Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Whitbread could not avoid remarking on the extraordinary situation in which the house stood. The motion had been made before, but delayed that admiral Duckworth miglit have notice of it. No objection was intimated on the part of the honourable admiral. The charge was called for and stated, and then the riglit hos nourable secretary discovered that the motion ought not to have been agreed to. He was not implicated in the accusation against his friends, and therefore fairly confessed, that he wanted all the information possible on this şubject. The direction of the wind might perhaps be the hinge on which the whole was to turn, and it was of iin: portance to have the log of the Royal George, in order to have that point distinctly before the house. This he considered as the present ground of the motion, and not any charge against admiral Duckworth. If it afterwards appeared, that there was.matter of charge, that would be a subsequent consideration. The honourable gentleman, however, best knew how he ought to proceed, and therefore he would not object to the withdrawing of the motion, but he thought it right to say so much in defence of the conduct which he had before pursued.

After a few words from Mr. Yorke and Mr. Ward, the motion was withdrawn.

Sir James Montgomery moved for Icave to bring in a bill to repeal so much of the act of the first Scottish parliament of queen Anne, as related to the shooting of bares. Leave given,

Mr. R. Dundas moved for the appointme- of a committee to examine the lords' journals of the last and present sessions, respecting the jurisdiction of the court of session, and the number of appeals. After a few words from Sir John Austruther, this was agreed to, and the second reading of the Scotch judicature bill was in con. sequence postponed till Friday.

Sir Arthur Wellesley moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the act of 46th of the king, respecting the annual volunteering of the Irish militia into the line. The amendments he wished to make were, that the days of volunteering should be 18 instead of 20, and that the colo. nels should appoint the days. The act to be amended was not the militia act of the present ministers, but one which had been passed by their predecessors.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald strongly objected to the principle of the whole measure, which was to turn the militia into mere recruiting parties for the line. He objected to it also on account of the constant series of oppressive ballots for filling up the vacancies, and the cruel and unequal tax thus imposed on the people.

Leave was then given.

The assessed and property taxes regulation bill was brought in, read a first, and ordered to be read a second time on Thursday. .

Mr. Ward brought up a copy of the order of 1806, for increasing the pay of naval officers. Ordered to lie on the table.

Sir Arthur Wellesley brought up the bill for amending the Irish annual volunicering militia act, which was read a first time.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald requested soinc time to consider it before the second reading.

Sir A. Wellesley wished that it should be read a second time to-morrow, with a view to have the blanks filled up as soon as possible.

After a few words from Sir John Newport, and from Sir 4. Wellesley in explanation, who stated that he had no wish to urge the bill during the present session, it was ordered to be printed.

Sir A. Wellesley obtained leave to bring in, and afterwards brought up a bill for enabling his majesty to ap, point a master to the free 'school at Londonderry in the county of Derry. Read a first time, and ordered to be read a second time to-morrow.

Mr. Wharton brought up the report of the committee appointed to consider of a duty on copper, which was agreed to, and a bill ordered accordingly.

MR. PALMER'S CLAIM. Mr. Wharton brought up the report of the committee of the whole house on the claim of Mr. Palmer.

Mr. Lethbridge said, he held in his hand a motion for carrying into effect the vote of Thursday night on this subject.

The Speaker informed the honourable member, that there was already a question before the house, namely, that the resolution be now read a second time.

Mr. Bankes said, he should ill discharge his duty as. one of the guardians of the public purse, if he did not deVOL. III.-1808.

с

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

clare that, in his judgment, the present was one of the
most extraordinary and unjust grants of the public money
he had ever witnessed. He was convinced the house had
been surprised into the vote they had given. There
were many opportunities, however, still remaining for a
reconsideration of the question, which he hoped would
not be omitted. He thought the present occasion would
convince his right honourable friend opposite (the chan-
cellor of the exchequer) of the impropriety (as his ma-
jesty's concurrence was required where grants of public
money were applied for) of lending that concurrence in
cases where he was convinced that no claim ought to be
sustained. He was by no means convinced, that any
bargain had ever been entered into, and on this head, he
thought the house was equally bound to take the word of
Mr. Pitt as of Mr. Palmer. But supposing there liad
been such a bargain, and it was proved that Mr. Palmer
had been guilty of the charges laid against him, and on
account of which his situation had been forfeited, he ask-,
ed, if it was possible to hold that his misconduct had not
diyested him of the emoluinent as well as of the office ?
Though he did consider Mr. Palmer as having been a use-
ful servant to the public, yet he was of opinion he was
already sufficiently recompensed, and he should there-
fore resist the present 'unjustifiable and extravagant de-
mand,
· Mr. Il indham said, he had heard the present repre-
sented as a party question. His friends unquestionably
could not be sorry to suppose so, for it had been carried
on the former night by two to one. This, however, he
gould say, that he thought the question entirely distinct
and separate from any party consideration, and that it
had been decided both by the private committee, and by
the committee of the whole bouse, on the most inde-
pendant grounds, and without regard to any considera-
tions but those of public justice and public honour. Gen.
tlemen who opposed the present grant did not seem to be
agreed, as to the ground on which they objected to it.
Some said there was no bargain ; others admitied that there
was a bargain, but that Mr. Palmer had forfeited it by his
subsequent misconduct. That there was a bargain, to his
mind was obvious, and if Mr. Palmer had, by any real or
imaginary misconduct, forfeited a situation subsequently
conferred on him, the question for the consideration of the

house was simply this: What part of the emolument drawn by him was meant as a reward for his original services, and what part as a compensation for the discharge of the duties of the office he had forfeited ? This, he thought, was a question of little or no doubt. Could any man for a inoment suppose that a person of common sense would agree to accept of a situation which he might lose froin caprice or infirinity, when, without the burilen of such offic', he had a per-ceatage on the amount of the whole profi s resulting from bis invention ? Here the salary was 15001. a year, with a per-centago of two and a half on the pro.' ceeds, above a certain sun. By the original agreement, the sum stipulated was two and a half per cent. on the pro-. fits. What doubt, then, could remain that the two and a half per cent. still remained theconsideration of the original invention, and the 15001. the recompence for the discharge of the duty of the office, and of which alonc, on forfeiture of the office, Mr. Palmer was entitled to be deprived? As to the alleged misconduct, he doubled if it was so great or so gross as was represented, particularly when the difficulties from persons in official situation, against which Mr. Palmer bad to struggle, were taken into consideration. The right honourable gentleman ridicaled the quibbling distinction as to the legality of the agreement in point of form, and argued that the honour of the country was committed, it having received a valuable consideration, and there being no principle of reward so correct as ihat fuunded on a per-centage of profits. He reprobated, in strong terms, the insinuation thrown out by Mr. Bankes, that the chancellor of the exchequer should exercise the right of saying who should and who should not have it in their power to apply to that house for compensation, where they bad been injured. This was a privilege which it would be dangerous indeed, if ministers were to presume to take upon them. The crown undoubtedly had a right of assenting to or dissenting from such applications; but it was a right which should be exercised with caution and reserve. At all events, here the assent bad been given, and both the private committee, to whom the case had been sent, and afterwards the whole house, had approved of the grant. The interval of eleven years in this case had been talked of, but he begged the house to recollect, that, in the case of the duke of Athol, a review of a bargain had taken place at the distance of forty years. There, too, family influence might be supposed to have been exerting itself to procure a favourable review of the transaction, a circumstance which could not be alleged in the present instance.

Mr. Fuller strongly supported the resolution, and compared the conduct of Mr. Palmer's deputy, who had revealed his confidential correspondence, to that of Judas Iscariot wbo sold his master.

Mr. Rose considered this as one of the most objectionable transactions which had ever come before parliament. This was not only an improvident waste of public money, but a reward to a public officer for inisconduct.

Mr. Wortley Stewart said, the situation which Mr. Palmer held was granted to him, not only for services done, but to encourage him in future. If he was now entitled to the two and a half per cent. he was therefore en titled to the 15001. a year also, and to the place itself. Having accepted of that place, he could have no other document of his agreement but it, and by it he must be bound. He therefore opposed the resolution.

Sir Thomas Turton hoped that a decision, which was dictated by no party motives, but wbich was influenced only by principles of honour and virtue, would not be reversed by the vote of this evening. The honourable baronet defended, in animated language, the report of the committee, the grounds on which it was made, and the proceedings of the committee of the whole house upon the report, which he insisted, it was incumbent on the house, on the principles of common honesty, to confirm.

Mr. Long complained that very few questions had been put to him by the committee, though it was in his power to throw considerable light upon the subject; and contended that the per-centage on the revenue of the postoffice was granted to Mr. Palmer only during his continuance in office.

Lord Milton acknowledged the impropriety of Mr. Palmer's conduct in his office; but asserted that this was no reason why the terms of an agreement ought not to be adhered to, which was altogether independent of his official conduct.

Mr. Sturges Bourne argued that the opinion of the committee was not entitled to much credit, because the evidence upon which that opinion was formed was not

« PreviousContinue »