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it is probable that, in hit tricks, he would have been less daring.
In the first place, he charged, in point of measure, as a retailer, not making the allowance always made by wholesale dea;ers,of one chaldron in twenty: so that, supposing his prices to have been fair, he thus gained one twentieth part more, than would have been done by a fair wholesale dealer. This, how. ever, was a trifle, compared with what follows. It appears, from a comparative view of the prices which Davison paid, and those which he charged to the government, (and which were paid to him for a course of nine years,) that the average of the price charged to the public, was eighty-one shillings per chaldron; and the average of the price paid by Davison, sizty.one shillings per chaldron; making a difference of twenty-five in the hundred. To this sum, again, must be added, the one chaldron in twenty, which Da. vison ought to have given in, as the wholesalers do, amounting to five pounds in the hundred more: thus making a gain of thirty pounds in every hundred. Farther still, Da. vison was bound to make the deliveries in the most favourable seasons; instead of which, he made almost the whole of them in zcintert ■when coals were dearest, though he had bought them at the seasons when coals were cheapest; and that too, through the most shameful and cul. pable inattention, if not the connivance of general Delancey, with the public money. For many other instances, and the most accurate details concerning the fraudulent
dealing of Mr. Alexander Davison we refer our readers to the report o the commissioners.—The wealth tha this man accumnlated at the expene of the public, must have been irn mense; nor was he at any pains ti shade it from the pulric eye, but on the contrary, seemed desirous tt display it by the .itmost splendour au< magnificence*. In short, he seemrc destined to rouse the attention 6 government to the conduct of theii servants, and the agents of its ser vants.
Lord Archibald Hamilton, wh< had given notice, in the house o commons, of a motion which hi intended to bring forward respectin| the third report of the commissioner of military inquiry, on the 2d o February, called the attention of th< house to this subject. He had in, tended to have moved, that the at. torney-general should be instructed to take the necessary measures foi ascertaining and securing, by due course of law, such sums as shouk be due to the public from Mr. Alex, ander Davison, in consequence ol the transactions disclosed in the third report of the commissioners ol military inquiry. But he had sinct learnt that the business was in the hands of the treasury, with whose proceedings he was un. willing, especially after some communication he had had with his no. ble friend (lord H. Petty), to in. terfere. He .thought it his duty, however, to state the view with which he had taken up the subject. He had considered that, the report having been qiade, it was far from being creditable that it should have been supposed to remain so Ion? on the table unnoticed; and also that it would hare been more desireabhs for the house to have instituted some process against Mr. Alexander Orison, than that it should have been done by the treasury. Nor bad he yet wholly relinquished that opinion, though by his communications with his noble friend, it had been very much weakened.
* Hew«s a purchaser of the most valuable pictures, as well as of estates, and was in ths habit of giving grand and splendid eutertaiunieuts not only to the nobility, but to the Prince of Wales, and others of the Princes.
been * Vide Appendix to the Chronicle.
Lord If. Patty took the present •pportunity of explaining to the house the proceedings of the treasury with regard to the matter in question, which he was not surprized to find bad attracted the notice of his noble friend, and of the house in general. The commissioners of barrack ac. counts had, very properly, com. nionicated to the lords of the trea. sary their opinion, that it was very necessary that Mr. Davison should produce his cash-account with the harrack-master-general. Mr. Dawon, after delays which he endeavoured to excuse, declared his readiness to give such information as to his cash-account, as he could gize; but stated at the same time, that bis cash-account was so mixed with other accounts, that if xsas im. pntrible he could give a clear zieiz of it. It was not competent for lord II. P. to say, in the present stage of the business, whether there was any evidence on which to found a criminal prosecution: but if it should, the attorney and solicitor generals would be instructed by the lords of the treasury to institute proceedings upon it. Mr. Davison had written to the lords of the treasury, stating, that he would produce, in his own defence, an account which would prove satisfac
tory. The commissioners, however, by the direction of the treasury, had called for the cash-account, and directions had been -;iven, and measures taken for the recovery ji the suras due.
Mr. Robson, Feb. 18, moved for certain papers relative to abuses in the barrack department. Four years had elapsed since he had first recommended and pressed an inquiry into the expenditure of that department; and since that period, six millions had been granted for that service in Grtat Britain and two mi'lions for Ireland. If his suggestions had been acted upon, there would have been a saving of two millions for the public, out of the sums paid for the hire of buildings, the repairs of buildings, and the rent of temporary barracks. As an instance of the abuses in the above articles, he mentioned a collusion between a Mr. Page who had become barrack-master, and a Mr. Green, a lawyer at Winchester, stated in the second report of mili. tary inquiry.* In proof of the utility of producing the papers to be moved for, he stated that last year he had confined his inquiry to ono parish or district in the Isle of Wight, and that in this place he had since found that the rents of the temporary barracks were reduced to one half. Darns hired for that purpose, and rated at j*?.2,200, were now lowered to j£.l,100 by means of the motion he had formerly made on that subject.
Lord Howick declared in a very earnest manner, and wished Mr. Robson to be assured, that if his motion could possibly have been complied with, without interfering
with the commissioners already ap- enabled to attend to that branch ol pointed, no one could be more expenditure, as well as to every
ready than he would have been to support such inquiries.—Mr. Kobson's motion being put from the chair, was negatived, without a division.—Mr. Rohson thens(ated,that
other. He concluded with moving. "That a committee be appointed to consider of what sating could be nude by the reduction of useless places, sinecure offices, exorbitant
he should en a future day submit a fees, and every other retrenchment
niolion to the house, that would reach the barrack departments on foreign stations: and he hoped that the Vhariri s abroad, for instance, in the island of Sic!1}*, would uot turn out to be such as formerly existed in the Island of Corsica.
A committee of finance had been appointed in 1797, for investigating
that could be made in the expei.di. ture of the public money."—Lord Folkstone, rose and said, that he had the honour to second die mo. tion.
Lord II. Petty said,that whatever difference of opinion there might ex. ist between himself and the honour. able gentleman as to. the words,
public establishments, and sifting there was a perfect coincidence of
official abuses, as a ground-work for sentiment upon the grounds of the
retrenchments in the national ex- present motion, between the. ho.
J>< nditure. For the same end, nourable gentleman, and not only
Mr. Bide'.ulph, February lOfh, himself, but all his majesty's mini.
moved, in the house of commons, the sicrs. In this they all concurred,
appointment of a similar committee.- that the strictest (economy should be
tireat advantages would result from observed in the management of the
an attentive perusal of the valuable public money; and that all places,
documents of the former committee; offices, and pensions, should be re.
The light which their labour and in. duced to the smallest charge, con.
dustry had thrown on the subject; sistent with the proper administra
and finally from the eventual good tion of the affairs of the nation.
which the application of that infor- But if an union of sentiment pre
Uiaiion. assisted by the resr.lt of the vailed so far, he hoped there would
intermediate time and circumstances also be an union of sentiment upon
rn list in any future inquiry produce, another position, essential to the
His motion would embrace every welfare and stability of government;
branch of the public expenditure, which was this, that in every coun
The powers he proposed to give to try there ought to be rewards for
the committee, were the same as services performed; and that such
those granted to the committee of rewards should form part of the
1787. ' The pension.list was not establishment of all well-regulated
referred to the committee of (hat governments. The only point then
iinv neither would he have" it ex! to be considered was, how far places
pressly referred to the committee and pensions were proper, and in
now proposed. But his motion, ho what instances they had been allow,
said, would I.e. framed in such a ed to run to excess, either through
ikanner that the committee would"be abuse or neglect. That such excess
Where th« comrmnder-in-chicf of oui f irees was general Fax.
did formerly exist, he was perfectly aware ; but he begged leave to re. mind tJ»e house, that during a course of twenty years, it had been a con. stant object to reduce and confine suri places within their proper bosads. From an historical view of this kind of reform, from thocora. ni--i.ni of accounts established in the admiohtration, in which a near sad dear connexion of his (earl of Sbfrlburu*-) b-jre a part, to the pre. sent period, be concluded that great progress had bem made in destroy. ia» offices, ami tint there was a dis. position in the government to pre. rent the unnecessary- renewal of them.
But though little remained to be done, he did not contend that that 'ittle should remain uudone. lie was of opinion, thai with a slight a!Wra*i.>-.i in the words, the motion d*«erT»>d the assent of the house. lie proposed an alteration by which the motion, as amended, stood thus: '• That a select committee be ap. pointed to examine and consider what regulations and checks had been established in order to controul the Several bram-hes of the public •ipenditure in Great Britain and Ireland, and how far the same had been effectual; and what further measures could be adopted for reducing any part of the said expenditure, or diminishing the amount of ta'aries and emoluments, without de'riinent to the public service; and tktt they should report the same, with their observations thereupon, to the house.
Mr. Biddulphvery readily acquiesced in the amendment; between which and the motion he had made, tbertwasso little of substantia! difference; and declared his sincere
satisfaction in the sentiments expressed by the chancellor of the ex. chequer. The sentiments oflordll. Petty, and the other ministers, on the propriety ;:nd necessity of teconomy, were also highly applauded by Mr. Fawkes (in a maiden speech), Mr. Ellison, and Mr. Calvert. The amendment was then agreed to, and the committee nominated, to whom were referred the reports of th« committee of finance, and thecum. missjoners of accounts, and other reports of a'similar nature.
The present age, that is, the last century, wilh'wbot has passed and is passing of this, may, be called the a';:e of tinince. If a traveller from some distant country, altogether unacquainted with our banks and paper.credit, had put the question, what the house of commons were about, when they were so bitsily employed for so long a time, in the consideration of plans of finance; and been told that they were crea. ting money; he woulddoubtlesshava imagined that they were engaged in the business of coinage. The con. ventional value of gold and silver, had been abstracted from these so. lid metals, and transferred to paper, stamped with a promise; so that money had come to be an operation of the mind, an act of faith not a substantial or material, but a metaphy. sioal sort of thing, and so easily multiplied, that bank-notes in this-court, try almost exceeded calculation. And in the beginning of A. D. 179TL so great was the demand on the brink of England for payment of its notes in specie, that the intervention of government was found to be necessary for the preservation of public credit.*
This vast accumulation of circu. .
* Vide Vol. XXXIX. 1797, History of Europe, p. 178.
latirig capital tended no doubt to rouse and enliven every branch of industry and species of adventure, and thereby contributed to the gelieral wealth or clear revenue of the nation. Cut, it is not to be disguised, that it had a most pernicious influence on the condition of the great mass of the poor labouring people. Taxes on taxes without end, for payment of the inte. rest of loans on loans, gave birth to such a profusion of those paper-signs of wealth, as occasioned also a rapid decrease in its value. While idle capitalists and stock-jobbers rolled hi wealth, the lot of the lower classes of the people became harder and harder. The price of provisions and all necessaries became higher and higher: that is, the value of money Became less and less. This fall in the valae of money was rapid, but the rise in the price of labour, particularly agricultural labour, the most valuable of any, ~nd which employs so great a proportion of the population of the country, was very slow.* And no sooner was it Taiscd, if indeed it ever was raised, to a level with the depreciation of
money, on an average proportion wages to necessaries for some yea back, than new inundations of bo metaphysical and metal money d stroyed the balance. The number those who depended on relief from the parishes, had increased to an ala rn ing degree. And the increase in tl poors.rates was an enormous add tion to the enormous taxes paid i government. The reduced state < the common people was observab! to every one, and to those who hap pened to return to London, or an other place, after an absence c twenty or thirty years, extreme!; striking. A very great nnmber e what are called tea-gardens, in th vicinity of the metropolis, were dc serted. The voice of joy and glad Bess was less heard in the villages And even among those who were no inclined to givevent to theirfeelings in murmurs and complaints, then wai an air of patient and sad resignation —These were among the evils flow ing from the funding system, or thai of shifting off on the shoulders o posterity the burthen of the day; which burthen, however, would, ir many instances, have been less, il
* We have no nets of parliament against combining to lower the price of work but many against combining to raise it. In all such disputes, the masters can hold out much longer than the labourers or workmen. A landlord, a farmer, a mastermanufacturer, or merchant, though they did not employ a sipgle labourer or workman, could, generally, live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist n month, anil scarcely any a year, without employment. In the long-run the workman may beak necessary to bis master as his master is to him: but the necessity is not so immediate—we rarely hear, it lias been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those ot workmen. But, whoever imagines on this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everv where in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, r.ot to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere:* most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master Hiiumi;; bis neighbours and equals. We sehlnin indeed hear of this combination, betnur-c it is the usual, and one may say the natural state of things, which r.uborly ever hears of.—Smith's Wealth of Nations, book 1.