By Robyn Gee; Rob McCaig; Ian Ashman
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Unless the civil government was reformed, Burke said, ‘I am satisfied no minister whatever can possibly introduce the least oeconomy into the administration of it’ . The practices that existed in the Civil List expenditure, he said, ‘introduce a similar inaccuracy, a kindred slovenliness, a correspondent want of care, and a want of foresight into all the national management’ . 11 Reactions to the speech were mixed. As expected, spokesmen for the Rockingham Party praised Burke’s proposals.
Charles James Fox, who had recently joined the Opposition, saw his opportunity and moved that the words of the Speaker did represent the views of the House. 69 After years of defeat and discouragement, the Opposition enjoyed a brief moment of victory. ’70 28 Politics, Finance, and the People Lord John Cavendish suggested that North, instead of allowing debts to accumulate to a large sum, should have applied to Parliament as the debt was incurred. ’71 Cavendish’s suggestion preserved the independence of the Civil List as long as expenditure did not exceed income.
From 1770 to 1783, Harley & Drummond supplied £17 million in specie to the troops overseas. 43 The flood of specie was beneficial to the Americans, who were chronically short of hard money. From the beginning of the war, Col. Isaac Barré had criticized the loose spending for the army in North America. Barré, who had lost an eye while serving with Wolfe in Canada, was returned for one of Lord Shelburne’s boroughs, and was a spokesman for Shelburne in the House of Commons. ’44 In 1777 he complained about the size of the army extraordinaries and the balances in the hands of officials, agents, and contractors, which sometimes were held for 15–20 years.