§ The House resolved itself into a committee on the Navy Estimates. After several resolutions had been agreed to,
§ Sir John Osborn
said, that as the estimates for wear and tear had been disposed of, it now became his duty to submit the votes for the ordinary and extraordinary service of the navy for the year 1822. He was glad that this duty devolved upon him. It a period when the recurrence of peace gabled him to submit to parliament reduced estimates for the naval service of the country, and to evince the disposition of government to reduce, in a considerable degree, the public expenditure. The 867 navy estimates were divided into two branches—the ordinary and extraordinary. The ordinary comprised the establishment for the different public offices, for the dock-yards, harbour mooring, and such services, together with the half-pay of the superannuation pensions, naval and civil. The extraordinary comprised the keeping and repairing ships, the expenses of dock-yards not otherwise disposed of; and in both of these divisions there was a considerable reduction for the present year. In the ordinary estimates, there was a reduction of 30,000l.; and in the extraordinary, a reduction of 771.000l. It was obvious that the reduction of some of the offices imposed an expenditure for retiring provisions; there was no increase in the half-pay of the ordinary, but there was an increase of 75,000l. in the widows' pensions. The other increase was in the superannuation pensions. In the principal departments of the navy in London; namely, in the Admiralty and the Navy pay-office, a reduction, as compared with last year, of 41,000l. had been effected; in the dock yards, 8,700l.; in the foraging yards 1,400l.; in the Victualling office, 10,200l., besides some reductions, which amounted to a considerable sum. There had been an increase of 75,000l. in the widows' charges, and of 20,000l. in the superannuation list, for the reasons he had already stated; but it fell short of the saving effected in these branches of the naval service. In the extraordinary branch, a great reduction would be found under the head of estimates for building and repairing ships, which amounted to 482,000l.; and 158,600l. from the expense of Sheerness works. He begged also to state that the new work at Sheerness would be completed this year; and that the only remaining expense would be for the old work, which could be gradually supplied. He concluded by moving "That a sum not exceeding 57,616l. 5s. ld. be granted to his majesty for defraying the salaries and contingent expenditure of the Admiralty office for the year 1822."
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
rose, on the question being put, and said, that he felt it his duty to renew his motion in that committee for the reduction of the grant for defraying the salaries of the junior lords of the admiralty. One of the objections formerly urged against his motion was, that the existing number of the lords of the admiralty board was the same ever since its original formation; and that, in fact, 868 usage and custom sanctioned the present constitution of the admiralty board. Now, that statement was not correct: the admiralty board was formed in the time of king William. From authentic information, he found that in the year 1702 there were but four junior lords: the same number continued in 1709; in 1714 there were five, and the same number remained in 1717; since then the number had been increased to six. A period of 47 years only had elapsed since that increase, and his first motion for their reduction—a length of time not sufficient to give the sacred character of prescription to the increased number. When they looked at the present situation of the country, and at the decrease in the number of ships and men required for the public service, they must at once be struck with the fact, that the time had come when this board ought to be reduced. Let them look at the number of seamen voted for the present year. There were only 21,000 men required, and 119 ships kept in commission. But if 140,000 men were considered necessary during the war, and 1,200 vessels, and if six junior lords were at such a period competent to transact the ordinary business of such a large naval force, it surely would not be contended, that the same number was required at the board when the naval force was reduced to 21,000 seamen, and 119 ships. He was aware it might be said, that not, withstanding the reduction, these junior lords could still find business enough to do in their office. Indeed, no man could doubt their capacity, if they pleased to find business enough for each other. The secretary and the junior lords might, for instance, spend their mornings in detecting what they called the blunders of his hon. friend (Mr. Hume), in calculating the navy estimates. They might work hard to assist in furnishing matter for the secretary's speech; but, useful as that employment might be, it was not improbable that they might be equally well employed in correcting the blunders of their own office: they might have enough to do in such an occupation, without devoting themselves to considering, in the spirit of prophecy, what his hon. friend (Mr. Hume) might say, when he came down to make a specific motion in that House. The junior lords of the admiralty might deem that a sufficient employment of their time; but the House might not quite coincide in the view they 869 took of their own utility. The constitution of the board of admiralty had already been under the consideration of different committees appointed by that House. The committee of 1797, had particularly alluded to the constitution of the admiralty board, and had suggested, that though during the war it was not likely the six junior lords, exclusive of the chief lord, could be reduced in part, yet that in time of peace the propriety of such a reduction might be considered. The number of clerks had, he knew, been reduced, but no alteration in the number of lords had taken place; not that they were required for any purpose of official business at the admiralty, but because the ministers deemed the continuance of their number too essential a branch of official patronage to be interfered with. In the reduction which he meant to propose, it was not the object of saving 2,000l. a year he most looked at; but it was the principle of the reduction for which he contended. Not that 2,000l. a year ought to be overlooked, or even 2,000 shillings, in the present state of the country; but it was the undue patronage which the ministers of the Crown were bent upon retaining, that was the most objectionable part of the transaction. On a former occasion, when he had brought this question forward, the noble marquis opposite had opposed the motion on the ground that the House ought not to entertain by anticipation a consideration to which the attention of the Finance committee would, in all probability be drawn. The House yielded to the noble marquis's view, and rejected the motion. But when the finance committee sat, and the question of the reduction of the lords of the admiralty was mooted, the consideration of it was altogether resisted:—"No;" said the committee, "it is withdrawn from our consideration by the decision of the House upon the motion." So that, according to the noble marquis, it was fit to entertain the subject in the House, because the committee would discuss it; and when the committee sat, they turned round, and refused to consider it, because the House had not entertained it. The noble lord referred the matter to a set of gentlemen up stairs; and they in their turn sent it down stairs: so that between the two efforts to have the subject considered, it was altogether left without discussion. But the report of the committee of 1797, whose labours had been the subject of so much praise, 870 specifically adverted to the propriety of considering the construction of the admiralty board in a time of peace. That time had now come; and the house ought to see the recommendation of the committee of 1797 attended to. Another ground upon which the number of junior lords had been defended, besides their services in time of war, was of so very ludicrous a character, that he could not help adverting to it. The admiralty board had been called a school for statesmen: it was described as furnishing a necessary step of political education, to prepare young gentlemen of aspiring views, for the efficient service of government in the higher departments of the state. He thought the gentlemen who used this extraordinary argument would readily admit that if any one branch of the public service required more than another the advantage of practical skill, it was the maritime service of the country. Upon the maintenance of its maritime greatness the commerce of this country depended, and for preserving it he thought no man would deny that much experience and skill was necessary. Not so, said his majesty's ministers: they told the country, that the maritime affairs of the nation might be superintended and conducted by young gentlemen who went to the admiralty board merely for their political education, and to learn enough business to qualify them for higher situations. One hon. gentleman had lately finished his education at the admiralty board, and was removed to the board of control: but it was odd enough that in the first preparatory school the young gentlemen, instead of paying for their education, were actually paid for receiving it, and when they were qualified, as his hon. friend was, for higher duties, he was transplanted to a board where he derived no emolument for his more matured qualifications to discharge official duties. So that he had perfected his education with a salary; and he was now developing the acquirements of it without one at the board of control. He would mention a curious anecdote respecting the duties of a commissioner of the board of control, and for which the previous qualification of the admiralty was deemed essential, with the additional excitement of a salary. An hon. member of high talents who was anxious to promote the views of government at the board of control, and to give his effective assistance in the progress of 871 its business, had applied for the office of one of the unpaid commissioners. The government admitted his merits, appreciated his talents, and conferred upon him the appointment. Anxious to give the assistance he had promised, the hon. gentleman to whom he alluded went down to the office of the board of control, and asked if his assistance was required he was informed that the president of the board was absent from town, and no business could be done. He attended a second time, saw some arrangements for business in the room, materials for writing were provided, and he sat himself down at the table, to wait the commencement of business in due form. He was at length asked by one of the persons in attendance, for what he waited? and he replied—"I am one of' the commissioners, and I attend to assist in the business." "Oh, sir," replied the person, "I know you are a commissioner, but you are not wanted at the board; you need not attend until you are summoned." "When, then, am I likely to be summoned?" "O, sir, I cannot tell that; but whenever you are wanted, you will receive a regular summons." The gentleman, anxious to know when it was probable his time would arrive, asked when the last summons had been issued out? The reply was, "About three years ago; and the probability is, that as long a time will elapse before another summons will be issued." According, then, to the plan of promotion, in removing an hon. gentleman from the admiralty to the board of control, the political information acquired at the former by business, was likely to be lost at the latter for want of it, if the summonses were not issued oftener than they now appeared to be. This board of admiralty was now considered a sort of vested interest. When a gentleman had a scat there, he considered it necessary to abandon other pursuits. A paper had been handed to him, which was circulated in consequence of the recent appointment to the admiralty board, of Mr. W. Keith Douglas, who had belonged to a most respectable mercantile establishment. It contained, in the following words, the notification of the partners in the mercantile concern, that the hon. gentleman ceased to belong to it after his admiralty appointment. This was the circular Mr. W. R. K. Douglas, being appointed to the board of admiralty, has ceased to belong to this establishment. (Signed) "Anderson and Co." But, 872 whatever might be the consequences as they personally affected this gentleman the committee was bound to consider the question in only one point of view, and to decide it upon one principle. The general distress was so severe, that the sentiment with regard to the necessity of reduction had become universal. The hon. baronet concluded by moving as an amendment, the substitution of the sum of "55,616l. 5s. 1d." for 57,616l. 5s. ld.
Sir J. Sebright
rose to give his support to the motion, and would take that opportunity of declaring his opinion, that the proposed reductions were far from corresponding with the exigencies of the crisis, and so he should continue to think, whilst there remained one useless office in existence. At the same time, he was most anxious for the preservation of public credit, and should be sorry to find the regular sinking fund so nicely balanced and adjusted as not to produce any surplus over the 5,000,000l. But he called on the right hon. gentleman to do what ought to be preliminary to the establishment of every sinking fund—to make all possible reductions. If, acting on this principle, they did not succeed in creating an effective sinking fund, he knew not how it was to be accomplished. He had on former occasions voted for a proposition similar in effect to this amendment. It might be said, that the reduction was extremely trifling, but they were now contending for a principle. It required no sagacity to discover, that although the lords of the admiralty might receive comparatively little themselves, yet as members of that House, they might vote away millions. Were they not subject to some influence, in their character as guardians of the public purse—of that purse, on which the continuance of their own salaries depended? If these offices were really and truly necessary, let them remain; hut what man in his senses could believe, that as many commissioners were now required at the admiralty as during a period of active warfare? There was nothing that had excited a stronger feeling of discontent amongst his constituents, than the existence of these unnecessary places. He trusted ministers would reflect, that they had been able to carry a most important tax only by a majority of four; and of those who voted with them, how many must be regarded as judges in their own cause! It could hardly be imagined that they were dis- 873 posed to reduce or destroy a fund from which their own allowances were derived. For these reasons, though no man could be more anxious for the maintenance of public credit than himself, he called upon the committee to persevere in the work of retrenchment. So far from being actuated by any hostility to the gentlemen opposite, he rather wished them to retain their places.
§ Sir G. Cockburn
observed, that every year's experience at the admiralty served only to convince him of the proper and due formation of that board. He should state the reasons that led him to think six members essential to its constitution. Some hon. gentlemen overlooked this propriety, from not being aware that it was a military board—that it was sometimes obliged to divide, and to act at a distance. Three of these commissioners might, under special circumstances, be detached to institute proceedings on board the fleet, or in one of the out ports. He said three for two would clearly not answer the purpose, inasmuch as a difference of opinion might arise, and there would be no immediate power of arbitration. As to the uselessness of the lay lords, as they were called, of the admiralty, he could assure the committee, that he had recently visited our dock-yards, and had received the most valuable assistance from one of them. Naval officers were not generally competent to the examination of those detailed accounts that came before the board; and it should not be forgotten, that the board were invested with a very extensive jurisdiction. If the junior lords were introduced merely for the purposes of political education, be should feel ashamed to offer a word in their defence: but the duties he had referred to evidently required to be fulfilled with diligence and authority. He should consider himself negligent of his public duty, if he did not express his firm persuasion, that the officers in question were essential to the due performance of the public service. Overlooking the occasional necessity of detaching part of the board to a distance, there was in London alone, ample employment for six commissioners. If they were to have but one lay lord, whose business it would be to be always on the spot, they would find no qualified individual who would undertake it. He ought to be, if not a civil lawyer, at least a person of general education and liberal attainments. From the time of the Revolution there never had been a 874 less number than six commissioners. If they were not necessary, he would admit that their long continuance formed but a bad argument against their abolition. The expense, it was confessed, was trifling; and as to the influence which they afforded in that House, it was a subject with the consideration of which he meddled not—it was immaterial to his reasoning; but with regard to the number of lords, the committee should remember, that when there was a lord high admiral, he was always assisted by a council composed also of six members to whom the same salaries were paid. The business before the admiralty was, in peace as well as during war, often of great magnitude and importance. Cases of civil law presented themselves, in the decision of which, although the assistance of naval officers might be requisite on technical points, the judgment of lay lords was most essential.
contended, that the number of lay lords was greater than the public service required. If it should so happen that, on some rare and particular occasions, assistance might be wanted, could not that assistance be received from some other public quarter; for instance, from the lords of the Treasury? When the hon. baronet had dwelt so much on the necessity of having civilians at the board, he ought to have recollected that the board had their law agent; that cases were regularly laid before counsel, on every question of perplexity or of interest. He would give his hearty support to the amendment, because he thought that after the navy had been reduced to 119 vessels (not one-tenth of the naval force kept up during the war), it was altogether monstrous to keep up the same number of lords of the admiralty. He saw in the list of reduction a sum of 2,000l., the salaries of discharged clerks; now, if the board could do without so many clerks, under what possible pretence could the original number of lay lords be retained in office?
was convinced, by the arguments of his gallant friend, that six lords of the admiralty were necessary.
did nut think that six lords could be necessary in peace. To convince the public that it was the disposition of the House to make a reasonable abatement of the public burthens, it would be of' the greatest service to make the reduction now proposed.
§ Lord Althorp
contended, that two lords would be as efficient in cases of inspection as three. In the few instances in which a difference of opinion might occur, the cases, particularly in a time of peace, were not at a Illikely to be of so important a nature as to require an immediate decision.
§ Sir I. Coffin
declared himself of opinion that the lay lords were necessary to the public service. It had been suggested that a lord of the Treasury might be sent for to their assistance; but did the hon. gentleman recollect that the admiralty had a jurisdiction over life and death, and might send a warrant by the post, signifying, "shoot that officer." Suppose a case of mutiny. He was himself once attacked by 600 mutineers at Sheerness, and he resisted them all. Lord Hood and the late lord Gardner, when lords of the admiralty, had very heavy duties to discharge; but if it were found that there was not sufficient employment for the lay lords, for God's sake let them be turned out.
§ Mr. Ellison
thought it the duty of every member to redeem the pledge he had given of reducing the expenditure by the abolition of offices comparatively useless.
§ Sir C. Cole
felt the strongest attachment to the service to which he had belonged from his youth; but the duty he owed to his constituents compelled him to control any feeling of partiality, and to vote cordially for the motion [Hear.] He could not see any sufficient reason for keeping up the present number of lords of the admiralty.
§ Mr. Littleton
supported the amendment, because he wished to support the plan of the noble marquis—a plan of economy and retrenchment. If the votes of members did not coincide with that plan, it would be wholly nugatory. On former occasions, he had voted for the continuance of the lay lords of the Admiralty, but the altered situation of the country warranted an alteration of his vote. A strong impression prevailed in the public mind, that in the higher civil departments there was still ample room for retrenchment.
§ Sir G. Warrender,
in justice to himself and to his colleagues, felt called upon to make a few remarks, upon the importance of the duties of the junior lords of the Admiralty. One of the latest duties he had performed at the Admiralty board was the administration of 300,000l. for Greenwich hospital—a task of great diffi- 876 culty and responsibility, that had always fallen to one of the junior lords. This business alone had occupied him many hours of the day. During the first two years of his appointment, he had only been absent for two months, and in the third a visitation was made of the out ports, which much engaged him. During five years he had not been out of town during the months of July, August, September, and October. In fact, the duties of the office so much interfered with his private pursuits, arrangements, and interests, that it had formed one strong ground with him for relinquishing a situation he had so long held, and with so much satisfaction. It was his conscientious conviction, that in time of peace the present formation of the board was best calculated for the public interest.
said, he should give his brief but hearty support to this as well as to every other practicable reduction.
§ Mr. Gooch
said, that as he had joined the small majority which last night supported the salt-tax, it became necessary for him to defend himself from inconsistency in now voting in favour of this motion. He was one of those who thought that reduction of taxation should not precede reduction of expenditure; but if at the end of the session, by the efforts of the House, the estimates were reduced, he should be the foremost to vote to reduce taxes also. He had listened to all the arguments in favour of the two lords of the Admiralty, and he was perfectly persuaded there was no necessity for them.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, that as he felt that the circumstances of the time called for rigid economy, and as several gentlemen whom he highly respected, had spoken in favour of the motion, he owed it to them to state why he was unable to agree to the proposition. The hon. baronet had, with the same intelligence as on a former occasion, pressed the proposition in the House on two grounds; first, on that of economy; and, secondly, on the necessity of reducing the influence of the Crown in that House. Now, as to the first point, that of economy, he did not dispute that the circumstance of the reduction proposed being small in its amount did not make it as a matter of principle of less importance. In fact, they had to balance the 2000l. a year proposed to be reduced, against the advantage of having the business of the navy done in the manner in which it was now 877 transacted. On this point, he relied for his opinion on those who were better able to form it than himself; and certainly no opinion was entitled to greater attention than that of his gallant friend (sir G. Cockburn); because, if there was a man in the House who was incapable of coming there and stating on his honour and his professional knowledge, an assertion he was not convinced of, it was his gallant friend. It had been said, that as the vice-admiral of Scotland had been omitted in the present estimates, it had been expected that the two junior lords of the Admiralty should have been omitted too. Now, the office of vice-admiral had been always acknowledged to be a sinecure; and had been abolished by the act of parliament as a lucrative office, after the vested interest of the earl of Cathcart had ceased. Now, as the earl of Cathcart had become according to law entitled to a pension for his diplomatic services, the ministers had stipulated with him that he should give up his vested right in the vice admiralship. This shewed that where they could, his majesty's ministers were most anxious to pursue economy. Now as to the Admiralty, it was an admitted fact, that the board ought to have the faculty of dividing itself, forming one board in London and another in the out-ports. A gallant member had felt this so strongly that he would only vote for the reduction of one lord. The question was, whether the savings that might he made by the vigilance of a board, acting promptly on so vast an expenditure, would not be of much greater consequence than this reduction of 2000l. a year? He went along with the principle, that they should apply to the public service the same maxims which applied to private concerns. In the latter post, it was necessary to provide for absence or sickness, and the rule was applicable to the former. The motion therefore looked like economy on the surface, but it was not, in fact, economy at the bottom. It would render the possibility of the existence of two boards at the same time uncertain; and, at all events, it rendered them inefficient in their operation: all the energy and effect derived from the second board would be destroyed. He hoped the committee would give him credit when he said that he could have no motive in resisting the motion but an anxiety to do his duty conscientiously towards the public. The topic had been so repeatedly agitated that it would have been a great relief to ministers could they have con- 878 curred with the hon. baronet and have received from him the cordial acknowledgment that would unquestionably have followed their acquiescence. He might he permitted to add, that there was no individual from whom he for one should have accepted it with more satisfaction.—He now came to the second point, the endeavour by this proposition to reduce the undue influence of the Crown in this House. He begged to caution the House, in the first place, against looking at this question in the view proposed by the hon. baronet. If a feeling existed in any quarter, that the influence of the Crown was too great let hon. gentlemen look at it like statesmen—let them look at it as Mr. Burke and Mr. Dunning had done—in a fair and manly way, and with the purpose of effecting an intelligible reform. He knew that it was contended out of doors, by those whose habits and station in life did not enable them to take an extensive view of the question, that the influence was too great; if it were meant to deprive the Crown of the influence fairly and properly belonging to it, the balance of the constitution was destroyed. Mr. Burke and Mr. Dunning had both been of this opinion, and had avowed it in their projects of reform. The statesmen of the present day, however, seemed to think otherwise. They attributed all improper views to the friends of ministers, while no sinister motives were allowed to actuate either them or their friends. No country gentlemen, no members for counties, could be supposed to catch any unkind or unjust feelings from the other side of the House, or be induced to believe that perfect purity and disinterestedness were to be found only with the opponents of ministers, while sordid and base views impelled all who voted with the servants of the Crown. He never would admit, that the motives of individuals on the ministerial side of the House should be interpreted as less pure than the motives which swayed the gentlemen opposite. As many feelings of sordid interest might arise from the desire of acquiring, from the eager hope of attaining, official situations, as from the wish to keep them [hear, hear]—and certainly, looking at the days in which they lived, those situations could not be considered as very enviable. Therefore the tone of exultation in which the hon. member for Hertfordshire (sir J. Sebright) had expressed himself on that and the preceding evening might have been spared. He would pass 879 by the observations of the hon. member, because he did not think that they would produce any effect on the House, either directly or indirectly. He must, however, protest against this mode of reforming the constitution of this country piece-meal. Had they been fairly told that the influence of the Crown in parliament was excessive, the question could have been met on a broad principle; and he was quite sure, that if such an influence were pointed out there was virtue enough in that House to resist it. But when an assertion of that kind was made, let those who hazarded the assertion state in what the alleged influence consisted. He would venture to say, that at no period in the history of the country had there been in the House of Commons so few servants of the Crown; and he would add, that at no former period was the popular influence so great within the walls of parliament. If gentlemen advised the abolition of particular places, on the ground of rigid economy—if they pleaded the necessity of retrenchment, on account of the situation of the country—they stated facts which might be controverted. But when they came forward and supported a motion like the present, on the ground of reducing the influence of the Crown in that House, they did not act with equal candour. In fairness they ought to point out what the influence of the Crown was—they ought to trace its operation to that House; and, whatever appeared to be beyond the standard which parliament formerly recognized, that they might bring forward as fit to be reduced. He objected to this part of the argument on which the motion was founded, on the same grounds which had led him to oppose the proposition of the noble lord (A. Hamilton) for a reform of the Scotch boroughs. The noble lord had stated, when he brought forward his motion, that he had no intention of changing the constitution of the Scotch boroughs in a political sense; but when they came to examine the details of the question, it appeared to be one of the main objects which the noble lord had in view. It was this indirect mode of altering established institutions that was likely to affect the constitution itself. He might trust to the good sense of the House, if the question were looked at openly and fairly, to prevent the adoption of any mischievous proposition; but if it were attacked piece-meal, the effect must be to bring the constitution into contempt and discredit; and parliament would, in the 880 end, cease to view it with that degree of interest and anxiety with which, had no such propositions been made, they would continue to regard it. Nothing could be more embarrassing to him than the vote be was called on to give that night. Nothing but a strong sense of public duty—a sense of what he owed to his own situation, and the confidence which belonged to rectitude of intention could induce him to vote against the motion. The amount was not, he knew, to be despised; but still it could not be considered of great moment to the country. Even in the times in which they lived, and feeling a sincere anxiety to support every reform consistent with the public welfare, he could not agree to such a motion. He could not assent to a proposition which was founded on a supposed excess of the influence of the Crown in that House, unless such an influence was proved to exist. It would afford a precedent pregnant with danger, and therefore he should vote against it.
Sir J. Sebright
said, there was nothing further from his intention than to impute a sordid feeling to the noble lord, who was the last man in the country to whom he should attribute such a motive. He had imputed nothing to the present administration as distinguished from any other; but he had observed, that every administration had a desire to keep patronage in its hands. If a question were brought directly before the House, whether the present ministry should be removed or no, there was no man who would more decidedly vote for their continuance than himself.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he had understood the hon. baronet to speak of the holders of office as giving their votes under influence.
Sir J. Sebright
said, the holders of inferior and sinecure places were naturally under influence, though he did not mean to apply his remarks to any individual.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he could not accept any compliment at the expense of those with whom he acted [hear!].
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
contended, that the influence of the Crown never was lower than at present; and if he was called upon to vote on the motion before the House, on that principle, he should vote against it. But if his vote was to be a declaration of his opinion, whether the business of the Admiralty could be done with a less 881 number of Lords than it at present had, he should vote for the motion of the hon. baronet. He believed it could be done with a lower number, and the circumstances of the times made it imperative on him to vote for the reduction of the public establishments. He thought the safety of the country would not be affected by the reduction of the Lords of the Admiralty, and therefore he was led to give his vote in favour of retrenchment.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
observed, that he had no personal objection to the gentlemen who now filled the situations which it was the object of his motion to abolish. He was actuated solely by a sense of public duty. As a proof that the business of the Admiralty could be carried on with fewer members, during the war two Lords of the Admiralty were at sea, and distinguished themselves greatly. He was much gratified at the support which the motion had received from the gallant member for Glamorganshire. After fighting the battles of his country, and covering himself with the glories of his profession, it was most pleasing to find him in that House combating for the best interests of the country.
§ The Committee divided: for sir M. W. Ridley's Amendment, 182; Against it, 128. Majority for the Reduction, 54. The division was announced, amidst loud cheering.
|List of the Majority.|
|Abereromby, hon. J.||Bury, visct.|
|Acland, sir T. D.||Butterworth, J.|
|Allan, J. H.||Calcraft, John|
|Althorp, visct.||Calthorpe, hon. F.|
|Astell, W.||Calvert, N.|
|Astley, sir J. D.||Carter, J.|
|Baillie, John||Caulfield, hon. H.|
|Bankes, Henry||Cavendish, lord G.|
|Barham, J. F. jun.||Cavendish, Henry|
|Baring, sir T.||Chetwynd, G.|
|Barnard, visct.||Cherry, G. H.|
|Barrett, S. M.||Clifton, viscount|
|Bastard, John||Colburne, N. R.|
|Bastard, E. P.||Cole, sir C.|
|Beaumont, T. P.||Cooper, E. S.|
|Benett, J.||Concannon, Lucius|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Corbett, P.|
|Benyon, B.||Creevey, T.|
|Birch, J.||Crespigny, sir W. De|
|Blair, J.||Crompton, S.|
|Bougliey, sir J. F.||Curteis, E. J.|
|Boughton, sir C. R.||Curwen, J. C.|
|Bright, H.||Davies, T. H.|
|Browne, D.||Dawson, M.|
|Bruce, Rt.||Denison, W. J.|
|Burrell, sir C.||Denman, Thos.|
|Burrell, W.||Dickinson, W|
|Doveton, Gabriel||Maule, hon. W.|
|Duncannon, visct.||Maxwell, J.|
|Eastnor, lord||Mitchell, J.|
|Ebrington, viscount||Moore, Peter|
|Egerton, W.||Musgrave, sir P.|
|Ellice, Ed.||Normanby, visct.|
|Ellison, Cuthbert||Neville, hon. R.|
|Evans, W.||Newport, sir J.|
|Fane, John||Newman, R. W.|
|Farrand, Robert||Nugent, lord|
|Fergusson, sir R.C.||O'Callaghan, J.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||O'Grady, S.|
|Fitzroy, lord J.||Ord, W.|
|Fleming, John||Palmer, col.|
|Fleming, John||Palmer, C. F.|
|Folkestone, visct.||Pares, T.|
|Forbes, C.||Parnell, sir H.|
|Frankland, Robert||Peirse, Henry|
|Gipps, G.||Penruddock, J. H.|
|Gooch, J. S.||Philips, G. R.|
|Graham, S.||Powlett, hon. W.|
|Grenfell, P.||Price, R.|
|Guise, sir W.||Proby, hon. G. L.|
|Gurney, H.||Pym, F.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Ricardo, D.|
|Handley, H.||Rickford, W.|
|Harvey, sir E.||Ridley, sir M. W.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Robarts, G.|
|Heber, Richard||Robarts, A.|
|Heron, sir R.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Heygate, ald.||Rice, J. S.|
|Hill, lord A.||Rumbold, Ch.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Russell, lord J.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Scott, J.|
|Hotham, lord||Scudamore, R.|
|Hughes, W. L.||Sebright, sir J.|
|Hume, J.||Sefton, earl|
|Hurst, R.||Shelley, sir J.|
|James, W.||Smith, hon. R.|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Smith, R.|
|Johnson, col.||Smith, W.|
|Keck, G. A. L.||Smith, Abel|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Smith, Sam.|
|King, sir S. D.||Stewart, (Tyrone) W.|
|Knatchbull, sir Ed.||Stuart, lord J.|
|Lambton, J. G.||Sykes, D.|
|Lascelles, hon. D.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Lawley, Frank||Tennyson, C.|
|Leake, W.||Thompson, Wm.|
|Lemon sir W.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Lethbridge, sir T.||Townshend, lord C.|
|Leycester, R.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Littleton, Ed.||Warre, J. A.|
|Lloyd, sir E.||Webb, Ed.|
|Lushington, Dr.||Williams, W.|
|Luttrell, H. F.||Williams, T. P.|
|Luttrell, J. F.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Lygon, hon. H. P.||Wood, Matthew|
|Maberly, J.||Wyvill, M.|
|Macdonald, J.||Western, hon. H.|
|Mackintosh, sir J.||Wortley, J. S.|
|Mansfield, John||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Wilson, Tho.|
|Martin, J.||Bernal, Ralph|
§ Mr. Hume
said, it was quite clear, from the documents which he held in his hand, that the reductions which were produced by ministers, were no reductions whatsoever, with reference to the principle which was contended for in the last session. The House would, perhaps, observe, in the first part of the estimates, a reduction of 7,620l.; but, in the latter part, they would find superannuations to the amount of 4,966l. There was, in fact, no reduction in the amount of any one salary. There was a reduction of 400l. for stationery, and a few other items, which made the estimate 2,664l. less than it was the preceding year. Now, in the last session he had been extremely anxious, that the House should consider the duties which the Navy-pay-office had to perform. On that occasion, he had read to them an extract from a report of the finance committee of 1817. In that report, speaking of the regulation of the Navy-pay-office, they say, "Your committee trust that the investigation of this subject will lead to the adoption of some more simple and effectual mode, being fully satisfied that any mode will be effectual in proportion to its simplicity and facility of execution." They went on to say—"But whatever system of examination be adopted, your committee trust that the estimates of the next year will exhibit a considerable diminution in the charges of the establishment of the Navy-pay-office. The duty of this department differs but little from that of an ordinary banker; and they are, therefore, perfectly satisfied, that the same number of persons, by which a sum of 22,000,000l. was received and paid in 1813, cannot be necessary for the receipt and payment of 6,000,000l. in 1817." The House would were see, that a reduction in the establishment was recommended in proportion to the reduction in duty. The House would recollect, that, by the pay acts, no money was kept in this office. All that was done by the Navy-pay office was, to receive from the head of each of the other offices a check, specifying the amount of money every individual was to receive in payment. In lieu of these checks the Navy-pay-office granted others of their own, which were presented at the Bank of England, and there the demand was paid. He had endeavoured to show last session, that this mode of proceeding 884 by check was unnecessary, and that the whole duty could be performed by half a dozen clerks instead of five times that number. And here he wished to observe, that he had heard, through the medium of the public papers, of a Mr. Tweedie, of the Navy-pay-office, who, it was stated, had left this country while in possession of a large sum of the public money—to the amount of many thousands. Now, by the act of parliament, if the duties of that office were properly conducted, no individual could at any one time be in possession of such a sum; and it was for those connected with the office to say in what manner Mr. Tweedie was enabled to leave the country possessed of public money to a large amount.—Officers who were of no use were, he observed, still continued. There was, for instance, a treasurer of the navy, but he had no money to keep [a laugh] for it was all lodged in the Bank. For many years, no reduction had taken place in this department; and, indeed, the estimate for last year was greater than that for 1819. Instead of any reduction being made in the present year, commensurate with the just expectations of the country, they had, in fact, only a reduction by way of superannuation. Individuals had retired on pensions who received 1,000l. less than when actively employed; but no saving was effected by a diminution of numbers. He would contend, that the amount of expense lessened was not equivalent to what the country had a right to expect.—He would now take the opportunity of stating his view of the plan of the chancellor of the exchequer. The right hon. gentleman had stated, that it was intended to impose a tax on individuals in office—5 per cent on those who had small, and 10 per cent on those who had large salaries. The country would not be immediately benefitted by this reduction; because it appeared that the sums thus levied were to be thrown into a fund, and he supposed a new office would be created, for the purpose of superintending. Some favoured individual would perhaps be employed, at a salary of 800l. or 1,000l. a year, for his labours in taking care of the fund. All these separate funds answered no other purpose than that of producing intricacy and confusion in the public accounts. He should submit to the House, therefore, that, instead of the plan proposed by the chancellor of the exchequer for forming a separate fund, they would 885 make an immediate reduction in the amount of the salaries. Let the salary of every individual, for instance, who now received 600l. be reduced, at the rate of 10 per cent to 540l., and the plan would be simple and intelligible. In 1813, individuals who had 1,000l. a year, when wheat was 100s. were subject to a deduction of 10 per cent for property tax, which left them a clear annual income of 900l. We were now arrived at a time of peace, when wheat was only 50s. a quarter, and yet, notwithstanding all the professions of economy which had been made by ministers, the chancellor of the exchequer intended, not to make any reduction of salaries, but merely to bring them back to the standard of 1813. This was neither fair to the country, nor conformable to the resolution of the House, and their address to his majesty, which pledged the House to make a reduction in all public salaries, proportioned to the diminished price of all the commodities of life, and the altered value of the currency. If the present salaries were reduced at the rate of 25 per cent, they would still be much larger than they were in 1813. This was a fair and intelligible proposition, and such as the country had a right to expect, after the pledge given by the house in the last session. He admitted that some of the lower salaries would not admit of this reduction; but the higher salaries ought to be reduced in that proportion. He saw no reason, for instance, why the treasurer of the navy might not perform all the duties of his office for 2,000l. a year. He should move, therefore, that the sum of 23,428l. he substituted fur 31,304l. and he implored the House, that as this was the first step towards effectual reduction, they would adopt an amendment, of which the object was, to reduce the salaries in this department, in proportion to the present price of provisions, and the altered state of the currency.
was surprised at the course of the hon. member's argument, not having forgotten what took place last year, when this vote was proposed to the committee. On that occasion, the vote required was, in amount, 7,000l. or 8,000l. more than at present, and the hon. member then proposed that it should he reduced to the extent of 10,000l., quoting in support of his motion the opinion of the finance committee of 1817, with regard to the very ordinary nature of the duties of the office. It was true that the com- 886 mittee did express such an opinion, but he ( Mr. R.) had taken pains on that occasion to shew, that such were the duties of the Navy-pay-office that they could not by possibility be performed by a banker. The treasurer of the navy had not only to pay the bills presented, but to decide whether they ought to be paid; and it was evident that this in a service like the navy involved no inconsiderable intricacy. Now, he asked the house where was the resemblance between those duties and the duties of a banker, who had merely to ascertain that the check presented to him bore the signature of the party entitled to order payment?—The treasurer of the navy was by law compelled to discharge functions of a most responsible nature. He might be brought before a court of law for refusing to pay an individual claim, which, if established to the satisfaction of the court, threw the whole expense of the court upon him. There were, besides, many other duties attached to the office, closely connected with the well-being of the navy. For the last thirty years the whole mode of paying the navy, including the half-pay and pensions, had been totally altered, and pay departments existed in many out-ports and distant parts in correspondence with the principal office. All this he had stated last year, and what he considered as so unintelligible in the hon. member's conduct was, that he then admitted, that after that candid statement, he could not feel himself justified in pressing his amendment. All that related to the inspection of seamen's wills, devolved upon his (Mr. R.'s) office. Last year he had invited the hon. member to come to his office, and he had pledged himself to convince him (which was no easy matter), that the business could not be done in any other office. He now repeated that invitation; and he assured him that if he came, he would spend three or four of the dullest days he ever spent, within the walls of that office. The manner in which the business was conducted, gave the highest satisfaction to those who were the objects of its peculiar care, and who would cruelly suffer, if at the suggestion of the hon. member, the whole system were to be torn down.—The hon. gentleman, however, said there was no reduction. But the filet was, that their had abolished three distinct branches of the department, and removed 14 or 15 individuals. Some of these were heads of 887 offices, in the trust of money. Now he wished to know if that was nothing. It was with the greatest difficulty the business could be done now; and nothing but a desire to act in the spirit of the resolution of last session would have induced him to go so far. With respect to Mr. Tweedie, it was true he had gone off with a portion of the public money. The hon. gentleman had said, that no money ought to have been in the hands of the cashiers. But there was a great number of bills to be paid on a certain day; Some to a very trifling amount, even below 1l. For the conveniency of paying those bills, a certain sum must he got from the Bank. Several of the bills might not be presented for payment that day, and the money would consequently remain in the custody of the cashiers. It was undoubtedly true that the person alluded to had succeeded in carrying off money. But there had been a surprisingly small loss for many years. Since 1786, 400,000,000l. had been paid in this office, and only 65,000l. had been lost during the whole of that time by default. Of the money thus lost 30,000l. had been recovered. Did the hon. gentleman mean to say that a cashier ought to he deprived of all emoluments from his office? He must find security to the amount of 4,000l. If he should have any property of his own, which, God knew, was not often the case, no sale could take place while he held the office. If, then, by cutting down the salary, all inducements for undergoing such obligations were taken away, they would destroy all chance of the duties being properly performed, or of finding proper security. Some of those persons had been in office 30, 40, and even 50 years. Would they now take their bread from them? He knew not what the feelings of the hon. gentleman might be, but he wished to God he had to communicate with the individuals whose services were dispensed with under the late regulations. He wished he was obliged to hear the statements which many of them had made to him of their personal situations; then, perhaps, he might feel, in its full extent, the calamity which was visited upon numbers of families. With respect to the superannuation list, the first name that appeared upon it was that of Mr. Fennel, who had served 49 years in active employment. Many of the individuals concerned had large families, and their 888 services entitled them to expect a grateful return from their country. He could not believe that the people of England would say that they were not in a situation to remunerate their deserving and worn-out public servants. The hon. gentleman had said, that the treasurer was greatly overpaid. He would not speak of the person who now held the office (himself); but, with respect to the office he would say that 3,000l. was not too much. In the first place, the treasurer had received the same sum for 150 years. In the second place, he was, on account of his pecuniary responsibility, placed under great difficulties. Did the hon. gentleman know, that the treasurer was under a constant pecuniary risk, and could not make a title to any part of his property? He could tell a case, in which it had come under his own knowledge, that actual pecuniary loss had been incurred in consequence. Many years, too, after he might have ceased to hold the office, he might not obtain a quietus, and could not sell an acre of land, or make a title to any property. To extend, then, such a reduction to the persons to whom the hon. gentleman had alluded, would be most cruel, most unjust, and most unfair.—If it were the wish of the House, however, to have the vote diminished, he would ten thousand times rather they would take his whole salary, than encroach upon those of the persons under him, who looked up to him for protection, in the possession of what they had so hardly earned, and the enjoyment of which he hoped would always be secured to them.
§ Mr. Ellice
rose, for the purpose of remarking on the difficulty of the situation in which the right hon. gentleman and others were placed in the present state of the law. He did not think, by any means, that the salary of the right hon. gentleman was too high. For his own part, he would not accept it with the responsibility attached to it. His only object in rising was, to draw the attention of the House to that particular subject. He thought such an alteration should be made in this oppressive law, as would remove from gentlemen in office some of the difficulties they were now burthened with.
was ready to admit that his right hon. friend must feel it a painful duty to suit the salaries of those whom the public employed to the circumstances of the times. But, in doing this duty, his right hon. friend would, no doubt, re- 889 collect the hundreds and the thousands whose property had been sold off for the payment of taxes. Families in manufacturing employments paid taxes out of their 7s. a-week. Persons employed in husbandry paid taxes out of 6s. a-week. His right hon. friend ought never to forget what the people suffered out of doors. He was not pleased with 25 per cent, or 10 per cent, or any per centage. It was the duty of ministers to look to every office, and to apply, not a vague and general scale, but to reduce some 50 per cent, and some not at all. Ministers seemed to feel no sympathy for the subaltern in office, when they deprived them of 10 per cent of their income by a property tax; they reserved their commiseration for the time when provisions, and almost every article of consumption, had diminished from 30 to 40 per cent. With regard to the office of his right hon. friend, the committee of finance of 1817, had stated, that the duty of his right hon. friend differed little from that of ordinary bankers. His right hon. friend defended the rate of his salary, and had given as a reason why it should not be reduced, that it laid him under great pecuniary penalties, and imposed great restraints on the disposal of his property. He (Mr. B.) disapproved of these restraints, and would gladly allow his right hon. friend the disposal of his property, provided he would accept of 2,000l. instead of 3,000l. of salary. In his opinion, all the high offices of state were too well paid. He agreed with Dr. Franklin, that the English government ought not to take so much from the people in order to fill the pockets of placemen. He hoped, therefore, that a general reduction would take place of all the salaries and emoluments of office, beginning with that of the king, and extending through those of the chief ministers of the Crown down to the lowest agent of government.
The Marquis of Londonderry
defended the plan of the chancellor of the exchequer for reducing salaries. When it was before the House, it would be found that no office had been spared, but that all had been revised, and most put on a new scale. It did not proceed on the principle of taking 25 per cent, 10 per cent, or any other per centage on salaries; but, after a laborious investigation of each particular office, it fixed its emoluments at a proper scale.
§ Lord Althorp
suggested that, as the 890 plan alluded to by the noble lord would be brought forward on Tuesday, the best way would be to postpone the farther consideration of this subject till Wednesday. He would therefore move, that the chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Mr. Hume
concurred in the motion for adjournment. The retrenchment proposed by ministers could, he said, neither relieve the pressing distress, nor satisfy the just demands of the country. The right hon. gentleman had spoken of the wounds inflicted on his feelings, in communicating to the gentlemen in his office the unwelcome intelligence that their services would no longer be required, or that their emoluments were to be reduced: but, had he no feeling for the people who paid those salaries, and suffered more severe privations? He did not yield to the right hon. gentleman in his sympathy for reduced public servants with diminished incomes; but his sympathy was not exclusively confined to the government offices. He felt for the ruined farmer, the distressed manufacturer, the people burthened with taxes, the landlord without rent, and the labourer without wages. With such a picture of the public misery before them, ministers were guilty of a dereliction of their public duty if they did not increase the means of relief by all the retrenchments in their power. They ought to come down to the House with a proposition to reduce the civil list 25 per cent. He had heard with regret in another place, a recommendation to country gentlemen to reduce their rents as the only remedy to the existing evil. But, when they reduced their rents, were placemen to retain their salaries at their full amount, and was the exorbitant civil list to be kept up? The honour of the Crown did not require the costly extravagance with which it was supported; and from all that he had heard of the heart of his majesty, he was convinced that he would be the first to propose retrenchment—that he would be the first to order a reduction in the trappings of the royal establishments—that he would be the first to propose a curtailment of useless splendor, if truth were allowed to reach his ear, and if he could see or learn the extent of his people's sufferings. He, therefore, hoped that the noble marquis would come down on Tuesday with a proposition to reduce the civil list, at least 25 per cent, and all government offices in proportion.
§ The committee divided on lord Althorp's motion of adjournment. Ayes 37, Noes 107. A second division took place on Mr. Flume's amendment; Ayes 28, Noes 99. A third division took place on a motion of adjournment; Ayes 23, Noes 91. On the motion for agreeing to the original resolution, the committee again divided; Ayes 94, Noes 21.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, lord||Hume, J.|
|Bury, lord||James, W.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Bernal, R.||Moore, P.|
|Barrett, S. M.||Maberly, J.|
|Concannon, Lucius||Palmer, F.|
|Crespigny, sir W. De||Ricardo, D.|
|Davies, col.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Ellice, E.||Wood, alderman|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Williams, W.|