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circumstances, and that there did, in fact, exist many other circumstances which had not been stated, which would justify any one in calling for a serious and deliberate inquiry, by this House. For himself, he had no hesitation in stating what he confidently believed were the causes of this distress. Though he was fully sensible that much of the distress might have arisen from the transition from a state of war to a state of peace, yet he could not help recollecting, that a very great part of the difficulties from which they had now to extricate themselves, was to be attributed to that fatal perseverance, with which, during so many years, they had persisted in contracting permanent money engagements in a depreciated currency. That was the root of the evil with which they had now to contend: but, in saying this, he desired to be distinctly understood not to have forgotten that, unfortunate as those engagements were, they nevertheless were engagements, which the honour and credit of Parliament were bound to respect, and which they must find the means of discharging. It was, however, one thing to see the cause, and another to point out the remedy. For the present, he confessed that he saw but one means of uniting all opinions on the subject, and that was retrenchment, retrenchment, he meant, qualified by diminution of taxation. He should be prepared to give his assent to any motion for inquiry likely to be conducted in such a form as the nature of the occasion appeared to call for, and to obtain a sober and deliberate investigation; but he did not think an inquiry at the bar of the House calculated to throw light upon the state of the country, so as to enable their lordships to legislate with

confidence, or in a manner that would afford satisfaction to the public. He was well aware of the vast utility of the function of that form of the House, when their lordships resolved themselves into a committee of their whole body, and called witnesses to the bar: yet he could not bring himself to think that, in cases so complicated, so remote and so various in all the ramifications into which they must necessarily branch out, an inquiry could be successfully prosecuted to a beneficial public result. And if the inquiry could not be so conducted, what would be the consequence? Why, it would excite hopes, and wishes, and expectations, and rivalships, and contentions, and there would be presented at their lordships' bar, a scene which would neither be creditable to that House, nor honourable to the Legislature, nor without mischief to the public.

The Marquis of Salisbury, likewise, expressed his opinion, that a general inquiry at the bar of the House would do more harm than good. He would prefer a select committee, and if that should fail in coming at the cause of the distress, then would be the time for an inquiry by the whole House.

Lord King moved as an amendment, "that a select committee should be appointed to inquire into the depressed state of the agricultural and manufacturing interests of the kingdom, for the purpose of ascertaining, whether any, and what, relief could be afforded." The amendment, however, was received with as little favour as the original motion, which was lost on a division, by 118 to 25.

At a somewhat more advanced period of the session, a similar motion was made, with a similar result, in the House of Commons;

Mr. Davenport having moved, on the 16th of March, "that the petitions complaining of distress in various classes of the community, be referred to a committee of the whole House, with a view to inquire into, and report upon the causes of that distress, and the remedy thereof." The debate was continued, by adjournment, on the 18th, 19th, and 22nd, but to detail the arguments and the views of the speakers, would be tiresome repetition. They were the same that had been used in the House of Lords,-used by a greater number of persons, and presented, therefore, under a greater number of modifications. The motion was supported on the admitted fact of the prevailing distress-the duty of the House to give relief, if possible-the necessity, for that purpose, of ascertaining the causes of the evil, and the necessity of inquiry to get at these causes. On the other hand, it was denied that the distress bore the general character that was ascribed to it. Even if it did, to enter into so wide an inquiry was useless, without some specific remedy being pointed at; but either none was pointed out, or if it was, it was bad, such as an alteration in the currency, or it could be better attained by a special motion on that particular subject, such as a reduction of taxation. Great objections were taken, too, to the form of the proposed inquiry. There was no subject of any difficulty, with which parliament had ever had to deal, but would necessarily come before this committee; and how could the whole House deal with such an investigation. What would become of the other public

business, while such an inquiry was going on? Sir C. Burrell moved as an amendment, that the petitions should be referred to a select committee; but this proposal was still more vehemently resisted, Mr. Peel declaring, that the motion for a committee of the whole House was the better of the two. There all members were on a fair equality, and the public was acquainted with all that was going

on.

But if a select committee were appointed, it was quite impossible, with such a subject before it, that it could make a report during either this or the following session. All the opponents of the motion took it for granted that the ultimate views of its supporters were directed towards the restoration of a

paper currency, or, at least, a modification of the metallic currency, and that to grant the motion would be received by the public as an announcement that some such thing was intended; and the great majority of members seemed to be of opinion, that, even if errors had been, in some degree, committed, to undo now what had been done, would occasion more harm than good. If there were any particular measures, it was said, which members thought would be beneficial, let them be brought forward, and each be discussed on its own merits. In such a shape the subject would assume a manageable form; but by launching into an investigation which included every thing, the House would only cause fruitless anxiety and excitement, and awaken hopes which were doomed to disappointment ere they were formed.

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CHAP. II.

Debate on Sir James Graham's Motion for reducing the Salaries of Public Officers-Resolutions of the same tendency moved by Government-Motion for Reducing the Civil and Military Establishments -Reductions proposed by Government-Attempts made to reduce the Army still further-Speech of Mr. Hume-Debate on Mr. P. Thomson's Motion for a Committee to revise the whole System of Taxation-Motion for reducing certain Pensions in the Navy Estimates, carried against Ministers-Debate on Sir James Graham's Motion to disallow the Salary of the Treasurer of the Navy Motion for Abolishing the Office of Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance-Debate on the Emoluments received by Members of the Privy-Council.

THROU

HROUGHOUT the discussions with which the session commenced, both the members who had opposed the government, and most of those who sided with the ministry, had insisted largely on the necessity of reducing taxation, and curtailing the public expenditure. Ministers had declared themselves willing to adopt every practicable saving: any backwardness in that respect was a disposition in which the Whigs could not afford to support them; and yet they found themselves under the necessity of resisting various individual propositions, which were brought forward as measures of proper and necessary retrenchment.

On the 12th of February, sir Jas. Graham, one of the members for Cumberland, who acquired for himself some reputation as a speaker during the present session, moved for a reduction of all the salaries paid to official persons. The foundation of his motion was this, that, subsequently to the Bank Restriction Act, all salaries had been increased, because the expense of

living had increased; therefore, as the restriction had been removed, and we had returned to cash payments, the salaries ought to be diminished. In bringing out his case, he stated, that the Bank Restriction Act of 1797 had produced two very different effects-a depreciation of the currency, and a rise of prices. That this rise of prices had been the reason for granting increased salaries, was proved by the admissions of every minister who had had occasion to deal with the subject. Lord Sidmouth, when he asked, in 1802, an increase of the civil list, said— "When gentlemen refer to their experience of the increased value of every article in the course of the last two or three years, and when they reflect on all the circumstances of the times, I am sure the excess of the civil list, which renders an addition to it necessary, will be readily accounted for." In 1804, a fresh debt was accumulated on the civil list; and when Mr. Pitt, who was then prime minister, called for a grant of mo

ney to make up the deficiency. His language clearly showed that the alteration which he then moved for was considered of a temporary nature, and was to terminate on the return of peace. He said, "No gentleman who reflected on the very considerable rise that had taken place in the price of every article of domestic accommodation, could be surprised that his majesty had not confined his expenses under that head (the household), within limits that had been marked out so long since." Here Mr. Pitt clearly assigned the reason for making an additional grant ; namely, the depreciated value of money, which was at that time forty or fifty per cent, and the increased price of provisions. Mr. Perceval, in 1809, applied to Parliament for an increase of salary to the judges; and from his statement, the House might learn the extent of depreciation at that period. He called for an addition of 1,000l. per annum to the salary of each of the puisne judges, and an increase to the Welch judges of 300l. a year, on the express ground of the increase in the price of provisions. At that time, wheat was 94s. the quarter, and gold was 41. 10s. 9d. per ounce; but judging from the price, not of one commodity, but of all commodities, it was manifest that a very great rise in their value had then taken place. It was of importance to mark the opinion of those different ministers, who, one after the other, showed that the principle on which they proceeded, in calling for an increase of salaries, was the high price of provisions, and the depreciation of the currency. The fact of the high price of provisions during the war, and of the depreciation of the currency, were equally VOL. LXXII.

clear. There stood on the Journals of that House, a resolution which was meant to negative this latter fact, and asserting, at a time when the guinea was worth 28s., that a pound note and a shilling were equal to a guinea; but, in the very next year, that Parliament had confessed its blunder, by passing an Act which declared it to be a misdemeanor in any person to give more then 21s. for a guinea.

All this was now altered. The Act of 1819 had restored, to a very great extent, the value of money. Ministers had then stated, that the alteration would not produce a difference of more than three per cent. But what was the fact? Why, it had caused a variation of twentyfive per cent; and Mr. Baring had told them, that the variation would be from twenty-five to thirty per cent., but never below twentyfive percent. The other hon. member for Callington (Mr. Attwood) had calculated, that the difference, which would be effected in the value of the currency by the measure of 1819, would be still higher. The operation of such a change, in fact, was two-fold. It added to the weight of all fixed payments, while it lowered wages and the price of provisions. Hence the miserable state to which the people of this country were now reduced, and the necessity of rigid, unsparing economy-inviolable, inflexible justice; and, in that system of economy, one great source of retrenchment must be, the reduction of the salaries of those who had their hands in the public pursc. Justice required it. High prices, and nothing else, produced by a depreciated currency, had brought them high salaries; low prices, produced by curing that depreciation, must [D]

bring them low salaries; and such would be the principle of the resolutions which he was about to propose. From this rule, however, he meant to exclude the privy purse, and the royal establishment, for these stood upon arrangements entered into at the beginning of the reign, and which, he conceived, could not be violated. Neither would he interfere with the regular pay of the navy, which had been fixed in 1798, when prices did not materially vary from those of the present day; or of the army, into which our soldiers had entered for a term of years, at a stipulated rate. But he intended to include military officers holding civil situations, such as colonial governments, because, in many cases, their salaries had been augmented without sufficient reason, and because, some of these officers being removable at pleasure, their allowances might now be altered without difficulty. The salary of the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick had been raised from 1,000l. to 1,500l. per annum within the period in question. The salary of the governor of Nova Scotia had been raised from 1,000l. to 2,000l.; that of the bishop of Nova Scotia had been raised from 700l. to 1,000l. a year. The salary of the governor of Prince Edward's Island had been raised from 800l. to 1,000l. ; and that of the governor of Newfoundland, from 500l. to 1,000l. In Port Jackson, the salary of the governor was also doubled, having been originally 1,000l., and being now 2,000l. a year. The salary of the governor of Sierra Leone had also been raised from 1,000l. to 2,000l. per annum.

The number of persons employed in the civil service in 1797, was, according to authen

tic returns, 16,267, and their salaries amounted to 1,374,561., giving an average salary of 841. a year to each individual. In 1827, the number of persons employed had increased to 22,912, and their salaries to 2,788,000l., the average salary being 1217. Thus it appeared that there had been an addition of one-third to the number of employés, and an increase of fifty per cent on their salaries in 1827, as compared with 1797. The precious metals were the nominal, but bread corn was the real standard of value. In 1810 wheat was 105s. the quarter; at present it was 55s. So that in the former year, which was the more expensive period, it would have taken 500,000 quarters of corn to pay what it would now require 1,000,000 quarters to pay-it was not fair that the servants of the Crown should receive double salaries, and pay half prices. He concluded by moving a resolution to the effect, "That whereas, subsequently to the Act of the 37th George 3rd, by which a suspension of cash payments was effected, large augmentations had taken place in the salaries and pay of persons in civil and military employments, on account of the diminished value of money, and whereas the alleged reason for such augmentations had ceased to operate in consequence of the passing of the 59th George 3rd, which restored a metallic standard of value, resolved, that in order to relieve the country from its excessive load of taxation, it was expedient to revise our present system of expenditure, in respect of all such augmentations, for the purpose of making every possible reduction that could be effected without violation of good faith, or detriment to public justice."

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