Imatges de pÓgina

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that to do what the hon. Gentleman recommended, would be to enable those who were unwilling to contribute to escape, while it would lay the burden on those who in other cases had evinced a dispofition to contribute to the public exigencies. A considerable fum might certainly be raised without resorting to the means proposed by the bill ; but a sum falling very thort indeed of what was intended to be raised by the bill, or what was ne. cessary for the public service. The provisions, if adopted, were not stronger than the necessity of the cafe required, and without them, the evasions which were notoriously practised hitherto, could never be obviated. There was a material difference between a partial disclosure made to a certain set of select persons, and a disclosure made public to the world : feeling of the provisions as he did, he must certainly press theis adoption in the committee.

The committee then divided upon the clause enabling the commissioners to call for the disclosure. For the clause

80 gainst it

4 On the clause which provides that an appeal shall be allowed from the decision of the commissioners to other commillioners and that the appeal thall be allowed to the furveyor, as well as to the person charged, a warm debate arose, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Solicitor General, Mr. Simeon, Mr. Percival, Mr. York, and others, supported the clause, and considered it as only a question like of civil suit, and granting a new trial; and Mr. I igley, Mr. Il'estern, and Sir IV. Geary opposed it, and considered the allowance of appeal to the surveyor like giving an accuser the power of having a man tried a second time for a crime of which he had been acquitted; for although, in striciness of language, it was not a crime that a man was accused of when he was charged with having given in a false account of his income; yet, as it involved his character as a man of honour or of morality, the charge sartook of the nature of a criminal charge.

Mr. Tierney likened the provision to some of ihose resorted to in France, during “the infamous reign of Robespicrre !" Heaverred that the surveyors were placed in the situation of the French public accuser; and that the second set of commillioners to whom appeals were to be made, were placed precis ly in the same predicament as Robespierre's committee of revision.


Mr. Simeon spoke in reply-And after a short explanatory conversation the committee divided For the Appeal

59 Against it

9-Majority 50 The House being resumed, progress was reported, and leave was given for the chairman to fit again the next day.

Mr. Long brought up the bill for allowing further time for taking out certificates for the use of armorial bearings.

Read a first time-ordered to be read a second time next day.

Deferred the other orde:s of the day.--Adjourned at one o'clock.


THURSDAY, DEC. 20. The militia voluntary service bill received the royal assent by commillion.

The land tax redemption amended bill was read a second time.

The loan bill was also read a second time, as were the prin vate bills read the preceding day for the first time.

The amendments in the English small note bill were reported and agreed to.

The consideration of the regulations of the last feffion relative to inclosure, drainage, eitate bills, &c. which stood for the next day, was put off to Wednesday the 26th instant.

Ordered, that the House should receive no reports from the judges upon petititions presented for private bills after Thusla day the 15th of March, 1799.--Adjourned.


THURSDAY, DEC. 20. Leave was given to bring in a bill to enable his Majesty to grant a licence to a theatre to be established in Rochester.

The neutral bottom trade bill was read a third time.

Mr. Wilberforce said, that before the House proceeded to the important business of the day, he wilhed to draw their attention to a subject in which they were deeply interested. He did not know whether what he was about to state would be considered as a notice of a motion, or would lead to a motion ; this would depend upon the manner in which it was received.


Here Mr. Wilberforce was interrupted by the fummons of the black rod to the House of Lords, where the House attended to hear the royal aflent given to a variety of bills. After the speaker returned,

Mr. Wilberforce proceeded. The subject to which he al. luded was one, in which not only the character of individual Members, but the character and dignity of the House itself, was deeply concerned. There was a standing order of the House for the exclusion of strangers during the fitting. It was well known, however, that by the indulgence of the House this order was not ftri&tly enforced, and for a confiderable time past it had been the practice to publish in the newspapers and other publications what profeiled to be a report of the proceedings and debates of the House of Commons. It could not escape observation at the same time, that under colour of these reports great misrepresentations of what was done here often went abroad into the world; misrepresentations calculated to mislead the public mind and to degrade the character of Parliament. It would well become the House to consider seriously the consequences of this abuse, and the means by which it might be remedied. At a time too when it was known that there were persons in the country who wished to strike a blow at the Conftitution and the character of Parliament itself, by degrading the character of individual Members, and misrepresenting the general proceedings of the House, it became matter of serious importance to correct such an abuse, and to prevent an evil of such dangerous tendency. If it were merely the cause of an individual, if it merely arose from the mifres presentations to which he himself might personally have been subject, perhaps he could not with propriety press it so earnestly on the House. This, however, was by no means the view of the case which induced him to call ihe attention of the House to the subject. With regard to himself, indeed, it seemed to him as if there had been for some time a studied design to misrepresent what he had said. It was not of his own situation in this respect of which he complained. He had been sometimes told in the country that he had both spoken and voted differently in the House from what he had done. He had found, however, that these misrepresentations in his own case had proved unsụccessful, and he trusted that his language and conduct were approved by those whose approbation he valued. It was not merely as it regarded the character of individuals that he complained of the misrepre


fentations; the House itself was concerned. He had often seen that after a speech, in which all the arguments on one fide were stated, that part of the debate in which every one of these arguments had been refuted, was left out, and the business fent abroad as if the impression of those arguments had remained on the House, and that they had not been answered. He had often in the country seen senfible men milled by such representations. The evil design with which such things were done demanded a remedy, and he begged most seriously to recommend it to their attention. The mode of applying the remedy he left to the confideration of the House itself. The system of calumny, falsehood, and milrepresentation purfued was calculated to affect materially the character and honour of the House. Never was there a period which required their more earnest attention to preserve that character from misrepresentation than when there existed a deliberate design to vilify and io degrade the House of Commons as a body, and to undermine, along with it the whole Conftitution. No man could with more than he did that the proceedings of the House should be fairly stated to the public, for the more they were known the more would the excellence of the Constitution appear. If, however, it was imposible to give such full and fair publicity to the proceedings of the House, the only alternative that remained was to weigh the inconveniences which now refulted from the practice, and to say that the proceedings should be fairly reported, or not all. He had often balanced the advantages of the proceedings of the House being stated, and the neceflity of excluding strangers altogether, to prevent those calumnies and misrepresentations which took place. He did not intend to move any thing on the subješ this day; he only conjured the House to conlider serioully of the evil, and the remedy which it required. The particular occasion which it had induced him now to start a subject, on which he had often reflected, was, on finding that an Hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tierney) had said, that the circumstance of there being only 36 Members present on Tuesday last, at four o'clock, was a proof that even the House itself was not well inclined to the measure. A satisfactory answer was then given to this point, but no notice was taken of the anfwer, while the insinuation went abroad into the world, The same thing he had observed last year, when the Affeffed Tax Bill was under confideration. An Hon. Gentleman, lately not in the habit of attending the House much, made

a long a long speech against the measure, in the middle of which he introduced an insinuation of the same nature with that which had gone abroad, and it had produced very bad effects, and given a very erroneous impression of the subject 10 many respectable persons. To the insinuation made by the Hon. Gentleman last night, he should now repeat what he had said last night. So far from proving that they were disinclined to the measure, their being absent at four o'clock proved that they withod to go into the confideration of it. When Gentlemen intended to go away early, they came early; when they expected the buliness to last long, they either went to take the necefiary refreshment, or to finish what other business they had for the day, that they might be able to give their attention to ihe subject when it came on. He felt it important that the insinuation of the Hon. Gentleman Mould not be allowed to go abroad, to give the idea that the House itself was not favourable to the measure before it. As to the general subje& of which he had spoken, he hoped that the House would turn their serious attention to it, in order to apply a remedy to an abuse which threatened such consequences.

Nothing followed on this speech.
The Armorial Bearings Duty Bill was read a second time.

The Bill for granting relief to the Merchants of Grenada and St. Vincenis was read pro forma on the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after which he moved for leave to bring in a bill to extend the period for the payment of the instalments due by thefe Merchants on the advances made to them by Government.-Leave being given

The Chancellor of the Exchequer brought up the Bill, which was read a first and second time, and ordered to be committed.

BILL TO SECURE SUSPECTED PERSONS, The Chancellor of the Exchequir moved, that the Bill to enable his Majesty to secure and detain such persons as he suspected were conspiring against his person and government (the Habeas Corpus Sufpention Act) be read, which being done, he faid, that the situation of affairs fo clearly proved the policy and necessity of continuing that measure for a further time, that he onld not say a word by way of preface to his motion for leave to bring in a Bill to extend for a limited time the provisions of that Act. Leave being given,


« AnteriorContinua »