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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 enjoyed any pension during pleasure under the Crown, should be capable of sitting as a member in the House of Commons. Some three or four years afterwards, this subject was reconsidered ; and in another act of Queen Anne, which created the regency in the event of that Queen's death, and the absence of the Hanoverian successor, the former disqualifying enactment as to places was repealed, and in its room was substituted this provision, viz.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 also 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 holding such offices should be incapable of sitting as members of the House of Commons.
« Thus passed this Bill of Reform, 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 Eldon, 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 Somers, than this sentiment. The question, then, which I put to Lord Eldon, and to every man in England, is this—If Lord Godolphin, 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 influence, 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 of their act of Parliament, to our own times and our present condition.'
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 20,0001. from the East India Com. pany! We know that the Earl of Danby was impeached, in those days, by the House of Commons, for taking 5000l. from the East India Company. Why did not the Bank of England give 20,000.. to Mr. Pitt, in return for all the services he rendered that corporation ? The one case is just as defensible as the other; and yet when this
grant of 20,0001. was brought before the House of Commons by Mr Creevey in 1814, and by Lord Milton in 1815, it was considered as one of those questions called, in their own modern phraseology, personal questions that is to say, an attack upon the profits or plunder belonging to Parliament men—and, as such, immediately resented and rejected. If the Company thus openly and shamefully gives away 20,000l. of its funds to a minister of the Crown, need one ask what it does with its patronage? Who then will say, with these facts in his recollection, that the Constitution is not changed—that the character of the House of Commons is not altered ? But let us go on. After all, there is no Board of Controul for the government of India ; nor was there ever a single one since the passing of the act which made it! The whole of the business is transacted solely by the president, whose duty, or whose office it is to read and to alter, if he chuses, all the Company's political despatches to India : and this he does, without any the least connexion with the Board whatsoever ; so that the other members of the Board, as they are called, are not only introduced into the House of Commons, to the great injury of the Constitution, and in direct violation of Lord Godolphin's bill, but they are brought in under false pretences as holding offices, whereas they hold now nothing but the name and their salaries. And for this reason it is we have a right to exact from the candidates, for our support, a pledge to use their utmost efforts, that no other than the President of the India government shall in future be allowed to be a member of the House of Commons. It is scarcely necessary again to observe here, that although these officers are paid by the India Company, they are named by the Crown. It is, however, necessary to state, that in addition to the two junior Commissioners having nothing in fact to do with the affairs of India, neither the President, nor they, from modern experience, have any occasion to be in the House of Commons, as, since the passing of the last act of agreement with the Company in 1813, the name of India has never been introduced into the House of Commons but once, and, on that occasion, only for a vote of thanks to Lord Hastings.' pp. 35–38.
He next proposes the exclusion of all Welsh Judges and Masters in Chancery, which seems almost a corollary from the principle of excluding the twelve Judges. — They are neither fit for the place, nor is the place fit for them. They are injured both in their politick and judicial capacity-making worse judges, without becoming good members of Parliament. Our acute and well
informed author has, however, strangely omitted one fraud on Lord Godolphin's Bill most successfully practised almost ever since its enactment. Places directly appointed by the Crown are alone comprehended in practice within its operation. Thus, a Lord of the Treasury with 15001., or of the Admiralty with 12001., must vacate on his appointment, beçayse he derives it immediately from the Crown-but the Secretaries of the Admiralty and Treasury do not vacate, though they have 4000l. a year salary, because they are appointed by the Lords of the several Commissions. So neither, we believe, does the Irish Secretary vacate, though he has six or seven thousand a year.
Another omission is that of many of the Commissioners appointed for temporary purposes—as auditing West India claims-Arcot debts-Danish Prizes, and so forth. Temporary they may be—but to all appearance they will last our time. Thus, the Arcot commissioners have been at work (so to speak) since 1806, and received salaries of 15001. a year-an expense in salaries altogether of above 20,0001. to the Company (that is, the country), exclusive of the Secretaries, Officers, &c.; and to their discredit be it spoken, the Ministers of 1806, disregarding Sir P. Francis's honest and constitutional remonstrances
, introduced a clause contrary to the spirit of their predecessors the Whigs of the Revolution, and enabled those three new placemen to sit in Parliament.
The concluding remarks of this valuable Tract, deserve most serious attention.
• It is not only that, in addition to all other sources of influence, there are seventy-six members with 156,0001. divided amongst them, who are quite certain to assist the Crown in all contests with us their constituents ; but these seventy-six members are always on the spot; their office, as part of the House of Commons, is always within reach. There is a secretary of the Treasury in the House of Commons, who has a salary of 4000l. per annum for little else than keeping the placemen and other ministerial adherents in order ; and if
, by accident, a tax bill was to fail from the absence of any of these servants of the Crown, he would be severely reprimanded, and perhaps cashiered. So judge for yourselves what the state of the House of Commons must be as each Session of Parliament draws towards its close. At such a period, the patience of gentlemen from the country may very reasonably be supposed to be exhausted, and themselves to be on their return home : There are perhaps fifty, sixty, or seventy subjects to be discussed the same day, or rather night; The Minister of the Crown has the power, in the midst of all this confusion, of chusing the time he may deem most favourable for bringing on any grant of public money; and for this reason, the worst of his money jobs are generally withheld for the latter end of the session, and a late hour of the night. At such times, the guar. dians of the public purse have become reduced to the faithful band of seventy-six placemen, with a few India and Bank Directors; and with such a body as this to constitute the only representatives of the people, can any one be surprised at their being too many for their constituents? Or is there any one who does not demand that the
principle of Lord Godolphin's Place Bill shall be again applied to them? • Electors of Great Britain !' (he adds) • I have stated to you
faith fully the present condition of your representatives—the entire ascendancy that the Crown has acquired over them and the means, by which the purposes of the Crown are accomplished. I have stated to you, likewise, what appears to me to be the only course by which our representatives are to be rescued from their present dependence on the Crown, restored to the confidence of their country, and united in interest again with us, the People.' pp. 40–42.
We have now made our readers acquainted with the substance, we may almost say with the contents, of this important Tract; and, we think, we have justified our general description both of its matter and its style. În truth, nothing can be more important than the subject is at the present crisis. Oppressed by burthens hardly to be borne, and aware how large a share of these is owing to continued misrule, the people of this country naturally cast their eyes towards every quarter from which real and permanent relief may be expected." In none do they find any ground of solid hope, except in the wisdom and patriotism of their representatives. If that hope fails, all are ready to exclaim, * Then we are indeed undone !' But the discussions in which we have been engaged, show how many powerful causes are constantly at work to counteract the operation of whatever integrity or wisdom the Parliament may contain. To restore its integrity to the Constitution, by abridging the means of corruption, seems indispensably necessary for the salvation of the State. Nor would the improvement in the deliberations of Parliament be the work of any very long time, if the sources of evil influence were speedily dried up. Important direct effects would at once be produced; while the authoritative discouragement given to corruption by so wholesome an interposition, would less directly occasion a similar improvement, discountenancing the bad practices which have in past times proved so noxious. May the Legislature listen to such advice as the whole of this momentous inquiry presents at every stage ! This is the true way to regain the confidence, and fix the affections of the Nation ;---the only sovereign remedy for wild or rebellious delirium.
ART. X. 1. Plan d'Education pour les Enfans Pauvres, de près
les deux Methodes combinées de Bell et de Lancaster. Par le
Comte ALEXANDRE DE LABORDE. Paris, 1816. 2. L'Enseignement Mutuel ; ou Histoire de l'Introduction et de la