Imágenes de página

paper now before the House was of that every form of a protest; and they actualexceptionable character or not. He had ly declared that ihey presented it in order voted on the night before for an adjourn- that it might be entered on the Journals, ment of this question, in order to give as the Letter of sir F. Burdett was not so gentlemen an opportunity of comparing entered, although the vote of the House the different parts of the petition, and which committed him was. Now that coming to a deliberate decision upon their Letter had been declared by the House a tendency. By this delay they were ena- flagrant violation of its privileges; and if bled to judge, whether this petition was alter such declaration an approbation of presented for the purpose of doing away that Letter presented to the House was not what might be fairly considered as a to be considered an insult, it was hard to grievance, or whether it was intended as a say how far they might be carried by studied insult on the House-as an attempt their forbearance. Some gentlemen opw make it the instrument of its own disposite had declared that they conceived honour, and to make its Journals the re- themselves exonerated from all blame or cord of its own reproach. With respect responsibility on this subject, as it was the to the question, whether that House was conduct of ministers, and ministers alone, bound to receive every petition, however which had excited those petitions. This couched, which came before it, there was not true; all parties in the House had was but one opinion, with the sole excep- agreed as to the libellous doctrines of the tion of a right hon. gent. opposite. There letter which had caused the committal of was no doubt the right of petitioning was sir F. Burdett, and it was in consequence vested in the people, but there was as little of that committal that the petitions bat doubt that the riglit of rejecting such pe- been presented. He warned public men tition was vested in the House, provided it how they now sought individually to be was conveyed in indecent or insulting exoneraied, or stood aloof in the moment terms. The people had an equal right 10 of such an attack; it was indeed a regular petition the King; but surely no one could systematic attack-the resnlt of a system contend that their address ought to be rea deeply considered, dangerously organizceived, if it was not drawn up in the ed, and sought by every means to be widemost respectful manner. The statute of ly distused among the people; a system Charles 2, which gave the right to petin which, by affecting an hypocritical retion, declared also that that right ought spect for the Sovereign, went directly to to be properly regulated. With respect undermine the House of Commons. to the present petition, he was afraid the was the traitorous attempts of the last ff. delay which had taken place had not been teen years now. skulking under a new employed as it might in its mature consi- shape, and assuining a most dangerous and deration. He was led to this opinion from deadly form. There was no country the assertion of an hon. member opposite, which could be said to be safe where the who said, he did not think the petition des legislative power was attacked with imnied the power of the House to commit, punity, and daringly branded in such inand that if he thought it did, he would decent terms. At any time this would be vote for its rejection. Now, in neither most dangerous, but at the present time part of this sentiment could he agree. If the peria was doubly hazardous; a time the people saw any objectionable power when we were engaged in a most momenassumed by that House, or any obnoxious tous and protracted war, and necessarily measure pass it, they haul an undeniable obliged to incur the most aggravated burright to petition against such act or such thens. From such attempts no side of the assumption, with this restriction only, that House was safe-no men in the country they did it in respectful terms. The pre-secure. They menaced not party, but sent petition, however, did distinctly de- parliament-not ministers, but the *. clare, that in committing, the House bad stitution--not any certain set of men, bu usurped a power “ unknown to the law, all the inestimable blessings which time, and not warranted by the constitution." and toil, and struggles, had secured to the This was surely language as insulting as country. The question now was, whether could possibly be addressed to the House. the House would lend itself to such atBut lest there should be any doubt, the tempts; whether they would become the petition went farther, and not only repro- servile ministers of their own dishoncur. bated the principle, but' protested against The petition had not only assailed their the practice. Their protest, too, had practice, but their very motives, and as.


serted the “ suspicion and jealousy with such a power, he thought, and so did bis
which they viewed the imprisonment of constituents, that they ought not to have
sir F. Burdett at a time when they ex- it. The case of libel was not a case of ne-,
pected so much from his efforts in the cessity, and the necessity ceasing, so should
cause of reform.” If the House were now the exercise of the privilege cease also.
to submit to such language, they would Sir M. Wood denied that he had said
infallibly encourage the spirit to which he that the meeting was not respectable.
had before alluded. The experiment of what he had said was, that the majority
conciliation had been tried and failed. of the persons there assembled were not
They had been persuaded to receive the freeholders.
Westminster petition, on the ground that Mr. Mellish stated, that he had at-
such apparent tolerance in that House | tended the last meeting at Hackney, and
must tend to quiet the people, by shewing that he had there stated, that as he looked
them that their interests and representa- upon them as a meeting legally convened
tions were attended to. What had been by the sheriffs, he should obey their dia
the consequence? Why the present peti.rections, by presenting their petition to
tion, still more strongly worded, imme- that House; ihat at the same time he did
diately followed. If the House now sub- not think he was bound to compromise his
mitted, it would be termed not conciliat. | opinions as an independent member of
ing, but pusillanimous. They were re- parliament, or to concede them in an un-
proached with requiring an army to en- qualified way to the opinions of others,
force their orders. Concession now would | bowever he might be disposed to respect
be only considered as an additional proof them. His hon. colleague had said that
of their weakness--another argument of nine-tenths of that meeting were free-
their timidity.

holders. He could assure him of his con-
Mr. Ponsonby said, in explanation, that viction at least, that the majority of that
he could not take upon himself to judge meeting were not freeholders. When he
in what degree the hon. gent. enjoyed spoke of presenting their petition, they
the faculty of bearing; but he could not heard him with as much silence as then
think that gentleman possessed the faculty prevailed in the House, but the moment
in perfection, if he attributed to him words he spoke in favour of any opinion of his
which had never escaped him. He had own, not exactly conformable to theirs,
never said nor implied, that that House the tumult was so sudden and over-bear-
was bound to receive any petition, how- ing, that he told them, smiling, since they
ever offensively worded. He had said would not hear him, it was useless to
that it was the practice of the House to re- trouble them any farther. As, however,
ceive petitions, though they might be he had promised to present their petition,
thought to be somewhat objectionable in he should now support the motion that it
the use of certain expressions; and he should lie upon the table.
now said, that those who imagined there Admiral Harvey said, that he, as a free-
was a studied offence in that or any holder of Middlesex, would have attended
other petition offered to their notice, were the meeting, but that he thought it an er
bound as men of sense and men of spirit parle meeting, and convened for the pur-
to vote against the admission of such pe- pose of censuring that conduct which he

had approved and followed; and consistMr. Byng rose merely to observe upon ently with which he should now vote, that an expression which had fallen from an the petition be rejected. hon. gent. who had arraigned the respect- The House then divided; For receiving ability of the meeting at Hackney. That the petition 59; Against it; 139; Majo: hon. gent. was not present at that meet- rity 81. ing. He (Mr. Byng) was; and he felt no [MOTION RESPECTING THE LATE TREAhesitation in saying, that it was one of the SURER OF The Post OFFICE IN IRELAND.) most numerous and respectable meetings Sir John Newport said, that, to the ques: of freeholders he had ever witnessed. He tion which he had to bring before the added too, that nine tenths of that meet House, he hoped the most calm, dispasing did not think that House had the signate, and deliberate discussion would right of commitment in cases of libel. He be given. It was of most material imjoined with them in that opinion. (Some portance, as it concerned the revenue of murmurs.) He repeated that such was Ireland, and deeply affected the interests his opinion, and that if the House had of that country. Under these considerac VOL. XVI,

3 G

tions he was convinced that the discus- that in the incidents of the customs, sir

[ocr errors]

dices. The legislature of that country from the 5th of August, 1807, to 1808; had been transferred to this, the revenue and that he was superannuated after being then of that country should be the pecu- in office but eight years, during which he liar care of England, inasmuch as its be had not attended to the duties of his office. netit was the benefit of England, and as He had another resolution respecting the the neglect would be most calamitous to grant to the treasurer of the post office. both countries. He had long considered He could not help stating the grounds upon the plan of incidents as one extremely which this gentleman had requested a prejudicial, and one which it was most superannuation. The money received in necessary to abolish. Under the denomi- the post office, instead of being delivered nation of incidents, not only pensions and into the Bank, was left in the hands of the salaries were ranked, but every emolu- deputy-treasurer. A reform was thought ment and fee obtained by those con- necessary, and a minute was made for the nected with the revenue. In bringing purpose of getting the money into the before the House the present subject, he Bank. Many attempts were made to do was not unattended by authorities of the away this minute, that the cash might remost unquestionable nature. The commis- turn into the old channel; but the effect sioners appointed to inquire into the abuses was ineflectual. The treasurer waited for of the Irish revenues, had observed and a government which would superannuate censured this system, as most injurious to him for his services, and he at last found the interests of the country. He would it. He supposed, as he had not made direct his attention to two cases in which away with the money which went through grants were made of pensions: the first his hands, that he was entitled to a large case was that in which the grant of 1,000l. remuneration. The last resolution he had was made to Mr. Croker, surveyor-gene- to make was, that the House considered sal, for extra official duties ; this appeared, such a system of conduct as this highly rein the 9th Report of the commissioners, prehensible, and a violation of what it was censured. He did not mean to under the duty of ministers to preserve. That value the exertions of Mr. Croker, or the the public money should not be made use services which he had rendered; the of by any officers, and that such as had commissioners allowed that his business done so, were deserving the reprehension was of a most weighty nature, but yet not of that House. The hon. bart., said, that such as to justify a grant to such an what he had stated were but parts of a amount. He could not conceive any very extensive system. It would he found greater evil than that of applying the that many officers, nominally superanpublic money upon occasions where it nuated, had salaries under government, was not deserved; the evils resulting from arising from other situations; that 5 or a practice of this nature would be of great 6,0001. a year were given to a storemagnitude and extent. The first resolu- keeper, when it could be proved, that betion he had to put was, that it appeared, tween 130,000). and 150,0001. value in from the 9th Report of the commissioners, goods had disappeared, and never been that the sum of 1,000 1, was, in the year been accounted for by those who were 1807, paid to Mr. Croker for his extra justly responsible. He conjured the House official duties, together with the annual to negative those grants; the public must sum of 8001., a house, &c. that the com- be discontented at seeing the rewards of missioners of inquiry did not conceive self-denominated services. those duties were such as to entitle him to Mr. Foster would state in broad and such a sum.

Tev next resolution he had strong terms, that what the hon. baronet to propose related to a grant to sir George advanced respecting Mr. Croker was not Shee, receiver general; a grant in con- founded in fact. Had be read the gih tradiction to the rules of that House. He Report through, he would have found had been in office only eight years, dur- that he was mistaken. The sum of 1,0001. ing which he had performed none of the was not given to that gentleman for extra duties of it. This was no case of com- | services, but as a composition for the miseration; it was the case of a man of claim he had on government to a much -rank and fortune; he was, nevertheless, larger amount. (Here he read the me. superannuated.

The second resolution morial of Mr. Croker from the Report, in was, that it appeared to the commissioners corroboration of this assertion.] It was a debt due to him, and which he would have hon. gentlemen opposite to him, had sporecovered, had he sued at law for it. This ken of Mr. Croker, he certainly rose to he trusted, would be a sufficient answer address the House without any personal to his first Resolution. The subject of the feeling upon this question. He wished to second Resolution had been discussed and submit to the House a statement of the decided already. With respect to the mat- facts of the case, and uuless he very much ter of the third Resolution, he was per- flattered himself, he should convince the suaded that the more it was inquired into, House of the perfect propriety of every the less would it be found to warrant the part of the business in which Mr. Croker conclusions drawn by the hon. baronet. was concerned. Mr. Croker was appointed The observations of the hon. gent. might in the year 1800, surveyor general of the have applied to the former constitution of port of Dublin, with a salary of 800!. per the Irish Treasury. It had been formerly annum, being 1001. a year less than any the custom to allow the receiver-general a other surveyor general bad, when ema quarter per cent. on the sums passed ployed, though his duty required a conthrough his hands, which on the average stant residence in the city of Dublin, amounted to upwards of 5,000l. a year, but when he came into office, he found very latterly this enormous emolument was considerable arrears of duties due from the prohibited. It ceased after the death of distillers. It had been said that the comsir Henry Cavendish, and his successor missioners ought to have known of these who should have enjoyed it, was entitled arrears, and have prevented them, but the to a moderate compensation.

That was

fact was, that the commissioners could not settled at 1,400l. a year.

There never

ascertain the amount of the arrears nor was an officer more fairly entitled to com- the quantity of spirits that had gone into pensation than sir George Shee. Would consumption without payment of duty the hon. bart. say that 1,000l. a year was a until the end of every quarter, and then it compensation for discharging the duties of sometimes happened that it was too late to an office through which three millions and recover them. Mr. Croker, upon his a half of the public money passed, and for coming into office, turned his attention to the due execution of which security to this subject, and he found in an act of parthe amount of 25,000?. was given? With liament then in force, the means of comrespect to sir George Shee, there was no pelling the distillers to make their returns, favour asked or granted, nor was there any and pay the duties weekly. In this act due. He lamented the hon. member had there was a clause enacting, that if any disa not given him an opportunity of answering tiller should suffer an arrear to exist bethe other strong cases to which he alluded. yond a given time, he should be liable to He was convinced they would be found a certain penalty, one half of which was equally unsupported Without fear of to go to the crown, and the other to the contradiction, he would assert, that the prosecutor. When Mr. Croker put this present government of Ireland was as strict law into force, it was well understood by and economical as even the hon. bart. the distillers of Dublin, that bis sole intencould desire.

tion was to take measures for enforcing the Mr. W. Smith observed, from the Report payment of the money due to the public, of the commissioners, that Mr. Croker was weekly; that in case of any failure on Rot entitled to the sum granted. What their part in paying the duties, he should, ever mis-statements there have been pro- indeed, by prosecuting them, become enceeded from that board. It did not appear titled to certain penalties, but that he from their Report, that any extra official would not touch one farthing of those pe. duties were performed. If the statement nalties, provided they would pay their arof the right hon. member was correct, rears, and that the board of excise would Mr. Croker was a most injured man; for remit the other half of the penalties. In instead of a paltry remuneration of 1,0001. pursuance of his plan, Mr. Croker did, in he was entitled to a moiety of penalties, enforcing the payment of arrears, obtain amounting to upwards of 40,0001. for which judgments for penalties to the amount of he had commenced suits. In his opinion 42,0001. and by the strict letter of the law, there was no censure too strong for the he would have been entitled to one half of conduct of the commissioners who made hem; but in consideration of the underthe Report before the House.

standing with the distillers, he merely kept Mr. Croker said, that after the very those penalties in terrorem over them, and kind and handsome manner in which the remitted them as soon as the arrears were

paid. He wished here to observe, that of this business. - It appeared to him, that this was not, strictly speaking, Mr. Croker's there was strong ground to complain of official duty ; every gentleman knew that the commissioners upon whose report the the departments of superintendance and hon. baronet had brought forward this controul were totally distinct from those subject. They had, in their Report, of account and check. Mr. Croker omitted all the circumstances which he was in the former department, and had stated to the House, though they therefore this was not his official duty. must have been acquainted with them. Mr. Croker proceeded in this way for The memorial which Mr. Croker preseveral years enforcing the payment sented to the lord lieutenant distinctly of the arrears, and regularly giving up stated the grounds of his claim, but it conthe penalties. It now only remained for cluded, as is usual in memorials, with him to state how the money which Mr. requesting the favourable attention of the Croker had received, became vested in lord lieutenant to it, in consideration of his him. Two distillers, of the name of J. long, faithful, and extra-official services. and E. Edwards, had several times got The clerk in entering it, instead of eninto arrears, but upon paying them up, tering the whole grounds of the claim, the penalty had always been remitted. merely stated, that it was for extra-offiIt happened, however, that on one in- cial services, and so the commissioners had formation against them, for penalties to lisingenuously stated it, although they the amount of 2,1001. they did not pay had all the documents before them. The the arrears, and the consequence was, that impression which the Report must make evidence was produced against them, and upon every man's mind must be similar to a conviction took place. The penalty that which it had made upon the bon. was hung in terrorem over them, to en- baronet's, and it was only by wading force the payment of the arrears, but they through an appendix of 300 folio pages in did not, in fact they could not pay, which they had buried Mr. Croker's mefor they were insolvent. The legal offi- morial, that the real truth of the case could cers of the court where the conviction be found out, while they inserted their took place, proceeded to levy the penalty own garbled story on the very front of (Mr. Croker being then in England ;) a their Report. The Report stated, that it warrant was issued, and the money was was the practice of the Board of Excise levied, and then it was vested by law, to remit the penalties, but it did not state one half in the crown, and one half in what was the fact, and what in candour the prosecutor. Mr. Croker being, as he at least might have been stated, that Mr. had already stated, at that time in Eng- Croker was entitled to one moiety of the land, in discharge of his duty, did not penalties. The Report also stated, that know any thing of this transaction till he there was no difference between this case was called upon to know whether he had and any other—the difference was this, received his moiety of the penalty, it'then that in other cases the penalties had not appeared that the money, when levied, been levied, but remitted, and that in this had been paid into the hands of the collec- case, of the 2,1001. penalty, the money tor of the Excise, and he, by mistake, in- had actually been levied, and of course stead of carrying it to the account of fines had become legally vested under the Act and seizures, carried it to the account of of parliament, and with this legal and arrears. The money having thus been le marked difference, the commissioners have vied, a moiety of it became legally vested been pleased to say, that they could see in Mír. Croker, but it having got, by the

It was a singular circumstance mistake to which he had alluded, into the belonging to this case, that although he treasury, the mistake could not be recti- had the honour, an honour of which he fied but by a memorial. If Mr. Croker was proud, of being intimate with the nohad been in Ireland when this transac- ble lord, then chief secretary for Ireland, tion took place, there would have been no lord Wellington,) and though he was mistake upon the subject, because the living in bis father's house in Dublin, at half of the 2,1001. penalty recovered would the time when this job, as it had been have been paid to him under the Act of called, was going on, he never heard one Parliament, and there would then have word about it, nor knew of the transaction, been an end of the business, but the mountil he read it in the Report. He thought ney when levied having been carried to a it no slight a proof of the fairness of the wrong account, had produced the whole transaction, that so near a relation had


« AnteriorContinuar »