Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

[COMMONS. year 1798 exceeded the estimates of the year 1797 by the fum which he already ftated. Thofe circumftances which operated in the year 1798, ftill continued, and caused a like excefs in the prefent year, therefore there would be found an excess of near a million in the prefent estimates beyond the year 1797. There was one circumstance indeed which first arofe in the last year, and which would of course be permanent, he meant an increase of pay to the foldiery. Though the articles compofing the eftimates might vary, yet gentlemen converfant in thofe accounts knew, that the general circumftances were the fame. The principal heads were of guards, garrifons, &c. and were fimilar in this year to other preceding years.

of

By the regulation of Parliament laff year, gentlemen would recollect that the service of part of our militia regiments was extended to Ireland, and if it should be judged neceffary to continue that fervice, it was probable that Ireland might contribute towards defraying the expences of those troops neceffary for their own protection. The heads of the cause of increase in the prefent year would be found as follows-the firft was, an augmentation of dragoons, which amounted to 65,000l.; the next was, an increase of the companies of foot guards from 100 to 120 men, which caused an increase expence of 120,oool; the next head of expence was one fmall in comparison with the advantages derived from it-he alluded to the appointment of regimental paymasters, the object of which was, to remove those delays which had hitherto existed in regimental ac'counts. The fum under this head was only 27,000l which was most amply compensated by the advantages resulting from their establishment. The great head of excefs in this year's account arose from the embodying of the fupplementary militia-it came in but partially last year, but now it was to be provided for the whole of the year. The Scotch militia was another head quite new, and had not before entered into the estimates. Another head of charge was, an increase of fencible infantry. To this alfo muft be added, an increase of the staff at home. The reafon of the latter increase arofe from the circumftances of the country laft year, and the menacing posture of our enemy; as we were obliged to collect numbers of troops, of courfe an increafe of the staff followed. A small additional expence arofe from the increafed allowances to innkeepers. The charge of volunteer corps, although not entirely a new head, yet at prefent was a head confiderably extended in the estimates now before the Houfe. The next additional charge that occurred was, that of barracks, and the reafons for that increase might be accounted for upon the fame principles as for the increase of the ftaff, namely, on account of the increase of the troops during the

laft year for the purpose of repelling any attack which might be made against us. Another article which it would be neceffary for him to notice, was one which he thought would meet the approbation of every gentleman-he alluded to a small increase of the penfions to officers widows. His private opinion was, that it was now much too fmall, and when it was confidered to what a deplorable reverse of fortune thofe perfons must be reduced before they received that reward, he was convinced that the small additional fum could not be confidered as improperly beftowed. The whole account under this head did not exceed 12,000l. But these articles of excess were reduced by fome other articles of faving-we had formerly to provide for foreign corps, an expence which had now ceased. The reduction of provifional cavalry was another head of faving. It was not neceffary to enter into minute details on this point. Though they were not provided for, but for a part of laft year, and were now provided for during the whole year, yet the reduction of numbers more than counterbalanced the fhorter period of time. To this was to be added an additional fum from the ifland of Jamaica, and a farther allowance from Ireland, in confequence of the troops fent from this country to their affiftance. Scotch roads and bridges were an article in former eftimates, but now they were totally omitted, being provided for in another manner.

It

There now occurred another article, to which he wished to fay a few words. In the prefent eftimate the expence of the war-office department was not included. When the expences and mode of defraying the charges of that department was new modelled, he differed in opinion from many gentlemen as to the efficacy of thofe regulations in an economical point of view. Many gentlemen fuppofed that the monstrous fees which had occurred during one year, from peculiar circumstances, were the average amount of the fees. was true that, from particular circumstances, from recruiting the army, and the fituation in which the country then flood, thofe fees in one year amounted to an enormous fum; but fince that time the amount of them had as fuddenly and as rapidly decreased. He much queftioned whether the new regulation of paying fixed falaries from fees would in the event be any faving to the country, as he doubted whether the amount of the fees this year would pay the falaries. In fixing the amount of those falaries he had not gone beyond what ought to be paid, confidering the talents and qualifications required, and calculating what thofe talents and qualifications would procure their poffeffor in other fituations of life; on the contrary, he thought they were rather under than over paid. He very much doubted whether the regular and ufual fees would pay the

permanent establishment of the office. He had ftated all that occurred to him to be neceffary to ftate. He fhould therefore move the refolutions, and wait to hear if any gentleman required explanation in any particular point.

Mr. TIERNEY faid, that what he might hereafter think his duty directed him to fay, he should not oppofe voting upon the estimates now; but although he faid this, yet he could not help adding, that he was not a little mortified by the fpeech of the Secretary at War. He could have conceived, that the advantages of our victorics and our triumphs would have been immmediately felt in the diminution of our expences; whereas it appeared that some of them were increasing. The public had a right to fay, that the Secretary at War had deluded them; for laft year the danger of invasion operated upon the public mind, and much of the expence was incurred to provide againft that calamity. Now the skill and valour of our gallant officers, and the steadiness of our men, had removed all fear with regard to invafion; and yet Minifters held out no hope of any retrenchment, even in ufelefs offices. He fhould not vote upon any of the refolutions of to-night, nor fhould he deliver in detail, his fentiments upon them, for he wished to referve himself until he had taken time to confider more fully on the matter, and had an opporunity of converfing with others who were capable of giving him in-. formation. There would be no inconvenience from this mode, for he apprehended the refolutions would remain for two or three days. He rofe now merely to take notice of the fpeech of the Secretary at War, only as far as it regarded the fubject of economy. That was a question upon which there was but little variety of opinion. He was fure there was not a man who heard him, who did not think there ought to be the feverest economy in every part of the ftate. Now, with regard to the office of the Secretary at War, it appeared there were fees there which he himself had admitted to be enormous. He meant no reproach upon any individual whatever; at the fame time he muft fay, that these things must have been long foreseen, and might and ought to have been provided for. But what was the cafe now? The gentlemen who had reaped the advantage of these enormous fees were to have an additional allowance, because the fees of last year had not been equal to the expence calculated by the Committee, and allowed upon the new arrangement. He did not mean to infinuate that the Secretary at War was interested in any of these fees; on the contrary, he believed his motives to be pure and honourable in all fuch particulars. But it appeared now, that a farther fum will be wanted to make up deficiencies in offices, &c. and this after a full confi

[ocr errors]

deration of the matter, and a report made by a Committee of Finance. He really thought that this was matter worthy of very grave confideration. He thought the public had been deluded in a great measure upon this matter, for fo it certainly appeared from the speech of the Secretary at War to-night. He faid this with the more confidence, because he was convinced of the abfolute neceffity of rigid economy in every department of the state that can . bear it. But while he faid this, he was one of the last men in this country that would with, by an ill-judged notion of faving, to damp the ardour of the people of this country. He wished not only that their force fhould be refpectable, but that they might be made to stand in a proud and menacing attitude against the enemy. He would add, although by fo doing, he hazarded fome reproach out of doors, that it was not in the falaries of public officers that he wished to see a general deduction, for he was perfuaded, that, with a few exceptions, they were not over-paid, confidering all the circumftances of things at prefent.

Mr. SECRETARY AT WAR faid a few words in explanation, and could not agree with Mr. Tierney with regard to the effect of the fees. He did not fee how, without injuftice, any of the gentlemen who had received the large fees alluded to, could be called upon to return them.

Mr. Chancellor PITT was inclined never to oppofe economy while it was confiftent with the due performance of public duty; but he would not lofe fight of the fentiment which was fo properly expreffed by the honourable gentleman oppofite to him (Mr. Tierney). That honourable gentleman had faid, that this country fhould be put in a powerful and menacing attitude towards the enemy. But then he faid that we had not the full advantage of our fucceffes-fucceffes which were felt and enjoyed by this country, while every other nation in the world beheld with astonishment and admiration the repeated exertions which produced them. It feemed that we were to forego every idea of an invafion of this country; and therefore we had an opportunity of attending to minute economy. He hoped the Committee would not be so unmanly as to give way to that idea; he faid, "unmanly," for he knew of nothing more unmanly than to catch at fuccefs, and to neglect all future exertion as unneceffary. Undoubtedly nothing could excel-indeed, hitherto, nothing had equalled the fplendour of our fucceffes; they would, indeed, in former times, and under former circumftances, have terminated any conteft; but what fucceffes, what triumphs, what glory of her enemy could effect the difpofition of that nation whofe rulers count as nothing the intereft,

the treasure, or even the blood of their fubjects? Therefore, with the best wishes for economy, he could not indulge a hope of carrying it farther than it could be accompanied by prudence. We had had to deal, we have to deal yet, with an enemy of whofe character it may at least be faid, they are not limited by any rule of law, or justice, or prudence, or by any of the maxims which are supposed to govern, or to have at any time governed, the policy of those states which are called regulated Monarchies, for they had hitherto been totally uncontroled by remorse, compunction, prudence, or humanity. They have fhewn a readiness to hazard their own existence for the bare chance of deftroying this country, or indeed of overturning the liberty of other nations. But, because they are at present difcomfited in their scheme at the Nile, and because that expedition has turned out to be a difafter, and has reduced them to a temporary confufion; yet they might not have given up all ideas of invafion -on this country; and should they entertain fuch a thought, how wild and chimerical foever it may be, yet it would gain force in their minds, and add vigour to their projects, if they saw this country day after day weakening that force, which, while it is entire, will remain invulnerable. He was, therefore, moft clearly of opinion, that we should increase inftead of leffening our efforts. He then proceeded to take notice of fome of the heads of the eftimates before the Committee. The honourable gentleman oppofite to him had profeffed not to be very well acquainted with the subject, but yet he had exhibited fome complaints against the largeness of the expence this year. Now upon that fubject it was obfervable that part only of the fupplementary militia was voted. Some of it was only voted for ten, and fome for only eight months, instead of twelve, as they were now proposed to be. This was an excess upon the estimate of last year it was true, but it was unavoidable. There had been fome regiments of guards alfo to be made up, for those who had gone to Ireland. Indeed they were not now, what they had been fometimes supposed to be, for parade and oftentation. No, they had shown themselves worthy of the British name upon the Continent, in Ireland, and at that glorious, although unfortunate, expedition to Oftend. As to the fubject of an alteration in the fees of offices, he avowed at once he did not agree with his right honourable friend (Mr. Windham): he confidered the late arrangement as neceflary, and would be ferviceable to the public; for he confidered that diminishing that which is already too great, and adding it to that which is already too fmall, was good and found policy and that was the fpirit of the new arrangement in the office alluded to. As to the barracks, it fhould be confidered that

:

« AnteriorContinua »