Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

the king, but he could not help thinking prevented, if that act had been precisely that the words of the act lett room for and properly framed at first. When he, some doubt. The fact was, however, that and those with whom he acted, proposed no foreign general had the command of a the bill alluded to, in 1806, they gave no district; those generals commanded their opinion on the subject, and, consequently, own brigades, and it was bighly useful to none could be fairly imputed to them. the service that they should do so, from The formation of the measure was in 1804, their acquaintance with the manners and and the troops had been sent abroad, language of the troops. But he was ready where most properly.such troops should to admit that a foreign general might ac- he sent, to their own country, to the north cidentally have the command of the mi- of Germany. During tbe first week the litia or other troops in a district in which noble lord was in office, he was in daily he was stationed. His lordship spoke in fear that army would never return : high terms of the services of the troops of but luckily it was saved from the wreck of the German Legion wherever they had Germany, and from the rashness of admibeen employed, and also of the generals, nistration. He also at the same period particularly barons Linsingen and Alten, learned the increase of their numbers. with whom he had been on service. As They had been invited to join the British to the number of foreign troops actually standard in consequence of advice (which stationed in Great Britain and Ireland, it would have been reluctantly given by did not exceed 5,000 men. He thought, himself,) not as fugitives, but for the delihowever, that the noble earl (Liverpool) | verance of their own country, and of Euhad said more than he had intended to rope, on the faith of a proclamation. say in stating that the legislature had sanc. Their situation had to a certain degree tioned the constitutionality of the intro- become desperate, and they were on their duction of foreign troops.

way to the British shores. It was in that The Earl of Liverpool in explanation case impossible to exercise any discretion observed, that he bad never intended to on the subject; nothing was a more imsay that the legislatore had sanctioned the perious duty than to keep sacred our faith. constitutionality of introducing foreign Whether the original question were right troops, but merely that the acts which or wrong, ministers on that occasion had had passed bad. by legalising rendered it no option. The present ministers wished not un onstitutional in ministers to intro- always, from a bad habit, to shove off reduce these troops into the country. He sponsibility on the shoulders of others. certainly never meant to give up the old He could assure them that he came down constitusional principle; on the contrary, disposed not merely to defend the policy he considered these latter acts as excep- he had adopted, but also that of 1804. tions to the general principle.

He was not afraid to avow his opinion, Lari Grenville rose to say a few words that the circumstances of this country and on this subject; first, with respect to what of Europe rendered it advisable, to a lic the noble secretary of state had alluded mited extent, to employ such troops to to respecting a bill passed during the few fight in the common cause. The impresmonths he had last the honour of serving sion on his mind was not against the emhis Majesty. He wished noble lords to ployment of the troops, but against the recollect, that a bill on this subject was number of foreign generals commanding passed at the close of the session of 1804 ; districts. This was a case that ought not and he hoped they would take the benefit to adınit of doubts, which, it was unnecesof example from this instance, and sary for him to say, might, under certain every other of this kind, and in future circumstances, be questioned in the most guard against the difficulties and dangers disagreeable manner. He was much obconsequent on such a mode of introducing liged to his noble friend (lord Rosslyn) important bills into parliament, or they for his statement respecting the manner would but ill discharge their duty. He of employing the foreign officers, of whom would venture to say, that it was in con- and of the troops, he had no doubt of the sequence of such a practice, that the em- merits. They (the officers) should be ployment of foreign generals remained a employed as brigadier generals; but it matter of legal doubt, even under the was always an inconvenience when they provisions of that bill, notwithstanding a were employed in higher command, espepractice of six years continuance; all cially at home. Government ought which doubts might have been effectually therefore, to take great care that such

HOUSE OF COMMONS,

command should be, if possible, but tem- , time forth it did not appear, by any docuporary. The King's servants were bound, ment accompanying the report, or by any in such a case, to exercise more than usual evidence whatever, that any further steps caution.

had been taken by the board to oblige The other orders of the day were then Mr. Hunt to give the necessary securities. read; after which, their lordships ad- | Now this was so palpable a breach of duty journed.

on the part of the board as it was impossible to pass by without censure, consiste tently with any attention to the respon

sibility of public officers trusted with the Thursday, April 12.

money of the country. If the board had [ResolutIONS RESPECTING MR. Hunt's any defence to offer for this flagrant omisSecurities.) Mr. Calcraft rose. He sion, he should be glad to hear it. He had, he said, given notice of two motions, had searched and inquired for a motive in the one respecting the very reprehensible every quarter, but could find none. The conduct of the board of ordnance, in not board of ordnance were amply paid for taking securities for the fidelity of Mr. their own services; they were amply Hunt in the responsible situation he filled; | aided by subordinate oslicers; they sat the other for the expulsion of Mr. Hunt, but three days in a week, and, therefore, as a member of that House. The latter could have no plea of being so overmotion he should postpone for the present, whelmed with business as not to have time as certain documents necessary to be in to attend to their duty in this case; in fact, the hands of members were not yet printed. they could have no excuse. There was The former motion, le should bring on something peculiarly indulgent in the now, in doing which, he felt it quite un conduct of the board to this gentleman, necessary to trouble the House at any Mr. Hunt, on the ground of sureties, for length, the facts were in themselves so which he (Mr. Calcrafi) was totally at a simple, and the duty of the House to pass loss to account. Upon Mr. Hunt's first a strong censure on the parties implicated, appointment to the treasurership, in 1803, so obvious and so urgent. It appeared he was suffered to remain eighteen months from the general orders in the reign of in his office without producing his sureCharles II. that a regulation was made for ties; and after his second appointment, the direction of the board of ordnance, three whole years passed without obligo by the neglect of which, in the case of ing him to produce or enter into any. Mr. Hunt, that board had been guilty of Having stated these facts, he felt nothing a great and reprehensible omission, where- more now necessary than to state to the by the public had sustained a loss of House the resolutions he had to offer. It 10,0001. and for which, according to every might be said that that regulation laid down principle of justice, they ought to be re- in the general order of Charles the Second sponsible. Under the general order to was only imperative upon the master gewhich he alluded, the board were bound neral of the ordnance. But every one to oblige the treasurer of the ordnance, knew that for a long series of years the before he was allowed to proceed upon official management of the ordnance busithe duties of his office, to find securities ness devolved upon the board. At prefor 10,000l. such as the board should sent, he believed that there was no such think eligible, and as the treasury should officer as the master-general of the ordapprove. But although Mr. Hunt had, nance; and he did not mean to impute for the second time, been appointed to the slightest blame to lord Chatham, who, this office so far back as 1807, he was he believed, knew nothing whatever of the never obliged by the board to enter into transaction. The hon. member then read any sureties, and he absconded from his his Resolutions as follow :office, and left the country with a deficit Ist, Resolved, “ That it appears to this in his accounts, as appeared from the ord. House, that Joseph Hunt, esq. member of nance returns, of 93,2961. It appeared this House, has been twice treasurer of his from the report on the table, that a letter Majesty's board of ordnance. That he had been written to Mr. Hunt by Mr. was nearly eigbteen months in that office Crewe, secretary of the board, and dated on his first appointment in 1803, before April 22, 1807, shortly after the appoint- any security was obtained ; and that on ment of Mr. Hunt, requiring him to enter his second appointment in 1807, it is not into the sureties prescribed : but from that, recorded in the ordnance department, that any security whatever was given by him, | 11,000l. stood against Mr. Hant, after his 2. That there is a balance of 93,290l. first resignation of office, He must on against the said Joseph Hunt, esq. as late the whole deprecate so severe a censure treasurer of the ordnance. 3. That the as that proposed by the hon. gent. on the master-general of his Majesty's ordnance opposite side. is directed in the original instructions of Mr. Ponsonby was surprised that an act king Charles 2. under which he and the like that which had been just stated should hoard now act, to take from the treasurer have occurred, but was still more surprised upon his first entrance on the execution at the defence, the idle, superficial, and of his place, security to such an amount vague defence, which was attempted to as he may judge necessary, and as shall exonerate the board from the blame it so be approved of by the treasury. 4. That justly had incurred. The defence increasthe security taken in the first treasurership ed the crime; there was no ignorance of of Joseph Hunt, esq. nearly 18 months the original transaction ; Mr. Hunt's seafter his entrance on the execution of his curities had been noted, and a minute place, was 10,0001. 5. That no security made; but the precaution which might was taken on the second appointment of bave saved a large sum of money to the Joseph Hont, esq. 6. That it is the opi- public was omitted, with the idle and insonion of this House the master-general and lent levity of men careless of public opithe board of ordnance have been guilty of nion or public duty. He would not say a breach of the instructions under which that the members of the board of ordnance they act, and by which they ought to be were all actuated by the same spirit; but formed, in neglecting to take security from it was obvious that there had been a great Joseph Hunt, a member of this House; neglect, and how was it accounted for? and are responsible to answer as to this The board had directed their secretary to omission of duty, which, from the state of do the business. He (Mr. Ponsonby) the balances against the said Joseph Hunt, knew nothing of the constitution of the has actually occasioned a loss of 10,0001. board ; but if the House could be induced to the public."

to pass over such a transaction, it would be Mr. A. Cooper intended no opposition to absurd in them to expect that the comtry the main part of the resolutions; but would respect their purity or their pretenwould contend that it clearly appeared | sions. He would be glad to seeibe that the board at least had not been defi- Chancellor of the Exchequer stand up in cient in their duty. A minute had been his place, and after being forced to name made to direct Mr. Hunt's securities to be the transaction which was then before called for, with which it turned out that them, tell them by what title the House he had not complied, but this involved was to set forth itself as the guardian of no culpability of the board. He remein. the public purse, if it should suffer is to bered when a similar charge had been pass by with impunity. Was it possible that brought in the case of sir H. St. John the ordnance board should be so much Mildmay's compensation against the trea- employed as not to have time to enquire sury board ; but on its appearing, that whether the secretary had done his dury? the error was the work of inferior officers, The gentlemen on the opposite side seemand his right hon, friend the Chancellor ed inclined to throw the blame on the seof the Exchequer bad no share of that cretary ; but was any negligence of his error, the censure of the House did not to excuse theirs ? 10,0001. was but a small attach to the proceeding, as an instance of sum compared with the heavy loss which the general negligence of the board of had been sustained-it was small in those treasury. It would be in the present in- expences to which the present unfortunate stance an unnecessary and unusual exer- state of the world urged us; but the princise of their judgment to censure the board ciple was most important; and if this act of ordnance, which lay under similar cir- passed without censure, nothing, he was cumstances; but to obviate a sinular oc- couvinced, could persuade the people of currence, he should move for leave to the honesty or the virtue of the House of bring in a bill to regulate the security to Commons. be taken for the faithful discharge of the The Chancellor of the Exchequer would duties of public offices, and for vacating not defend the ordnance board ; but the such offices, unless such security should present censure was unsuited to any rabe given within a limited time, The tional purpose of correction. He must board did not know that a balance of however, rectify a misconception, which had occurred as to the loss of the security. that he should believe. He was not fond That loss was actually but 5,0001. so far as of using strong words, but he was persuaded the negligence of the board might have that the right hon. gent. knew there was been concerned. There were to be two no ground whatever for so idle an insinuasecurities of 2,5001. each, with Mr. Hunt's tion. What would the public think if the own for 5,0001. This last would, of course, House, should itself determine to screen have gone, notwithstanding any previous offences like those which were then calling vigilance of the board. The letter of Mr. for their fullest revision. Crewe, desiring the security, was then on Mr. Whitbread wished to ask one or two the table-this security was not given, and questions. Gentlemen on the other side so far there was an error, but the board had talked of the laborious duties and mihad done its duty. He knew that the nutiæ (he thought that was the word) of board ought in strictness—(the word the master general of the ordnance's • strictness' was echoed from the opposite business. (No, from the treasury benches.) side) —Gentlemen might quarrel with the Well then, the minutiæ of the board, of word, but though in strictness the board which be is the head; that board sat three should have seen that the duty was done, days in the week, and between three there was no censure to be attached to and four hours each time. Here was an them for not following their inferior offi- oppressive occupation ! Did Mr. Crewe cers throughout the minute detail of their make no return of his not having received business : a certain degree of confidence the seourities; and did the omission of must be réposed in those inferior officers. that return, which it was their duty to have Whatever neglect had occurred was the obtained, or have known the cause of its neglect of Mr. Crewe; yet it was to be delay, awake none of the sensibilities hoped that the House, acknowledging the of thật illustrious board, who sat, like the services of that highly meritorious officer, gods of Epicurus, enjoying their tranquil would not think a censure on bis conduct elevation, without allowing it to be ruffled the proper mode of proceeding. Thus by any care of governing? Did they not situated, his hon. friend (Mr. A. Cooper) | not look over their own minutes, to see if had proposed a resolution in addition to their own orders had been complied with those before the House, which, admitting or not? But when it was determined to the fact of negligence, went to prevent its do nothing, the honest excuse was, that recurrence. The neglect was undoubtedly there was too much to do. There had to be charged to the secretary; but his now been no master-general for more than services should stand between him and any a month, and the Chancellor of the Exsevere proceeding on the part of the chequer had declared that no injury had House. But he believed there was no been sustained by his non-appointment. very violent intention against Mr. Crewe; Here, then, there was a sinecure office. he could do nothing in one way or the Why not find a duty for the lazy emoluother with party, and it was only with ment of the master general, and let him party that the gentlemen on the opposite look over the securities? The resolutions side were anxious to have to do.

before the House were fair and unexagMr. Barkam found that the same prac- gerated; the mere statement of the fact. tice was resorted to on all similar occasions. If they should then decline to do their The crime was always to be thrown off duty, it was a farce to talk of responsibi. the principal on the subordinate officer. lity; it would be idle to sit there, a mock The right hon. gent. had just said that we tribunal, to try allegations which it was should consider on whom the censure was previously determined to find false, or to to fall; but the true mode of proceeding give a judgment which was only a ridicule was quite the reverse; the only question upon the principles of public and deliberwas, whether censure was deserved, and ative justice. Who was the proposer of this should be decided, witnout at all the new act? A member of that very considering where it was to fall. As to board of ordnance,who admitted the whole the right hon. gent.'s insinuation about charge, and yet shrank from its conclusparing Mr. Crewe, because his good or sion. He submitted it to, he would call evil could not affect party, it was unjust it, the modesty of the House, to say wheand unfair. The right hon. gent. would ther, with those facts before them, they be ashamed of it on a little reflection, and could venture to look the public in the regret thai in a peevish moment he threw face, after acknowledging that negligence out an aspersion which it was impossible was suffered to operate for three years,

2T

VOL. XVI.

till the public lost 10,0001. by it; also ac- to look into the disposal of the public knowledging that they did not think, or money. Thin as the House was then, were not allowed to think, the negli- could it be supposed that he (Mr. C.) felt gence deserving of censure.

himself so much lowered in the opinion of Mr. Johnstone thought it would be wrong his friends as not to be able to have coltu pass over such a circumstance entirely ; lected a fuller attendance, if party puryet, as no charge of intentional guilt had poses were concerned ? but his only obbeen brought forward, the proposed cen ject was public justice. Was there to be sure appeared to him rather too severe. censure or not? If the minister had a mis The omission might have easily occurred nister's power, he would have displaced in the multiplicity of business in a great some of the members of that board ; but public office. He should, therefore, pro- bound up in trammels, as he was, he must pose as an amendment to the resolution of submit, and appear in that House the censure, the following one ; " That it was humble apologist or the boasting defender the opinion of the House, the master- of conduct which he must know to be in general and board of ordnance were consistent with every feeling of public guilty of a neglect of duty, in not obtain- duty. There were in the board but two ing security from Mr. Hunt, the late trea- active situations ; one that of the surveysurer of the ordnance."

or, and the other that which was held by Mr. Calcraft could not let the motion the hon. gent. (Mr. A. Cooper); the rest pass away in that manner. For what were were the mere sleeping partners of the enorinous salaries to be given, and palaces concern. When he (Mr. Calcraft) was to be bought, for public officers ? For at the board, he always demanded secuwhat were 3,000l. 2,000l. 1,5001. a year to rity, and followed up the demand. If the be given, but for doing public duty, and hon. gent.'s (Mr. Johnstone's) resolution guarding against negligence ? But why were more acceptable, he must be satisfied expect all the duty from the secretary? | with it, but not till he had tried his own. Five members sat at the board table three Mr. A. Cooper begged leave to call to the times a week, with frequently but very hon. gent's remembrance, that Mr. Ridge, little in their portfolios, while one secre- the ordnance agent, had been suffered to tary attended, and was fully occupied remain in his office for a year without seevery day from ten in the morning till six curity, though large sums of money, at in the evening; the board attending only least 100,0001. a year were passing through from twelve to four, or five. He would his hands. ask any gentleman in the habit of attend- Mr. Calcraft professed his total ignoing at public boards, whether when a rance of the transaction : he only wished letter was sent, the answer was not looked to have his public conduct thoroughly for at the regular time? Why was not sifted, in every situation in which he was Mr. Hunt's security rigorously required, placed; and if he had not done his duty when it was known that he had left office in the fullest manner, he was ready to subbefore with a balance of 11,0001. against mit to all the censure which could be laid him? A great sum was lost in conse- upon him. He had no idea of affixing inquence; yet even if nothing were lost dividual or peculiar blame to the masterbut the security, 10,0001. were too much; general. nay 10s. of the public money would be The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought too much to be thrown in such a manner that it was no wonder, when the bon. away. The Chancellor of the Exchequer member so triumphantly boasted of his amused bimself with observations on the perfection, that his hon. friend near him party feeling which might make them (Mr. A. Cooper) should have produced a spare Mr. Crewe, because his injury could slumbering fact, to make him recollect not affect party

But was the surveyor. that it was at least human to err. It was general of the ordnance a person con- rather evident, that in the zeal of his renected with party ? In this view the board form the hon. gent. was himself not infalof ordnance was not worth powder and lible. The act now proposed was to preshot; it was not worth five farthings, vent a recurrence of the injury which had whether the present members were in or occurred, and by operating as a check on out, so far as party purposes were con- the person who received the office, it would cerned; but there was a principle which do more to effect its purpose than any stiwould account for his pressing the point. mulus applied to the board. He was, as a weinber of that House, bound Mr. Ponsonby did not know what effect

« AnteriorContinuar »