« PreviousContinue »
Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished | regard to the subject under consideration. to know whether the pension of the Presi. They had agreed that this was a mere dent of the Board of Controul depended trifle, a nugatory measure; and yet, though vpon the continuance of the East India it was looked to with great anxiety by the Company's charter? If so, considering people, they had always contrived to get also his former attachment, it appeared rid of it without doing any thing. He that the earl of Buckinghamsbire must was sorry not to see the President of the have a direct and obvious interest in sup Council in his place, (lord Sidmouth,) porting the monopoly so grievously com / who had strenuously supported the aboli. plained of by the nation.
tion ; but he hoped that noble viscount The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought would appear in the House before the close it extremely probable that the grant de- of the discussion, and repeat his former pended upon the contingency of the sentiments. He trusted he would at last renewal of the charter. He could not persuade bis colleagues lo adopt his opi. see why the previous employment of his nion. After considering the absurdity of Jordship should render him unfit, under the preamble of the Bill, which he bad the present circumstances, to fill the office particularly noticed on a former occasion, of President of the Board of Controul. be asked why the law offices were eso Certain it was that there was no legal in- cepted ? It might be said that this would competency, and no other objection could much diminish the emoluments of some of be assigned.
the judges ---emoluments, which they had Mr. Whitbread, leaving the earl of Buck been taught to calculate upon, when they ingamshire out of the question, thought accepted their situations ; but where was that he might assume, from the known the difficulty in this ? A remuneration motives that influenced men in general, / might be granted to the present judges; that any other person but the noble earl and those who might succeed theun would might be induced more strenuously to have no reason to complain, as they would support a cause in the success of which be fully aware of the new regulation. He he was so largely interested. He was not declared, that in reprobating, as he did, surprized that tbe right hon. gentleman this practice of granting offices in reverhad fixed upon an interested individual, sion, he had no intention to cast any perconsidering the great difficulty he had sonal stigma on those who at present held found in discovering persons who would them. Many noble and honourable men consent to serve under him.
who held such situations, had acquired their The Motion was then agreed to. right to them before they could know the
meaning of the word reversion. Many of
them were probably in the first stage of HOUSE OF LORDS.
infancy when they were made reversionFriday, April 10.
ists; and therefore to be such, could in OFFICES IN REVERSION Bill. The them be considered as no crime. He conHouse resolved itself into a Committee oncluded by moving, as an amendment, that the Offices Reversion Bill. On the clause the suspension, instead of being continued being read for limiting the duration of the till 1814, should be continued till 1840. Bill to the 28th of February, 1814,
If this amendment should be adopted, he • Earl Grosvenor rose to move his pro- | would then move some alteration in the posed amendment. This he had resolved preamble, in order to inake the Bill conto submit to their lordships, though by no sistent. means certain, that it was the exact course 'The Earl of Lauderdule presumed it was which he ought to pursue. He had felt the intention of his noble friend, if his considerable difficulty in deciding in his amendment was agreed to, to propose an own mind, whether he ought not rather to amendment in the preamble, to leave have abandoned the Bill to its fate, or out the words referring to proceedings whether he ought not to have proposed now pending in the House of Commons, the immediate abolition of the practice of otherwise it would be in truth a most granting Offices in Reversion ; but consi- alarming symptom, that an enquiry penddering the length of time to which he ing in the House of Commons, with a view should move to extend the suspension, it to the reform of abuses, was to last till the might certainly be virtually considered as year 1840. He would, however, support an abolition. His lordship then adverted the amendment, in order to get rid of the to the strange conduct of ministers, with repeated discussions, upon this subject, which be thought tended grossly to mis. more speedily than they would have done, lead the public, and engender a sopposi. if the crown had been so much more tion that an important saving could be powerful in parliament than out of it. The made, which was not the fact. The perpetual agitation of this question, and whole number of offices held in reversion the hopes held out from it, had the far(with the exception of three to which re-ther pernicious effect of turning the atten. gulations were already applied on the ter- tion of the people from objects of infinitely mination of the existing interests,) did not more importance to their interests. The amount to more than forty, and the whole reversions to be suspended by this Bill, he sum to be saved, supposing even the repeated, would hardly amount to $5,0001. whole of these offices to be abolished, a year in the whole. What relief would which was no part of the present measure, such a saving afford in an expenditure of would not amount to more than 35,0001. about eigbty millions? It was a perfect per annum. It was therefore misleading | farce to talk of such a thing; and he was the public to attach any importance to this satisfied that if the people were really Bill, which in truth would effect nothing aware of how little advantage the aboli. for their benefit. With regard to the in tion of the practice of granting offices in fluence of the crown, he was fully pero reversion would be to them, the measure suaded it would not be at all reduced by would effectually lose its popularity. It such means. Instead of diminishing that was from the unfounded expectation of influence, he rather thought the abolition relief from it, that it had so much occupied of this practice of granting offices in re the attention of the people. Such were version would increase it. But still, though his opinions on this subject, certainly he thought the measure perfectly nuga- not influenced by any expectation of protory, to say the least of it, though he curing a reversionary grant for himself. thought that it was deceiving the people to The course of his political life had not hold out any expectations of relief from it, been such as to warrant any charge of the he should vote for his noble friend's kind against him. But for the reason amendment, because it would prevent that which he had stated, he should certainly constant discussion on the subject, which vote for the amendment, with the underhad the pernicious effect of making the standing, that if it should be carried, the ne. people believe that corruption was chiefly cessary alteration to make the Bill consiste prevalent among the higher ranks, and in ent should be made in the preamble. the two Houses of Parliament. This, he The Earl of Darnley agreed, tbat, in an contended, was a mistake. The direct abstract point of view, the measure was influence of the crown was much less now one of very little importance, and the efin the two Houses, and had been less since | fect likely to be produced by it next to his political career commenced, than nothing. He did not think, however, that at a former period. (Hear! hear! from the agitation of the measure, which exthe ministerial benches ; a smile, and a tended to every denomination of persons movement of dissent from lord Grey.) | throughout the country, could be considerHe maintained that this was the fact. ed as casting any reflection on members Thirty or forty parliamentary offices had of parliament. The public, he conceived, been abolished ; and with respect to the from the frequent discussion of this mea. army and navy, it was an ascertained fact, sure, expected their lordships to turn their that at the end of sir Robert Walpole's ad- minds to the consideration of public abuses ministration there were more officers of in general-and the system of sinecures the army and navy in parliament than and reversions he considered a monstrous there were at the present moment. It abuse. In point of principle therefore, he was not in parliament, but in the country thought this Bill of importance; and he at large, that the influence of the crown would vote for it, and for any extension had increased, and in the country at large, his noble friend thought fit to propose. owing to the iarmense increase of the Earl Grey did not intend to have ad. army and navy, and the revenue, the in- | dressed their lordships on the present fluence of the crown had enormously in question, on which he had so repeatedly creased. In order to prove that the in- | delivered his sentiments ; but he thought fluence of the crown was much more pre it indispensable, not so much to argue that valent out of doors than in parliament, he which had been so often argued before, had only to observe, that two dissolutions as to disclaim any participation in the of parliament had lately taken place much opinions stated by his noble friend flord Lauderdale,) on the great question of eco- | Looking to these circumstances, he consinomical reform, always of importance, dered the influence of the crown, as twenty but particularly so at the present moment. times greater than what it was at the pe. His noble friend's view of this subject, riods spoken of by his noble friend. The and his reasoning on it, he thought ex- army and the navy were greater now than tremely erroneous. He was not one of at any former æra in our history. Looking those who attached much importance to Lo the power of France, they could not be the immediate operation of this measure- reduced. Even if peace were restored, (if but to the principle he attached a great indeed, the country should ever witness its deal. Because, in times like these, he return,) could they, under all the circumwould wish to shew to the people of this stances, diminish the military establishcountry, suffering under excessive bur- ment ? Could they look to a reduction of dens, that parliament were anxious to re- the revenue necessary to support that estalieve them-and, when a question of re-blishment ? Certainly not. What then form was agitated, it was of great import- could be done to lessen the influence of ance that it should be carried into effect. / the crown, which was thus supported? He knew three offices in reversion, which, Could the right to make appointments on that very account, could not be regu. connected with those establishments be lated by parliament. The places thus taken from the crown? It could not. The held, he believed, produced an annual influence must remain. There might be sum of 60,000l. Being held in reversion, regulations ; but the influence could not parliament looked on them in the light of be done away. A3 to the direct influ. a freehold property, which they could not ence, he conceived that the present mea. touch—but, if it were not for that circum. sure, as amended, would tend to decrease stance, they would, probably, have been it. It did not go so far as be could wish; abolished. It might be said, that at the but he approved of it, as it was founded time those reversions were granted, the on the principle of economy, and held out emoluments were not so great as at prea sort of promise, he trusted he might say sent-but had become large, in conse a pledge, which he hoped would be sup. quence of the increased revenue of tbe ported, that the House would seriously set country, and the enlarged scale of expen-to work to do away those abuses, 'which diture, which were not contemplated at it was in their power to remove. His nothe period of the grant. But how did he ble friend had observed, that the gift of a know, that there were not others of a simi place in reversion was not so likely to lar nature, and subject to a similar in- create influence as one in possession. But crease, if they persisted in permitting the he (earl Grey) believed, that if one of the system to be continued ? 'A variety of tellerships of the Exchequer now became considerations convinced him of the pre-vacant, the monarch would bave it in bis priety of abolishing reversions and sine power to grant it both in possession and cures. Such a measure would lessen the reversion. He wished the amount of the expenditure of the country, and diminisb saving that would be produced in the pubthe influence of the crown.' He, therefore, lic was likely to be greater, but, however would much rather see a permanent Bill small it might be, he considered the printhan that which had been introduced. / ciple as entitled to support. He would be The noble earl (Lauderdale) had told as unwilling as any man to hold out to the them, that the influence of the crown in people any lure which might divert their parliament was diminished that was the attention from objects of greater magni. direct influence. He was aware of that_ tude--but be thought it a strange mode of But his noble friend, he was sure, was too reasoning, when the country complained accurate a reasoner on the circumstances of great evils, and a measure calculated to of the present time, not to know, that, in do some good was proposed, that it should point of fact, the influence of the crown, not be supported, because its operation in both Houses of Parliament, bad greatly was not very extensive. If the people increased. The increase of the army and saw, as on former occasions, that the whole navy, the increased expenditure, and the power of the government was exerted in enlargement of the public establishments, opposition to a measure which that governall contributed to produce this effect; be- ment itself spoke of as unimportant, what cause numbers would be swayed by the hope could they have of succeeding in hope or expectation of procuring provi. having their weightier grievances resion for themselves or their families. dressed? On many points he was at variance with the present administration; of those inquiries was known? Therefore, but what he blamed them most for was the proposition contained in the Bill, the this, that they had opposed every measure provisions of which would expirc in two introduced for the reformation of public years, was reasonable. But it was a abuses. No administration could hope to mockery, with reference to that inquiry, obtain the real confidence of the crown to enact a suspension for 26 years, as the and of the people, that would not assist, amendment proposed. He was grieved not only in reforming the abuses which that so much importance should be atwere connected with the Bill before them, tached to a measure, so trifling in itself, but those which had crept into the consti- and so insignificant with respect to the sution of the legislature itself. His lord-people, that many would be inclined to ship concluded by stating his concurrence believe that it was introduced rather to die in the amendment.
vert their feelings from matters of greater The Earl of Lauderdale disclaimed any interest, than as a real object. With rehostility to economical reform, and said, spect to the influence of the crown, he had he believed he had not stated any one prin. some years ago closely examined that subciple, in the course of what had fallen ject, and he then perfectly convinced from him, incompatible with as strong a himself, that that influence was not then desire for substantial economy as that by half so great as it had been 30 years antewhich his noble friend was actuated. The cedent. It was not a question of office matter at issue was this-whether the Bill only, but it was well known, that at the would produce any particle of economy? period to which he had alluded, a species It held out a prospect of a future economi- of influence was resorted to, which was cal reform. But it was rather unfortunate, not now in existence. As to the influence that, five years since, it held out the same created by the increase of the revenue, prospect, but to this day no good had been and of the army and navy, it was difficult effected by it. They were, however, in- to form an opinion, particularly a just formed, that the Bill now pending in the one; but he was not therefore bound to other House would fully bring into effect credit what was stated by the noble carl. all the benefits of actual economy. For He believed, that, although the navy and his own part, he thought the attention of army were, compared with any former war the public had much better be directed to establishment, increased ten-fold, the insubjects of real radical reform.-Substan- fluence derived from them had much dimitial measures for curbing the influence of nished. The country did not now hear of the crown would be of much greater ser- officers being deprived of their commisvice, than those which beld out a hope, sions for voting against the minister-as but gave no relief whatever to the public. was the case with the great earl of Chatham, He contended that the direct influence of when he opposed sir R. Walpole. Lookthe crown in the two Houses of Parliament | ing to the present period, he believed, if was diminished. But though that was the any noble lord examined the subject can. fact, he admitted that the private influedidly, he would find that there never was ence, throughout the country, had in- / a time, in this or any other country, when, creased to an extent which threatened to in the army and navy, there was less atoverthrow the constitution.
tention paid to political opinion. He did The Earl of Literpool did not mean to not mean to say that no preference existed discuss the principle of the Bill, but would for there could not be imagined a state confine himself to a few observations on of things, where personal affection, and the amendment, and on the observations political attachments, were not in some dewhich had fallen from the noble lords op. gree attended to--and it was right it should posite. With respect to the amendment, | be so. But no time bad ever occurred in it was not, as was usually the case, an which adventitious circumstances were so amendment to farther the object of the little regarded. Indeed, amongst those Bil, but went to destroy allogetber the who were possessed of military and paval principle on which it proceeded. It was appointments, there were, he was certain, not now the question whether sinecures and as many persons connected with those who reversions should be abolished-but whe- opposed, as with those who supported, tho ther, with reference to certain enquiries, executive government. Indeed, the cir. now pending in the other House, they cumstances of the country were such, that would, for a limited time, suspend the ap- the great and only principle on wbich pointment of such situations till the result | government acted, was to select those who were most capable of performing the that the acts passed, or to be passed, duties for which they were wanted. When during the unhappy affliction of his Mathe increase in the army and navy was jesty, were not legal acts of parliament? spoken of, the change which had taken Earl Morton said he had no intention of place in the feelings of the country should contending, that the Prince Regent was not not be forgotten. That change was of invested with the full power of exercising such a nature as convinced him, that acts the functions of sovereignty, or that the which were formerly done by the exer- acts to which he had given his assent were tion of influence, would not now be consi- hot legal acts of parliament; neither did dered compatible with the character of a he intend to dispute, that if this Bill were gentleman. The influence of the crown, to be amended as proposed, and so amended therefore, had not, in the point of view were to receive the assent of that illustriurged by the noble earl, increased with ous personage, it would not be a legal the increasing establishments of the coun act of parliament. What he desired to try, and the fact was, that that influence urge was, that the prerogatives of the and favour which might be exercised with crown were vested in tbe sovereign, and out prejudice in small establishments, that it was not consistent with the consticould not be applied to large establishments. tution, that the illustrious person exercis. With respect to the Bill, it should have ing the functions of sovereignty, should be his support in the state in which it came up placed in the situation of refusing his as. from the Commons, standing as it did on sent to a Bill agreed upon by both Houses the express ground of suspending for two of Parliament, or if he assented to it, of years the power of granting offices in re- having to deliver up to the sovereign, in version, with a view to the inquiries now the event of his recovery, the prerogatives pending in the House of Commons. of the crown, diminished and impaired by
Earl Morton called upon their lordships an act done in the name and on the beto consider what would be the effect of | half of his Majesty. To the Bill as it the amendment, with a view to the prero- came up from the Commons he had no obgatives of the crown. To grant offices injection. seversion was one of the undoubted prero- | Lord Holland contended, that the noble gatives of the crown, and the object of lord, in refusing his assent to suspend for the amendment was to suspend this prero- | 28 years the power of granting reversions, gative for twenty-eight years, a period on the ground that a demise of the crown which, it was possible, might extend might possibly in the mean time take beyond the duration of the present reign. place, must be prepared in supporting the The sovereign on the throne was unhap- suspension for two years, to say, in conpily, at the present moment, incapable of formity with his argument, that in that personally exercising his prerogatives, or time a demise of the crown could not posof giving his assent to any measure relat- sibly happen. With respect to the Bill, ing to them. Those prerogatives had been he thought it was of great importance to wisely entrusted to the person the most shew to the people, that there existed a competent to exercise them, as a trustee; disposition in the House to make a com. and were they now, by suspending a pre. mencement of reform which was so much rogative of the crown for twenty-eight wanted, and was so highly desirable to years, to place that illustrious person in a adopt; this principle was of essential imsituation in which he must either do an act portance, however trifling the immediate greatly to be deprecated, and which had not saving that might be effected. taken place for fifty years, that of refusing Earl Grosvenor spoke shortly in reply, his assent to a Bill agreed to by both and the amendment was negatived without Houses of Parliament, or in giving his a division. The other clauses were then assent to it, become an unfaithful guar. | goue through without observation or dian?
amendment, and the report on the Bill or Lord Holland spoke to order. He con- , dered to be received. ceived the noble lord to be pursuing an argument inconsistent with the order of dębaie.' Did the noble lord mean to as
HOUSE OF COMMONS. sert, that the exercise of all the preroga.
Friday, April 10. tives of the crown was not vested in the PeritiONS FROM DUNDEE AND Ale. Prince Regent, or that he had not a will BROATH RESPECTING THE EAST INDIA of his own. What was this but to say, COMPANY'S CHARTER.] A Petition of the