Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

lord seemed to be, to place uncletype oollected view; a mass of information now detached, and in many instances inaco: cessible. If the motion was referred to the committee of: finance, with an intruction to inquire into and report upon tbc matter contained in it, the report would probably be of a most useful description. . .

· The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, no opposition, would be made to tlie, motion it the noble mover would as“) sent to a modification, such as was suggested from the other side. It was his wish to give all possible information. To call for å return of all those connected with members of Parliameat would be to lead to an endless list of persons, from which no practical result could be derived. Officers i in the army and navy, for instance, and on the half pay, would be included. If the matter was referred to the coin. mittee, it might inquire not only into the pensions held by members of Parliament, which would be distinguished by the names, but into all pensions by whomsoever held. The lists of pensions and places may be bad from the different departinents; but, if the inquiry of the committee was deemed satisfactory, he saw no objection to it. He thought the motion ought to be extended in some respects, and narrowed in others, in order to give it a useful and pot an unnecessary range. The crown being allowed the power of granting pensions to a certain amount, it would be competent to inquire before the report of the committee, tas; well as after, whether the pension list, ought to be reduced.' The House having fixed the amount to be granted, he: questiined whether it would be right to canvas the propriety of every individual grant. Ile did not know whether the course he proposed fell in 'with the views of the honourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Curwen). He looked forino support, but from a strict performance of his duty. He should never seek popularity by false representations, injurious to the members of Parliament, and tending to excite a distrust of the means of the country. He was unwilling that any information practically beneficial should be withheld. The conmittee would inquire into the nature and extent of the pensions and emoluments, and by whom they were beli."

Lord Ossalston was of opinion, that it was most desirable the House and the country should be acquainted with the facts, whatever they might be. lle thought that the noble lord's motion did not go far enongh, aud that the return to it would be by no means satisfactory.

Mr.

barmtrthe peope sounds as and

Mr. John Smith stated, that he had had much communication with his constituents, who were numerous, and an opinion certainly prevailed amnag them, that the House of Commons was not so independent as it ought to be. He wished that the present motion should be agreed to, that the public might see that the pensions and places to members of Parliament were mich fewer than they imagined them to be. He could not coincide with his honourable friend behind him (Curwen), respecting the extension of the inlinence of the crown. He thought it would be very imprudent indeed to diminish the power of the crown, especially at a moment like the present, if certain reports (probably the armistice between France and Russia) which he had heard on his way to the House should prove true, When we were surrounded by so many dangers, he did not wish to have that power diminished, any more than he wished religious cries to prevail, which tended to produce disunion antongst us at a moment when unaninity was so necessary, He thought the agreeing to the motion would do a great deal of good and could not possibly do barm.

Mr, Lethridge observed, that in the county which he represented, the people were open-mouthed about places and pensions. These sounds were not pleasant in the ears of many, but they were sounds and nothing else. There was nothing so dangerous to the wealth and prosperity of the country in places and pensions as was innagined, Many people thought them much more numerous than they really were ; and he would certainly agree to the mor Lion if it was qualified. He was glad that the right ho. nourable gentleman below (the chancellor of the exche, guer) had agreed to the motion, as this would tend to put in its proper light the motion for the exclusion of strangers, which took place the night before ; which, he was conyinced, originated solely with the gentleman who proposed it. He supported the motion, because he was con. vinced that the public thought that a great deal more undue influence preyailed in the House than the facts would prove.

Mr. Lyttleton combated the rcasoning of an honourable gentleman below (Mr Bankes), with regard to the precedents and other points. This was not a case that required precedents. There was a suspicion amongst the public of much corrupt influence in that House; and, if false, it VOL. I.--1807,

qught

Ee

ought to be done away. One of the greatest grievances with the public at present was, thc apprehension of the misapplication of the public money; and really when he considered some late divisions that had taken place, he was rather inclined to think the apprebension not without foundation (Here the Speaker called to order). He would leave that to the quiet contemplation of the House. The power of the crown had certainly increased, and ought to be diminished.

Sir J. Sebright observed that it was the opinion of the public, that the pensions and sinecure places j revailed to a much greater degree than they actually did, it was pros per the misapprebension should be removed. He agreed with the honourable member over the way, in the impropriety of the cry of No popery. He would vote for the motion.

Mr. W. Smith was anxious to rise after his honourable friend (Mr. J. Smith), who had spoke about weakening the power of the crown. No one would wish to weaken the constitutional power of the crown, but it was proper to destroy any corrupt influence that it might possess, as this would strengthen its real power, as far as it rested on public opinion. The noble lord wished for a list of the pensions to members of Parliament, and not for a general mass, and he saw no good that could arise from puting the Tlouse to the trouble of extracting this list. He did, not agree with his honourable friend (Bankes), that the matter ought to be referred to the committee ot' finance, as that committee had abundance of business already. The right honourable gentleman (Perceval) over the way said, that false and groundless nouons of relief were held ont to the people from this motion. If the people expected any retrenchment that could take place, would give them any sensible relief from taxation, thiey would be mistaken ; for in an annual expenditure of 50 millions, though 500,0001. should be saved by this means, it would only be a saving of a hundredth part. But the great object was to give the people à symptom of public economy, and a proof that they had a House of Commons.which would watch with proper care over the expenditure. As to the grants of the crown, he quoted the authority of Blackstone, to shew that the flouse might and ought to examine into the grants to individuals, if they should be supposed to interfere with

the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the public interest. It had been said in that House, from the lips of a man whoin he had long respected (Mr. Burke we suppose), that those who had received grants from the crown had a vested interest in them. He wished to express his decided dissent from that doctrine, as hc. could conceive cases in which it might be the duty of the House to do away such grants. He thought that the salaries of efficient offices ought to be , liberal and fully adequate to the duties. First, because it would be pernicious in a country like this to allow offices to be monopolized by the landed or moneyed aristocracy of the country, which would be the case unless the salaries were sillicient. He thought so for another reason. The practice of granting pensions to persons on their retiring from office, he consiilered as extremely pernicions. He who had spent the gr.ater part of his life in the public service, and had executed his duty with ability and approbation, ought undoubtedly to have such a remuneration as would make his laiter days easy and comfortable. But by ihe abuse of an excellent principle, this practice had degenerated sometimes into a mere matter of favouri ism. In order that there might be no pretence for these pensions on quitting office, he wished the salaries to be liberal, and ihat those in otlice should consider them as their only coinpensation. If some should not chuse to enter into office on these terins, or give up any previous employment lest they shoull be turned out, there wai ed hunireds of o hers willing to accept them who could do the duty as well. lle saw no objection to the noble lord's motion as it stood, and th:ught the amend nent proposed unneces sary.

Mr. Wilberforce, after adverting to the integrity and independence of his honourable friend (Mr. Bank's), expre, sel his poore that he shoulil, have said any thing on the present occasion which might hive the ap') arance of a desire to prevent enquiry. It was highly gratifying to him, and must be so to the noble lord (Cochrane), to see that this motion was received wiih general approbution, and that there appeared to be scarcely any difference, except as to the form. He thought the mode prop kel hy the chancellor of the exchequer the most pr per, bit differed from him as to the grants by the crown, which might be examinel, though not malignantly nor invidi. ously. With regard to the salaries of public men, he Ee 2

thought

thought that here too a prudent parsimony ought to prevail, for it ought to be considered that they were paid not only by their salaries, but by the distinction they enjoyed and the opportunity of transmitting their names to posterity as faithful and able sevants of the public. He was convinced that nothing was better calculated than openness and fair dealing, to make public men and Parliament stand well in public opinion, and he was glad that this molion had been made, as it would tend to secure that object. But there was a danger of hunt. ing too eagerly after popularity. The circumstance that rendered popular governments more capable of great exertions than others, was the affection of the people to their institutions, and their consequent willingness to bear the public burthens. It was, therefore, of the last importance that the House of Commons should stand well with the considerate part of the community, particularly the middle classes, which formed the most valua. ble part of it. If an idea had gone forth that there was a great deal of corruption in that House, it was desirable that the public should be satisfied that there was a great deal more independence in it than was ima. gined. This motion came rather suddenly, and he was desirous to adjourn the debate for two or three days, to consider about the most proper mode of attaining the object in view (a cry of no, no !). He doubted whether it ought to referred to the committee of finance or to a separate committee. The committee of financé brad certainly a great deal of business already, and would probably bring sums into the public service that were at present lost to the state. But the point deserved consideration

Mr. Sheridan began by observing that he should feel it an idle intrusion on the time of the House to enter, at any length, into this subject. The proposition lay in a narrow compass. The noble lord had not prefaced it by many arguments, nor did he think that there was any necessity for much observation. If he rightly comprehended his object it was this : to ascertain how far the influence of government extended over the members of h !! u: in the other side it was said a list of all the pensions and places should be produced, and that a s lection right be made from the mass. But this was the most auknard and circuitous way of coining at he

object

« AnteriorContinuar »