§ On the Motion of Sir J. Graham, the House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply.
Sir J. Graham
then rose to move the Vote for the Navy Estimates, and begged to claim the indulgence of the House on account of his inexperience in bringing forward such details as it would be his duty on the present occasion to submit, which would be more especially necessary because, although his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, had recovered his voice, he regretted to say, that he had lost his. It would not be necessary for him to trouble the House at any great length, as he would at once proceed to the subjects to which it would be his duty and his desire to call the attention of the House. The hon. member for Edinburgh had, on a former evening, intimated that he (Sir J. Graham) had wantonly, and without any necessity, materially altered the form of the Navy Estimates; and he was sorry to observe, that a right hon. Baronet, who was a high authority on such subjects, had participated in that opinion. Now, he could assure those hon. Gentlemen and the House, that he had not willingly made any change, much less any change which appeared to him unnecessary. But, upon the best view which he had been able to take of the subject, it appeared to him that the change which he had made was not immaterial, and he flattered himself that he should be able to show the House that it was indispensably necessary. Last Session, the Treasurer of the Navy introduced a Bill, which afterwards passed into an Act, for regulating the payments in his office; and it provided that the payments 948 on account of the Victualling Board should be distinct from those on account of the Navy Board, and thus it became necessary that there should be separate charges in the Estimates. At first this appeared to him (Sir J. Graham) a matter of minor importance; but when he came to investigate the accounts and papers submitted to him in his own office, he was led to believe that it was a wise and salutary measure, as it prevented much inconvenience from the intermingling of accounts, and militated against the practice of throwing the surplus of one department into the deficiency of another. He disapproved most highly of this practice; but, in entering into some extremely reprehensible details of it, it was not necessary that he should inculpate his predecessors; for he did not say, that the practice of which he complained had not formerly prevailed. But although it was sanctioned by long usage, he considered that inasmuch as it was at once inconvenient, inexpedient, and unconstitutional, they should not hesitate to apply a remedy. To explain the nature and origin of this practice, he was compelled to go back to a period comparatively remote. One of the first Acts that succeeded the Revolution, by which our rights and liberties were so happily secured, was the Appropriation Act, which was introduced by no less a person than Lord Somers. By this Act the Commons obtained for themselves, not alone the right of fixing the whole quantum of Supplies, but likewise, a recognition of their right to appropriate it to particular branches of the public service. But Hatsell in his Precedents says, the Navy was an exception to the general rule; and it appeared, that down to 1795, when his book was published, the Naval Estimates differed from the other Supplies, and Hatsell assigns as a reason for this, that there is always great difficulty in forming the Naval Estimates, from the very nature of the service, which is exposed to more casualties than any other. There was the difficulty in obtaining information respecting ships on foreign stations; the quantum of repair needed by such vessels; and the many unforeseen circumstances against which there could be no provision, which were continually liable to arise, and thus create an expense that had not been anticipated. The sum for the service of the Navy had been voted under three heads; but the gross sum was always ap- 949 plied to the service generally. Within a Sew years afterwards, however (he believed in 1798), when Lord Spencer was First Lord of the Admiralty, Parliament extended the general principle of the Appropriation Act to the Naval service; and since then, the Appropriation Act had regularly distributed the gross sum under the several heads, according to the votes of the House; and thus was there no longer any difference between the Supply for the Navy, and that for the other branches of the public service. But although Parliament had declared, legislatively, that there should be no difference, yet practically this had been disregarded, and the gross sum was, as before, applied to the service generally. But he, after carefully viewing the subject, considered that the time was arrived to give full effect to the change which took place in 1798; and that the authority of Parliament should been forced, in the regulation of the Supplies for the Naval Service, in the same manner as it was in the other services. Holding strongly this opinion, it was his duty to bring under the attention of that House a few facts, to show the great and growing departure from the rule laid down in 1798, which now prevailed. He had no great abuse to lay before them, nor anything to state which might be, perhaps, properly thrown forth as an inculpation of his immediate predecessors; yet the matter was well worthy of the attention of the House; and though it might not be necessary to cast a retrospective glance, of a nature very strict and searching, upon this matter, yet he had no doubt it would be deemed advisable to turn upon it a prospective glance of the strictest scrutiny. He had to inform the House, that works of great extent in the department of the naval service had been begun, completed, and paid for, without the knowledge or sanction of Parliament, or without the subject having once been brought under the notice of the House of Commons. These works were paid for out of the surplus upon other votes, which were greater than was needed for the purposes to which it was intended they should be applied. There was a work at Weovel, near Portsmouth, commenced and completed, and paid for, by the Victualling Board, without any vote from Parliament. Indeed, the subject was never mentioned in the House but once, and that incidentally, when, last year or the year before, his learned friend, the member for Ports- 950 mouth, seeing great works going on in his neighbourhood, asked a question respecting them, in his place, and he was informed, in reply, that the proceeds arising from the sale of some public buildings in Portsmouth would defray the expense. The House would probably feel surprised, when he told them the amount of that expense, and when they remembered that it was sanctioned by no vote of theirs: the expense was 155,534l. There was another work of the Victualling Board that was of greater extent and more expensive. He alluded to the works at Cremin. This case differed from the other, because it was brought under the Estimates of 1826. But the vote then for the works was only 4000l., while, since 1825, 229,441l. had been expended. This he considered as excessive, the works having been originally contemplated when we were at war, and had 100 sail of the line at sea. Another work, begun, carried on, and finished, without the sanction or knowledge of the House of Commons, was one in the Isle of Ascension—in a foreign colony— and although it was of no great amount, yet, as involving the same vicious principle, he considered it worthy of attention. The expense was under 10,000l., and it was, as in other cases, provided for by balances unaccounted for to Parliament. Hitherto he had spoken only of the Victualling Board. He would next proceed to show, that the very objectionable—indeed, unconstitutional—system of appropriation of sums voted by that House to uses other than those specified in the voted estimates, was not confined to the Victualling Board, but also had been acted upon by the Navy Board. The first example he would cite in point was the expense of certain works carried on at Woolwich. The estimate for these works was 184,465l., the works being a wall and basin; and yet the sum actually expended was 325,908l., being very nearly double the amount of the original estimate; and, what was more, and what the House was, he was sure, hardly prepared to hear, the difference was made good without a vote or the sanction of Parliament, by a mode to which he should presently have occasion to direct the attention of the Committee. All that he wanted then to impress upon the House was, that sums of the public money were expended, and works carried on, without the sanction or knowledge of that House—a practice, he need not say, highly objec- 951 tionable—indeed, unconstitutional. The question was not whether these works were useful, or that expenditure on the whole advantageous, but whether any such expenditure should be undertaken unless with the sanction of Parliament. The next work carried on in this way, without the sanction of a vote of that House, was one at Leith—on which the Navy Board expended 7,908l., not one shilling of which was voted by Parliament. This occurred in 1829; and it might be in the recollection of hon. Members, that he had himself, at the instance of the inhabitants of Leith, urged the consideration of the works on the attention of Government. He had done so, but he never for a moment contemplated the expenditure of a single penny not specifically voted by that House for that distinct purpose. He stated this to anticipate any observations on his then apparently censuring an expenditure which he had himself approved of. The next item of public money expended without the authority of Parliament, was that of a ship building at Bombay, to which 26,240l. was appropriated last year without a vote of that House—the sum being taken from the estimate for the dock-yards at that place. The vessel—a seventy-four—would require 50,000l. to complete her—so that he should have to call for a vote for the expense of the current year—not wishing to follow the course of his predecessors, who, last year, took no credit for the 26,242l. which they did not expend on the dock-yard, and had the item under one head referred to another. He had now to call the attention of the Committee to a still more important defect in the system of expenditure pursned in the naval department: he alluded to the practice of employing more men in that service than the votes of Parliament sanctioned. Since 1820, the Committee would be surprised, he believed, when he informed it, that 1,500 had been constantly, and in one year 3,100 men were—employed in the Naval department, more than the estimates sanctioned. In other words, and this would make the matter tangible to the Committee, since 1820, 1,243,100l. had been paid for wages, more than the vote of that House sanctioned. A question very naturally suggested itself—how did the Government manage to pay this extraordinary surplus of expenditure over estimate? Whence did the money come, for supporting 1,500 seamen a year more 952 than Parliament had provided for? The answer to this question opened his views of the proper mode of bringing forward the Navy expenditure, under the distinct and sifting investigation of Parliament. The answer then was this:—To make good this extraordinary additional expenditure of the wages of 1,500 seamen, his predecessors in office had reduced, practically, the estimates for timber, and the materials for building ships, and for keeping our arsenals in such a state as that war should not take us at a disadvantageous surprise; that is, the estimates voted for these specific purposes by that House were not entirely expended under these heads, and the difference between the sum actually expended, and that voted, was appropriated to other items (that for the wages of the 1,500 additional seamen, for example), the actual expenditure under which exceeded the sums specified in the voted estimate. The Committee would not readily believe the extent to which this transfer of the surplus under one head, to the deficit under another head, had been carried on for years in the office which he then filled. Take the article timber and ship-building materials, to which he had just alluded, as a striking instance in the way of the expenditure being much less than the vote, the additional 1,500 seamen being a striking instance, on the other hand, of the excess of expenditure over the estimate annually submitted to that House.
Then in the article of army provisions, the voted estimate, as compared with the actual expenditure, stood thus:—
In four years the votes for timber and building amounted to £3,705,000 While the actual expenditure was but 2,675,000 Leaving a surplus of estimate over expenditure of £1,030,000
The annual surplus, therefore, was 200,000l., which being appropriated to other items, the expenditure of which exceeded the voted estimate; the general outlay under the head "Naval Department," was thus made to square one way or another as it came before Parliament. 953 Was this the mode, he would ask, in which the public money should be appropriated? or rather was that the mode of appropriation which Parliament should sanction? There were two facts connected with this system, which he thought well worthy of the notice of the Committee, The first was, the distinct declaration of the Chairman and the Deputy-chairman of the Victualling Board, in a report made to him, that it would be impossible for the Navy Estimates, in the large sense of the term, to be framed according to any other principle than that to which he had just directed the attention of the Committee; that the naval service was of that peculiar nature, so dependent upon contingencies, that it would be impossible to specify beforehand the actual outlay under each head, and that the thing must be done, in a manner, in the gross; the surplus of one item making good the deficit of another, and thus the whole expenditure squaring with the sum of the estimate. To this principle, so laid down, he could not subscribe. He saw no reason why the actual expenditure should not, as mother branches of the public service, be estimated so as to square with the actual sums voted, and why it should be left a rough guess, in which the surplus under one head should be employed to make good the deficit under another. He had consulted the law officers of the Crown on the subject, and they had declared the practice he had adverted to illegal, while he was persuaded it was injudicious. He, therefore, disapproved very much of the opinions of the Chairman and Deputy-chairman, and of the practices to which they had led, which, although not corrupt, might easily become so—the salaries of the public officers being part of the votes of the year, and a possibility existing of making a saving on one side account for a deficiency on the other. Thus, from what he had stated, it appeared, that large sums had been expended on Weovel and Cremin without the knowledge and sanction of Parliament, and that these expenses were provided for by the surplus arising on votes, which greatly exceeded the necessity under which it was presumed they were asked. He was now about to state something, in which, no doubt, his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, would fully agree with him. They had often together fought the estimates when announced for the current year, but they had omitted 954 one thing, of the necessity of which their long sitting in Opposition ought to have convinced them, they had omitted to insist on the means of knowing what was the actual expenditure. In 1829 and 1830, the attention of the House had been called to the defects of the Victualling Board system, and both his hon. friend and himself had too much neglected the details of the estimates, in their anxiety to effect a tangible reduction of the general sum of the votes. Had they not been too much occupied in pointing out these savings, they would have effected much benefit in investigating how fur the actual expenditure under each head squared with each estimate. The only remedy which he saw then was, to lay before the House annually a balance-sheet, in which would be specifically placed under each head, the actual expenditure of the Navy and Victualling Boards. Under the Act of Parliament to which he had early called the attention of the Committee, he felt himself bound to sever the expenditure of the two branches, now included under one head of Navy Estimates, into the expenditure under the Navy Board and under the Victualling Board, and his right hon. friend, the Treasurer of the Navy, had determined upon a still further division in his department. This severing of the items under the two great heads of the Victualling and Navy Departments, would be one great step towards the simplification which his proposed balance-sheet contemplated. He also meant to classify, under distinct headings, the expenditure of the several sub-branches of each department, such as the Navy, the Marines, Transports, and the provisions and means of conveyance of convicts. In proceeding to the estimates for the present year, he should feel himself obliged to submit a large vote for timber, and other materials for ships, docks, &c, in consequence, in a great degree, he must say, of the misappropriation in the four years to which he had more than once referred, of the sums voted for this, just now, very important branch of our service. He should have felt, he need not premise, great satisfaction if, consistently with a sense of duty, he could have proposed a reduction. But, he could not, consistently with his duty—feeling that these were not the times when short-sighted economy should be studied in our arsenals, and applied to our means of providing for the mainten- 955 ance of the honour and safety of the country. He should, therefore, have to ask the Committee for a larger grant, viz. 819,000l., under the head of Timber and Materials for the Ships, Docks, &c. than the vote of last year; and he should, besides, have to submit a specific estimate of 60,000l. for steam-engine machinery, for steam-boats of war. With regard to the number of men, although there was an apparent increase to the extent of 3,000, the House would be deceived if they imagined that any augmentation of force to that extent could, in reality, take place under the vote he proposed; for on the 1st of January, although the vote last year was for 20,000 seamen and 9,000 marines, he yet found, upon his accession to his present office, that there were 21,900 seamen, and 9,500 marines—500 of these being supernumeraries. The number was now less, and he asked for the larger number of 22,000 seamen, and 10,000 marines, for the express purpose of not keeping a greater number of men than Parliament by its express vote had authorised. He would keep a large margin in his accounts. It was not the intention of the Government to keep 32,000 men afloat, but he asked for the means of keeping up the force which he found in existence, on acceding to office, without violating that principle which the Government ought always to observe, but which had of late years been set aside. The total estimate of last year was 5,594,955l.; that, for this year would be, 5,875,386l., being 280,431l. more than last year. To explain this, it was necessary to premise, that whereas last year the estimate for men was but 29,000, while he then plainly asked for the full complement of 32,000, thereby adding to the estimate 101,000l. Then in the estimate for duck-yards and building materials, there would be an increase of 130,000l.; in the charge for workmen in the dock-yards, there would be an increase of 24,000l., and in timber an increase of 70.000l. over the estimate of last year. He had already pointed out the misappropriation of a portion of the sums voted for some of these estimates; he had shown that while some were more than the expenditure, others were considerably less; and it was his object to classify each bona fide expenditure under its respective head, so that Parliament might see with its own eyes the actual appropriation of the public money which it voted for the 956 public service. Now, to enable him to do this, it was but fair to state it was necessary for him to have a balance-sheet with a pretty large margin, so as to enable him to assort to each item its particular place, and to make allowance for those contingent differences between the actual expenditure and the estimate, which at the outset at least, and under the particular circumstances of the country, it was hardly possible for him to wholly avoid. In all cases, however, he should come forward and ask for the actual amount which he conceived the estimate required. In this spirit, as he had before-mentioned, he asked for 25,000l. for the line-of-battle ship now building at Bombay; for which 26,000l. was last year appropriated without a vote of credit. He had stated, that the whole estimate of this year for naval services would exceed that of last year by 280,431l.; but by the savings which he proposed to effect in his department, that sum would be reduced considerably. But, before he proceeded to describe these savings, he begged leave to remind the Committee, that a certain discretionary confidence must be left in him, as to a full statement of the grounds on which he felt it to be his duty to make the increase he had just specified to the year's estimate. The circumstances of the country at this moment would, he was convinced, suggest to the Committee a reason for a qualified reserve as to certain points connected with this increase. He was free to avow, that he could not, consistently with his sense of duty, recommend any reduction of the naval force of the country, such as, under other circumstances, external and internal, he should have felt himself bound to effect; but to this general expression of the fact he must, for the reasons to which he had alluded, then confine himself. In the civil department, however, he had effected reductions to a considerable extent. Of the ten Commissioners of the Victualling and Navy Boards, he proposed to abolish two commissioner-ships of the. Navy Board, at a salary of from 1,000l. to 1,500l. a year; two o the Victualling Board, salary 1,000l. a year; a Draughtsman of the Navy, at 35l..; and two Clerks, at from 300l. to 500l. a year. Then, as the Committee was aware, under the present arrangement, the salary of the Treasurer of the Navy was saved to the public, and arrangements were in progress for abolishing the office of the Pay- 957 master of Marines, and for transferring his duties to the Victualling and Navy Boards. In the different dock-yards also he had been able to effect considerable reductions. He reduced the number of Civil Officers in those yards by fifty-six; and this reduction, and after making due allowance in superannuations, would effect a clear saving to the public of 16,674l.
Estimate for four years £2,700,000 Expenditure for four years 1,895,000 Leaving a surplus of estimate over expenditure of £805,000
He also meant to effect a reduction of eighteen other offices, the salaries of which amounted to 3,050l., but for which there should be no superannuation allowance. In all, he had effected a reduction in the civil department of his office to the extent of 27,238l. As he had touched upon the subject of superannuations, he hoped he might be permitted to state, that after all he had on former occasions said, with respect to the improvidence with which they had been hitherto, in too many instances effected, it would not be then necessary for him to repeat at any length, the principles which guided him in effecting them in the instances to which he had just directed the attention of the Committee. He felt it would be impossible, consistently with a sense of right, to refuse a superannuation allowance to an officer who had entered his office on an understanding that, under circumstances, he should be entitled to it. He trusted, however, that it would be found that he was not too indiscriminate in his admission of these claims. His rule was, to allow just claims and length of service when the office was necessary; and in cases in which the offices were superfluous, his rule was, to abolish the office, but to allow a fair superannuation allowance. The latter would be but a temporary pressure, while the former would, after a comparatively short and yearly decreasing period be a general saving to the public. He had also carried into effect another alteration, which had been contemplated by his predecessor. There was a large number of public servants, who received salaries instead of wages. He had put 114 of these persons upon wages, and the benefit of the superannuation would revert to them on their retirement. The right hon. Baronet concluded with mov- 958 ing, that l,081,600l. be allowed his Majesty for the wages of 32,000 men, including 10,000 marines, for the service of the current year, at 2l. 12s. per man per month.
The present charge was £22,305 The Superannuation Allowance would be 5,631 Leaving a clear saving to the Public of £16,674
§ Sir G. Clerk
did not rise to offer any direct opposition to the right hon. Baronet's motion, but to correct certain errors into which he had fallen in his statement. He thought himself called upon to defend the late Ministry, and believed that he should have no very difficult task in doing so, since the right hon. Baronet himself had quoted the authority of Mr. Hatsell on the subject. The right hon. Baronet would soon find, that his vaunted constitutional plan of classifying the several items of the naval expenditure under heads in which the actual expenditure should accurately correspond with the estimates, as in other branches of the public service, would, owing to the peculiar nature of our naval force, and the numerous contingencies and intricacies involved in it, which it was impossible to foresee or provide against, be wholly impracticable. To the authority of Mr. Hatsell, no one was more willing than himself to bow with due submission; and in the present instance, he found that authority was in his favour; for that learned gentleman expressly stated, that in the estimates and expenditure of the Navy, on account of the difficult circumstances attending it, the House did not require so much strictness as in those of the Army. If he was not mistaken, the late Mr. Fox, when holding a situation at the Navy Board, had made the same statement. But the attempt which the right hon. Baronet was now about to make, had been made in America, and abandoned as impracticable. The American Congress was, even more jealous with respect to the administration of the public money than was the House of Commons, and yet they had abandoned the schemes which the right hon. Baronet was now about to try. It appeared from the Report of the Secretary to the American Navy, made to Congress last year, that such was the fact. By the way he should wish to know from the right hon. Baronet, how he found out that the law of 1798 regulated the Navy Estimates. That Act certainly enacted regulations with respect to the Bank of England, and their transactions with the Government; but it had nothing to do with the Navy. Up to that year from 959 the period of the Revolution, the expense of the Navy department was defrayed by a charge of 4l. per man, this charge, including the wages of seamen, the cost of ships, and other items of expenditure: but that mode having led to an accumulation of naval debt, Mr. Pitt, in 1798, proposed the plan which, under certain modifications, was in force till 1821. A change was certainly made then, but not such a one as the right hon. Baronet seemed to imagine, for in that very year the estimates were voted as usual, excepting that what was under one head, or gross sum, was divided into twenty or thirty separate items. The fact was, this was the only modification of which the mode was susceptible; and when the right hon. Baronet spoke of his great remedial balance-sheet, with its "wide margin," let him tell him, that the admission of the wide margin arrangement was a tacit acknowledgement that his plan could not be carried into effect, in the sense which they were bound to believe he propounded it. He repeated, that the right hon. Baronet would find the change he now meditated quite impracticable; the Americans had done so, and the American auditor of accounts had said, that they must take enough to cover all contingencies. The right hon. Baronet had called the system to which he had alluded a growing abuse. He denied that it was so. There was no corrupt purpose served by it. The persons who made out the Estimates always gave them according to their best means of information. He was, however, anxious to see the balance-sheet promised by the right hon. Baronet. The books that existed in the Navy offices had not for their object to shew the precise expenditure of the money voted. Those books had been constructed with the sole object of checking the receipts and disbursements of the Treasurer of the Navy. A change, however, had lately taken place in the books. That change was made by Mr. Thomson, the Accountant-general of the Navy who had proposed new books of accounts, of which he had no doubt the balance-sheet now produced by the right hon. Baronet, was the result. That mode of keeping the accounts was tried for the first time in 1826, as an experiment. There was a great doubt whether that experiment would succeed, but after various trials, improvements had been gradually introduced, till now, he believed, the sys- 960 tem had nearly arrived at perfection. Some time ago there was a Committee of Inquiry into the mode of keeping the public accounts, and the system now adopted by the right hon. Baronet was then recommended, and it could not be expected that when such a Committee was in existence, the Victualling Board would anticipate their decision. These wore the general principles on which he defended the conduct of the right hon. Baronet's predecessors in his present office. He would now give some explanations on a few of the items. The first of these related to the works at Weovel, near Portsmouth. The victualling establishment was carried on partly at Gosport, and partly at Portsmouth, and in consequence of that circumstance much inconvenience was often found to arise. The Lord High Admiral (for to him this change was owing) observing the inconvenience, proposed to remedy it by uniting the victualling establishments at the place which he had mentioned. Considerable expense was of course incurred in the removal of the two establishments to one point, but the Estimate now laid on the Table by the right hon. Baronet, certainly exceeded what it had been when he (Sir G. Clerk was in office. In 1827 (under Mr. Canning's Administration he believed), a Treasury Order was made, directing that no more should be taken, on that account, than had been taken in late years. Directions were also given, that the new buildings should be used as well as they could, and all the old buildings were to be sold. In consequence of the arrangements then made, the Admiralty was enabled to make reductions to the amount of 4,000l. or 5,000l. annually. The next case to which the right hon. Baronet referred, was that of Leith harbour. Upon that subject he should say that he wished the Treasury would suspend the works there going on, until a new survey had been taken. That work was, however, begun under the authority of an Act of Parliament. He had objected to it on a former occasion, and he had then been left alone in his opposition. But, said the right hon. Baronet, a sum of 7,000l. had been expended upon the works, without the Government coming to Parliament for authority to expend the money. If the hon. Baronet would look into the Act of Parliament, he would find that the persons possessed of certain wharfs at that place, gave them 961 up to the naval department. The Admiralty, therefore, no longer required the Dock-yard at Leith. It had therefore determined to sell the premises, though they were not sold yet, in consequence of the depreciation of property, which, owing to various circumstances, into which it was unnecessary to enter, had recently taken place at Leith. If the Admiralty had pushed the sale of those premises, instead of receiving 20,000l. for them, which they were worth, they would not have received for them at present half that money. This sum of 7,000l., therefore, ought to he considered as an advance of money made by the Government until the sale of the premises. There was another point in the speech of the right hon. Baronet to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee. The right hon. Baronet had said, that there had been expended on the works at Woolwich 320,000l., although 184,000l. only had been voted for them. Now the excess of the expenditure above the grant of Parliament was by no means so large as the right hon. Baronet represented, and arose from causes which afforded a sufficient justification for it. The work at Woolwich, on which this expenditure had mainly taken place, was not a new work. It was a wharf wall, of which it had been found necessary to alter the direction, because it created an accumulation of mud, and thus impeded the navigation of the Thames. In the course of the work, the dilapidated state of the wall of Woolwich yard became apparent. In the papers lodged in the Admiralty, the right hon. Baronet would find remonstrance after remonstrance issued by the Admiralty, insisting that no money save what was absolutely necessary should be laid out on that work. It was only last summer that part of the wall at Woolwich had given way; and it was deemed necessary to proceed with the greatest rapidity in getting it built up above high-water mark, inasmuch as it cost 50l. a week in pumping the water out whilst the work was erecting below the level of the river. Now, if the Admiralty could provide for that expense out of the aggregate amount of the Estimates voted for the naval service of the year, he thought that they were justified in so doing. The observations which the right hon. Baronet had made on the charge of 26,000l. for building a ship of the line at Bombay, admitted of an easy answer. In the year 1829, 962 a sum of 40,000l. was charged in the Estimates for the building of this line-of-battle ship. In that year, only 16,000l. of the grant was expended, so that, there was 24,000l. left in hand for the completion of the building of that ship; if, therefore, he argued the point, on the ground of the strict application of the sums voted in the Estimates to the purposes stated in the Estimates, he thought that he should be able to make out a case to satisfy the right hon. Baronet himself. If the right hon. Baronet would take the trouble of looking for it at the Admiralty, he would find the balance-sheet for the year 1829 drawn up in accordance with the fact which he had just stated. He must also defend the conduct of the Victualling Board against the sneers of the right hon. Baronet, for that Board would not have been justified in asking for less than 210,000l. last year. A large portion of that, sum was required for the expense of garrisons abroad, and the difference in price there, accounted in a great measure for the surplus. A portion of the fleet, too, had been employed in the Mediterranean, where beef might be purchased for 2d. per pound, so that the Estimates for victualling might be less without any imputation being deserved by the Admiralty of last year. As to the total number of men to be employed in the Navy, if. was the confident expectation of the late Government, on the return of the fleet from the Mediterranean, to be able to reduce that number from 32,000 men to only 27,000 men. They had not, indeed, made that reduction, because the time had not quite arrived when the late Ministers could carry their intentions into effect. It ought not to be forgotten, that the sum voted for the Navy last year was 5,500,000l., of which less than 5,300,000l. had been spent, so that there remained a balance of 280,000l. in favour of the country; that sum had not been disposed of, but remained in the Exchequer, applicable to any purpose to which the present servants of the Crown might think fit to devote it. The right honourable Baronet contemplated the drawing out of this sum, and contemplated, besides, the spending of 280,000l. above the amount of the estimates of last year. If the right hon. Gentleman doubted the correctness of this statement, he would refer him to the Admiralty balance-sheet for last year. There was, therefore, now in the Exchequer, a 963 surplus of 280,000l. destined for naval purposes, and as the right hon. Baronet now asked for 280,000l. more than was voted last year, the Estimates for the Navy this year exceeded the Estimates for the Navy last year by no less a sum than 500,000l. The mode in which the Navy Estimates were formerly drawn up, was clear and perspicuous; but the mode in which they were drawn up at present, was so fantastic, that it was impossible to make a correct, nay, he would even add, on the authority of the right hon. Baronet himself, an intelligible abstract of them. He denied that there was any thing in the Act passed last year which could justify the construction which the right hon. Baronet had put upon it, that it was incumbent upon the Admiralty to separate the expenditure of the Victualling Board from that of the Admiralty. As the Estimates were drawn up this year, it was impossible to tell what the expense of maintaining the 32,000 men, which the Committee was now called upon to vote, would amount to. Indeed, the Estimates were drawn up in a manner so confused, that even the right hon. Baronet had mistaken the aggregate amount of them. There should have been some palpable and paramount advantage to have justified such a deviation as the present from the ordinary mode of drawing up the Estimates. The right hon. Baronet had stated, that he had saved some superannuations to the country, by paying several of the individuals employed in the dockyards, not by annual salaries, but by daily wages. He supposed that the right hon. Baronet was correct in the law which he had laid down on that point; but he begged to know where the right hon. Baronet found in the Statute anything that warranted him in saying that a superannuation allowance did not belong to a salary of 149l. 19s. 11¾d. paid weekly, though it did belong to a salary of 150l. paid quarterly? According to this mode of reasoning, the First Lord of the Admiralty would not be entitled to a superannuation allowance, if the hon. member for Middlesex were to move and carry his motion, that instead of being paid 5,000l. a year he should receive 13l. 13s. 11½d. per day. In that case, the right hon. Baronet would, on his own principle, have no right, on his retirement, to the pension secured by Parliament to the holders of high and efficient offices. The right 964 hon. Baronet had told the Committee, that he had saved fifty-six offices in the dockyards. He had looked through the Estimates, and could not find those reductions out; perhaps the right hon. Baronet would be good enough to point them out to him. Though some reductions might have been made in the salaries of clerks with 150l. a year, he found that the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty still remained at its old amount of 5,000l. a year. This appeared to him singular indeed. He recollected, that in a speech which the right hon. Baronet had made from the Opposition side of the House last year, he had said, that if there was one salary more than another which required reduction, it was the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty. "What reason is there," asked the right hon. Gentleman, "that the father of my noble friend, the member for Northamptonshire, should have received a salary of only 3,000l. a year, as First Lord of the Admiralty, and that my Lord Melville should now receive 5,000l. a year as holder of the same office in a time of profound peace?" He did expect, remembering this observation, that the right hon. Baronet would have felt it due to himself to have begun any reductions which he might deem it expedient to make in his own department, by the reduction of his own salary. He did expect that the declarations which the right hon. Baronet had made on that side of the House would have turned out something better than vague effusions of eloquence, or fine specimens of noisy declamation. As a public man, however, and acting on public grounds, he (Sir G. Clerk) was glad that the right hon. Baronet had not made any reduction in the salary of that high office, and he hoped that the right hon. Baronet would live long to enjoy both the salary and the office. He might, perhaps, be told by the right hon. Baronet, that he had referred the consideration of the amount of his salary to the Committee which was then sitting upstairs upon salaries in general. But if such were the principles on which the members of the present Government were acting, why had they not acted up to the principle which they professed? For instance, in the case of the Chancellor of Ireland, why had they not referred his salary to the same Committee, instead of settling it upon their own authority? He likewise found that they had reduced the 965 salary of the Secretary of the Admiralty twenty-five per cent: but they had done more, they had reduced the dignity of the office. The Secretary to the Admiralty was not at present in Parliament, although that officer generally had held a scat there. He did not know that the Secretary to that Board might not be in Parliament next week, but there he was not at present. Then, again, as to the office of President of the Board of Trade: one of the reductions for which the present Ministers had taken credit was, that though the President of the Board of Trade was entitled to two salaries, as holding the offices of President of the Board of Trade and of Master of the Mint, he only received one salary. That regulation, he begged leave to say, was of long standing. The reduction which had been made, of two Commissioners of the Navy, who had been superannuated, he did not disapprove of. The declaration of the First Lord of the Admiralty was, that whenever they found an office to be useless, they abolished it forthwith, and granted the holder a superannuation. On this principle they had acted in some cases, where the reduction was uncalled for, and the office, in his opinion, absolutely necessary for the effective management of the public service, as in the instance of Mr. Tucker, the Surveyor of the Navy, who now received a superannuation of 666l. a year, and whose services would have been cheaply purchased at his former salary of 1000l. The conduct of the present Administration, in reversing the economical arrangements which the late Government had made with respect to the Commissioners at Bermuda and at Jamaica, was, in his opinion, highly objectionable. It happened that in the course of last year the Commissioner at Bermuda was obliged to resign his situation, and to return home, on account of ill health. Instead of filling up his situation, the late Government had ordered the Commissioner at Jamaica to repair to Bermuda, and perform the duties of both offices. No sooner had the present Administration attained power, than they ordered the Commissioner at Jamaica to return to his old post, and appointed a new Commissioner to act at Bermuda; and this, too, was done by a Government which professed a wish to get rid of patronage. He would not enter, upon this occasion, into the question which had been so often discussed, as to whether the Trea- 966 surership of the Navy was a sinecure or not. He thought it was not a sinecure, and would give a singular proof of it. It had been held by a right hon. Gentleman, now a member of his Majesty's Government, who thought it so much of a sinecure, that though he was a countryman of his own, which made it the more singular, he had not taken the trouble to see whether the balance of public money charged against him was correct or not. At the time when the right hon. Gentleman left office, a fraud was going on, and it so happened, that when Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald succeeded to the office, a defalcation in one department of the office, of no less a sum than 20,000l., was discovered. Adverting to the reduction of two Commissioners, one a medical and the other a naval Commissioner, which had been made in the Victualling Board, he condemned it in very strong terms, and asked what the Government would do when they wanted to send a Commissioner to the out-ports? But though the present Administration had reduced these two officers, they had created a new office for themselves. They had created an Accountant-general to the Board, and the right hon. Baronet opposite had placed his own private Secretary, who had been Assistant-secretary to the Cash Committee, in that office, over the heads of all the old servants of the public. Now, for an Administration which professed to discard patronage, this was indeed most extraordinary behaviour. He did not mean to find fault with the individual who had been appointed to that office — he believed that he was fully competent to discharge all the duties of it—but he was quite certain, that if the right hon. Baronet had retained his seat on the Opposition Benches, and the late Administration had made such an office, and such an appointment, the right hon. Gentleman would have called it a scandalous job. With respect to the reduction of the fifty-six officers in the dock-yards, he had before told the Committee that he could not find out who these fifty-six officers were; but he saw that among some parties who had been dismissed from those yards were some of the most scientific officers who belonged to them; and this, too, at a time when the right hon. Gentleman had put on his estimates a charge of 60,000l. for the erection of machinery. He begged the right hon. Baronet to go down to the dock- 967 yards himself, and to satisfy himself by personal inspection of the importance of some of the offices which he had reduced. If he did that, he was certain that the right hon. Baronet would soon find oat the necessity of replacing some of the officers whom he had removed. As to the amount of the right hon. Baronet's Estimates, the right hon. Baronet had told them, that it was impossible to make an abstract of his Estimates so as to compare it with the abstract of last year's Estimates; but he had accomplished that impossibility; he had made out an abstract of the Estimates of the present year, and should be happy to communicate it to the right hon. Baronet, if he would only do him the honour to cast his eyes upon it. The Government had asked last year for a sum of 5,500,060l. for the service of the Navy. In the Estimates of the late Government, the abstract was at the be-ginning, but in the right hon. Baronet's abstract it was put in the middle, at page 25 of the Estimates. The total amount of the present Estimate for the Naval head of the service;, was 4,657,000l. while lust year it was 4,396,000l. The increase on the present Estimate, therefore, was 261,000l. Now, with regard to the victualling Estimate, there was no abstract at all of that, and it was therefore impossible to tell, by the right hon. Baronet's Estimate, the gross amount of the victualling expenses. He, however, had made an abstract himself, and by this it appeared, that the total amount of the present Estimate, for the victualling department was 1,217,000l. Last year it was 1,198,000l.: so that the present Estimate exceeded that of last year by 19,000l. The grand total of the Navy Estimates for the last year was 5,594,955l., and the grand total of the Navy Estimates for this year was 5,875,386l. Thus, as he had already stated, these was an excess of 280,000l. beyond the sum of 286,000l. which the last Ministers had saved, which was deposited in the Exchequer, and which the present Ministers meant to apply to their own purposes. Thus, supposing they did not exceed their Estimates by the end of the year, they would have spent 566,000l. more than their predecessors in office Having made this statement to the House he begged it to be understood, that he did not object to the amount of the right hon. Baronet's Estimate, but to the manner in which the Estimate was drawn, and also 968 to the manner in which it had been introduced by the right hon. Baronet.
Sir J. Graham
could not help admiring the playfulness and good humour with which the right hon. Baronet had treated this subject, and assured the House, that he would answer the right hon. Baronet in the same tone. First, let him notice the observations of the right hon. Baronet which were directed toward him personally. The right hon. Baronet had thought it necessary to allude to what he (Sir J. Graham) had said, while on the other side of the House, with regard to the salary of the first Lord of the Admiralty, and had asked him, whether he still retained the opinion which he then expressed. In reply to this question, he had to assure the right hon. Baronet and the House, that his opinion on the subject had undergone no alteration; and further, that it was not owing to any omission on his part that his salary had not been reduced. He had already stated, as he was sure the House would recollect, that the salaries of all the ministerial officers in Parliament were under the consideration of a Committee. Under these circumstances, and considering that he was not the most proper person to fix the amount of his own salary, the amount of that salary remained unchanged; but he begged to assure the House, that he should consider any salary which might be awarded to him as larger than any humble services of his could deserve. The hon. Baronet had himself assigned the reason why the salary of the office of Secretary to the Admiralty had been reduced. The individual holding it was not a Member of the House, and consequently, Ministers had thought themselves justified in dealing with it without the intervention of a preliminary inquiry by a Committee. The Secretary himself, he was happy to add, was perfectly satisfied with the reduction that had been made. The hon. Baronet had alluded to what he (Sir J. Graham) had said respecting the noble Viscount who had preceded him as First Lord of the Admiralty. It was true that he had argued that, considering the difference in the value of money, the salary of that noble Viscount, when compared with the salary of his predecessors, was too large: but he was sure the right hon. Baronet would do him the justice to recollect, that the main point upon which he had objected to the salary received by Lord Melville was, that, along with that salary, the noble Lord held a valuable 969 sinecure patent place in Scotland. The great principle for which he had contended on the other side of the House,—a principle from which he had not departed on this side of the House,—was, that when an individual held a sinecure office, and an office to which duties and a salary were attached, the emoluments of such an individual ought to abate, like half-pay; and that officers who were in full pay ought not to hold civil situations with salaries. He had said, that, while they deprived a poor officer of 170l. a year, they ought not to allow an officer, who had 6,000l. a year as Secretary of State, to draw his full pay. He repeated now the opinion which he had given on the occasion alluded to by, the right hon. Baronet,—namely, that it was not decent for Lord Melville to enjoy the salary of First Lord of the Admiralty in conjunction with the emoluments of a sinecure office in Scotland. This was the chief point on which he had relied, although he had not waved the other point, which, whether he was right or wrong with regard to it, was certainly a debateable point at least. For the rest, then, the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty was, with other salaries, under the consideration of a Committee, and he would make no further observation upon it, except that whatever reduction that Committee might propose, he should most cheerfully accede to the pro- position. His conduct in this matter was before the House and the country, and by the House and the country he was willing to be judged, whether there had been any thing mercenary or inconsistent in that conduct. The next objection of the right hon. Baronet was levelled against the arrangement which the Government had made with regard to the Treasurer of the Navy. His right hon. friend who filled that office was present, and would be ready-to give an account of this matter. Allow him, however, to observe, that the only question for the House to decide upon was, whether the duties of that office were or were not efficiently discharged? If they were, the Government had saved the country, by this arrangement, 2,000l. a year. As he and his right hon. colleagues had contended, on the other side of the House, that the office might be arranged, so they had arranged it when they came into office. He repeated, that the only question was, whether by that arrangement the duties of the office were efficiently performed. He had some knowledge upon this matter, and 970 could state, that he believed the measures of his hon. friend, and the manner in which he had attended to the business of this department, would be found productive of very beneficial results. He had not charged the late Government with opposition to economical arrangements; but he had said, and he would repeat it, that in all cases in which seats in Parliament were attached to offices, there had never been an Administration more tenacious of retaining such offices than the late Administration was. The present Government, therefore, had acted, with regard to this office, in perfect consistency with the opinions which they had expressed while out of office. The right hon. Baronet had next blamed him for doing away with one of the Surveyors of the Navy. The right hon. Baronet had asserted, that the Surveyor of the Navy had much more labour to perform than he could possibly get through. Now ho. had the best authority for saying, that the right hon. Baronet was mistaken in this. That authority was the authority of the gentleman who filled the office, and who was probably as good a judge of the nature of the labours which he had to discharge as the right hon. Baronet could possibly be. Besides, if he were not very much mistaken, there was a special Admiralty order, that the individual whom he had superannuated should not visit the outports, and that, consequently, all the efficient duties of the two were performed by the present Surveyor. He now came to what the right hon. Baronet had said with regard to the Commissioners of Jamaica and Bermuda. The right hon. Baronet had said, that the Commissioner of Bermuda resigned in the course of the last summer, and that the late Government had appointed one gentleman to act as Commissioner for Bermuda and Jamaica. Now it did so happen, that when he accepted office, only a few months ago, there was both a Commissioner of Bermuda and a Commissioner of Jamaica. The Commissioner for Bermuda was at home sick, and subsequently resigned, but he had not resigned when he (Sir J. Graham) came into office. Then came the question of the manner in which he had filled up the office. Here again the right hon. Baronet had fallen into a very important misstatement, and said, that he (Sir J. Graham) had superannuated the Commissioner for Jamaica. Upon this misstatement the right hon. Baronet had founded a charge against him of being 971 desirous of patronage and influence, and of not hesitating to gratify his desire at the public expense. Now what was the fact? The fact was, that the Commissioner of Jamaica, who was a relative of a gallant officer opposite, had only been appointed two years, and was not entitled to any superannuation. He need hardly say, therefore, that that gentleman had not been superannuated. In making the appointment which he had made, he had proceeded as he in his conscience believed he ought to have proceeded. A gallant officer, whose wounds, and services, and years, entitled him to the notice of Government,—he was sure that he need only mention the name of the gallant officer to whom he alluded, and the House would readily concur in this observation, he meant Captain Usher—had been offered by him a frigate soon after he came into office. Captain Usher, however, told him that he was unfit to go to sea; that he was oppressed by his wounds, and that his sufferings and constitution required another climate. Upon this representation, he had thought that he was performing only an act of fairness and of justice to a gallant man, in appointing Captain Usher, there being no charge for superannuation, to the post which Commissioner Inglis had resigned. So much, therefore, for his love of patronage, his desire of influence, and his not hesitating to burthen the country with an unnecessary charge. From this subject the right hon. Baronet had proceeded to animadvert upon the alterations which had been made in the victualling department. Now, the theory for which he had contended on the other side of the House,— a theory which he had found abundantly confirmed even by the little experience he had had,—was, that the best security which the public had for the good conduct of its servants was undivided responsibility. Upon coming into office, he had found two medical Commissioners, and, considering that number just the most improper one, and finding that one of them was ready to resign, it had been thought proper not. to fill up the vacancy which this resignation made. The right hon. Baronet had asked, "what will you do with one medical Commissioner, when you want to send to the outports?" He would tell the right hon. Baronet. There were two surgeons and one physician attached to Greenwich Hospital, and their 972 services would be available on any such occasion as that to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded. Now he should be perfectly willing that the character of his administration of naval affairs should be judged of by the propriety or the impropriety of that single circumstance with regard to the Victualling Board which the right hon. Baronet had so unjustly stigmatised. It did so happen, that, by the constitution of the Board, the deputy-chairman was chairman of accounts; and, without meaning the slightest disrespect to naval gentlemen, he must say, that if the gallant members of that profession were less fit for any one service than for another, that service was, presiding over public accounts. The Chairman was old, was entitled to superannuation and to his pay, and it was thought that it would be desireable that he should retire. The gentleman to whose appointment the right hon. Baronet had alluded had been Secretary to the cash department of the Board. When he came into office, he applied to two near relatives of his, who were attached to public departments, —they were his uncles,—and telling them that he, without experience had been called to an office of great importance, connected with which were very intricate accounts, —accounts which, from the reports of that House, he had reason to believe had been by no means well managed,—telling them this, he had entreated them to name to him some gentleman upon whom he could rely,—some gentleman of tried skill, and experience, and integrity, promising them that he would appoint such gentleman his Private Secretary. His two relatives concurred in naming the gentleman to whom the right hon. Baronet had referred; that gentleman, moreover, had been favourably mentioned in the report of the Commissioners for keeping the public accounts, and also in reports of Committees of that House. In making this appointment, however, he had been misled. He had thought that the private Secretary of the first Lord of the Admiralty would be able, without inconvenience, to fill another place besides. And why had he thought so? How had he been led into this mistake? It was because the private Secretary of his predecessor had been a Commissioner of the Victualling Board, and had held some other place besides. However, he had soon found, that to retain other places was altogether incom- 973 patible with the office of private Secretary to the first Lord of the Admiralty; and the moment in which he made this discovery, he had dismissed the gentleman, and placed him in a situation for which he knew that gentleman was competent; although, by taking this course, he entailed on himself much additional labour—and that, too, labour which he feared that, from his inexperience, he might not discharge as efficiently as it ought to be. He appealed, therefore, to the House, whether he was not justified in this. He appealed to the House whether this was such a transaction as, if it had occurred while he was on the other side of the House, he should have stigmatized as a scandalous job? Let him tell the right hon. Baronet, that the transactions which he had felt it his duty to bring under the notice of the House, while he sat on the benches opposite, were of a very different character to this. With respect to the contract with the inhabitants of Leith), he had pressed for the completion of that contract. He had taken this course, because he thought the contract was a special contract, and that, having been once entered into, it would have been unjust not to complete it. True it was, that he had considered it, and that he did now consider it, to be one of the most improvident bargains that had ever been entered into; but it was now too late to consider that: It had been entered into, and ought, in his opinion, to be completed. The objections which he had made to other works were not on the score of their not being useful; and in demonstrating the utility of them, therefore, the right hon. Baronet had not answered the case which he had laid before the Committee. He had objected to such works having been undertaken and carried on without the sanction and without the knowledge of that House, a proceeding which no Government could justify before the House of Commons. The very existence of some of the works had not been communicated to the House of Commons. Now, with regard to the works at Weovel, he had moved for an account of the sums of money which had been voted by Parliament for defraying the expenses of the works at Weovel, and also of the sums which had been expended on those works, which was as follows:
In 1827 the sum voted £1430, expended £2,592 In 1828 the sum voted nil, expended 14,035
It appeared, therefore, that large sums had been expended on those works in the last three years, though Parliament had voted no sums for that purpose. The expenditure might be proper, but what he contended for was, that it was unconstitutional unless the sanction of Parliament had been obtained. With regard to the estimate which he had laid upon the Table, he had admitted the other night that it was almost impossible to compare this estimate, in the details, with the estimates of former years; but he had branched all the expenses, and he had made out a balance-sheet. If the House would insist upon the estimates being drawn in this manner for the future, the comparison would always be ready and easy, and not encumbered with the difficulties which attached to the comparison of former estimates,—difficulties which arose entirely from the manner in which the estimates had been drawn hitherto. Allow him also to observe, that this estimate had not, like some estimates, been framed in a private room, and carefully kept from the inspection of his colleagues, but it had been submitted to the whole Board; it had received their concurrence, and the changes which had taken place had been made by their advice and with their approbation. And here let him observe, with regard to some of the minor changes to which the right hon. Baronet had objected, that the Board of Admiralty, which was now composed of naval officers, was at least as competent to judge of how many persons it was necessary to employ in dock-yards, and in other ways, as the right hon. Baronet could possibly be. Thus, then, he would dismiss the objections of the right hon. Baronet. But the right hon. Baronet had, he must say, made a very feeble defence of what he had characterized—and he appealed to the House if the character was not a just one—as unconstitutional proceedings. The right hon. Baronet had said, that it was quite impossible to frame an accurate estimate, and seemed to think, that he had pointed out a mode, which was not very exceptionable, when he proposed to ask for a sufficiently large sum to cover all demands, though he found it impossible to point out what those demands would be. What, asked the right hon. Baronet, would the Government do on a sudden emergency, if they had obtained only such 975 a supply as could cover obvious and enumerated wants? He would tell the right hon. Baronet what any constitutional Ministry would do. They would do one of two things:—they would come down to that House, explain the emergency, and ask for extraordinary aid; or, if Parliament were not sitting, they would be base and cowardly Ministers if they did not incur the necessary expense on their own responsibility, assemble the Parliament without loss of time, and take the Commons of England into their councils. This done, they would be indemnified if they were found to have acted right; and if they had acted wrong, they would meet with the fate they deserved, by being spurned by the House, and, as a necessary consequence, dismissed from their offices by the Crown. Such, in his humble opinion, would be the conduct of a constitutional Ministry; and he had therefore no hesitation in rectifying—as he believed he was in duty bound to rectify—every thing which he saw wrong, without reference to any prospective emergency. He knew that he had given the right hon. Baronet an advantage, by producing, for the first time, an estimate which, at the first glance, did not appear to be one of the clearest. Yet, after much deliberation, he could state with confidence, that if the House would pass it, insist upon this estimate being drawn in the same way for the future, and then, in every subsequent year, compare the items, and demand how each individual sum had been expended, every hon. Gentleman would be able henceforward to understand the Navy Estimates, which was more, he believed, than many hon. Gentlemen could say he had been able to do in former years. This had been his principal object: and if it were effected, the obvious consequence would be, a facility of checking abuses, and of preventing the misapplication of the Supplies. If he were to go out of office to-morrow, he should have the consolation of knowing that he had applied a remedy to such abuses for the future; and to effect this was far more congenial to his taste and disposition, than to indulge in useless recriminations. He did not mean to say that the present estimate was without defects, but, admitting these, he could not despair of its producing the good effects he had anticipated.
In 1829 the sum voted nil, expended 53,000 In 1830 the sum voted nil, expended 85,000
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
rose, as he had been referred to, to express his belief, that 976 it was within the power of one individual competently to discharge the duties of those offices which he had the honour to hold conjointly. The duties of the Treasurer to the Navy consisted in a general supervision of all that passed in his office— of an examination into the accounts of the several pay-offices, and of the warrants, from a neglect of which the public had suffered very seriously. His duty was also to examine the balances, and to check the mode in which the accounts were kept. The office of Treasurer of the Navy had been greatly changed since last year. Before last year there had been a Paymaster of the Navy, who performed many of the duties which he maintained the Treasurer himself should discharge. The hon. Baronet had alluded to the want of superintendence on the part of the Treasurer; and he must admit, that the hon. Baronet would be justified in complaining", if the Treasurer did not give that attention and examination to the accounts which was necessary to the public service. The hon. Baronet had asked, whether the Treasurer of the Navy got rid of the responsibility with respect to pecuniary matters, and whether that also was thrown on the person who should perform the minor duties of the office? To this he answered, that, as Treasurer, he should get rid of no part whatever of the responsibility that ever attached to the office, and that the officer alluded to had no responsibility as to money matters. He had no means of defrauding the public, and therefore no security was expected from him; whilst the cashiers, having pecuniary responsibility, were bound to give the public ample security. Having stated the manner in which it was intended that the minor duties of the office should be discharged, he thought he might appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in office (Mr. F. Lewis), whether many of the duties of the Treasurer might not be performed by an assistant, without the Paymaster? He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman, whether some of those duties ought not rather to be performed by such an officer than by a Paymaster? The right hon. Gentleman had experience, and knew whether the minor duties might not be performed by a clerk; and whether it was worth while for the public, that a person holding such a situation as that of Treasurer of the Navy should perform such unimportant duties. Many of those duties 977 did not require the attendance of such a responsible servant of the public as the Treasurer of the Navy. This observation brought him to the consideration of the alteration which had taken place in the office last year. He and those with whom he acted, when at the other side of the House, always maintained that the office of Treasurer of the Navy might be joined with some other office, and that the Paymaster should be retained. The late Government, however, with the anxious desire which was always manifested by it to retain parliamentary patronage, abolished the effective office, that of Paymaster, and entailed upon the Treasurer the performance of duties which, if he might be allowed to use the expression, were below a the rank of the officer holding such a responsible situation. There were a variety of minor details, however, which could not be performed by the Treasurer, and should be performed by a clerk. By the arrangement of last year, a proposal for a saving to the public was resisted. By the arrangement now made, there would be a saving to the public of 2,000l. a year— minus, perhaps, a small sum of 200l., as an addition of salary to the officer who performed the minor duties. Of his own performance of the duties of the office it would not become him to speak. Perhaps he might not be found competent to perform those duties. He did assure the House, however, that he had an earnest desire to discharge them; and, though he might not succeed, he was sure that many other individuals might be found who were adequate to the discharge of the duties which properly belonged to the office of Treasurer of the Navy, as well as the duties belonging to the other office he had the honour of holding.
§ Mr. Frankland Lewis, having been directly appealed to, felt himself called upon to trespass on the House for a few minutes. He would pass by the allusion made to the arrangement of last year, as the subject was then very fully discussed, and would come at once to the footing on which the office was now placed, being held by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. P. Thomson) in conjunction with another very important office. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would concur with him when he said, that the office which he held must give full occupation to his time and thoughts. He admitted that a considerable part of the duties of the office 978 of Treasurer of the Navy were of minor importance, and he did not dispute that the right hon. Gentleman might occupy a portion of his time in the discharge of the most important duties, and exercise a useful control over the accounts. A person so conversant with accounts, and one so competent to understand them, as the right hon. Gentleman no doubt was, might be enabled to see that all was going on smoothly to prevent any abuses; but the country could not expect that the office of Treasurer of the Navy would always be filled by a person so competent. Although the arrangement which had been made was not precisely what he should have suggested, yet he could not avoid saying, that he was glad the ancient and honourable office of Treasurer of the Navy had not been abolished, not because the office was ancient and honourable merely, but also because it was important. If the Treasurer of the Navy was not a responsible person, known by his character in that House, and if the House ever should be unwise enough to trust the discharge of the duties of the office, and the large sum of money necessarily under the control of the Treasurer of the Navy, to any person of a lower class than hitherto filled the office, many years would not elapse before the House and the country would have occasion to regret such a course of proceeding. The country was now at peace, but it should be prepared for a war again; and when that event took place, considering the important interests confided to the Treasurer, he hoped the House would never be induced to trust the performance of those duties to the senior clerk of the Treasurer's department. No doubt, at present, the duty might be partly discharged by the right hon. Gentleman, and the other part by the senior clerk of the Treasurer's department. That individual had now to execute nine-tenths of the duties formerly performed by the Paymaster of the Navy. He did not deny that there was a great deal of the ordinary correspondence of the office which the right hon. Gentleman need not attend to; but yet ho did not think that the whole correspondence ought to be thrown on the senior clerk. The person who now performed what were called the minor duties was highly respectable, intelligent, and competent, but the Treasurer could not always depend upon having such a man at his disposal. Besides, there were ques- 979 tions as to prize money, and arrears of wages, involving points of law, coming constantly under consideration; and as these questions arose in many cases out of claims made by seamen, it was important to see that the claimants had what was due to them, and that their rights were carefully, fairly, and honourably examined into. These were amongst the duties of the office, and he might be permitted to say, that duties so important should be discharged by an individual somewhat above a chance clerk. If the duties of the office were to be performed by the senior clerk, he hoped some addition would be made to that officer's salary, to enable the Treasurer at all times to secure the services of a competent person. These observations he made upon the understanding that the arrangement now made was not one of a transitory character.
reminded the House, that it had been entertained for some time past by a kind of interlude. The discussion as to the office of Treasurer of the Navy might have been very proper when the vote was called for for the Navy Pay-office; but, on this occasion, it only took off attention from a subject far more important. After the statements of the right hon. Baronet who now brought forward the Estimates, and the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Clerk) who formerly submitted them to the House, he (Mr. Hume) was most anxious distinctly to express his opinion. The right hon. Baronet below him (Sir George Clerk) had, as he conceived, very adroitly led away and engrossed the attention of the House, by entering into a number of minor details as to the Estimates laid before the House. In order to show that his attention was not to be led away, he could assure the right hon. Baronet, that he could not jump to the same conclusion which the right hon. Baronet had done, as to the imperfections and inaccuracies which appeared in the new Estimates, and the unsatisfactory manner in which they were prepared. If he knew any thing of what an estimate ought to be, it should inform them what they were called upon to vote, the amount, and what purpose it was to be applied to. This was what an estimate ought to be; but, if he understood rightly what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), for a series of years the Members of that House had been the dupes of fallacious accounts and statements laid be- 980 fore them by Ministers. If the Commons of England could not depend on the matters laid before them by Ministers — if they could not place implicit confidence in the accounts and returns laid before them, there was an end to all security for the public. He was not to be told that it was for the convenience of this or that department that the misapplication of the public money, now disclosed by the First Lord of the Admiralty should take place. He was not to be told that such a misapplication might be necessary in the exigency of a war. There was no war since the misapplication had taken place, and no reason was given to justify proceedings so contrary to law and to the custom of Parliament. He hoped the House would not run away from this subject, as it appeared it had done, by the cheers which followed the conclusion of the right hon. Baronet's (Sir George Clerk's) speech. That right hon. Baronet admitted that he could find no fault with the new Estimate as regarded the Admiralty-office, or the Navy-office, or the Pay-office; but yet he came to this, as to a kind of climax, that the Estimate now brought forward was not worthy of any consideration, if viewed as an improved arrangement. It had been asserted,— and that was one of the objections made against those Estimates,—that the labourers' wages were included in the scientific department. Such was not the case, The total Estimate for that department amounted to 20,276l. for the Royal Naval College, the School for Naval Architecture, the Royal Observatory, the Observatory at the Cape, chronometers, for rewards, experiments, and other expenses; for extra pay to his Majesty's ship Chanticleer, employed in a scientific expedition, and for the hydrographical department; and with the exception of the wages of two labourers, one employed at the Royal Observatory, and the other at the Observatory at the Cape, there were no labourers' wages included in that department. With regard to the arrangement as to the Victualling-office, he would admit that there had been an error committed. The abstract of part the first appeared both in pages 28 and 29. Now it would have been sufficient to give it in page 28, where it was included in the grand total 614, 668l. 11s. 6d. But that was an error which was not calculated to render the accounts more complex. It was a mere error 981 in the arrangement, and all the items were given under their separate and proper heads. It was only fair to say, that the right hon. Baronet had given them an arrangement which was at present satisfactory; at the same time that he (Mr. Hume) did not mean to say, that next year it might not be considerably improved. But, though he was ready to give his unqualified approval to this Estimate, so far as regarded the form, he regretted to add that he could not approve of the substance — that was, of the amount. When they came to vote the sums required for each individual department, the observations he had to offer, as to the amount of the several items, would come more properly. He might observe, however, that, whilst the total amount of the Estimate of last year was 5,300,000l. they were now called upon for no less a sum than 5,800,000l. being an increase over the Estimate of last year of 500,000l., which was a sum of considerable importance. Indeed he had hoped, that, so far from an increase, a reduction of 500,000l. or 1,000,000l. would be found in this Estimate. But, passing from these topics, however important, he must again refer to the statement made by the right hon. Baronet, when introducing the Estimate, that it was the custom, for a series of years, to take money from the House, as for one service, and to apply it to another. In his (Mr. Hume's) opinion, the House would not discharge its duty if it did not institute an inquiry into this proceeding, in order to discover how fur this illegal practice had been carried, and where it had originated. He had no doubt, if an inquiry were instituted, many other misappropriations would be discovered, in addition to those referred to by the right hon. Baronet. He now recollected what his Majesty's Government did, and could conceive upon what grounds they acted, when the finance inquiry was going forward, and the Committee were about to enter into an inquiry relative to the Naval Department. On the last day that Committee sat they came to a resolution, recommending his Majesty's Government not to delay inquiry into this department, and to make such changes in it as would place it on a proper footing. The Finance Committee, however, never contemplated such a proceeding as applying millions of money to purposes which Parliament never intended they should be applied to. If Parliament 982 had known of many of the expenses which had been incurred, they would never have permitted them. He had taken the sense of the House on three different occasions as to the expense of the dock-yards, little conceiving that works were then going forward of which the House knew nothing. He must therefore admit, that the right hon. Baronet had certainly made a most important exposure to the House,—an exposure of a system of deception,—money having been voted for one species of works and expended in another, which was contrary to every thing that was known of the constitution of this country. After such an exposure had been made, the House would not do its duty if it did not institute an inquiry to ascertain how long those abuses had prevailed, and when and with whom they had commenced. He never supposed that millions of the public money had been year after year applied to purposes for which Parliament had never intended them. He was confident that if the House had been aware of such a practice, it would never have permitted it. Three years ago, having some doubts as to the practices going on in the dock-yards, he had moved for reports from Sheerness and the other dock-yards. Those reports were laid upon the Table of the House, but they afforded no clue to the abuses and deception which had been this night exposed to the House. The application of a sum of money in a manner not intended by Parliament might be excused for one year. He could understand that it might be desirable that works should proceed more rapidly than was at first intended, and that Ministers might not be able to wait till the meeting of Parliament; but could any man suppose that, if they took the liberty of applying the public money, contrary to the Act of Appropriation, one year, they were not bound to come forward next year to state what they had done, and call upon Parliament to sanction it? The late Chancellor of the Exchequer well knew what had taken place in the Finance Committee when a misappropriation to a much smaller extent was detected. After the discovery was made, the Committee met next day, and agreed to a special report, condemning the misappropriation of 250,000l, which was taken from the French Compensation Fund, and applied to the building and repairs of Buckingham Palace. Could the late Ministers forget the defence they then 983 made? They stated, that they had only borrowed the money, and they added, that they did not defend the appropriation, as it was not regular. Could any man say, then, that such an appropriation of public money as had taken place in the Naval Department was regular; If they were to permit such proceedings, where was the responsibility of any set of Ministers, or what control was exercised over the finances of the country by the Commons of England? The House should visit the proceeding with such a measure of censure as should prevent the possibility of its future recurrence. In reality the House of Commons had no control over the public expenditure, if it should appear that within a short time so large a sum had been taken for one purpose, and applied to another. He knew not the amount of the sum thus illegally disposed of, for there was no confidence to be placed in any of the accounts that had been laid on the Table. A systematic deception was carried on, and those who were parties to it ought not to be continued for an hour longer in the public service. If the Navy Board was fairly chargeable with having sent forward those erroneous returns, no man concerned in the proceeding ought to continue a moment longer connected with that Board or with the public service. Every one who was a party to the abuse should be censured, for the whole financial history of Great Britain, he asserted, showed nothing equal to it. It turned out now, that in many instances half the sums voted for public services were not expended for the purposes for which they had been voted. It was a complete farce, if such proceedings were allowed, for that House to discuss the Estimates. It now appeared that 150,000l. of the public money had been expended upon the works at Portsmouth which had never been voted by Parliament for such a purpose. Some years ago, he (Mr. Hume) put a question to the hon. Baronet below him (Sir George Clerk), who was then on the opposite side of the House, as to those works. The hon. Baronet might recollect, that the answer which he then gave was, that the sale of the old works would provide for the erection of the new. The same answer was given to the hon. member for Reigate, and to the hon. member for Portsmouth, who in subsequent years put questions to the hon. Baronet on this subject: and yet he 984 expended this money upon those works without any authority for doing so. No explanation could in any degree palliate or excuse such conduct. This was no cavilling at paltry trifles. The salaries of a few officers was a drop in a bucket compared with such a proceeding—In one instance, the Government expended 229,000l. of the public money where only 74.000l. was voted. At Woolwich they had only taken a vote for 182,000l. whilst they had expended 325,000l. It did not appear how many years this system had been going on, but, he believed, for ten or twelve years.
Sir James Graham
said, his statement had been that, within the last twelve years, 184,000l. was voted for Woolwich, and the sum of 325,000l. expended.
resumed — in that case, the systematic deception had been carried on for twelve years. Well might the late Government refuse to grant him a Committee of Inquiry into the expenses of this department, for if he had once got his linger in, he would never have taken it out till he had probed the deception to the bottom. If the late Government ever stood condemned, it was by this disclosure. It should be taken up, if it was only for the slight they had thrown upon the House of Commons. What was it, in effect, but saving, "We have got the money in our hands, and we don't care for you?" The members of the late Government might say they regretted this, but he did not believe that any of them would be bold enough to stand up and defend it. If they did, what might they not defend? He might say, what abuse had they not defended? If the late Ministers, however, treated this matter lightly, what would the people of England say, when they found thousands, tens of thousands, and millions of their money applied in this way? [a laugh.] This was not a matter to laugh at. If there was ever a grave question, so far as related to finance, it was the present. It was one of the most important disclosures on a financial subject that was ever made. Those who were concerned in these misappropriations might endeavour to defend them, as having been for useful public services, but that was no excuse. It was the violation of principle of which he complained. With regard to the Leith works, he would admit that he had been a party to the recommending a loan to be given, in that instance, of 300,000l., at 3½ per cent, to be repaid by instalments, 985 but he never meant that a shilling of that money should have been given by Government, without coming down to Parliament, in the first instance, to obtain authority to lend it. Another gross abuse had been, that, whilst Parliament voted 9,000 men for the Marine service, 9,500 had been kept up. Every man kept up beyond what the Mutiny Act gave power to keep, had been illegally kept, and would subject those who were responsible to serious consequences in a legal point of view. It now appeared, and the discovery was, indeed, a most important one, that since the year 1820, Government had paid 1,243,000l. more in wages than had ever been voted by that House. How were the present Ministers prepared to deal with such a Government? He did not know what number of servants and labourers might have been employed, but it would be necessary for them to go through all the estimates up to that year, in order to ascertain the facts. Would the hon. Baronet (Sir George Clerk) say, that in such a system of accounts, where such deception could have been practised, there was the slightest check against the mal-appropriation of any sum? What he thought still more serious regarded the misappropriation of public money in stores. The people of England should look to passing events—to the changes which were in progress; they should see that it was highly probable that steam-vessels would be much employed in the next war which might occur, and they should pause in laying out so much money upon stores, the more especially as they ought to bear in mind, that 2.5,000,000l., since the war, had been expended on the building of ships. He was sure that they would pause when they saw that the right hon. Baronet alone (Sir G. Clerk) had expended, in the last four years, more than 3,000,000l. in building ships. The Government should pause before it expended money in manufacturing new ships, when there were already three times as many as could ever be wanted. There was as much as 1,030,000l, of the disposal of which they knew nothing. He wanted words to describe with sufficient strength his disapprobation of such a departure from duty by the Ministers, who were bound by their oaths to have pursued a different course. Boards had been the ruin of this country; they were the great sources of expenditure. He would say, with the right hon. Baronet, that the 986 whole proceeding was illegal. It would be a question for a Court of Law after a Committee of that House had ascertained the fact. If the country were to receive no other benefit from the services of the right hon. Baronet but the exposition of that night, the country and the House would be his debtors, for the candid and manly manner in which he had come forward, not like other Governments, endeavouring to screen abuses, but to expose them to detection, with a view to providing a remedy. The right hon. Baronet had done well for the public service by unmasking a system which he would do well not to permit twenty-four hours to pass without endeavouring to alter. He hoped, too, that the House would not let another session pass without bringing the Navy Board to account. He would again assert, that upon the superannuation list there might be a great saving, and that 1,500,000l. might be saved upon the whole service. What country but this would think of laying out 1,000,000l. of money in building ships, when we had numerous ships lying in ordinary, and and rotting unemployed. The Government, under present circumstances, ought not to spend more money than would keep ships in repair, especially as England had twice or three times as many ships as France. He could not sit down without expressing his strongest disapprobation at the scale of expenditure.
Sir Byam Martin
could not refrain after the direct allusion that had been made to the conduct of the Navy Board, from offering some explanation respecting it. The hon. member for Middlesex was mistaken in supposing that the responsibility rested with the Navy Board, for the Estimates were always revised by the Admiralty. With respect to more men being borne than were voted by the House, such had always been the practice, from the earliest times. In 1731, 100 years ago, 10,000 men were voted, but 11,130 were raised. The same system, too, prevailed at other periods. In 1785, a period of the most profound peace, the same thing was done. In the year 1787, although only 18,000 men were voted, 19,440 were borne. In 1788, 18,000 men were voted, but 19,940 were borne. In 1792, a period the hon. member for Middlesex was fond of referring to, 16,000 men were voted, but 17,360 were borne. The complaint now made, therefore, was applicable to every vote passed since the 987 existence of the Admiralty. His own opinion, however, was, that the system was objectionable in principle, although convenient in practice. There was an Act of Parliament which broke down the Appropriation Act: he meant the 31st George 2nd, which made it imperative, that, from the amount voted for the service of the Navy, a sum sufficient to pay the wages of the seamen should at any rate be taken. This Act was again enacted and recited, in an Act of the last year of the reign of his late Majesty. He would give the House an instance of the impossibility of voting a limited sum for each specific branch of service in the Navy, instead of the several services being provided for, according to their wants, from the total sum voted by Parliament. There was an Act by which the Admiralty was compelled to provide assistance to all distressed shipwrecked seamen. Now, who could foresee, when the Estimates were brought forward last year, that all the Greenland ships would have been wrecked, and have entailed an additional expense on the Navy department of 10,000l.? The greatest inconvenience would arise, therefore, if the Navy Board were not permitted to apply part of that sum voted by Parliament to the different branches of the service as they were required. In 1798, an alteration certainly took place in the appropriation, but whether from accident or design, he had not been able distinctly to ascertain, although he believed that it was accident. One dear proof of the Navy Board not having abused the conveniences of the system of applying the money to those branches of the service where it was wanted, was, that upon an average, 62,000l. per annum had been expended less than had been voted by the House.
§ Sir H. Parnell
said, that it might be convenient to leave the application of the sums voted by Parliament to the executive Government, but at all events he thought that it was a very unconstitutional measure; and he was convinced that every vote could be made applicable to the general balance-sheet of the State. This was the case with respect to the French navy, as appeared by a large quarto volume that had been published—every expenditure having reference to an article in the Budget under which it was voted; and, in fact, the Officer could not pay the amount, unless he received an order which recited the chapter and section in pursuance of which the 988 order was made. From this it would appear, that the difficulty which was supposed to exist in this country was found to be no difficulty elsewhere, and was, in fact, merely imaginary. The country was much obliged to the person who had reduced the Navy Accounts to a system of Double Entry; and it would be most useful if it was adopted generally throughout the accounts of the country. Hitherto they had been going upon a system of entire deception, for when they thought they were voting for one thing, it turned out that they had been voting for another. With respect to the business of the night, he must say that he had been disappointed in the amount of the Navy Estimates, and he believed he might say, that the hopes of the country were disappointed also. It appeared to him that there was room for very great reduction in the Navy department, and when they compared the expenditure of this country with that of others, he did not see how that point could be disputed. He regretted exceedingly that the present Ministry was following the course of the late Ministry as to the public expenditure, and he predicted from that its loss of the public confidence. It had been supposed and stated by some persons, that the noble Lord had taken his Budget from the book which he (Sir H. Parnell) had published on Finance. That he must deny, for though he approved of the taxes the noble Lord had taken off", had he consulted that work he would have found the means to carry on the public service without laying on any additional taxes. That part of the noble Lord's Budget, therefore, had certainly not been taken from his book, and he did not approve of it.
§ Sir George Cockburn
maintained, that it had always been the practice to consider that the gross sum voted was applicable to all purposes indiscriminately in detail, provided the total amount of the vote was not exceeded. Unless a discretion were allowed to officers on foreign stations, it would be exceedingly difficult to keep accounts. The accounts of the station of the Isle of Ascension, which had been alluded to in the course of the evening, were not of a nature to require the interference of that House. He thought the right hon. Baronet quite right in keeping up the effective force of the Navy.
Sir James Graham
observed, that Ministers were placed in a difficult situation, 989 being obliged to bring forward heavy estimates, at the same time that they had entered upon office under strong pledges of economy. He was satisfied, however, that circumstances had justified his Majesty's Government in the course it was adopting, and he trusted that the majority which had the other night supported the Army Estimates would also sanction those now before the Committee, it being equally necessary to keep our naval and military establishments on an effective footing.
§ Mr. Hunt
thought it his duty to say a few words, when he found it proposed to take five millions and a half out of the pockets of the people on account of the Navy alone. Such an immense expenditure could hardly be created without a vast deal of neglect, or it might be worse. A large sum was annually voted for timber for the Royal Navy, and he had been credibly informed, that no contracts were entered into for the supply of that article— that there were no public biddings as with respect to other matters. He wished to know how the thing was managed? And whether there were any contracts, public or private, and how frequently these occurred? He wished to observe, too, that he had heard at Portsmouth that the hon. Captain Grey was appointed to the command of the Actœon three months before the vessel was launched—it was also said, that this was one of the last acts of the late Administration. He wished to know whether the statement was true? He must deprecate the increase that had taken place in the Estimates, and he might be thought culpable for not having taken the sense of the House when such extravagant sums were proposed to be voted away. His only reason for abstaining from taking such a course consisted in the plain fact, that Ministers had promised the country an effective reform in the Representation, and he felt unwilling to embarrass them by opposition. It was upon this account that he felt tongue-tied upon the occasion, and was restrained from speaking of measures like the present in such terms as they deserved. He sincerely hoped Ministers would bring forward a plan of efficient Reform, and if they did so, he told them they would have the country with them, and need not fear the threats of Members upon that side of the House. However, if his Majesty's Government thought they could satisfy the country without conceding Vote by 990 Ballot, they were grievously mistaken. [Loud cries of "Oh, oh."] It might be "oh, oh," there, but in the country it would be "wo, wo," if this concession were refused.
wished for a better classification of the 32,000 men employed in the Navy and Marines, in order that the number of officers, and the various grades, might be easily distinguished, as in the Army. He might as well, perhaps, give notice of his intention to-morrow, to call for a specification of such details. When the proper time arrived, he should move a reduction of 7,000l., proposed to be allowed to Generals of Marines, such places being sinecures. If they were kept up, they ought to be given to marine officers, not naval officers. To-morrow he would move for a return of the men and officers included in the Estimate, in detail.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that of the 6,000,000l. about to be voted away, only 1,500l. was devoted to the service of Ireland. He observed, that in the same estimate 1,500l. was voted for the salary of the Secretary of the Admiralty, and 1,500l. for the port of Trincomalee. As an Irish Member, he thought it his duty to protest against such an appropriation.
Sir James Graham
said, that his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, would find that the men were already classed in the Estimates. He believed, too, that his hon. friend would find, on inquiry, that there were cogent reasons for retaining the General Officers of Marines, and bestowing those appointments on naval men. He hoped his hon. friend would not, therefore, press his Motion.
Sir B. Martin
said, that public competition (which existed with respect to all other articles supplied to the Navy) was only prevented in the case of timber, by the impracticability of carrying the principle into effect. The last supply of timber took place by private contract about three months ago; there had been no contract for about two years preceding.
observed, that the men and money had never been voted together before. He did not. at that moment intend to object to the vote for 32,000 men, but when the Resolution granting the money was proposed, he would take the opportunity of objecting to the item which he had mentioned.
Sir J. Graham
said, he found, on examination, that his hon. friend's observa- 991 tion, with respect to the separation of the votes for numbers and pay, was correct, and in compliance with former practice he should first move a Resolution as to the number to be employed. The question with respect to Generals of Marines could come on when the money vote was proposed.
wished to ask, whether Sir James Cockburn, who, he believed, had, never been in the Marines, had been appointed to a high situation in that corps? If he had, that would, he knew, be considered by the whole corps of Marines as a stigma cast on them.
Sir J. Graham
said, it was the intention of Government to break up the establishment of the Paymaster of Marines, and abolish the office altogether. The duties of Paymaster of Marines had been partly military and in part civil. He inspected the corps and their clothing, this was a military duty; with regard to the civil duties, one of which related to the contracts for clothing (that would go to the Victualling Office), and another being matter of account would be referred to the Navy Office. It was proposed to make the Treasurer of the Navy, who was paid as Vice President of the Board of Trade, Paymaster of the Marines, pro tempore, but without any salary. Certainly Sir J. Cockburn had never belonged to the Marines, but inasmuch as he had faithfully discharged the duties of Paymaster of the Marines, and as his office being abolished he must have received a superannuation allowance if some other duty had not been provided, it was thought right to make him (whose efficiency could not be doubted) Inspector-General of Marines, in which capacity he would discharge the military functions of Paymaster, his Majesty having been pleased to restore him to his military rank of Major-general. By this arrangement a considerable saving would be effected. In making it he had acted solely with reference to the public service.
§ Sir G. Cockburn
put it to the right hon. Baronet to say, whether he (Sir G. Cockburn) had ever applied to Government on the subject of his brother's appointment.
observed, that although he objected to the office, he had no objection to the man. He did not care anything at all about the man. If the office were necessary, some Marine Officer should 992 have been raised to it. If Sir J. Cockburn was one of the 32,000, he should move, that instead of 32,000 men to serve in his Majesty's fleet, the number be reduced to 31,999, including, not 10,000, but 9,999 Marines, with a view to mark his dissatisfaction at this attempt to create a new office.
§ Lord Hotham
said, the appointment in question appeared to him to cast an unjust and unnecessary stigma upon the Marines. It was on public grounds he objected to the measure. The Marines were a corps which could not be too highly esteemed. If there were any offices of value belonging to the corps, they ought to be bestowed on the officers of that corps. He had no personal feeling on the occasion, as he had not the advantage of Sir James Cockburn's acquaintance; but, on public ground, if the hon. Member divided the House on the subject, he would divide with him.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the appointment had been made with a view to economy, in order to save the superannuation. It was not, in fact, a new appointment, but a substitution of one office for another. If the hon. member (Mr. Hume) chose to retain the superannuation,— though he (Lord Althorp) should be surprised at it,—and if the House chose it, the Ministers must submit.
said, the stigma cast by the appointment on the corps would be cheaply wiped off at the expense of 10,000l. He trusted the appointment would not be persevered in, and he should almost regard it as a personal favour to himself if it were done away with.
Mr. Keith Douglas
was understood to say, that the abolition of the place of Paymaster of the Marines was one of those measures of economy recommended by Ministers when they sat on the Opposition side of the House, and which they found they could not now carry into effect; even the hon. member for Middlesex was against it.
would not detain the House; and after what his noble friend had said, understanding that his noble friend would not persist in the appointment, he would not divide the House.
§ Lord Althorp
in reply to the hon. Member, was understood to imply, that 993 the Government did not mean to rescind the appointment.
Sir James Graham
briefly defended the alteration proposed by the Government. There were two officers between whom a choice was to be made; one of them was seventy-four or seventy-five years of age, and he thought it much better to superannuate the old man than the young one. He denied that any stigma was cast, upon the Marines by the proceeding which Government had proposed.
§ The gallery was cleared for a division. No division, however, took place, the proposition was agreed to, and the House resumed.