The MARQUESS of LONDONDERRY
said that he wished to say a few words on the subject of a return which he moved for 564 a few days ago, and which was now on their Lordships' table. The return to which he alluded was a return of the number of Spanish Refugees who had been pensioners of the British Government since the death of Ferdinand VII, in 1833; specifying what number of such pensioners had been put on the list since that period, and also what number were now receiving such pensions; and also the total amount of the pensions allowed to such present pensioners. It appeared from this return that the total amount of Spanish Refugees who were pensioners in 1833 was 287. In that year a great number of persons were put on the list. The total amount of pensions allowed at present, according to the estimate of the current year, was 1,800l He had been informed that not only had persons in good circumstances been placed on the list, but persons who had no claim whatever—who, in fact, were most improper persons to receive pensions. Here was the list, and he would read a few of the names. [The noble Marquess here mentioned several of the parties he referred to.] These were the men who actually had been placed on the list since 1823. Many of these persons were entirely unworthy of a pension. He mentioned these circumstances for the purpose of showing that he had some grounds for asking for information on this subject. All the recipients of these pensions, up to 1823, received them for services in the Peninsular war. From that period, up to 1833, many pensions had ceased, but still many had been added. These additions were, as he conceived open to great objection; and the original list, intended only for a temporary purpose, had now become a list of life-pensions not for the indigent. If the list were examined, it would appear from the vouchers that not half-a-dozen of the original recipients now remained. It was believed in Spain that we supported these refugees for the purpose of carrying on political intrigues in the Peninsula. He wished to find out for what services these pensions had been granted. In troubled times like the present, he thought it was the duty of their Lordships to look into all these matters.
§ LOR MONTEAGLE
said, that he could not avoid saying a word on this subject. Reflections were now made by the noble Marquess against these individuals without notice and in their absence. It was repeatedly proposed in the House of Commons that this list should be called for; 565 but, on an appeal made to the gentlemanly feeling of the House, the Motion was always withdrawn. It would be dishonourable to the country to give its charity with one hand to foreigners in distress, and with the other to publish their names to the world. The Government was never responsible for placing these persons on the list. They were placed there by the authorities at the Horse Guards. These pensions were annually voted by Parliament, and were administered by the Horse Guards. He did not think that a stigma should be passed on men who, in addition to the paltry pittance which they received from this country, endeavoured to increase their means by honest industry.
§ The DUKE of WELLINGTON
said that these pensions originated in the first instance from private charity. There were balls and bazaars for these persons. Afterwards the public came forward. He was satisfied that all these pensions had always been administered on the principle of charity, and nothing else.
The EARL of MINTO
said that he wished to speak to order. He was certain that there would be great inconvenience if subjects of this sort were brought before the House without notice, and when the parties who would be affected by that discussion could have no opportunity of meeting any charges that might be brought against them.
The MARQUESS of LONDONDERRY
said, that he stood corrected. His object merely was to call the attention of their Lordships to the paper which had been laid on the table.