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report of the finance committee in 1797; the controul of the lords of the treasury and that committee, the house likewise knows, the lord advocate of Scotland; for, during was appointed for the purpose of examining that period of two and twenty years, they abuses in the expenditure of public money; have not produced one farthing to the pub and it certainly does appear a most extraor- lic. The only sum paid since the finance dinary circumstance, that, after the report committee's report, notwithstanding all the of the commissioners in 1780, that I have new engagements on behalf of Mr. Fordyce, before mentioned, after all the engagements and all the numerous securities he refers to, on the part of Mr. Fordyce I have before has been a sum of 8,2501. and this sum I referred to, and after a period of 17 years to find was given to Mr. Fordyce by parlia fulfil those engagements in, it does, I say, ment, out of the public money, for surveyappear a most extraordinary thing, that Mr. ing woods in Scotland; and being in the exFordyce's balance to the public should make chequer, could not with much decency be. the prominent feature of complaint it does paid out of it, to a person so much its debtor in that report of the committee of finance. as Mr. Fordyce. This sum was paid by It appears from that report, that although Mr. Fordyce, or rather retained by the treaMr. Fordyce was so much in arrear in 1780, sury in Feb. 1800; and during the 5 years he was nevertheless continued in his office that have since elapsed, no other payments of receiver general until 1783; and when, whatever have been made. These last instead of his former engagements being ful- facts, respecting Mr. Fordyce's debt since filled, and his former balance reduced, his 1797, I collect from the annual return of the debt at that time to the public amounted to balances of public defaulters, which is now upwards of 90,000l. At this period, in laid before parliament, in pursuance of the 1783, it appears he was dismissed; and the act of 1800, for which the public, sir, are report proceeds to state, that from that pe- indebted to you. This, sir, then, is the parriod (in 1783) to the then present time, (in liamentary history of Mr. Fordyce's debt to 1797) the whole of that arrear of 90,000l. the public: he now owes to them upwards with the exception of 7001. only paid in of 80,000l.; he has owed it two and twenty July 1797, had remained a debt due from years; the money came out of the pockets Mr. Fordyce to the public, for which no in- of the people for their taxes; a sum more terest whatever had been received. I find, than equal to the principal has been lost in sir, from the appendix to that report, that the way of interest for this sum; no engageMr. Fordyce upon this occasion, as upon ment of this gentleman for the liquidation of the former one, appeared again before the this debt seems to have been performed; no committee, and again referred them to new steps appear to have been taken by the lords engagements entered into by him with the of the treasury to accelerate the liquidation lords of the treasury, for the payment of at of this debt, although it has been so strongleast 4,0001. annually, and to a variety of se-ly pressed upon their attention by the comcurities, that were to produce the speedy liquidation of this debt; and I particularly beg to call the attention of the house to one statement made in the appendix to that report. It is stated, that in 1783 Mr. Fordyce's property was all assigned to trustees for the lords of the treasury as a security for the debt, but that it had at the same time been agreed, that Mr. Fordyce should retain the possession and management of his estate, subject to the direction and controul of the lords of the treasury, and lord advocate of Scotland. This, no doubt, sir, was meant as a beneficial arrangement for the public; that the skill and management of Mr. Fordyce might make his property more productive than it would be in the hands of the trustees; the experience, however, sir, of two and twenty years, must very much diminish, if not entirely extinguish, all our reliance upon the skill of Mr. Fordyce, and VOL. IV.
missioners' report in 1780, and that of the finance committee in 1797, and although they are said to be in possession of so many and such valuable securities. I am sure, sir, the house must agree with me, that this statement of facts calls for a committee of this house to examine what these securities are that have been so long unproductive; what this property of Mr. Fordyce's is, that, after two and twenty years trial, neither his own skill, nor the controul of the lords of the treasury, and the lord advocate of Scotland, can convert into any thing for the public. It cannot be said, I apprehend, that this gentleman is destitute of means to liquidate his debt to the public; if I am rightly informed, sir, he is in possession of a large estate in Scotland, that it made his qualification to sit in the present parliainent for Berwick, that it enabled him to succeed in a very hard-fought contest for that borough, E
and that he finally lost his seat in this house making these observations, unpleasant as only from having been proved to have been they are: the ministers have forced Mr. too lavish of his money. Can it be said, Fordyce upon the criticism of the public, after this, that Mr. Fordyce's estates yield and they must answer to him for the conseno rent? or, if they do, why have not the quences; if, after two and twenty years forlords of the treasury, in their discretion and bearance, they still think themselves justicontroul, prevented this public money from fied in withholding the process of the being thus squandered on a Berwick elec- crown against Mr. Fordyce for the recotion? Sir, I hope I should be as backward very of their public debt, they are at least as any gentleman in this house to press for bound in duty and decency to the pubany thing like persecution; I am willing to lic, not to exhibit Mr. Fordyce in any chaadmit, as I did on a former occasion, that, racter of discretion or controul connected from all I have heard, I believe it to be true with the public revenue of the country.. I that there was much misfortune in this gen- am sure, sir, this is a sentiment universally tleman's case originally; I am ready to ad- felt by the public; and, what is more, it was mit, that it would be ungenerous to urge the a sentiment recognized and acted upon by public to withhold all reasonable indulgence the chancellor of the exchequer, who disin cases of allowed misfortune; but there missed Mr. Fordyce from his office. The must naturally be a limit to such indulgence, chancellor of the exchequer I allude to was there must be a decency in the use of it; lord J. Cavendish; and that noble person and, above all, there must be an impartiality himself seems to have believed, that there in the distribution of it to persons similarly had been much misfortune in Mr. Fordyce's situated. There are many unfortunate case, so much so, that he was induced to debtors to the public besides Mr. Ferdyce; promise him some indulgence as to time, many who, as securities for their principals and some place of profit, instead of the one only, are harrassed without pity by all the he had deprived him of. But observe, sir, rigorous process of the crown. It is just there was a condition annexed to this proand right that the laws of the country should mise, namely, that the place to be given was be equally and impartially administered; and, to be in no way connected with the reveof course, it is not right that Mr. Fordyce nue:-this, sir, was the just and generous and his property should make the exception sentiment of that noble person of humanity they do to the ordinary application of the to the individual, and of respect to the feellaw. Besides, sir, as I have said before, we ing and to the interest of the public: if that are never to forget that the money Mr. For- noble person thought, two and twenty years dyce owes to the public came out of the pock- ago, when Mr. Fordyce's debt was recently ets of the people for their taxes, that through contracted, that the employment of him, in him or his agents it has hitherto been lost, and any way connected with the revenue, was that it is not very gracious to the people of Eng- an act of disrespect and injustice to the publand, whilst we are taxing the very sources lic, what would he have thought to have of their existence, to be granting this exclu- seen Mr. Fordyce now under all the aggrasive compassion to Mr. Fordyce. Sir, it is vated circumstances of the duration of his not only the estate I have mentioned that debt, and the forfeiture of his engagements, Mr. Fordyce possesses as a means to satisfy enjoying a place of similar responsibility in his debt, the public knows that this gentle- the revenue to the one he was deprived of? man enjoys a very lucrative office under the What would he have thought to have seen crown, and that he has long done so; they this gentleman selected as the person who know, sir, that the revenue, which has al- was to frame and introduce a system of reready lost so much by him, has been further form and economy into the expenditure of burdened, for the purpose of building him a the public money in the department of the house of great magnificence, nominally, in- navy? What could he have thought if he deed, an office, but in fact a private resi-had heard the chancellor of the exchequer of dence, and built at great expence; and the present day pronounce Mr. Fordyce the knowing as they do these facts, and feeling fittest person that could be found to fill this as they do the increasing pressure of an al-office of reformer. There is another reason most overbearing taxation, it is insulting the people of England to call upon them for any extraordinary sympathy in the case of Mr. Fordyce. As I said, sir, upon a former occasion, I can take no blame to myself for
for the house agreeing to the committee I shall finally move for, and which I had omitted to mention: whatever doubts may have been formerly entertained as to public accountants being chargeable with interest,
there can be none now since the act of 1800, was given by the late chancellor of the exfor which the public is likewise indebted to chequer to this house, that he would move you, sir; under this act, there is now 20,000l. specific resolutions founded upon these vaadded to Mr. Fordyce's debt, making the rious reports; no such proceeding has, howsum total 100,000l. and upwards, though I ever, taken place, nor is it likely now it observe by the last return this interest is should do so; for it is impossible for this not added to the principal.—This is all that house to conceal from itself that the preappears to me at present necessary to be sent administration is hostile to that parliasaid upon the subject of Mr. Fordyce's debt; mentary commission; many of the gentleand I feel certain it will be sufficient to in- men I see opposite to me resisted, with all duce the house to accede to the committee their power, the act creating the commisI shall finally move for. When I mention- sion; the admiralty who brought it in are ed to the house my intention of bringing the perpetual subject of their censures, and this subject forward, I gave notice at the particularly for their economy. We have same time of my intention to submit like-seen with what reluctance this parliamenwise a resolution to the house respecting tary commission is to be permitted to exist the impropriety of Mr. Fordyce's appoint- as long as parliament intended it to do, and ment as one of the commissioners in the then, what is worse than all, we see that new naval commission issued by the crown; the reform of all the abuses that the parliaa sentiment that I have by no means aban-mentary commissioners have discovered is doned, but which at present I shall forbear not to be left to this house, is not to be from expressing in the form I had intend- followed up by resolutions of parliament, or ed; if, however, sir, this house has any wish by positive laws, but the whole is entrusted to appear in earnest with the public upon to commissioners appointed by the crown; the subject of reform and economy in the that is to say, by ministers themselves; and expenditure of the public money, it will do over which commissioners, parliament has well to direct its most anxious and particular no controul. If parliament give this favouattention to this new naval commission, be- rite subject of the public out of its own cause, under all the circumstances of the hands, the reform of abuses, the economy case, it is impossible that any thing can be of the public money in the department of more full of suspicion and alarm. We are the navy, we might have been indulged, I' all agreed, or at least we all profess to be think, with a reformer of more promise agreed, that the commissioners appointed than Mr. Fordyce. We know very well, under the act of this house to examine into sir, the resolution, the courage, the unimpublic abuses in the department of the navy, peachable character that are necessary to have been eminently successful in detecting make a man a successful reformer, that can and exposing the greatest frauds upon the enable him to contend against that implacarevenue. An honourable admiral in this ble host of interested jobbers that for ever house, and who was one of the late board swarm about the public money; and can it of admiralty, and who of course has had all be said that Mr. Fordyce, whose very exthe means of official information, has assert-istence is at the mercy of the crown, whose ed, without being contradicted, that if the character as a public defaulter is at the exposures made by the parliamentary com- mercy of every man whose abuses he is to missioners were to be followed up by cor- correct, can Mr. Fordyce thus situated, be responding reforms, a third of the pub- that faithful and rigid servant of the public, lic money spent in the extensive depart- which his office of reformer so peculiarly ment of the navy, might be saved. In times calls upon him to be? Having said thus like the present, it is impossible that a dis- much of the late naval commission, and of covery of greater importance could be the suspicious light in which I view it, I made; but what security have we, sir, for shall nevertheless afford Mr. Fordyce an the adoption of such reform? After two opportunity of doing his duty to the public, years and a half of such labours as, I believe, and I shall not at this present moment subnever parliamentary commissioners bestow-mit the resolution I originally intended; I ed before, after nine volumes of such mi-beg, however, to give this notice to the nute and detailed enquiries as were never house, that if my suspicions shall be too made by commissioners before, the only unfortunately realized, if we shall not shortly object secured to the public is an alteration hear of the labours of these new commismade by law in the management of Chat-sioners, I shall think it my duty again to ham chest. Sir, I understood that a pledge call the attention of the house to this sub
ject, and endeavour to induce it to resume reform as had ever been effected in any deinto its own hands this most important ob-partment. The revenues of crown lands, ject of reform; and I shall now, sir, content which then had been reduced to 60001. had myself with moving for a committee of this by his management been raised since to house, for the purpose of obtaining infor-40,000l. which would increase in the premation respecting Mr. Fordyce's debt, sent year, and in the course of a few years which under all the circumstances of the amount to some hundred thousands. enormity of that debt, the time it has been he stated to shew, that Mr. F. was not a owing, the apathy of the lords of the trea-person unworthy to be trusted, and that his sury in the recovery of it, and the viola- being in arrear had arisen from misfortune tion of all Mr. Fordyce's engagements as to only, as well as that the public had enjoyed the liquidation of it, the house, I apprehend, the benefit of his talents and services. His will have no hesitation in agreeing to. The misfortune had arisen from the failure in hon. gentleman then moved, "that a com- three successive instances of his agents, one mittee be appointed to examine what sum of whom had not been of his selection, but was now due from John Fordyce, esq. to the recommended by the late lord Rockingham, public in respect of a sum of 82,000l. and as collector-general, and therefore, in fairupwards, reported to be due from him by ness, he ought not to be accountable for the the finance committee in 1797; together 14,000l. which now remained unsatisfied of with an account of what steps had been his default. Another failure had arisen from taken by the lords of the treasury for the the bankruptcy of a house in which Mr. recovery of the same; and also an account Fordyce had vested certain sums of money, of all securities given by the said John For- arising from the sale of forfeited estates in dyce, or on his behalf, to the lords of the Scotland, which under the act of 1770, he treasury for the payment of the said debt; was made the medium for conveying to the also an account of all engagements entered treasury. By this failure, which happened into by the said John Fordyce with the lords a short time before he was removed from of the treasury for the payment of the said his office, though it did not add considerdebt, and of such of them as had been per- ably to his official arrears, he lost a sum of formed; together with an account of all 40,000l. Under these circumstances, when the rent, produce, and profits of the estates addressing so enlightened an assembly, and and property of any kind whatsoever be- as the origin of this transaction was histolonging to the said John Fordyce, and rical, he trusted that the question would be which had been by him conveyed to the considered without any view to party object, lords of the treasury in 1783, as a security though the hon. gent. in the latter part of for his debt from that period to the present his speech, had appeared to give it that comtime." plexion. He had a right to consider the The Chancellor of the Exchequer wished case of Mr. Fordyce as a case of hardship. to call the attention of the house to the na- He had been left large sums in debt by the ture of this transaction. The hon. member failure of agents, and from that hour no bahad changed the object which he had first lances had been in hand upon which interest set out with, and he understood him to con- could accrue. He had been treated with sider the situation of Mr. Fordyce as arising forbearance, and that forbearance had been out of misfortune. But he could state that continued to him, first, because his default it had not been the opinion of the actual had arisen from misfortune; and, secondly, government that had removed him from of- because rigorous measures would have fice that he was unworthy to be trusted, ruined him, and thereby have prevented the though they had declined employing him in public from receiving those payments, which a situation connected with the revenue. he should presently state. The hon. memHe held no such situation at present. He ber had represented the arrear of Mr. F. had held a very laborious office in a com- as 90,0001. It had been more, but was mission to inquire concerning the lands of soon reduced to that sum. Before 1797, the crown, appointed at the instance of that 2,000l. had been paid out of his separate house; his name had been subscribed to property, and since 8,000l. There were reports made to the house on that subject, 37,000l. due on bond within the present and parliamentary measures had been groun-year, 11,000l. before the 25th of this ed on such reports. He then held an exe-month, the remainder in July, except 4000l. cutive office for carrying these measures into in Dec. He had besides, by his talents, effect, and had produced as great a practical genius, and industry, which had been of ad
vantage to the public, acquired additional | in a state of dependence on his majesty's means of paying his debt; and he put it to ministers. The commission was appointed the candour of the hon. mover, or of any to make suggestions to government, and hon. gent. near him, whether in a case of might they not have to report on such parts such misfortune, it would have been right as some at least of his majesty's ministers to press him rigorously. The sums he had might be no friends to? However that might acquired by his employment had been ap- be, he was sure that no man in a state of plied, not to his use, but to pay off his ar- absolute subjection to the power of mirears. Upon these grounds, he saw no rea-nisters, could report with that sturdy inson of complaint against the present, or any dependence which ought to characterize the former government, for having employed conduct of a public reformer. He had not this gent. nor any ground for parliamentary the honour of being acquainted with Mr. interference. They all knew the amount Fordyce, but he had no doubt of his being of his debt in 1797, and nothing was so a gentleman of talent, ability, and merit. easy as for any member to move, that there He thought the house ought to be obliged be laid before the house an account of the to his hon. friend for having brought for amount of the sums that had been paid, of ward the business. Neither had Mr. F. the steps that had been taken, and of the any reason to complain that the subject was sums now due. After which it would be agitated, inasmuch as it gave him an opporcompetent to move for an inquiry, if any tunity of making known those favourable gent. should think it then necessary. He circumstances of his case, which were unshould himself move for these documents. known before. Whether the facts should The 14,000l. ought not to be charged to be laid before the house by motion, or ascerMr. F.; and as to the other failures, there tained by the inquiry of a committee, were effects that would be finally available. amounted to the same thing; he should Mr. F. too had an estate in the island of therefore not differ from the opposition of Grenada, which yielded 200 hogsheads of the right hon. gent. opposite. He was insugar, annually, and would have been snb-clined to agree in the opinion, that the ject to his arrrears, till the calamity, which case of Mr. F. was a case of pure misforhad called for the indulgence and aid of parliament in favour of the sufferers. The estate was now likely to be productive, but this circumstance entitled the hon. gent. to the forbearance of government. As to the appointmentof Mr. F. on the commission, it had been at the desire of sir C. Middleton, with whom he had acted as comptroller of the navy, and every one would bear testimony to the merits and abilities of that hon. bart. The object of the commission was to form a digest of the regulations of the different royal yards, and they had no discretion or power to obstruct any reform, and he looked upon it as no proof of hostility to any practical reform, that the hon. bart. who had first suggested the naval commission, was appointed to the royal commission. After a few other observations relative to the reports not having been followed up by any further measures, the right hon.gent. concluded by declaring that no parliamentary ground had been laid for the motion.
Mr. For begged to have it understood, upon what ground he did not wish the gentleman who was the object of the motion of his hon. friend, to have been employed. It was not because he thought him unworthy to be trusted, but because he was in a situation of misfortune, and therefore
tune. He had himself a recollection of the