« AnteriorContinuar »
cehe right to effect as
independent object of the nobld be disa
object that could be imagined. He agreed that the public ought to be satisfied as to the independence of that House, but the way to effect this was not by masking the matter. The right honourable gentleman over the way (the chancellor of the exchequer), said that false expectations of relief from burthens were held out. Ile agreed with him that such expectations would be disappointed. But this was not the object of the noble lord ; he said, “ Give us an independent Parliament, and that will be the first step to. wards a due economy; give us a Parlia:nent that will command the confidence of the people, by convincing them that their earnings will not be misapplied.” Better expend fifty millions on real services; yes, one hundred and fifty millions if necessary, than expend 50,0001. in the House of Commons. It was needless to dwell long on this point, as there appeared a general sentiment in favour of the motion. But he objected to any tedious and circuitous mode of coming at the end proposed, and was wherefore hostile to any alteration in the notion. The object of the .noble lord was to shew, what members of the House of Commons were, by places and pensions, under the influ. ence of the ministers. If the country should be astonished to find how few they were, as some had stated, it was so far good. But if, on the contrary, it should appear that there was an incredible number who either directly or indirectly were exposed to this influence, it was proper that this should be known. But in neither way could the object be gained by blinking the business, and therefore he would vote for the original inotion.
Mr. Huskisson observed, that his pension was a floating one, and was only paid him when not in cilice.
Mr. Calcraft would not trouble the House long. The noble lord's roposition was, that a list of the members who were directly or indirectly under the influence of ministers, should be laid on the table. If there were persons who had their patrimony out of the public money, it wts proper that they should be known. There were some who could not have their marriage settlements with out pensions, reversions, &c. &c. 'The honourable gen. tleman opp site (Mr. Hinskissin), hal a gran, which, from its naiure, ceased when he came into office. This was only 10001. and his office or hi had 001. He coul:) not therefore hesitate in his choice between them. But if he was not mistaken, the honourable gentleman had
it winsonho had their laid on the under the the inen
a sinecure place too, which he enjoyed along with the office, and indeed, in casting his eye along the treasury bench, it was difficult to find one who had not some great emolument of this nature. It ought to be seen on which side of the House the greatest portion of independence existed, and the list ought to be laid on the table unmixed with baser matter. He concluded by bearing testimony to the merits of Mr. Bankes, and by contending that the committee, of which he was chairman, ought not to be loaded with any additional business.
Mr. G. Rose with great warmth said, that the extent of his rewards for his public services were well known to the public. He challenged enquiry, and wished that the terms of the present inotion might be rendered as satisface tory as possible.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that the motion should be this : “ That there should be an instruction to the committee of public expenditure to procure a list of all offices, places, pensions, &c. specifying by whom they were held, with the exception of the army and navy, and offices below 2001. a year in the revenue; and cause this list to be laid on the table of the House."
Lord Cochrane observed, that his sole motive for mak, ing this motion was a regard to the public benefit. He wished to include the army and navy, because of the manner in which he had observed cominissions to have been disposed of in the latter service. The assen! to his motion would tend to establish ministers in their situations ; for, though they should secure all the votes in the House, they could not keep their places long against the current of public opinion, which would set against them if they negatived it. The committee of finance had sufficient business already. If, after the committee, for which he nioved, should have made their report as to the members, it should be thought desirable to have an alphabetical list of all places, pensions, &c. he would have no objection. It would be an object of great curiosity. He would not have these lopt off immediately, even in cases where they should not appear to be absolutely necessary. lie thought that the subject should be gravely consi'lered in Parliament. He was of opinion, that many would be ashamed of these practices if they were ex o ed io public view, and therefore desired to give them publicity, Mr. N. Calvert thoughi it improper to refer every
been disposid tend to should
mote kishould not subject shopinion, thietes online!
thing that came into dispute in that House to the com. mittee of finance, as it was impossible that it could attend to every thing of this sort.
Lord Henry Petty urged the necessity of avoiding all appearance of concealment. In the essential object of the motion, there appeared to be a general concurrence, and whatever might be the differences of opinion as to the form, he hoped that this would make a most useful impression on the public; a thing so eminently desirable at the present crisis. His lordship observed as to the form, that there was no occasion for a particular reference to the committee of finance, as this point was fully within their present province. But the object of the noble lord was not any general inquiry: What he wanted to ascertain was the influerice which the crown exercised in that House, and to this he had heard no objection. He believed that the noble lord would find that influence less than he ima. gined, although it might be greater than some were willing to allow. He understood from every quarter of the House that there was an imperious call from every part of the country for some such motion as this. He could not conceive why there should be any alteration, and why the truth should not be brought to light by a committee appointed for that particular purpose. A great deal of distrust of this House existed, and this was liable to be used to the worst of purposes. It was therefore of import. ance to take the readiest and simplest mode to remove it. He would therefore vote for the original motion. He then adverted to the grants by the crown, and contended that the House had a right to examine into the exercise of the discretionary power entrusted to it, and to apply such remedies with regard to future grants as the subject should appear to demand. As unanimity in this case was desirable, he hoped the amendment would be withdrawn.
Mr. C'anning agreed that in general it was wise not to Tefer every controversy to the committee of finance, as this would be constituting theni arbiters of the business of the House. But the noble lord himself (Petty) agreed that this was a case strictly for their consideration, and all that his right honourable friend proposed was, that they should take up this affair immediately and report to the House. With respect to the interference with other duties, all the committee would have to do would be to issue its precepts to the different oflices, to receive the returps, and lay
thern them before the House. It was one of the merits of the committee, that these things could be referred to it. He objected to the idea of the noble lord for including the oslicers of the army and navy who had seats in the Houses. Mr. Perceval said he had already stated, that he at first thought of this mode of proceeding : but it afterwards occurred to bim that the committee might be able to direct the attention of the House to something in the accounts which might escape his observation. He could not forbear observing how unfortunate he had been, after having adopted the suggestion of the honourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Whitbread), that that gentleman should have abandoned his own opinion the moment he (Mr. Perceval) thought of acting on it...
Mr. Parnell objected to the amendment, and said that it would not include the places and pensions from the re, venues of the West Indies. The House then divided on Lord Cochrane's motion,
Majority against the motion
29 When strangers were re-admitted into the gallery, Mr, · Perceval was moving his amendment, on which he said
it would only be necessary that the committee of finance should issue their precepts to procure the proper returns from the different public offices.
The motion being put, Mr. Nicolas Calvert objected to the exception as to the places under two hundred pounds per annum, lest the committee should feel itself cramped,
Lord Cochrane proposed as an amendment after the reference to the committee of finance, to expunge the whole words of the motion, and to substitute in their place the words of his original motion.
Lord Henry Petty again repeated the objection formerly urged by him, that by the constitution of the committee of finance the present was an inquiry which was already before them, and which if they failed to investigate, they would not do their duty. To prove this he requested that the order appointing the finance committee might be rend. This being done, he said, if it was meant that the committee should quit every other subject of inquiry, and attend to this alone till they could make their report, and that such report could be made immediately, he should bave no objection to it, as then it might be of some uti. lity; as the motion stood, however, it could in his opinion produce no gooil.' .
Mr. William Smith thonght an order of the Ilpuse to every public office to produce the lists in question, would do better than adopting ihe motion as it now stood. He hoped the motion would be so worded as to instruct the committee immediately to proceed in the inquiry in quesą tion, or that it would be withdrawa, and the papers be called for by an order of the House.
Mr. Whitbread said, in answer to the allusion to his con luct, that, concurring as he did in principle with the noble lord who had brought forward the motion, and differing from him only in the mode of proceeding, he submitted the suggestion which he had thrown out to the noble lord, and not to the right honourable gentleman. The right honourable gentleman had indeed gone in with bis (Mr. Whitbread's) suggestion as to form ; but it did not from thence follow that he must agree in the mor tion of the right honourable gentleman, to the principle of which he objected. He thought the right honourable gentleman would better consult the feelings of the public by agreeing to the original motion. He hoped at least the right bonourable gentleman would allow his motion to be so altered, as that the committee should be instructed to proceed forth with, and that they should also in their report distinguish those sineçures, &c. which were held by members of that House, so that the noble lord's motion might not be entirely evaded. The noble lord unquestionably meant that there should be exhibited during the present session of Parliament a list of all the members of that House holding sinecure offices, places, &c. under go. vernment, and in that way liable to have their conduct influenced. If such a return was not inade, the House would disgrace itself. Those who respected the House at present would suspect that all was not right, and those who already suspected them would have their syspicions confirmed, .
Mr. Bankes wished that, the accounts might be ordered to be laid before the House, that the committee might not fall into disgrace. It was impossible they could report this session, and it was equally impossible to say how early they might be able to do so in the next. . If the re turns were to be made to tbe House, no time would be lost VoLI.-1807.