Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers, Volume 5, 1742-1745. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1903.
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The various introductions to the volumes of the present Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers (as distinct from the preceding Calendar of Treasury Papers merely) have been devoted exclusively to the elucidation of various points of Treasury routine or method in the 18th century. This plan has been adopted in the conviction that such elucidation is a condition precedent to the proper understanding of the material contained in these volumes, and to its proper co-ordination with such other historical material as has hitherto been accessible to the constitutional historian. Up to the present, writers on the later periods of English constitutional history have been strangely shy of inquiring into the growth of the system of departmental administration in this country. This attitude has been dictated partly by a sentiment that the study of such a subject is at bottom only a study of mechanism, and partly also by the inaccessibility of material. But the requisite material is now being gradually made accessible, and when once such material has been brought into its true light, its true historical perspective, it will be found to be not merely mechanical or technical in its nature, but of as true importance for the student of English constitutional history as is any of that legal or parliamentary material to which attention has been hitherto almost entirely confined.
Proceeding on this conviction, the introductions to Vols. I., III. and TV. of this Calendar have accordingly been directed to the examination of Treasury method so far as relates to its one main executive function, viz. the issue of money out of the national Exchequer. This question has a double aspect in the 18th century. (1) As regards the ordinary constitutional safeguards by which the issue of money was regulated, viz. the many jealously-guarded forms which attended the issue of Privy Seats and Money Warrants. This is entirely a question of official routine, but in itself it involves a long list and still unwritten chapter of English History. (2) As regards the various really illicit or illegal ways in which such constitutional safeguards could be in effect evaded by the King himself or by a powerful minister, viz. by the channels of the secret service, pensions and bounty lists, special services, Ambassadorial extras and so-called crown law expenses. I will only refer the reader to the above introductions for these points, and need not recapitulate further save to add that the conclusions already arrived at are to be taken as referring to the period up to 1740—practically, that is to say, to Walpole's administration. With the close of Walpole's administration, and as a consequence, doubtless, of the appointment of the Secret Committee to inquire into his administration, there is a notable change in more than one respect traceable in the Treasury records. The total of the issues under the heads of secret service, special services, and of issues to the Solicitor of the Treasury for so-called crown law costs and charges becomes appreciably less. The student can work this result out for himself by means of the index to the present volume, where these items are brought comprehensively together under those respective heads. If his conclusion confirms mine, the result can only be described as a distinct step forward in the path of constitutional government. He will certainly find the result (such as it is) generally confirmed by a perusal of the journals of the House of Commons for the period subsequent to the appointment of the Secret Committee.
On the whole of this portion of the subject it will be worth the reader's while to compare the conclusions advanced as above with those embodied in the two interim reports of the Secret Committee in May and June, 1742. (Commons Journals XXIV. pp. 224–7, 289–331.)
Proceeding on these lines, I wish in the present introduction to attack the exceedingly difficult problem presented by that other side of Treasury routine in the 18th century, viz. its control over the preparation of the national estimates. This may be roughly described as the administrative side of Treasury work, for the sake of distinguishing it from money issue control functions of the Treasury which I have chosen, equally roughly, to describe as its executive function.
It need hardly be premised at the outset that this examination relates entirely and solely to the historical material contained in the Treasury records themselves, that is, to the material printed in the present Calendar. If the conclusions reached come as a shock to the historical student, he must be left to examine them for himself in the light of whatever other historical material he can bring to bear upon them. It is my business only to show him the real nature and import of the evidence of these Treasury records and to leave him to co-ordinate such evidence for himself.
The Army Estimates.
In the ordinary way the demand for the preparation of the national estimates, in order to their being presented to the House of Commons, was sent out from the Treasury towards the close of the year. (fn. 1) It was addressed to only four offices, viz. those of the Paymaster General of the Forces, the Secretary at War, the Master General of the Ordnance and the Treasurer of the Navy. On p. 92 of the present volume will be found a Treasury minute as follows:—“Wrote letters as usual to the several public offices to prepare the estimates to be laid before the House.”
The phrase here employed ‘the several public offices’ is to be understood as relating only to the four offices just named. This is proved by the terms of the letter which the Secretary of the Treasury wrote in obedience to the said minute (see it on the same page), and generally by the wider fact that nowhere in the Treasury records is there any trace of any autumnal demand for estimates being addressed by the Treasury to any other than the four offices or officers thus enumerated.
As far as this Calendar is concerned it will be found that in the matter of estimates the reference to the three offices of the Paymaster General, the Secretary at War, and the Master General of the Ordnance really resolved itself into a single reference to the Secretary at War. He presented estimates on behalf of all three, and accordingly the Army estimates always include the Ordnance (land force) estimates.
The circular letter from the Treasury, therefore, meant in reality a demand for only the Army and Navy estimates from the Secretary at War and the Treasurer of the Navy respectively.
Only the Secretary at War appears in the Treasury records as personally attending at the Treasury with his estimates:—
P. 94 (November 23). “The Secretary at War comes in but his estimate not being ready he is to attend again.”
P. 463 (March 13). “The Secretary at War attends with estimates for 1744, and with accounts of the extras in Flanders for 1742 and 1743, and in Great Britain for 1743.”
P. 657 (January 8). “Mr. Lloyd from the Secretary at War attends my Lords with estimates for 1745.”
P. 726 (Oct. 24). “The Secretary at War attends my Lords and delivers two estimates for 1746, the one the charge of the Guards and Garrisons, the other of the 10 regiments of Marines.”
The estimates themselves were received at the Treasury usually in the course of November but sometimes as late as March.
These matters of detail are, however, unimportant. The main question is how did the Treasury treat the estimates when they got them? Unfortunately the Treasury Minute Book is so brief in the form of its entries that it affords very little evidence as to a discussion of them.
But as far as the estimates for the Forces and the Ordnance are concerned the draft forms themselves have been preserved among the Treasury Board Papers, and when closely examined they show ample signs of a reduction which must have been performed in the Treasury Office itself or under pressure from the Treasury.
Take for instance the estimates for 1742, calendared on p. 18 of the present volume.
The item for the Guards, Garrisons and Land Forces in Great Britain is presented in two forms.
The form first presented shows a total of 1,211,200l. 15s. 10d. In the second and final form of the estimate this item is reduced to 1,004,947l. 0s. 10d. by means of striking out the cost of the land forces and marines of the American expedition. It was this final and amended form that was presented to the House of Commons on the 19th of January, 1741–2, (fn. 2) and was voted on the 22nd February. (fn. 3) On the same dates a separate estimate for 10 regiments of marines was presented and voted with a total of 206,253l. 15s. 0d. As this represents the amount of reduction effected in the Treasury as above, it would appear that the change was only one of arrangement, of book-keeping so to say.
In the succeeding item, in the same estimates on p. 18, that of the charge of the forces in the Plantations, Minorca and Gibraltar, the form first presented to the Treasury showed a total of 266,160l, 1s. 5½d. The second form presented and finally adopted by the Treasury showed a total of 266,616l. 6s. 5½d., and this was the total which was presented to the House and finally voted by it. (fn. 4)
In the remaining items of the estimates of 1742 no change appears to have been made. In the form in which they were received from the Secretary at War they were voted by the House. (fn. 5)
The estimates for the succeeding year 1743, on p. 244, are more instructive. As first presented the item for the Ordnance showed a total of 284,641l. 2s. 2½d. In its second and final form this item was reduced to 244,686l. 0s. 7d. And as to this item there is direct evidence that the reduction was the result of pressure from the Treasury.
P. 96 (Nov. 30, 1742). “The estimate read for the ordinary expense in the Office of Ordnance, 1743, and the exceedings there, 1742. Copies to be made for my Lords.”
P. 98 (Dec. 7, 1742). “General Wade and other principal officers of the Ordnance called in, and the estimate delivered by them for the Ordnance, land service, 1743, is read, amounting for the ordinary service, 1743, and for the exceedings, 1742, to 284,641l. 2s. 2½d. My Lords desire them to reconsider their estimate and see where any reduction can be made in it.”
P. 99 (Dec. 9, 1742). “General Wade called in and told by my Lords that they agree to the estimate of the Ordnance now delivered in with the reduction of 5,662l. 0s. 1½d. in the article of 15,662l. 0s. 1½d. for ordnance and stores for Minorca, and of 34,293l. 1s. 6d. in that for ordnance sent to the Austrian Netherlands.”
In this reduced form the estimate was delivered to the House in December and voted by it in January without alteration. (fn. 6)
Similarly the estimate of the charge of the Guards, Garrisons and Land Forces for 1743 shows signs of revision. The draft estimates exist in three forms, the form first delivered in showing a total of 565,543l. 5s. 0d., the second form showing a total of 554,789l. 7s. 1d., and the third and final form showing a total of 647,862l. 5s. 10d. It was this final form which was delivered in to the House and actually voted by it. (fn. 7) There is, however, no evidence to show whether these successive revisions originated with the Secretary at War, or with the King himself or with the Treasury.
Exactly the same remark applies to the revision of the item of the charge for the forces in Flanders (item h. on p. 224). The third and final form of the estimate giving a total of 534,763l. 5s. 0d. is that which was delivered to the House and voted by it. The difference between this final form of the estimate and the two preceding draft forms relates only to the three items of General and Staff Officers, Officers of the Hospital, and Contingencies. And the increases under the latter two of these heads may be possibly covered in part by the Treasury minute of 1742, Novr. 23 (p. 94.) (fn. 8)
“A memorial read from the Paymaster General of the Forces, with a copy of a paper, entered in extenso, received by him from his deputy in Flanders, and signed by the Earl of Stair, containing a demand from said Earl of 85,000l. as necessary to be provided immediately for the use of His Majesty's troops under said Stair's command, in their intended march, viz. 50,000l. for two months' subsistence from 1742, Dec. 24; 30,000l. for concontingencies “in case there should be a necessity for erecting magazines of forage, etc., in the different places where the army may be quartered during this winter, or the expenses that may be necessary on their march”; and 5,000l. for hospital. “As these are not certain expenses the money may not be made use of, but I think it will be very imprudent to begin our intended march without acquainting the ministers, that provision may be made accordingly. The above is my opinion.—Stair.”
“The services aforegoing seeming to my Lords to be such as will be necessary, they recommend it to Mr. Pelham, and desire him to make everything as easy to my Lord Stair as is consistent with the other services under his care of payment.”
The only other instance which is traceable in the present volume of a revision of army estimates is contained on p. 462. In the estimates for 1744, there given, the charge of the General and Staff Officers in Flanders has been reduced from 39,751l. 0s. 5½d. in its first form to 37,703l. 17s. 7¼d. in its final form, and in this final form it was presented to the House and voted. (fn. 9)
Much light is thrown upon the Treasury system of treating Army estimates by the following paper, which is preserved among the Treasury Board Papers. It shows that these estimates were subject to scrutiny as a preparatory step to being discussed by the Treasury. Unfortunately I cannot say whether the paper emanates from the Auditors of Imprests, the Comptrollers of Army Accounts, or from a Treasury official, specially told off—let us say—for the work of critically examining Army estimates.
Observations on the Establishments for Guards and Garrisons, Flanders, Marines, Minorca, Plantations and an Hospital for the Year 1743.
(1) Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain:—
The sum voted in the estimate exceeds the sum of the establishment [by] 12,000l. on the head of General and Staff Officers, and how this exceeding in the estimate arises does not appear. The rest of the establishment agrees exactly in the total with the sum voted. But in the particulars there is a small variation by reason that the contingencies upon account in the establishment fall short of the sum voted [by] 169l. 5s. 7d., and on the other hand the article of garrisons in the same establishment exceeds the sum voted by the same sum of 169l. 5s. 7d. whereby the totals agree: except the 12,000l. before mentioned short charged for the staff less than the sum voted.
In this establishment 4,320l. is charged for levy money for Col. Bland and Col. Hamilton, which agrees with the sum voted. But as this article hath been paid already on warrants signed by the King and confirmed at the Treasury it seems necessary if this article is inserted that to prevent double payment notice be taken in it that this sum is the same as hath been allowed by those warrants.
There is another objection to this article as it stands on the establishment, which is that the warrants direct this 4,320l. to be paid without deduction And yet in the establishment it is made liable to pay the deduction, which must embarrass the Paymaster's accompts, because the establishment is dated four months after the warrants for paying the money.
This establishment agrees with the same particulars in last year's establishment in all the articles except the following, wherein this year's establishment exceeds the former as follows, viz.:—
An additional surgeon's mate and Quarter Master to each regiment of Foot Guards, amounting for the three regiments per annum to 355l. 17s. 6d., which was occasioned by a battalion out of each regiment being sent to Flanders.
(2) Establishment of an Hospital for 123 days in the year 1742:—
This establishment amounts to 492l., which sum was voted this year by Parliament for that service under the head of services incurred last year and not provided for by Parliament. But the like establishment having been signed last year by the King, which remains at the Treasury, it will be necessary to cancell the former if this new establishment is signed.
(3) Establishment for the Forces in Flanders in 1743:—
This agrees with the sum voted by Parliament, and being also examined and compared with what is left out this year from the establishment in Great Britain for last year, and with last year's establishment of the Irish Regiments and contingencies and staff officers in Flanders agrees with the same in all particulars; except the following, wherein this establishment exceeds those of the former year, viz. one Major General, one aide de camp, one Major of Brigade, and one Waggon Master General, all added to the staff officers, amounting for one year to 1,225l.
There is also added to the staff a surgeon to the Commander in Chief at 10s. per diem, which officer was last year inserted in an additional establishment for an hospital, but was objected to as not being found in any establishment in Queen Anne's warr, and is now taken out of the Hospital Establishment and added to the staff officers as aforesaid.
Forage and waggon money amounting to 17,192l. agrees with the sum voted this year, but [there is] no such article in the establishment of last year, that service having been paid last year by services incurred and not provided for. Last year the establishments for Hospitals were separate; this year they are contained in the establishment of the forces in Flanders and amount per annum to 3,056l. 17s. 6d., being the same sums as were contained in the two establishments for Hospitals last year; of which only one was countersigned as aforementioned.
(4) Plantations, Minorca and Marines:—
These three establishments agree with the sums voted and are in all particulars the same as those of last year. (fn. 10)
The few instances enumerated above, together with this paper of observations, constitute the whole of the evidence discoverable in the present volume of any revision of estimates on their way from the department concerned through the Treasury and before they reached the House of Commons. And even in these few instances it will not have escaped notice that only one case testifies distinctly to any really decisive or determining influence on the part of the Treasury Board. For anything we know the other alterations of estimates may have originated outside the Treasury with the King himself or with the Secretary at War. But at any rate it seems clear on the whole showing that the Treasury had certain powers of revision or some voice in the final determining of the yearly estimates for the army and that they exercised such power. And this general conclusion is confirmed by the express wording of an entry on pp. 56–7 infra.
“The answer read from Mr. Sohlenthal, the Danish minister, to a writing delivered to him from the Treasury by Sir William Yonge relating to the levy money for the Danish troops. My Lords agree to the establishments as they now stand. Sir William Yonge to carry them to the King for his signature.”
So much for the mere question of the yearly estimates for the army.
Behind this question of the yearly estimates, however, there lies another further question, and one which, as it happens, brings out more clearly the essential weakness of the regulative power of the Treasury in the middle of the 18th century, viz. the question as to the extent of the direct initiative authority of the King himself in the formation of military establishments. There are many evidences in the Treasury records of the extent and decisive nature of this authority on the part of the King. The usual method of filling up the English establishment of the forces was to transfer regiments or portions of regiments from the Irish to the English establishment, and then to issue warrants for the filling up of the Irish establishment by means of augmentations. All these warrants for augmentations originated with the King. See for instance the warrants on pp. 78, 99, 729. Their usual form is that of a warrant under the royal sign manual, countersigned by the Treasury Lords. But in some instances, not a few (see one on p. 492), the form is that of a sign manual, countersigned by the Secretary at War, and merely attested by the Treasury Lords with the words “We have been made acquainted with this warrant.”
If we may rely absolutely upon the forms of the entries in the Journals of the House of Commons it will be further deduced that the estimates for such augmentations went direct from the hands of the King through the Secretary at War to the House, and that they were not forwarded to the Treasury as an intermediary at all.
(fn. 11) 26 April, 1742. “Mr. Secretary at War by His Majesty's command presented to the House an estimate of the charge of one regiment of Horse, two regiments of Dragoons and four Regiments of foot transferred from the Irish to the English establishment for the year 1742.”
And the title of the said estimate was read (here follows the estimate).
Ordered:—That the said estimate do lie upon the table to be perused by the members of the House.
On the following day this estimate was referred to the Committee of Supply and two days later the House voted on a division a sum of 74,192l. 5s. 4d. for defraying this charge. (fn. 12)
Such an entry points to several conclusions:—
(1) By such a method of procedure the King could effect an increase in the establishment of the forces outside the annual estimates for the forces.
(2) By such a method of procedure the King could escape any interference from the Treasury. He first of all effected the augmentation by means of his own warrant, i.e. practically mero motu, then, going clean over the heads of the Treasury, sent to the Commons by means of the Secretary at War (who sat in the House as a member) a demand for money to support the augmentation. All that then remained was to engineer the vote of supply, and that was easy.
It will be noticed that the Treasury records for this period contain no reference to this transaction, proving conclusively how completely they had been passed over in it.
Similarly all the warrants for payments arising out of these augmentations (viz. for levy money, accoutrements, &c.) originated with the King and are entered in the King's Warrant Book, as are also the warrants for the payment of the garrison in Gibraltar, for the extra allowances of forage and camp necessaries for the officers serving in Flanders, and for the drugs for the various army hospitals abroad.
(P. 314.) “All the warrants, countersigned by the Secretary of War, for paying the apothecary's bills have been payable by the Paymaster General of the Forces out of any money that should come into his hands for this use, but no mention is made of contingencies. The method for some years past hath been for the Secretary at War to countersign the warrants and the Lords of the Treasury to underwrite that they have been made acquainted therewith.”
But we have other and more direct evidence even than this:—
P. 488. June 14, 1744. “The Secretary at War being present, the Chancellor of the Exchequer acquainted him of having seen a proposal of the Earl of Stair about the augmentation of the troops, and recommended to him the going to the said Earl and taking the King's direction.”
More, decisive still is the memorandum inserted at the foot of the sets of estimates for 1743:—
P. 224. “N.B.—All these establishments are prepared for the King's hands, and if not signed by the King himself must be altered in many particulars.”
The only discoverable trace of any attempt on the part of the Treasury to call in question the executive power of the King in the formation or determination of military establishments is contained in the following entry:—
P. 732. “The Paymaster General of the Forces attended again with a letter to him from the Secretary at War signifying the King's pleasure for the issuing of 61 days' subsist for an augmentation of one sergeant, one corporal and 29 privates per company to the three regiments of Foot Guards. My Lords can give no orders to the Paymaster to issue money for such subsist, they having no regular knowledge of this augmentation or whence it comes. My Lords therefore direct the Secretary at War to prepare an additional establishment for this augmentation, with the date of commencement.”
P. 734. “Mr. Secretary at War delivered the estimate for the three regiments of Foot Guards.”
P. 735. “My Lords upon looking over the establishment of the three regiments of Foot Guards delivered by the Secretary at War, observe that there is an establishment for the three regiments already signed; they therefore direct that the establishment delivered by him should be sent back and that the Secretary at War do prepare an establishment for the drafted men and the late augmentation only.”
But a close attention to the wording of this instructive entry shows that the Treasury did not even timidly venture to question the initiation of the augmentation. The King had ordered it and they did not countermand it or decline to provide for it. All that they required was that a proper establishment of the augmentation should be presented at the Treasury in due form, so that the necessary warrants for payment could be made formally correct, properly dated and duly authorised.
In the same way in which the King could by virtue of his mere prerogative or executive power initiate a military establishment so he could as unquestionably order a military establishment to cease.
P. 506. “Let the Paymaster General of His Majesty's Forces, the Auditors of His Majesty's Imprests, and all others herein concerned take notice that it is his Majesty's pleasure that this establishment (of the General and Staff Officers for South Britain) do cease from the 8th day of August, 1744, except the allowances to the Commander in Chief, his four Aides de Camp and Secretary.”
This summary power or prerogative of the King to initiate or to annul a military establishment raises the further question as to the official part played by the Secretary at War in such transactions and as to the exact weight or authority attaching to his countersignature of the royal warrants. Was it necessary for a royal warrant when countersigned by the Secretary at War to be further formally countersigned by the Treasury Lords? On this point the present volume of Treasury Papers throws instructive light. The following extracts may be read consecutively. They seem on close perusal to indicate that such objection as was raised in the Treasury to the plenary power of the Secretary at War was raised entirely on the score of audit merely, not on the wider score of policy or, as we should now say, of constitutionalism:—
P. 260. “The report from the Auditors of Imprests read on precedents of warrants prepared by the Secretary at War, signed by the King and countersigned by the Secretary at War.”
P. 261. “Report to the Treasury from the Deputy Auditor of Imprests. Have searched into the accompts of the Paymaster General of the Forces in the late war (in the time of Queen Anne) passed in the Auditors' office, to see, as far as the schedules from the War Office transmitted to said Auditors' Office will permit, whether any sums for services mentioned in those schedules have been allowed without being included in some Privy Seal for passing the said accounts. Find that the several payments mentioned in the warrants contained in a list (appended), being part of those schedules, have been allowed by Privy Seals [i.e. in accordance with the ancient, due and proper form of the Exchequer]. But that the sums paid upon the warrants countersigned by the Secretary at War contained in a list (appended), being other part of said schedules, appear to have been allowed [i.e. allowed and passed in the Office of the Auditors of Imprests] by virtue of those warrants in pursuance of treaties with foreign princes and are not included in any Privy Seal. … Conceive that according to the strict rules of the Exchequer all payments made upon warrants signed by the Secretary at War for subsidies payable to foreign princes or for the pay of the troops, for forage, waggon money and other extraordinaries of the war not provided for by establishments or authorised by treaties or other special direction from the Crown will require the authority of Privy Seals, or warrants under the royal sign manual, countersigned by the Treasury for allowing such payments.”
P. 37. “In December, 1702, Charles Fox was appointed Paymaster of the Army in the Low Countries with a patent salary of 10s. a day besides an allowance by sign manual of 1,500l. per an. for himself and 1,630l. per an. for clerks and incidents. The issues were made to Mr. Fox by Privy Seal, to be paid over according to establishments or warrants under the sign manual, but it appears that he generally paid the subsidies due on treaties and several extraordinary expenses upon the emergencies of the war, without waiting for warrants from home: an account whereof was yearly laid by him before the Treasury, which (account) being referred to the Auditors of Imprests and Controllers of the Army Accounts jointly, a Privy Seal afterwards passed, grounded on their report for allowing what appeared to be so paid. Among other articles so allowed there was one of upwards of 30,000l. a year for loss by exchange on moneys remitted according to agreements made with the High Treasurer, with which he is satisfied: and sometimes the accompts were referred to the Auditors of Imprests only. It does not appear that this loss by exchange was inserted in the estimates of the extraordinaries of the war laid before the House of Commons.”
P. 271. “Sir William Yonge, Secretary at War, to John Scrope, Secretary of the Treasury, dated from the War Office, transmitting a memorial presented to the Lords Justices by the Earl of Loudoun relating to the money for baggage and bass horses and forage money for the five regiments lately ordered abroad, and likewise to a demand made by several regiments of Horse and Dragoons for horses lost by accidents in the service. ‘There are already warrants signed by his Majesty and countersigned by me for these services as usual, all of which are in the hands of the respective (regimental) agents. … I am told those delivered to the agents are now lodged at the Treasury in order to be docquetted by their Lordships of the Treasury.’ Transmits a list of warrants referred to in the Earl of Loudoun's memorial, as also a list of other warrants of the like nature signed and countersigned as above “which, if the contingencies respectively are not sufficient, I presume should be docquetted by their Lordships.”
P. 275. “The representation read from the Auditor of Imprests concerning warrants paid by the Paymaster of the Forces in 1740, but not admitted by the Auditor as sufficient vouchers because countersigned only by the Secretary at War. Prepare a warrant to be signed by the Lords Justices for allowing them.”
Pp. 464—5. “Sir William Yonge, Secretary at War, to John Scrope, Secretary of the Treasury, dated from the War Office, returning a memorial of Lieutenant Hodgson, of the late American Regiment, same having reached him on reference (from the Treasury). Returns it without report as it is of a nature which undoubtedly ought to come under the consideration of the Secretary at War [directly, viz.], either upon a memorial to the King or to the Secretary at War, to be laid before the King for his commands thereon, it being of a mere military nature for pay and subsistence for himself and the men under his command, which he alleges has not, as it ought, been paid to him by the Paymaster of the regiment to which he belonged. If the allegations be true and the demand just it ought to be satisfied out of the non-effective money of the aforesaid regiment, a fund which has always been applied by his Majesty's warrant, countersigned by the Secretary at War. I have likewise had an application from all the reduced officers of the said regiment for an allowance equal to half-pay from Midsummer to Xmas last, which ought likewise to be paid out of the non-effective money of the regiment, as was done for the former half-year by warrant of the Lords Justices, countersigned by me, but I am accidentally informed that fund is otherwise disposed of. I must once more desire you would excuse me to their Lordships [of the Treasury] if I decline acting as a referee [i.e. mediately only on reference from the Treasury] in a case which is indisputably within the department of the Secretary at War.”
The italics in the above series of extracts are my own. They will serve to bring out strongly the important executive powers still in the days of Walpole remaining in the King by his prerogative and exercised by him directly through the Secretary at War without regard to the controlling authority of the Treasury. Not only could he initiate military establishments and annul military establishments mero motu; he could also provide for certain classes of payments equally mero motu and without regard to the forms of either the Treasury or the Exchequer.
The Navy Estimates.
So much for the question of the powers of the Treasury in dealing with Army establishments and estimates. When we turn to the parallel subject of the Navy estimates we are at once met with an entirely different state of things. There is not the slightest trace in the Treasury records that the Treasury Board exercised any power or authority whatever over the Naval estimates or establishments; that is to say, of course, during the period covered by the present Calendar. In order to make this portion of the subject clear to the reader it is necessary to explain what was technically meant in the days of Walpole and the Pelhams by the Navy estimates. They were divided into two main classes: (1) estimates for the ordinary of the Navy, (2) estimates for the sea service. The difference consisted in the simple fact that the first head, the Ordinary of the Navy, referred entirely to the Navy in harbour, whilst the second referred to the Navy actually in sea service. The former was technically styled as follows “estimate of the charge of the Navy in harbour with the usual rates and allowances granted by His Majesty to the Admiralty Lords and the principal officers and Commissioners of the Navy and their subordinate officers, ministers, &c.” and the principal items were headed:—
(a) Principal officers and Commissioners of the Navy.
(c) Superannuated sea officers.
(d) Pensions and allowances to flag and other sea officers, to widows of Navy Commissioners and relations of sea officers.
(e) Wages, &c. to officers, &c. of the naval yards, viz. of Chatham, Deptford, Woolwich, Portsmouth, Sheerness and Plymouth.
(f) Wages, &c. to officers, &c. of the outports.
(g) Wages, &c. to officers, &c. of ships lying up.
(h) Harbour victuals.
(i) Harbour ‘moarings.”
(j) Graving and ordinary repairs of ships in harbour and repairs of the docks, wharves, buildings, &c., in the several yards and offices.
(k) Half-pay to flag officers.
(l) Greenwich Hospital.
The second class of Naval estimates concerned the sea service, and comprised the wages, victuals, wear and tear and ordnance for such and such a specified number of men for the fleet for a year of 13 lunar months.
The enormous difference between these two classes of estimates will be seen at a glance when it is stated that whilst the Ordinary of the Navy did not reach a total of 200,000l. the sea service exceeded 2,000,000l. For instance, for the year 1742 the total of the estimate of the Ordinary was 198,756l. 17s. 1d., that of the Sea service was 2,080,000l.
Bearing this striking difference in mind, it is remarkable that whilst there was a formal official routine for the preparation of the estimate of the comparatively small Ordinary there was practically no such official routine for the estimate of the Sea service.
To be explicit. At the opening of the session of Parliament a general resolution invariably passed the House “that a supply be granted to His Majesty.” Immediately upon this resolution certain orders were made in a stereotyped form, as follows:—
Ordered: That an Estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy for the year 1742, with the Half-pay of the Officers of the Navy and Marines, be laid before this House.
Ordered: That an Estimate of the Charge for Guards and Garrisons, and other Land Forces and Marines, for the year 1742, be laid before this House.
Ordered: That an Estimate of the Charge of the Office of Ordnance for Land Service, for the year 1742, be laid before this House.
Ordered: That a List of the Regimental and Warrant Officers, who are to be in half-pay for the year 1742, be laid before this House.
Ordered: That an Estimate be laid before this House of the Charge of the Out-pensioners of Chelsea Hospital, for the year 1742.
Ordered: That an Account of the Services incurred, and not provided for by Parliament, be laid before this House.
Ordered: That an Account be laid before this House, shewing how the monies given for the service of the year One thousand seven hundred and Forty-one have been disposed of, distinguished under the several heads.
Ordered: That an Account be laid before this House, shewing the monies arisen within the respective half-years ending at Lady Day and Michaelmas last, as well of or for the Excess or Surplus of the Fund commonly called the Aggregate Fund, as of or for the Excess or Surplus of the Fund commonly called the South Sea Fund; as also of or for the Excess or Surplus of the Fund commonly called the General Fund. (fn. 13)
These orders took the form of an address to the King asking him to order preparation of these estimates and accounts. The King in his reply invariably formally promised to order them.
In consequence of this series of steps (or often enough in anticipation of them) the Treasury addressed a letter to the Admiralty requesting them to direct the Commissioners of the Navy and the Commissioners of Victualling to prepare the estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy thus called for. (See p. 152.) Sometimes the request from the Treasury was addressed direct to the Navy Commissioners (see p. 787), but I take it that this was distinctly informal. The Treasury letter was a pure formality, for on their side the Admiralty Board acted in anticipation of and without reference to it, and issued their own instructions quite independently to the Navy Board for the preparation of the Estimate.
For instance in the year 1742 the Admiralty Board made the following minute on the 2nd November.
“The Navy Board are to be directed when they have prepared an estimate of the sums they intend to set down in the ordinary estimate of the Navy for the ensuing year for the charge of the harbour moorings and for the charge of the ordinary repairs of His Majesty's ships in harbour and of the docks, wharves buildings, &c., to send the same hither [to the Admiralty] with an exact account of all the particular articles of expense which compose the general sums.” (fn. 14)
Similarly on the 18th of the same month the Admiralty wrote to the Navy Board directing them to cause to be inserted at the end of the ordinary estimate of the Navy the sum of 10,000l. for Greenwich Hospital. And further to cause the sum of 12,000l. to be inserted in the same ordinary for half pay to sea officers unemployed the next year: and further enclosing an account of the number and rates of ships and vessels “which may probably be employed at sea the ensuing year.” (fn. 15)
These orders are therefore prior to the receipt of the letter dated November 20 from the Treasury asking the Admiralty to direct preparation of the estimate (p. 152). It is only subsequently to these said orders and subsequently to the receipt of the Treasury letter that the Admiralty issued the merely formal order to the Navy Board:—
20 November. “The Navy Board are to be directed to prepare the proper estimates to be laid before the Parliament.” (fn. 16)
In the Letter Book of the Secretary of the Admiralty this merely formal annual letter frequently ends with the words: “but that you lay the same before their Lordships [the Admiralty Lords] for their consideration before you transmit them to the Treasury.” (fn. 17)
When they received this estimate from the Navy Board the Admiralty sat down deliberately to revise it themselves without any thought whatever of referring it to the Treasury for revision or of even permitting the Treasury to express an opinion on it:—
8 Jan., 1742–3. “The ordinary estimate of the Navy for the year 1743 came next into consideration, and it being observed that the expense of the ordinary repairs of His Majesty's ships in harbour amounted in their estimate to about 16,000l. more than in that of last year, and the explanations given of it [by the Navy Board] not being satisfactory, it was returned to them to re-consider that article of expense.” (fn. 18)
The Lords of the Admiralty to the Nary Board dated 1740, Nov. 14. (fn. 19)
“You having attended us here last night when we took into consideration your letter of the 12th of September with the several accounts therein inclosed: and it appearing thereby that the articles of disbursements on the head of stationery ware and other contingencies of this office, as also of the Navy [Board] and Treasurer [of the Navy's] office have by a state which you have drawn thereof for 30 years past greatly exceeded the sums demanded for those services in the ordinary estimates of the Navy delivered into Parliament, which estimates we think ought to be stated as near as may be to the real expense: we do therefore hereby desire and direct you to cause the following sums to be charged in the ordinary estimate of the Navy for the year 1741.
|For stationery ware for the Admiralty Office||£600||0||0|
|For parish duty, taxes, firing, postage of letters, lamp and other contingencies for the same office||1,500||0||0|
And you are to set down under the same heads of expense of your own and the [Navy] Treasury officers the respective sums proposed in your letter of the 12th of September.
And whereas it has been usual for the extra clerks allowed to our Secretary to be borne on the ordinary estimate of the Navy in time of war, you are to insert thereon five extra clerks to our Secretary with a salary of 50l. each. You are also to set down therein the sum of 12,000l. for half pay for sea officers for the year 1741. You are to inspect into the accounts of the assistant to the Councellor of the Navy for some years past and see whether any articles have been charged therein which are exorbitant or any that ought not to be charged and to propose to us what sum may be inserted in the ordinary estimate under the head of:—
Disbursements of the Assistants of the Councellor of the Navy in Law suits, prosecuting debtors and other offenders, holding Admiralty Courts, passing Commissions for trials of pirates and other incidental charges.
And it further appearing by your report in the aforesaid letter that from the year 1702 to the year 1716 there was no article inserted in the yearly ordinary estimate of the Navy of the ordinary charge of sick and hurt seamen you are to discontinue the putting the said charge into that estimate, but to defray the same out of money allotted by Parliament for seamen's wages, as was practised during the time aforesaid, that so the whole of that expense may appear under one head.
We send you herewith the number of ships and their rates which will probably be employed at sea next year in order to your framing the said estimate accordingly.”
When at last the estimate was in the form which the Admiralty approved a copy of it was sent to the Treasury. This copy went no further than the Treasury. It was preserved among the Treasury records, and is preserved there to this day. Dispensing entirely with any interference from or any intermediation of the Treasury the Admiralty then presented their estimate directly to the House of Commons through the mouthpiece of one of their own number. For instance, the estimate for the Ordinary for 1742 was presented to the House by Sir Charles Wager. (fn. 20)
On this presentation the House referred it to the Committee of Supply and voted it without alteration. (fn. 21)
Judging therefore from the contents of the records of the Admiralty and of the Navy Board and also from the Journals of the House of Commons it is permissible to conclude that at this period of English history the Admiralty proceeded absolutely independently of the Treasury in the preparation and revision of the estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy, and further that, passing over the head of the Treasury, it presented the estimate directly to the House and secured the vote of supply without the intermediation or the fiat of the Treasury Board at all. Such a conclusion arrived at from these sources is entirely confirmed by the Treasury records themselves. For there is not the slightest trace in the Treasury records of the time of any interference whatever from the Treasury Board in the matter of this particular estimate. There will not be found in the present volume the least reference to any questioning or challenging of this estimate or, on the other hand, to any endorsing or countersigning of it.
So much for the estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy. When we come to the second class of naval estimates, viz. that for the Navy in Sea service, the independent position of the Admiralty becomes even more strongly marked. For in the first place the House of Commons did not call for the estimate of this service, and in the second place the Admiralty do not appear to have presented it even to the House, much less to the Treasury.
The procedure followed in the determination of the estimate of the Sea service of the Navy was as follows:—
(1) The number of men to be employed in the forthcoming year was decided upon by the King in the Privy Council. This determination took the form of an Order in Council requiring estimates to be made in due form for the charge of such and such a number of men.
(2) This order was sent to the Lords of the Admiralty, who sent it on to the Navy Commissioners.
(3) The Navy Board reported to the Admiralty, and the Admiralty reported to the King in Council. And then as a final step notification was made to the House of Commons, and the House voted supply.
The following extracts will illustrate the steps of this procedure:—
The Lords of the Admiralty to the Navy Board.
(15 Oct., 1742.) “His Majesty having been pleased to direct by his Order in Council of yesterday's date that estimates be made in due form of the charge of wages, victuals and wear and tear of 40,000 men to serve in His Majesty's fleet for 13 lunary months commencing from Jan. 1 next, [we] hereby direct you to cause the said estimates to be prepared and transmitted to us forthwith, and that you do consider and send us your opinion at what ports, and in what proportion at each port, you judge it may be most for His Majesty's service that victuals for the said 40,000 men be provided.” (fn. 22)
Hereupon the Navy Board prepared the desired estimate and sent it to the Admiralty, sending at the same time a list of the ports at which the fleet would probably be victualled and the number of men for which provision might have to be made at each port respectively.
20 Oct., 1742. “A report being drawn up in pursuance of their Lordships' [the Admiralty Lords'] order of the 15 instant in relation to the estimates of the charge of wages and victuals, wear and tear of 40,000 men to serve in the fleet for 13 lunary months from 1st January next, let the same be sent to Mr. Corbet [the Secretary of the Admiralty] for their Lordships' information.” (fn. 23)
As the system was worked in those days this second step was little more than a formality, for the custom was to lump the whole charges together into one lump sum per month per man, viz. 4l. a lunar month for each man. Thus if the number of men had been fixed at 40,000 then the estimate was simply and necessarily 40,000 X 4 X 13, or 2,080,000l.
The estimate and scheme thus prepared were reported from the Admiralty to the Privy Council, and after being approved of by the King were practically put into operation even before the House of Commons had voted supply at all.
The Lords of the Admiralty to the Navy Board.
(18 Dec, 1742.) “By order in Council of Oct. 14 last His Majesty declared that timely provision be made of sea victuals for 40,000 men for 13 lunary months for the fleet for the ensuing year. In pursuance thereof we hereby order you to give orders to the Commissioners for Victualling to provide at the several ports as under the said sea victuals from Jan. 1 next, viz.: London for 22,000 men, Portsmouth 9,000 men, Plymouth 4,000 men, Dover 2,000 men, the Plantations 3,000 men. We send you herewith a copy of His Majesty's Order in Council of the 16th inst. approving the estimate of the charge of the said men.” (fn. 24)
As a final step the Admiralty did not present the proposed numbers of the men as a formal estimate to the House. Some informal communication must have been made to the Commons as to the decision of the Privy Council concerning the numbers of men required for the Sea service for the coming year, but what the exact nature of the communication was cannot now be gleaned from the Journals of the House. Whatever form the communication took, or whatever channel it came by, the House took it as a matter of course. It had not called for an estimate of the Sea service, it therefore did not expect one, and, acting without it, it proceeded to debate and vote the complement of men for the Sea service just as if the question had arisen within its own bosom.
Accordingly the vote of the House appears recorded in the following form:—
“Mr. Francis Fane, according to order, reported from the Committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred to consider of the Supply granted to His Majesty, the Resolutions, which the Committee had directed him to report to the House; which he read in his Place; and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk's Table: Where the same were read; and are as followeth; viz.:
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, That Forty thousand Men be employed for the Sea Service for the Year 1742, beginning from the First Day of January, 1741–2.
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, That a Sum, not exceeding Four Pounds per Man per Month, be allowed for maintaining the said Forty thousand Men for Thirteen Months, including the Ordnance for Sea Service.
The said resolutions being severally read a second time, were upon the question severally put thereupon, agreed to by the House.” (fn. 25)
The form of the votes in the House was quite a stereotyped one. It will be found recurring in the same words year after year. The attentive reader will further not have missed the fact that the Admiralty had ordered victuals on account of the service of the year 1742 (i.e. had acted as if a vote of supply had already passed) nearly a month before the House actually voted supply.
In exactly the same way in which it has been already found that the Treasury records take no note of the estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy so also it is the fact that these records take not the slightest note of any estimate of the Sea service of the Navy. The Treasury records are absolutely silent as to it. It therefore appears that the Treasury had not the slightest check upon the Admiralty either in the matter of the estimate of the Ordinary of the Navy or in that of the much more important estimate of the Sea service of the Navy.
The conclusion is a remarkable one, and will serve to illustrate the immensely strong and independent position which the Admiralty held in those days as compared with, say, the War Office.
The question will naturally be asked: What part, then, did the Treasury play at all in the matter of Navy payments? The answer can be given in two words. Simply the part of a bookkeeper. It saw to the regular or timely paying out of the cash necessary for these services. The moment supply had been granted the Treasury opened a credit for the Navy. This generally took the form of an imprest of 1,000,000l. to the Treasurer of the Navy. The step was a pure formality, as no such amount was actually paid over to the Treasurer of the Navy. It was simply a credit to that amount, and against this credit he drew as the services of the Navy required it by making formal application to the Treasury for the issue of specific sums for specific services. On these applications the Treasury ordered warrants for the sums demanded. From the point of view of the Treasury the imprest was a debit item and the separate warrants exhausting the imprest were credit items. From the point of view of the Treasurer of the Navy the terms are of course to be inverted.
The general routine was for the Admiralty to instruct the Navy Board to request the Treasurer of the Navy to present to the Treasury a demand of so much for such and such services.
“A letter of yesterday received directing us to solicite the Lords of the Treasury for money to enable us to pay the ‘Duke’ fireship to the 14th June last and to cause them to be paid accordingly. Write to the Treasurer of the Navy thereon.” (fn. 26)
In the Treasury Minute Book the corresponding transactions appear in the most truncated form, generally as follows:—
“Order for the issue to the Treasurer of the Navy of 164,039l. 7s. 8d. on the heads as in his memorial of the 25th instant.” (fn. 27)
None of the formal memorials from the Treasurer of the Navy to the Treasury have been preserved among the Treasury Board Papers. They must have been sent back or taken back immediately to the Navy Office. Occasionally it will be found that the Treasury did not see their way to issue instanter the whole sum demanded in one of these memorials from the Navy Treasurer, and they would accordingly order a warrant for a smaller amount. This simply means that the Treasury had to keep their eye on the floating balance of cash in the Exchequer, and had to regulate the issues to the public offices accordingly. It does not at all imply that the Treasury had a discretionary power to refuse an application for money from the Navy Treasurer. It had not any power of the kind. The total requirements of the Navy had been fixed by the Admiralty and voted by the House of Commons, and all that the Treasury had to do was to see that the money as required was paid out with due regard to the state of the Exchequer and with due regard to the incidence of the requirements of the other branches of the national service.
The method adopted by the Treasury in order to meet the requirements of the Navy with as little friction as possible was to ask the Navy Board for what they called a scheme of their cash or an approximate forecast of their money demands.
“Write to the Navy Commissioners as usual for an account how they intend to proportion the money granted for the Navy for 1743”(p. 238).
“J. Scrope to the Navy Commissioners to prepare and lay before the Treasury a scheme of the manner in which they propose the remainder of the funds for the Navy, anno 1744, should be issued, the time, where for, what services, and under what heads” (p. 450).
“The Navy Commissioners to John Scrope, dated Navy Office, communicating for the Treasury a scheme of the manner proposed for the issue of the remainder of the funds, 1742, payable to the Navy”(p. 239).
In order to complete this view of the subject it is only necessary to add that annually the House of Commons called for an account of the debt of the Navy. The demand reached the Admiralty through the Treasury, and as a consequence the Admiralty always forward a copy of the account to the Treasury in reply. But the copy that was finally presented to the House was so presented direct from the Admiralty itself and not through the Treasury, (fn. 28) nor can there be found in the Treasury records of this period any trace of a discussion of the Navy debt at the hands of the Treasury Lords.
It may be added finally that the farcical nature of the whole proceedings of voting supply for 40,000 men by the House of Commons is shown by the mere fact that the actual numbers of the men never corresponded with that number. The men employed in 1742 for instance numbered over 46,000.
The Civil Service Estimates.
In the period covered by this Calendar there were no Civil Service Estimates. The whole Civil Service was provided for out of the Civil List, the amount of which was fixed at the commencement of the reign by a species of Parliamentary or ministerial bargaining. Once fixed it was regarded as entirely the property of the King to do with as he and his Treasury Lords thought fit. So that the Civil Service of the country was regarded as in the strictest sense the King's Civil Service. This simple fact accounts for the fate which overtook the Secret Committee appointed to inquire into Walpole's administration. The revengeful purpose of the committee was balked by the determination of the King not to permit any details of his Secret Service expenditure to be divulged to the Committee. The Secret Service was met out of the revenues of the Civil List, and the King held that he could deal as he chose with those revenues up to the total of his allowed income therefrom, and the Secret Committee did not dare to directly challenge the claim. When John Scrope, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the principal channel through which the Secret Service money was paid away, was examined before the Secret Committee he refused to take the oath to answer questions as this money.
“He had laid his case before the King and was authorised to say that the disposal of money issued for secret service by the nature of it requires the utmost secrecy and is accounted for to His Majesty only and therefore His Majesty could not permit him to disclose anything on that subject.”
The sequel is well known. The whole inquiry fell to the ground. (fn. 29)
As the Civil List revenues were thus universally regarded as the property of the King, no such thing as an estimate for the various branches of the Civil Administration of the country was thought of either by the Treasury or the House of Commons. Out of the Civil List the King supported or met the demands of the following branches or heads, which represent the whole Civil Administration of the time:—
(1) The Cofferer of the Household.
(2) The Treasurer of the Chamber.
(3) The Wardrobe.
(4) The Robes.
(5) The Works.
(6) The Royal Stables.
(7) Foreign ministers (comprising the whole ambassadorial service).
(8) Fees and salaries payable at the Exchequer (including salaries of the Secretaries of State and their officers, Ambassadors' ordinaries and extraordinaries, and salaries of Treasury and Exchequer officials of every grade, Customs, Excise, land tax and house duties establishments, post office establishments and judges' salaries, &c).
(9) Pensions and annuities, together with the royal bounty payable to the French Protestants.
(10) Petty bounties.
(11) The establishments of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cumberland, and the four Princesses.
(12) The Band of Gentlemen Pensioners.
(13) The Secret Service of the Secretaries of State and of the Secretary of the Treasury.
(14) The Privy Purse.
(15) Purchase of Crown jewels.
(16) Royal gifts of plate.
Theoretically, as the Civil List revenues were the King's property, he could fix and determine, initiate or terminate, limit, mete and bound any and all of these establishments entirely according to his own mere will. And this is what both the Georges did expressly with particular establishments, viz. the Wardrobe and the Works. For instance, by Article 26 of instructions issued by George I. on the 20th June, 1726 (and adopted by George II. after his accession), the annual expenditure of the Board of Works was limited to 14,400l. Whenever, as happened practically every year, this annual expense was exceeded the Board of Works was exonerated by means of a warrant under the royal sign manual authorising the Auditors of Imprests to pass and allow their accounts notwithstanding the said exceeding.
If the above statement, however, were left standing nakedly it would produce a wrong impression. For in actual practice the King's administration of his Civil List revenues was exercised entirely through the Treasury; and followed the line of the forms which had been evolved through centuries of growth of Exchequer checks and guarantees and routine. This will explain the fact that at almost every meeting of the Treasury Board they are found deciding as to the issues from the Civil List revenues.
But indeed a single pronouncement on this subject is eminently difficult. I only wish to bring out the point that however far the King's direct and personal influence may have been felt or not felt in the administration of his Civil revenues, there was nothing corresponding to the modern conception or practice of Civil Service estimates. The reader of the pages of this Calendar will look in vain for any establishment, say, for the Ambassadorial service. There was neither any fixed establishment for it which would have tied the hands of the King or of the Treasury to a certain definite expenditure, nor was there any yearly estimate for it which would or could have brought it within the cognizance of the House of Commons. It was as much the King's private affair as was the expenditure of the Privy Purse. He could increase or decrease the number or the status of his foreign ambassadors at his will, and he could appoint their remuneration at his will. The same applies to every other of the 17 heads of this Civil List expenditure enumerated above, save and except only for those heads of it in which the King had of his own will laid down and prescribed a limiting total of expenditure.
The general statement thus outlined will explain the extraordinary way in which the Treasury dealt with these various departments of the Civil List expenditure in their money warrants.
There is no apparent discoverable plan on which they proceeded, no normal to which they adhered. For instance, at the commencement of the year an imprest was usually issued to the Cofferer of the Household for 100,000l. for the ordinary and extraordinaries of the Household (p. 388). The actual issues however were ordered seriatim at the Treasury Board meetings for this or that item of royal household expense just as the Cofferer happened to demand them: e.g. for purveyors (p. 230), for quarterly salaries (pp. 236, 283, 318), for the Greencloth (p. 307), and so on.
These orders for issues to the Cofferer took the form only of resolutions at the Treasury Board. No formal money warrants were issued upon them. There is no trace of a single money warrant for any of these separate amounts in either the King's Warrant Book, the Money Book or the Order Book—the three series of volumes which contain all the formal Treasury money warrants. Further than this, no attempt was made at the Treasury to balance these separate issues against the total imprest of 100,000l., nor is there the slighest reference in the Treasury records to any overhauling or auditing of the Cofferer's accounts or to any attempt to make the Cofferer's expenditure conform to a prescribed establishment of expense for the Royal Household. As far as the Treasury alone was concerned the Cofferer of the Household was irresponsible. All that he had to do was, in accordance with the ancient course and method of the Exchequer, to declare and pass his accounts before the Auditors of Imprests.
This practically, therefore, amounts to saying that the Cofferer of the Household was the King's servant, responsible to and directed by him alone in his expenditure, and liable only to the method of passing his accounts, which all the other accomptants in the King's service were liable to; and that his accounts were not subject to any of those regulations in the shape of distinct and separate appropriations which have become a feature of the Civil List since the days of the Civil List Audit Act of 56 Geo. III.
This does not mean that there was not in existence an establishment of the Household according to which salaries, &c., were to be paid. There was such an establishment, and the Cofferer was bound down to it, and his accounts were checked by it in the office of the Auditors of Imprests. Those who are curious can see the establishment set out in full in Chamberlayne's ‘State.’ But as an establishment it fell within the power not of the Treasury but of the King; and in his treatment of that establishment the King was not subject to the modern regulations of distinct and separate appropriations. It could be renewed or reviewed at the commencement of his reign or at any time, entirely according to the King's will and pleasure. For instance, it is well known that on the death of Queen Caroline, George II. out of his affection for her memory took on himself her establishment of servants and pensions and her establishment for Richmond Lodge. From the day of her death they were paid out of the King's Civil List revenues. This was a deliberate and uncontrolled action of the King's will merely. The Treasury had not a word to say in the matter. That is to say, in fine, the various establishments of the Civil List expense fell within the power of the King entirely and not of the Treasury at all. They were his establishments, to renew or review and increase or decrease, to initiate, to apportion or to determine as he thought fit.
In this connexion there is a most important and illuminating passage in the present volume. The packet boat service of the country was under the administration of the Post Office. In consequence of the outbreak of war with France, it became necessary to strengthen the packet boats, and the Postmaster General proposed to the Treasury that they should be put on the footing of strength on which they stood in the wars of Marlborough. But at this point a difficulty emerged. The profits of the Post Office were devoted to the Civil List; they formed a most important branch of the King's Civil List revenues. And the Postmaster's proposal meant so large an increase of expense that it would have wiped out the profit of the Post Office completely and to that extent have diminished the income of the Civil List. Quite naturally the King did not see why he should bear out of what was both practically and theoretically his own private pocket an expenditure which was in every sense a national one. He accordingly declined the proposal. The extract speaks for itself as showing how completely it was accepted as a maxim that the King could deal with the Civil List revenues entirely as his own.
(P. 478.) “Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer acquaints my Lords that he hath laid before His Majesty a representation made to their Lordships by Sir John Eyles [the Postmaster General] concerning the several packet boats ordered by His Majesty to be put on the establishment they were [on] during the last war: and the Lisbon packet boats being also directed to be of 300 tons and 100 men: and that His Majesty observing from an estimate thereto annexed that the same will amount to a very great expense, and much exceed the clear revenues of the Post Office, viz.: to 34,800l. for the present cost of building and furnishing them out to sea, and to 28,940l. 17s. 3d. per an. on account of the French war, is pleased to say that he doth not think it reasonable that he should take upon himself an expense that will so much exceed the branch of revenue which should naturally defray it, and thereby draw a charge on the other branches of the Civil List: that it is His Majesty's opinion that light vessels and quick sailers are the fittest for the carriage of letters, which is the principal intention of packet boats, and that with respect to the merchants my Lords think that what they desire may be answered by the Admiralty's being directed to protect their trade by ships properly stationed and employed for that purpose. This their Lordships order that the Postmaster General be made acquainted with, who are to let them know whether there will be occasion for any such light vessels to be built more than those already employed, and if so, what will be the expense thereof.”
It must of course be understood that the general statement here outlined is an unimpeachable one only so long as the King kept within the limits of his Civil List income. If his Civil List expenditure exceeded his income from that source, then trouble was in store for him. Some day or other the growing Civil List debt would become unbearable and he would be obliged to apply to his faithful Commons to find him the means to wipe out the debt. The hour of his necessity would then be the nation's opportunity, and a distinct stride forward in the controlling powers of the Treasury and in constitutionalism would result. There are indications of this coming result even in the present volume of calendar. The Treasury applies for an account of the debt growing in the offices of several of the Civil List establishments, the Steward of the Household, the Treasurer of the Chamber, &c., &c. (pp. 690, 775), and it tacks on to this demand a further demand for the production of the establishment by which some of these offices pay (pp. 372, 741, 784). It is on these lines that constitutional progress was later to be achieved.
The progress has been a double one. On the one hand the purely personal and regal side of the King's Civil List expenditure was gradually brought under the subjection of appropriation clauses and of special audit: and on the other hand the more essentially national sides of that expenditure (the public services proper) were taken out of the Civil List and gradually built up into the modern system of Civil Service estimates and appropriations.
The first of these changes is comparatively slight. The Lord Chamberlain and the Lord Steward are still as in the days of George II. the King's servants—i.e. not the nation's servants. But in apportioning the expenditure of the modern Civil List, later kings have no longer the entirely free hand that George II. had. That expenditure has become subject to the distinct and separate appropriations contained in the schedules appended to the particular Civil List Acts.
The second of the enumerated changes has of course been much more momentous. The purely civilian side of the national service has been removed from the Civil List entirely, and has been taken over by the State. Accordingly the modern Civil Service system has been built up out of the following items of those enumerated on pp. xl–xli supra, viz.: Nos. 5 (Works), 8 (Fees and salaries), 9 and 10 (Pensions and bounties), 13 (Secret Service), and 17 (Contingencies).
Both these developments, however, lie quite outside the scope of the present volume. They are only summarised here with the object of illustrating the very different position and the very much more extended and uncontrolled powers held and exercised by the English King in the middle of the eighteenth century; and at the same time the comparatively weak powers exercised by the Treasury.
These guiding remarks will probably enable the student to tread his way through the money table which is printed in tabular form year by year in the present calendar and which is—to the editor's mind at least—the most suggestive and instructive portion of the whole calendar. If the student desires to work through any of the other branches of the Civil List expenditure he can do so by turning to the items of imprests and issues given in the index under the head of each item of such expenditure (Wardrobe, Chamber, Works, &c., &c., &c.). He will undoubtedly arrive on all these heads at a similar conclusion to that enunciated above.
It is to be hoped that the reader will clearly understand that in this introduction I have been dealing with only one specific question, viz.: the powers of the Treasury in the days of Walpole in the determining or fixing of the national establishments,viz.: Army, Navy and Civil Service. The question of the powers of the House of Commons over these establishments is closely bound up in the prior question of the Treasury's powers therein, but this is a question which leads away from the Treasury records pure and simple and I therefore deliberately eschew it. My only wish and purpose is to gather together the threads of such historic proofs or indications as may help to the formation of a clear conception of the Treasury powers and method at this particular period, and so to give the reader a clue by which he can pursue his way through the present calendar with the clearest and most proper understanding of the material of it.
It is for this reason I have made no reference to the questions of the accounts of the debt of the Navy, transport accounts, the debts of various public offices and the accounts of services incurred in a particular financial year but not provided for by Parliament. The demand for these accounts originated invariably in the House of Commons itself, and the Treasury was simply employed by the House as the proper channel through which to approach the particular office or department concerned in the making of the required return. That is to say these questions concern the powers and procedure of the House of Commons, not those of the Treasury, with which alone this introduction specifically deals.
March, 1903. W. A. S.