a more absurd and ridiculous calculation? For his part, if the gross amount had not come out right in the adding up, he (Mr. Croker) should be at a loss to discover how such a mode of calculation could have entered the head of any man. Now the fact was, that the wages of the marines amounted to 150,000l. a year in all. But the hon. member had taken the expenses of barracks (which were certainly not afloat) the contingent expenses of officers on shore, and all those he deducted from the expenses of the fleet afloat. Really if the hon. member came to this, he might as well include the 300,000l. lately spent in building churches, and then he might come down and say, that the whole pay of the seamen was swallowed up altogether. He should proceed in answering the hon. member, and it would surprise him indeed, if he (Mr. Hume) could contradict him in any one of his statements. The hon. member had included a charge of 2,770l., the salary of the paymaster of the marines, in the sum of 600,000l., which was the charge of wages for the fleet afloat. Would the House believe that this charge was not in the present estimates, but in the ordinary estimates, where the details would be fully given, and from which the hon. member must have taken it? This was one of the hon. members strongest points, and the House would see how it had failed him. If the paymaster of marines was residing in London and doing nothing, it would be 629 for the House to inquire into that fact when the ordinary estimates came before them, and then no doubt, a full and satisfactory answer would be given [Hear].
He was now approaching the crown of the hon. gentleman's merit. The hon. gentleman said, that he wished to reduce the marines, and to increase the seamen in the same proportion. Really, there was no pleasing some gentlemen. It was no more than tour or five years ago since it was urged, that the marines being the most vital part of the navy, ought to be increased and supported. What did the hon. member for Aberdeen do? He compared the estimates of 1817 and 1821, and because he found that in the former period the number of seamen was 17,000 and in 1819 it was 19,000, he was willing to reduce the marines by 2,000 men, and to increase the seamen by the same number; so wedded was he to the glory and honour of the navy, and so anxious was he to place it on a high and commanding situation. Now the difference between the hon. member and himself was this:—They could get the marine for life, but the seaman might retire after a service of three years, or enter again as he pleased; and, therefore, though he (Mr. Croker) was anxious to support the navy, yet he would not do so at too dear a price. But how were these 2,000 sailors to be had? By reducing 2,000 marines, whose services the country might otherwise possess for life. The difference between the hon. member and himself was this. The hon. member would lay out the money of the country in a three years purchase, while he (Mr. C.) wished to lay it out in a purchase for life. The hon. member had told the House, that in 1792, the rate of charge in the navy was 4l. per man per month, whereas it was now raised to 6l. 10s. 6d. The House would recollect that the rate of charge in the navy was at 4l. per man per month, from 1787 to 1797. But was the navy supported at that rate? No, there was in the latter year a loan of 2,000,000l. to make up the deficiency. At another time the naval expenses of 1792 were compared with those of the present year; but a noble lord opposite had, with great candour and fairness, admitted that the apparent estimate was not the real one. That noble lord saw that there was something necessarily added in 1792, over which no government could have any previous control. If gentlemen would look to the Journals, they would 630 be astonished to find the little difference between the expense of 1792, to support 16,000 men, and that of the present period. He would state one or two filets for the guidance of the House. In the year 1792, the navy estimates were 1,800,000l. but in that year there was a further grant of 131,000l. and in the same year a further grant of 805,000l. out of the surplus of the last year, yet notwithstanding these two grants, it was found, upon winding up the accounts of the year, that the navy was in debt 440,000l.; so that, in point of fact, the naval expenditure of the year 1792 was 3,176,000l. what was the charge at present, including half-pay, victualling, and transports? The total was 3,310,000l., being a difference of not more than 100,000l.
He now came to the Ordnance department, the abuses in which had occupied so large a portion of the hon. member's speech. When the Ordnance estimates were presented, the House would have an opportunity of entering into the details of those alleged abuses. The sums now taken for the Ordnance were taken upon the credit of the Navy. The Ordnance reported to the Admiralty that its expenses amounted to 81,000l., and over this expenditure they had no control as an admiralty. The hon. member had also objected to the appointment of naval officers to colonelcies and other grades in the marines; he had last year answered the hon. member upon this point; and after this he was surprised to hear the subject broached again. He should now repeat, that such appointments were a bond of union between the two services, which ought to be maintained; but he would take a higher ground of defence. Those appointments were honours and dignities with which his majesty was enabled to reward the distinguished services of the navy, in a more suitable manner than by conferring pensions upon them. It was an honour to our naval officers to be placed at the head of this glorious corps, whom they had often led on to battle and to victory. What was the extent of the evil of which the hon. member complained? Why, it was this;—that out of 200 flag officers, and 800 or 900 captains in the navy, there were appointments of three general officers and four colonels of marines, at the enormous and overwhelming expense of from 6,000l. to 7,000l. a year. The grievance complained of by the hon. member was 631 co-existent with the corps itself; which corps had originally been formed out of certain regiments who, from having made several voyages, were called marine regiments. The hon. member had stated one ground of objection to such appointments to be a fear that bad men might be advanced to them. In order to show that little fear was to be entertained on this head, he read to the House the names of the persons who had been created generals of marines; they were as follow:—admiral Boscawen, the hon. J. Forbes, earl Howe, adm. Barrington, lord Bridport, and last (and he hoped he might long continue to fill the appointment) was earl St. Vincent [each name was loudly cheered as the hon. gentleman repeated it.] Was there a danger of bad men from these examples? [Hear, hear.] The lieutenant generals [he read the commissions from the formation of the corps] were the following:—sir C. Saunders, sir H. Palliser, sir T. Pye, lord Bridport, and again, earl St. Vincent. The major-generals were—lord Gardner, lord Collingwood, sir R. Bickerton, sir G. Hope, sir R. Keates, and the name he pronounced with the greatest pleasure, sir G. Cockburn. [Hear, hear.] Not a name of them all, unadorned with honours, titles, or dignities;—many high in the peerage, all having received for their deeds the thanks of parliament: and yet this was the list upon which the hon. member would put his reforming finger, and not one of them could he touch who was not a star in the bright galaxy of British naval glory. [Cheers.] The colonels of marines were equally eminent. Why, then, did the hon. member refer to such a list? As to the general information he desired, where could he have it so well as in the committee? And yet, tinder pretence of wishing it, be actually did all he could to shut it out, by refusing to go into the committee. Not that he meant to express any hope that the hon. member would be satisfied in the committee. God forbid he should entertain any such preposterous expectation! But still, if the hon. member was not satisfied with what was offered in the way of information in the committee, he could move that the chairman do report progress, or discuss the whole subject on the bringing up of the report. That was the real parliamentary course for him to take. But why was he to take the whole affairs of the navy into his own hands, and insist upon 632 being furnished with all the respective rates of pay of the officers, their particular rank, how and where employed?
He trusted he had said enough to induce the House to negative the amendment, and to wait until they went into a committee upon it. It had been wisely provided by our ancestors, that subjects should be discussed in committees of the whole House, when the fullest opportunity of obtaining information was afforded. But the hon. member for Aberdeen, anxious as he always appeared for information, appeared inclined to do all he could to prevent its being obtained. But, though it would be impolitic to furnish a general account, such as that demanded by the hon. member, yet if he wished for an account connected with any specific abuse, he (Mr. C.) pledged himself to give the fullest information upon it. But he objected to the adoption of a principle which went to overturn a great principle of the constitution. [A laugh.] He should tell gentlemen why he spoke of the constitution as connected with this measure. So great was the secresy adopted with respect to the manning and victualling of our fleet, that not even at the admiralty was it known what was to be the number of men employed, or the quantity of victualling shipped. The victualling was regulated by the destination, and that was arranged by the king in his privy council, quite independent of the board of admiralty, and, unless where the lord at the head of the admiralty happened to be also a cabinet minister, he had no means of knowing the destination of the fleet for the ensuing year: that rested in his majesty's hands, as well as the declaration of the naval force in the vote of seamen. Our ancestors, knowing that the king could not turn the fleet against this country, but that if employed at all, it must be in our defence, had wisely entrusted the management and direction of that power to him. The hon. member concluded by observing, that the amendment, if adopted, would be productive of great inconvenience in time of peace, and if acted upon in a time of war, would go to put an end to the naval power of Great Britain, and, with that, he feared, our greatness and independence as a nation. [Cheers.]
said, he wished to bring back the House to the real question before them, and from which the hon. gentleman had attempted to divert them, by 633 characterizing it, in the most high-sounding terms, as dangerous in its consequences, and alarming to the state. One of the hon. gentleman's charges was, that it was a novelty. Really, the hon. gentleman had, to use a vulgar expression, found a mare's nest. The hon. gentleman said this course of proceeding was not usual; that no particular estimates were demanded from ministers; that the practice was for the ministers to say that such a number of men was to be kept up, and that such and such a sum was required, and that the House in its confidence voted the money. True it was that this had been the course; and they might see the result of it in the extravagant expenditure, in the accumulation of debt, in the pressure of taxation, and in the murmurs and sufferings of the people. This very circumstance, this blind confidence in the ministers, and the consequent waste of the public money, was one of the articles of indictment by the people against that House. The pompous harangue of the hon. gentleman, displaying certainly much ability and ingenuity, was aimed at his hon. friend, not on account of his failure, but of the complete exposure he had made. It was on this account that the arrows of the hon. gentleman's wit, (which he knew so well how to employ there and elsewhere) were directed against his hon. friend. The hon. secretary had declared, that the disclosure required by his hon. friend, though it had been shown that precisely a similar return was made to the finance committee in 1818, would be attended with great inconvenience and danger to the public service. His hon. friend had not asked to know how many men or ships were in the East Indies or the West, but that there should be a distinction between those employed abroad and at home. Even during the war there was no objection to give this sort of information as to the army; and what objection could there be to give it in time of peace as to the navy? The hon. secretary accused his hon. friend of spreading by his proposition, dismay and disorder in the naval service. He had also made some harsh remarks on his hon. friend for having described the holiday game the navy had been playing for the last twelve months. His hon. friend had said no such thing; but merely what every man of sense must see, that there was not to be as much wear and tear in peace as in war. It was true that there must be 634 storms, and more in winter than in summer; but there were no tedious blockades to maintain before Brest or Toulon. There was no one who had a higher value than his hon. friend for the services of the navy—not the jobbing services, but the effective services.
§ Mr. Croker
said, the hon. gentleman had done him more credit than he deserved, by attributing to him any wit; but the hon. gentleman had used the expression "the wit which he knew how to use here and elsewhere." Now he assured the hon. gentleman on his honour as a gentleman, that out of that House he had never taken the liberty to make the slightest sinister allusion to the hon. gentleman or his friends.
§ The House divided: for Mr. Hume's Amendment, 54; Against it, 144.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, lord.||Lambton, J. G.|
|Birch, J.||Martin, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Monck, J. B.|
|Bury, lord||Markham, adm.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Maxwell, J.|
|Benett, J.||Newman, R.|
|Baring, sir T.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Crespigny, sir W.||Palmer, col.|
|Calvert, N.||Price, R.|
|Crompton, S.||Parnell, sir H.|
|Creevey, T.||Phillips, G.|
|Clifton, lord||Price, Rd.|
|Davies, colonel||Rickford, W.|
|Guise, sir W.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Graham, S.||Robarts, A.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C.H.||Sefton, lord|
|Heron, sir R.||Sykes, D.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Scott, J.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Stuart, lord J.|
|Hurst, R.||Smith, hon. R.|
|Hughes, col.||Wyvill, M.|
|Johnson, col.||Wilson, sir R.|
|James, W.||Webb, colonel|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Wood, alderman|
|Leycester, R.||Wilkins, W.|
|Lennard, T. B.||TELLERS.|
|Lushington, Dr.||Hume, J.|
|Lockhart, W. F.||Bennet, hon. H. G.|
§ On the motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"
§ Mr. Hume,
in rising to move for the production of some other papers, said, he would take that opportunity of making some observations upon what had fallen from the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Croker) upon a former occasion. A great part of what the hon. gentleman pretended to answer, he (Mr. Hume) had never uttered; and that which he 635 really did utter, the hon. gentleman had altogether misrepresented. The hon. gentleman commenced his observations by alluding to him in a manner which (as far as he knew himself) he did not deserve. The hon. gentleman said, that he (Mr. Hume) had dictated to the House. If a member who in proposing a measure to the House, should endeavour to induce them to agree to it, was to be accused of dictating to the House, he could not perceive how members were to perform their duty. He did not wish to dictate; but, if possible, to persuade. He asked no member to vote for his motions, unless he convinced him by argument and facts that there existed a parliamentary ground for them. He thought he had shown a parliamentary ground for the motion which he had submitted to the House that night. The hon. gentleman had said, that all the details which he (Mr. Hume) called for would be given in the committee. It was, however, impossible for any man, even with dimensions of intellect similar to those of which the hon. member appeared to think himself in possession, to understand the details as they were brought forward in the committee. That was the reason why he now wished for a detail of the expenses, in order that the House might have time to deliberate before it came to a decision. It was true as the hon. gentleman had observed, that it was a novel practice to ask for details. But, the first detailed estimate ever presented to the House related to a branch of the naval service; and the good practice being commenced, why should it not be followed up in all the other branches of the same service. The hon. gentleman had said, that the House always placed sufficient confidence in ministers to grant them the money required for the estimates, without inquiry. Now it was in consequence of the House reposing that implicit confidence in ministers, that the debt had been created, and the country reduced to its present state of difficulty. The hon. gentleman objected to the production of the details, because he said they would show the enemy where the navy was to be posted. He (Mr. Hume) did not wish for any information of that nature. All that he required was, a statement of the number of men and officers to be maintained, and to that the hon. gentleman had offered no argument by way of objection. He had, however, said, "he 636 would show the House how utterly ignorant this gentleman, who was always fishing for grievances and putting his finger of reform upon the navy, was, of the subjects with which he interferes." He began by saying, that he (Mr. Hume) did not know bricks from mortar; he went on to say, that he could not distinguish brick from stone; and at last he absolutely declared, that he was ignorant whether the barracks were afloat or ashore. He now held in his hands returns which would stultify all the assertions of the hon. gentleman. And here he might observe that the hon. gentleman had made no reply to the principal statement which he had made when he last addressed the House, namely, that since the conclusion of the war in 1815 up to last session, the expenditure on account of the navy was 17,700,000l. He would now prove, from the navy estimates, which were already before the House, that instead of 5,000,000l. being expended in building, 8,530,493l. had been appropriated to that purpose. The hon. gentleman said, that he (Mr. Hume) could not distinguish the money expended on buildings from the money expended on dock-yards; and he had asked—"Does the hon. member know that a million has been expended at Plymouth?" To that he would answer—that he did not know any thing about it, nor did he believe that the hon. gentleman who proposed the question was better informed on the subject. He would show the House the sums which had been expended in building since 1811. It appeared by the returns which he held in his hand, that the expenses for building in the yard of Deptford were 197,000l.; for Woolwich, 174,000l.; for Chatham, 482,000l.; for Portsmouth, 205,000l.; for Plymouth, 272,000l. Then, as for the Breakwater at Plymouth, which the hon. secretary for the Admiralty, corrected as he was by the secretary for the Treasury, stated, had cost 1,000,000l.; the fact was, that the expenditure on that account, as laid before the House in the estimates was only 762,000l. Yet this was the hon. gentleman who would attempt to put him him (Mr. Hume) right; and who had said that he did not know the difference between barracks and ships, between wood and stone! In Sheerness, it seemed we had expended no less a sum than 1,355,000l.; besides which there was an unexecuted estimate amounting to nearly 747,421l. more to complete this expensive work; 637 and this was altogether lavished upon a work of such doubtful policy, that the money might be considered as entirely thrown away. If the House would look to the papers of the same years, they would find that in the last-mentioned outport the total expense of buildings was somewhere about 424,648l., the repairs 126,000l., and the expenses for the merchant-yard 29,000l. odd. The total annual expense, as stated in those estimates, was 4,264,598l. in all the ports. In the year 1818 they were stated at 3,000,000l. and odd. Now it appeared by these statements, made from documents which had been laid before the House, that he had been correct in his calculations, and it was rather too much that in the face of them the hon. gentleman should take upon himself to say that he was incorrect. He had said that for buildings alone the country had paid in a few years under the charges for the single department of the service, 8,500,000l. and upwards. The hon. gentleman declared the amount was only 5,000,000l.; and if he could be guilty of such an inaccuracy, it was really not from that hon. gentleman that a charge of incorrectness should proceed. The whole charge, therefore, which he (Mr. Hume) bad been discussing, was, including repairs, 17,000,702l. If the hon. gentleman was not satisfied of the fact, he (Mr. Hume) would on Monday move for all the estimates in question; and the hon. gentleman himself should have the opportunity of laying them on the table.—It would be in the recollection of the House that he had already stated his impression, that if such enormous sums of money had been expended in order to keep our ships afloat, parliament had a right to expect, under the recommendations of the finance committee, that the expenditure in that department would now be reduced as low as possible. It was obviously quite impossible that government could expend all these sums in a fair and proper manner, under present circumstances: they could not, indeed, expend such monies, unless they pulled ships to pieces, and afterwards built them up again.—The hon. gentleman with a most extraordinary perversity of intellect, had chosen to allude to what had fallen from him (Mr. Hume) in the course of the evening and had said, that he supposed he (Mr. Hume) wished to pass Cape Horn, in hoys of 17 tons burthen. But, in fact, he 638 had never said so, however the hon. gentleman might have stated the matter; and when he talked of his (Mr. Hume's) laving forgot his geography, he himself; like many of his countrymen, seemed altogether to have forgotten that science. The fact was, the hon. gentleman had attempted to pervert every thing which he (Mr. Hume) had said in the course of the debate. Far from wishing, as had been imputed to him, to weaken or cripple our navy, in such a manner as to leave us, in the event of a war, exposed to the naval superiority of any other power, he had merely expressed his desire to call for returns of the number of flag-officers, captains, and of the whole of our naval establishment, in that usual form in which such returns had been repeatedly ordered to be made on former occasions. He wished particularly to know why the expense of victualling the navy should be at this time nearly the same as it was in former periods, when the prices of provisions were 50 per cent higher than at present. There was, in fact, some reduction in the charge, but it was only 15 or 20 per cent, whereas the alteration in the prices was 50 to 80 per cent; where the consumer used to pay 12l. 6s., he now paid 6l. 5s. only; such was the difference in some of the articles. It was totally possible for any person opposing ministers in the way which he was obliged to adopt, to proceed upon any other information than what was contained in the returns made to the House. Some time since moved for all the papers connected with the expenses for the navy in its various branches, from the year 1795; and when the hon. gentleman said that extracts which were quoted from those estimates were incorrect, he did, in fact, contradict his own signature. On one occasion, to be sure, he had admitted that a particular item was correctly taken from an official return; but then, he added, "that return though sent in, was incorrect." He (Mr. Hume) had also moved for the amount of supplies voted for a series of years, for the sevice of the United Kingdom, including the army, navy, and ordnance. By the returns he found that, in the year 1792, the number of men voted was 16,000, and that the supplies voted for them, and for the sea service, instead of amounting, as the hon. gentleman said they did, to 3,400,000l. amounted to 1,485,955l. only. Now, either this was a correct return or estimate, or it was not: if it was 639 not correct, the House would not at least blame him (Mr. Hume) for its errors.—The hon. gentleman had said something about the current debt. It was not necessary for him, in reply, now to produce the statements which had been given to the House of the amount of the navy debt on the 25th Dec. 1791; and of its amount on the 1st of January 1793. There might have been, for aught he (Mr. Hume) knew, different statements of these amounts given to the House; and that might be the cause why he and the hon. gentleman were at issue on this matter; but the Journals of the House answerably showed, that 230,000l. was the whole increase on the debt in 1792–3. The hon. gentleman talked of their having reduced the amount of the debt very considerably—to the amount of some millions; but supposing even that the expenses of the navy in 1792 were 15,000,000l., that fact would have nothing to do with the motion which he was now about to submit—a motion having for its object simply an explanation of the large items which were now brought forward for the approbation of the House. The hon. gentleman had promised to detect and point out his (Mr. Hume's) blunders; but excepting in two instances, the paymaster and the buildings, in both of which he had been misled by erroneous returns, the hon. gentleman had not discovered any blunder whatever.—Surely he had now said enough to show why it should be demonstrated to the House how much of these sums were to be applied for the charge of marines: how much for seamen and so forth. He implored the House to assist him in procuring these explanations from ministers, because he felt assured that the items in question covered other matters and expenses besides those which were named, and which they were afraid to have brought forward.—With regard to all that had fallen from the hon. gentleman about our naval glories, it was a second edition of our galaxy of stars, our unrivalled heroes, and so on—of which the hon. gentleman never failed to make mention. But why did he indulge in these topics? Every body admitted the splendid services of a Nelson and a St. Vincent; but what had they to do with the question of sinecures held in this department? The hon. gentleman, in a truly Irish way, had answered himself, as it were, before he had made his own statements on the matter; for he set out with saying, that he admit- 640 ted the principle of sinecures was bad. It was bad; and a much better and more honourable system of remuneration might be devised. No one would say that that House had ever shown an unwillingness to reward merit, wherever merit had been displayed in the service of the country. He was so little read in the sinecure list, that he was not very perfectly aware of the characters of many who were placed upon it. But it was sufficient for his case if it could be shown, that during the last ten years one improper person had been admitted upon it. The present was the most proper period for wiping out all sinecures, if possible. Every gallant officer might be sure of being rewarded for the future for his merits. But the hon. gentleman said, that this was the most honourable, the most proper, the most gratifying mode of reward—that it formed a bond of union among all who experienced its effects. Perhaps, therefore, a pension of 1,500l. a year, granted to an admiral who never mingled with his corps, as he might call this service, was the bond of union which bound him to it notwithstanding [A laugh!]. Again he intreated the House not to vote away the public money without some knowledge of is destination. They had been too long in the habit of granting such votes in confidence; and the effects of their confidence should teach them to withhold it for he future. They were now called upon to rote in this way 200,000l. more this year ban they had voted last year; whereas the low prices of provisions, and other causes, required that the vote should be very considerably less. He should now move, by way of amendment, "That here be laid before the House, a return of the price of provisions of each kind supplied to the navy in the years, 1813, 1817, and 1821, and the value of one day's ration, stating the several articles in each of these years: also, a statement of the manner in which 532,350l., estimated for the victuals for the navy for 1822, is to be expended."
§ Mr. Croker,
reminded the House, that he had commenced his former speech by saying that the ordinary vote was about 1,900,000l., but in the course of that speech he had added, that if hon. gentlemen would refer to the estimates, they would find that a further sum of 1,000,000l. was appropriated from other services. Therefore this blunder must rest with the hon. gentleman, and not with himself. He 641 could not understand what ground of complaint the hon. gentlemen had against the returns made to that House. He had asked for a return of the whole expenses of the marine corps, and when that had been made out in conformity to his order, he was not satisfied, but again asked for what he called "the total of the whole." He begged to refer the hon. gentleman to the Journals of the House: where he would find that the account given by him (Mr. Croker) of the estimates of 1792 would turn out perfectly correct.
§ The House divided: for the Amendment, 54. Against it 158.
|Althorp, lord||Maxwell, J.|
|Bury, lord||Martin, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Nugent, lord|
|Brougham, H.||Normanby, lord|
|Barrett, S. B. M.||Newman, R.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Pryse, P.|
|Baring, sir T.||Palmer, C.|
|Chaloner, R.||Robarts, A.|
|Calvert, N.||Roberts, W. A.|
|Crespigny, sir W.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Crompton, S.||Ricardo, D.|
|Creevey, T.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Stuart, W.|
|Graham, S.||Sykes, D.|
|Guise, sir W.||Sefton, lord|
|Hutchinson, hon. C.H.||Stuart, lord J.|
|Heron, sir R.||Smith, hon. R.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Wyvill, M.|
|James, W.||Williams, W.|
|Johnson, col.||Wilkins, W.|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Wood, alderman|
|Leycester, R||Webb, Col.|
|Lambton, J. G.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Lennard, T. B.||TELLERS.|
|Lushington, Dr.||Hume, J.|
|Monck, J. B.||Davies, Colonel|
§ The House having resolved itself into a committee of supply, to which the Navy Estimates were referred, sir J. Osborn moved, "That 21,000 men be employed for the Sea Service for 13 lunar months; from the 1st of January 1822; including 8000 royal marines.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he must again ask what were the circumstances of the country which required that there should be 2000 men now more than in 1817, for the same purpose? The reductions that had been made in the Navy were not owing to the economy of ministers, but to the death of Buonaparte. The number of the marines he thought disproportionate with the number of seamen, and he should, therefore, propose as an amendment, that "19,000" be substituted for "21,000."
§ Sir G. Cockburn
said, that on the opening of a former war the country had suffered materially from the want of a sufficient number of marines to man the Navy with. The consequence was, that they were obliged to employ soldiers to their great dissatisfaction; and to the detriment of the service; for they were all sea-sick as soon as they got out to sea. Upon this it was thought better to keep up a large number of seasoned marines, who in peace might be employed in doing garrison duty in the sea-ports, and in the event of war, be ready to man the service. The Admiralty did not want to increase the number of seamen for the service of the ensuing year, and they were loath to diminish the body of marines. They might have been able to reduce more, had it not been for the increased demand from South America and the Mediterranean; and it should be remembered, that out of 13,000 seamen, 1,500 were employed round the coast for the security of the revenue.
§ Sir I. Coffin
expressed his conviction of the propriety of maintaining the marine corps at as high a rate as possible. It was obviously desirable that young men should be educated for the public service; for in the event of a new war was it tolerable that the defence of the country should be entrusted to such old men as himself, who had served forty years in the Navy, and who were scarcely able to step over a three-legged stool.
said, he should like to be informed why 8,000 marines were now to be kept up? Was a war now more probable than in 1817? In 1822 the peace establishment was larger than in 1817, while the country was labouring under increased distress. The difference was at least 200,000l. in the naval departments; yet, from 1817 downwards, the same empty promises of economy had been given, and the same constant neglect of them shown. There was the same pledge of economy, and the same practice of profusion. Why did not the country gentlemen, when so many opportunities were afforded, discharge the engagements they had made to their constituents, instead of trusting to the chance of a long parliament, and the amiable forgetfulness of their friends. He wished that the people of England could look into the House of Commons. Nothing under heaven could give him greater satisfaction; for it would save posterity from the innumerable calamities threatened by ministers. If the 643 eye of the public were steadily kept upon their representatives, there might be at least a chance of a remedy. The people of England did sometimes learn who voted on the opposition side of the House. Would to God they could see the votes on the side of ministers! That God-send, a list of a ministerial majority, would bring the nation to its senses, and ought to be posted throughout the kingdom. It would then be seen why, in 1822, a larger sum was to be voted than in 1817. He had some faint hope that gentlemen who had been so lavish of their promises out of doors would give some specimens of the performance of them within doors.
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, that if hon. members would look to the other parts of the navy estimates they would see there was a reduction equal to two millions. He hoped the House would not reduce any part of that useful body of men, the royal marines.
§ Mr. Croker
said, the hon. gentleman had omitted to take into his consideration 671,000l. the produce of old stores, which was taken in aid of the vote for the year 1817, and which in point of fact was devoted to the public service of the year, although it did not appear in the supply for the year.
§ The committee divided: For the Amendment, 53. Against it, 157. On the resolution, "that 532,350l. be granted for victualling the said 21,000 men,"
said, he saw very clearly that ministers intended to refuse every kind of information that could enable the House to investigate the subject. All propositions for inquiry were met by a direct negative, supported by the ordinary ministerial majority; and as this course had been pursued quite long enough for one night, he would move "that the chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Upon this, after a short conversation, the Committee divided: Ayes, 47. Noes, 147.
§ The resolution was then agreed to.