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But in consequence of this proceeding, in the year 1701, it was expressly foreprized and excepted' out of these revenues, and never otherwise disposed of again by Parliament. Therefore, the Parliament first took it unlawfully from the Colonies, and applied it as they did the other hereditary revenues, wthout any one ever entertaining the idea of its being a fund under the separate controul of the Crown. Then Parliament and the Crown, finding the mother country had no sort of right to it, gave it up to the Colonies. But by a strange accident it never found its way there, and has ever since been usurped by the Crown, independent both of Parliament and the Colonies."
This fund, then, if there be justice in Parliament, and law in Westminster-Hall, must ere long be rescued from its present perversion, and cease to afford the materials of corrupt influence. But we also deem the rest of these separate funds most fit to be taken, upon compensation, if necessary, from the Crown, and appropriated by Parliament to the public service. If this be done, our author's proposal to prevent grants and pensions to Members of Parliament, can only apply to the old pension fund of 90,000l. a year. Now, he knows too well the existing law of Parliament to be ignorant that, at present, no person can sit in the House of Commons who holds a pension during pleasure. Therefore, to this class of grants, by far the most dangerous in the view of influence, his remarks have no application. Does he then mean to exclude from all Royal bounty persons who have ever sat in Parliament? No one can accuse him of so visionary a project, and indeed a project so useless in any practical view. He must, therefore, confine his plan to persons holding pensions for life, and we hesitate about excluding them. They are quite independent, except from the ties of gratitude; and we hardly think that any considerable gain would be made to the cause of liberty by their exclusion. We observe that Mr Bennet has given notice of a bill on this subject; but, as at present advised, we hardly see the necessity of such a measure. To strike at grants to the relations and connexions of Members, is manifestly chimerical in the highest degree; and the enactment of the proposed disqualification, would only drive the bounty of the Crown into that channel.ot
Our author next broaches a most important subject--the Abuses in the Collection of the Revenue, which make it subservient to the grand purposes of Parliamentary influence. He points to one instance in the front rank of this department, and where reform is as easy as it is safe--the Receiverships of Land-tax, El the Distributors of Stamps There are, at least, one Re
ceiver and one Distributor in each county and they have, for Full To ovoj te duw barre de 1910 ore
mere sinecure places, salaries from five and six hundred, to, three, four, and nearly five thousand a year. To have the benefit of the deposites, country bankers, in every town in England, would gladly execute, without salaries, the only actual duties of these placemen, those performed by their deputies; and beside cutting off so much patronage, now bestowed on connexions, domestic and political, of Members of Parliament, a clear saving would be effected to the public of 300,0001. a year. As for the immense patronage of the Customs and Excise, all that the author proposeș, is a strict adherence to the rule laid down, or rather recommended, in the Finance Reports of 1799, namely, that succession by gradation and seniority should be rigorously attended to. At present, he observes, instead of this system being pursued, which has been found to answer so perfectly with the East-India Company, we find, in every commercial town of any importance, the Customhouse absolutely overrun with persons wholly destitute of all experience or capacity for their employment, and who are placed there only because their friends support the Member for that or some other town, and he supports the Minister.
The question of a Place bill is very satisfactorily handled in the next portion of this pamphlet; and we entirely agree with all the author's positions, excepting the remarks on pensions for life, which we haye already considered. He likens them to the parish relief, which disqualifies voters at elections, and calls these pensioners State Paupers-an ingenious, but not a very solid view of the question; first, becaụse in truth paupers are not generally disqualified, but only in towns-in counties they are allowed to vote; secondly, because the ground of this disqualification is the legal presumption arising from it, that the pauper is a person of mean and dependent circumstances, who hardly can have a will of his own; and, thirdly, because it would be manifestly unjust to exclude such pensioners as our Admirals and Generals and retired Judges, who have, by their professional services, earned those annuities, and equally impossible to draw the line between such service and political service; for example, that of the Godolphins and Chathams. In all the rest of his remarks on this important head, we agree; and they merit deep at ention in these times. ::.. And now I come to our scventy-six members of the House of Commons, who divide the sum of 156,000l, per annum.-Here we have, happily, precedents taken from the best of times before our eyes,precedents such as must satisfy the most timid, the most ap: prehensive of innovation,—that there is nothing to alarm them in the reform to be proposed. In the act of Parliament which passed in the reign of Queer d which settled the Crown of this realm
on our present Royal Family after the death of Queen Anne without issue, it was enacted, that after the Hanoverian family should come to the throne, no person who held any office under the Crown, or who enjoved any pension during pleasure under the Crown, should be capable of sitting as a member in the House of Commons. Some three or four vears afterwards, this subject was reconsidered ; and in another act of Queen Anne, which created thi regency in the event of that Queen's death, and the absence of the Hanoverian successor, th- former disqualifying enactment as to places was repealed, and in its room was substituted this provision, viz. that from the passing of such act of Regency, all persons holding particular places under the Crown therein specified, should be incapable of becoming members of the House of Commons; that all pensioners during pleasure should be aiso excluded ; that all members holding any other places whatsoever not therein specified, should vacate their seats as members, upon their acceptance of such places. but that they should be eligible again at the pleasure of their constituents: and furthermore it was enacted, that if any new offices should be created after the passing of that Act, all persons ho ding such offices should be inca. pable of sitting as members of the House of Commons.
· Thus passed this Bill of Refora, and it is the law at the present day. It had for its author the Prime Minister, Lord Godolphinthe Chancellor Lord Cowper—and it had the support of Lord Somers—three as honest, able, and disinterested public men as this or any other country ever saw. Our present Chancellor, Lord Eld on, is very fond of saying he is always anxious to act as he thinks Lord Somers would have done in similar situations: and nothing can do more honour to himself, or more justice to the memory of Lord Sorvers, than this sentiment. The question, then, which I put to Lord Eldon, and to every man in England, is this--If Lord Godol. phin, Lord Cowper, and Lord Somers, with all their experience, and with their known attachment to the Hanover succession-at that time, when the title of the Hanover family to the throne was more than disputed by a most powerful party in the State-when the East India Company and Bank of England were in their infancy, and the National Debt, in comparison, a trifle—if those great men then thought that the power of the Crown in the House of Commons was too great, and that it ought to be regulated and reduced, as it was by their bill of reform. to what extent may we not imagine their regulation and reduction to have gone, had they lived in times when, by the collection of the taxes alone, the amount of four millions of money annually was at the disposal of the members of the House of Commons , when all such other powers of English and Indian inAuence, as are before enumerated, have centered in the hands of that body, and are by them claimed and used as their own undoubted property? It is with this bill of Lord Godolphin's then, this Act of Reform, that we must now go to work. We are no wild theorists in attempting to apply the principle of these great authorities, and a
their act of Parliament, to our own times and our present condition.' pp. 25-27,
That all holders of sinecures should be disqualified, is another proposition on which we hesitate, as on that regarding pensioners for life; but, of the gross impropriety of the measures pursued for increasing the numbers of placemen who can sit in Parliament, who can doubt? How marked a contrast does the conduct of the great authors of the Revolution present to the policy of late times in this respect! Our author shows how Mr Pitt and Lord Melville acted in the teeth of Lord Godolphin's and Mr Burke's Reform Bills; and he instances the office of Third Secretary of State, all the branches of which are new in the eye of the law, and ought to be disqualified--but all are permitted to sit in Parliament. He also gives the striking example of the Board of Controul, in which four new and lucrative offices were at once created, and their holders allowed to sit in the House of Commons, notwithstanding the salutary statute of Anne. The following remarks on this department merit attention.
The same act which created this new establishment, repealed Lord Godolphin's act as far as related to the new places. By Lord Godolphin's bill, no new placeman was ever to become a member of the House of Commons : by this bill of Lord Melville's, no less than four new placemen were qualified to become members all at once. So much for the change in the Constitution ; and now for the change in the character of the House of Commons, as exhibited by their conduct towards this new establishment. Although this government for India was announced originally under the agreeable form of being purely gratuitous, yet in 1793 or 4, as we have seen, the late Lord Melville begun his system of providing for four members of Parliament out of it (himself included); in 1812, the present Lord Melville being president of the same establishment, and his father having obtained from the East India Company a pension of 20001. per annum for his lady, the present Lord, I say, brought a bill into Parliament, for raising his own salary from 2000l. per annum to 50001., and the same was enacted accordingly.; and upon the conclusion of this connexion between Lord Melville's family and the Company, in 1813, the East India Company made the present Lord Melville a gift in hard money of no less a sum than 20,0001. Now, I should like to know what would have been said in Lord Godolphin's time I wonder what Lord Somers would have said to a minister of the Crown taking a present of 20,000/. from the East India Company! We know that the Earl of Danby was impeached, in those days, by the House of Commons, for taking 50001. from the East India Company. Why did not the Bank of England give 20,0001. to Mr Pitt, in return for all vices he rendered that corporation ? The one case is just s
's the other ; and yet when this