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House of Commons Hansard
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Commons Chamber
27 February 1806
Volume 6

House Of Commons

Thursday, February 27.

Minutes

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A message was brought from the lords, stating that their lordships had agreed to the five millions exchequer bills bill without any amendment.—Dr. Duigenan brought in the Irish first fruits bill, which was read a first time.— Mr. Francis moved for, extracts of any letters or accounts received from the presidency of Bombay, relative to the sum of 31,25944 Bombay rupees, inserted in the account of their disbursements, from the year ending the 30th April 1803, and said to be money lent to the Guicowar. Lord Morpeth stating that there was no objection to the motion, the same was agreed to.—On the motion of lord H. Petty, it was ordered, that there be laid before the house, an account of any offices in Ireland, that may have been granted to two or more persons, for their concurrent lives, with benefit of survivorship.—On the motion of lord H. Petty, it was ordered, that there be laid before the house an account of all the duties retained and not drawn back, on the exports of foreign and colonial goods, from Great Britain to Ireland, during the years 1801, 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and to the 6th of January 1806. As likewise a similar account of duties on similar exports, from Ireland to Great Britain, down, to 5th January 1806.—The secretary at war moved for leave to bring in a bill for extending the liberty of enlisting foreign soldiers into the service of this country, and for indemnifying those by whom the enlistments had been made. The right hon. gent. stated the fact of an excess to the extent of 3,000 men, beyond the provisions of the former act, having lately taken place in recruiting the German legion, while in Hanover; and that it was deemed expedient that no time should be lost in acquainting parliament of this circumstance, and asking indemnity Leave was accordingly given to bring in the bill,—Sir P. Stephens brought in the marine mutiny bill, which was read a first time and ordered to be read a second time to-morrow.—On the motion of lord Morpeth, a variety of papers, comprising the details of the revenue and expenditure of the different presidencies of India, were ordered to be laid on the table, preparatory to the bringing forward of the India budget.—On the motion of Mr. Fitzgerald, the Irish lands partition bill went through a committee.—On the motion of lord Temple, the house went into a committee on the Greenland whale fishery acts. After some conversation between Mr. Lee, lord Temple, and Mr. Vansittart, a resolution was agreed to, that leave be given, to vessel's engaged in the Greenland whale fishery, to complete their number of men at certain ports for the present season.—On the mo- tion of Mr. Vansittart, it was ordered, that there be laid before the house an account or estimate of all duties of customs and excise in Great Britain charged and outstanding on the 5th of Jan. 1805, and on the 5th of Jan. 1806, respectively, distinguishing the several articles, and temporary from permanent duties.

Affairs Of India

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said, that though there had been some difference of opinion as to the propriety of investigations into the expenditure of the monies of the company, he presumed to think there could be no objection to the motion he had now to make, which was, "That there be laid before this house, a list of all pensions payable by the East-India company, and a return of all sums of money granted, by way of gratuity, by the court of directors to individuals, from the year 1793 up to the present time: specifying the services and considerations for which such pensions and sums of money have been given and granted respectively."

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intimated, that it any hesitation appeared in the house to accede to this motion, the noble lord had better content himself, in conformity with what he (the speaker) conceived to be a rule established in the house, with giving notice of his motion for a future day.

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declared himself hostile to the practice, or to the establishment of any such rule. Particularly in such a case as the present; Where no possible objection could be made to the motion, he by no means conceived himself bound to give notice of it. If, however, the house should determine to establish such a rule, he trusted that its operation would not be partial, but that it would be rigidly adhered to in every instance.

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trusted that the house would do him the justice to believe, that he was influenced by no motive in the remark that he had made, but the wish to uphold their received practice. Since he had enjoyed the honour of sitting in that chair, it had certainly been the received practice, not to entertain any motion of a public nature, without a previous notice, except, indeed, the annual accounts, &c. which were mere matters of course. The reason of this usage was evidently to prevent the house from being under the disagreeable necessity of rescinding on one day what they had agreed to in the day preceding, in the absence perhaps of those members who were competent judge of the propriety of the question. If however, the house thought proper that this practice should be abandoned, it was for them to express their pleasure.

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repeated his objections to the practice of giving notices. It would be better to get rid of any obnoxious motion, by calling for the previous question.

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as an old member of the house, felt himself entitled to express his opinion on this subject. During the two first parliaments in which he had held a seat, no such practice was resorted to, except on very particular occasions. The present motion was not one of those which appeared to him to require previous notice. It was not a political question; it was a question, the propriety of which could not admit of debate, as it merely related to the public expenditure, information concerning which, the house, as guardians of the public purse, must ever be solicitous to obtain.

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spoke in favour of the prevailing practice, and thought no member could object to give notice, unless he had a disposition to take the house by surprise. There might be times, he observed, when, perhaps, there might be only one member of that house capable of judging of the propriety or impropriety of producing papers. That member might be absent on one particular day; but if a notice were given, he would, of course, feel it is duty to attend to it.

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thought, that, in the present instance, there was one good and sufficient ground for requiring a notice, as there happened to be no more than one India director then present in his place.

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said, he considered the practice of giving notice on ordinary occasions, as an abuse which was so long suffered to prevail, that it was not at present easy to get rid of it immediately. In the present instance, however, he saw no occasion whatever for a notice, as he did not understand that there would be any objection to the motion. If any member of the court of directors stated any reason why he might wish for delay, he made no doubt but the noble lord would willingly consent to it. The practice now attempted to be enforced, he could only consider as a general instance of relaxation of duty, and was not to be found in the original constitution of parliament. In a constitutional view, every member was supposed to be bound to attend upon all questions relating to the supplies, the ways and means, and every expenditure of the public money. Whatever modes might latterly have prevailed, he confessed, that he liked the old practice better, which was to attend to all subjects of grievance; and he was convinced that the custom of giving notice on such Occasions was not founded on the principles of the rights of parliament.

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thought a notice to be unnecessary, at least if no objection were stated to the motion.

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explained, that he wished some general rule to be at once adopted, in this respect, to regulate the proceedings of the house. It was in the power of any gentleman, who felt any difficulty or objection to his proposition, to move an adjournment of the debate, which he should not object to, if any sufficient reason were given for it.

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was of opinion, that this question should at once be decided, one way or other. The right hon. secretary (Mr. Fox) appeared to him rather to incline to a notice being given in the present instance, conformably to practice. What he wished to suggest was, that it should be made a part of the law of parliament, for every member to desist from pressing a motion without notice, if it should be objected to; for if no precise rule were suffered to obtain, there might be no end to such desultory debates. The motion was then put and carried.

Volunteers

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rose to submit his promised motion, for a return of the effective volunteer force, to which as no opposition had been manifested when he gave his notice, he trusted none would now be made. There was no subject on which it behoved the house and the country to be more completely informed than the present. They had been buoyed up with the most magnificent descriptions of the state of the voluntary defence, and it was now highly expedient to ascertain the actual fact. At such a crisis as the present, this was particularly indispensible. It was of the utmost importance, previous to the sums being voted for the clothing and expences of a considerable portion of the volunteer establishment, that the house should know what number of men were likely to take the field in case of emergency. He was sure that his hon. friends, who were near him, would give this subject all the attention that its great importance de- manded. Were it not for this conviction, he should consider it his duty himself to found a motion on the papers, for which he should on that evening move. As it was, however, he should leave it with perfect confidence in their hands. One additional remark he would make, which was, that not only the number of effective men should be clearly ascertained; but that the rank of the officers should likewise be considered and arranged. He was himself in the command of a volunteer corps, and he was solicitous that neither he, nor any other officer in a similar situation, should be circumstanced in that particular in the way in which he now was. He would say no more on the subject at present, but rest satisfied with moving, "that there be laid before the house, an account of the returns of the different volunteer corps of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, in that part of the united kingdom, called Great Britain; describing the effective strength of each corps, together with their state of discipline, and fitness for service, as reported by the general officers and inspecting field officers of the different districts throughout the kingdom, in their last returns; and also the names of the officers by whom such returns have been signed."

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was very happy to give his support to the motion. The volunteers and the public at large were anxious to know, whether or not any new measure of defence was to be adopted. It was now near March, a period at which a campaign usually commenced, and this circumstance, added to the dangers with which the country was threatened, pointed out the necessity of expediting as much as possible any military plans that might be in contemplation.—The motion was then agreed to.

Earl St Vincent

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previous to moving for a committee on his majesty's message relative to earl St. Vincent, acquainted the house, that he had his majesty's commands to recommend to them that the annuity now limited to the two heirs male of the noble earl, should be extended to the two next heirs of the peerage in succession. It was his duty to add, that when the pension was first granted it was so continued, but it had happened that in proceeding through the house it became limited, He thought it right, distinctly to state this, to shew that it was no new favour granted to earl St. Vincent, although he had no doubt if it were so, that the undiminished zeal with which at his advanced period of life, the noble earl was sacrificing, his ease, and devoting himself to the service of his country, would induce the house cheerfully to accord with such a proposition.

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corroborated the statement of the noble lord, that it certainly was intended when the grant was first conferred on earl St. Vincent, that it should devolve to the two next heirs of the peerage in succession. He felt it a duty which he owed that noble earl to declare, that when the subject of extending it was first mentioned to him, he had said that he felt himself sufficiently rewarded, and requested, that if any thing farther were in contemplation, it might be done without his interposition.—His majesty's recommendation, as just communicated by the noble lord, having been ordered to be referred to the same committee, the house resolved itself into a committee on his majesty's message respecting earl St. Vincent; when a resolution was agreed to, in conformity with the said message; and the house having been resumed, the report was ordered to be received tomorrow.

Treasurer Of The Ordnance

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to move for leave to bring in a bill for the better regulation of the office of treasurer of his majesty's ordnance. The principal object which he proposed by this bill, was to afford the public that security for the due administration of their money, to which they were entitled, by making it a legislative provision that all balances remaining in the hands of the treasurer should be deposited in the bank of England. It was true that there existed an order given by the board of ordnance to that effect; but it was desirable that the public should have better security than the mere act of any board, that the money which had been voted for particular purposes should be appropriated to those purposes, and to no others. As he was on the subject, he would take this opportunity of giving notice, that it was his intention to move for leave to bring in bills for enforcing similar regulations, and carrying into effect a similar principle, in the post office, excise office, custom house, &c.

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after bearing testimony to the measures which lord Chatham, whilst in office, was pursuing to the same effect, expressed his satisfaction at finding that the same regulations were meant to be extended to all the public offices. He thought, however, that in the course of this arrangement, if the money accruing were, in all cases, to be deposited in the bank of England, it may be a proper consideration, whether there should not be increase of salary to the officers who heretofore had the benefit of holding sums of money for some time in their hands.—Leave was then given to bring in the bill.