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to their commands of the 29th day of February, in the laft feffion of Parliament. "SIR,
Sandwich, at St. Lucia, July 16, 1780. " It is with the deepest impression of gratitude and respect, that I am now to acknowledge your very polite communication, and that transcendant honour which lo august an aflembly as the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, have been pleased to confer upon me, by their unanimous vote of thanks.
“ When I refle&t upon the insignificancy of my poor ser. vices, compared with the magnitude of that retribution by which they have been so eminently diftinguished, I am at a loss how to express that just and proper senise which I entertain of the same.
“ Upon your kindness I must wholly rely, Sir, to make that true report of my most grateful acknowledgements of this great obligation, by which the House of Commons have bound me, under the strongest ties of gratitude, to perfevere in an unremitting exertion of my utmost endeavours to promote the honour and aggrandizement of the British flag.
“ I cannot conclude without requesting, that you will be pleased to accept my warmest thanks for your truly polite and obliging manner of conveying to me the sense and resolution of the House of Commons.
I have the honour to be,
G, B. RODNEY."
November 24. This day Sir Guy Carleton, presented the following paper at the bar of the House :
To the honourable the knights, citizens, and burgesses, in
Parliament afsembled. A Report of the Commissioners appointed to examine, take,
and state, the Public Accounts of the kingdom. THE act of Parliament that constitutes us commiffioners for examining, taking, and stating, the public accounts of the kingdom, being passed, we entered immediately upon the execution of the powers thereby vested in us; we took the
oath prescribed, and settled the necessary arrangements of office and forms of proceeding.
The legislature not having left to our discretion, which of the various subjects referred to our confideration we should begin our enquiries with, but on the contrary, having expressly directed us, " in the first place, to take an account of the public money in the hands of the several accountants; and for that purpose to call upon them to deliver in a cash account; and to consider what sum it might be proper to leave in the hands of each accountant respectively, for carrying on the services to which the same is or might be applicable, and what sums might be taken out of their hands for the public fervice;" we, in obedience to the act, immediately applied ourselves to that subject.
The public accountants may be distinguished into three claffes.
ift. Those who receive public money from the subject, to be paid into the exchequer,
2dly. Those who receive public money out of the exchequer by way of imprest, and upon account.
3dly. Those who receive public money from certain of this last class of accountants, subject to account, and who may be called sub-accountants.
We began our inquiries in the first class, and of that class, with the receivers general of the land tax. To coine at a knowledge of their names, and of the balances of public money in their hands, we procured from the tax office the last certificate of the remains of the land tax. By that certificate it appeared, that of the land tax, window, and house tax, to Lady-day last
, the arrears in the hands of the receivers general, upon the 14th July last, amounted to the sum of three hundred and ninety-eight thousand seven hundred and fortyeight pounds nine shillings and five pence halfpenny.
As this certificate was grounded upon returns not made to us,
but to the tax office, we issued our precepts to every receiver general of the land tax, and to the representatives of those who were dead, requiring them forthwith to trantinit to us an account of the public money in their hands, custody, or power, at the time they should each of them receive our precept.
Returns were accordingly made to all our precepts; a lift See Appen. of which returns, with their several dates, is set forth in the dix.
and inhabited houses, remaining in their respective hands upon the days therein mentioned, amounted together to the fum of fix hundred and fifty-seven thousand four hundred pounds thirteen shillings and four pence.
We proceeded in the next place, pursuant to the directions of the act, to enquire to what services these sums were or might be applicable, in the hands of the respective accountants.
And we find, that by the militia act, of the second of his present Majesty, the receiver general of the land tax for every county, is required to pay to the commanding officer of every company of the militia of that county, being ordered out into, or being out in, actual service, one guinea for each private man belonging to his company, upon the day appointed for marching; and that by the act of the twentieth of his present Majesty, for defraying the charge of the pay and cloathing of the militia, he is ordered to pay to the clerk of the general meetings five pounds five shillings for each meeting, and to every of the clerks of the sub-divifion meetings, one pound one shilling for each meeting : and, except the charges of collecting, receiving, and accounting, we do not find, that, when the militia is ernbodied, the duties collected by these receivers are liable to any payments, or applicable to any other services whatsoever.
In the returns made to us by the receivers general, such sums as are stated to have been paid for these services of the militia, for the year 1779, are different in different counties; but as these payments cannot from the nature of them amount in any county to a considerable fum, we conceive they may be made out of the current receipts of these taxes,
As the receiver general is required by the land tax act, within twenty days at farthest after he has received money for that duty, and by the acts which grant the duties on houses, windows, servants, and inhabited houses, within forty days after he has received those duties, to pay the same into the exchequer; it became necessary for us to enquire upon what grounds, and for what purposes, the receivers general retained in their hands fo confiderable a part of these duties,
so long after the same, ought, according to the directions of See Appen« the several acts abovementioned, to have been paid into the
exchequer. To this point, amongst others, we examined No. 2.3. George Rose, esq; secretary to the tax office ; John Fordyce, No. 4. esq; receiver general for Scotland; William Mitford, 'esq; No. 5. receiver general for the county of Sussex ; Thomas Allen,
efq; receiver general for part of the county of Somerset
In these examinations, two reasons are assigned for this detention of the public money; one is, the difficulty of procuring reinittances to London, especially from the distant counties; the other is, the insufficiency of the falary of two pence in the pound, allowed the receiver by the land tax and other acts, upon the sums paid by him into the exchequer, to answer the trouble, risque, and expence, attending his office; to supply which, and to render the employnient worth having, he has been accustomed to retain in his hands a considerable
a part of these duties, for the purpose of his own advantage
As an examination into the manner and charge of collecting and remitting, in an office of receipt, fimilar in its circumstances, might enable us to form some judgment upon the validity of these reasons; we directed our inquiries to the collection and remittance of the duties of excise.
For this purpose we examined Goulston Bruere, Esquire, No. 8. first general accountant; Richard Paten, Esquire, fecond No. 9. general accountant in that office; Mr. Richard Richardson, No. 1o. collector of excise for the Hertford collection; Mr. Thomas Ball, collector of excise for the Bath collection; and George No. 11. Rowley, Esquire, who is collector of excise for Bedford No. 7. collection, as well as receiver general of the land tax for the county of Huntingdon; and George Lewis Scott, Esquire, No. 12. one of the commissioners of excise. We procured too, from that office, an account of the gross and nett produce of the excise, received by each collector for the year 1779; in which it appears, that the gross produce amounted to the fum of three millions feven hundred and fourteen thousand feven hundred and leventy-one pounds fixteen shillings and an halfpenny, exclusive of the receipt at the excise office in London, paid in by the persons charged, without the intervention of a collector; which gross suin being, as we apprehend, considerably more than the amount of the duties paid to the receivers general, is collected in England and Wales by fiftythree collectors, being only two more than the number of receivers general of the land tax, including Scotland.
From these last examinations we learn, that each collector of excise goes his rounds eight times in the year; that he remits the whole of his nett collection in every round to the
excise office, chiefly by bills at twenty one days after date, in the counties near London ; at thirty days, in the more remote counties; and at fifty or fixty days, in the most diftant, and none at a longer date; that he is continually remitting during his round; and within a week after it is finished,
nds up by a balance bill, all that remains of the duties collected by him in that round; that he finds no difficulty in procuring bills; could return more money by the fame me. thod; and is never suffered to keep any money in his hands.
Each collector is paid a salary of one hundred and twentypounds a year, subject to deductions amounting to one milling and nine pence in the pound; and is allowed perquisites to about one hundred pounds a year more ; and gives security for five thousand pounds,
We endeavoured to form fome computation of the loss
sustained by the public, from the detention of the money by See Appen
the receivers general, and for that purpose, we called for an dix, account of the quarterly returns made by them to the tax
office; from whence it appears, that the average fum in their No. 13. hands, from the 5th of July, 1778 (when the mode was adopt.
ed of transmitting the accounts on oath) to the 7th of July laft, amounted to three hundred thirty-four thousand and fix. ty-one pounds, the interest of which, at four per cent, being thirteen thousand three hundred fixty-two pounds a year, we conceive the public have been obliged to pay, for want of the use of their own money.
But the loss has been, not of interest only, the revenue ita
self has suffered; for by an account of the arrears and defaultNo. 14, ers of the land tax, and other duties, from the year 1756,
which we cailed for from the tax office, those arrears in the hands of the defaulters not included in the first certificate, appear to amount to one hundred and thirteen thousand one hundred and fixty-one pounds seven shillings and two pence halfpenny, of which twenty-four thoutand two hundred and fifty feven pounds seven thillings and two pence three farthings is actually loft upon composition; of the remainder, part is in a course of legal proceed ngs, and the recovery of a great part doubtful: Whereas by a like return which we required from the commissioners of excise, for the same period, we find theie have been no arrears or defaulters among the officers of excile, except in one instance, to the amount of three thousand fıx hundred pounds.
From thiş comparative view of the modes of colle&ting and remitting thele different duties, and of the advantages accruing