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VOL. IX. No. 20.]
LONDON, SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1806.
“ The noble lord calls upon the constitutional guardians of the people to commit into the “hands of others a trust so unspeakably important, and to become mere spectators of an " inquiry, which is to decide on the fate of their country. The noble lord says, that the
powers of the Commissioners of Accounts will, in no wise, lessen the powers of Parlia
ment; for that the former are merely to inquire, examine, and report, and that it is "reserved for Parliament to judge, to determine, and to act; that the final deliberation is “reserved to them, and that they have the power to reject such measures proposed by the
Commissioners, as they may deem inconsistent with the public welfare. How hunnilia"ting, how miserable a picture of parliamentary power is this! So, then, all the
power of parliament, with respect to the alleviation of national burdens, the redress " of grievances, the reform of expense, the economy, the system, tie elucidation of "office, is sunk into a disgraceful negative! One positive power indeed, an odious power, "remains, the power of taxing the people whenever the noble lord thinks proper. The
power of making them pay for the noble lurd's lavish corruption. If any plan be formed " and suggested, by which thousands may be saved, by which the expenditure may be
plified, the influence of the Crown diminished, and the responsibility of ministers be " more clearly established; by, which the engine of government may be relieved from that “ load of machinery, which renders its movements so slow, so intricate, and so confused ; " then the House of Commons possesses only the power of putting a negative upon every "such proposition! The power of oppressing and burdening the people is, therefore, the "only power that remains positive and active, while the power of doing good, and of
relieving the distresses of the subject, is merely negative." Mr. Pitt's Speech upon the Bill for appointing Commissioners of Accounts, May 31st. 1781. 705]
(7-36 SUMMARY OF POLITICS. were then; for, though, it is said, that th: COMMISSIONERS OF ACCOUNTS.- -Lord members of the now-proposed Commission Henry Petty, the Chancellor of the Exche- are to be taken from amongst the member quer, has, in the House of Commons, given of the House of Commons, it will require notice of his intention to bring forward a bill much to convince me, that, in that alterafor the appointing and establishing of a Corn- tion, there is any improvement. The Corra mission of accounts, to consist, it is said, of missioners will, indeed, be still menibers of fifteen members, five of whom are to receive the House; but, in their official capacity, 1,5001. a year each, the other ten 10001. a they will be as completely cut off from it as year each, with a president, or chairman, the Commissioners of the Navy, or any who is to receive 2 or 3 thousand pounds a other officers now are; while, on the other year! Upou hearing of this proposition, it hand, who does not perceive, who, unless was impossible for me not to turn back to he be stone blind, does not perceive, the inthe epoch when Commissioners of Accounts fluence which the minist.y of the day must were first appointed, when this at ouce ab- acquire in consequence of having the creasurd and mischievous innovation was first in- tion of sixteen such officers as those who will troduced, when it was first thought of to compose the above Commission? - No;" create, by the consent of the House of Com- says some place-hunter or pensioner actual Toons, a body virtually to supersede the most or reversionary; No;. for the House of important functions of the House of Com- “ Commons, and not the ministry, will have inons itself, and, by the same act to add, in " the appointment of these Commissioners ; a most alarming degree, to the influence of “ who, in order to render them completely the Crown, that is to say, of every succeed- “ independent, are to be appointed for life. ing ministry, be they who they may: ---In Bat, my honest friend, do you really thitik, selecting my motto from a speech of the yet then, that the ministry will not have the apuncorrupted Mr. Pitt, I do not mean to ap- pointment of these-men? Does it really reply to Lord Herry Petty the personal reflec- quire a sight of the list of names to convince tions therein contained; but, the doctrine of you, that those who shall be nominated by this admirable speech has my hearty assent, the ministry, and no others, will till this and, as to the measure, the observations of Comniissio:1 ? If it does, why then, you are te speak.r are now full as applicable as they too great à fuel even to make your park af
the bottom of a receipt for your annual sine. delegate this right, then, I consider as a cure, when you get it. And, as to the ap- “ violation of what, above all other privipointment for life rendering a man indepen- leges, they cannot surrender, or delegate, dent, have you ever seen an instance of it? “ without a daring breach of the constituIn this case, is there not, on the contraiy, a “ tion." Who is there, out of the regions chain, of dependence as complete as in the of Whitehall, who does not agree in these Army, or the Barrack-Office, or any other sentiments ? - As something that would department, where there are degrees of pro- render the proposition less derogatury to the motion? To say nothing, therefore, of the House of Conimons, Colonel Barré had mo. operation of gratitude towards the ministry ved that the Commissioners should be members of the day, who, in fact, will appoint in the of the House; but, in this case, Mr. Pitt profirst instance, and who will fill up the vacan- tested against all ballot lists sent round by the cies as they occur, will there not be a suffi- ministry, and lie therein, by anticipation, ciercy of dependence secured by the power exposed the futility of the pretext, that such of promotion created by the constitution of Commissioners “ would be appointed by the the Commission itself. But, what is the “ House of Commons, and not ly the minisa use of such a Commission? To what end are try;" which was, indeed, a pretext 100 we to be burdened with a new expence of barefaced to merit one noment's attention; 50,000l. a year; for to so much, at the very for, who did not clearly perceive, that, in least, will the expence of this establishment such case, Lord North would have filled up amount at the outset, to say nothing of the the Commission with the names of men, pensions and the other allowances ibat will whorn he was desirous either to reward, to grow out of it? To what end is this new boring over, or to silence; and that, from burden to be laid upon us ? " What end ! whatever quarter of the House the members
Why, to examine into the accounts of might be taken, there would be suffered to “ those persons, through whose hands the come into the whole of the Commission on
public money passes; to correct errors, to ly just so much of public-spirit and integrity “ detect frauds; and, by these means, to as the ministry of that day would be able to
produce great savings to the nation." neutralize and to render worse than nonAnd, my good and right trusty and well-be- effectual to any good purpose, because it loved gentleman, what need have we of an would furnish the means of giving sanctica expensive Board of Commissioners for these to measures intended to further the purposes purposes, while we have 658 members of of corruption. If the present intended the House of Commois, whose duty, whose measure should be adopted (which God forbounden duty, whose pecu'iar duty, whose bid!) how will the House of Commons, first, whose greatest, and almost whose sole “ the Comnions' House of Parliament, duty, it is, to watch, in all possible ways, stand in the eyes of that people, who bare 'ovr the expenditure of the money raised chosen them as their representatives, unless, upon their constituents? “ It is," said the yet indeed, this notion of representation be, at uncorrupted Mr. Pitt, in the speech quoted once, giren up as something climerical? in my motto, “ It is the peculiar duty of this There are great errors and abuses in the ex“ House to watch, to examine, and correct pendiure of the public money. The exist'" the expenditure of the public money. I ence of this evil is acknowledged; and the " conceive the proposed delegation to be an magnitude of it is, indeed, the only ground 16 absolute surrender of the most valuable tipon which the ministry can possibly coine
right, with which the House are invested forward with a proposition, such as that of * by their constituents, and for the exercise which we are now speaking.
r. Well," say “ of which, in particular, they were appoint- the people to their representatives, “we have « ed. What is it that gives the House of “ chosen 658 of you for the express purpose “ Commons their importance in the legisla- “ of detecting and correcting these errors "ture, their respect and their authority? " and abuses." What is the answer which • What but the power of the purse ? Every the people will receive in the adoption of the “ branch of the legislature has someihing proposed measure? Why this; that, though “ peculiar to distinguish and to characterise 658 members, without being paid for the " it, and that which at once gives the cha- duty, are unalle to perform it, yet, 15 of "racter and elevation of the Commons those saine members, il consequence of re. " House of Parliament, is, that they hold ceiving large salaries, are alle to perforin it! " the strings of the national purse,
and e. if this
, “ entrusted with the great and important what must be the impression produced by power, first of granting the money, and this
the minds of the people? " then of correcting the expenditure. To Can it be such an one as we should have ex
pected it would have been the object of the the way of money-inquiry, more speedily, present ministers' to produce? -Taking, more effectually, and more to the satoo, a retrospect of the proceedings of for- tisfaction of the nation, than the same mer Commissioners of this sort, what ground can be done by any Board of Commisis there, whereon for the most sanguine and sioners wbalever. Mr. Robson became, the most credulous to believe, that another no matter how, acquainted with the abused Commission would succeed in detecting and the truly scandalous and fraudulent abuse çorrecting the errors and abuses now so here referred to. He came into his place in loudly and so justly complained of? These the House, and there, like an honest reprea Commissioners, of one sort and another, and sentative of the people, complained of it. upon the back of one another, have, at an The minister (Mr. Addington), fatly denier enormous expense to the public, existed now the fact. Mr. Robson was charged with for six and twenty years; and, it is at the having, uttered falsehoods injurious to the end of this long and squandering period ; it state. He was called upon to retract his is after the declaration of one of the Lords of words (which the minister took down); or, the Admiralty, in open parliament made, in case of refusal to retract, was threatened that, if there were no abuses, one third part with the censure of the House. He refused of the expenses of the Navy might be saved to retract'; he produced his proof as far as to the public; it is after we have seen that his first allegation went; and opponents Melville and De Lancy and Trotter and became less confident. He came again with Greenwood were going on quietly under the additional proof, poured in upon himn by the existence of such Commissions; it is after all defrauded holders of bills, I more," said this, that it is proposed to create another he, “ for the Bill-book of the Sick and Commission of Accounts, at an expense to
“ Hurt Board ; give me that, and I will the public of 50,000 1. a year! I shall be re- prove to the House the exister.ce of abuses minded, perhaps, that, had it not been for enormous, and will point out the persons Boards of Commissioners, the money trans- " who have been guilty of these abuses." actions of the persons here mentioned would The minister was astounded ; declared that never have been brought to light. Το the abuse had not had his countenance ; prowhich I answer, that the fault would, in that mised that the like should not happen again; case, have rested solely with the meinbers of but, he and his majority rejected the motion the House of Commons, whose bounden du- for producing the Bill-book, though he and ty it is, individually as well as collectively, that same majority had challenged MR. to make a strict examination into the expen.
Ropson, had dared him, over and over diture of the public money; and, I imagine, again, to the proof! Am I told, that the that no man will be bold enough to tell me, minister of the day will always act thus; that the performance of any official duty, out that he will always, . by means of his maof the House, or that any other cause what- jority, tnus quash inquiry, when moved for ever, sickness excepted, can be, with reason by an individual independent member of the and justice, pleaded as an excuse for the non- House ; and that, therefore, a Board of Comperformance of this their first duty towards missioners is necessary? If I am, I ask for their constituents; whereunto I will just add no better argument against such a Board, it the remark, that we have never yet heard of being a part of the proposition, that the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of members of such Board shall be appointed imposing taxes upon the people, every mem- by the voice of that very majority But, ber being considered capable, and at teisure, if such be now the means of detection in the . to perform that part of his duty, without fee hands of every member of the House of or reward! Besides, without supposing Commons; if three public-spirited and per. that the appointment of the Naval and the severing members would, even now, be able Military Commissions of Inquiry originated to bring to light every material abuse in the in, or were quickened by, any thing like par- expenditure of the public money, how easy ty views, or circumstances purely adventi- wowd the task be, if the mode of keeping tious, I contend, that, in the exemplary con- und of stating the accounts, were at once full duct of MR. Rossox, with regard to the and simple ? And the reason why it is not non-payment of bills at the offices under the such is of itself'a subject for parliamentary Treasurer of the Navy, we have quite a suf- inquiry. A correspondent of mine, in a ficient proof, that members of the House of series of excellent letters (see Vol. VII. InCommons, in that capacity, in the only ca- dex, p. 1006, and Vol. VII. Index, p. pacuty.they ought to be looked to in the 1033) has pointed out such a mode. Morning House, and standing in their places in that would, if such a mode were adopter', je more House, are capable of doing every thing in easy than for any member of parlis.nent to
detect whatever frauds miglit be committed: stand. He has a mind that must, if he see it is worthy of serious attention. But, 1 riously turn it to the subject, reject with even as the accounts are now keptand stated, contempt all the shallow notions that we such detection is by no means difficult; it have heard broached about causing the Bank requires no extraordinary talents ; and, if to revive their payments in cash, and others it does deniand a considerable degree of at. of a similar character. He must perceive, tention and of labour, is not such attention that the taxing and funding system is daily and such labour the duty of every member and hourly approaching to a crisis. Can it, of the Commons House of Parliament? therefore, be necessary to conjure him to Then, observe, that inquiries thus originat- act constantly and sincerely upon his own ing and conducted in this pullic and consti- maxim, so openly and so honourably de tutional way, would soon be greatly facilitat- clared, of having no disguise, but of laying ed by the informatiou pouring in from persons bare to the public view every fact and every out of doors. The people, who had wit- circumstance connected with the finances of nessed the abuses in the expenditure of their the kingdom; to conjure him not to suffer money, would fly to those of their represen- himself to be made the instrument of any tatives whom theysaw engaged in such inqui- classes of persons who may be gorged, ries, All the facts would come to light; the beyond the faculty of regorging and beyond proof would be at hand ; and, if there were, the compass of forgiveness, with the public even as things now are, only three members wealth ; to conjure him not to be persuaded (a number just sufficient to guard against the so to act as to induce the people to regard effects of absence occasionally) to resolve bim as being, ex officio, on the side of every upon a reform of abuses in the expenditure peculator, and thereby to excite, and to fix of the public money, it would require neither immoveably in their minds a hatred of the party combinations nor the habit of making whole of the governing powers of the state ; speeches to insure success to their endea- to conjure bim to shew, on the contrary, vours.--By the institution of Boards of that he is the friend of inquiry, and that he Commissioners, you render that seeret, views with approbation every effort, by which ought to be made as public as possi- whomsoever made, to bring peculators to ble; you shut the door against the people, punishment; to conjure hiin to place no rein place of throwing it wide open to receive liance upon the power of party, there being, them and to hear their complaints; and, at this moment, no party, upon which any while you pass act upon act to create infor. portion of the people do rely; to conjure mers, while you give every possible encou- him to look forward, not to the probable, ragement, while, by temptation upon temp- but to the inevitable, events of the next six fation, you invite man to inform against years, and so to husband his feputation (at man, friend against friend, and brother whatever expence of place or emolument) as against brother, in matters connected with to retain the ability of serving, in those days the raising of the public money, not one of trial, his country and his king, and of bien single encouragement (to say nothing of the ing one amongst those, who are destined, I contrary) do you hold forth to those who trust, to preserve the liberties of the former, may be inclined to make disclosures with rea together with all the dignities and all the spect to the frauds committed in the expen, constitutional authority of the latter. diture of that money. Froiu the present BARRACK OFFICE. (Contimied from p. ministry, or, at least, truns a very large ma- 673) As growing out of my own re. jority of them, I did bope, nay, I will still marks upon this subject, at the page here bope, notavithstanding aji that I have, to my referred to, I shall. in continuation, first ingreat mortification, been a witness of, far sert a letter from a correspondent, whose tahefter things. In the integrity of the Chan- lents I have once before profited from in the cellor of the Exchcquer, on whose proposed same way." Sir, although you do not. measure I have here been commenting, I acknowledge your expectations to have been have an einshaken.confidence, and so, I be disappointed by the silence of the present liere, have the publit ; and, as he values his ministry, on the subject of the enormous fair fäme; as he values years (probably a balance appearing by the report of the Comlong series) of untarnished reputation, of missioners of Military Enquiry to be due uinsuspected sincerity, of the exercise of pow. from General De Lancey to the public, it is er unaccompanied with the execration of evident, that you are at a loss to account for the people, I conjure him to avoid the steps that silence in a ministry, whose chief claim of his predecessor in place. I conjure him to public approbation (while in opposition well to consider the situation, particularly as at least), arose from their professed abhora no pecuniary matters, in which we now rence of all public abuses, and their repeated
asks me :
promises to bring to condign panishment all of what appeared in the preceding sheet republic delinquents. But, Sir, after the lative to the principal Agent of De Lancey, new doctrines wliich, to the great myrtifica
“ Do you know, Mr. Cohbett, tion of all honest '
men, Mi. Fox has avowed “ that the “ man of the name of GREENand maintained upon topics of this nature, WOOD,” is Agent to one hundred and I, for one, feel no surprize whatever that seventy-four battalions of the line ; to General De Lancey, or any other public twenty-one battalions of militia ; to the defaulter, should escape animadversion. It Royal Artillery ; to the Royal Engineers; appears perfectly consistent with those new to the Veterans ';, and to the Waggon doctrines, and a very happy illustration of “ Train ; by which agency, on the very the effects which such doctrines are calcu- “ lowest calculation, he clears. (ur he and lated to produce. Why slould General De “ others clearancongst then) SIXTY Lancey be punished for making an unau- « THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR; exthorized use of the public money, or even “clusive of the advantage derived from the compelled to make good a deficit in his ac- enormous snms of money constantly in counts ? " When a bad system has pre- “ his hands, and of all the purchase money "vailed, the best inode of remedying it is " of Commissions, placed in his hands BY “not by impeaching an individual, but by “ AN EXPRESS ORDER OF THE removing
who carried on such " .COMMANDER IN CHIEF? To say a system, and to take care that none such no more, Mr. Cobbett, had you know:n “ shall be acted upon in future.” (Mr. “ the importance, and the respectable con . Fox, 18th April, 1906.) -Well! General “ nections of the personage you were speakDe Lancey is no longer Barrack Master Ge- “ ing of, I can liardly think you would neral. Is not that enough for the public ? " have spoken in the manner you did." Why shonld it be expected of our indulgent And, why not, my good Sir ? What need I ministry that they should vindictively pursue care who are his connections? As to the him into his retirement from office, now circumstance of his being agent to so many that the old notion is exploded, that the pu- regiments and corps, for that I care nothing nishment of offences prevents the repetition either. I envy him not his money; and I of offences? Besides the barbarity of such am sure I am not so unfortunate as to be useless persecution, motives of delicacy may acquainted with that hunian being who be well supposed to have influenced and re- would envy him his connections. I found strained ministers from such a proceeding. the man by accident in the papers of tlie * In some cases, charges against individuals House of Commons; through those papers
be brought forward rather with a I have, it is true, brought him before the "view to popularity, than from any very | public; but his connections will, I dare say, " ardent desire to promote the ends of jus- have, at any rate, sense cnough to teach him “ tice.” (Mr. Fox.)- -Better, much bet- how to make, some how or other, a pretty ter, therefore, to suffer a public delinquent speedy RETREAT.-To return again, to escape, and the ends of justice to be de- for a moment, to the subject of the Military feated, than to incur the suspicion of being Inquiry, it is stated, in the newspapers, actuated in the performance of an obvious that, on Thursday, the 8th instant, LORD duty by a wish to court popularity, espe- Henry Petty gave, in the House of Comcially when popularity, by the attainment mons, a notice to the following effect : of power, has ceased to be an object of pri- " Gentlemen must
aware, that there had mary consideration." While I confess, “ been for some days on the table a most that the extraordinary doctrine of Mr. Fox, important Report of the Commissioners would naturally go to this extent, and still “ of Military Inquiry. The facts contained further, I must say, that I confidently hope, “ in that Report made it necessary that that neither Mr. For nor a majority of his measures should be taken, without one colleagues, ever really intended so far to day's delay, to apply a remedy to the act upon it; and, it is with great satisfaction, " abuses which they proved. But as they that I hear, that De Lancer has received a were under the consideration of His Niapositive order to pay the 97,4151. into the jesty's government, and so far advanced as Preasury furthwith, whence I am induced to "to render it likely that it would be prohope, that some sufficent proof of his having “ duced before the close of the present ses actually so paid the money will very soon be “sion, one general measure for bringing up laid before parliament ; for, until this be " the arrears of the Public Accountants, it done, neither the parliament nor the public was conceived that the subject the Report can know, that the order has produced any on the table applied to, would be most effect. --- correspondent, in consequence “ properly incadel'in that general measure.