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fects of the system which the lity, experience, and professional chancellor of the exchequer had knowledge say, " such cireume this year forsaken and impaired: stances and facts as have come to a system sanctioned by general our knowledge appear to us to be so approbation, and proved by expe- replete with fraud and abuse, as to rience to be solid, wise, and eco- require the adoption of the most nomical. It has indeed required decisive measures that can be sug. many sacrifices, and may require gested for their prevention in fumore: but it is a most dangerous ture." And again," when the imdelusion to suppose that great a- mense sums which were paid, durchievements may be performed, ing the last war, are considered, without great exertions. If we and such abuses adverted to, it cannot reduce our expences to our justified the most alarming appre Income, we must raise our income hensions with respect to the admiin proportion to our expences." nistration and application of the Mr. Vansittart concluded with national property. It was these moving a series of resolutions, to observations, coupled with any litthe number of thirty-eight, relat- tle knowledge he might have on ing to public debt, expenditure, the subject, thath ad induced him to and revenue, the object of which read the tenth report now on the was to shew that, under all the table with much attention. Havdifficulties under which we had ing done so, it would be sufficient been placed, our resources were for him to lay before the house adequate to every exertion we briefly the state of the imprests should be called upon to make for out standing as well as every other the defence, independence, and ho- arrear of office. After which, 'he Hour of the country. These resolu- should hope to prevail on the house tions were agreed to unanimously. to agree with him in the resolu
House of Commons, March 21. tions which he should offer to them -Sir Charles Pole rose in pursu. in the words of the commissioners ance of the notice he had given, to of naval revision. call the attention of the house to The first statement of arrears of the last report of the commission. accounts is dated the 9th of Deers of naval revision. By refer- cember, 1806. The unsettled cash ences to the documents in the re. account then amounted to the enorports of the several commission mous sum of £10,985,100 18. 84d. ers named by that house, or spe- Commission agents in arrear to the cially appointed by government, it amount of £2,740,883 in May, would be seen that complaints of 1806, and four of these aceounts the arrears of accommts in the civil with one house, Messrs. Jourdaine, department of the navy had been Shaw, and Co. £2,003,673. Fomost loud; and that hitherto no reign agents' cash accounts in arregulations had been adopted for rear the 9th of December, 1806, curing the increasing evil. The com- to the amount of £6,554,922 178. missioners appointed in 1786, in These accounts embraced a period their ninth report, after shewing the of twenty-seven years. Mr. Cuthmany frauds and abuses which re- bert's accounts ending in March quired the superintendence of abi. 1785, amounted to £1,024,526.
Strange to say, but it was true, and enforced in the tenth, in the choice of moved the necessity of the reso- them no other circumstance should ution he was about to propose, be regarded than that of their being these accounts were not settled the fittest men that could be found
til twenty-two years after they for the execution of the various vere closed. The honourable Ba- duties they are to undertake.” d Cochrane's accounts involving Mr. R. Ward said, that the true the sum of £1,418, not settled object of the honourable baronet's accounts had been eighteen, and motion was to cast an indirect cenpart of them twenty years ready sure on the board of admiralty. ar the board's decision, and not There could be no other motive yet passed. Between the period of than this for wishing now to enter the 19th of December, 1806, and upon the journals of the house, a the 18th of May, 1807, six cash ac- resolution, the truth of which no counts had been passed, which re- man could deny, and which was taced the imprests to £9,486,825 the very ground laid for what the % 8d. exclusive of about 177 un- present board of admiralty had cleared imprests, or promiscuous ac- done towards the very system of counts of old dates from 1774 to De- reform in the naval civil depart
ember, 1791. There were foreign ment now urged by the honouragents' store accounts in arrear able baronet. The motion went from 1779. Home agents and store to charge the admiralty with blame keepers' store accounts in arrear without any single argument to from 1785. It also appeared that support it. He was therefore comstore accounts had been ready for pelled to move the previous questhe board's decision from seven- tion. The chancellor of the exteen to twenty years, and not yet chequer spoke to the same effect. passed. There were additional ar- Mr. Bastard observed that the rears of these accounts at Ports- commissioners of naval enquiry mouth, Plymouth, Chatham, Do- had said, many reports had been TET, Cork, and Yarmouth. Sir made relative to the conduct of the Charles Pole having thus stated the victualling board, but not one had arears of accounts in the victual- been acted upon. Mr. Wellesley Ing office, submitted to the house Pole, stated, that the noble lord at in the words of the commission- the head of the admiralty, having ers, the following resolution: “ that in view the very paragraph in the this house is of opinion, that nei- report now under consideration, ther of the plans recommended by had actually called for his naval the commissioners of naval revi- advisers for the express purpose of sion in their tenth report, nor any recommending the fittest persons other, will be attended with any to fill those stations, and :hat they material good unless all the mem- had done so accordingly under the bers of the victualling board be very terms of the report. These apmen of real ability, professional pointments took place in Decemknowledge, and uninterrupted in- ber last. The old arrear had amountdustry; and unless, as recom- ed to upwards of £11,000,000, and mended in their first report, re- a million and a half had accumupeated in their second, and again lated since the tenth report : not
withstanding which, no accumu. He aimed at no individual. He lation had been suffered since the did not wish to cast the slightest appointments. And, in addition censure upon any one. But he to this, no less a sum than thought, that what he had proposed £6,000,000, since the new ap- was a measure by which the house pointinents, had been investigated might shew to the country its and settled. Under these circum- intention of acting upon the restances, he should vote for the formations recommended. He previous question. Mr. Peter thought he was right in his object. Moore defended the course pur- However, if the house were insued by his honourable friend (sir clined to negative his motion, he C. Pole). It was consistent with would not push it to the vote, the general tenour of his public The previous question being then exertions, in bringing before that put, it was carried without a divihouse abuses, which, if suffered to sion. continue, must prove detrimental Though no resolutions were to the best interests of the coun- moved in parliament on the retry. It was not as a dead letter ports of the commissioners of that he wished the laborious in- military enquiry, they ought not vestigation of the commissioners to be passed over, even in a to lie on the table. He desired brief sketch of British history of to carry them into effect; to let the year, unnoticed. The last of the people enjoy the benefit of these reports noticed in our ansuch labours, by the operation of nals was the third, relating to the different remedies which were the peculations and frauds of Mr. recommended. Besides, the house Alexander Davison, sbanker and should recollect, that to this de- colonel of a regiment of volunpartment the utmost parliamen- teers, made early in the session of tary vigilance ought to be direct- parliament, 1807.* Of the reed, that there was in the public ports that have been made since, arrears of this board, £11,600,000, our particular attention is sumunaccounted for. Admiral Mark- moned to the seventh and the ham agreed to the proposition of ninth. From the seventh report, his honourable friend, which, he it appears, that so far back as thought, should be inserted in the 1796, an office, unsanctioned by journals.
parliament, and unknown to the Sir C. Pole said, that he had no legislature, was added to the reother object in proposing that gular war department, for the purmeasure, than the public service. pose of inspecting and regulating
* See volume for that year (XLIX) Hist. Eur. p. 101. Alexander Davison and John Bowles, were londer than any other men, in their professions of loyalty ; thunking that loyalty, like charity, would cover a multitude of sins. They seemi to have entertained a worse opinion of their superiors than they really deserved; and io trust that, at the worst, government would protect, by their powerful inSuence in some sbape or other, men of such signal loyalty. Nay, it is probable, they might think ministers would not see any thing very heinous in the misconduct of such attached partizans: on the same principle that some religious fanatics are persuaded, that “God sees no sin in the elect."
de accounts of foreign corps in seventh report of the military the British service. This depart- commissioners, were laid open. ment was continued, at a consi- Through the hands of one man, derable expence, till the peace of an army agent for foreign corps, 1802, when it was suppressed. there passed, in the course of get On the commencement of the pre- ven years, the sum of £1,524,630. sent war, it was re-established; When he resigned his situation, and it was then expressly stated he was allowed to retain five-sixths that it bore the same relation to the of the balance of public money; foreign corps, as that which is and when called upon to produce transacted in the war-office, bears' his documents, he replied, that to British corps. The person who many payments were made by him Fas at the head of the department under either verbal or implied auwhile abroad, as the agent for fo- thorities from the war-office ; for reign corps, did not send home many of which irregular paynients any estimate to justify his bills, he afterwards received covering nor even state the balances which letters from the same office. Anohe held in his hands. In short, in ther agent was permitted to keep in the words of the commissioners, an untouched balance of £4,000 "Those checks and precautions, for years unmentioned, though, at which are usually adopted in the the beginning of every quarter, he cases of officers entrusted with was in the practice of delivering such large powers of money trans- in estimates, upon which additi. actions, were not observed in his onal sums were issued. The comcase.” And how were these ac. mittee conclude their report, with counts audited? a person who held strongly recommending and urgno situation whatever, in any ing the discontinuance of the fobranch of the war-office, to whom reign department in the war office, no powers or instructions were re- and with suggesting the necessity gularly or officially given, but of various prospective regulations. merely verbal authority from Mr. From the ninth report it appearWindham, at that time secretary ed, that in consequence of the inof state for the war department, dubitable and confessed insufficicomposed the vouchers with the ency of the auditors of public acexpenditure of the agent's ac- counts in the year 1800, a comcounts. And the certificate of mission was appointed to enquire this person, thus irregularly ap- into abuses in the West Indies. pointed, and who could not be So far back as the year 1791, a presumed to have any sense of regular and unchecked system of public duty, or apprehension of peculation, carried on in the most responsibility, uninstructed in the unblushing manner, was stated to duties of his situation, and having have been established. In the executed these duties in the most space of nine years, from 1791 to inaccurate and slovenly manner, 1800, only a few thousand pounds was the ground of all the agent's were wrested from the peculators, unal discharges. Many other in- and restored to the public. stances of the grossest misconduct, From the official return made to to use the mildest term, in this parliament, of the arrears of public accounts, it appears, that the for articles which they had never unexamined accounts of expendi- supplied. By one transaction, in ture in St. Domingo alone, before which the age and quality of the the West India Commission- rum bought for the use of the ers, reach the enormous amount troops, as well as the real price of seven millions seven hundred of it, and the names of the pers thousand pounds; and that this sons who actually sold it, are dif: sum was expended in less than ferent from what the vouchers re. four years, on a few spots of an present, the public are stated in island in ruins, under circum- the report to have been defrauded stances of a very suspicious na- of nearly £10,000. And yet, in ture, fourteen years ago.
this and similar transactions, in It appears from the ninth report the words of the commissioners, of the commissioners, that in the "the vouchers appear to have year 1791, a deputy pay-master- gone through the form of a certigeneral was appointed for the ficate signed by the commissary West Indies, with express orders of accounts." to proceed thither, and with clear, In one of the reports of the positive, and well-defined direc. West India commissioners we find tions in what manner to execute the following summary of the conthe duties of his office. These di- duct of Valentine Jones, “ It aprections he scarcely in one in pears to us that Valentine Jones stance obeyed. Instead of acting very early framed and established, himself, he appointed, as his depu- by means of combinations and inties, a succession of persons, who tricacies almost impervious, an derived gain from the public mo- over-ruling and highly injurious ney in every possible way: of which influence over the whole transsum, the pay-master-general receive actions of the public, connected ed a moiety at one period secured to with the pay and extraordinaries him by a regular indenture. Pub- of the army, in this part of the lic bills to the amount of about world. This influence was dis£165,000 were remitted by those seminated in various directions who acted for the pay-master, through every branch of the de. either for the purpose of supply- partment, and embraced persons ing funds for mercantile pursuits, of even the lowest description em. for drawing private bills with ad- ployed therein. And this influ. vantage, or for speculations of some ence matured into a far-extended other nature. And the loss upon system, produced an immediate these bills so remitted for private loss and injury almost incalcula. use, was uniformly charged to the ble; and its remote consequences public. The commissariat depart- have been little less prejudioial by ment did not yield to the pre- furnishing examples and precedents ceding, in the systematic nature, that are to be clearly traced since or extent of its peculations. The that period in nearly all transacagents of the commissary-general tions of a similar description." were proved to be in the habit of When the commission of 1800 applying to the merchants, to was appointed, it was expressly grant them receipts to vouchers declared, that the principal reason