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we exert that industry, and those talents | in forwarding the work, which I am afraid may be exerted in impeding it-I engage, that the whole may be put in complete execution within a year. For my own part, I have very little to recommend me for this or for any task, but a kind of earnest and anxious perseverance of mind, which, with all its good and all its evil effects, is moulded into my constitution. I faithfully engage to the House, if they choose to appoint me to any part in the execution of this work, which (when they have made it theirs by the improvements of their wisdom, will be worthy of the able assistance they may give me) that by night and by day, in town or in country, at the desk, or in the forest, I will, without regard to convenience, ease, or pleasure, devote myself to their service, not expecting or admitting any reward whatsoever. I owe to this country my labour, which is my all; and I owe to it ten times more industry, if ten times more I could exert. After all I shall be an unprofitable servant.
At the same time, if I am able, and if I shall be permitted, I will lend an humble helping hand to any other good work which is going on. I have not, Sir, the frantic presumption to suppose, that this plan contains in it the whole of what the public has a right to expect, in the great work of reformation they call for. Indeed it falls infinitely short of it. It falls short even of my own ideas. I have some thoughts not yet fully ripened, relative to a reform in the customs and excise, as well as in some other branches of financial administration. There are other things too, which form essential parts in a great plan for the purpose of restoring the independence of parliament. The Contractors' Bill of last year it is fit to revive; and I rejoice that it is in better hands than mine. The Bill for suspending the votes of Custom-house officers, brought into parliament several years ago, by one of our worthiest and wisest members*, (would to God we could along with the plan revive the person who designed it!) But a man of very real integrity, honour, and ability, will be found to take his place, and to carry his ide into full execution. You all see how necessary it is to review our military expences for some years past, and, if possible, to bind up and close that bleeding artery of profusion: but that business also, I
* W. Dowdeswell, esq. chancellor of the exchequer, 1765. See Vol. 16, p. 833.
have reason to hope, will be undertaken by abilities that are fully adequate to it. Something must be devised (if possible) to check the ruinous expence of elections.
Sir, all or most of these things must be done. Every one must take his part.
If we should be able by dexterity or power, or intrigue, to disappoint the expectations of our constituents, what will it avail us? We shall never be strong or artful enough to parry, or to put by the irresistible demands of our situation. That situation calls upon us, and upon our constituents too, with a voice which will be heard. I am sure no man is more zealously attached than I am to the privileges of this House, particularly in regard to the exclusive management of money. The Lords have no right to the disposition, in any sense, of the public purse; but they have gone further in self-denial* than our utmost jealousy could have required. A power of examining accounts, to censure, correct, and punish, we never, that I know of, have thought of denying to the House of Lords. It is something more than a century since we voted that body useless; they have now voted themselves so. The whole hope of reformation is at length cast upon us; and let us not deceive the nation, which does us the honour to hope every thing from our virtue. If all the nation are not equally forward to press this duty upon us, yet be assured, that they will equally expect we should perform it. The respectful silence of those who wait upon your pleasure, ought to be as powerful with you, as the call of those who require your service as their right. Some, without doors, affect to feel hurt for your dignity, because they suppose that menaces are held out to you. Justify their good opinion, by shewing that no menaces are necessary to stimulate you to your duty.-But, Sir, whilst we may sympathise with them, in one point, who sympathise with us in another, we ought to attend no less to those who approach us like men, and who, in the guise of petitioners, speak to us in the tone of a concealed authority. It is not wise to force them to speak out more plainly, what they plainly mean.But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct, are not those that love you most. Moderate affection, and satiated enjoy
* Rejection of lord Shelburne's motion in the House of Lords, see Vol. 20, p.
capable of receiving. I feel with comfort, that we are all warmed with these sentiments, and while we are thus warm, I wish we may go directly and with a cheerful heart to this salutary work.
Sir, I move for leave to bring in a Bill, For the better regulation of his Majesty's Civil Establishments, and of certain Public Offices; for the limitation of pensions, and the suppression of sundry useless, expensive, and inconvenient places; and for applying the monies saved thereby to the public service."
Mr. Fox seconded the motion.
ment, are cold and respectful; but an ar-
Lord North paid Mr. Burke very great compliments on his speech, which he said was one of the most able he had ever heard, and such as no gentleman in that House but the hon. member, he believed, was equal to, although he had the happiness to know, that there were many who had very brilliant parts. With regard to the motion, he certainly should not oppose the bringing in the Bill in question, but he begged the House to understand, that he did not pledge himself not to oppose it in some one or other of its subsequent stages. The subject was of the most serious importance, and went to the new forming of our domestic establishment; it required, therefore, the most deliberate consideration, and ought to be discussed with the utmost care and circumspection. He said, in all cases where patrimony and hereditary revenue were likely to be affected, it was the constant parliamentary custom, first to obtain the consent of the parties whose interests were concerned; he submitted it to the House, therefore, whether it was not a piece of decency and decorum, due from the House to his Majesty and the Prince of Wales, whose patrimony and hereditary revenue were materially interested in the present question, to pay them at least the same respect as would be paid to any other subject of the legislature.
A short conversation took place, upon which Mr. Burke postponed his motions relative to the King and Prince's property: asserting, however, his right to make them if he pleased, and that he abstained from it only through respect for the crown and royal family.
Lord George Gordon got up to prove that a more unconstitutional speech had never been delivered in that House, than the speech which Mr. Burke had pronounced. His lordship charged Mr. Burke with having lost sight of the York
Petition, and said, he saw most plainly that the whole business was a juggle between the worthy member for Bristol, and the noble lord in the blue ribbon. He then went into an arraignment of the various parts of Mr. Burke's speech, and at length, when the question was put, insisted on dividing the House upon it. The House divided: the Yeas went forth.
and county palatine, or either of them, and for applying the produce thereof to the public service." At the same time, Mr. Burke moved for leave to bring in, 4th, "A Bill for uniting the duchy of Cornwall to the crown; for the suppression of certain unnecessary offices now belonging thereto: for the ascertainment and security of tenant and other rights; and for the sale of certain rents, lands, and tenements, within or belonging to the said duchy; and for applying the produce thereof to the public service." But some objections being made by the surveyor general of the duchy concerning the rights. of the prince of Wales, now in his minority, and lord North remaining perfectly silent, Mr. Burke, at length, though he strongly contended against the principle of the objection, consented to withdraw this last motion for the present, to be renewed upon an early occasion.
(Mr. Hussey Mr. Spencer Stanhope S Lord George Gordon was appointed one of the tellers for the Noes; but no other member remaining in the House, to be a second teller for the Noes, the Yeas returned into the House, and Mr. Speaker declared the Yeas had it. Leave was accordingly given; and it was ordered, "That Mr. Burke, Mr. Fox, lord John Cavendish, sir George Savile, col. Barré, Mr. Thomas Townshend, Mr. Byng, Mr. Dunning, sir Joseph Mawbey, Mr. Re-positions corder of London, sir Robert Clayton, Mr. Frederic Montagu, the earl of Upper Ossory, sir William Guise, and Mr. Gilbert, do prepare and bring in the same."
Feb. 14. Mr. Burke obtained leave, without opposition, to bring in the following Bills: 1. "A Bill for the sale of the forest and other crown lands, rents, and hereditaments, with certain exceptions, and for applying the produce thereof to the public service; and for securing, ascertaining, and satisfying, tenant rights, and common and other rights. 2. A Bill for the more perfectly uniting to the crown the principality of Wales and the county palatine of Chester, and for the more commodious administration of justice within the same; as also, for abolishing certain offices now appertaining thereto, for quieting dormant claims, ascertaining and securing tenant rights, and for the sale of all forest lands, and other lands, tenements, and hereditaments, held by his Majesty in right of the said principality or county palatine of Chester, and for applying the produce thereof to the public service. 3. A Bill for uniting to the crown the duchy and county palatine of Lancaster, for the suppression of unnecessary offices now belonging thereto, for the ascertainment and security of tenant and other rights, and for the sale of all rents, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, and forests, within the said duchy
Colonel Barré gives notice of his Prorelative to a Committee of Accounts.] Colonel Barré then called the attention of the House to some Propositions, in addition to those of Mr. Burke. The plan which his hon. friend had submitted to the consideration of the House, with so much ability on his part, and which had been received with so much grateful attention on theirs, comprehended a great deal, and promised advantages to this country of the most flattering nature. His hon. friend had done a great deal, and having taken upon himself the labour and fatigue of conducting so great a part of the reform, it called not only for the gratitude, the assistance, and combination of that side of the House, but of the other also. The abilities of every man, and the assiduity of every man, were called upon in the present instance. His hon. friend did not, he was well assured, claim any exclusive privilege of forming propositions for a thorough reform. The country had taken the alarm; their meetings were sober, and their petitions were decent. They expected redress, and it became that House, in the present hour of difficulty and suspicion, to act as became the representatives of the people. For his own part, he was not reformationmad; but there were some objects which he ardently wished to introduce to the consideration of the House, and which would be properly connected with those of his hon. friend. In his plan he had proposed that the high offices in the ex
chequer, the emoluments of which are exorbitant, should be permitted to continue as they are during the lives of the present possessors. He confessed, for his own part, he thought that something more should be done. He did not think it right that persons who were in general possess ed of large private fortunes, should be permitted, during the wars and calamities of their country, to reap advantages which they did not do in times of peace and prosperity; and he would, on this ground, in-sential of all. That the expenditure oferary nature, and gentlemen
[76 relative to a Committee of Accoun ready to adopt any plan that appeared cal-is House would have the culated for the promotion of ceconomy, but why the decision of the and for reducing the public expence to add throw an obloquy on the order and limit. When the hon. gentle-ed, he was yet to learn. man had proposed his plan the other day, accounts had frequently with so much perspicuity of reasoning and dd, and they had sometimes elegance of manner, he asked if there producing any good. When were any more propositions still left; he pes of faction, they were did this, surprised that he should have atque, not zeal, and politics neglected the ground which he confessed, seves with every decision. for his own part, he thought the most es- so, they had been appointed
troduce a proposition, that the perquisites and profits of these places should be put on a footing equal to the peace establishment. This he thought fair, just, and reasonable.—Another subject of the highest importance, and which, in his opinion, called most loudly for reformation, was the mode of voting the public money with.
ended them and their duty in ite good had been derived, had been too short for the her concern. But a committee er of gentlemen rendered siting through the year, pile of rendering solid ad?
the country. As to the hon.E
out estimate. It appeared that no less than six millions of the public money were in the hands of two ministers, for which there had not been, to this moment, the smallest account. What could the people think of such proceeding? He could with assurance inform the House, that the greatest part of this large sum might have been reduced to estimate. In 1775, the extraordinaries had amounted to more than 400,000l. Surprised at the enormity of this sum, he called for vouchers, that he might enquire, if possible, how it had been expended. The accounts came, but he found that instead of throwing any light on the matter, they stated no more than the dates of the warrants from the commander in chief, on which the money had been paid. As he proceeded in this, he waded deeper into obscurity, and there was no more light thrown on the matter by the accounts than there had been by the gross vote of the House. He was convinced that nothing but a Commission of Accounts, consisting of a small number of men, could correct this evil, and bring it within proper bounds and controul. He knew that the minister would have the naming of that committee; but notwithstanding this, he foresaw much good from it. A small committee would not dare, in the face of their country, to make a mockery of what was intended as a national good. On this he rested his hopes, and he would on a future day introduce propositions to this effect.
the public money should be brought as
Lord North said, that he wished to hear the propositions of gentlemen from every side of the House; and he could assure them that no man in it would be more
20 GEORGE III. Colonel Barré gives notice of his Propositions
her proposition, respecting
Pents and salaries of offices dure could only say, that no exoror profits arose in the offices. ents were large and unthe present state of things, it larger receipt and expenoccurred than during a peace
A certain profit was anDe amount of the receipt and consequently rose in the advancement of the na
· Επέ observed that the noble ken plainly and like a man. clared that there was occasion
and he considered the noble ged to the measure of a comcounts. He thanked the nospeaking out, and be formed verable presage of success ble lord's declarations. The sad said true, that the extraorLot be prevented altogether, possible to withhold the df officers upon actual service.
, were he in the noble lord's ld let officers know, that it Treasury alone that they had but perliament also; and that could not protect them from Pre and the censure of their He answered him with respect dments of office, and said that
who enjoyed great and exfs, merely from the occa, would and ought to make to yield up those profits, and with the profits which they
rity of the House would have the naming of it; but why the decision of the majority should throw an obloquy on the persons they named, he was yet to learn. Committees of accounts had frequently been appointed, and they had sometimes. failed of producing any good. When formed on principles of faction, they were actuated by intrigue, not zeal, and politics had mixed themselves with every decision. And when, too, they had been appointed of a temporary nature, and gentlemen had both attended them and their duty in the House, little good had been derived, for their time had been too short for the , objects of their concern. But a committee of a small number of gentlemen rendered permanent, and sitting through the year, would be capable of rendering solid advantage to the country. As to the hon. gentleman's other proposition, respecting the emoluments and salaries of offices during war, he could only say, that no exorbitant fees or profits arose in the offices. If the emoluments were large and uncommon, in the present state of things, it was because a larger receipt and expenditure now occurred than during a peace establishment. A certain profit was annexed to the amount of the receipt and payment, and that consequently rose in proportion to the advancement of the national expence.
Colonel Barré observed that the noble lord had spoken plainly and like a man. He had declared that there was occasion for a reform; and he considered the noble lord as pledged to the measure of a committee of accounts. He thanked the noble lord for speaking out, and he formed the most favourable presage of success from the noble lord's declarations. The noble lord had said true, that the extraordinaries could not be prevented altogether, and that it was impossible to withhold the demands of officers upon actual service. He, however, were he in the noble lord's situation, would let officers know, that it was not the Treasury alone that they had to satisfy, but parliament also; and that the Treasury could not protect them from the enquiries and the censure of their country. He answered him with respect to the emoluments of office, and said that certainly men who enjoyed great and extravagant profits, merely from the occasions of war, would and ought to make no objection to yield up those profits, and be contented with the profits which they received in peace.
Lord George Gordon said, that the hon. gentleman had too hastily given the noble lord credit for his intentions. For his own part, he believed that his design was to cajole the House and the people.
Mr. Fox paid many handsome compliments to the propositions contained in the plan opened on Friday last by Mr. Burke,and allowed great candour and fairness on the part of the noble lord, who had so readily approved of the idea thrown out of appointing commissioners of accounts; but could not agree with his lordship, that a better, or a more ready mode of accounting to the House for the expenditure of public monies, could not be devised, or reduced to practice. At present the issue of very large sums were year after year left unaccounted for, and he thought it right the minister should no longer be suffered to lay out enormous sums, for the expenditure of which the House had as little given their assent, as the public were satisfied of its receipts. The very last year, for instance, the estimate for the transport service from Cork to America, had been given in at 60,000%. and no less a sum than 400,000l. was actually charged for that very service, and the minister, with a modesty peculiar to himself, had never thought it worth his while to explain such an enormous excess of the estimate. No less a sum than 60,000l. had also been issued to Mr. Stewart, to buy presents for the Indians, but how it had been laid out, the House were to this moment totally ignorant ; and but for the integrity of the minister, he might just as well have put the whole money into his own pocket, for he had just as much right to it. He deduced many reasons from these facts, to prove how necessary it was to have the expenditure of the public money put under some controul.-The hon. gentleman went largely into a defence of the various petitions from the county meetings, and animadverted with much poignancy, on the protests entered into at several of the said counties, as the protestors were by no means warranted in libelling those persons who had thought fit to pray parliament for œconomy in the public expenditures. As to the noble lord (Cranbourne) who had been very active that way, he thought he deserved the censure of the House; for he had attended the county meeting, and might there, if he had thought proper, have signified his objections to the resolu tions he had since protested against. But