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Mr. Hume wished to ask, if any prospectuses had been issued, setting forth the duties to be performed, and calling for tenders; and also whether the hon. Gentleman was able to state if the parties were now in a condition to carry their agreement into effect, or if it would be necessary even now to form a company for that purpose?
was true, the terms of this arrangement | extent he trusted he might say it had been had been made for ten years, as persons ex-that the establishment must to some depending such a capital could not enter into gree be fixed at Falmouth. He said this, any contract for a less term; but it had because he believed it was admitted, that been an article in the contract, that, if there was no port in the United Kingdom during the ten years any great improve- from which vessels could start so advantaments should be made in steam navigation, geously for the stations across the Atlantic the Government should have the benefit of as Falmouth, there being no wind with them. which vessels could not sail thence. Another consideration, in which the public were interested, was this:-The letters that went from Falmouth came partly from London; but that was not the greatest proportionthe greatest proportion came from the north, from Glasgow and Ireland; and unless the letters were taken in at some of the western ports they would be delayed. Unless, therefore, these packets were bound by their contract to take in letters at the extreme ports there would be great delay. What he was now stating was not chimerical, for during the last three or four weeks no less than three packets had been delayed sixtyseven hours, in consequence of not being stationed at Falmouth. He trusted, in conclusion, that the sense of the House would be manifested in favour of his view of the case, in order that his hon. Friend might see the propriety of adopting it, which, it was his belief, would be agreeable to his hon. Friend.
Mr. C. Wood was understood to say that no prospectuses had been issued. He had no hope of a better tender. Considering, too, that the parties would have to build at least fourteen steam-vessels of four hundred horse-power, it could not be expected that they would be able to commence for some mouths.
The Solicitor-General said, the subject was of the deepest interest to his constituents; and there were one or two points to which he wished to call the attention of his hon. Friend. He could not claim on behalf of those whom he had the honour to represent, that the consideration of their interests should weigh with the Government or with the House, to induce them to forego the advantages of steam, if steam were (as he believed it was) more expeditious for the transmission of correspondence than sailing vessels. But even on this point he begged it to be recollected, that the packet service, being a branch of our naval establishment, presented a laudable object of ambition to those desirous of entering the navy, and who might otherwise be unemployed; thus was it a nursery for British seamen, and answered ends which would not be effected by a contract system. Supposing, however, that the Government had taken an unalterable resolve, he yet would especially entreat them-they might believe it was with no ill-will he did so to make the change with the least possible injury to a port which had been for a hundred and fifty years the port of communication across the Atlantic;-with the least possible injury to the he would not say vested rights-but the valuable interests of those who had laid out large capital in extensive establishments at Falmouth. And what he suggested was, that it should be made a part of the contract-as to a certain
Mr. F. Baring hoped the House would express no opinion with respect to the propriety of placing the packet station at Falmouth, or elsewhere. If he was in the situation of his hon. Friend, standing up in that House as the advocate of his constituents, he should advocate the station being at Portsmouth. The Treasury were determined to fix upon the place for a packet station which was most beneficial to the public service, and not to consider the interests of any parties in particular. He had great gratification in reflecting that, while his noble Friend was at the head of the Treasury, the Government, in conjunction with the Admiralty, had been able to confer the greatest advantages upon the commerce of the country with the world, by the increased facilities it had afforded to trade. During the last few years a weekly communication by steam had been established with Gibraltar-a fortnightly communication with the Baltic-a fortnightly communication with Corfu and the Grecian Islands-a steam communication between England and India -a fortnightly communication between England and North America; and now they had secured, by the last arrangement, a fortnightly steam
communication between the West Indies,, Mexico, and this country, which was of the greatest importance in the present state of their colonial possessions. He could not but believe that these arrangements would be productive of great ultimate benefit to the commerce of the country, and that, whatever expense might be incurred in obtaining them, the benefit would far surpass that expense.
great astonishment that so precipitate a step should have been taken by the Government, and the country at large should not have been informed of their intention. He was surprised that a contract should have taken place without the public being placed in a situation to bid against each other. Formerly, the packet service was in private hands, and the Government transferred it to the Admiralty, and he saw no reason why it should not be retained by the Government, who ought certainly to be able to perform the duties as cheaply as any company. If any alteration was to be made in the ports of departure, an opportunity ought to be given for examining into the reason for such changes.
Lord Eliot was ready to concede, that the public interests ought to be the object which the Government should have in view, but the value of Falmouth had been underrated, and if the establishment there should be destroyed, we might, in the event of war, find ourselves in a situation of great difficulty. He thought the substitution of steam for sailing vessels was a great advantage, and the question was, whether the Government had secured this in the most efficient and economical manner? It appeared that a company of merchants at Bristol were ready to undertake the arrangement on more economical terms; and he also understood that a sum had been offered for the bargain which had been struck with the Government. It was
Mr. Freshfield was glad the hon. Member for Kilkenny had brought the subject before the House, and he was most anxious to see the contract or quasi contract laid before Parliament. He doubted much whether the strong feeling that was stated to exist on the subject of increased facilities to communication by steam, had ever found its way to a Government office, except through the medium of some great names appearing in a prospectus, and suggesting the wide field of enterprise, and enormous advantages that would accrue to the public from the adoption of their plans. Was it part of the contract that the company was to have a charter-were they to have that which was generally thought in old times to be a clog upon trade? Did that form part of the contract? It must; for the contract could not be carried into effect without it. He was most anxious to see the quasi contract, in order to know whether proper arrangements had been made with respect to the ports of departure. It was not a question of Falmouth, except so far as the interests of that port were connected with the inter-proposed that the packets should take their ests of the public: but every presumption was in favour of Falmouth. It was in possession of the trade, and had been for a century; and he challenged a public inquiry into the capabilities of Falmouth as compared with any other port. If there was to be an alteration in the point of departure, it ought to be after a full investigation of the subject, and hearing evidence pro and con. Every information ought to be given on the subject, and it ought not to be made to depend on the activity of any hon. Member in getting official information. He did not know what information the hon. Member for Kilkenny might have on the subject; but in the Falmouth Packet there was a report of a meeting of merchants at Bristol, at which it was resolved that an offer should be made to the Government to convey the mails to and from the West Indies for 100,0007. less than had been offered by the London company, which was understood to be 240,000. It appeared to have created
departure twice a month. That was at the same period as the sailing-packets, and therefore the transmission of letters would not be oftener than at present. But this company was to have a monopoly for ten years at 240,000l. a-year; so that, whatever improvement might be made, the expense to the country would be exactly the same. There was, also, another consideration. Great inconvenience would accrue to merchants desirous of shipping specie, because it was well known that merchants preferred shipping specie on board a
man-of-war, to entrusting to private individuals; therefore the merchants would be entirely in the hands of this company, or would be obliged to wait for the accidental arrival of a man-of-war. The services of a very great number of officers and seamen would be dispensed with, and that was a matter worthy of serious consideration, more especially as to the expense, because all these officers would have to be placed upon half-pay, or be provided for by
Mr. Aglionby was anxious to know, whether the Secretary to the Admiralty intended to grant this return or not?
some other method. It was also a matter | ment, they had generally failed, and Goof the utmost consequence that they should vernment had always succeeded in making consider whether they would not by this much better terms by private contract. plan be destroying the nursery for the As an instance of that, when it was pronavy. He agreed with the hon. Member posed to carry the mail to Rotterdam, public for Falmouth in opinion that the Govern- tenders were asked for, and only one was ment had by no means established a case. received, and that of such a character that the Government felt bound to decline it. So with respect to Cadiz, Liverpool, Dublin, and Halifax, in all of which cases the Government had made much better terms by private contract. He believed, that the present bargain was an extremely good one for the Government and the public. It remained for the House to say whether, under all the circumstances, the bargain was a fair one or not.
Mr. C. Wood-Certainly not.
Mr. Aglionby understood as much, and therefore the groundwork of the argumeut of the hon. Member for Kilkenny was cut away. It was said to be impossible to grant these returns. He should like to know in what the impossibility consisted. If any contract was in existence it could be produced, and if no such contract existed, it was easy to state so. If no offers had been made, where was the difficulty of stating so? It had been stated by the hon. Member for Penryn, that an offer had been made to carry the mails for 100,000l. ayear less than the sum agreed to be given by the Government. Now, this would be a saving of 1,000,000l. in the ten years, which was worthy of consideration. There had been no public notification either by advertisement or otherwise to the mercantile interest, until the matter accidentally transpired. It did not appear, then, that there had been any efficient public notice, which there ought to have been before the country was committed to a ten years bargain, and to a sum of money much less than which, he believed, even for a shorter period, would have been sufficient.
Lord Eliot said, the Falmouth deputation who had waited on the Treasury, not only were previously ignorant of any such con tract being in contemplation, but they also left the Treasury equally in the dark.
Mr. C. Wood thought his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth could not have listened to what he had stated, which was distinctly, first, that the contract was just as he had represented it to the House, next, that it was not a private, but a public tender, and thirdly, that no other offer had been made. With respect to the question of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Freshfield), all he had to say was, that the Government had reserved to themselves the right of naming the port from which the vessels were to start. With respect to the complaint, that the arrangement had been effected by private contract, he would observe, that in every instance where public tenders had been invited by the Govern
Captain Pechell, said the hon. Gentleman had objected to giving a copy of the contract for the conveyance of the West India mails, on the ground of its being incomplete; but no such objection could apply to the contract with Halifax, because in a Nova Scotia paper he had seen a vote of thanks to the agent, Mr. Cuqard, on the ground of his having made so good a bargain with the English Government. He thought, that great caution should be used with respect to the doing away with the establishment at Falmouth, as it had always been a most excellent nursery for our seamen. He begged to ask, too, how the mail was to be carried from Halifax to Boston. [Mr. C. Wood-By steam.] That was so far satisfactory; but it was very important to know what the means of communication were to be between England and our frontier colony of Bermuda. He trusted these questions would be answered to the satisfaction of the House and the country.
Mr. G. Palmer thought, the Government could not be too open in their dealings with respect to all matters of contract, and deprecated the encouragement of steam-vessels, which he considered destroyed nurseries for seamen.
Admiral Adam said, that the steamers would carry almost as many seamen as the packets used to do. But he would ask was it nothing for this country to have an immense force of large steam-vessels, so that, if a war were to break out tomorrow, we could at once arm and man them for the purpose of protecting our commerce, not only in the channel but all over the world? He knew there were at present a great many objections to steam-vessels, but time and experience would overcome them.
HOUSE OF LORDS,
Thursday, August 22, 1839.
land); Administration of Justice (Parts of Counties);
Petitions presented. By the Marquess of Bute, from Ayr, for Parochial Education; also for Church Extension; from several places, against Intruding Ministers into Parishes against the Wishes of the People.- By Lord Brougham, from Prisoners in Monmouth Goal, against the Injustice of their Sentence.
Mr. Hume wished, before the question p was disposed of, to make one or two observations. He admitted, that he had been ignorant of the facts stated by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wood), but he did not think the Admiralty or the Government had the power of binding this country to contracts for ten years. Hitherto there had always been an annual vote for the expenses of the packets. He would venture to say, that never had there been 2,400,000/. disposed of by one branch of the Government without the knowledge of Parliament. The contract appeared to him to be a most monstrous proposition. He trusted the Government would pause before they placed themselves in a situation from which they could not retire, for he was quite sure Parliament would not sanction a thing of this sort being done privately. If they had power to dispose of this sum, why should they not have the power to dispose of 20,000,000%. ? If they were able to make a contract of this nature for ten years, why not for fifty? In fact, they might bind down the whole expenditure of the country. If there was any objection to the form of the motion, he would alter it in any way which might be pointed out.
COLONEL BRADLEY.] Lord Brougham presented a petition from Mr. Thomas Bradley, late lieutenant-colonel of his late Majesty's 2nd West-India regiment of foot, in which the petitioner went over the whole of the dispute which had occurred between him and Sir George Arthur, and which has been before the public repeatedly for several years past. The petitioner complained of the injustice under which he had so long suffered, and concluded his statement in these words :
"It must be evident to your Lordships, from your Lordships from the above statement, that your petitioner has been deprived of his commission withou trial, and without having been guilty of any military offence whatever; and your petitioner, therefore, humbly prays that he may not be deprived of the ordinary priMr. F. Baring said, the returns would vilege of a Brirish subject, but that your Lordnot answer the purpose of the hon. Mem-ships will at least enquire for what reason he ber; he had better move for the whole of has been stripped of his commission, after the correspondence. The Government had twenty years of arduous service in the Westbeen repeatedly urged by parties in that Indies and America." House to perform this service by contract, and the moment they did so their powers were doubted. This struck him as most extraordinary; it was of great importance that this question should be settled, both out of fairness to the Government and to the parties interested. The hon. Gentleman had better give notice of a motion for suspending the contracts at once.
Mr. Hume said, that would be hardly fair towards him. He had always been friendly to a plan for executing these duties by contract, and as to the question of power, the Attorney-general was the proper person to apply to. He had no wish to move for the correspondence, but he would advise the Government to pause. Mr. C. Wood said, it would be impossible to give the hon. Gentleman more information on the subject than he had already given him. If next Session he chose to move for every scrap of paper connected with the subject, he should have no objection to furnish him with them.
After adverting to the facts of the case, the noble and learned Lord said he was greatly astonished that any difficulty should stand in the way of justice being done to this injured gentleman by restoring him to his rank in the service. Even if Mr. Bradley had acted erroneously (which, in his opinion, was not the case), he had, assuredly, suffered quite enough. He had suffered a long imprisonment in a most unwholesome climate; he had been ousted from the service; he had been deprived of his commission, and had suffered a pecuniary loss of 1,900l. It was a case of very great hardship, and he hoped, that his noble Friend, at the head of the Executive Government, would take it into serious consideration.
The Duke of Wellington said, that as a commission of which he was a member, was now sitting, and had been sitting for a considerable time, before which, cases of this nature might be heard, he did not wish to offer any opinion on this petition. The noble and learned Lord had not stated that
Viscount Melbourne said, it was the practice of the other House to refer to the Crown in cases of this nature, but he was not aware, that such was the practice of their Lordships' House.
Lord Brougham said, they might receive a petition for inquiry into malversation, military or civil, if it did not involve an application for money.
The Duke of Wellington said, he felt no hostility towards the petitioner; but they ought to take care that the rules which were usually followed with reference to questions of this nature should be properly adhered to. He was anxious that the circumstances should be inquired into in the most indulgent manner.
Lord Brougham, after what had been said by the noble Duke, would withdraw the petition. By doing so, he distinctly marked his opinion, that to petition Parliament on such a subject was the very last step that ought to be taken.
CHARTIST PRISONERS.] Lord Brougham had also a petition to present from Henry Vincent, W. Edwards, and J. Dickinson, complaining of the hardships under which they still suffered, during their confinement. They stated, that they were only allowed the gaol diet 2 qts. of gruel, 1lb. of bread, and 1lb. of potatoes daily, and they called on their Lordships to relieve them from this hardship, by which they were deprived of all animal food whatever. Mr. Baron Alderson, they said, who tried them, expressed it as his opinion, by a letter to the Home Secretary, that they should not be subjected to any unusual deprivations; and yet they were denied the use of pen, ink, and paper. They further alleged, that their object in attending the meeting (for their speeches at which they were convicted) was the discussion of the People's Charter; and that they were perfectly justified in their conduct by the best constitutional authorities, both ancient and modern. He (Lord Brougham) thought they were right in this opinion, for it was sanctioned not only by the best writers on the constitu
tion, but by a noble Friend of his in another House, who, not in his place certainly, but by an address to what he presumed was a constitutional meeting, maintained the right of the subject to meet for the free discussion of political questions. This view was confirmed by another high constitutional authority - his noble Friend, the President of the Council, who, though not now in his place (for he had gone abroad) had declared, in that place, in the most strenuous manner, and with a vehemence of language which he never heard exceededseldom equalled-that it was the right and duty of the people to attend public meetings, in order to complain of their grievances; and then his noble Friend broached an opinion-from which he (Lord Brougham) differed, by not going so far-that numbers were no test of the illegality of a meeting. He preferred abiding by the sounder doctrine of the Secretary of State, who watched over the police and peace of the kingdom, when his noble Friend said, that all lawful meetings were legal ; or, in other words, that it was the right of the people to attend meetings which did not break the peace, or put the peace in jeopardy. The petitioners, backed by such authorities, naturally expressed their surprise, that the attempt to violate this right, ("one of the most important," in the language of the President of the Council,
which the subject enjoyed") should be made by her Majesty's present advisers, who were the active promoters of, and principal actors in the public meetings of 1831 and 1832, of a far more alarming character than those for their attendance at which they had been confined. could not allude to him, for he had pronounced the meeting of 150,000 men at Birmingham illegal. He did not know whether his noble Friend attended any such meetings. [Lord Melbourne: No.] He supposed, then, that such practices were confined to the Members of the other House.
Viscount Melbourne said, that he understood these parties were subjected to the same regulations as all other prisoners in the same ward. Whether those regulations were proper or not was a distinct question; but he did not see any reason why there should be any extraordinary interposition in favour of these petitioners. Petition laid on the Table.
BOLTON POLICE.] Viscount Duncannon moved the Order of the Day for a Com