29 FEBRUARY 1840, Page 12



'rue country at last appears to be about to reap some little benefit from an Opposition. The Commons, by a majority of 28 in a House of 452 Members, have passed something very like a vote of censure on the Aloarnaoix-NawrouT job. The 'forks have placed one obstacle in the way of ally future perversions of the Civil List Pensions to forward "political arrangements ;" and they may point to this, as well as their votes on the Jamaica Bill and Prince 11.IIERT'S allowance, as to good deeds, vvhatever might be their motives.

The debate. as is usual with debates now-a-clays, was chiefly distinguished 'by recrimination : what little of argument there was on the true merits of the case, will be found in the speech of Sir ROBERT PEEL. Sir ROBERT did not, however, succeed in distinctly bringing out to the uninitiated the gross nature of the job, or the importance of the principles involved. The Exchequer, as Nye Ibrimaly took occasion to explain, was in its origin a court of judicature for the settlement of pecuniary claims between the King and his subjects. All money paid into it was recorded, as well as all money drawn out ; every process was attended with all the formalities of law : so that nothing was paid without stating its purpose, or without the authority of regular documents properly authenticated. And these porticularities, though varied after a fashion to meet the change of times, coati- vied till the late reform in the office.

By this measure, the antiquated formalities were got rid of, and a much Ampler mode established ; the taxes &c. being paid at once into the account of the Exchequer at the Bank of England, where they remain till applied by the Comptroller; his authority being, .first, a vote of Parliament appropriating the money to a particular service, and second, the demand by the party entitled, backed, if needful, by the Treasury. But in rretting rid of the old forms, the old checks were likewise got rid of; and the whole revenue of the country is now in a certain sense in the power of the Comp- troller of the Exchequer. Let him be weak or corrupted, and the money may be diverted by the Executive from one service to another, or applied to purposes not sanctioned by Parliament, or which Parliament has even refused to sanction ; or, to put the extreme case, the public money might be placed at the disposal of a bold and corrupt Government to effect a coup d'etat. The office, in conformity with the precedent of the old Exchequer, is therefore rendered as independent as forms can make it. The Comptroller holds his place for lifb ; not upon any understanding, but defying the prerogative—faro/iota/tale by the Creten. In an Act regulating Pensions and Superannuation, it is expressly forbidden to grant a pension to this high officer, so as to keep him free from all tempta- tion. Yet this office, so important in itself, and in a whilom Whig constitutional sense so " sacred "—embodying, as it does, the power over the public purse—has been, we will not say more jobbed than any other, but jobbed as much as it was possible, by the Reform Ministry. Every time they have touched it, the end has been to facilitate a " political arrangement."

The source whence the pension was granted to Sir .Tonx NEW.. PORT was an equally scandalous job ; though we believe it was a Ministerial necessity enforced this, the law forbidding it to be done in any other way. When Mr. Erma and Mr. GROTE ob- jected to allow the Crown the power of granting Civil List pensions, as, amongst other things, a privilege liable to be abused to --Ministerial purposes, the Government over and over again protested it was only intended to bestow them on literature, science, and art, or to reward some special service which could not be re- munerated in any other way. The amount of these rewards to literature, &c. varies, in general, from 501. to 3001. ; and yet we find the Reform ?limiters granting at one swoop to a political friend, to facilitate a political arrangement of their own, 1,0001.—leaving 2001. to reward the claimants in letters, science, arts, and special services'

We have hitherto confined. (air attention to the gross nature of

the double job, without reg ,rd to the merits of Sir JOUN NEW- FORT. We have no desire to make a person of his age, and in a state, as is alleged, of pecuulny embarrassment, a subject for comment, yet we must observe that his services do not seem of a nature to justify an irregular pension. llis elm is this. When at school at Eton he had two lords for fags, and treated them kindly ; upwards Of thirty years ago he was Chancellor of the Ex- chequer in Ireland, and effected some administrative reforms ; he subsequently made many motions and speeches on public questions, some of which were carried; mid he is in embarrassed circum- stances. Well :• As regards the Eton figs, no one but a lord would surely have put fi,rward such a reason fbr granting it pen- sion. As Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer he did his duty, per- haps in compliance with previous pledges; and no doubt received his salary for the year and one month he held office. With respect to the speeches and motions part of the argument, Mr. Lassnait observed, (and the observation was fiteetiously improved by Sir ROI1ERT Pasn„) that at this rate Colonel SHITHORPE was entitled to a pension fir his services in the case of Prince ALBERT'S allow- ance. Mr. would be entitled to a very large pension in- deed ; a countless list of speakers in the old Boroughmonger

Parliament might follow in his wake; and as fbr " motions," the Reformed Parliament would furnish forth a bigger pension-list than the Pensioned Parliament itself

After the manner in which Sir JOHN'S circumstances have been spoken of, there can be no indelicacy in approaching the topic. Still We shall only remark, that the Chronicle was indiscreet in stating that Sir Jonx had spent a moderate patrimony in contested elections ; and we suspect that if a worn-out veteran, or a veteran's widow, or a disabled artisan, had pleaded, not embarrassment but destitution, the answer at the War or any other Office would have been, that distress would not of itself entitle any one to a pension. Lord JOI1N RliSSEL1„ in the course of his speech, was so stimu- lated by the worst of counsellors, fear and anger, that he read, to insinuate censure of the Tory Governments, a list of pension for civil services from the Finance Accounts. The readers of the Spectator's "Practical Measures" need not be told our opinions of the Pension System, or of the laws and rules by which it is regulated: but all these pensions, as Lord JOHN must know, were granted by rule, without respect to the individual or to circum- stances. A man holding a certain office, was entitled, at the ex- piration of a certain time, to a retiring-allowance of a certain amount. The enormous expense of, this system we have expounded in elaborate detail, and raised our voice against it. Whenever Lord JOHN will attempt its reform, he may depend upon all the support we ea» give him. But no mortal gifted with ordinary logic would ever dream of comparing an established allowance of this kind with such an irregular and discreditable affair as the .MONTEAGLE job. It is alleged, both in and out of the House, that the Tories have perpetrated jobs as bad as the one they are now attacking. As thr as regards its impudent irregularity, the fact may be questioned, for the Tories had more skill and more regard to appearances: in an abstract moral sense, no doubt, they have, and very many too. But in judging of actions, regard must be had to the whole circumstances of the case. In the palmy days of Toryism, public opinion was of a much lower kind; the Civil List, in law and in fact, was a fund granted to the Crown—that is, to the Ministry, to dispose of at pleasure ; its recipients were kept secret ; and the Tories made no pretensions to purity, or ever affected to deny that they used the powers of Government for the purposes of in- fluence. But what was fitting in a Tory is unnatural in a Reform Ministry. The irregularities of men of the world are passed as such, but the gorge rises at the profligacy of the hypocrite : nor is the matter mended when he attempts to justify his vices by an example which he has spent his life and made his fortune in de- nouncing. Upon this point the Chronicle on Thursday was wroth and rash— "The Tory Pension-list—that black and polluted record of delinquency— Las not been efface.] from the public memory. By no one was it ever yet perused who did not at once perceive to what infamous purposes it was made subservient. It is Mk to say that, in the purchase of -Parliamentary support, it was made instrumental : those purposes became almost legitimate when compared with the detestable uses to which they were rendered accessory. The moral sense revolts at their contemplation ; and in perusing the catalogue of frail and thir recipients which it exhibits, it is impossible to exclude Aides of the impure services b.■ which they earned their pensions."

It is not for us to dispute all this ; but let us ask, who obsti- nately resisted for years all inquiry into this "black and polluted record of delinquency "? Why, the Whigs. When the revision was forced upon them at last, who screened the Scotch and Irish, the two worst lists of the three? Why, the Whigs. When in the Committee of Revision, any attempt was made to search into a matter or strike off a pension, who always supported the " black and polluted record" ? The Whigs. And in a proposition too strong for Conservative stomachs, who divided the Committee, and were beaten ? Gentle Chronicle, the Whigs. Upon the subject of pensions for Parliamentary or literary merit, a Mr. W. BARRON delivered himself thus- " Were men to be excluded from the Pension-list because they were Mem- bers of that House? Were poets and puny twaddling romance-writers to have pensions, and, because men did their duty in that House successfully, and be- cause they were Members of it, were they not to have pensions ?" On the tone of this it is needless to comment, or on the taste of the assembly to which it could have been addressed. The reason- ing may have a reply. Men are not excluded from the Pension- list " because they are Members of that House; " but it is neither safe nor constitutional to pension them merely as Members of that House. A " poet " or a " romance-writer " must have given earnest of his powers to entertain a nation before he stands a chance of a pension. No Ministry would pension an embryo CAMPBEIAL, or MooRE, or 'laxity, as such ; but a Member of Parliament is worth buying, even if a fool, or a mere bold-faced partisan with no other recommendation than Irish impudence. lie has a vote to trade with, night after night, and speeches, such as they be; and if Parliamentary services, judged of' by the party served, are to be a passport to a pension, Mr. Banitox himself may be entitled to one—especially if, according to Lord Moartrrit's reason, he has been lucky enough at school to have a couple of lords for his fags. In our exposition of the Pension System, we denied in toto the propriety of pensions as a rule; suggesting, if there must be any thing, a self-supporting superannuation-fund, with an appeal to Parliament for any peculiar case. Reserving ourselves as to Sir ]OILY NEwroafs deserts, we are glad to see that Sir Ronan Pram inclines to this view- " Notwithstanding what had been said by the noble lord, he still retained the same opinion, that if there were any special or peculiar grounds for reward- ing a person who bad been engaged in the public service, it would be much better to do so by the consent of Parliament than through the medium of the Crown."

That such cases would be too hardly dealt by, no one need fear who reads the debates, and observes the tenderness uniformly felt tbr " gentlemen," and the total forgetfulness of tax-payers. But,



Mr. ELLis 1,400 2,400 Saving by the first course, per annum £2,000

To those who are fond of tracing consequences to their causes, it is impressive and consoling to note how " we still have judgment here "—how treacherous arts " return to plague the inventors." When Lord GLENELG was tricked out of his place, be very pru- dently claimed his retiring-pension ; and his claim filled up the number settled by act of Parliament. When, a few months later, poor SPRING RICE had to be ousted too, there was no other way of providing for him but by the job before us. Had the Whigs acted flirty by Lord GLENELG; there would have been a pension for Lord MONTEAGLE ; and the Reform Ministry would have been spared this exposure, and, what they care for much more, this " heavy blow and great discouragement." pension as they would, the direct would be cheaper than the in- direct. See—


Mr. Erma, pension £1,400

Sir Jorarr NEWPORT, pension 1 000 Lord MONTEAG LE, salary 0,000