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which induced him to think that Lord Fitzwilliam had been harshly, and even rigorously treated. Ministers could not be ignorant of the measures expected in Ireland after the accession os the Duke of Portland to the Cabinet} if they had Jtnown them from no other quarter, they must have known them fiom Mr. Grattan and Mr. Ponsonby, who spoke upon the subject without reserve.—Is, in pursuing new measures, Lord Fitzwilliam was not to employ men in whom he could confide, he would have been placed in a situation very different from that of any other of his Majesty's ministers. He admitted', that there was great blame, and strong ground for inquiry, but, before voting for inquiry, he must answer to his own conscience cut hono f Would inquiry heal the discontents or avert the dangers in Ireland? It would have a contrary tendency. Knowing, as he did, Lord FitzwiJliam's high fense of fioriour, he did not wonder at the solicitude with which he courted inquiry; but what had already passed on the subject was in his mind sufficient to set at rest the most delicate feelings.
Air. Jckyll faidj the barrenness of the arguments UTged against his motion rendered it altogether unnecessary for him so say much in reply. He should not attempt to answer the panegyrics upon those whom Lord Fitzwilliam intended to remove from office, for they had nothing to do with the question, much less the Chancellor of the Exchequer's panegyric upon his own character. It wasex:raordinary indeed that that Right Hon. Gentkman's defence to a very serious charge, should be an account of hjs own good opinion of himself. To the question cui bono? he would answer by another—Was it of no consequence that the men, whoever they might be, whose misconduct had been the cause of so much danger to the empire, should be dragged forth to public odium s If such wasthe opinion, the House of Commons might resign their functions, and be content to register the edicts of the minister.
The Houso divided on the motion for the Order cf the Day:
Ayes - - - 138
HOUSE OF COMMONS. .
Mr. Dent observed, that the Committee appointed to inquire into frauds and abuses committed in franking letters and parcels, had now fat for many days. It was not likely that they should be able to make their report in the course of the present session. We therefore moved, That there be laid before the House a copy of the minutes of the Committee.
Mr. Long opposed this motion. The Committee having been appointed for the purpose stated in this motion, if they did not report some ground why they did not do so, why aster having sat about a month they came to make this proposal to lay what they had already done upon the table, instead of proceeding to make their report, was to him astonishing. They were not yet so near the end of the session as to make it impossible to proceed further. On these grounds he objected to • the motion.
Mr. William Dundas objected also to the motion, on the 'ground that in the evidence much abuse had been imputed to individuals who had not yet had an opportunity of saying any thing in their own behalf.
Mr. Dent observed, that as he was not aware that any objection was intended to be offered to liis motion, he had omitted to urge any arguments to enforce it. He should therefore beg leave to assign his reasons for the motion. It appeared from what was called the Dead Letter Book, that there was lost annually to the Public, by letters mislaid or stolen, a sum no less than 42,000!. a year. The Vice-President of the Post-ossict-: gave his evidence as to the abuses of the office, for which he was dismissed, although he had filled that (htion for upwards of twenty-seven years. Before that Gentleman pave his evidence he received a setter from the Post-office, stating, that if he knew of any abuses, he sliould inform the office of them; to which he answered, that he knew of none that were not as well known by themselves. He gave his evidence before the Committee, and lost his place. Another abuse was that of keeping back newspapers by the clerks of the road. These clerks, by what they called their privilege, sent to the countrv twenty-five thousand newspnpers a night. The only competitors which these clerks had in the circulation of newspapers were the hawkers, and it was a common thing for the clerks of the road, on the night there was an important debate in Parliament, or any thing that was generally interesting in news* •papers, to send their own, and keep back the papers sent to
them them by the hawkers, and this explained the mystery of gentlemen not receiving their papers rrgularly in the country. He adverted to the abuses of the Custom-house and Excise-office* &c. He observed, that by the evidence which had appeared before the Committee, a prodigious sum of money had been lost in consequence of half-guineas being sent by servant maids and indigent people, under the seals of letters. It appeared by the evidence of Mr. Bonnor, who had been stated to be Comptroller of the Post-office, that he is now exonerated from the duty of his office, that he attends only for about a quarter of an hour a day, for which he received 700I. a year salary, which he certainly considered as a sinecure; that Mr. Palmer had a sinecure of 3000I. a year. When Mr. Bonnor applied under the direction of the Committee for an inspection of a book at the Post-office, he was refused the sight of it, although it was well known under what authority he came. The gentleman in tliat department had caused a great number of letters to pass free, though not entitled to such privilege; and it was understood that their contents were directed to the country booksellers, informing them, that if they took the town publications, magazines, &c. through certain persons, they would not only be lent them free of postage, but also at a very reduced price. Mr. Dent laid that Mr. Bonnor appeared to him to be a sensible man, and had given his evidence very intelligibly and fairly. Upon an inspection it had also appeared, that tire newspapers which were packed, were many oi them unstamped, and many of them old ones, containing other inclosures, and sent solely for the purpose of forwarding the letters which they contained. On the- margin of some of these were written, "I am sorry 1 could not send this letter sooner," /'. e. I am sorry I could not get an old newspaper before. He stared these things that the House might have some idea of the nature of (he subject. The reason why he wished that this motion Jhould be carried, was, that the House should have some knowledge of what abuses did exist, in order that Gentlemen should turn the subject in their mind.-, before any Parliamentary regulation should take place. He thought that nothing short os •a Bill for each of the offices would answer the purpose.
Mr. IV. Smith had no objection to the report alluded to being laid on the t«ble, since' time was to be allowed for gentlemen accused to be heard.
Mr. Long said, that he should not have presented himself a second time to the Speaker's notice, if it had not been on account of the extraordinary speech of the Gentleman who had just sat down. He was anxious, however, to remove the impression which the Hon. Gentleman's speech w,ould male upon the House, if suffered to pass uneonrradicted. The Hon. Gentleman had said, that 42,oool. was lost, to individuals, by letters containing money to that amount being.either stolen or lost. He positively denied the fact, and begged the attention of the House to the circumstances on which this had been stated :—A book was kept at the Post-office, ia which every person losing a letter containing money, entered all the cirxumstances attending the letter, the date, address, &c. &c. the object of which was, that all possible inquiry might be made lo recover it.' This book'contained entries in the last four months of letters containing bills or money to the amount of i4,oool. being missing at the time theentrywas made; butwould any Gentleman fairly infer from thence that it was lost ?—The fact was, that a great part was actually recovered, as would appear by the book. It was probable that many of the letters had been misdirected, or mis-sent, and that in some instances if was recovered, though no notice had been given to the Postoffice—A great part of the sum was bills, which though actually lost, the individual might susta'yi no pecuniary loss.
It appeared also by evidence, that three fourths of what had been entered as lost in the first instance, had afterwards been recovered—He thought the regulation of keeping such a book a good one. He should be very happy to adopt any mode of rendering it more effectual, if such could be devised: But ha would not suffer such an impression to be made upon the public mind, unwarranted as it was by fact, as the lion. Gentleman seemed disposed to make,
The Hen. Gentleman had entered into observations upon the minutes of the Committee. He differed with him in the conclusions he had drawn, which the evidence did not warrant; but he would not be induced to follow in this irregularity: He should be glad at a future time to discuss the subject-at large, when the report was made, which it was the duty of the Conymittee to make. What the Hon* Gentleman had stated wat the evidence of Mr. Bonnor alone, and upon that he should only say, that he received that evidence with considerable dc-ubt when Mr. Bonnor had represented himself as dilcharged from his duty in the Post-office, because he was almost the only person there who had attempted to correct abuse;
(Here Mr. Main waring called Mr. hong to order for not speaking to the question.)
'< Tie Speaker said, that the second speech os the Hon. Member who had made the motion (Mr. Dent) was si) irregular, and Hid deviated so much' from the question before the House, • 4 that that he thought it fair to permit the Hon. Gentleman to reply to facts he hail stated, particularly as he had entered fully into the whole of the evidence taken before the Committee.
Mr. Long said, that he justified his reply only by the speech •which the Hon. Member had been permitted to make, which contained assertions which he would prove to be unfounded, and which therefore lie ftlt it his duty to contradict.
Sir William Pulteney observed, that it ought to be explained how an obstruction was given to an officer of the Post-office, acting under the authority of a Committee of that House, when he applied for an inspection of a book at the Post-office, in order to obtain information to be" given to that Committee. He wished to hear some reasons assigned upon that subject.
Mr. William Duiulas observed that Mr. Bonnor was refused the si^ht of the book at the Post-office, because he was regarded there as having no right to the inspection of it any more than a stranger, for he had not taken any active part in the office for the last year. He said he doubted whether the Deputy Chairman had been discharged, as the Hon. Gentleman had stated, on account of the evidence he had given, with regard to abuses at the Post-office.
Mr. Dent said, he did not positively know that this Gentleman was discharged as Deputy President, on account of the evidence he gave of abuses at the Post-office, but he understood so. He observed also, that the proceedings of the.Committee were very niuch perplexed on account of the Committee being an open Committee. Gentlemen often came in just after a witness had answered a question, and not being acquainted with his previous examination insisted on going over the whole of what he had to fay again. This fort of practice retarded very much the progress of the Committee, and might perhaps reader it impossible for the Committee to conclude their report zt all. He therefore thought that the Committee ought to be made a close Committee, or that some such measure ihould be adopted to give effect to the object which the House had in view, namely, to obtain accurate knowledge of the abuses which he had already mentioned. . ■
■Sir John Call and Mr. Bernard said a sew words.
The question being pur, and only 30 Members being picsent, the Hjusc adjourned of course.