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medium of lord Hillsborough. That he prove, that the Treasury had, in the years was convinced, that, unless it were ima- 1775, 6, and 7, also taken up ships; and gined, that the sentiments of a whole peo- others to shew the price of the freight paid ple could change as suddenly as the con- by the Treasury, with such other matters duct of the noble lord (North) had done, as went to ascertain the accounts on the the Americans would never agree to any table ; by which means their lordships negociation, while the present ministers would be enabled to judge which method remained in power,

was the most æconomical. The House divided :

Here his lordship took an opportunity Tellers.

to complain of the very slovenly manner

the accounts were drawn up in; whether

:} 55 Mr. Fielde

through negligence or design he would

not pretend to determine ; though, he Noes {Sir Herbert Mackworth Lord Beauchamp

:}150 believed he might be well justified in

saying, that they bore the strongest apSo it passed in the negative.

pearance of being rendered loose, inaccu

rate, intricate, or confused, in order to deDebate in the Lords on the Enquiry feat the ends of the enquiry, which was into the Conduct of the Transport Service.) to procure certain premises, whence conMarch 12. The House went into a Com- clusions might be unquestionably drawn mittee on the State of the Nation.

to the satisfaction of every side of the The Earl of Effingham opened the na- House. This was evident throughout the ture of the business ħe meant that day to whole; and had, indeed, been so successagitate, namely, to shew that there had fully effected, that it would baffle the inbeen a most scandalous want of æconomy dustry of almost any man, at least, one of in one department of the management of his size of abilities, within the time limited, the public finances. The whole of the to arrange, connect, and fully digest the sum expended under the head which he papers from the state they appeared in was about to consider, the noble earl when laid on the table. He would menstated to be only 600,000l. which, as their tion a single instance; which was, that the lordships had been of late used to talk of clerks so far forgot their duty, or purmillions as trifles, would probably to some posely with-held the performance of it, of them appear so very a trifle, as scarcely that they omitted to cast up a single acto be worth their notice. He begged count, or state a single total. This omisleave, however, to remark, that if a large sion he was under the necessity of supply, part of so small a sum as 600,0001. was ing, by getting a Mr. Heard, who would disposed of extravagantly, as he doubted be called to authenticate the totals, to cast 'not he should make appear, he was fully them up, in order, as he observed before, justified in argument, and if not otherwise to found his resolutions on certain presatisfactorily cleared up, to conclude in mises. Having then stated the tendency fact, that the waste of the public money, of the questions he meant to propose, he upon the gross sum expended, must be moved, that sir Richard Temple, a comenormous; and therefore every point missioner of the navy, be called in. which served to elucidate a matter of so Sir Richard Temple proved, that it was much importance, was well deserving their customary for the Navy board, when ships. lordships' attention. He proceeded to were wanted for the public service, to adobserve, that during the present fatal war, vertise in the news.papers for so many tons the Treasury, contrary to precedent, had of shipping as were necessary. That the assumed to itself a power, which he had contract was always made with the person ever understood to belong to the Navy who sent in the cheapest terms. That board; the power of taking up ships for when it was made, an officer of one of the the Transport Service, As there ap- public dock-yards surveyed the ships, peared from the papers on the table, to be measured them, and reported whether they a considerable diference in the amount were such as were described in the conof the sums expended by the Navy board, tract. That the Navy-board had paid 10s. and by the Treasury, upon this kind of a ton for freight in the beginning of the service, he meant to call witnesses to prove war, but that in April 1776, they took up the custom of taking up ships for trans- 25 ships, for the purpose of carrying the ports by the Navy office, and the price cavalry to America, for which they paid that office paid for freight; others to 12s. 6d. That those ships were of a par

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ticular make and dimension. That the in Jan. and Feb. 1777, he was under the Navy board could at that time get no ships necessity, in order to procure ships, to fit for the horses at a smaller price; but, promise such owners as refused to contract, that they had not since paid any more from a hope that the price of freight than 11s. That about the end of 1777, or would be advanced, that if they would the beginning of 1778, the Treasury had enter into a charter-party at 11s. they applied to the Navy-board, to know if they should be advanced as soon as the Navywould undertake to provide for the tran- board advanced in the price they paid for sport service. That the board declined it, transports; that when the price for the 25 because they not only did not think it any ships to carry the horses was raised to part of their business, but had already 12s. 6d. per ton, the owners insisted on more to do than they could well execute. his paying the same; that he contended, That if they had undertaken it, it would the 25 ships were for a particular purpose, have been impossible for the officer they and were not to be regarded as an examemployed to survey ships, to have done ple; that the owners, nevertheless, insistthe whole duty._Upon his cross examina- ed on their bargains, and even threatened tion, sir Richard said, that he had heard, him with law suits, unless he paid them th it in the reign of queen Anne, a special the advanced price; that as the service co'nmission was issued, appointing com- pressed exceedingly, he was under the nemissioners to execute the business of tak. cessity of complying; that at the desire ing up transports during the war, at the of the Treasury, he had since written cir. end of which the commission ceased, and cular letters to the ship owners, endeathe power reverted to the Navy-board, vouring to get ships at a smaller price of That it might be about four months since tonnage; that he laid the answers he re. that application was made from the Trea- ceived before the lords of the Treasury; sury, to know if the Navy-board would un- that it appeared from their answers, to be dertake the service, which they declined. the resolution of the majority of the shipThat the ships taken up for the purpose of holders, not to contract for less than 12s. exporting horses, were necessarily different 6d. per ton; that if the Treasury had not froin those used for other purposes.

continued to pay that price, the public Mr. Atkinson was exainined. He began service could not have been executed ; with declaring, that at one time, when the that so many transports had been wanted, stores were to be conveyed to Boston, he he had even been obliged to send to every contracted with government to send them ship-builder in the kingdom, and con. there, but that he had since acted merely tract for such as were nearly finished as an agent for the Treasury, procuring and fit for the service: that he had them ships for the transport service and also sent over to Holland'and bought ships receiving commission money in the same there ; that although he paid ready money, manner as was customary, when the same in a manner, for the freight, and the Navy. business was done for private merchants. board paid in navy-bills, which at certain His house had long had a connection times bore a considerable discount, the with most of the ship owners in the king- ship owners preferred a contract with the dom; that whenever government applied board, alleging, that when in their service to them for ships, the mode was, to write they lay a considerable time in port, and down to their correspondents in the seve- were not wearing out their sails. tackle, ral sea-ports, and when they had found and ships, so much as they were when emsuch ships as were likely to answer the ployed by the Treasury,, in continual purpose of the Treasury, to have them mea- voyages to and from America; that he sured and surveyed by a person they em had argued with the ship owners in order ployed for that purpose; then to enter to persuade them to take less freight, and into a charter-party with the owners, of at last got them to accept of 12s. per the same nature with the charter-parties ton. That they said they did not get drawn up by the Navy board ; that the much more by the Treasury at 12s. than mode of payment was to pay the owners they formerly had got at 11s. for that two months in advance as soon as the seamen's wages were raised 14s. per ships were taken up, and two months month, and as they must necessarily more at the end of four months. That have seven men to every 100 tons, they for some time he had only paid, and been consequently only received 2s. for each repaid, at the rate of 118. per ton freig!t, ship more for the freight than the adbut that government wanting several ships dition of the seamen's wages amounted

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to, and then it was to be considered, that either or both services ;. and on that

supprovisions were increased in price.-Upon position strike off 28,000l. of the excess the duke of Richmond's asking him, what of expenditure, 150,0001. would still re. he received for commission, he said he main, which was in fact a waste of the used to receive 24 per cent. which was the public treasure to the amount of 25 per standard price for such business among cent. the total being but 600,0001.

When the private merchants ; but that last July this was attentively considered, it must the lords of the Treasury sent for him, and produce very melancholy reflections in the after arguing upon the great number of breast of every man, who had the interest ships taken up, desired to know, whether of his country at heart. These premises he could not do the business for less; that fully authorised him to brand this transache said, he would leave the matter en. tion with its true name, a job; and that of tirely to their lordships, and that they had the most disgraceful nature. It carried since paid him only 1, per cent. commis- about it all its proper

marks ;

it was a most sion.—He was asked by lord Shelburne, beneficial contract, made in the dark, with whether he did not think the Lords of the a favourite contractor. Why not adverTreasury had not been too hard upon him? tise as the Navy board had done? Why not he said, if he was to answer that question try particularly when they found that the to their lordships, he must say he seriously Navy board had lowered the freight? The did. He informed the House, that the Navy board, said Mr. Atkinson, was the firsi mode of his settlement with the Treasury occasion of raising the price; why not was, for him, once a month, to take to the copy them throughout, and lower as well board an account of all his contracts as as increase the freight in imitation of them they then stood, with the charter-parties as they did so early as June 1776, and and certificates of such ships as had ful down to the latest accounts on the table. filled their contracts, and to receive what The witness has said in answer to this, that was due to him upon the whole. Thus, the Navy board took up but two ships in he had on Tuesday been paid all that was June, and eight in the ensuing December; and would be due for the month of March. therefore that the decreased demand from

Mr. Heard proved that the totals of the that board caused the freight to be lowered accounts upon the table, to which the Re. He was ready to meet the objection, taksolutions intended to be moved by the earling the argument either way. If the smallof Effingham referred, were exact. ness of the demand could enable the Navy

The Earl of Effingham then rose, and board to contract lower, the same cause after paying Mr, Atkinson an ironical' should surely have produced a similar efcompliment, by declaring that his speech fect on the Treasury contract. If on the was the ablest defence of the Treasury other hand, the demand for transports conthat he had ever heard, descanted for some tinued equally pressing at the Treasury, it time on the evidence that had been given afforded the best possible opportunity to by the several witnesess. He then drew a transpose part of the business to the Navy comparison between the amount of the board, who had their hands quite empty'; money expended by the Navy board, and the latter not having taken up but ten transthe amount of the money expended by the ports in full six months. This could be Treasury, stating each as referring to two effected without an increase of officers, distinct points-the contingencies and the which was the only shadow of an objection price of freight. In regard to the first, it he heard urged, and the foundation of alappeared that the contingencies of the ac- most every thing that had been offered by count from the Treasury for the transport the very plausible gentleman at the bar service exceeded the contingencies of the [Atkinson.] The rest of what that genaccount from the navy board for the same tleman said having gone only to an exteservice in the gross sum of 131,000l. In nuation of the conduct of himself and his regard to the article of freight, though the employers ; not to justify it in any other excess paid by the Treasury per ton had manner than the ground of necessity, been no more than 1s. 6d. the difference which remained yet to be proved; for he was 45,0001. which, added to the excess in never could be persuaded, that either the the contingencies, made the whole differ- necessity of the Treasury contracts for a ence amount to 178,0001. Supposing, high price, or the necessity of the Treahowever, that he should make an allow- sury board being obliged to take that bu. ance for some particular articles, over-siness upon themselves, had been even ebarged, wrong charged, or omitted in plausibly, much less clearly made out.

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His lordship said, the present enquiry Temple answered reluctantly, and that Mr. formed but a small part of what he deemed Atkinson had, with great plausibility, asnecessary, namely, an inspection and exa- signed every reason for the contract being mination of the public accounts in general. entered into but the true one; and had By what had appeared, there was good taken great credit to himself and his emground for suspicion, if not proof of actual ployers, for his abating one per cent. of his corruption. At all events, there was suffi- commission ; but when did that happen? cient evidence to support, in the fullest at the time that a very critical scrutiny was manner, the Resolutions which he pro- making into the scandalous rum contract, posed to submit to their lordships' consi- which had been condemned as a job, by deration ; and of course to rouze their the very able and respectable merchants lordships' attention to an enquiry into the to whom this shameful transaction was expenditure of the public money, particu- referred. larly at the eve of a war with France, The question was put for the chairman when public frugality was become so pe to leave the chair : Contents 39, Non. culiarly an act of sound policy, nay of the contents 18. The House being resumed, utmost necessity, when we considered the The Earl of Efingham then moved a powerful foes we were about to contend string of Resolutions which he intended with. His lordship concluded with in- for the establishment of his facts; which forming the House, that he had several being all set aside by the previous quesResolutions grounded on the information tion, he next moved, " That the employon the table to propose. The first Reso- ing private persons in the hiring and equiplution, and that on which the question was ping of these vessels, instead of their being put, was “ That there was taken up by the taken up as those by the Navy board, hath Navy board, from September 1775 to Sep. been a loss to the public to a very great tember 1777,435 vessels, carrying 131,120 amount.” tons."

The House divided, Contents 17; NonThe Earl of Sandwich opposed the Re. contents 35. solution. He did not doubt its veracity, but he was very sure, from the nature of Mr. Grenville's Motion for all Commuthe service, every possible aconomy was nications touching a Treaty between France adopted by the Treasury; and one proof and America.] March 16. of that was, the Treasury lately knock- Lord North gave notice that he should ing off the odd sixpence, because the Navy tomorrow present a Message from the gave no more than 12s. per ton. The price King. of freight was raised; the service was Mr. Grenville said, he believed the subpressing and could not be trifled with ;ject of the message was already anticipated the troops must be fed; for who would by the House. But in order that gentlehave Englishmen and friendly foreigners men might be truly, as well as fully, into starve in a hostile land? That the ne formed, before they determined what cessity of sending them provisions at any Answer to give, he begged leave to move, rate was such, that if the freight had been “ That an humble Address be presented double it must have been paid ; that he to his Majesty, to desire that he will be had seen several letters from gen. Howe, graciously pleased to order that there be praying, that a supply of provisions should laid before this House, copies of all Combe expedited ; that so far from çensuring munications from his Majesty's ambassador the Treasury, they deserved the thanks of at the court of France, or the French am. the country, for the zeal and alacrity they bassador at this court, touching any treaty had shewn in this very business. His lord of Alliance, Confederacy, or Commerce, ship concluded with moving that the chair- entered into between the court of France, man do leave the chair.

and the revolted colonies in North AmeThe Earl of Suffolk said he must now, as rica.” he had done before, declare his objection Mr. Burke warmly seconded the motion. to any resolutions upon matters of fact. The present situation of our affairs, he The evidence had proved that transports declared to be to the last degree desperate. could not be procured cheaper. The ne. The stocks, the political pulse of the nation, cessity of the service called for dispatch. were so low, that they plainly demonstrated Sir W. Howe had frequently pressed ad- the weakness of the state ; they were ministration on that head.

already sunk as much as in times of foreign The Earl of Shelburne said that sir R. war; and afforded the most gloomy pros.

pect. Sunk as the nation was, robbed of punish: they should likewise be made to her treasures, injured in her honour, she account for the injuries done their country: had a right to take every step that could the only means of determining the quanlead her to a discovery of the counsels, tum of guilt, and where it particularly lay, and of the persons who gave them, by could not be well ascertained without the which she had been reduced from the papers in question : he therefore wished pinnacle of honour and power, to the strongly to support the motion. lowest ebb of wretchedness and disgrace. The Attorney General was astonished

Mr. Fox took a retrospect of the various that such a motion should be seconded; measures adopted by the present adminis. it was of such a nature that it would be tration : he pointed out the causes to which the most crying injustice to agree to it: it their failures ought to be attributed: he in- was unprecedented: a similar one never sisted that the ignorance of the ministry was had passed that House ; never ought to the source of our misfortunes; and from their pass any House, who looked upon a breach incapacity to conduct a war with the poor of faith to be a crime; the letters conpitiful, provinces of America, as he affected tained perhaps information received from to call them, he inferred that the compli- persons whose lives might be affected by cated business of a foreign war with the a discovery. Therefore, as he could not most powerful princes in Christendom reconcile such treacherous behaviour to must of course so far transcend their abili- his principles, he would oppose the moties, that the nation must absolutely be tion. undone if the administration of our affairs The Solicitor General spoke on the same was to continue in their hands. Melan- side. General Conway, Mr. Turner, and choly as was the prospect that a war af. Mr. Hartley spoke in favour of the moforded us, it would have this good effect ; tion. that it would rouse the nation to a sense of Governor Johnstone said, though he the wrongs they had been made to suffer, heartily concurred with those who were by being made to feel at once all those of opinion that the present ministry were calamities, for which the ministry had unequal to the discharge of the duties prepared them by degrees, by their slow their office imposed on them; yet he but destructive measures, which, though would not allow that our affairs were in a they did not precipitate the nation into a desperate situation : the navy, indeed, was foreign war, had, by a slow process, inevi- not in the condition that we might wish it tably brought it on. The House had been to be in; but he still trusted that the spirit made to act a fool's part. Conciliatory of the nation, and our known superiority Bills had been passed, and commissioners in experience in naval affairs, would extriappointed to treat with the Americans, cate us from the difficulties under which even after they had been acknowledged we now laboured. an independent state by France. Igno. Mr. Rigby delivered his sentiments in a rance of such a circumstance was unpar- style calculated to remove ill-humour and donable; and the contempt which it served excite mirth; he hoped that the common to bring on the House called aloud for danger would tend to conciliate all parties, resentment. Ministers, he said, could and create that unanimity which was nenever execute their duty to their country, cessary at present, and which would ever nor counteract the schemes of her enemies, render us formidable to our enemies. if they did not procure intelligence of the Lord North requested that he might be measures adopted for our annoyance. He indulged with the attention of the House asked the House if a set of men ought to for a few minutes, while he should make be any longer trusted with the reins of a reply to the many severe reflections that government, who received the first positive had been passed on the ministry, part of assurance of a Treaty concluded by France which was, no doubt, intended for him. If and America, from the French ambassa. a resignation of his place could in anywise dor? Their supineness, folly, and igno- tend to extricate the nation from its prerance, in that one instance, sufficiently sent difficulties, he had often declared, proved them to be unworthy of their em and then repeated the declaration, that he ployments. But to declare them only would most willingly resign; but as it unworthy would not be doing sufficient would be cowardly to give up in the hour justice to the people: the violators of of danger, and, as resignation at that criwhose rights, and the spoilers of whose sis would create confusion in the ministry, property the parliament' was bound to his honour, his pride, his duty to his coun.

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