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board of Ireland should either take rected patriotism of the adminisan efficient part, or be abolished tration by whom the financial comaltogether, and these matters of mittee was instituted. revenue be put under the treasury House of Commons, May the of this country (England) entire- Ist. The fourth report of the comly, the abuses would never be rem mittee of public expenditure being medied. . . .
. entered as read,* on the motion of , The resolutions respecting Mr. Ord, that gentleman rose for ways and means, moved by Mr. the purpose of calling the attention Foster, were then severally put of the house to the matters detailed and agreed to, and afterwards, in that report: which were such in the form of bills, passed into as to call for the most serious attenlaws. ,
tion of the house. It had been too Under the head of finance, in much the practice he observed, to the present brief sketch of na- pass over such reports without dotional affairs, it is proper to ar- ing any thing upon them; by which range the proceedings of the house means, the labours of committees of of commons on the fourth report this kind were in danger of losing of the committee of public expen- their credit with the public. Parliaditure : a document of extreme ment had, for many years past, and interest and importance, as tending was likely to have for many years to to illustrate the various ways in come, the task of imposing enormous which losses may accrue to the taxes on the country, therefore there publie from the negligence of go- was no duty of the house of comvernment; the injury done to the mons more sacred than that of cause of patriotism and virtue in watching over the expenditure of general by hypocrisy; and the base the public money. . Mr. Ord then arts by which low and unprinci- proceeded to state from the report, pled men may insinuate themselves that commissioners had been apinto the favour of a minister, and pointed in 1795 to manage, sell, obtain offices of great trust as well and dispose of the cargoes of as emolument, and confiding, on Dutch ships, detained or brought too just a calculation, on ministe- in, in order to prevent those carrial favour and forbearance, go on goes from being greatly injured, or for a long series of years to plun- totally destroyed. They had geder the property of the public, and neral instructions: as to the conthereby to press down and aggra. duct of their transactions from the vate the heavy load of taxation on lords of the privy council, requirthe uninformed, though suspecting ing them to keep. minutes of all people. While this document tends their proceedings, and to keep their to shew the supineness and conniv- accounts in such form as the lords ance, which ministers are apt to commissioners of the treasury extend to their creatures and parti- should direct and approve; and in zans at the public expence, it is a case of points of any difficulty ocstrong testimonial to the well-di- curring, they were to refer to the
* See the Report in Appendix to Chronicle, p. 496.
committee of the privy council for any account, because accounta instructions. These commissioners might lead to the suppression of Fere five in number-James Craw- their illegal profits. This was a ford, John Breckwood, Allen Chat- most extraordinary thing, Mr. Ord field, Alexander Baxter, and observed, considering the noise John Bowles! a member of the which Mr. John Bowles had made society for the suppression of vice, about false returns to the property or rather, as appeared from the re- tax. It would be curious to know port, of pilfering from the public. what returns John himself had Their sales ceased, and their trans- made to the property tax at the actions were brought nearly to a time he was receiving this large close in 1799. Nothing remained profit from his labour. The act auafter that period but small sales of thorizing the appointment of these remnants, not completed till 1801, commissioners required, that the and a few other things which would proceeds of the sales should be paid scarcely give the least trouble. To into the bank of England. But inthese small views, however, was to stead of this the commissioners be added an important law suit had opened accounts with private commenced in 1797, which brought bankers. It was singular that a into question property to the a- lawyer should lead them to a viomount of £180,000. But it was lation of the law, and that the merobvious that the burthen of this chants who were in the commission law suit must fall on the solicitors should state a false account of and counsel. As no fixed remune. commission as consistent with the ration had been assigned to the general practice in mercantile commissioners, these gentlemen transactions. resolved to remunerate themselves, Mr. Ord next adverted to the and charged a commission of 5 magnitude of the cash balances reper cent. on the gross proceeds turned by the commissioners; and of their sales, which commission, in he particularly called the attenthe four first years, amounted in all tion of the house to the fact, that to £80,000. No regular accounts Mr. Pitt had, in 1796, applied to were furnished to government. them to know, whether any sum And criminal as this was in the arising from the sale of property commissioners, Mr. Ord could not under their management, would help saying, that the government be paid into the exchequer for the was far more criminal in not calling service of the current year. They for them. Only one account was denied that they could pay any rendered to the privy council, and thing into the exchequer, although in this it was remarkable that no it appeared they had in their hands mention was made of commission, a balance of £190,000: out of which omission the committee ob- which though they had great deserved, might lead the privy coun- mands upon them at the time it was cil to imagine that no commission proved, the committee observed, was charged, although, at that they might have advanced, at the time £25,000 had actually been least £50,000. The commissiondivided. But the commissioners ers, instead of applying the bahad good reason for not rendering lances in their hands, during the lic.
years that preceded the comple- closed. Though they were retion of her sales, in a way that tained nominally, as the law suit might render them productive to had commenced in their names, in the public, had employed them in point of fact, during the ten years discounting private bills for their the commission lasted after the own emolument. If these ba- completion of the business, the lances had been vested in exche- gentlemen found time enough to quer bills between 40 and £50,000, do a great deal of other business. would have been saved to the pub- This same John Bowles had been
active in several elections which The next point in the miscon- had since taken place, and had duct of the commissioners to which time besides to write about thirty Mr. Ord adverted, was, that by the pamphlets about religion, morality, commission at 5 per cent. on the Loyalty, and the duty of contributgross proceeds, by brokerage and in ing faithfully and accurately to the terest on the balances, it appear property tax. Mr. Breckwood, too, ed, the commissioners had taken appeared by the report to be at for their labours the enormous this moment a commissioner for sum of £193,198, being at the the Spanish property. Two of the rate of 626,000 for each com- commissioners pleaded that they missioner.
had quitted their professions with Mr. Ord farther pointed out a a view to the fulfilment of their circumstance which seemed to trust. This was not the first time have escaped the attention of the that professions were abandoned committee, namely, that the com- for something better. Another ho. missioners appeared to have charg- nourable gentleman whom he did ed the 5 per cent. commission on not see in his place, (Mr. R. Ward) the property which had been ma.. had also quitted his profession for naged and sold by the East India a salary of £1000 a year as a lord company, in the management of of the admiralty. This brought which they had been at no trouble into view another case adverted to whatever: so that, in point of fact, in the report, which appeared to him a commission of 10 per cent. had to be a most palpable job, namely, been paid on much the largest pro- that of Mr. Thomas Macdonald, portion of this property, inasmuch as who got £5000 for abandoning the East India company had also a his profession to become an Amecommission of 5 per cent. on their rican commissioner, and that in sales. Some of the commisioners addition to a salary of £1,500 per were themselves merchants, and annum; when many thousands of must have known that the highest persons could have been procured commission among merchants, on to execute the same commission as the gross proceeds is 25 per cent. well for the same salary. Mr. What are the real services of these John Bowles, too, must have a commissioners? Their sales had consideration for abandoning his been finished in four years and a profession, and the house had no half from the time of their appoint- difficulty to appreciate the means ment, and the important part of he had employed for obtaining it. their labours had of course then Mr.John Bowles was to be compenkated for the loss of a profession culiar characteristic of the ad. at which he might have starved! ministration under which these Mr. Bowles had discovered that it commissioners had been appointwas much more profitable to trade ed. in anti-jacobinism under Mr. Pitt, Before he should conclude he had than to wait for causes at the bar. a few words to add upon the mode Mr. Ord was sorry to detain the of keeping the accounts of the comhouse with such a man as Mr. missioners. Mr. Rose had stated Bowles: but it happened that his in his evidence before the commitcareer was connected with some tee that they were to be referred very important points. It shewed from the treasury to the auditors the nature of the cry of anti-jaco- of the public accounts ; in which binism, which had been set up with he appeared to have been incorso much vigour to defeat the most rect. Mr. Huskinson admitted beneficial political objects. It ex- that they were to be delivered in posed the principle upon which the to be passed at the treasury. Now, loudest of those anti-jacobin de said Mr. Ord, most unquestionaclaimers acted, which was solely a bly the treasury was the last place view to their own private emolu- to which he should consent to send ment. This John Bowles afforded the accounts of so loyal a man as an admirable specimen of an anti- Mr. John Bowles to be audited and jacobin—the eulogist of existing passed; because it was not impospowers-the defender of present sible but he might have friends establishments—the denouncer of there, who might not be very striet all who might condemn abuses, or in the examination and sifting of call for reform, as vile jacobins. his accounts. And, besides, the These tricks would no longer im- treasury had not power to examine pose upon the public. The mys- upon oath. If he was rightly ina tery was discovered. John Bowles formed, the accounts sent in on himself let out the secret, and the one day were commonly passed on reign of imposture and delusion the next day. In the resolutions was at an end. This transaction which he meant to propose, he aforded a useful lesson to all go- should introduce one directing that vernments on the point of bestow-' the accounts should be sent to the jag important pecuniary trusts on auditors of the public accounts. As low persons, having no merit to re- to the proportion of remuneration commend them but the circum- to the commissioners, the question Stance of their being mercenary could not well be brought before authors. If governments would the house till the accounts of the employ such persons, they must 'commissioners should be passed. share in the disgrace brought on He did not include in the resoluby their conduct. The employ- tions he meant to propose, one for ment of such men was a bounty on directing a criminal prosecution roguery, and an encouragement of against the commissioners by the abuses. Negligence in the selec- attorney-general, because he un. tion of proper agents, and a proffie derstood that a doubt was entere gate profusion in the public ex. tained whether they were liable to penditure, bad ever been the pe. such a prosecution. Mr. Ord con
cluded with moving the following muneration would be still farther resolutions.
reduced, by the sums the commis1. That it appears to this house, sioners would have to refund by an that to commit pecuniary trusts to act of parliament, as interest on any persons whatever, without pro- the sums kept at private bankers, viding any check upon their pro- or otherwise withheld from the ceedings, without calling for any public. The committee had stated regular or periodical accounts, and its opinion with respect to the duwithout settling, during a long ty of government, which was in course of years, the mode or a. substance precisely the same, and mount of their remuneration, is a conceived in the same words with neglect which must inevitably lead Mr. Ord's first resolution. But to the most prejudicial consequen- Mr. Thornton acknowledged a ces, and a violation of the most distinction between commission. essential duty of government. ers such as these, and a govern
2. That such neglect and devi- ment. If the commissioners negation have been proved to exist, lected the business to which they and might have been attended with, were appointed, their neglect must material loss to the public.
be wilful, and consequently highly 3. That the commissioners upon criininal. But the members of a Dutch property have been guilty government had various other imof gross misconduct in violating portant functions to attend to. the act under which they were ap- Besides, successive governments pointed, and appropriating to their might not always be aware of the own use, without authority, sums views of their predecessors. And for which they ought to have ac- even the secretary of the treasury counted to the public.
has so much other business to at4. That the accounts of the tend to, that he might inadvercommissioners be referred to the tently omit some part of his duty. auditors of public accounts, to be Upon these grounds he considered examined.
the neglect of the government, 5. That all consideration of the and the neglect of the commisremuneration to be allowed to the sioners as meriting different procommissioners ought to be de- portions of blame. ferred till their accounts are final. The Chancellor of the Exchely settled.
quer said, that when gentlemen On the question being put on considered that it was only on the the first resolution, Mr. H. Thorn- 25th of March that the report had ton felt it necessary as chairman been presented to the house; that of the committee who had made some delay had taken place in the the report, to state that he most cor- printing of it; and that it was not dially concurred in every part of in the hands of gentlemen until the report. The remuneration to the within a fortnight of the time when commissioners as recommended in the notice was given, they would the report by the committee was not think it surprising that no meanow £10,000, no very inadequate sures had been taken by the treascompensation for the light business sury before the notice of this mothey had to perform. But this re- tion. The treasury, however, had