Page images

sons, and to report their observations Bank RESTRICTION BILL.) Mr. Brogden thereupon, together with any improvement brought up the Report of ihe committee which may be practicable iherein.” on the Bank Restriction Bill. On the ques

The motion was agreed to, and a com tion that it be received, mittee appointed.

Mr. Grenfell, without detaining the

House at length, having been a member Alien Act.) Mr. Whitbread rose, to of the bullion committee, wished to make repeat his notice, that he should to-mor. a few remarks upon the measure. In his row se’nnight make a motion on the sub- opinion no circumstances had, since the ject of our foreign relations. Seeing the report of that committee, occurred, suffi under Secretary of State for the Home de cient to induce him to change his sentipartment in bis place, he would take that ments, or to think that the principles and opportunity of asking him, whether he doctrines laid down in the report of the had made any further inquiry into the bullion committee were ill-founded. Cercase of a Portuguese of the name of Correa, tain facts of a curious nature had indeed who had been sent out of this country, appeared, but they did not brar upon the as he understood, because the ambassador, true point in issue ; and looking at the M. Souza, had refused to sign his passport. present state of the country, with refe

Mr. Addington begged to remind the rence to the currency, the price of bulhon. gentleman and the House, that when lion, and the state of the foreign exthis charge was first made, he had express changes, he was persuaded that the argued his belief that no such case had occur. ments in the report were more and more red. The bon. gentleman, however, not confirmed. Those who four or five years being satisfied, he (Mr. Addington) had ago argued against that report, imagined the day after stated, that nothing of the that they had now obtained a signal kind had happened during the time that triumph, but they and the House would the present Secretary for the Home de recollect that Bank of England paper was partment had held his office. The hon. only one component part of the paper gentleman then tound that he had made a currency of Great Britain; that the counmistake, and that the person in question try banks made very large issues of paper had been sent out of the country, when money, the amount of which it was not Mr. Ryder was secretary of state. The easy to ascertain, but which also had their first impression, therefore, which he (Mr. influence on the price of bullion. It would Addingion) had entertained, was, that he be found, he believed, on inquiry, to be a was not obliged to estend his researches fact, that as the paper circulation of the to an indefinite period, as the hon. gentle- Bank of England bad been diminished, that man could not mention the year when the of the country banks had been augmented, transaction took place. To avoid any miso and consequently that the whole amount construction, however, he had searched to of the paper currency was generally at all the period between five and six years ago, times about the same. This assertion and had read all the papers upon the sub- was in some degree confirmed by the ject; and as far as his opinion went, he fact, that during the last summer, when was satisfied that Mr. Ryder, than whom a number of country banks and their no man was less likely to be guilty of an paper were withdrawn, the issues of the abuse of power, had only exercised a Bank of England were augmented in prosound discretion in sending that individual portion. The truth was, however, that the out of the country.

bullion committee bad never contended Mr. Whitbread hoped the right hon. gen. that paper was to be considered as the tleman would excuse him, if he did not criterion by which a judgment was to be join in the panegyric which he had pro- formed of the price of gold and silver. He nounced on Mr. Ryder; and as he could requested the House to reflect upon the not take the opinion of the right hon. gen. present state of the country. We had tleman on this subject, he should move for now been for about twelve months at the correspondence which had passed re peace; the balance of trade had been lative to sending Correa out of ihis coun- during the whole period in our favour, try. He was desirous of knowing what and from these and other circumstances was the practice as to signing passports; we had a right to expect that the foreign and on Tuesday, when an hon. member exchanges should be in our favour. would make a motion on the Alien Act, be What, then, was the reason that bullion should bring this matter before the House. was 15 per cent. below the mint price,

and that the exchanges were 15 per cent. I pledged, not that the Bank should resumo against us? After the best consideration its payments in cash at that time, but that he was able to give the subject, he was he would not lose sight of the subject. It convinced that the currency of the country was a mere delusion to suppose that the was now, and had long been in a state of Bank would resume cash-payments if left depreciation. He also felt some alarm lest to themselves. Government must interthis forced and fictitious state of things pose its authority, for it was not natural should in time be made a part of the per- that the Bank should spontaneously give manent system of the country. He earnesto up the great profits which they derived ly recommended that we should return to from the system of restriction. Was it the ancient, sound, and wholesome state of not a strange circumstance, that during a mixed currency of paper and gold. the period of our greatest foreign expendiWith this view, on the third reading of ture, and our largest importation of grain, the Bill, he should propose an amendment the price of gold was falling, and that it similar to that which he had offered in the was rising this year, when our foreign excommittee.

penditure was rapidly diminishing every Mr. Rose would be judged by any man, week, and the importation of wbeat had if the measure recommended by the bul- ceased ? On the third reading of the Bill Jion committee would not have proved he should propose that a declaration of most ruinous had it been resorted to at the principle that the Bank must resume the period which they had named. The its payments, should be introduced. No new guineas which the Bank would, in that one wished cash-payments should take case, have been compelled to coin, would place immediately, but that ministers have been melted down as soon as they should adopt the doctrine of the necessity were issued. The Bank would have sus of their taking place. tained an enormous loss, and the public The Chancellor of the Erchequer reserved would have derived from it no benefit. his observations upon the hon. member's He objected to the amendment proposed views until he should propose the amende to be moved by the hon. gentleman, as he ment of which he had given notice. He understood the introduction of the words, thought it however necessary on this occa“ and no longer,” were intended to tie sion to deny the assertion, that the coun. down parliament from continuing the re- try had been twelve months at peace. strictions, even if it should appear neces. For, in point of fact, considering the state sary. Gold had 'been 51. 7s. the ounce; of our relations with America, that a deit was now down to 4l. 9s. If its price finitive treaty was not yet concluded, and should again be advanced, great inconve. that our foreign expenditure still continiencies might result from pursuing the nued, the country could not even now be course which the hon. gentleman recom said to be in a state of peace. Our foreign mended. He denied, that we had been a expenditure had no doubt diminished, and year at peace : we had still to send a mil was still diminishing. Yet its extent must lion of dollars per month to Portugal, on naturally be conceived to operate against account of arrears; we were not yet in a the reduction of the exchange; and until state of peace with America, and immense the expiration of the winter months, which sums had been carried out of tbe country limpeded our commerce, the balance of by travellers and persons visiting and trade could not be expected to ourweigh going to reside in France. But for these the influence of our foreign expenditure. circumstances, he thought it probable, that The prospect, however, was favourable, even now gold might have been down to the rate of exchange having been reduced the mint price.

no less than 25 per cent. within less than Mr. Horner was decidedly of opinion twelve months; but still he was not so santhat the Bank ought to resume cash-pay. guine in his hopes as to speak confidently, ments as early as possible. He denied that the restriction upon the Bank could that any of the doctrines of the bullion be conveniently removed at the time specommitiee had been refuted, and could not cified in the Bill. allow this opportunity to pass without en Mr. J. P. Grant thought that the dimi. tering his protest against the Bill altoge- nished hopes of the right hon. gentleman ther. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, as to the resumption of cash-payments, who had said he expected the measure since he last addressed the House upon would not continue to be necesssary be- the subject, furnished additional reason yond July, 1816, he regarded as being for inquiry. The House should not leave

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

such an important matter as the restoration the ends of justice nor discipline required of a sound currency to settle itself as it its existence. If the ends of military law renight bappen. it was due to the coun- quired this severity of opprobrium, it should try, especially alter ebe declaration of the be inflicted according to the acknowledged right hon. gentleman, that the House rules of the other branches of the national should enter into ihe full consideration of jurisprudence, and not at the volition of the subject. For his own part, he de- any individual. There were three cases clared that he thought the resumption of in which he meant to notice the power cash-payments by the Bink so extremely against which he complained. None of difficult, that to devise the means of pro- these were, however, recognized by the ducing that resumption, must require the Mutiny Act itself. But in ihem the same collective wisdom of parliament, duly and judicial objects were attainable without deliberately exercised. The prospect held this discretionary authority. Those cases out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as were, the bringing forward charges against to the removal of the restriction, was by superior officers: the rejection, on the part no means encouraging ; but still he must of military individuals, of an associate say, that his hopes were even less san. against whom they had some objection ; guine than those of the right hon. gentle and the cases which ordinarily occurred man; nay, farther, he would say ihat be of being absent without leave. Now, in had no hope whatever on the subject; and all these cases, no inconvenience could in bis calculation the right hon. gentleman, attach to the prosecution of parties, whose should he continue finance minister, would, conduct appeared reprehensible. If charges before the period fixed for the expiration were adduced which appeared primâ facie of the present Bill in 1816, have to apply untenable, surely the accuser was fairly to parliament for its continuance. Indeed, amenable to the ordinary mode of trial, be expected that the restriction would con- without the interposition of any summary tinue to go on from time to time, as here. proceeding. In cases of absence without tofore, if the subject were not taken up by leave, he knew more than one instance in parliament, and thoroughly investigated which the individual could have fully exwith a view to provide some remedy for cused his breach of order, if exposed to the existence of such an evil.

the scrutiny of any investigation. In the The Report was agreed to, and the Bill navy there was no such mode of punishordered to be read a third time on Thurs. ment; and was there a laxity of disciday.

pline? (Hear, hear! from the opposite

benches, and the case of lord Cochrane Mutiny Bill.] On the motion of lord was intimated to the noble lord). But Palmerston, the House resolved itself into the case of that noble lord was dillerent; e committee on the Mutiny Bill.

he had been tried and convicted in a court Lord Proby rose for the purpose of in- of law. In no other army did this power trod ucing a clause into the Bill, for pre- exist. It was unknown in the despotic renting the dismissal of military officers military organization of Austria and Rusfrom the service without the previous in- sia. In those services no officer could be quiry of a court-martial. It would have dismissed without trial; indeed, without been, perhaps, a better course for him, in this preparatory ordeal no punishment the first instance, to have moved for a copy (and dismissal was often the most dis. of the proceedings of the court-martial graceful) ought to be at all tolerated, parti. on colonel Quentin, as the circumstances cularly when nothing in the Mutiny Bill attendant upon those documents would warranted its infliction, and when much have been a striking illustration of the dissatisfaction prevailed in the army at its opprobrium of which he complained. He being allowed to exist. The noble lord was always impressed with the opinion, concluded by moving the insertion of a that the dismissal of officers, whose only clause in the Mutiny Bill, providing" that offence was the bringing forward charges it shall not be lawful to dismiss any offiagainst their superiors wbich were deemed cer except by the sentence of a general unproved, was a measure not only impo. court-martial.” litic, but illegal. Custom, he was aware, Lord Palmerston opposed the clause, on had sanctioned it, and the opinion of law. the ground that the noble lord had not made yers gave it a degree of éclat; but he out any case, or pointed out any abuses of would condemn this unmerited stigma, that discretionary power vested in the and was prepared to shew, that neither Crown, to justify his proposition. When

our ancestors had curtailed the preroga. | Mr. Tierney rose to support the clause tives of the Sovereign, they had left bim proposed by the noble lord, and thought that of which it was now the question to that on sound constitutional principles it deprive him. The allusion to the officers merited bis assistance. The argument of the 10th was not correct; for in that drawn from the precedent of dismissal in case, no officer had been dismissed, but sir Robert Walpole's administration, was removed. Was the commission granted far from being conclusive. It appeared to by his Majesty, besides, to be considered him to prove nothing more, than that sir such a freehold property, as to warrant it Robert Walpole's House of Commons apbeing deemed an injury to an individual proved of their patron's conduct; and as to take it away from him, when he had to the right belonging to the Crown of rebecome unworthy of bearing it? There suming the commissions it had previously were many causes which might justify his granted, it should be recollected that the Majesty in withdrawing his confidence system pursued in our army was essenfrom an officer, which could not be brought tially different from those of other counbefore a court-martial. Disaffection, in- tries. In our service commissions were capacity, or disgraceful conduct, were purchased, and the purchasers were enamongst those. The clause itself was not titled to every protection in the enjoy. a new one. It had already been discussed, ment of their annuity. They had pure and rejected in the House of Commons chased a place of trust and profit, and had without a division, and in that of the Peers a right to be continued in it, unless found by a large majority. The circumstances guilty of some crime deserving of for. in which it had thus been lost, were, how- feiture. The noble Secretary at War had ever much more in favour of its adoption stated, that the crimes of incapacity and than the present. It was in 1734, when ungentlemanlike · conduct, could not be sir Robert Walpole had recommended the made the subject of trial. The latter of King to dismiss lord Cobham and the duke these was, however, frequently to be seen of Bolton from the command of their regi- among the charges preferred before a ments, which might be supposed to have court-martial, and therefore thought ca. been done in consequence of political dif- pable of proof. And as to the former, it ferences. This prerogative in the hands would be much more honourable to in. of the Crown was necessary to the disci- quire into that before the unfortunate pline of the army, and even the liberty of gentleman's pocket was emptied. But the subject; and on the total failure of the now his money was taken; and on a subnoble lord to produce proofs of the ne. sequent examination his incapacity was cessity of adopting his clause, he called declared, and he was deprived of his comupon the House to reject it.

mission with a stigma affixed to his chaMr. Bennet dwelt upon the utility re racter. With respect to the charge of sulting from the discussion of military disaffection against any individual, this Jaw in that House, especially in the dis- surely was of a nature peculiarly capable couragement and diminution of corporal of proof, and should be tried by some punishment in the army. Of the nature court; for, by the present practice, the and extent of this horrible infliction he character of an officer might be whiswas fully aware, from his own observation pered away, and no reason given but the in early life; but he was happy to think caprice of power, for depriving him both that the severity of the evil had since been of that and his commission. The right materially reduced. The hon. gentleman hon. member next alluded to the case of commented with much severity on the the officers of the 10th hussars, who were proceedings which followed the trial of dismissed to different regiments: these colonel Quentin, and intimated his deter were not, he allowed, dismissed the sermination, at a future day, to propose an vice, but they were expressly sentenced amendment in the Mutiny Act.

to other corps for the purpose of learning Mr. R. Ward stated, that the power of subordination; but in such a case gentlemen dismissing officers without being tried by were made their own executioners. For a court-martial, existed in the navy, and although not absolutely deprived, there instanced the case of lord Cochrane. were many who would not wish to enter

Lord Proby contended, that the mere another corps with this brand of insubor. suspicion of disaffection, unless that sus dination. To field-officers it would be picion were substantiated, was not a particularly severe; for how could they sufficient ground for dismissing an officer. insist on submission, when their own want


of that requisite, might be so easily re-cumstance be stated as a proof of the adtorted on them? Yet, surely, among those vantage resulting from the exercise of gentlemen many shades of offence must this prerogative. With respect to the have existed; some might have been im- trial of incapacity, this could not take pelled to the measure, and others seduced; place previous to the purchase of the and surely no disadvantage could result commission; and to elucidate this, the to the service, by bringing them to trial. bon. member read the regulation subsistHe allowed, that nothing could have been ing in the army, relating to incapacity, more conciliatory and accommodating, in which it is stated, that every officer than the conduct of his Royal Highness who has been iwo years in the army, the Commander in chief; but the House should be capable of commanding a troop could easily conceive, how distressing any or company, and understand every cir. removal must be to a person who had em- cumstance connected with its internal barked his fortune in the army, actuated economy; that every captain of two years perhaps by a desire of joining a particu- standing, should be capable of fulfilling lar corps. As to the circumstance of such the duties of a field-officer; and every. a discretionary power existing in the general of brigade, &c. must strictly innavy, he conceived, that the officers of quire into, and make accurate reports of, that service were previously tried for their the sufficiency of every officer under his offence; and, alluding to lord Cochrane’s command, for the purpose that those who case, he said that a irial had taken place are incapable may be prevented from in a court of law. All now required was, rising higher in the service, or of being that a trial should legally take place some ultimately dismissed. This incapacity be where: this was the object of the noble conceived to be incapable of proof, or lord's amendment, and he should give it, what would be more unfortunate, the his support.

proof requisite must be purchased by the Colonel Wood declared that if those of lives of many gallant men, sacrificed not ficers of the Hussars had not been re-to their leader's cowardice, but to his inmoved, a serious injustice would have sufficiency. The motion itself he con. been inflicted on the rest of the army. ceived to be very ill-timed. We had now In addition to the case brought forward arrived at the conclusion of a war in which by his noble friend, of the officers dis- our army was no less distinguished by its missed by sir Robert Walpole, he would discipline than its gallantry: Gallant our adduce one of a stronger nature, to prove army ever had been; but before the regu. ibe good effect of such a discretionary lations of the Commander-in-chief, it was power. The case was that of the 85th very deficient in that other requisite of regiment, five or six of whose officers military efficiency. had brought several charges against their Mr. Manners Sutton said, that admitting commander, colonel Ross. One of those for the sake of argument those abuses to charges they had substantiated; but the exist, which had been stated, it did not court having reported that those officers follow that the proposition of the noble were not actuated by a sense of public lord was the only or the best remedy for duty, they were in consequence of that them. With regard to the hardships comreport dismissed the service. Colonel plained of by the right hon. gentleman, Ross himself was some time after deprived sustained by those who purchased their of his commission for similar proceedings commissions, in the first place he would against the major of the regiment; but observe, that there were a great many the other officers, who, though not actually commissions in the army which were not engaged in the several prosecutions, bad purchased; and that those who did puraided and abetted, were suffered to remain chase them, made the purchase with a full in the corps. Thus they continued for knowledge of the conditions annexed to four or five years; but the same spirit of it. He apprehended the noble lord who ipsubordination still appearing, the Com. brought forward the proposition, was not mander in chief thought proper to remove aware of the whole importance of the them all, the regiment was re-officered question; and that, if it were thought ad.. from other corps, and distinguished itself visable to do any thing respecting it, by its gallant conduct both in Spain and Parliament ought to pass a distinct act, in America. Col. Thornton was wounded and not introduce it as a mere clause of at Bladensburgh, as were almost all the the Mutiny Bill. The clause, as it now field-officers of the regiment.' This cir, stood, either would not effect the desired ( VOL. XXX.)


« PreviousContinue »