Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

ticularly unwise. It seemed the honourable gentleman *oppisie (Mr. D. Browne), thought sonietbing be had said wouli have an injurious effect on the public mind, if suffered to go abroad." But the expression, whatever it was that struck the honourable gentleman as improper, did go abr vad. If what lic had said was capable of retua tation, it ought to go abroad, accompanied by the refutation. If it could not be refuted, it ought to go abroad with the authority of incontrovertible truth. The member who enforced the right of exclusion, ought to be sure that he exercised it with a sound discretion.

Tle Speaker felt it his duty to remind the honourable genileman and the liouse of the irregularity of the con. versation that had ben gone into.

Mr. Canning said, there would be much difficulty from converoing into a right what the Speaker had very properly deraminated a sufferance. Whatever inconven niences attended ile exertion of the right, it was better to leave a matter of so much delicacy as it was, than to run the hazard of introducing greater inconveniences by altere ing it.

Sir Samuel Romilly said, no man was more a friend than he was to the real and substantial privileges of the 1!ouse of l'ommons; but he was sure the Mouse would pot consid, r a mere pecuniary advantage to the detriment of justice, among those substantial privileges. They lain tiff, in a suit against a menber of Parliamoņi in Chancery, was obliged to furnish the defendant with an office copy of the bill, with the subpæna, calling upon him to an, swer, contrary to the general practice, according to which custom, the defendant paid for the office copy of the plaintiff's bill, and the plaintiff for the office copy of the defendant's answer. There were a number of cases in which the court decided that each party was to abide in its own costs, and thus the moncy expended for the aca commodation of members of Parliament, in the manner he had described, was frequently lost for ever. It free quently happened tog, that the delay and expence of justice occasioned many a good cause to be abandoned be fore it could come to a decision. With a view to remedy these eyils, and to render justice more equal, he moved, " That leave be given to bring in a bill to alter the praca tice of the Court of Chancery, relative to the delivery of

[ocr errors]

bill

[merged small][ocr errors]

senthe Secretard move for half-pagefest day dies

bills to members of Parliament, being in the situation of de fendauts."

The Secretary at War gave notice, that on Thursday next he should move for leave to enact some new, regulations wi h respect to the half-pay of officers. : Mr. Dent gave notice, that the next day he should sube mit a motion relative to the West India trade.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave notice, that on Monday next he would move the army extraordinaries in the committee of supply, lle also gave notice, wat as Friday next would be the last day for receiving election petitions, he would, on Saturday, propose an arrangement for the trial of such petitions. He remained still of opinion, that it would be inexpedient to try any in the pre

sent session, but such as were likely to take up very little .. time; the cases of double returi, for instance: and even

of these, none that could run to any extraordinary lengtlı. He thought it would be desirable, however, that where the consent of the parties could be obtained, the Irish pe. titions should be sent to commissioners, as the exa.nina. tion of witnesses may be taken in the vacation, and the final decision may be thus greatly expedited.

Mr., Thornton presented a petition from the Sierra Leo one company, praying aid.

Lord Temple wished to know if the bill for transferring this possession to the crown was to be carried into a law; any grant to the company would, in that case, be unne cessary.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that a bill was now in progress. The aid to be granted was only for the maintenance of the settlement till tbc transfer could take place.

Mr. Dent gave notice, that he would in due season opPose what he could describe by no milder term, than that of the rankcst job that had ever come before Parlia, meni. PLACES, PENSIONS, AND SINECURES, HELD BY MEMBERS

OF PARLIAMENT.' in Lord Cochrane would not have come forward with the motion he was now about to offer, if there had been any other mode of bringing a sense of shame upon those who wera not ashamed to live upon the country, at a time when its burthens were scarcely tolerable; at a time when, if the new system of finance had not afforded a relaxation from any further increase of taxes, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to discover any taxes that

could be borne ; a state of things approaching fast to the *æra of a national barkrupicy. In this s'ate of things, he thought it would be doing essential service to the country to expose the places, pensions, and emoluments, held by members of Parliament, and their immediate connections. He did not wish to diminish the proper patronage, nor to limit the rewards of services, or the salaries

of public serva ts. flis object was, that no part of the · public money should be paid except for services done. It

was not the burthen, but the abuse that the country coni. plained of. The advertisements in the public prints, relating to the purchase and sale of seats in Parliament, were with the public a ground for believing that such a traffic was but the entrance into a corrupt trade; such was the language the cons'ituents held to thicir candidates on the hustings, Revolutionary views may be imputed to hin, as they were to others who wished for such investigations : but he was actuated by the purest inotives, and he hoped for the unanimous concurrence of the House. It was pro. per to shew the people, that thére was nothing in the cha. Tacter and habits of those wlio composed the llouse, that ought to be concealed. He therefore moved, that a committec be appointed to inquire and report what places, salaries, or emoluments derived from the public, were held by members of Parliament, their wives or dependants, or others in trust for them, in possession or reversion, throughout the whole of his inajesty's dominions,

Mr. Cochrane Johnstone seconded the motion.

Mr. Bankes thought the information desired by the now ble lord desirable in many res fects, but it would be neither practicable nor proper to pass the order in iis present shape. There was no precedent of such an order on the journals, thuugh the House had frequently thought it right to interpose and check the excessive or improper contribu. tion of salaries, pensions, and emoluments, derived from the public. So extensive a field of inquiry could hardly be reduced to any of the known rules adopted by committecs of the House. The places held by members of Parlia. ment were besides known, and the pension list was either regularly laid on the table every session, or may be on the puoţion of any member, The committee in which he had

dhe the honour to preside (the committee of financc) had order. ed the pension list. 1o be laid beforo it, and would proceeddo to examine the circumstances connected with it in the ext session. It was invidious and improper to convey to Uhe public an insinuation, inat members of Parliament were influenced by considerations of private advantage for theme selves or their dependants. lle knew no ground for casting at the present time an imputation never cast at any former time. For it was most essential, that at this criti. cal period, the character of the House of Cominons should not bc degraded or depreciated. It was also unfair, as well as impolitic and unpatriotic, to depreciate the resourçes of the country, as the noble lord haid done, by stating that we were on the verge of bankruptcy. Though sensiz ble of the difficulties of the times, and of the relief arising from thic judicious suspension of taxa'ion, every mun of jurigment, who considered the situation of the coun'ry, would allow there were ample resources to meet the dilli, culties that we had to encounter. He did not see how he advertisements for the purchase and sale of scals in a cer. tain assembly, should be construed into a argument of the general corruption of members of Parliament. Je agreed witb the noble lord that the public servants, and particularly those of the higher classes, were rather under than over paid. There was only one species of pensions, which it was necessary to inquire particularly in :o. Within the three last years the several public departments had gone into the pracțice «f granting pensions within themselves, without complying with the provisions of Mr. Burke's act, that all pensions should be from the exchequer only. Some of the public departments had withdrawn themselves even from the controul ot the treasury in this Jespect. On the whole, Lowever desirous to afford ile public information, he could not consent to pass the noble loril's motion in its present shape.

Alr, Curwen bad hoped the noble lord's motion would have passed without a dissenting voice. lle had hoped some measures would be taken to put an end to the dise graceful scenes that had formed a subject of such discredi. table crimination and recrimination a few nigh's since. It was no objection that there was no precedent, the unprecedented state of the thing was a stronger ground for the investigation. When the exigency of the times was such as to require the exertion of every arm, the want of preces

dent

dent was not to be pleaded in bar to the satisfaction due to the public mind. The finance committee had an extensive range of inquire before it, and ought not to suffer a day to elapse without re, orting something. That committee was.' not constituted exactly as le thought it should be, thougla: as the cha ige was made, he had no objcction to the gentle men iniroduced. The practice of granting pensions without the controol of the treasury or excheqner, was a stronger ground of inquiry. When it was recorded on the Journale » that the seats in The House were bought and sold like bule locks in Smithfield market (Horne Tooke's petition), it was too much to find fault with the noble lord for adverting, to newspaper advertisements. He had hoped that the obligation on the late Chancellor of Ireland to resign his . pension, it he should again bold an office of equal emolu.. ment, would have produced a corresponding effect on the holders of pensions opposite, and that they would have rosigned their pensions while they Ireld their offices. He com: lained that the power of the crown had greatly increased since it had been declared to be already excessive; and, as a friend to the democratic part of the constitution, he wished to see that excessive power reduced within proa per bounds. The excess of power rendered it insecure; and when the influence of corruption and weakness was. combined with the oreration of that excessive power, the danger was en handel, and the mischief aggrav: e!. To : refuse such an inquiry as this, would be to do the House more mischief than all the abuse of all the Corresponding Societies could do. Without shewing a disposition to satisfy the public in a case of this kind, the right honourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Perceval) would count in vain upon his majority. If the right honourable gentleman would act on fair principles towards the poblic, he would sur port him, however he may be dissatisfied with the manner in which he came into power. As every arm would be required for the public detence, every mind ought to be satisfied that justice was done to the public. This he said as a friend to the revolution whichi placed the present royal family on the throne.

Mr. Whitbread hoped, that as there was no doubt that an opinion prevailed as to the existence of much corruption in the House, the motion would be so framed, as to retate that opinion, or at least to shew in what degree and in what üsiance it was warranted. The object of the noble

.67
. "

. tarde

« AnteriorContinuar »