Imatges de pàgina
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1736.

to its present Height: It is the Consumption occafioned by Anno 9. Geo. 113 the Debauches and Extravagancies of the People, and these depend upon so many Accidents, that it is impossible to account for them in Time paft, or to guess at the Consumption that may be in Time to come. But I am persuaded that nothing will tend more to the rendering our People sober, frugal, and industrious, than the removing out of their Way the many Temptations they are now exposed to, by the great Number of Gin-Shops, and other places for the Retail of Spirituous Liquors ; for before a Man becomes flustered with Beer or Ale, he has Time to reflect, and to consider the many Misfortunes to which he exposes himself and his Family, by idling away his Time at an Alehouse ; whereas any Spirituous Liquor in a Moment deprives him of all Reflection, so that he either gets quite drunk at the Gin-Shop, or runs to the Alehouse, and there finishes his Debauch. From hence, Sir, I think it most natural to conclude, that the Bill now under our Confideration, if pafled into a Law, will diminish the Consumption of Beer and Ale ; and consequently the Produce of the Excise on those Liquors, as well as the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors, and the Produce of the Duty on them.

• I come now, Sir, to the Proposition this Day made to us, which I must say I look on as a very extraordinary one ; because it would entirely alter the very Nature of that Grant of the Civil List, which was made to his Majesty in the first Year of his Reign ; and I wonder how Gentlemen can propose making any such Alteration in that Grant without his Majesty's Consent: I think they should, at least, in Decency have ushered it in with a Motion for an Address to his Majesty, humbly to pray that he would give his Consent to their making such an Alteration; for by the Establishment of the Civil Lift as it stands at present, and as it was granted to his Majesty in the first Year of his Reign, he is to have during his Life the Produce of all those Duties then appropriated to that Revenue without any Account ; yet now it is rnodestly proposed, that he should from henceforth be obliged to give an Account, every Year, to Parliament of the Produce of every one of those Duties, or otherwise to ose, at least, a Part of the Benefit of that Establishment which was intended, and was then actually granted to him by Parliament.

Having thus, Sir, put this Proposition in a true Light, (am convinced that we cannot come to any such Resolution, Ir agree to such a Clause in any Bill

, without his Majesty's Consent; and as I have shewn that there is no Certainty, that he Civil List will be a Gainer by the Increase of the Excise n Beer and Ale ; but on the contrary, that there is a ProV. IV.

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bibility

Anno 2, Geo, II. bability that it will be a Loser by the Decrease of that Ex1736

cise, I think there arises from thence a sufficient Reason for our making good to his Majesty the Loss he must sustain, by taking from the Civil List its Share in the Duties on Spirituous Liquors, therefore I shall add no more, but declare that I am most heartily for agreeing to the Clause as it now

ftands." Reply to the Argu. To this it was replied by the Members who opposed the the Resolutions of Grant of 70,000 1. the Commttee. Sir,

• From some of the Arguments now made use of, I think we may already begin to see the Truth of what was foretold in the Beginning of this Debate. We were then foretold, Şir, that if it should hereafter appear, that the Civil Lift had got 200,000 l. a Year, additional Revenue, by the Increase of the Excise on Beer and Ale occasioned by this Bill, the Parliament would never be able to lay hold of any Part of that Increase, or even to re-assume the 70,000 l. Annuity, we are now to grant, upon a Supposition that the Civil Lift will get nothing by such Increase of the Excise on Beer and Ale. The Truth of this, I say, Sir, begins already to appear ; for the honourable Gentleman [Sir Robert Wal pole] has told us, that by increasing the Consumption of Beer and Ale, and consequently the Excise on those Liquors, we give nothing to the Civil Lift but what it had before a Right to ; whereas by diminishing, or taking from the Civil List its Share in the Duties on Spirituous Liquors, we take from it what it had formerly a Right to, and that therefore we cannot pretend to compensate a Right which we actually take away, by a. Right which we do not give. If this can be admitted as an Argument for our agreeing to this Clause, it must always be a much stronger againft the Parliament's ever pretending to take any part of the Increase, that may be occafioned in the Excise, or to re-assume the 70,000 l. Annuity we are now to eftablish.

• Altho' I have never yet admitted, nor can admit, that the Civil Lift's Share in the Duties on Spirituous Liquors ought to be computed at 70,000 l. yet now, Sir, I fhall take it for granted, because it signifies nothing to the present Dirpute ; for the principal Question now in Dispute I take to be, Whether the Civil List has such an absolute Right to that Share, that we can make no Regulations whereby the Value of that Share may be diminished, without granting a Compensation from some other Fund? And the next Que ftion I take to be, Whether, if by the same Regulation the Value of the Civil Lift's Share in some other Duties or Excises be increased, we may not in Juftice and Equity ingh upon it, that the Advantage occasioned in the one Case may be admitted, so far as it will amount, as a Compensation Anno 9. Geo. 11. for the Loss in the other.

1736. • As to the first Question, Sir, 'tis true, the Crown has a Right to the whole Produce of certain Duties appropriated to the Civil List, but that Right is to be considered in a twofold Respect. The Crown has a Right to the whole Produce of all those Duties, fo far as may annount to 800,000 1. Establishment, without being subject to any Accident or Contingency whatsoever, because if the Produce should not amount to that Sum yearly, the Parliament stands obliged to make it good ; and if the whole Produce of those Duties shall amount to more than 800,000 l. the Crown has likewise a Right to the Surplus : But that Right is subject to all Accidents and Contingencies, because if that Surplus should be by any Accident diminished, the Parliament is not obliged to make it good. Now, Sir, among the many Accidents to which that Surplus in its own Nature remains liable, furely this is one; That it may hereafter become necessary for the Welfare, perhaps for the Preservation of the Nation, to prevent or put a Stop to the Consumption of fome Commodities, the Duties upon which contribute towards the producing of this Surplus: Would the Parliament be obliged in such a Case to make that Surplus good ; or to establih any other Fund for compensating the Loss the Civil Lift might sustain by such an Accident? No, Sir, it certainly would not ; unless that Loss Ahould become so heavy, as to reduce the Surplus, and even diminish the Establishment ; then indeed a Demand would arise upon the Parliament, and we hould be obliged to make the Etablishment good.

• Sappose, Sir, that France, Spain, Portugal, and the greatest Part of Italy, should be united in an Alliance against as, which by our late Management may happen to be the Cafe ; would it not then be absolutely necessary for us to prohibit the Importation or Consumption of all French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Wines? Would not this very probably almost quite annihilate the whole of what I have called the Sarplus of the Civil Lift? Yet will any Gentleman say that the Parliament could not prohibit the Importation of Consumption of those Wines, without making good to the Civil Lift its Share in the Duties upon them, to be computed at a Medium of the Produce for the preceeding feven or eight Years, when perhaps the Consumption of them was at a higher Pitch than was confiftent with the good of the Nation, or Health of the People ? Surely, Sir, no Man will pretend to say any such Thing; the Parliament would not be obliged to make good any Part of the Loss the Civil Lift should fuftain by such Prohibition, unless the Produce of the Duties appropriated to that Revenue should be so far

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reduced

) Anno 9. Geo. II. reduced as not to amount to 800,000 l. yearly : And even in 1736.

that Case, the Parliament would be obliged only to make the 800,000 1. good, they would not be obliged to make good any Part of that Surplus, which the Crown had formerly received and enjoyed by Means of the Duties upon those Wines.

• Is not the Case now before us the very fame? Our People have by Accident lately taken such a Turn, that it is become necessary for their Preservation, to prohibit the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors by Retaile. Is not this, as well as the one I have mentioned, one of those Accidents, to which the Crown's Right to the Surplus of the Civil Lift Revenue always was, and fill is subjected ? And can any Gentleman with Reason fay, that we cannot prohibit the Retail of such Liquors, without making good to the Civil Lift the whole Surplus that has accrued to it, computed at a Medium of the Produce of those very Years, when the Abuse of those Liquors was at its highest Pitch ?

• The other Question, Sir, is, Whether, if by the same Regulation by which the Civil Lift's Share in some Duties is diminished, 'its Share in other Duties be increased, the Advantage occafioned by that Regulation in one Case, ought not in Justice and Honour to be admitted, so far as it will amount, as a Compensation for the Damage occasioned in the other? This, Sir, is a fair and a true State of the Queftion, without that Disguise of compensating a Right which we actually take away, by a Right which we do not give. Having thus stated the Question in its proper Light, I Thall make use only of a familiar Parallel in private Life, for Thewing that it ought to be resolved in the Affirmative. Suppose a Gentleman in my Neighbourhood has a very large Marsh in his Eftate, every Year increasing so as to threaten his Estate with almost entire Ruin, and that the Water from that Marsh, after running through a Part of his Estate, falls upon a Part of mine, and there makes a new Marih, by which a great Part of my Estate is rendered useless, and the whole brought into Danger : Suppose that upon fur. veying my Neighbour's Marsh, and the several Fields round it, I find that, by a Cut through another Part of his Eftate and a Part of mine, his Marih may be thoroughly drained ; and that the Water, by being carried into a new Channel, will be prevented from overflowing any Part of my Eftate, and will very much improve my Neighbour's : Suppose again, that upon a fair and just Survey, it appears, that the Rents of his Estate will, by the Cut or Water-drain to be made, be diminished to the Value of 201. a Year, but that by the draining of his Marsh, and rendering it good Pafture or arable Land, the Rents of bis Eftate will be augmented to the Value of 501. a Year, so that upon the whole he Anno 9; Geo. 11,

. will be a Gainer to the Amount of 30 1. a Year. In this Case I must ask every Country-Gentleman that hears me, if my Neighbour ought, in Prudence, to prevent my making that Cut or Water-drain through his Eftate at my own

Éx pence; or if he could either in Juftice or Honour pretend, that I ought to give him 20 l. a Year out of my Estate, in Compensation for the 20 l. a Year, he pretends he is to lose, by making the Cut or Water-drain through his Eftate? I believe no Gentleman will say he could in Prudence refuse the one, or in Justice infist upon the other : Yet, in this Case, the Compensation he receives for the Right I take away from him, arises from a Right I do not give, a Right he was intitled to before I took the other from him.

Having now, I think, Sir, demonstrated, that, if the Lofs the Civil Lift may sustain by the present Regulation, be made good by the Increase in the Excise on Beer and Ale occafioned by the present Regulation, we are neither in Justice nor Honour obliged to give any other Compensation. I may give up the other Question, and admit, that we are obliged to grant a Compensation, in case the Loss is not made good by the Increase of the Excise on Beer and Ale, because, notwithstanding what the honourable Gentleman has said, I am still of Opinion, that it is not only probable, but apparent, that the Loss in one Way will be sufficiently made good by the Advantage in the other. The very Nature of the Thing is to me a sufficient Proof; for granting, that the greatest Part of the present Amount of the Excise proceeds from the Debauches and Extravagancies of the People, it is well known, that those who once get into the Way of committing Debauches in Gin, can have no Relish even for the strongest Malt Liquors; and I am convinced there are very few Instances, if any, that ever a Club of excessive Gin-drinkers went from a Gin-shop, to finish their Debauch at an Ale-house ; because even to quench their Thirst they generally take small Beer or Water, and mix it up with Gin; and many of them continue at the Gin-shop till they cannot find the Way to an Ale-house, or even to their own Beds, if they have any, but content themselves with the clean Straw, which at some of those Places they have for nothing : So that even from the Nature of the Thing we muft conclude, that those who have once taken to the exceflive drinking of Gin, give over almost entirely drinking of Beer or Ale ; and if we can lay those People under a Neceffity of returning to the drinking of strong Beer or Ale, we must necessarily very much increase the Consumption.

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