§ Mr. Whithread.—I gave notice, sir, some time ago, of my intention to move certain resolutions respecting the conduct of the right hon. gent. opposite, for the purpose of expressing my opinion relative to that conduct, as made known by the tenth report of the commissioners of naval enquiry, and by the report of the select committee of this house, which was appointed to enquire into the matters contained in that tenth report. I now rise to fulfil the task I have been the wishes of the right hon. gent. or his friends, that these resolutions should have been moved previous to the motion for the impeachment of lord Melville, I think they must acquit me of having created any unnecessary delay. How far I may be sanctioned by the house I know not, but I will simply state that my object is to record upon the journals of the house those illegal transactions which have taken place, in order that they may not be drawn into precedent; and I should think that the right hon. gent. himself would wish that those transactions, to which it is my object to allude, and which he conceives to have been founded upon good grounds of expediency, may not be suffered to pass unnoticed, and thereby become a precedent for any successors who may not have the same justification. To prevent their being drawn into such a description of precedent is my only object, and I hope, if it is intended to propose any other resolutions, (counter resolutions I conceive there can be none) that gentlemen will not approve of those, and reject mine, merely because they are mine. When this subject was before the house on the 8th of April, the right hon. gent. was charged by me with a strong suspicion of having a knowledge of the transaction which were then under discussion. It certainly then appeared that he knew of the naval money being drawn from the bank. and lodged at a private banker's. I never conceived for a moment that he participated in the emoluments derived from that money, but, until it was explained by his evidence before the committee, it certainly appeared to me most extraordinary that the right hon. gent., knowing of that practice in the year 1797, took no steps to put a stop to it. It certainly appeared very extraordinary; but I beg leave to say, that as it appears now, and as it is notorious to the world, whatever there may be of negligence, all suspicions of a graver nature are totally and 386 entirely done away. I have thought it my duty to say so much, but at the same time I wish to avoid as much as possible all reference to lord Melville: his case is gone before a tribunal where impartial justice will be done, and far be it from me to say any thing that can tend to aggravate the charges against him. It does appear, however, that in the year 1797, a respectable gentleman, Mr. Raikes, who was then governor of the bank of England, communicated to Mr. Pitt, that naval money was drawn out of the bank, contrary to act of parliament. The right hon. gent. could not in his evidence before the committee recollect all the points of this conversation, but although there was some difference with respect to the terms between his evidence and that of Mr. Raikes, the substance was the same. As to this part of the subject, I should hardly think it necessary to say one word more; but I have heard from several respectable persons remarks upon the evidence, relative to this point, upon which I must make a few observations. It has been said, that this was not an official conversation, and that the subject of Mr. Raikes's communication was a mere rumour caught up in the bank; that Mr. Raikes had it from Abraham Newland—that Abraham Newland had it from the clerk, and so on; but the fact turns out to be so, and that being the case, it signifies not through how many hands the rumour of it had passed, Mr. Raikes says he informed the directors, when he returned, of the communication he had made to the chancellor of the exchequer; they, however, could not recollect it, but whether they did or not is of no consequences whatever. There is no doubt that the right hon. gent. was informed of it, and a short time afterwards he had a conversation with lord Melville upon the subject, who satisfied him that the money was not drawn out of the bank in any other manner than as required by the exigences of the naval service. Now, it is a little extraordinary that the right hon. gent. should not think it proper to make further enquiries. I do not mean to impute to him criminality, but great negligence. It would have been much better if he had then made an enquiry into the circumstances, and it should be recollected that the right hon. gent. himself then stood in a peculiar situation with respect to the naval money, as he had withdrawn a large sum from it the year preceding, of which I shall speak presently, and which was not at that time all repaid. The right hon. gent. seems however to have 387 been totally apathetic upon that occasion, although it must certainly appear very strange, that the minister of finance, anxious for the honour of his friends, and for the regularity of financial transactions, should not, upon such a communication being made to him, have thought it right to institute a private enquiry. It appears also a little extraordinary that the right hon. gent. should never afterwards mention this subject to Mr. Raikes. It has been said that it Was extraordinary Raikes should never mention it to him; but having stated it to the minister of finance, it may be fairly supposed that he conceived he had done his duty, and than nothing further was required of him. A thousand excuses may certainly he found for the conduct of the right hon. gent. in this instance; but no excuse which is satisfactory to me in the manner in which I view it. Another extraordinary part of the evidence of the right hon. gent. is, that the provisions of the law were not at that time under his contemplation; now it turns out that the law was broken; but the right hon. gent. had forgot the act of parliament. This would he no excuse to any subject in the land; the meanest individual cannot plead ignorance of the law, and shall the right hon. gent. be allowed to plead that he had forgotten the law? It is not a little extraordinary that the right hon. gent., who took a part in the formation of this, a well as other laws of a similar description, should, when this subject of the violation of the law comes before him, forget the existence of such a law. If this case, as it originally stood, had not been explained by the evidence before the select committee, I should have felt it my duty to move some resolutions upon the subject; but not wishing to move any resolution that may be personally offensive to the right hon. gent.—(and so far as the right hon. gent. is concerned in the violation of the act, the evidence of the right hon. gent. being in a great measure satisfactory)—I do not intend to move any resolution upon this subject. The next subject upon which I wish to trouble the house, and with respect to which I mean to move resolutions, is the deficiency of Jellicoe, I said so much upon this topic upon a former night that I shall not weary the patience of the house by saying much more upon it now. I shall only advert to two or three circumstances which appear very extraordinary. Some conversation took place between the right hon. gent and the treasurer of the navy. The evidence of the right hon. gent. is not precise upon this 388 point; but is probable, that some previous conversation took place relative to this subject. A memorial was drawn up on the part of Lord Melville, and presented to the treasury board. There is a very particular circumstance, however, respecting the dates upon this occasion, which has recently fallen under my notice. The minute of the treasury board, on which the warrant was to issue for exonerating lord Melville from any responsibility on account of the deficiency of Jellicoe is dated the 29th of May, 1800. One would naturally suppose this to be a previous step to obtaining a writ of privy seal; but it appears that the warrant was dated the 21st of May, eight days before the minute of the treasury authorising the warrant. This circumstance may be explained, but it appears to be a new mode of doing business to be laying the foundation of the house at the top instead a the bottom! The warrant, however, is dated on the 21st. the writ of privy seal was issued on the 27th, and on the 29th of May, the minute of the treasury board is dated, which was the foundation of the whole proceeding. This is certainly very, strange. The right hon. gent. may say that this is a usual mode of doing business —that it is usual to put the horse behind the cart, and to do business before the order authorising it is given. Unless some satisfactory explanation is given upon this point, I cannot excuse the right hon. get from blame. Not attending accurately to dates, I had supposed that the change of ministry had taken place about that time, and that in the hurry of packing up, these trifles had not been attend to; but I see the right hon. gent. continued in office nearly a twelvemonth afterwards. The right hon. gent. may say, that this is a matter of detail, and that it belonged to the secretary of the treasury. Supposing, however, that point explained, there are still other features remaining. The right hon. gent. certainly may not have leisure to read with his own eyes all the papers relative to any particular subject, or to hear with his own ears all the information upon the subject; but this case is a single instance. The rt. hon. gent. said in his evidence before the select committee, that he believed there were other instances of the same kind. It appears, however,that from the year 1760, during the whole of his present majesty's reign, there is no writ of privy seal which can form a precedent of this nature. There have been warrants to pass accounts but not to exonerate from deficiencies. There appears, indeed, a warrant to 389 exonerate lord Grenville respecting a sum applied for secret service money, the person to whom it was advanced having ran away, but nothing else that can be construed into a precedent. On these circumstances it is that I ground a charge against the right hon. gent. of not enquiring into the truth of the allegations made with a view to obtain the writ of privy seal, respecting the deficiency of Jellicoe, or not directing the secretary to the treasury to make such an enquiry. But what in this case were the junior lords of the treasury about? Could not the right hon. gent. depute Mr. Smith, or lord Glenbervie, or Mr. Pybus, to make some enquiry upon this subject, and make a special report upon it? Could not lord Glenbervie, a man of the greatest solidity, as well as knowledge of business, make some enquiry relative to the circumstances of this case? That noble lord now holds an office, that of surveyor general of woods and forests, which requires all the exertions of his mind, and upon the effective performance of the duties of which depends in a great measure the strength of our navy. It is singular however that though the name of lord Glenbervie appears at the foot of the minute of the treasury board, yet when asked relative to this subject before the committee he replied lie knew nothing about it; he could not even recollect whether he was present on that occasion; and believed he had not attended for a year. Now, Sir, though unlimited in talent, the right hon. gent. is not unlimited in point of strength or of time. It is impossible he can look to all these things himself; but why should not the junior lords look to them? and certainly it is impossible they can investigate them if they absent themselves. I do not blame the right hon. gent. so much for his own individual conduct a for not giving sufficient orders to others. I am particular upon this subject, because in case such enquiry had been made, it would have been found that the averments contained in the memorial from lord Melville were not exactly founded in fact, and it is upon this I shall call upon the house to agree to some resolutions which I intend to propose, and which I think they cannot reject; if they do they will sanction a waste of public money, which may lead to the very worst consequences. I say, that upon the ground of a false statement which might have been discovered to be false upon examination, it appears that no step had been taken to recover the remainder of the debt due to the crown. People may say all this is trifling, but this is not the way to argue 390 the question, it is not the way that any persons would argue in private life with regard to their own concerns, and it is a mode of argument that ought not to be applied to the expenditure of public money. I admit that some portion of compassion may sometimes be very properly exercised in favour of a debtor, but there appears no just plea of that kind in this case. Mr. Samuel Jellicoe, the son of Adam Jellicoe, in whose accounts the deficiency existed, stated in the first instance before the committee, that he attributed the forbearance exercised towards him to compassionate motives; but the next day he contradicted that evidence, and said he did not know to what motives to ascribe it. Mr. White, solicitor to the treasury, was employment to get possession of the property and effects of the deceased Adams Jellicoe, and at first he bustled about, and seemed to have nearly extracted all the property which Mr. Jellicoe once possessed. He then stopped. He was first employed in the year 1788, and after the year 1793 he took no further step in the business, except some instalments being paid. I have said thus much upon this subject, in order to state all the points to the right hon. gent. The solicitor of the treasury took no steps at all from May, 1800, nor were any taken by any person to recover the remainder of the debt due to the crown, whilst, at the same time, some of the property appears to have been valued at less than the value. It is upon these grounds that I call upon the house to vote certain resolutions, in which I have expressed my opinion upon this subject.—Having discharged my mind of these minor topics, I now come to the most material part of the subject, I mean the advance of 40,000l. to the house of Boyd and Benfield. It is now pretty well known, that if the naval commissioners had not been appointed, this fact would never have been known of the house. With respect to the statements of the right hon. gent. and another right hon. gent. (Mr. Long,) who, at the period when the advance was made, was one of the secretaries of the treasury, the facts of the case, though net before the house, have been long known, although there is some difference in the statements. When a great commercial house fails, it too often happens that quarrels arise, by which means statements on both sides are produced, in which the public generally feel very little interest. These statements, however, will enable me to discover whether the house of Boyd and Benfield was at the time this advance was at the time this advance was made in a solvent state; if it was not, I 391 contend the advance made to them was most ruinous, as it tended to raise their hopes and inflame their expectations, and thus to lead them on the sooner to their downfall. I am far from saving that there is no occasion on which a minister ought not to violate all form and not upon the spur of the moment or that it may not be necessary to conceal for a time such a violation of form, otherwise the effect of the measure will be lost. The state may sometimes be saved by a violation of form. But if a minister feels himself called upon to violate forms, for what he conceives to be the expediency of the public service, ought he not to take steps to prevent others who succeed him from availing themselves of this precedent for a bad purpose? How can he do this, but by making a record of it, that if he live he may tell the public of it or, if he die, the reasons of the act may appear, and a precedent may not be established destructive to the public interest. If forms must be habitually violated, they ought not to exist. The right hon. gent. said in evidence before the committee, that he could not reveal the circumstances of this transaction because, if he had, it would have induced that which it was his object in doing it to avoid. This I do not ask, but that he should have revealed it when he could have resulted from the disclosure. The only reason given by the right hon. gent. in his evidence for not doing so was, that it did not occur to him. The right hon. gent. having thus violated the law, and not revealed it to this house, I feel myself compelled to call upon the house to take some measure in consequences of this conduct. I own I am a great friend to fair dealing, and if the right hon. gent. had come to the house of commons, and stated the circumstances of the case, I would have said, take your bill of indemnity, let it not be drawn into a precedent.—Let us, sir, now consider some of the circumstances of this transaction. In the years 1795, 1796, and 1797, great distress was felt for money both by government and individuals. In the year 1795, the distress for advances on the loan was so great that the right hon. gent. had recourse to an expedient which would have thrown discredit on any mercantile house in Europe, that of making fictitious paper for the purpose of raising money. This expedient, however, did not succeed, and a great part of the paper came back without producing a farthing. Who managed this transaction? Mr. Boyd. Who drew the bills? Mr. 392 Walter Boyd, jun. by whom the bills were purported to be drawn at Hamburgh, but who was in fact at that time in London. Who was Mr. Boyd? I believe [...] to be a man of talent, a man of vast views, who could sketch out a project in a few minutes which should produce 8 or 10,000,000, without any possible loss, or any body being the worse for it. He unfortunately obtained the confidence of the right hon. gent and obtained an ascendency in the commercial world which was very injurious , as it introduced a system, which was productive of very injurious effects. He also at that time contracted for a loan, which I believe was a close loan. The distresses of government were so great, that they called for an anticipation of the payments on the loan. Before these were all made, there was another loan of 18,000,000l., which the right hon. gent. wished to be by competition; to this Mr. Boyd objected, and the right hon. gent. at length agreed that he should bid over the other biddings, if he pleased; this in the end became a close loan, or, at least, in which Mr. Boyd and others were contractors. The loan of 18,000,000l., for the service of the year, was a close loan, and it was upon this that the transaction took place. Mr. Boyd obtained advantages upon that loan, which became the subject of discussion in a committee of this house, and by which it appeared that the loan was at a premium of 12 per cent. before the first instalment was due. Much has been said about the discount upon this loan; it appears, however, that up to late in April 1796, it was at a premium of 6½ in general ten, and sometimes twelve; it afterwards fell to a considerable discount, to fifteen, and 15½, the average of the premium was about 7[...], and of the discount 6[...]. It was in September 1796 that Boyd informed the right hon. gent. of his situation, although in the April previous he had contracted for another close loan of 7,000,000l., at least it is stated to be close. What did the house of Boyd and Benfield do all this time if they did not sell their scrip? Some might [...]at a premium, and others might stay till they were obliged to sell at loss; but in this case they must pay for their own misfortunes; and to single out one individual in this situation for assistance from government, was acting unfairly to all the [...] besides creates suspicion, when it is considered that the gent. was a member of parliament, that his partner was a member of parliament, and that they were the negociators of Hamburgh bills. Strong suspicion 393 in excited that this was the cause of their having the two loans of 18,000,000l. and 7,000,000l. given to them. When it is said that the advance of this 40,000l. averted a great public calamity in preventing the failure of the house, it is impossible to suppose that the want of 40,000l. could have caused the failure of such a house. Why could it not be obtained by carrying their scrip to market? In recurring to these transactions, I wish as much as possible to avoid speaking of Mr. Benfield. I cannot but feel for the situation of that gent., who was unfortunately the partner of Mr. Boyd. I respect his unmerited misfortunes and cannot but lament that he and his family have been such severe sufferers by the wild and chimerical speculations of his partner. Why should not Mr. Boyd sell his scrip, as well as other people, if he wanted money and would there be any singularity in his doing so, as he was supported by the example of the other great mercantile houses? Supposing even the consequences to be that the house of Mr. Boyd should have failed a little sooner, would it have had a greater, or rather would it not have had a much less injurious effect upon credit, than any of those mercantile houses, not subject to such daring speculations, and known at all to have been infinitely more substantial? How was it to be supposed that the loan of 40,000l. was a sum which could have produced any effect whatever upon a house such as Mr. Boyd's was then supposed to to have been, I deny, that if the house was solvent, even any temporary effect was of such a nature as could justify the violation of the law. Even on the supposition of their selling the scrip at the greatest discount, the utmost loss could be nouniore than 16,000l. which could be but a trifle to house immersed in such stu[...]prendous engagements. It the right hon. gent. had no other reason to suspect them, he should have done it, even on account of their being in distress, which could only have only have been produced by their making so bad an use of the immense advantages they possessed in what is called the monied market. I must confess that from early habits and acquaintance with markets of another description, I have a great dislike to the word monied market, as I cannot well comprehend the meaning of the term. When I hear of the corn market, and the hop market, I understand the phrase perfectly well, and it reminds me of him to whose indefatigable industry, and judicious exertions in transactions, with these markets I am indebt- 394 ed for every thing which I have the happiness to be possessed of. The public, I believe, as well as the individual who has now the honour of addressing you, may find reason to rejoice in the success of those exertions; and the rewards which must stimulate the energies of industry: in enriching an individual, they added also to the wealth of those with whom he was concerned; and in procuring wealth to himself, instead of hurting any man, he diffused it, in a just proportion, amongst those around him. Let others, if they please, boast of an illustrious line of ancestry. I do not envy; on the contrary, I respect them. I think the estimation of ancestors as useful for producing emulation in the descendants, as the existence of rank is necessary to the good order of a state. Every family, however great and illustrious, must have had its founder; and while others pride themselves in their remoteness from their founder, I feel a pride and satisfaction in being the nearest to mine. With these sentiments and impressions, I own that I cannot recognise the affinity which the monied market has to any other, nor can I bring myself to think of it but with disgust. When we hear of such things as stock jobbing, waddling out of the Alley, lame ducks, the numerous artifices, but above all, the frequent and fatal forgeries which are committed through the means of this market, it cannot be viewed but with abhorrence, compared with any other; and if those concerned in them grow rich, I cannot esteem it obtained with so much credit to the individual, and so much benefit to the public, as that which has descended to me. These, sir, are the reasons, why I dislike the very name of money market. But, dismissing that subject, it is said that in that market there is a way of getting at the votes of members of this house. I am very far from saying that it is so. I certainly do not assert any such thing myself; that would be unbecoming. But, in the opinion of many, and, perhaps, of the public too, it was somewhat strange, that such loans should have been given only to members of parliament. At the time the bank of England narrowed their discounts, and particularly to the house of Boyd, why did not the right hon. gent. enquire into their reasons for having done so? It was unquestionably his duty to have made the enquiry for the safety of the public; and if he had done it, he would have found that the unbounded speculations of Mr. Boyd, in the Alley, gave them reason to 395 suspect the solvency of the house. Mr. Boyd represented to the right hon. gent., that the bank narrowed their accommodations to him, only to oppress him; and was the right hon. gent. such a novice as to suppose, that the bank narrowed their accommodations to him, only to oppress him; and was the right hon. gent. such a novice as to suppose, that oppression could have been their motive, or that they had not other very sufficient reasons for doing so? To set the matter, however, beyond all controversy, the fact is known, that the bank had made representations to the right hon. gent. upon the subject, and informed him that they could have no confidence in the security of Boyd, as it was his practice to make great promises, and as often regularly to fail in them. I will do the right hon. gent. the justice to say, that he did not lend the 40,000l. without having obtained security for it; but he should have confidence that Boyd ought to have other resources without having recourse to so extraordinary a one as this was, It is further to be remarked, that in the midst of these embarrassments, the right hon. gent had another transaction with Mr. Boyd for sending 150,000l. to China, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. I know not why it is, sir; but when I hear this silver contract mentioned amongst mercantile men, I always see them laugh; but, as I am not in the secret of this silver contract, I shall say no more about it; and should not, perhaps, have mentioned it at all, but to shew that Mr. Boyd at that time had the preference in every thing. Mr. Boyd had also other loans in the years 1796 and 1797; and nothing so fully proves the negligence of the minister, as that he took no means to inform himself of the circumstances of that gentleman, who was under extreme embarrassment long before these had taken place. [Mr. Whitebread here read extracts from several letters, in proof of the existence of these embarrassments.] I find in a letter which, previously to these loans in 1796 and 1797, he wrote to Mr. Benfield, in which he told him, that he was a ruined man. In August and September 1796,he states, in letters to the same gentleman, the great distresses of the house, and the great relief he found in a discount from a foreign house, with which he had been intimately acquainted, of 50,000l. His embarrassments, he further adds, were so great, that he was quarter, namely, to Mr. Pitt and viscount Melville, where in prudence and policy his distresses ought hot to be known. In short, throughout the whole of this 396 period, his letters contain a shocking recital of his distresses, all occasioned by his adventurous speculations in the Alley. It has been said, that after all there was no inconvenience occasioned by this advance to the payments of the navy, and I am ready to admit that no demands on the office of the paymaster went unpaid at that time. It must at the same time be remembered, however, that the navy bills were not paid with proper punctuality. I remember, on a former occasion, when an hon. gent, not at this member of this house (Mr. Robson), having stated, that a bill for 17l. or 18l. went unpaid at the sick and hurt office, he was taken up in such a tone of indignation and defiance to prove his charge by the then chancellor of the exchequer, that the right hon. member alluded to was stunned, and apprehensive at the moment that he had been guilty of a kind of treason, whereas, in a short time afterwards, it turned out that the statement was not only true, but that there were several other bills in the same predicament. It is with pain and concern I also observe, that there have all along been very shameful delays in the payments of the half-pay of the navy; and surely, of all other branches of the service, there is not one which so imperiously requires a prompt and immediate payment, as the supply of the exigencies of those gentleman, who having won such glorious laurels for their country, and having no other support but their pay, are kept generally six, but constantly three months in arrears. This distressing circumstances had hitherto escaped my notice; and I hope that it will be remedied without delay.—This, sir, is a task which I imposed upon myself, when I gave notice of my former motion, and in the discharge of it, I do not mean to criminate the right hon. gent. though I wish to have the circumstance placed as a record upon your journals. A confidence in that right hon. gent., when he was considered in the midst of his rapid career, for the salvation of his country, made things be overlooked, which, in other times and under other administrations, would have created considerable alarms; but at the present moment, it becomes parliament, that it will not always be indifferent to him. I own I am anxious this night for the co-operation of the friends and adherents of the noble viscount. who preceded the present chancellor of the exchequer, for I must, in common with them, commend the accuracy of lord Sidmouth's administration of the 397 finances; he never attempted those dashing things that are so conspicuous in the character of his successor. And I must confess, that however I may have condemned the incapacity of that noble lord as a war minister, though he did but little in his short administration of the war, his successor has done less in a much longer period. —The hon. gent. concluded by moving the following resolutions. 1. "That in September 1796, Messrs. Boyd, Benefield, and Co. being then contractors for two loans in the progress of payment, did represent to the right hon. William Pitt and the right hon. lord viscount Melville their inability to make good an instalment, falling due on the 9th day of September 1796, on account of the general embarrassments at that time, affecting both public and private credit, and the particular line of conduct adopted at the bank, of limiting their accomodations in the way of discount."—2. "That the right hon. William Pitt being impressed, as stated by him, with the belief of the importance and urgent necessity, with a view to essential public interests, of granting relief to the said Messrs. Boyd, Benfield, and Co. for the purposes of making good the said instalment, and no other means suggesting themselves by which much public mischief might be prevented, and having understood from the right hon. lord viscount Melville, the treasurer of then navy, that the sum of 40,000l., which, together with other sums, had been issued from the exchequer, and placed to the credit of the said lord viscount Melville, at the bank of England, as treasurer of the navy, for navy services, might be spared without inconvenience, provided unquestionable securities were obtained for the repayment of the same, within a short period, did consent to the advance of the sum of 40,000l. which had been issued for navy services as aforesaid to the said house of Boyd, Benfield, and Co."— 3."That it appears to this house, that sufficient securities were produced for the repayment of the said sum of 40,000l.; that it was afterwards repaid by instalments, the last of which was received in January, 1798; and that no interest was paid thereon by the said Messrs. Boyd, Benfield, and Co."— 4. "That no memorandum or entry of any kind of the said transaction appears to have been preserved, and that no act of indemity for the persons concerned in such transaction had been obtained."— As soon as the resolutions were handed up to the chair.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose and 398 spoke to the following effect:—Sir, I do not think it necessary to endeavour to follow the hon. gent. through the variety of matter, unconnected with the subject, which he has be expected by the house that I should do so, since it would be occupying their time in discussing affairs with regard to which they are not on the present occasion called upon for a decision. Least of all, sir, can it be supposed that I should follow him, when, in bringing forward a specific charge against an individual, he wanders from the question in order to discuss the different merits of the present and late administrations—the different merits of lords Melville and St. Vincent in the blockade of the enemy's ports—the degrees of economy of different ministers—and a great many other points, the introduction of which can serve no other earthly purpose but that of wasting the time of the house. These things I shall abstain from for the present. There will be a day soon, when, upon the motion of an hon. gent. (Mr. Grey) near him, they will come in more naturally. Till that time arrives, the house will not expect that I should enter upon these topics, and allow myself to be diverted by them from the question immediately before us. On reflection, I am persuaded that the hon. gent. himself will think that they might very well have been spared. Now, sir, looking at those things that deserve to be enquired into, we find the hon. gent. talking of the money market, the bulls and the bears, the lame ducks and other circumstances connected with Changealley, with all which he forsooth is mightily displeased. Now, sir, it so happens, that in this country, distinguished for its wealth, its commerce, and great necessary expenditure, there must be money market, and this I apprehend is not to be accounted a very bad thing merely because the hon. gent. does not like the phrase. His fastidious ear is greatly offended with the coarse term "money market." But the question is not with respect to the term, but it is, whether there shall be in this country public and private credit, and if it be decided in the affirmative, I trust the house will be of opinion that a money market is not so disgraceful a thing, though the term has given such a rude shock to the delicate and critical ear of the hon. gent.—Now, sir, to come to the business before us more particularly; I must, in the first place, shortly advert to the affair of Mr. Raikes and myself, though this part is not 399 rendered the foundation of a specific motion. The hon. gent., in touching upon this point, has very candidly admitted that there is no appearance of participation or corrupt intention on my part. I am glad, sir, of this admission, and the more so, as it prevents the necessity of my troubling the house with any long discussion of that part of the case. At the same time I cannot pass it over entirely without congratulating the hon. gent. that he has acquired so much new light in this subject, which shews, him that the case does not stand exactly in the same situation as he once apprehended. Perhaps this may teach him on any doubtful point hereafter, to be more sparing of his insinuations, and to wait with more patience till the whole of the evidence is brought forward, before he comes to any thing like a decision. He will, I trust, learn to reserve his judgment prudently and cautiously, considering that the result of any investigation may possibly turn out very different from what he may have at first supposed. There is another left in silence. The hon. gent. has told us, that he thinks there has been a great deal of superfluous discussion about the manner in which the communication was made; supposing no doubt, that if the communication was made, the manner is not very material. But the hon. gent. has surely not attended to this circumstance sufficiently, otherwise he would never have given such an opinion as this. I would ask the house, and that hon. gent. himself, whether in considering an affair of this nature, a great deal does not depend on the deliberation with which the communication was made, and the character of the person making it. I do not mean his character as to respectability, but the capacity on which he stood and acted, the documents that were produced, and a variety of other circumstances. It makes, surely, a very wide difference whether a communication is regularly and officially made, or whether it be made in some casual or general conversation. The degree of weight, the degree of precision, and the whole of the circumstances under which the affair happened, must be taken into account, in forming a decision on such a subject as this. It is not therefore, sir, immaterial to ascertain whether Mr. Raikes spoke to me as governor of the bank, or merely as a private individual —whether he spoke at the desire of the bank, or upon hearsay. The house, sir, are now in possession of the evidence on 400 that point, and I hope they will think that I have done my duty, though I myself certainly regret, from what has since happened, that I did not enquire more particularly into the matter suggested by Mr. Raikes.— Yet I hope the house will be of opinion that under all the circumstances of the case much blame could not attach to me for not having at that time made a more particular inquiry. This leads me to another general observation, which is here too material to be passed over. It is this, sir, that when a man is brought forward under a charge of this nature, you are not to take the circumstances exactly as they stand at present, but you are to put yourself in his situation, and consider how he was to act with the light and in the predicament which he then stood. It is to be observed that such an explanation was given me as appeared to clear up the whole matter relative to the communication made to me by Mr. Raikes, according to the view which I then had of the act of parliament. But the hon. gent. has said, that it is singular that I should have forgot the act of parliament. Now if he will again look at the report of the committee, he will find that the he has given an interpretation to my words which they will not fairly bear. I did not say, sir, that I had forgot that there was such an act of parliament, but that a particular provision of the act was not under any contemplation. I certainly conceived that the withdrawing of the money was not illegal, when it was only drawn in such sums as were said to be necessary to carry on the details of the office. Whether or not that be the sense of the act, may be still perhaps a matter of doubt, but I do not think it necessary to consider than point at present. It may hereafter be a proper topic for discussion, but at this time it is not material. This is all, sir, that I think it necessary to say on that part of the hon. gentleman's speech upon which no charge is brought against me. The next point, sir, and one on which a specific charge is made, is the transaction respecting Mr. Jellicoe. On this, I shall certainly not trouble the house at any great length. But I feel myself justified in declaring, that if the thing was to happen again, under the same circumstances precisely, I should certainly act as I have done before. I was, and am persuaded, that it was nothing but the strictest justice to lord Melville to grant him the discharge required in this instance. The treasury board had enough before them to convince them of that circumstance, and thought themselves of course bound to act 401 according to the view which they, in my opinion, with great justness and accuracy, entertained of the matter. The grounds, sir, on which this opinion rested, are briefly these:—Lord Melville did not appoint Mr. Jellicoe, but found him an old and confidential servant of the public, who appeared to have acted with great fidelity in the discharge of his duty for a long period of time, Lord Melville never knew him before, nor could lie be supposed to entertain any particular personal partiality for him. He afterwards found that, from some degree of imprudence, Mr. Jellicoe was embarrassed in his affairs. But, whatever degree of blame might attach to Mr. Jellicoe for the particular acts which he had committed, yet when his long services were considered; when it was considered how he had been reduced, the degree of feeling and honest agony which he displayed; nobody, who knows lord Melville, and the humane and liberal sentiments by which he is actuated, could suppose that he would be very forward to bear hard no a man in that situation. Any unnecessary severity I am sure could not use. But besides this, sir, there was no possibility at the time that any thing could result from severe measures being pursued, but the total ruin of Mr. Jellicoe, at the same time that every chance would be taken away of having the money repaid. Lord Melville, therefore, upon a consideration of the circumstances of the case, determined not to act with severity against Mr. Jellicoe, which mode of proceeding conferred a favour on him, of which perhaps he was not altogether undeserving, and at the same time afforded a better chance of having the money repaid to the office, and though that chance has failed, yet it is impossible on that account to think the worse of the transaction, which, under the circumstances, any one might be fairly justified in having recourse to. Why, then, in this situation, with such a case before them, could the lords of the treasury hesitate a moment whether lord Melville should be made personally responsible for the sum that was lost, or whether the writ of privy seal should not be granted him to discharge the debt? They thought, sir and in my opinion thought justly, that under all the circumstances he was fairly entitled to his discharge, and it was accordingly granted. Any further enquiry appeared to be unnecessary, and the best evidence to shew that it was unnecessary, is, that at this day, after such a long period has elapsed, the very same sentiments seem to 402 be justifiable with regard to this case. If this be true, what more enquiry could be then reckoned necessary? The treasury board had a case before them, which they thought amply proved, and they acted accordingly; and I trust the house will be or opinion that they acted justly. Now, sir, as to the dates of the warrant, and the writ of privy seal to which the hon. gent. has adverted. I must fairly confess, that there does appear on the face of them an incongruity which I am at this moment not able to explain. Perhaps, sir, it was merely a mistake, perhaps wrong dates were inserted by accident; or what is more probable, perhaps the incongruity arose from a wish to save time, and to expedite the writ, with a view to have it laid before the treasury board. I certainly cannot explain how the incongruity of the dates arose in this instance. But at the same time it is to be observed, that such things are very often done, and, in fact, it must be obvious to every person in the habit of conducting the concerns of any great and busy department that it is impossible that official business can be performed without sometimes, for the sake of convenience, having recourse to trifling irregularities of this nature. All this is of less inconvenience, because it is impossible that it can be productive of any mischief, at least in this instance, for the irregularly cannot prevent the whole from being as completely open to discussion as if no irregularity had taken place. I therefore trust that the house will not be disposed to give more weight to this circumstance than it really deserves. There is, sir, only one other point on this part of the case to which I wish to advert. The hon. gent. has said, that there is no other instance of any discharge being given in this manner by a writ of privy seal. Now I say, that the regular mode of proceeding in case of this sort is by a writ of privy seal from the treasury. I am not at present entering upon the merits of the case, but only discussing the propriety of the mode of procedure. Now I say, that the case of my lord Grenville, mentioned by the hon. gent. is strictly analogous to the present. He supposes that lord Grenville having obtained this money for secret service, advanced it to some person abroad, who ran away with it. The fact is, that being issued to the noble lord for secret service, he delivered it to some person acting under him, and he embezzled it. It would be extremely hard, indeed, if lord Grenville should be personally, responsible in this case, and accordingly the 403 discharge was granted him, in the propriety of which proceeding the hon. gent. seems to concur. Now, the plain fact of the case of lord Melville is,that he having obtained the money in his official capacity entrusted an officer, acting under him, who misapplied it. No two cases could possibly be more similar, though I apprehend that little depends upon the exact similarity. However, it does happen that they was as proper in the one as in the other. This being the short and plain statement of the matter, it really does not appear to me that I need trouble the house any longer on this point.—Now, sir, I come to the most material part of the hon. gentleman's speech, which is that which relates to the 40,000l. lent to the house of Boyd and Benfield. Here again, sir, I must say, that the hon. gent. has gone into a variety of matters unconnected with the subject. He has dwelt upon different transactions, such as the Hamburgh bills, a former loan, and a great many other things that were regularly enquired into by a committee of this house, and properly investigated by them. The hon. gent. supposes that the former loan in 1795 was close loan. The fact is, that this was an open loan; but another loan of 18 millions was wanted in December in the same year, which was a close loan, And why was it close? It was because the house of Boyd and Benfield having purchased the former loan, it was contrary to agreement, and inconsistent with the public faith, that another open loan should be contracted for till the instalments of the former was paid up. There was another smaller loan of seven millions and a half required in April, 1796, and this was a close one for the same reason. The house of Boyd and Benfield had the first loan because they were the highest bidders, and they had the others because we had no right to resort to any other persons. This is the real state of the transaction, which the house will probably recollect. But, sir, it is needless to dwell at any length on this subject, because it has already been sufficiently investigated by a committee to this house, and that committee made a report which produced a resolution, that, with the consent of the house, I shall take the liberty to read. It appeared there, sir, that I was the first who restored to the method of contracting for loans by competition, for the very purpose of rendering it impossible that they should be perverted and made the instru- 404 ments of conferring favour on any person. But when in this instance the practice was departed from, there were strong suspicions that there was favour in the case, and a great clamour was raised on the occasion, The strictest scrutiny was therefore instituted in to the affair, and the result was, that the house came to the following resolution:— [Here the right hon. gent. read from the journals a resolution of the house to the following effect:]—"Resolved, that it appears to this house, that the practice of procuring loans by open competition, established by the chancellor of the exchequer, has been productive of very great advantage to the public, but that here it could not be applied in consistency with the particular circumstances of the case, and the public faith pledged to individuals,"—This, sir, was the opinion of the house upon a transaction which is now conjured up to induce the house to think that I was actuated by some motives of favour to certain persons, on account of their being members of parliament, by whom I was at that time supported. I trust, however, the house is convinced, that I was actuated by no such motives. Why, then. sir, as to the Hamburgh bills; the hon. gent. talks as if there had been something peculiarly mysterious in that affair. But this too was enquired into, and found to be necessary for the public service. The hon. gent. has read resolutions, stating merely the fact; but it was a waste of the time of the house to enter upon any that did not lead to a practical conclusion. The only reason for resolving upon facts is the practical conclusion to which they may lead. The resolutions read by the hon. gent. at the time of issuing these Hamburgh bills, were designed as the groundwork of a strong censure of the practice. The question was put on these, the yeas went forth—[reading from the journals]—tellers, Mr. Jekyll and the hon. gent. Mr. Whithread, with whom eight persons concurred in opinion.—(A laugh.)—It is somewhat singular after this, that the hon. gent. should again advert to these bills. There has been lately an occasion when he thought the opinions of a smaller majority much more consequence. Now, sir, the hon. gent. seems to insinuate that this loan was made to the house of Boyd and Benfield, as a return for their assistance with respect to the Hamburgh bills. But what are the facts of the case? They are briefly these:—The house of Boyd and Benfield had contracted for two loans, the one of eighteen millions, in December 1795 405 and the other in April 1796, and one of the instalments was due on the very day in which the accommodation of the 40,000l. was requested; at the time , the house of Boyd and Benfield were the principal holders of these loans. But he said, that they might have sold them early, and by that mean made a great advantage of them. But the fact is, that they had not sold them, and that a great part still remained in their hands. Under these circumstances, when there was and evident distress from what the witnesses called a scarcity of money, when no money could be procured even on good security, when government securities and East-India securities could not be turned into money; under these circumstances, which were known to be facts, they said that they could not pay the instalment, unless the 40,000l. which they required was advanced to them, since no money could be raised on good security. It was impossible in such a case to refuse the accommodation required without the most serious mischief to the public. Now, sir, the evidence of Mr. Drummond, who was one of the partners in the house of Boyd and Benfield, may have contributed to mislead some. When he was first examined, he declared that he was not conscious of any embarrassment in the house at that time, or any extraordinary difficult in procuring money. But if afterwards appeared that he mistook the question, which he supposed to refer to the period of the loan in 1795. When the matter was explained to him, he did distinctly state that the house laboured in 1796 under very great embarrassment, and that it was next to impossible to procure money in any way whatever. But, sir, the matter does not rest on his evidence alone. It is in the recollection of every person that there did prevail a very great difficulty in the money market at that time, that there were some apprehensions of an insurrection in Ireland, and a great run on the northern banks, which lead to the necessity of stopping the cash payments of the bank of England. It is well known, that there was a stagnation in commerce; and a committee investigated all these circumstances, and confirmed the existence of the facts by their report. But, in addition to this, we have the authority of an hon. gent., a member of this house, whose opinion on this subject must be of the greatest weight; one whom the house cannot disbelieve, as possessing the [...]means of information, having acted in the offices of director and governor of the bank. He known, that money could not be 406 procured at that time, even on good security; and therefore government was under the necessity of accepting those securities, and of advancing the sum required. But then we are told, that the house of Boyd and Benfield might have sold stock, if they had any scrip at that time. If they had done so, sir, it is well known that they must have done it at a very great disadvantage. They must have sold at a very large discount, and increased their embarrassment so much as to render them incurable. But the mischief would not be confined to themselves alone: such quantity of stock brought into the market would have occasioned a fall that would have perhaps ruined many of the other contractors, who had stock upon their hands, and a heavy blow would be given to the most considerable mercantile houses. The consequence, therefore, of refusing to advance the 40,000l. would have been, that a new loan must have been contracted for on very disadvantageous terms indeed to the public. The nation then must have sustained by the refusal a far greater loss than that of the 40,000l, even supposing that it had been lost, which however could not be, since security for the money was lodged in the hands of government. But this, sir, in not all. People may perhaps differ as to the propriety of giving money to foreign courts. But the hon. gent. has admitted, that the question here is to be considered with a view to the opinions of those who were then at the head of affairs. Boyd and Benfield were then employed in transmitting the loan to the Emperor of Germany, in support of a cause on which we thought that the salvation of Europe and of this country depended. When disturbances then were apprehended in Ireland, when the run took place on the northern banks, which led to the measure of stopping the payment of cash at the bank; when the affairs of the country were in this critical situation, was that a moment when the minister of this country, who hoped to deserve the confidence of this house, could suffer any consideration, any personal responsibility to stand in the way of a measure on which the fate of the country might depend? I know the [...]andour of the house with which I have not deserved censure. Yet, whatever may be their opinion, I shall bow with respect to their opinion, I shall bow with respect to their decision. But, at the same time, no apprehension of any penalty, not even the displeasure of this house, which I should reckon the greatest calamity that could [...] 407 me, except one, and that is, the remorse of conscience which I should feel if I allowed any, fear of personal danger to deter me from acting for what I considered the salivation of my country, could prevent me from acting the measures which I did take on the occasion to which I am adverting. These, sir, were the circumstances of the case; this was the situation in which I stood, and all are borne out by the history of that period, which must be in the recollection of every one. But the hon. gent. thinks that I should have made a more particular enquiry into the circumstances of the house of Boyd and Benfield. This, sir, however, is nothing to his motion in the present instance, as he says that the insolvency of the house might have been prevented by other means. However, sir, I do not wish to take any advantage of that circumstance. I know that they were embarrassed at the time, but at the same time no particular enquiry was called for, because Boyd came to me with securities in his hand, and it was therefore natural to conclude that he was embarrassed, not from a failure of effects, but from the peculiar circumstance that money could not be raised upon good securities, This was a notorious fact at the time. If he had come to me merely with a general assertion of his solvency, then I allow that it would have been incumbent on me to have examined more particularly. But when on the contrary he came with unexceptionable securities, that completely, altered the case. In such a situation, when the safety of the country was in various ways connected with the affairs; when the instalment was to be paid on that very day; could I hesitate to grant the accommodation which seemed to be called for by unavoidable circumstances? What, if I had said that I could not grant the request immediately; that I must appoint a committee, consisting among others of lord Glenbervie, who was so much talked of by the hon. gent. in order to examine into the matters which Boyd and Benfield were so desirous to conceal, and by these means delay relief till the evil became incurable? Would this be a mode of proceeding to be justified in my situation? The house, I trust, will not be of that opinion. He says, that I might by a little attention have discovered the state of the house of Boyd and Benfield, and he has adverted to letters from the parties. But this sort of recrimination, contained in the letters and printed pamphlets of parties in that situation, are do 408 cuments that can very little be depended upon. I at that time thought the house in no danger of insolvency, and it was impossible I could suppose that there existed any reason for an inquiry when good security was offered for the money. I have been the more anxious to state this, as the hon. gent. seemed to insinuate, that I might have favoured the house of Boyd and Benfield in particular. Now, it is fortunate for me that circumstances came out in evidence before the committee that throw some light on the transaction. It does appear that Boyd and Benfield received the loan under the sanction of the bank governors who were present, and if there were any doubts as to the solvency of any house I was accustomed to take their opinions. One instance in particular I recollect of one house, to which, on account of some of its connexions, I might be supposed partial, if I had ever allowed partiality to interfere with my duty, which was rejected on a doubt of its solvency having arisen. In the same manner the house of Boyd and Benfield would have been rejected had any doubts been entertained of its solvency, for I trust that no circumstance of my life can justify the supposition that I would allow favour to any individuals to stand in the way of my public duty. The opinion of the solvency of Boyd and Benfield did not rest on my opinion solely. It was only in 1798 that Mr. Thornton first entertained some doubts of its ultimate solvency, which he communicated to me in the spring of 1799. If the circumstance was only then for the first time known to the governors of the bank, is it surprising that it should not have been known to me three years before? When Boyd and Benfield stated facts, which I knew to be true, and which have shaken the credit of the best house in the city, could I be justified in refusing an accommodation that might serve to prevent so many evils? Under these circumstances, I shall certainly submit with resignation to any penalty which the house may think I deserve. I thought myself justified in what I did, though I knew that it was irregular, but there is no atonement to which I would not submit rather than abandon the principle by which I was actuated; I shall bow to the decision of the house, because I am sure that whatever that may be, it will be right. If they should think that I deserve censure, let it be inflicted; but while I submit to their resolution, I cannot but feel that, under the same circumstances, I would again act in the same 409 manner. I trust, however, that the house will do me justice in the motives by which I was actuated, and conclude that my conduct, though irregular, was both reasonable and expedient, When it is asked why, under those circumstances I did not immediately come to parliament and ask for a bill of indemnity? I must answer, that if I had done so, I should have completely counter acted defeated the very purpose for which this advantage was made. If I had immediately thought it necessary to disclose the whole transaction to parliament and the country, the disclosure would have done much more mischief to that commercial house that the accommodation could have done them service. I believe it must be apparent to every gentleman in the house,that the disclosure could not have been made with any degree of honour, propriety, or delicacy, so long as that house supported a flourishing reputation, and its solvency had not been doubted. But when did the failure of Boyd and Benfield take place? It was not until the end of the year 1799, or the beginning of the year 1800, which was three years after the accommodation had been so granted. If for the three years preceding their failure, it would have been improper to make any such disclosure, gentleman need not be any way surprised if in the year their failure took place, the many important and unprecedented events which took place prevented me from adverting much to the necessary of getting an act of indemnity respecting this transaction. The truth is, the circumstance did not present itself to my mind with such force as to make me deliberate at all about it. The hon. gent. Seems to suppose, that I ought to have felt such compunction of conscience, such stings of remorse, about this 40,000l. as should have pressed me not be lose a day, or an hour, in getting this act of indemnity. I assure the hon. gent. I have none of those feelings ought to entertain. I know that for my share in that transaction I am responsible: that I have been in some degree irregular, I am free to confess; but whether that violation of law was not strictly justifiable by the particular circumstances of the case; whether I deserve much blame for not having sooner applied for a bill of indemnity; are questions which I have now to submit to the candid consideration of the house.—Before I sit down, I must take notice of the spirit of the resolution moved by the hon. gent. The object of this resolution is to 410 declare, that this loan, on account of its being secret, was a most dangerous precedent. Now, I am quite at a loss to know why a thing is to be a dangerous precedent, because it is a secret; and how it is to be a bad example, because it is not known ! I am not now meaning to defend any violation of the law, if kept a secret; but I think it most strange to say, that by being a secret, it is therefore a bad example. I should rather have thought, that it was those crimes and violations of the law which are known, and not those which are not, that form bad precedents and bad examples. This is really, as I consider, the fair legal state of the question: it is now fully before the consideration of the house, and it is for them to determine upon it as they think fit.
Mr. Henry Lascelles
commenced his speech with observing, that it would ill become him, after what the house had heard stated, with infinite ability, by the right hon. gent. (the chancellor of the exchequer) below him, to go at large into the question. In taking up the time of the house, he was not sanguine enough to hope that he should afford them any additional satisfaction; but having sat every day upon that committee, and having given all the attention in his power to what had passed there, he thought in incumbent on him to give notice, on a former evening, that he would propose counter-resolutions to any motion of censure which the hon. member on the opposite side might think proper to bring forward against the right hon. gent. below him. It, however, afforded him much satisfaction to see the hon. gent. who brought forward the resolutions this night, assume a tone and manner so different to that which he manifested when he first mentioned his intention of inculpating the right hon. gent. below him. From all that he had then declared, he concluded, that he had determined to bring forward a resolution of direct and unqualified censure against the right hon. gent., whom he seemed to wish to implicate in the misconduct which had lately engaged so much of the attention of that house. On a former night, when a motion of censure was carried against the violation of an act of parliament, and that it was voted a high breach of duty, he recollected that some gentleman on the other side of the house, endeavoured to extend that censure to the right hon. gent., and loudly exclaimed, that the country was governed by a "disgraced administration." Some of those gentlemen had since an opportunity of convincing them- 411 selves that the epithet was ill applied, and he was happy to see them adopt a tone and manner, suited to the evidence which appeared before that committee, of which they were such distinguished members. The hon. member who opened the debate was the leading member of that committee; he called for what evidence he pleased, examined them as he liked, no obstacle was thrown in his way, all the documents on the table were produced by his ingenuity and assiduity; and it was not unfair to presume, that the moderate tone of the resolutions he brought forward, was the effect of the close and scrutinizing investigation which he had made into the conduct of the right hon. gent. in certain parts of the matters referred to that committee. There were three distinct facts which were the foundation of the resolutions. The communication made to the chancellor of the exchequer by Mr. Raikes, the conduct of the treasury in the affair of Jellicoe, and the accommodation afforded to the house of Boyd and Co. As to the first point, it was comparatively of small importance, and therefore he should not take up the time of the house with any observations on it. As to the conduct of the treasury with respect to the debt due from Jellicoe, he did not think that negligence was to be imputed to the right hon. gent. The customary orders for enforcing payment had been issued as soon as the defalcation was discovered, and it was not to be expected that a minister, superintending the most important interests of the country, could have leisure or opportunity for the consideration of such trifling details. The accommodation afforded to Boyd and Co. was not only justifiable, but meritorious in a great degree. All the evidences agree as to the distress which prevailed among commercial men at that period, arising from the scarcity of money, the impossibility of rendering securities of any kind available, and the ruin then impending over, and which shortly afterwards did fall upon some of the most respectable commercial establishments. At such a crisis could the hon. gent. have acted otherwise towards a house so intimately connected with the government, using, as they did, the precaution to to take ample security for the accommodation they extended to that house? But the right hon. gent. was censured for not having applied for a bill of indemnity: that certainly would have been more regular. Let, however, gentlemen call to recollection the different circumstances which occurred to 412 prevent that application, he was persuaded they would see no great cause for censuring the negligence of the right hon. gent. in that respect. The hon. member, who moved the resolutions, thought there would be no great difference of opinion as to the resolutions. In that he could not concur with him. He could not agree with him as to his mode of stating the facts; and in the last resolution he did not think there was that positive expression of the exigency of the country, at that period, which, to the knowledge, he believed, of every man in the house, existed to a very great degree. He would, therefore, move an amendment, by proposing to put the previous question on all the resolutions but the last in the place of which, with the leave of the house, he would substitute one he had prepared. The hon member then read the resolution, which was in substance, "That the advance of a loan of forty thousand pounds to the house of Boyd and Co. though not strictly conformable to law, was highly expedient in the existing circumstances, and attended with the most beneficial effects."—On the question being put,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose, just to make a single observation. He wished to know whether this was a case on which it would be proper for him to withdrawn. The resolutions proposed contained nothing of a criminating nature, and the hon. gent. who proposed them had disclaimed any intention of moving them with a view to criminate him. But upon referring to a former case, when resolutions of a criminating tendency had been proposed he observed an entry made, that the member, after concluding what he had to say in his defence, then withdrew. It was for the house to determine, whether the present was a case in which he should adopt a similar course.—(A general cry of no, no.)
stated, that it would be for the house in its wisdom to decide; but as the resolutions were not of a criminating nature, it was his opinion that the case was not such as to require the right hon. member to withdraw.
said, in reference to the observation of the right hon. gent., it was undoubtedly for himself to consider whether it would be proper to retire. But it did not appear to his mind that there was any thing in the resolutions proposed by his hon. friend of such a criminating nature, with respect to the right hon. gent., as to bring his case within the precedent alluded to 413 Before he entered into the subject of the debate, he begged leave to advert to what had fallen from the hon. gent. under the gallery (Mr. Lascelles). That hon. gent. had stated that his hon. friend had materially altered his tone since the first time this transaction was brought under the view of the house, and the hon. gent. took occasion to repeat some words that were used by him (Mr. Fox) at the close of the debate on the 8th of April. Certainly, he did say at that time, after the resolutions which the house had passed, that the country was then under a "disgraced administration," and he expressed his hope and wish, that, while in that situation, no public business should be proceeded upon. But then this observation applied to lord Melville, who, notwithstanding the criminating vote of that house, formed an essential part of the administration. If the hon. gent. meant to insinuate that the right hon. gent., whose conduct was now the subject of debate, was condemned before he was heard, or before any enquiry into his conduct took place, he could assure the hon. gent. that, with respect to him, the insinuation was totally unfounded; or, if he would infer that any such disposition at all existed, he begged for himself to be excused from the inference. Neither he nor his hon. friend, the mover of the resolution before the house, ever did, in any speech, directly or indirectly, insinuate what would be the result of the enquiry before the select committee. Indeed, in point of facts, none of the gentlemen on his side of the house ever did hint that the right hon. gent. was at all involved in the misconduct of lord Melville. The connection first appeared from the statement of the right hon. gent. himself, with respect to the 40,000l.; and undoubtedly from that moment the right hon. gent. was justly said to be implicated in the delinquency of violating the law. But he never was considered to be criminal in any degree beyond that which his own avowal naturally implied. And he assured the right hon. gent. that he should feel as sincerely sorry as any man in that house if it had appeared, from the result of the enquiry, that the right. hon. gent. was guilty to the same degree as lord Melville. However much he might have differed from the right hon. gent. in the course of his political life; however he might have thought his general conduct deserving of blame; however he might think him blameable in this instance yet he should have felt uneasy 414 and unhappy had it turned out, after the high station which the right hon. gent. had so long held — after the opposition even which he himself had felt it his duty to give him, that the right hon. gent. was personally corrupt. For himself, he could declare, that he never entertained such an opinion of him, and he was happy that the result of the enquiry did not justify the adoption of even a sentiment of suspicion on that ground. Although he had frequently condemned the public conduct of the right hon. gent.; although he had on many occasions uttered sentiments respecting him which he should have felt it treason against his country and his conscience to suppress, still be never expressed a suspicion that the right hon. gent. was capable of personal corruption, nor did he ever entertain such a suspicion. However he might charge him with that species of corruption that attached to general neglect of duty, his mind entirely acquitted the right hon. gent. of that kind of sordid corruption alluded to by the hon. gent. under the gallery.—But yet in the case under the consideration of the house, another question arose. The right hon. gent. appeared to him, on the first mention of the transaction, with regard to lord Melville, not to have paid a proper deference and attention to law, when he was informed of its violation by Mr. Raikes. When information of that nature was communicated to him by any person whatever holding that office, which in foreign countries, is denominated "superintendant of the finances, it was justly thought incumbent on him to have instituted an enquiry into the circumstances, and to have put a stop to the evil complained of. From the report of the committee it appeared that the right hon. gent. had made enquiry, and however unwilling he might feel to aggravate the case of lord Melville, who was now ordered for trail, he could not help observing, that he did not think it possible that such an answer could have been given to such enquiry. The right hon. gentleman's reliance on that answer, from the nature of the situation held by lord Melville, and the connection subsisting between him and the right hon. gent., could not fairly be made the ground of censure, although the neglecting to investigate the business farther, betrayed rather a want of diligence. But the circumstance, however, of the right hon. gentleman's giving credit to the statement of lord Melville, although a matter of regret, was not a just founda- 415 tion for blame. No, but if the evidence on the table was correct, as he had no doubt that it was, for it stood uncontradicted by any thing that came from lord Melville himself when before the house, the guilt of the noble lord was in an inverse ratio to that of the right hon. gent. Without entering into the question, whether, if the amount of the transfers from the bank to the house of Messrs. Coutts, was bona fide for the purpose of carrying on the "details of office," such transfers would have involved a violation of the act, as was his own opinion, there surely could be no question that the transfers that were actually made were contrary to its spirit and letter.—But however the right hon. gent. might stand in this part of the subject, from his excusable confidence in the word of lord Melville, he was very differently circumstanced with respect to the case of Jellicoe. Lord Melville's tenderness to that man might form. on the score of humanity and justice, some claim to the consideration of the lords of the treasury. But the complaint was, that the noble lord did, in his endeavour to obtain the writ of privy seal, state that which was not fact, and that the treasury board did act on misrepresentation without enquiry. Lord Melville, it appeared, stated in his memorial that Jellicoe's debt was contracted before he entered into office, whereas the fact was, that much the greater part of it accrued after he became treasurer of the navy; and still more, that, after the indiscretion and debt of Jellicoe was communicated to lord Melville, he continued to trust him. Now there was this marked difference between the case of a noble friend of his (lord Grenville), for whom it was impossible for him to feel any other sentiment that that of respect, and the case of Jellicoe, to which the right hon. gent. professed to consider it quite analogous, that lord Grenville, after the money was embezzeled, reposed no farther confidence in the person who was guilty, and made no false statement; while, in the instance of lord Melville, the conduct pursued was directly the reverse. The blame then which attached to the right hon.gent. in the case of Jellicoe consisted in this, that he granted lord Melville an acquittance upon false grounds, and in an unprecedented manner, for a debt due to the public. Now, as to the 40,000l. lent to Mr. Boyd, he considered this transaction contrary, not only to statute law, but to the spirit of the constitution, and the principles of common sense. Nay, more, there were on the 416 journals several resolutions expressly condemning the misappropriation of naval money. Every man, therefore, must be aware of the impropriety of such a practice. Indeed he was one of those who always thought that the law should not be dispensed with by any power, unless where the necessity was so urgent, that to abstain from such dispensation, would be a higher breach of duty than the violation of the law itself would involve. The question then was, whether the case of Boyd, was such as to justify a deviation from the general rule? When first the reason of this loan was stated, it really struck him with surprise. It appeared a most extraordinary transaction. What! that the credit of the government should be supposed to depend on a loan of 40,000l. If the government really stood in such a situation, which was to be collected from the general arguments of the right hon. gent., when he stated as a reason for avoiding enquiry, that if any delay took place, the evil might become remediless, then much as was generally said about delicacy of commercial credit, public credit was still more delicate. The right bon. gent. had stated that Boyd could not obtain money in the market for the securities he produced to government, "inconsequence of the scarcity of cash, and the general embarrassment that then prevailed," and yet, strange to tell, it was not above three weeks afterwards, when his majesty, in a speech from the throne, congratulated the country on the prosperous state of its manufactures. commerce, and rapidly growing wealth. The precedent of such a loan was most alarmingly mischievous, and must, if suffered to be acted upon, establish a degree of arbitrary power in a minister.— What! if it should be understood that minister shall have the discretion of advancing the public money to merchants, for their accommodation, upon any conception that he might form of their necessity, or to prevent any possible evil that his extravagant fancy might suppose, could there be any security for our freedom? How liable would such practices be to interfere with the purity of that house, and even with the independence of the mercantile world. For, it would be very unlikely that any merchant, independent of ministers, would participate of such accommodations. There were many failures of great mercantile houses in the city at the time Boyd received this aid, and upon what principle should aid he granted to one house, and refused to another? If it 417 were really necessary to lend the public money, why not apply to parliament for its concurrence, as in the case of the West-India merchants some years ago? Nothing of the kind should be done without an act of parliament: the consequence of permitting it must be obvious. It was very justly asked, if the right hon. gent. felt the necessity of the case to be so strong, that he was confident of justification, why did he not apply to parliament for an act of indemnity? but the right hon. gent. said, he could not at the time the loan was made, without a disclosure, that must defeat the object in view. This was an argument, however, that did not avail after the temporary embarrassment of Boyd's house had ceased, when they had become so flourishing as to be entrusted by government with a large sum of money to be remitted to the Cape of Good Hope. It would have been no disgrace to Boyd's house to reveal the circumstances of the loan at that time. But after the total failure of the house no motive of delicacy could be pretended to exist. In the part of the right hon. gentleman's speech which referred to this point, he could not help observing, that there was much to complain of and even to deplore. The right hon. gent. declared, that he felt no compunction for the act. There was really something very extraordinary in the declaration—that a minister who violated a law for purposes of private expediency felt no burthen on his conscience—that he who was entrusted with a principal office in the execution of the law, should reflect, without pain, on a gross breach of provisions. The thing was not, as his hon. friend (Mr. Whitbread) had truly stated, to be heard without surprise and indignation in any government of law, but particularly in this country. The right hon. gent. had stated, at one time, that when the bankruptoy took place the act of indemnity did not occur to him. But why did it not occur to him? If the right hon. gent. were not in the habit of making such use of the public money, which he was not inclined to believe, and that this was the only case that had been detected, one would naturally suppose that the indemnity should have occurred to him, and it was a bad symptom of his government that he was not anxious to obtain it. But it might be said that he considered the application to parliament unnecessary, as he hoped the transaction would remain a secret. In this hope, if the right hon. gent. entertained it, he had 418 been disappointed, and he trusted that this would serve as an example that the transgression of the law was not likely to remain a secret; for after nine years concealment, the malversation before the house was brought to light. Indeed, the misappropriation of the public money, was a thing that was never known to have escaped detection, at some time or other. With the exception of the 20,000l. mentioned by lord Melville a few nights since, that was a case perfectly sui generis. But the fact was, that the loan of the 40,000l. being known to many persons, was not likely to remain a secret, and as a secret precedent might operate considerable mischief. For what might be the consequence on a successor of the right hon. gent., who, from his example, might be induced to make similar loans. Such a successor might be told, "there, Mr. Pitt, who was represented by his friends, and admitted by his enemies, to be perfectly free from personal corruption, lent 40,000l. of the public money to accommodate an individual, how can you hesitate to do the same?" So much as to precedents in secresy, which really might be more dangerous than public precedents. However, the idea respecting money did not apply to the resolution before the house for, although this act was secret before, it was now become a matter of publicity; and, therefore, some proceeding to guard against the operation of such a precedent ought to be adopted.—In considering the course that ought to be adopted on this occasion, it was his desire to distinguish the motive from the act, He had already said, that he acquitted the right hon. gent. of any degree of personal corruption and of course did not mean to impeach his motive in this transaction, but his object was to provide against such an act growing into a precedent; and he really thought that in candour the right hon. gent. himself would admit the propriety of such a provision. If the house should proceed beyond that; if any censure should be pronounced, it was his wish that such censure should. be as mild as words could convey; for nothing appeared to him more essential in moral justice than to keep a marked line of distinction between the different degrees of delinquency in the distribution of punishment; that crimes of high enormity should not be confounded with those to which but a slight degree of blame was attributable. It was,in his judgment, as culpable to apply severe censure to a slight 419 delinquency, as to suffer a flagrant offender to escape with impunity. He particularly wished, that under existing circumstances, the house should keep in view the distinction he alluded to. It was far from his intention, or that of his hon. friend, to follow the course of those proceedings from any thing like party feelings. He trusted that the house and the country would do justice to the motives that actuated their prosecution of great delinquency, and separate these motives altogether from any thing like party animosity.—With respect to the different modes of proceeding recommended in this case, the hon. gent. declared that, if his hon. friend's propositions should not be adopted, he would prefer a bill of indemnity, in the preamble to which the sense of the house might he so fully and strongly expressed so as to guard against the precedent complained of.
Mr. H. Lascelles
observed, that if the house adopted his resolution, a bill of indemnity might afterwards be brought in upon that resolution.
did not wish, nor feel it necessary to argue the general question at any length, conceiving that on the general view of the subject, there was no material difference of opinion, that might not easily be accommodated. He acknowledged the candour and moderation in which the original resolutions had been brought forward by the hon. mover, and also the hon. member who supported his motion; and was sure it must be satisfactory to the house, as well as to his right hon. friend, who had also acknowledged it. The only difference between the motion proposed by the hon. gent. who introduced the debate, and that of his hon. friend behind him (Mr. Lascelles) was, the former did not so fully state the facts, nor recognise the necessity Upon which the act was done. He thought the motion proposed by his hon, friend much more to the purpose, and that coupled with a bill of indemnity, and a few words in amendment, stating, that the instance should not be drawn into precedent, it would meet the object of both sides of the house.
vindicated the conduct of lord and the lords of the treasury, on the object of Mr. Jellicoe's arrear, and Stated that Mr. Jellicoe had not been originally employed by lord Melville, nor had his arrear accrued under his immediate administration in that department; and that the whole of his property had been sold under an extent towards making good his deficiency.
said, the statement made in the report of the committee, of the evidence he gave, was erroneous. He did not say he was present as lord of the treasury, when the warrant was issued, to indemnify lord Melville for Jellicoe's arrear. If he had been, he should most probably have agreed to it without examination; but he was not for some time in the habit of attending that board, being employed more advantageously elsewhere for the public service.
rose to ask a question, in order to save the time of the house; as upon the answer he should receive would depend whether he should think it necessary to debate the question at greater length. The question was, whether it was intended to ground a bill of indemnity upon the resolution announced by the hon. gent?
thought he had explained his idea, that the house had it in its option to pass a bill of indemnity, if it thought necessary. He himself thought the resolution sufficient; but if it was the sense of the house, he should have no objection to move for leave to bring in a bill of indemnity, founded upon his proposed resolution.
could not agree to the wording of the resolution proposed by the hon. gent. because he could not consent to record the approval of an act, which, however warranted by circumstances, or deserving of indemnity, was a violation of the law. What he should propose then, instead of the resolution moved by his hon. friend, was merely a resolution, that the sum of 40,000l. had been issued by the lords of the treasury, for a purpose which appeared to them, at the time, necessary to avert a great injury to public credit; and then, upon that ground, without expressing any approbation or censure, to move for leave to bring in a bill of indemnity.
Mr. S. Thornton
liked the resolution as proposed by his hon. friend below him (Mr. Lascelles), but did not think the insertion of the words, "not to be brought into precedent," necessary. He did not think such an event likely again to occur. The advance to the house of Boyd and Co. at the time, he thought was critically and indispensably made; if it was considered that the house was at that time agent for a loan of four millions to the emperor of Germany, and that it was pledged to pay a dividend of 187,000l. in a few weeks afterwards; any failure in either of which en- 421 gagements would have been attended with ruin to their house, and very serious consequences to our affairs on the continent. He said also, the testimony given by Mr. Raikes on this subject was only founded on report, and certainly extra official; and without meaning at all to implicate the veracity of that gentleman's statement, of a communication made by him to four of the directors, he could state, from authority, that not one of those four gentlemen rememered a word of such communication.
thought the difference between the resolutions proposed on both sides of the house so trivial, as to be very easily reconciled, and produce the unanimity so desirable.
thought, that in any resolution adopted by the house, two things should be done; one to characterise the act itself; the other, to guard against its being in future drawn into precedent. The latter of those would be done by the resolution proposed by the hon. member behind him (Mr. Lascelles), and from the character given in the same resolution, of the act itself, he would not depart an inch.
thought it an unfair return for the moderation and candour admitted by gentlemen on the other side to have been exhibited by the hon. mover, and by his hon. friend (Mr. Fox), to force them to seem to approve of what they had not investigated. He thought the resolution of his hon. friend (Mr Whitbread) the only thing the house ought to vote at present; the substance of which was, that the conduct to which he referred being against law, as it was admitted to be, ought not to be drawn into precedent. The house ought not to give any opinion on the expediency of the measure, because, without a great deal of enquiry, the house could not be sufficiently informed to make up an opinion.
The Attorney General
paid many handsome compliments to gentlemen on the other side for their candour and moderation upon this subject, but observed, that they should not place the minister in a worse situation by their candour, than they could have done by their utmost hostility. Had they attacked him hostilely, they would have put him on his defence, and then it was manifest that the house would have agreed that his conduct, although against a positive law, and, therefore, not to be drawn into a precedent, was yet, under all the circumstances of the case, not only justifiable, but highly meritorious. Gentlemen now asked the 422 latter part of the proposed resolution to be left out, which was endeavouring by their candour to place the minister in a worse situation than they could have been able to do by their hostility: for which reason he supported the proposition of the hon. gent, (Mr. Lascelles) which, at the same time that it provided the case should not be drawn into a precedent, yet gave it the true character it bore, namely, a measure justified by the necessity of it.
in answer, thought the imputation upon his candour was ill-timed. He never said that the act was positively right. He only admitted that, though wrong, it might have been done with a good intent.
The Attorney General ,
in reply, observed, that the candour of the hon. gent. would have the effect of hostility; but he had not charged the hon. gent. with meaning it should have that operation.
Mr. William Smith
arose, amidst a loud cry for the question. He considered the evidence in justification of the chancellor of the exchequer as defective, as it did not shew that the house of Boyd had attempted to sell out their scrip in small portions, which might have been done without depreciating the article, and also because Mr. Pitt was content with the mere word of Mr. Boyd, and made no enquiry into the necessity of the case.
Mr. H. Lascelles
said, as the sense of the house seemed to be in favour of a bill of indemnity, he had no objection to such course. He then read his resolution, which he proposed as the preamble of such bill, with the proposed amendment of lord Castlereagh, stating, that the act, though not conformable with law, and, as such, not to be drawn into precedent, was justified by the peculiar exigencies of the times.
was decidedly for the bill of indemnity, as the best recognition the house could adopt, of a transaction so extraordinary; which; though warranted by the necessity of the case, and justified the purity of his right hon. friend's intentions, was nevertheless contrary to law, and could not be sufficiently recognized by a mere resolution. But he was against using the words "not to be again drawn into precedent;" for certainly a similar necessity would justify a similar transaction, subject, however, to the cognizance of parliament. He approved of bill of indemnity wherever any breach of law was committed, and he preferred it in the present instance to a vote of that house, the more particularly, because 423 he thought it, proper, their being so many mercantile men in that house, and this being a mercantile question, that it should receive the sanction of the other house of parliament.
The Master of the Rolls
said, if the house thought the act justifiable, it was wrong to say it should not be drawn into precedent; and if it were not justifiable, it ought to be marked with censure. A bill of indemnity, in the present case, he conceived to be a matter of indifference, if not a work of supererogation.
did not think that the words "not to be drawn into precedent," would operate as a restriction upon future ministers. He approved of the resolution of Mr Lascelles, with a bill of indemnity. He said, the amendment had been thrown in in compliance with the suggestion of the hon. gent. opposite. But as it was objected to, he should withdraw it.
was favourable to the bill of indemnity, because an act of parliament had been violated; and however justifiable the motive, he thought nothing but an act of parliament would do away the transgression.
arose, but the demand for the question, for some time loud, now so much increased as to prevent his progress. At length, raising his voice very high, he said, I will go on; if gentlemen think they will put me down in this way, they do not know the individual whom they attack. No gentleman, in or out of this house, shall treat me in a manner I do not deserve. If I am disorderly, let any gentleman arise, and shew me in what respect I am so.—The hon. member then proceeded to state, that the resolution of Mr. Lascelles implied a strong approbation of the act; whereas, he thought, that the conduct of Mr. Pitt, in not disclosing it immediately, ought not to go down with applause; and, therefore, he should support the original motion. The house became clamorous for the question before the hon. member sat down.
in reply alluded to what had fallen from the attorney general, who disliked candour and hated mercy, on the can did and moderate speech of his hon. friend (Mr. Fox), and on the resolution expressed by another right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning), not to yield an inch, while gentlemen on that side of the house were willing to yield so far. The noble lord, too, who had seemed so concious of the spirit of moderation displayed on that side of the 424 house, and who, under that impression proposed a few words which he thought would be acceptable to them, had repented of his condescension, and withdrawn his amendment. They did not wish, he presumed, that any thing like agreement should seem to prevail; or, they were probably afraid, that he and his friends, from finding themselves so often in a majority, should grow too frisky, and therefore wished to drive them to a division on a question in which they would be left in a great minority. He should not, however, decline what he thought his duty from any consideration of the kind. He had acted with his friends near him when very few in number, and they had, on every occasion where their duty required it, opposed the right hon. gent. In the course of that opposition, he had found that steady adherence to principle and to the interests of the country would, in time, command success. He must, therefore, as the hon. gentlemen would not allow him to agree with them, insist on his own motion. He was happy, however, at all events, in thinking that his agitating the question would have the effect of getting a bill of indemnity introduced.—The question being loudly called for, the gallery was cleared; but no division took place. The previous question was put on each of Mr. Whitbread's resolutions, and carried; after which the following resolution, which had been moved by way of amendment by Mr. Lascelles, was agreed to.—"Resolved, that the measure of advancing 40,000l. to Messrs. Boyd and Co. upon unquestionable securities, which have been regularly discharged, was adopted for the purpose of averting consequences which might have proved highly injurious to the financial and commercial interests of the country; and, although not conformable to law, appeared at the time to be called for by the peculiar exigencies of public affairs."—Mr. Lascelles afterwards obtained leave to bring in a bill of indemnity for the above transaction.—Adjourned.