Abbildungen der Seite

was, that they always left behind them in this country about 224 men each; and, certainly, four regiments composing the only effective portion of the 22,700 men whom we retain at home, could not be deemed more than sufficient to meet the emergencies of the country.

The House having divided, the numbers were, for the original motion 106; for Mr. Hobhouse's amendment 34.

Another attempt was still made by Mr. Hume to check what he termed the career of reckless expenditure, by cutting down the estimates for the civil contingencies, and, above all, the expenses of our diplomatic establishments in foreign countries. The whole cost, he said, of ambassadors and consuls for the present year, amounted to half a million, and was regularly increasing. The only effect of large salaries was, he said, to raise men above their business, and disincline, or disable, them from doing their duty; and if a vote were to be passed reducing the salaries one half, the duty would be quite as well performed. He complained of the extravagant scale of expenditure for the missions and consulates in South America, which exceeded 100,000/., and of the folly of paying three or four thousand a-year to support ministers at such courts as those of Wirtemberg, Tuscany, and Saxony, which possessed no political importance. Heinveighed, in particular, against the expenses of the embassy to Paris, amounting this year to 30,000/.; thus exceeding the cost of maintaining the president, vice-president, and whole civil establishment of North America: andhecouldnot conceive what advantage this country could de

rive from the English ambassador giving an entertainment to two thousand Parisians. He regretted that advantage had not been taken of the liberal determination of the duke of Northumberland to defray, out of his private fortune, the expenses of his mission at the coronation of the king of France, and that 10,000/. should have been spent in presenting him with a sword in return. He denounced the extravagance of keeping the great seal, &c. in silver boxes at Antigua and Dominica, in buying plate for ambassadors in Lisbon, Madrid, or Paris, and in maintaining kettle-drummers, trumpeters, and silver trumpets, for the bands attached to the royal household. He was grieved to observe that, in regard to the latter, the lace and finery of the dress were not only expensive, but did not accord with the plainness and simplicity of the English character. He preferred the plain Windsor frock; and he saw, in all this riot, the ruinous waste and extravagance of the court of Louis XIV. Mr. Crokcr reminded him that the dresses of these important personages, however little entitled to appear beside the Windsor frock, were so far from being an innovation of modern fashion and extravagance, that they were exactly what they had been in the reign of Henry VIII., as he might learn by consulting the pictures of that period.

Mr. Canning was surprised, beyond all intelligible expression of surprise, at the proposition of Mr. Hume to withdraw our representatives from the smaller continental courts, on the ground of these courts being of no political importance. The expense of these embassies had in fact been reduced; but the reduction had not proceeded from any so ungenerous, and improvident view. Such a proposition was in truth a declaration admitting that threeor four of the largercourts were to dispose of the interests of the smaller ones, and that in these latter it was scarcely worth while to maintain those representatives of the British Crown, whose presence, however, was really of so much moment to their welfare. It never could be the policy of this country, at any period, so to discountenance those minor states, as to aid in preventing them from raising their heads, on occasion, among the other European governments. He by no means pretended to say that he was in a condition to predict the time or the states which would one day exemplify the better policy of our not neglecting them: but the House must feel convinced, that the period might very possibly arrive, some day or other, when these now minor states might rise into and manifest themselves as states of much greater power and importance.

The objections to the consular estimates appeared to him equally extraordinary; as the plan, which gave occasion to them, instead of being a measure of the government, was a child begotten by Mr. Hume himself. It had been determined by parliament to do away with the whole consular system, and place it on a new footing; to abolish all fees, and substitute fixed salaries in their place. This was the plan adopted, to which he had been no party; and it was rather hard in Mr. Hume now to turn round upon him for endeavouring to give effect to a system, in the introduction of which he himself had been so potent an instrument.

The burthens, to which the trade of the country had been subject in the shape of fees to consuls, was between 65,0001. and 70,000/.; and the House had determined no longer to take this sum from the pockets of individual merchants, trading to ports where British consuls were stationed, but to throw the charge upon the public generally. On the old system, 61,000/. were annually paid by government, and the various companies; whereas, under the new arrangement, the yearly charges for these consuls were not more than 50,000/., and 11,000/. to the Levant consuls. He looked upon the total allowance for such services, however, as being 79>000/.; from which deducting 30,000/. voted in the civil list, there remained only 49,000/., to be voted as consuls' salaries. This was the amount called for; but the relief given by it to the merchants was 6l,000/. In regard to the consulates in the new states of South America, it was impossible already to lay down a fixed scale, or adopt a precise estimate. This year there had been a saving to a considerable extent; but it was impossible to say what the expenses for the year might be, for no European mission furnished any standard by which to compare them. It was must difficult to form any trust-worthy scale of the cost of such establishments in states where the prices of particular commodities were very unequal, and most of them in nearly an inverse ratio from those of Europe—where a man, for instance, might buy a horse for a dollar, but would be obliged to pay about two guineas for shoeing him. In the expenses, again, of the old diplomatic establishments, the scale voted by parliament in 18l6, had been uni

formly adhered to: and, although the total cost of the embassy at Paris amounted this year to 30,0001., it was fallacious to assume this as the average of its annual expense, because the increase which appeared this year was but temporary, and dependent entirely on specific causes. The hotel of our embassy in Paris was our own property; and we were the only power, excepting Russia, which possessed an hotel: to have parted with it would have been both inconvenient and impolitic: for, although it was perfectly true that Great Britain was under no necessity of resorting to any secondary means for sustaining that influence in European politics to which her grandeur, her power, and her policy, so indisputably and absolutely entitled her, yet, considering that but one other power possessed an hotel in Paris of this sort (and, of all capitals, it was most important for us to possess such a house in Paris), and considering that that other power was Russia, he could not help feeling that it was quite necessary the British ambassador should be thus accommodated. But the hotel went into disrepair: five or six years ago large annual sums had begun to be necessarily expended in requisite repairs and improvements, and, in 1824, 5,QOOl. had been voted for these purposes. It was thought better to put it at once into a good condition; and a professional person, Mr. Wyatt, had been sent over to report to the Treasury what was necessary to be done. His estimate of the requisite repairs, and of the expense of renewingthefurniture, amounted to between 23,000£ and 24,000/. This was too much: but to make the house, at least in the French sense of the word, weather-tight, Mr. Wyatt had been restrained by orders from home, to an expenditure of 12,OpO/. instead of 17,0007. on the building; and to about one half of his estimate for the renewal of the furniture. The whole of these expenses, therefore, which went to swell the item of the present year, did not fall to be considered as lasting and regular elements in the annual average of the embassy; and, in respect to the general expenses of the embassy, he could state, on the most unquestionable authority, that lord Granville, the ambassador, actually expended yearly, at least double the amount of the salary, out of his private fortune. Mr. Baring regretted the adoption of the new principle upon which government now appointed consuls, prohibiting them from engaging in trade, and allowing them fixed salaries for discharging the specific duties assigned to them. He preferred the old system of such appointments, by which the principal merchant of a trading port, such as Amsterdam in Holland, was the consul. Such an individual was surely much better qualified to sustain the state and hospitality necessary to be maintained among those with whom consuls were frequently associating, than a consul, not a merchant, with a salary of perhaps not more than 600/. a year.


.. • . „, ■ it .1 |.---i
; • , H

,• > ii- I, ',•!, 'll|f "I II

.' .■ t.i ■ i • Iti.""-' »in

'■. , n1 fun lililfr.

Bill to prevent Bribery at ElectionsResolutions against Br'derjQ^ '' Lord John Russell's Motion on Parliamentary ReformMr. Aber- cromby's Motion for amending the Representation of EdinburghMotion to Disfranchise non-resident Freemen in Ireland—Resolutions for the Regulation of Private CommitteesMr. Pelham's Motion to hold Parliament occasionally in Dublin and EdinburghPrivilege of Members not to be summoned on JuriesRestoration of forfeited Scottish PeeragesDebate on Motion to disjoin the Presidency of the Board of Trade from the Treasurership qf the NavyBill for the Consolidation of the haws against TheftBill to amend the Administration of the Criminal LamDebate on Motion to allabv Counsel to Prisoners on Trial for FelonyCase of Mr. KenrickProceedings regarding the Court of Chancery.

ON the 2nd of March, lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in a bill for the better prevention of Bribery at Elections. He did not seek his object by directing new prohibitions against the giving and taking of money, or propose to aggravate the punishments by which the existing laws were already sanctioned; his purpose seemed rather to be, to invigorate those laws by facilitating the detection of those who might be tempted to break them. Every one, he said, knew that, in former days, the decisions of this House were so interested and corrupt, as to render it necessary to impose on a select number of members an obligation to do justice between the parties. This remedy, it was generally admitted, was satisfactory; and he was ready to admit, that, as between party and party, it was satisfactory, but not as regarded the public. There were many points into which the committee would not inquire; and it might happen, that the expenses

of bringing such points before their consideration might deter private individuals; or it might happen that those who had the means of doing so were also tainted with bribery, and shrunk from bringing on an investigation into the conduct of others. Under these circumstances, the public had not that degree of security which it had when the matter was brought before the House to be investigated. The remedy he proposed was, that when any party complained of a corrupt election which had occurred within six years before the petition had been present, if the House thought that the petition set forth circumstances requiring further investigation, it should appoint a committee, consisting of fourteen members and the member who presented the petition. He did not propose that any members should be struck off, as in ordinary election committees, but simply that they should be chosen by lot: that this committee should investigate the circumstances dis»

closed in the petition, and report thereon. It would then be for the House to consider, in each case, whether any, and what, ulterior measures ought to be taken. He could not, he said, be met on the present occasion with the objection, which his motions for reform had often had to encounter, that his views were vague and general, and that nothing should be ventured on but what was specific. Here was a great evil, and here was proposed a specific remedy for it. He, therefore, moved for leave to bring in a bill "for the better discovery and suppression of Bribery, and other corrupt practices, in the election of members to serve in parliament."

The bill was brought in, and on the moving of the second reading (14th March), Mr. Wynn said, that he had many objections against it, which he feared it would not be practicable to remove, so as to render the bill fit for the adoption of the House. The principle of the bill, as he understood it, was, that, upon complaint made to the House by petition, a select committee should be appointed to try the issue, and that their decision should be absolute and final. To this there was the obvious objection, that the decision of no committee could be binding upon that House. The inquisitorial powers of the House might be delegated, but not the judicial. A body might be appointed to bring in a true verdict as to fact, but the question of' corruption was a question of influence. All that a committee could do was, to report to the House; and the House could then either proceed further, or allow the matter to sleep. The bill also gave power to present petitions of complaint within six years from the period pf election; and this he

thought too long. He also objected that there was no penalty or punishment assigned to an unfounded charge. Afrivolous charge ought to be visited with costs to the individual; whereas it was proposed by this bill to charge the public with costs. A member of parliament could not be placed in a situation more repugnant to good feelings. He was sure there was no situation to which he could have a greater objection, than to be called upon to inquire respecting an election, when he had previously heard the detail of the circumstances from the mouth of one of the interested parties. Still, notwithstanding what he had felt it his duty to say on the subject before the House, he would willingly give the matter further consideration, and perhaps, at a future stage, add some additional observations.

Mr. Hobhouse, Mr. A. Smith, and Mr. Fyshe Palmer supported the bill; the latter recommending that the candidate should be bound, as well as the elector, to take the oath that he was free from all bribery, either by fee or reward. But the measure never proceeded farther; for when the report on the bill was to be taken into consideration (28th April), lord John Russell stated that it was not his intention to press it during the present session; but that he would probably, if such a proposition should meet with the concurrence of the other side of the House, embody its provisions in the shape of resolutions.

Accordingly, on the 26th bf! May, the very last day of the session, his lordship moved the twd following resolutions:

"1. That whenever a petition shall be presented to this House,

« ZurückWeiter »