« AnteriorContinuar »
but the privileges of parliament were to be, mode in which that principle is to be reduasserted by them in that mode which they ced to practice. I think the explanation I thought most likely to establish and preserve have now given is sufficient to remove all them. The noble lord was undoubtedly that apprehension on which the hon. gent. carus amicis, and he had no objection that grounds his motion, and surely it would be he should long remain so; but it was as true, but an act of common liberality to the that he was no longer idoneus patriæ; and, noble lord and his numerous friends to therefore, he thought it necessary that the proceed in the way most agreeable to temhouse should declare so. If it was under-perance and moderation. I trust, therestood that the noble lord should not be ap-fore, the hon. gent. will not persist in pointed to any place of trust and confidence, pressing the house to a division on his as long as the resolutions agreed to on Mon- motion. day remained on the journals, that may be urged as an argument against the adoption of his hon. friend's motion; but, after what had passed, it was his opinion that the house if it wished to be consistent with itself should agree to the motion foran address to his majesty.
Mr. For began by adverting to the manner in which the motion had been spoken of by the hon. gent. (Mr. Banks) on the same bench. The hon. gent. allowed that the present motion was a corollary from the resolution of Monday, and declared that if it had been put from the chair immediately The Chancellor of the Exchequer.-As after the other resolutions were passed, he the right hon. gent. has thus required some must in consistency have given it his supspecific explanation, and it appears to be port. He wished to know, why he might the wish of several other gentlemen that I not equally vote for the motion now, should give some sort of pledge on the whatever argument existed for the motion subject of the noble lord's return to power, at that time, remained now in full force? I rise to say a very few words, solely for The only reason which induced a postponethe purpose of explanation, and not with ment of the motion then, was the lateness the view of at all arguing the question. of the hour, and that was the only consideWhat I now say, I take it for granted, ration which induced him to recommend to then, will not preclude me from again his hon. friend not to submit his motion addressing the house, if the debate should till the next meeting of the house. be continued. It is my wish that the noble had frequently seen and complained of the lord should be treated as far as possible inconveniencies of hurrying through imwith those feelings of liberality, and if portant motions at a very late hour, and such a pledge as that which the right hon. as some debate was, naturally to be exgent. who has just sat down had alluded pected on so interesting a subject, he was to could prevent the necessity of persisting anxious that every gentleman should have in the motion, I am sure that every an opportunity of delivering his sentiments. legitimate object would be accomplished. He had said, that among other advantages I have no hesitation at all, accordingly, in which would attend the delay would be that of saying, that all idea of the noble lord's giving the ministry an opportunity of proreturn to power is completely annihilated, perly performing their duty; but he never and that no danger whatever need be appre-even hinted that the identical motion which hended from this quarter. When I make this frank declaration, I only wish it to be understood that this is not to be understood as continuing in force in case the resolutions of Monday should, on future inquiries, be found to have been premature, and should accordingly be erased from the journals of the house. In any other case but this, I think it is absolutely impossible that any minister should ever think of recommending the noble lord to a share in his majesty's councils. After this declaration, I do think that the motion of the hon. gent. might be dispensed with, without at all losing sight of the object he professes to have in view. The house are now agreed as to the general principle, and they only differ as to the
his hon. friend now submitted to the house
to have irritated the right hon. gent. and|mination. Mr. Trotter has not been forso fully to have overpowered his mind, that mally condemned by the house, for we have he has this evening taken an opportunity of found him guilty only collaterally, our resothrowing forth his indignation without lutions on Monday evening being exclusively providing himself with any grounds on directed against lord Melville. Perhaps, sir, which to exercise it. He has chosen to the right hon. gent. was alarmed by the imattack, without the slightest appearance of pression made by our proceedings, (and they truth, my learned and hon. friend (Mr. were well calculated to make an impression G. Ponsonby) as the author of arbitrary and on persons like the right. hon. gent.,) and by despotic doctrines, and on this I shall not a sudden impulse of feeling thought it most long detain the house after what my learned prudent to discharge Mr. Trotter without and hon. friend has said, in so satisfactory a further delay. I cannot impute this decision manner. The right hon. gent. accuses my to any other principle, for all the reasons hon. and learned friend of arbitrary doctrines, that operated for retaining Trotter for sevebecause he says, that a person proved by ral months back still continue in force.— evidence to have been guilty of a most cor- The next feature in the very extraordinary rupt use of the public money, should at least speech of the right hon. gent. were the arbe suspended from his office till the charges guments he used for the lenient application against him be fully investigated. Now, all of our resolutions against lord Melville, and that I have to say on this is, simply, that if the circumstances on which this lenity is to such doctrine be arbitrary, the most emi-be founded. Perhaps, in what I am now nent lawyers in the kingdom have never about to say, the right hon. gent. may think been backward to promulgate it. It is a me bitter and rancorous, but, in spite of doctrine universally acknowledged and acted this, I feel myself called on to say, that I on in all the relations of life. When we shall never sit in this house and patiently hear or read of a servant, or a steward sus-hear these extravagant panegyrics on lord pected of peculation or any other breach of trust, and not merely suspected, but actually confessing guilt, we of course order them to quit the office where the grounds of suspicion arose, conceiving that persons so situated are utterly unworthy of trust. But, perhaps the right hon. gent. meant to take up the business of the Tenth Report, and was therefore unwilling to incur the charge of prejudice by the discharge of Mr. Trotter before the trial took place. Under what circumstances is it that the right hon. gent.wife, with arrears to a vast amount, procured determined to retain Mr. Trotter in the important office of paymaster of the navy? He had heard that before the commissioners he refused in some cases to answer questions at all, and in others had given equivocating replies. He had heard that he not only refused to answer questions to which, supposing him innocent, the reply was quite obvious, but he had known Mr. Trotter to have used every effort to retard the investigation of the commissioners, and after all this previous knowledge, the right hon. gent. retains him in his employment as paymaster. What, then, is the reason for this most extraordinary conduct? It is, sir, that Trotter's case was sub judice, and the right hon. gent. does not wish to prejudge him on his trial. The right hon. gent. has this evening declared that Trotter is dismissed, when he is as much sub judice as he has been at any period since the commissioners finished their exa
Melville's public conduct. I am at a loss where to find what are the circumstances which are to incline us so powerfully to mercy. What particular claims does he possess to induce the house to pass over his aggravated offence with a comparatively trifling punishment? Is this motive to lenity to be found in the eagerness which his lordship has ever shewn to heap up emoluments, and to systematize corruption? Is it in the gift of the chamberlainship of Fife granted to his
under false pretences? Is it in procuring a year ago fifteen hundred a year in addition, not, sir, to the salary of first lord of the admiralty, for I know that is very inadequately paid, but in addition to his salary as lord privy scal for Scotland? But, sir, the right hon. gent. lays a great deal of stress on his discovering no political or party partialities in the appointment of officers, either for the naval or military service. I deny, sir, that there is the least merit in this supposed impartiality. It is what every minister, whatever he is, is obliged to preserve an appearance of, as an open dereliction of it would be attended with instant disgrace. I need not remind the house that lord North sent sir Charles Saunders and admiral Keppel to Faulkland Islands, though that expedition unfortunately failed. Indeed party distinctions were almost always from necessity overlooked. But, sir, I cannot hear the
right hon. gent. stating that the noble lord | to whom they were naturally so strongly atwas free from party violence, without re-tached. Sir Charles Grey and sir John Jarminding the house of one or two circum- vis, were selected for a very difficult service stances, which demonstrate the existence of in the West-Indies, which they performed party spirit in all its most intolerant and dis- with gallantry. Some misunderstanding, gusting features. I shall mention one, sir, however, arising, they returned, and a which fell within my own knowledge, and charge was preferred against them in this which will fully illustrate my position. At house. If I recollect right, there were three a period of the late war, when the danger of divisions on the subject, when the minoinvasion was supposed to be at the height, rity were successively thirteen, fourteen, and when offers of voluntary service were eager- seventeen, and this was the formidable phaly accepted, a numerous and loyal body of lanx which the noble lord had so much merit men in Tavistock made a tender of their in combating. I take it for granted that he services. The tender was refused by this self believed the charge to be false; and if he did same moderate lord Melville, on the sole believe it to be unfounded, what merit had ground, for no other could be alleged, that he in defending the gallant officers? It was the corps, when raised, was to be com- no more than an indispensible duty to those manded by the late duke of Bedford. It whom he had employed on a difficult service, may perhaps be imagined, that my feelings which they executed with promptitude, viat the recollection of the deceased are so gour, and success. If this be merit, it is strong as to hurry me into some degree of impossible to say, sir, how far the line of exaggeration; but I solemnly protest that I obligation may be extended.-An hon. gent. am stating the matter precisely as it happen- under the gallery (Mr. Samuel Thornton), ed. And yet, sir, we are to hear of lord has given a curious reason for voting for the Melville's moderation and perfect freedom resolutions on Monday night, on which it is from all party spirit. There is another cir- impossible for me not to make a few obsercumstance, which also pretty strongly illus-vations. He says, that he voted for the motrates his lordship's forbearance and superiority to any of the workings of the angry passions. It is well known that the dean of the faculty of advocates in Edinburgh is generally the most eminent person in the profession, and that it is seldom customary to interfere with him from any political considerations. Yet this mild and moderate lord Melville actually did interfere, and by employing all the influence of government against the hon. Henry Erskine, a gentleman confessedly the most eminent at the Scotch bar, was actually dispossessed of a situation which he had for many years held with the greatest honour and credit. So much, sir, for the boasted liberallity of the noble lord, which we are called on to look to for a motive to influence our decision!-As to the favour bestowed on two noble lords, on which the right hon. gent. rested so much stress, I entirely agree with my hon. friend near me (Mr. Grey) in every one of his observations. The right hon. gent. says, that my two hon. friends must possess more than Spartan virtue to be able to follow that line of accusation a-tained under false pretences. I have the less gainst the noble lord which they had pursued. If extraordinary exertions in virtue were re'quired, I do not know any men in whom they would be more readily found than in my hon. friends. But I must beg leave to say, that they are under no obligations to the noble lord for the defence he made of those relations,
tion, conceiving the noble lord guilty of a certain degree of negligence and inattention. I confess I am utterly astonished at such a declaration, after attending to the language of our resolution, that the noble lord had been guilty of a gross violation of an act of parliament, and a high breach of duty. Surely, sir, this heavy charge is not to be confounded with inattention and negligence. How the hon. member could have misunderstood them, is to me incomprehensible, as they were particularly objected to on the other side of the house. With respect to the resolutions, it appears to me that they complete the criminal part of the charge against the noble lord, and I am not at present for pressing any further proceedings in that way. If the attorney general is to proceed against him for refunding the money derived from profits of money misapplied, this will be by civil, and not by criminal action, for recovery of money is always ranked among the civil actions. The same observation will apply to any action for recovering grants ob
objection to press the motion in the mean time, on the grounds of the pledge which the rt. hon. gent. has this night so distinctly given to the house. I find, sir, after a careful examination, that during his majesty's long reign, now a period of nearly forty-five years, only the late duke of Devonshire and
doors for a long period of time, and that it will be agitated over and over again. It is materially connected with other abuses, and involves the dearest interests of the country. It should be remembered, that Great Britain is at present involved in a struggle which occasions considerable ferment in the public mind; and therefore the public ought to be convinced that substantial justice is done to them. Neglect on this topic will enable those who are inimical to monarchical government to draw a line of distinction between the monarchical part of the constitution and the house of commons; they feeling no mark of disapproval from his majesty similar to that expressed by this house. I warn, ministers not to leave it possible for such language to be held. Let them consider it as a question involving the dearest interests of the country, and the honour of the sovereign whom they serve. Trusting, therefore, that ministers will do their duty, I have no objection that the motion should be withdrawn, in the confidence of a more complete and satisfactory explanation and conclusion at a future day.
Mr. Wilberforce said, that perhaps there never was a time when parliament were called upon to interfere in a matter of such importance as on the present occasion, and
myself, have been dismissed his majesty's councils, and I assure you, sir, we want no such person as the noble lord to be our associate. I had almost forgotten Mr. Grattan, who had the like fortune in Ireland. I believe the representatives of the late duke of Devonshire would have no objection, and I am sure I should be proud in his joining our small circle. None of us could, however, be proud of any connexion with such a man as lord Melville has shewn himself to be throughout his whole career of life. I have said, sir, that I would not now press the motion to a discussion, in consequence of the right hon. gent.'s pledge, but I should be grieved indeed to see the resolutions passed without being followed by some lasting result. Such a work as that which we on Monday accomplished must not be suffered to pass away unimproved. From one end of the empire to the other the people will rejoice in the hope that a better system is about to be adopted, and we must not let their just expectations be disappointed. It is necessary for us by making lord Melville a signal mark of the vengeance of this house to shew the country that we are indeed their representatives; that we are determined equally to watch over their property and their liberties. The public have received our work with the purest gratitude, but is there no part of this great work to belong to the government?-more important resolutions than those which Is his majesty to have no opportunity of ma- passed on a former night, were never agitated nifesting his paternal interests on the subject? in that house. As guardians of the constiIn what situation do we leave our sovereign? tution, the house were met there to defend The people applaud us in the warmest it from any inroads that might be made terms. They say the house of commons upon it, and he considered the resolutions have taken up our cause againt the whole which had been recently adopted as the host of contractors and peculators. The most likely way to prevent danger to the house of lords may do the same; and shall constitution of the country, from the abuse not our beneficent sovereign have an op- of extraordinary power lodged in the hands portunity of expressing the warm interest of an individual. It behoved parliament to he takes in every plan for alleviating the bur-interfere whenever the public trust was dens and improving the condition of his abused or misapplied, and they should take people? I admire this house as the corner every occasion to punish the offenders. This stone of the constitution-as the source of all was the foremost, of its duties. It was his reforms and improvements--as the balance by opinion, and he mentioned it with defewhich the constitution is kept in purity and rence, that it was the duty of parliament vigour. But I do not wish to exclude the to inquire into all public abuses, and to folmonarchy from its proper share in every be-low up their resolutions by a minute invesneficent work. I think our resolutions tigation. He had declared his opinion on ought to be presented to the throne. Should this matter on a former night, and he was the house of lords also do the same thing, perfectly satisfied with the sentiments he his majesty might thus be prevented from had delivered. When he voted the night expressing his dissatisfaction on the subject, before last, it was from a strong sense of to the great prejudice of the people of Eng-public duty, and his desire to maintain the land. Is that the situation in which ministers ought to leave their sovereign? The house may depend upon it, that this question will be a subject of consideration out of
character and reputation of that house. He came down to the house this night without any expectation of a measure similar to that proposed by the hon. gent, being brought
like the present; at the same time he thought that the house should not be too precipitate in their steps; and he was not sure that it was adviseable to press it forward so rapidly as was proposed by the hon. gentleman.
Mr. David Scott.-Sir, I merely rise to express some reasons which I should hope would, in some degree, operate with the hon. mover to withdraw the present motion. I should previously apologize to the house for intruding, while under such severe indisposition, as I fear will scarce enable me to make myself heard. Sir, the hon. gent. who brought forward the resolutions on Monday, and other gentlemen on the same side of the question, used as their strongest argument, that the public looked to the virtue and dignity of the house for immediate justice, and for such severe resolutions as
forward. He had not had any communi- | they were not followed up by some motion cation with a single individual upon the subject; and he confessed it was not without some surprise, that he heard such a measure brought forward at the present time. He did not say that he should oppose the expediency of the measure at some future period, and vote against it, but he should not vote for it at this time. An hon. gent. had said, that the present motion was a direct corollary of the resolutions of a former night. What occasion then was there for any delay, and why did not the present motion immediately follow the former resolutions? Upon a conviction of the necessity of the vote he then gave, he might have felt it his duty then to have supported this. But, at the same time, he thought circumstances had, since then, been considerably changed, by the resignation of the noble lord, whom we were informed, had since retired from office. He had heard, with then were moved. The resolution being considerable pain, the sentiments delivered by a right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning); and he felt the dangerous consequences that were likely to ensue upon the avowal and maintenance of such pernicious principles. He felt as strongly as that right hon. gent. the impropriety of acting from party motives, and he strongly censured such as did. But the right hon. gent. argued thus: "because I vote for you, you must in return vote for This, he thought, such an accommodation as was calculated to defeat the ends of justice. He thought it was a proof of honourable confidence, when a minister employed persons that differed from him in sentiment; and he could not but commend the noble lord, and every other person who acted in the same manner. The hon. member concluded, by entreating the hon. mover of the motion, not to do away the happy effect of the vote of the former evening, by attempting to go farther than some, he was persuaded, would think it their duty to accompany him. Governed by no popular feeling, he would not say, whether he would or would not vote for the measure, but warmly urged the hon. gent. to withdraw his motion.
Mr. Fuller hoped the hon. gent. would sift the matter to the bottom, and not allow the depredators on the public to go undetected and unpunished. If there were a grain of ipecacuanha or of emetic tartar in the world, he trusted it would be administered to the delinquents, to oblige them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. The proceedings of Monday would be nugatory if
then carried respecting lord Melville, I mean to say no more upon it, except that, God knows, the public must think it sufficiently severe. If the present one proposed was carried, what would the public say to it? They would, sir, instead of ascribing it to justice, to virtue, and a proper dignified conduct in the house, ascribe it to what the hon. gent. below me (Mr. Fox), has so much dwelt upon, bitterness and rancour. They would say, this noble lord, after full forty years of most meritorious services to the state, and most of these in the highest situations, has had a very unmerited return, severe in the extreme, so much so, that all these measures taken by the house, must certainly have arisen, not from public virtue, but from a most persevering vindictive spirit. Sir, this conclusion is the more natural when we look to the character of that noble lord throughout the country. As to his being concerned in any sort of peculation, it is totally out of the question. No man whatever, I conceive, could believe a thing of the sort. There is no man that has the honour of his acquaintance, who does not know him to be inca pable of benefiting by the public money, or by any other thing not perfectly honourable. Such suspicion could scarce arise in the mind of any person, as indeed being directly contrary to the habits of his life. No man has ever valued money less; indeed, from what we all know, if he had chosen to benefit by the public money, he might have had millions. On the contrary, those who have the pleasure of knowing