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CALL OF THE HOUSE.] Mr. Bennet, in of the House justified,-a full attendance the absence of his right hon. friend (sir was desirable, on a variety of subjects. John Newport, who was prevented by With respect to the Property-tax, he illness from attending in his place), rose to should not have thought the call necessary move for a call of the House of which his solely on account of that measure; but at right hon. friend had given notice. He the same time he thought it proper that said the present state of Europe, and the the sense of the House should be fully great number of important matters which taken on it in one of its stages. He proclaimed the attention of the House, and posed that it should be read a second time particularly the Bill for reviving the Pro- that day, committed on Friday, and that perty-tax, against which there had been the report on the third reading should be more petitions than had ever been pre-made, when the call would take effect. sented against any measure that was to The motion for the Call of the House engage the attention of the House, required was then agreed to. that all the members who were not prevented by illness, or other unavoidable misfortunes, should be present. Those numerous petitions, indeed, more than any other cause, rendered this motion the more necessary, because it would thereby enable the people to ascertain which of their representatives attended to their complaints, and which did not attend to them, but in direct opposition to their sentiments sup ported a measure that had been shown to be so universally odious and obnoxious to the whole mass of the people. He conIcluded by moving, "That this House be called over on Monday next.".
On the order of the day for the second reading of the Property-tax Bill, sir M. W. Ridley said he opposed the second reading, and would oppose the Bill in every stage. The Bill was then read a second time, and ordered to be committed on Friday.
Lord Castlereagh agreed in thinking that in the present state of Europe, it was desirable that there should be the fullest attendance of the House. Adverting to several notices on the Order Book, if he might be permitted in his turn to put a question to an hon. and learned gentleman opposite, he wished to know whether he meant to bring forward the motion of which he had given notice, respecting Naples, on Tuesday next; and if he knew whether the motion of his hon. and learned friend respecting Genoa would come on upon Thursday next?
Mr. Bennet wished to know in what manner, as to time, it was proposed to carry the Property-tax through the House? He was anxious it should be discussed in a full House.
ALIEN BILL.] On the order of the day for going into a Committee on the Bill being read,
Mr. Horner assured the noble lord, that he would generally obtain a prompt answer from himself or his friends. His hon. and learned friend (sir James Mackintosh) meant, as he understood, to bring forward his motion on Thursday next; and he him-gether. But the measure vested the Goself should bring forward his motion re- vernment with the power of sending out specting Naples on Tuesday next; and such foreigners as might render themselves his motion respecting New Orleans the obnoxious to them, or those persons whom first open day. they wished to favour. It was converted mío an engine of the most oppressive tyranny. He had heard of a meeting in Suffolk-street, of a few miserable Italians, assembled to celebrate the prospects which they thought were brightening up for their country, that had been lately dispersed by a familiar of the Alien-office. What
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, under existing circumstances, thought the call
Mr. Bennet wished to make an observation on the hurried manner in which it was attempted to pass this Bill. The Bill was read a second time on Friday last; and the members did not receive their their copies of the Bill till after that stage. Although he lived near the House, he did not get his copy till Saturday morning. During the whole of the last century, in which there had been two civil wars, and a war with our colonies, no measure of the kind had ever been resorted to, till the time of the French Revolution. He was not one of those who thought it even then necessary; but would any man say that there was any resemblance between the present period and the period in question? It was a ridiculous dread that was entertained, or affected to be entertained by his Majesty's Government, of foreigners in this country. More information was derived from our newspapers respecting our affairs, than from all the spies put to
were those unfortunate foreigners guilty of, that could warrant their being sent off from the country at a moment's notice? He understood that one of them had held a sort of correspondence with his Majesty's Government as agent of Murat; and it was possible that he might be in possession of some of the correspondence which had lately been published. All sorts of abuses had taken taken place under the Alien Act. Every one had heard of a Lord Chancellor's sending a foreigner out of the country because he conducted himself ill in a lawsuit; foreign clerks had been sent out of the country because they were in love with their masters daughters. It was a system more like the Inquisition of Madrid than any thing else. There were Alien-office familiars going about in every quarter, pursuing unfortunate foreigners. Those unfortunate exiles from the Spanish governments of Europe and South America, were in the greatest state of alarm lest they should be hurried out of the country. For these reasons he opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair.
Mr. Bathurst said, the hon. gentleman had complained that the Bill had not been printed before the second reading. The Bill, as he formerly stated, was almost a copy verbatim et literatim of the former Act; and, therefore, the printing of it had not been so necessary as if it were a new measure. It had, however, in point of fact, been printed before the second reading, though it had not got into what the hon. gentleman might call proper circulation. If the measure were at all proper, he thought it must be felt that it ought to be passed as soon as possible, and it would therefore have been improper to delay the second reading of it till a printed copy could be in the possession of every member. The influx of foreigners into this country was known to have been very great for some time past. Many of these, it was probable, came with hostile views, sent by the present French government. It was for the House to determine whether, under such circumstances, it would be improper to adopt a measure which was first brought forward as applicable to a state of war, the principle of which had been recognized in peace, resorted to a second time when the late war broke out, and again recognized last year in a state of peace. The House would determine, if such an act was not necessary in the present state of things, and if, having called upon the Prince Regent, in their Address, (VOL. XXX.)
to take measures for strengthening his forces by land and sea, they ought not to arm the Government with those civil powers which might make such exertions more effective. He hoped, therefore, the House would agree to go into the committee.
Lord Archibald Hamilton said, there was a great difference between the present period and that of 1792, because we were then at war with almost all Europe, and now we were in alliance with them all except France. He objected to granting such extensive powers, which had been abused in the case of Mr. De Berenger and others, and therefore should oppose the going into the committee.
Mr. Addington said, that he imagined the hon. gentlemen opposite were hardly aware of the immense influx of foreigners within the last few months. No less than 1600 had arrived since the landing of Budnaparté in France was known, and most of them with passports signed by Buonaparté's government. Was there no reasonable ground for apprehension, especially when it was known, that many of these persons had commissions to purchase arms for the adherents of the new government of France? He did not pretend to say, that this measure would enable ministers to discriminate between the innocent and the guilty, but it would do the next best thing-it would give power to detain them until inquiries were made into their characters and conduct. He had some apology to make to an hon. gentleman for having come into the House while be was speaking; and there was part of the hon. gentleman's speech respecting some Italians in Suffolk-street, which he was just concluding, and which he would be obliged to him to repeat.
Mr. Bennet said, he wished to know whether it was true, that about eighteen Italians who met in Suffolk-street, among whom was the Chevalier Stocco, the agent of the king of Naples, a person of the name of Petroni, and others, had been arrested by order of Government?
should resolve itself into a Committee of I felt confident no charge would be more cheerfully voted than that which was intended to provide for the comfort of those whose gallant exertions had borne us triumphantly through a long and arduous war. The next great head of expenditure in these estimates, was for building and repairing ships; the extensive naval war in which we had been engaged, had made it necessary, at the close of the contest, to have great naval repairs immediately commenced. This, with a view to public economy, it was found proper to commence without loss of time. This had caused a considerable expense; but a great reduction, to the amount of 236,000l. had been effected by the arrangements made with respect to the King's-yards. He congratulated the Committee on these arrangements, which would in future furhow-nish the country with an adequate supply of large ships. It was unnecessary for him to speak of the public works, which had already been brought before the House. He should not enter on these, unless infor
Supply, and that the Navy Estimates, together with the estimates for several miscellaneous services, be referred to the said Committee. The Speaker having left the chair,
Sir George Warrender rose. He said, he thought it unnecessary for him in bringing forward the Navy Estimates to go into any great length of detail. Any explanation that the Committee might require he would endeavour to afford. The sums expended for the service of the Navy were divided under two heads, the one consisting of expenses connected with ships afloat, the other with the pay of the civil offices and all expenses connected with ships not afloat. A great reduction had been made in the general expenditure of the Navy, by reducing the number of hands, and by placing officers on half-pay. This, ever, caused a very considerable excess to be created under the head of half-pay, amounting to 436,3961. This excess arose from three causes; from the increased number of persons placed on half-pay-mation were called for. Great sums had from the increased amount of the half-pay been thus expended, and in particular on itself, and from the extensive naval pro- the Breakwater at Plymouth Sound, which motion which had taken place. The had cost 250,000l. These expenses, howHouse would recollect the plan which had ever, he trusted would be found to have been formed for better rewarding long and been wisely incurred, and the great work meritorious services. The inconveniencies he had just mentioned he had every reason which it was feared would attend it, he to hope would answer the purpose for had the pleasure to say, had not been ex- which it was to be constructed. The perienced; the happiest effects had been estimates he had explained, made together found to result from it, and it had given 3,405,400l. being 200,000l. less than the general satisfaction. The mode of reward- corresponding estimates of last year. He ing masters mates, and midshipmen, which had to propose an additional vote for had been preferred to giving them half- for 20,000 men. Last year 70,000 men pay, had been found more beneficial to were voted for the navy, to these, in the them, while the country was spared such present instance, he, as he had already an expense. An arrangement had been stated, meant to call for an addition of made, by which, in time of peace, they 20,000 men. The total expense of the would all have been employed; and, in navy from the papers produced last year, addition to this, an extensive promotion to had been 17,265,000l. The estimates bethe rank of lieutenant had taken place fore the House in the present year made from among the masters-mates and mid- it 12,526,7781. giving a difference of shipmen. This promotion, much to the 4,739,000l. He was happy to say the honour of the noble lord at the head of the navy was in as good a state as it had been Admiralty, had been made in the best in at any period of the war. It was in possible way; as those who had been pro- such a state of efficiency, that should the moted were selected on no grounds what- service of the country require a very large ever but those of merit and service. fleet, it could almost immediately be Having briefly explained the causes of the brought forward. It might be satisfactory excess which appeared for half-pay, he to the Committee to learn, that all the thought it unnecessary to enlarge on the public ship-building had been transferred subject, as the House had always been from the merchants to the King's yards, ready to bear testimony to the distin- from which a great future saving might guished merit of those who were bene- be anticipated. He concluded, by moving fitted by it; and large as the sum was, he for a supply for 25,000 men (including
5,000 royal marines), for ten lunar months. Sir M. W. Ridley wished to put a few questions relative to some of the items in these accounts: for instance one of 5,000l. for parish duties, lamps, and other expenditures for public use; another was 14,000l. for disbursements of a similar description; and a third of 10,000l. There were other sweeping sums for the navy departments at Deptford and Portsmouth, upon which some explanation, beyond stating the round sums, was due. Whilst looking to unexplained large points, he could not but lament a reduction in one which ought to be liberally maintained -he meant the superannuated or compassionate list. With reference to public works, he could not overlook the uncertain mode in which estimates were inserted; several of these were rated at uncertain sums. In proof of this, he adduced the sums expended upon Plymouth chapel; during the present year 5,400l. was voted for that purpose. The works thus indefinitely marked, amounted to 229,000l., 38,000l. of which had been thus expended. He had no doubt that the public service might require such appropriations; he only complained of the loose way in which they were stated.
Mr. W. Smith thought the income of 600l. per annum given to the paymaster of widows pensions, seemed more like a provision for the person than the proper pay of the office. He felt this the more, when he compared it with the small
Sir G. Warrender observed, that the preparation of distinct general estimates had only been the practice since many public works had been commenced. As to the Dock-yard items, they were more immediately within the department of his hon. friend, the Secretary to the Admi-income of the Astronomer-royal, a person ralty, who would doubtless give the neces- who must stand high in point of education sary explanation. and science, and who must hold an extenMr. Gordon solicited an explanation of sive correspondence in every quarter of the sums of 1,000l. 500l. &c. for Sheer- Europe: his salary was but 2921. per ann. ness, and other contingencies; also 5,000l. and 100!. for an assistant. To such an for parish duties, lamps, &c. There was office he would be glad so see an augmenanother expense of 500l. for the Inspector tation. The chaplain-general of the fleet of Telegraphs; now this salary, he thought, had 500l. to this he certainly did not should have expired with the duty for object. He complained of the expense of which it was given, for the Telegraph the naval hospital at Yarmouth, which had service must have ceased during the last cost 100,000l., besides 20,000l. for buildyear. The 526,000l. credit for old stores, ing an officer's house near it. The hosrecalled to his recollection the circum-pital was constructed to hold 500 patients, stance that great mismanagement pre- yet had never at one time-not even when vailed in the mode of disposing of this the patients of other hospitals near had species of public property this ought to been carried to it, while they were being be inquired into, and remedied. repaired-had more than 150 in it. The regular average was considerably under 100; he believed about 70. He did not know where the blame lay, but it appeared to him the sums laid out upon that building, were much greater than the ad. vantages to be expected from it; and for
Mr. Croker replied, that as to the 5,000l. for small items, the estimate was taken from the details of the last year, and exposed to two checks, which of course controlled it properly. It was reduced to the lowest possible sum, and, considering its
nature, he was only surprised that it was not more. To meet some of these roundlystated sums, according to Mr. Bankes's Bill, the fees of several offices were in part applied, and there were two audits for their regular examination. The amount of this branch was certainly smaller than it had been last year. The telegraph estimate stood over since last December, and was for actual service; the reason of its being deferred was, that it should have the benefit of discussion with the other parts of the public expenditure. telegraphs had since been pulled down, but they were now in active preparation for renewal. The old stores disposal was in other hands than his for execution. He could only answer, that full and ample publicity was given before each sale, and it was competent for any person who had any complaint to make of this matter, to state such complaint to the Navy Board or the Admiralty. For his own part, he never heard that any malversation had been complained of.
Sir M. W. Ridley, though glad to hear of good regulations, thought there could be no objection on the other side, to produce or obtain general estimates of the public works in hand.
those actually derived from it, he thought the public paid ten to one more than they ought, and that the expense of the officer's house might have secured the whole of the benefits obtained from this expensive establishment to the navy. Mr. Croker explained. He said the situation of paymaster of widows pensions was first regulated under a charter of George the 2nd. A great deal of trouble was involved in the duties annexed to it; for the parties were paid quarterly, and in their several places of residence. An alteration had lately been made in this office, and the present remuneration was agreed upon, in lieu of the emolument arising to the paymaster from the use of the public money which be occasionally held, and which left him a greater profit than his present income. The sum in the estimates was paid to the Astronomer royal for a nautical almanack, and formed but a small part of his emoluments. The hospital at Yarmouth, if not much used now, before the expedition to Copenhagen, while the Dutch fleet was strong, and France had a formidable naval establishment at Antwerp, at that time as the eyes of Great Britain were anxiously fixed on the north, was likely to be of great importance. Had that state of things continued, it was likely that hos pital would have caused a great saving not merely of money but of human life; and any expense in forming this establishment was well incurred, to avoid having recourse to those wretched places formerly in use, he meant the temporary hospitals.
Mr. Gordon would wish to know whether there was any diminution in the expenses of the inspection of telegraphs? There were twenty clerks employed in time of war, and surely so many could not be necessary in time of peace.
Mr. Bennet wished to know what was done to compensate captain Usher, or whether there was any measure in progress to do him justice.
Sir Charles Pole said, that captain Usher was an officer of the highest merit, and that his services and his wounds deserved from his country the greatest attention.
Lord Castlereagh said, that the business with regard to captain Usher was in a state of progress.
Mr. W. Smith took notice of the sum of 6021. paid to captain King, for carrying marshal Blucher, &c. &c. from Dover to Calais. He had heard there was a mode of average struck for the remuneration of
officers so employed, and that the office was sometimes a good one, and at other times the reverse, Now, upon inquiry, he found that the et ceteras in this case were no less personages than the duchess of Oldenburgh, the prince royal of Wirtemberg, prince Hardenberg, the Russian and Prussian ambassadors, generals Bulow, and Yorck, with their several suites.
Mr. Ponsonby rose to do justice to the feelings of captain King, who would be the last man in the service to take money for a duty which he did not perform, or to make a demand which was not strictly and honourably correct. Now, the fact was, that instead of his having made one trip from Dover to Calais with those illustrious personages, he had made four or five, and was actually out of pocket several hundred pounds, over and above what he had been allowed for that duty.
Mr. Croker said, that the circumstance of the item having been annexed to the name of marshal Blucher alone, might have arisen from his name being first on the list in the warrant, and that it was thought unnecessary to insert the whole.
Mr. R. Ward said, that as to the emoluments of the Astronomer-royal, they were derived from three sources-from the Admiralty to the amount mentioned in the estimate, from the Ordnance the sum paid was 100%, with coals and candles, and the Royal Society paid about as much; so that, in all, the salary amounted to 7 or 8001. year, together with Flamstead House.
Mr. Giddy said, that the salary of the Astronomer-royal had very properly been increased since the death of Dr. Maskelyne, who had a large private fortune; and be thought a still greater increase would be advisable. If the establishment at Flamstead-house was increased, so as to form in some sort a school of astronomy, the expense would be amply repied by the beneficial influence of such a measure upon astronomical science, as far as it was applicable to naval purposes.
Mr. Whitbread observed, that the minuteness of the estimates was truly laudable, and was carried to such an extent that 41. was inserted as the expense of catching rats-[A laugh]. He was no tsurprised at this item; but from the multitude of rats' in that department, he had expected to have found another item of 401, for burying those which had been taken. But, passing over to larger matters, he wished to point the attention of the Secretary of the Admiralty to the notorious fact,