Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

He said, it was not even the money that relative to his rum contract, and agency was thrown away ; but that that was per- for the line of transports for the treasury. mitted to lie in the hands of favourite He contended, that the rum contract was placemen, favourite agents, and favourite full 50 per cent. too much ; that the trans, contractors. In some instances, this port service, including the commission, money was permitted to lie in the hands was a loss of 20 per cent. to the public; of men, answering to those several descrip- and that the contract for remitting money, tions, for 15 or 20 years, while this ruined and accepting bills given to Harley and distressed nation was borrowing money at Drummond, would be a waste of public upwards of 5 per cent. He remarked, money, little short of 30,0001. The rum that a thousand lame apologies were made contract had been referred to three merday after day; such as, that there were chants of the first reputation in the city, not clerks enough in the auditor's office. by the treasury; the result of which was, Why not have clerks enough? Such, again, that after the merchants had made the was the shameful pretence in the navy. most ample allowance, there remained an office, that they could not undertake the excess of profit or douceur, for somebody, hiring the transport victuallers. Why not of full 30 per cent. He supposed, a reaemploy additional clerks, surveyors, &c. ?sonable share to the contractor for his But these were mere flimsy pretexts to trouble and risk. He said, it was well blindfold the nation, and prevent them known that the price of rum in the island from discovering the iniquitous jobs that is seldom more than 1s. 9d. the gallon; were daily carrying into execution. If that 5d. for profit and freight was a great clerks, surveyors, and commissioners were allowance; but did not wonder that great wanting, and that the precious agent and sums had been devoured by contracts, contractor, Mr. Atkinson, was able to sup- when the noble lord in the blue ribbon ply them all, in his own person (that, for was so criminally ignorant as not to know aught that appeared, being the case ), why currency from sterling. But, surely, if the not employ this worthy gentleman tó audit noble lord was ignorant of the difference, the accounts? He next turned his atten- was it not culpable in him and his coltion to Mr. Gordon, the inspector of pro- leagues at the treasury-board not to envisions at Cork, who had only at the rate quire of some person who was capable of of upwards of 10,0001. a year for his informing them on the subject :trouble, for what might be as well, he Lord North rose in great warmth. He would not say better, executed for half so said, he was pretty sure it was sterling; many hundreds. But he was apt to suspect but gentlemen cried no; and he, to huthat poor Mr. Gordon had not all the mour them, acquiesced, though afterwards, profit set up to his account.

upon enquiry, it proved to be sterling, and The colonel next proceeded to state the that he was right. expences of the respective years of the Colonel Barré reprehended the noble late glorious war, and compare them with lord severely for his disorder, in a strain of the first, second, and third years of the irony. The noble lord, said he, seems to present disgraceful, ruinous, and inglori- be in a passion. I am not surprised at it. ous witr; and proved, that when we had I should be surprised if he did not feel; more than half Europe to contend with, but only mark bis lordship's philosophic our expences were not near so great. command of temper, he has not been the Where was the balance? What our con- least disorderly in interrupting me; not quests? Where were our prizes? Where in the least disorderly, to be sure. were our victories? We had been beaten, Lord North rose again, and was prodefeated, or baffled, in every attempt. We ceeding in a high tone, when he was called had spent, or would spend, by the close of to order. Continuing still on his legs, the the present campaign, upwards of thirty cry of Chair! chair! succeeded. The millions; and, to fill the measure of na- Speaker told his lordship, that the proper tional calamity, we were on the eve of a time to reply, would be when the hon. war with France and Spain, as well as gentleman had sat down. America. Here he took a more particu- | Colonel Barré resumed. He said, the lar view of agents, contractors, splitting of motions he meant to propose might seem profits, &c. particularly of the contracts rather new, because not lately practised; and agencies of Harley and Drummond, but there were nevertheless several preon the Spanish, Portugal, and British gold cedents in the Journals in their support, coin ; and the self-denying Mr. Atkinson, particularly in 1653 and 1667 ; and in

1694 and 1697, as well as several others. He next observed on several other parts of the account. He said, there was the sum of 5,000l. paid to sir Thomas Mills for an office enjoyed in Quebec some years since. He could not possibly see how this sum happened not to be paid before. He said, 23,000l. were charged for carrying on war against the Caribbs. He had enquired of several gentlemen, who had property in the island of St. Vincents, who had heard nothing of any war existing in that island since the last troubles. He said, in Messrs. Harley and Drummond's account, there appeared a want of vouchers for 80,000l. That there was a charge of 108,000l. for sheep, and for cabbages, and other vegetables, exclusive of another monstrous charge for sour crout ; besides the enormous sum of 40,000l. paid to lord Cornwallis without account. He said, that the last war in America, commissioners had 10l. a day; but now they were paid at the rate of 100l. a day. He said, that America, perceiving our luxury, dissipation, and extravagance; and seeing us immersed in corruption, resolved to separate from us; and he was well assured, that that was one of the motives for her erecting herself into a separate and independent state. His reflections were very severe upon ministry in general, and pointedly so upon lord North. The colonel painted in the strongest colours, our gloomy prospect; said that Bristol had already felt the fatal effects of this war; that Liverpool had done the same; and that London itself was so oppressed with the missortunes of it, that she had not courage even to complain. He quoted Raynal, that if the English ever have their manners so corrupted, and their principles of liberty so changed, as to attempt to put fetters upon the colonies, they will soon become slaves themselves; that all Europe used to look upon England as her pride, but that she now turned from her, and cherished that pride in the West, that phoenix rising out of our ashes. He observed, that the noble lord had the drum beat in that House, and the standard of war hoisted against America; and looked upon none as his friends but such as enlisted on the terms of compelling -America, by the point of the sword, to a surrender of her liberties. The noble lord's power was great, and his means of preservation greater; but they all proved too weak for that resistance

which a spirit of freedom, and legal and constitutional liberty, inspired. He concluded, by strongly recommending public oeconomy; that dissevered as the empire was, we had no right to the expensive pomp belonging to a great state; that we were become a little one; that we should occonomise the little we had left; but that the very men, who had brought us to this situation, would probably that very night reject the means of doing it. He then moved, “That the Accounts of extraordinary services incurred and paid, and not provided for by parliament, which have been laid before this House in the years

1776, 1777, and in the present session, be

referred to a Committee, to consider and examine the same; and to report their opinions thereupon to the House.” Lord North said, he was still right; for it was not currency, but sterling. If he had been ignorant of that circumstance, he did not expect to hear it imputed to him as a crime. He said, if governors abroad drew bills on the treasury, how could it be helped 2 They had no money there, and money must be expended in building barracks, forts, &c. and in raising defences within their respective governments. They must account for what they had drawn; and though they had overdrawn, the present was rather too delicate a time to protest their bills. He had no objection to the proposed committee, but should wish not to have it above stairs; because he could not attend there, on account of public business; but if in the House, could and would attend, and should wish to know before-hand, to what heads of expenditure the hon. gentleman meant chiefly to direct the enquiry, that he might be enabled to give a proper answer. Mr. Cornwall said, the estimates were formed above 100 years ago, and that all the materials used in ship-building, repairs, stores, &c. were increased treble in the value. This circumstance would fully account for the extras, and the great increase of the navy debt. He said, accounts were confused things to look into; but the treasury had done every thing that could possibly have depended upon them, to inspect and regulate them. Ever since he sat at the treasury-board, he disliked governor's accounts; but what could be done He thought it extremely improper to refer the rum contract to the merchants, without telling them the real price of the rum; instead of which, they fixed an arbitrary value on it, much below the real

:

price, which was the reason that all their | lege of office; and that the rapacious condeductions were wrong. He added, that tractor would receive it as a licence for public affairs could not be transacted with plunder ; that the valour of our officers more care and attention than they were and soldiers could not alone save the coun. at present; that therefore he could not try; that there must be a sırict attention see the least occasion for adopting the me to the application of public money ; that. thod proposed; particularly as the con- without this, even another Marlborough or tractors would refund to the treasury what another Wolfe would not avail us ; to use they had taken beyond a fair price, and the words of one who was a great states.' that the treasury would look to that and man, as well as a great poet, receive it accordingly; that the nation' “ lo vain cloth valonr bleeil, was not, at present, in a proper temper;

“ While av'ıice and rapine share the land." and that this would only add to the calum Mr. Jenkinson said, he was for the monious spirit of the day.

tion in part, but against the opinions of Governor Johnstone observed, that the the committee being reported ; that upon very reasons assigned by the hon. gentle- condition that the motion was amended man who spoke last, were the strongest according to that idea, he should vote for that could be possibly given in favour of the select committee. He said, he knew the enquiry into the public accounts; be- the Treasury-board was always very exact cause he had acknowledged that the ac. ) in making enquiries before it entered into counts were intricate, and difficult to li. any contract; and made no doubt but the quidate. The treasury had been greatly board had been equally circumspect on imposed on in the rum contract, and he be- | the present occasion. He said, he did not lieved knowingly so; for if they had think this a proper time for the committee made enquiry, they would have found that of accounts. The House was not in a the current price of proof rum in the temper to go into such a tedious, difficult islands is 1s. Ild. and 4d. or 5d. at most, examination, and it might be productive of was fully sufficient for freight, leakage, &c. great mischief, by disseminating ill-founded and was what any fair trader, or honest | charges, calumnies, &c. man, would be fully content with. He Mr. Burke replied, that to appoint the ridiculed lord North's self-sufficiency, in committee would be the best means of preobjecting to its being a secret committee, venting calumnies, and of refuting illlaying so much stress upon his own pre- | founded reports. The calumnies, if they sence being essential to the carrying on deserved that appellation, were already the business in it; said, that for bis part, spread; enquiry, leading to a disclosure were he to judge of the effect the noble of truth, 'was the surest way to detect falslord's presence would have upon any fu-hood. If I had to do with a man, said he, ture business, by what it had had upon all who suspected me, and I was conscious of past, he should wish his absence from the my own innocence, I would desire, I would committee. The situation of the affairs his intreat'; and, if I could not otherwise perlordship has hitherto had the immediate suade him to do me justice, I would, if management of, was but little inducement in my power, compel him to examine into for the House to give much weight to the my conduct or accounts. He said, he dif. objection made by him to the secret com- fered in sentiment, as to the opinions not mittee.

being reported from the committee, with Mr. Aubrey thanked the hon. gentle. the facts, but he did not afterwards insist man who made the motion, to whom he upon his objection ; said, that he could was sure the House in general, and every not see the great necessity there would be, country gentleman in particular, was for the noble lord's being present at the much obliged. The papers on the table committee, or even the particular use there abounded with such instances of extrava- would be in it, unless to brow-beat some, gance, that it plainly appeared there was and support prevarication in others. no other method of checking the profusion Lord North said, he would repeat again, of ministers, but the one moved for ; that he had no objection to a committee, but not to comply with the proposed enquiry, not up stairs : or if the House liked a select would be a breach of the trust reposed in committee better, he would be perfectly us by our constituents; that if it was put content. off, not only the present ministers, but all | Mr. Harley said, that the part of the future ones, would regard it as a declara- public accounts relative to him, would take tion, that impunity is a confirmed privi. up very little of their time, (VOL. XIX.]

1 [3 R)

[ocr errors]

. Mr. Alderman Bull. Sir, during the late , have been, to aggrandise and enrich peace, administration paid off eleven mil themselves ; to plunder, to impoverish, lions of the national debt; the public, and to enslave the people. however, did not, nor could they perceive Col. Barré's motion having been any advantage they gained by this reduc. amended by Mr. Cornwall, by leaving out tion of the debt, the taxes continuing the the words,“ to report their opinion same, until they were told, that if we thereon,” the colonel said, that from the should be again involved in a war, they select committee in 1773, much was exwould then be able to borrow the amount pected and little came forth; that he should of the sum paid off, without laying fresh wish to withdraw his motion, rather than burdens upon the people. Sir, we have hang out to the public hopes of redress, had a war, and how have these ministerial and afterwards disappoint the public exassurances turned out ? Instead of fact, pectation, by being able to effect nothing, they were all delusion. The first moment as the matter was to be decided in the supplies were required, new taxes were House, where the parties concerned were proposed : 2,150,0001. were funded the certain of a majority year before the last; for this small sum Mr. Stanley said, he did not approve of (compared with eleven million) fresh taxes the committee, hecause it implied a censure were levied upon the people. The last without a tittle of proof, that that censure year five millions were funded, and pro- was well founded. portionable taxes were imposed. Part of Mr. Bayley repeated what he had often the additional load of the present year, said respecting the rum contracts; that he our task-masters have indulged us with the had offered ministers better, or at least as knowledge of. I must add a word upon good, rum, for half the price they had the subject of the present unhappy war. charged to the public. My opinion has ever been the same; I Sir George Yonge, for the committee, think it founded in injustice, and exe- said, that the papers on the table concuted in inhumanity. I hope the peo- tained the charge, and that it was incum ple will be roused to a contemplation of the bent on those it might be supposed to af. perilous state in which they now are : fect, to endeavour to refute it. there may not be a week between us and The motion as amended was then agreed total ruin. We have lost America; our to. And a Select Committee of 21 we madness has driven her to independency : , afterwards chosen by ballot. and that independency, in defiance of our resolves, I am confident she will support. Debate on the Earl of Effingham's Mo. Besides this, we have to lament, and mi- tion relative to the State of the Navy.] nisters to answer for, the loss of many thou- | March 31. The Earl of Effingham beg. sands of valuable lives, and many millions | ged to trouble their lordships with a few of money, which no success in such an motions which he had drawn out, and by iniquitous war can ever repay. These, which the House would be enabled to as. Sir, are some of the fatal effects of the certain the real state of the navy, and the wisdom of the present ministers. Delusion mode of expenditure and application of the has succeeded delusion, and disgrace has various large sums which had been voted succeeded disgrace, till little remains to be for the different departments of the naval added to the catalogue of our calamities. service. It had been already proved, that The hon. gentleman who made the motion the public money had been not more libe. has said, that the citizens of London are rally voted, than lavishly spent. It be now so depressed, that they hardly dare hoved their lordships, therefore, to look complain ; yet, Sir, though a citizen of into the accounts presented to them with London, I dare to give my opinion in this a wary eye, and by closely examining the House, and in the hearing of certain noble several totals, to discover the propriety of lords. This opinion I have long held, and each article of expenditure ; to lessen for in which I am more and more confirnged by the future such as were larger than occa. every day's experience. I am the more sion required; and to put a negative upon ready to declare this opinion, because I do such others hereafter as should appear to most firmly believe it to be the opinion, the House to be altogether unnecessary. not only of the minority, but the majority This he considered as an act of duty of this House also. I mean, Sir, that the highly incumbent on their lordships. It great objects of the present administration, was, however, totally impossible for the their aiders and abettors, are, and ever House to acquit therõselves either to their country or their sovereign, unless they then, were our resources ? For his part, called for such papers as would supply he could see none but in retrenchments. those manifest deficiencies which appears His lordship proceeded to shew, that a ed scattered throughout those already conduct, the reverse of what he now re., on the table. The motions he was about commended, had prevailed in almost every to submit to their lordships, if agreed department of the state, since the comto, were calculated to supply that defect. mencement of the American war; and ap. His lordship then moved for : - 1. Anplied to the particular department to which Account of the State of the Ships in his his motions were directed, ever since the Majesty's Navy, as delivered to the Ad- noble lord at the head of the Admiralty miralty by the surveyor of the navy, in was called into offioe. He would make no the latter end of the year 1770. 2. An special charge, but many things appeared Account of the Ordinary Estimates of the highly blameable in the conduct of that Navy from 1771 to 1778 inclusive. 3. An board within both periods, including in the Account of the Number of Ships broke up whole nearly eight years, both on grounds and sold, together with an account of what of a neglect of duty and increased expence, they sold for, and also an account of the without even the trite plea of necessity. quantity of Old Stores, and the prices at Enough, he was not backward to declare, which they sold. 4. An Account of the to justify the strongest suspicions, that the buildings, rebuildings, and repairs of ships business of the naval department, for some and vessels over and above those charged years past, had been made a matter of pri. in the wear and tear of the year 1777. 5. vate jobbing, rather than of fair and open An Account of the amount of stoppages of bargain and sale. His lordship compared 4d. per man per month, as chaplains in the official expences which formed part of those ships, that have not borne chaplains. the ordinary of the navy, since 1770, with As soon as the first motion was read from what it had been fixed by an order of the the woolsack, the noble éarl rose and king in council, in 1727. He affirmed, stated his general reasons for troubling that part of the ordinary appropriated for their lordships on the present occasion. the payment of the civil officers, including He observed that we had been now three the board, clerks, &c. amounted then to years engaged in a war with only part of no more than from 34,000 to 38,0001, pur own subjects; and had failed in ob- whereas at present, it was raised to 46,0001. taining the objects for which we engaged If any more lords or commissioners had in it; nay, he feared, had lost the country been added, if there had been any new, totally, and instead of subjects, or even officers created; if in short there had been friends or allies, had caused the colonies any plausible pretence for such an in. by our impolitic, unjust, and cruel treat. crease, he should not have mentioned it, ment, to become our most implacable ene when there were so many other articles of mies. We had, besides, already incurred so much greater magnitude ; but the truth an additional debt of 23 millions, and were was, no such pretence existed; for instead in the act of adding to that debt, even of its being a gradual and natural increase though we had no other enemy to contend of expenditure incurred, it was created all with but America, at the rate of 9 millions of a sudden. It was the work of a single per annum, as long as the contest should year or single day. This increase of last. But if war was, as he feared it 12,0001. took place in 1773 without a sin. must be, the issue of the offensive paper gle reason assigned. From 1727 to 1773 delivered by the French ambassador, we this branch of the ordinary continued at might conclude, that instead of America 34,0001. but in the latter year it suddenly alone, we should have France and America rose to 46,0001. But even supposing the shortly to contend with; and it would be increase justifiable, the mode of doing it no great stretch of political speculation to certainly was not. The former order could say, that such an event might at length not be revoked by a lesser power than that draw Spain into the quarrel, as an addi- by which it was made ; and it behoved the tional, and at such a crisis, a most danger- noble earl who ventured to revoke it, as ous adversary. In such a state of things, well to shew that such a revocation was what was to be done? Our finances were necessary, as that he was sufficiently aualready as low as they had been at any pe- thorised to do it out of his own head. He riod during the late war. We must bor- said, he could adduce proofs of an earlier row and fund, the consequence of which date, to shew, that the affairs of the navy would be a further fall of stockę. Where, always called for the inspecting eye of

« ElőzőTovább »