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possible to deny; and that it will be kept alive by inquiry, we fully concede to those who assert it; for it is the discovery of corruption, and not of purity, that has produced the ferment: and the same cause which first provoked is most likely to encrease it. But are not the ebullitions of anger preferable to the gloom of despair? From a prosecuted inquiry, what can ensue but the detection of offenders? From a stifled one, nothing but the indiscriminate confusion of the innocent and guilty. It has been said, that such a Committee as that which was moved for is unprecedented. Are not the grounds of suspicion unprecedented? Who would have ever thought of such discoveries as have been recently brought to light? When was it ever declared by a resolution of the Body Corporate of London, that a variety of abuses discovered, formed only a part of a wicked and corrupt "system long acted upon;"" that the management of public affairs was in the "hands of the greatest pensioners and re"versionists in the kingdom:" "that a pernicious influence existed, corrupting "and undermining the free principles of "the British Constitution." Let any man look at the important place which the proceedings of that Body occupy in the pages of even our most compendious histories, and then let him say whether such a resolution ought to be passed by unheeded.

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Cargoes under their care, and to manage, sell, and dispose of the same according to such Instructions as they should from time to time receive from the King in Council."-The Lords of the Privy Council in their Instructions dated 13 June 1795, direct the Commissioners generally as to the conduct of their transactions, and require them to keep minutes of all their proceedings, and to “ keep accounts in such form as the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury shall direct or approve." No instructions appear to have proceeded from the Board of Treasury, and the Commissioners represent themselves to have undertaken their office, without having come to any understanding with any branch of the government respecting the manner of deriving their Compensation for their Services, or the amount of it. They state, that they were charged with the investgation of numerous claims to British and neutral property found in the detained and captured vessels, and, in many cases acted in a judicial character in this respect; that they received a separate and special commission to take the management of sundry Dutch vessels brought into Ireland; that they had to make arrangements with the East India Company respecting cargoes directed to be sold by the Company at their own sales; that they had to adjust many complicated accounts with their agents at the outports, and to settle the wages of the officers and crews both of the vessels of which the

REPORT RELATING TO THE DUTCH COM-cargoes were sold by the East India Com


Your Committee, having derived from the Minutes of Evidence and Proceedings of the Committees on Public Expenditure of the preceding Sessions referred to them by the House, some material information respecting the establishment and the transactions of the Commissioners for the Sale, Management, and Disposal of Dutch Property, captured or detained on the occasion of the commencement of hostilities with Holland, in consequence of its invasion by the French, have pursued the investigation of that subject, and proceed to report upon it.-The Commissioners, who were five in number, were appointed in 1795 under the authority of the 21st clause of the 35th Geo. 3. c. 80; and their Commission, after reciting in the words of the Act, that the Cargoes of Dutch Ships, detained or brought in, might perish or be greatly injured if some provision was not made respecting the same, authorizes the Commissioners to take such Ships and

pany, and of those which were intrusted altogether to their own management, and that they found the duties of their office to be for some time extremely difficult and laborious. They observe however, that their sales ceased, and their transactions were nearly brought to a close in July 1799, but that the final adjustment of them had been protracted partly by "small sales of remnants not completed till Nov. 1801," partly by some

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property claimed in the Court of Admiralty not adjudged til July 1803," partly by "unsettled accounts with the executor of the late King's Proctor, of which the balance was not paid till Jan. last," but chiefly by an important lawsuit commenced in 1797, which brought inte question property to the amount of abou 180,000l. The suit has within these fer months terminated in their favour, and the Commissioners now expect that in the course of the ensuing summer they shill close their transactions, and deliver


The Charges were £.631,239
Commission charged 88,104


Restitutions to Claim


Grant to Captors

- 117,746

Leaving a net amount of
From which was further to be
deducted on account of less
on ships in debt ('hat is,
on ships the charges on
which exceeded the pro-

Leaving at that time the esti

mated net sum of




- 977,269 -The chief part of the balance now in band is invested in government or other Securities, which run at interest. The sum of 200,000% has been paid at sundry periods to government, and having been Carried to the account of the Consolidated Fund, has been applied to the purposes prescribed by parliament.


their accounts to government.-It appears | government on this question. Under these by a paper dated 29th April 1808, that circumstances they had, in the judgment gross amount of the produce of the of your Committee, no right to approships and of the ships and cargoes sold priate any sums to themselves as compen(of which cargoes your committee per-sation; indeed the terms of their Commisceive that much the larger part was sold sion, already quoted, direct them to disby the East India Company) was pose of the Dutch Property intrusted to them only" according to such Instructions as they should receive from the King in Council," and the Instructions accordingly given, since they merely authorize allowances to crews in payment of wages, do not appear to your Committee in any degree to sanction such application of their funds. The 26th clause of 35 Geo. 3, au1,029,927 | thorizes the payment of " the Expences of the Sales out of the Proceeds," but the ' term "Expences" cannot, in the judgment of your Committee, be construed to include the payment of remuneration to the Commissioners, since neither the mode nor the amount of it had been sanctioned by the government.-It appears, however, that the Commissioners, at early period, proceeded both to determine in the first instance for themselves the rate of compensation due, and also actually to apply it to their own use, intending to make mention of this point only on the final settlement of their affairs, though they have from time to time had to communicate with the secretary of the Treasury on other matters, and have transmit- · ted to the Lords of the Privy Council some general statements. The Compensation which they have taken has been a commission of 5 per cent. on the gross produce of the Sales, a subject on which your Committee will offer some further Remarks toward the conclusion of this Report. It has been charged on the princi ple of a mercantile transaction; but it is here observable, that they have deviated from the custom of merchants, by taking large sums for commission before they had either received or paid over the whole net proceeds of the cargoes, on the gross produce of which the commission was charged, and also before they had rendered up their accounts--Your committee deem it necessary to animadvert on the length of time which has been suffered to elapse without rendering any regular accounts, and without their being called for by the government.-The chief object of examination in such cases is the detec-* tion and rectification of errors, and the recovery of sums improperly withheld from the public; but when any considerable period has passed, the elucidation of accounts is rendered difficult, as your Committee

Your Committee now proceed to offer some Observations on a variety of points to which their attention has been called, referring to the Appendix for a more detailed account of some of the circumstances which they shall notice.-It has been already mentioned, that no agreement in respect to the mode or amount of remuneration was made at the time when the Commissioners were appointed. The difficulty of ascertaining beforehand the degree of trouble to be incurred, and the nature of the duties to be performed, may form, in some cases, a sufficient motive for suspending the determination of both the amount and manner of an allowance. But no circumstances have appeared which furnish a justification of the delay of no less than 14 years, which in this instance has taken place. It belonged to the government, after the lapse of a moderate period, to take up the consideraation of the remuneration due to the Commissioners, with a view to its being submitted to parliament; and when the subject had manifestly escaped attention, the Commissioners ought to have given notice of the omission. But they have to this day held no communication with any branch of the

have experienced in the course of the pre- | commissioners would, in pursuance of this sent investigation, and the recovery of clause, have been kept solely at the Bank, money becomes a measure of harshness. but they find that it was during the first The Commissioner, on whom the Finan- year lodged only with a private banker, cial Department is said to have devolved, and that five private bankers have been is lately dead: and the want of recollec- occasionally employed, each of the comtion observable in many parts of the an- missioners having recommended that a nexed Evidence, is a further exemplifi- temporary account should be opened with cation of the inconvenience resulting from the banker with whom he was individualthe long delay which has taken connected. The clause does not apYour Committee called for a copy of such pear to have escaped the attention of the Statements of the transactions of the Com- Commissioners; but it is stated in the evimissioners as had from time to time been dence, that they understood it to apply, delivered by them to the Board of Trea- not to all the proceeds of their sales as sury. The chief paper furnished in return they arose, but to the surplus of the prois dated 20th July 1796, being the copy ceeds above the sums expected by them of a Report presented to the Privy Coun- to be wanted for charges and current paycil, which was evidently furnished rather ments. They have retained a large bawith a view of shewing the sum then lance of cash for these purposes, and they deemed likely to accrue from the Sale of represent that they were obliged to do Dutch Property, than of submitting the this, because otherwise an order of his transactions of the Commissioners to exa- Majesty in council for a supply of cash, mination. It is observable that although would from time to time have been necesin this Report, which is in a great mea- sary, the money paid into the Bank under sure an estimate, the total amount of the the direction of the Act being no longer charges incurred is given, and several par- subject to the call of the Commissioners. ticulars composing them are specified, no They further state, that being authorized mention of Commission is made, though it by the 23d clause of the 35 Geo. 3, c. was undoubtly an item at that time suffi- 80. to restore all goods which should be ciently large to have been included in the proved to belong to neutrals, and having enumeration; for under this head, the sum sold most of such goods before the deciof 25,000l. had been then divided. This sion of the claims, they deemed it necesomission might lead to a supposition that sary to retain cash sufficient for this purno commission had been taken.-In the pose.-Your Committee nevertheless cancase of successive sales of a similar kind not approve of the construction which the made by merchants acting as factors, it is Commissioners have given to the law. the custom to make up separate account- Their payments into the Bank appear to sales of the several cargoes, until the deli- have been large payments made with a very of which the charge of commission is view to their immediate transfer from delayed, and also to render an annual ac- thence into the Exchequer; but the terms count current, detailing all the receipts used in the Act are, that the proceeds, and payments of the year. If the trans- after payment of the duty and expences of actions of the Commissioners are to be sale, were to be paid into the Bank," and considered as of a mercantile nature, the remain there ;" an expression which impublic ought not to be without the benefit plies, that the cash was not merely to pass of those checks upon the conduct of their through the Bank in its way to the Exagents which have been generally esta- chequer, but was to be lodged in the Bank blished among Merchants.-The act au- as a place of safe custody, in order to await thorizing the appointment of the Commis- the direction of the Privy Council. The sioners, contains a clause" requiring" that legislature, however, seems not to have they shall "cause the proceeds of their anticipated the circumstance of certain "Sales," after "payment of the duties and sums being necessary to be withdrawn "the expences, to be paid "into the from the amount of the proceeds in hand, "Bank of England, there to remain sub-with a view both to the payment of charges "ject to such orders as his Majesty, with "the advice of his Privy Council, may "from time to time think fit to give there"upon," or as the Court of Admiralty may think fit to give in the case of sales made under the authority of that court. Your Committee expected that the cash of the

and to the restitutions of property due to neutrals; and, by not providing very spe cifically or conveniently for these objects, it has afforded some countenance to that interpretation of the law which has taken place.-Your Committee think, that the difficulty which opposed the adoption of a


strict construction of the Act, has been Bank ought now to be considered as conmuch overstated by the Commissioners. Attributing to the liberal fulfilment of the the commencement of their transactions, general conditions of that arrangement, having no money in hand for current pay- and even though not repaid by a speciments, they obtained an Order of Council, fic compensation, as producing some cordirecting £25,000 to be advanced to responding advantages.--The more safe them in order to supply their immediate custody of the public money entrusted to occasions, which sum was to be replaced the Commissioners, is another motive for by the subsequent proceeds of sales. They lodging it in the Bank. Your Committee might afterwards have obtained succes- conceive, that in the case of any loss sive Orders of Council for similar pur- arising out of the confidence which the poses, as well as for the satisfaction of Commissioners have placed in private claimants, without any great inconveni- banks (an event, in the present high state ence; and in this case the lords of the of credit, admitted to be extremely imPrivy Council would have had the oppor- probable) the Commissioners would have tunity of exercising their judgment as to been personally responsible. There is a the amount of the money proper to be third reason for this preference of the Bank placed at the disposal of the Commissioners. of England, which is not less important. A less objectionable mode of proceeding, The Bank makes no allowance of interest, though not conformable to the Act, would and shews no species of favour to the indihave been to keep two accounts with the vidual who places in it a considerable baBank; the one, an account of money paid lance of cash. The public accountants, in under the Act, and consequently sub- who keep cash in the Bank, are therefore ject only to the Orders of the king in under no temptation to render their baCouncil; the other a separate account, lances unnecessarily large, and are likely subject to the controul of the Commission- not to fail in the punctuality of their payers. This expedient was resorted to after ments into the Exchequer.-Your Comthe first twelve months, but there was still mittee have next to notice the too great no relinquishment of the practice of keep- magnitude of the balances of cash which aping a large balance with private bankers. pear in the cash-book of the CommissionOn the supposition of any uncertainty as to ers, especially during a large part of the the construction of the Act, the subject two first years, a subject not unconnectought to have been distinctly submitted ed with the preceding observations.--to the lords of the Privy Council in pur- The paper in the Appendix shews the basuance of their instructions, which had di- lance to have been, at the end of Oct. rected an application to themselves" in 1795, about 100,000/. and to have gradualall cases of doubt or difficulty."-Yourly risen by the end of April 1796, to above Committee are further of opinion, that 200,000l. between which period and the if the Act had been silent on this topic, end of May 1797 it fell to about 160,000l. the Commissioners ought to have lodged It fluctuated between about 80 and 120,000 their cash in the Bank of England, and during the next four years, and between with a view to future cases they think 50 and 70,000 during almost the whole that it may be useful to suggest the fol- succeeding period.-Your committee have lowing general Reasons:-First, The pub- learnt by their inspection of the minutelic have an interest in thus preferring the book of the commissioners, that on the 25th Bank, which is nearly similar to that which Feb. 1796, information was asked on the the Commissioners may individually be part of Mr. Pitt, whether any and what supposed to have had in favouring their sum then in hand arising from the disposal respective bankers. Indeed, since the of Dutch property, could be paid into the Report on the Bank of England, made by exchequer for the service of the current the former Committee on Public Expen- year; and that the Commissioners replied, diture, in which the average amount of that no payment of consequence into the the government balances in the Bank was Bank according to the act of parliament stated, that Corporation has consented to could be made, unless the Treasury should make some compensation for benefit of this first move the lords of the Privy Council kind, by affording to the public the loan to direct the India Company to pay a sum of a considerable sum without interest. A (amounting to about 118,000l.) then due general intention of employing the Bank from the Company to the Commissioners. of England as the banker of the public,At the time of this application, the bawas then professed; and there can be no lance in hand, the amount of which appears doubt that every preference shewn to the not to have been stated to the Treasury,


fund, supposing a proper understanding on this subject to have subsisted between the Commissioners, the government, and the East India Company, might have been convertible to the purpose of supplying the Commissioners with the means of meeting some of the demands coming unexpectedly upon them. It is therefore on the whole presumable, that at the time of the application in question, a further augmentation of the large balance already in hand, rather than a diminution of it, was reasonably to be expected.-Your Committee cannot contemplate the magnitude of the balances as they appear in the cash book of the Commissioners, without expressing an opinion, that (supposing it allowable for the Commissioners to adopt that construction of the Act which they have given to it) these balances ought to have been made productive by investing a very large proportion of them in Exchequer bills for the benefit of the public. Probably not less than between 40 and 50,000l. would have accrued in the way of interest from a due attention to economy on the part of the Commissioners in this particular, and the employment of the chief part of their large cash for such a purpose would have constituted a much better apology than has been offered by them for withholding from the Bank the sums which the Act, according to the strict construction of it, required to be paid into it, and would unquestionably have been the most convenient arrange ment.-In the year 1799, a sum of 27,000l. due to captors, was turned to this use, which, through the accumulation of interest, amounted to 38,5537. at the time when it was paid; and a sum of about 33,000l. has been obtained for interest on the balances in the hands of the East India Company.-It has indeed been discovered in the progress of these inquiries, that the Commissioners have availed themselves of the opportunity so obviously af forded them of rendering their balances productive, but that they employed them, during the years which preceded the com

was about 190,000l. and it was never so, low as 150,000l. in the course of the next 15 months, a balance apparently much more than sufficient to allow of a payment of 50,000l. (the sum usually transferred at one time) into the Bank under the Act. The Commissioners state to your Committee, that demands upon them to the amount of not less than about 260,000l. were then outstanding; but this sum must obviously comprize the payments which were to be expected in a long succeeding period, for all the actual payments of the following 16 months (if a sum of 50,000l. paid to government on the 30th June 1796, and of 40,000l. transferred on 31st Dec. 1796 to the Commissioners, on account of commission, and of about 49,000l. paid to captors, which had been previously received from the East India Company for that purpose within the same period, are excepted) amounted to only about 143,000l. according to a statement of the Commissioners. These payments are undoubtedly no exact or very sure criterion of the sum which might fairly be considered on the 25th Feb. 1796, as likely to be wanted. They however furnish a strong presumption on the subject, and the circumstance of the 50,000l. just mentioned having been afforded to government, besides 40,000l. to the Commissioners, a few months after the 25th Feb. 1796, without producing a reduction of the balance below 150,000l. affords additional reason for thinking that there was no suflicient ground for objecting to make a payment into the Exchequer as desired. It is further observable, that the Commissioners in their statement on this subject to your Committee, omit to mention the sums which in Feb. 1796, they might expect to receive. The sums actually received in the first fifteen of the above-mentioned sixteen months, (exclusive of the 49,000l. which were both received from the East India Company, and paid over to captors as already stated) appear by a paper called for by your Committee, to have been more than equal to the sum paid in the corresponding period, if the before men-pletion of their sales, entirely with a view tioned payments of 50,000l. to government and 40,000l. to the Commissioners are included. It is moreover observable, that a sum of from 86,000l. to 665,000l. (which in conformity to a clause in 35 Geo. 3. ch. 80. was gathering interest at 4 per cent.) lay in the hands of the East India Company from the beginning of March 1796 to March 1798, being the produce of sales made by them from time to time on account of the Commissioners, a part of which

to their own emolument. They have invested a part of them in Exchequer bills, a part in India bonds, and a small part in the very exceptionable article of bills of exchange on private individuals, which they have discounted.-No minute was made of any Resolution of the Board to employ any part of the cash in hand in this manner, and no proof of such employment of it appears among the receipts and payments of the cash book; the balances

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