Imatges de pÓgina


• But at present, Sir, we have a melancholy Reason for Anno 8. Geo. II. | refuming the ancient Usage of Parliament; It is well known

that Estimates have been every Year laid before this House of all the Expences, which were then supposed to be necefsary for the ensuing Year; and notwithstanding those Eftimates were much larger than were ever before usual, yet in every Year ample Provifion has been made for the Expences of the ensuing Year, conformable to the Estimates laid before the House : This is known to almost every Man, and every Man that does know it must think it very odd, that in so small a Number of Years such a great Debt Mould be contracted as is at present due upon Account of our Navy ; but it must appear itill more furprizing when we consider, that in every Session of Parliament Accounts have been laid before this House, of the Deficiencies of all former Grants, and likewise of all Services incurred and not provided for by Parliament. If such Accounts had been rightly confidered, they would certainly have been made good, and the Services, if found to have been necessarily incurred, would certainly have been provided for, out of the first and readiest of the Grants made for the Service of the next ensuing Year.

• This, Sir, is the only proper Way of providing for all Services incurred and not provided for in the former Serfion of Parliament : While this Method is regularly pursued, the Strength of the Nation is not impaired by loading Posterity with Debts and Mortgages ; nor can the People be lo efily prevailed on to submit to any unnecessary Expence ; and the Facts being fresh in every Man's Memory, if any Fraud be couched under any of the Articles of the Accounts given in, it may be easily discovered ; but when the Nation is thus fecretly run in Debt, the People being ignorant of their Expence, cannot find Fault with any of thoʻc extravagant Measures which occafioned that Expence; and when Accounts are brought into this House in a Heap, and after the Transactions to which they relate are all forgotten, it is then impossible for Gentlemen to discover the Fallacies that may be practised in the Manner of stating these Accounts.

• Upon such a slight View, Sir, as I have taken of the Accounts now upon the Table, it is not possible for me to enter into the particular Articles; but I cannot help taking Notice of one which to me appears very extraordinary. There is near 250,000 l. charged, not for the Building of Ships, but for the Building of Houses ; whether such Houses were necessary I Mall not now pretend to determine ; but if they were, I think it is too large a Sum for any Admi ftration to have expended, without a previous Author

K 2



Ano 8. Geo. II. from Parliament; and that I am sure was never aked for.

What the present Age may think of such a Sum, I do not know, but I am sure our Ancestors, even of the very last Age, would have been extremely shy of loading the People with at lealt Six-pence in the Pound upon all the Lands in Great Britain, for building Houses for the Officers belonging to the Admiralty ; and I must think it a little extraordinary to see Ministers, of their own Heads, undertake to do that which even Parliaments of old would scarce have undertaken to have done. 'Tis true, Parliaments have of late become very good natur'd, they have put great Confidence in Ministers, and have generally, I hall not say blindly, approved of all ministerial Measures : This may perhaps have made Ministers presume a little farther than they would otherwise have done ; but I am very sure, that till very lately, no Minister would have dared to have drawn the Nation into such an Expence without an Authority from Parliament for so doing.

This Article would, I believe, Sir, have appeared a little extraordinary, in the most flourishing Circumstances that ever this Nation was in ; but when the People are groaning under heavy Taxes, when most of those Taxes are already engaged for the Payment of our Debts, I muft think it highly extravagant. We ought to make our Efate our own, we ought to free it from Mortgages, before we think of beautifying it with costly Buildings. However, Sir, let me suppose that this Expence was absolutely necessary, yet still it ought to have been provided for by Parliament before it was undertaken, or at least the next Sellion after it was laid out : In that case the Parliament would probably have taken Care to have saved as much upon some other Article: By that means our being involved in fo heavy a Debt as we are at present would have been prevented, and we might have been in a Condition for acting that Part, which the present Circumstances of Europe may make incumbent upon us to undertake,

• The Revenues of a Nation, Sir, which always arife from those Taxes the People are to pay, may be compared to the Revenues of a private Gentleman's Eftate ; and every Gentleman who has a Regard to his Family, or to his own Credit, will certainly proportion his Expence to the Reye. nues of his Estate, taking Care to save as much yearly as may be necessary for providing for younger Children, and for answering future Accidents or Misfortunes : Such a Gentleman will consider that if, by his Way of Living, he spends more than the yearly Revenue of his Eftate may, according to this Computation, answer, he muft yearly destroy a Pare of his Estate ; and that the greater this Surplus is, the fooner


his Eftate and Family will be ruined. Let us suppose then Anno & Geo. II. that such a Gentleman should order his Steward to compute the Manner how he was to live, so as not to spend yearly more than the Revenue of his Eftate could bear, allowing lo much yearly for Childrens Fortunes, paying off Mortgages, or future Contingencies : Suppose this Steward had prescribed such a Manner of living, and had for several years ied him with a Notion that he was spending no more yeary than his Eftate could bear ; but at laft brings him in a errible Account of Debts contracted, by that Manner of iving which he himself had prescribed, and gravely tells aim, he muft sell or mortgage one of his beft Manors for paying off those Debts : What would such a Steward deerve? Surely he must at leait expect all his Accounts to be xamined in the stricteft Manner, and his Master would neer place a Confidence in any of his Calculations for the uture.

The Case, Sir, is the same with this Nation at preent: We have been made to believe, that what we were pending yearly was no more than the yearly Taxes would nswer: Thefe Taxes have been chearfully granted by Pariament, and as chearfully paid by the People, in full Exjectation that these were all that were necessary for answerag our annual Expence ; but now, Sir, when we are in Danger of being brought into a great and unforeseen Exence, we are told that we have run much in Arrear, that

great Debt has been contracted, and that for the Payuent of this Debt, we must either mortgage those Funds vhich ought to be reserved for a Time of Danger, or we luft lay violent Hands upon those Funds which have been ong ago declared facred, and religiously appropriated for elieving us from those heavy burdens we at present groan nder. While we are Members of this House, Sir, we 're the Trustees of the People ; and when the People have een insensibly run into a heavy and unexpected Arrear, hall we approve of the Accounts of those Services by which nat Arrear has been occafioned, without examining strictly to every Article ? I muft think we are, both in Honour ind Conscience, bound to examine them in the stricteft Maner ; and therefore I shall beg leave to move, That the rdinary Estimate of his Majesty's Navy, for the current 'ear, may be referred to the Confideration of a select Comzittee, and that they do examine the same, and report the acts, with their opinion thereupon, to the House." Debate thereon,

Sir William Wyndham being seconded by Mr Sandys, the Mr Sandys. ime occasion'd a great Debate, in which Sir Robert Wal- Mr H. Walpole. ole, Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Winnington, Sir William Sir W. Yunge.


Col. Bladen.

Anno S. Geo. 11. Yonge, and Colonel Bladen, urg'd the following Arguments

againīt the Motion.

Sir, · The Affairs of Europe, and the various Incidents that have occurred fince the famous Peace of Utrecht, are so fresh in every Man's Memory, that I think it sufficient to observe in general, that every Man, who knows any Thing . of the History of Europe for these last twenty Years, may easily give a Reason why we have not been able to pay off any considerable Part of the publick Debts. There was no Method of paying off honestly and fairly any of our Debts formerly contracted, but by increasing the publick Revenue, or saving a Part yearly of that which had before been esta blished , and every Gentleman muft acknowledge, that both these Methods have been pursued as much as it was possible. We could not increase the publick Revenue by imposing any new Taxes, for our People think they are already burdened with too many ; and if any such Method had been proposed, it would certainly have been opposed, perhaps by some of those Gentlemen who now find Fault with so small a Part of our Debts having been paid off: The only other Method of increasing the publick Revenue was, by having the Taxes carefully collected, and thereby endeavouring to increase the Produce of each ; and this has been pursued with the utmolt Care, so that most of our Taxes produce more now than they did twenty Years ago.

• With respect to the faving a part of the publick Revenue which had been before established, it could be done no other way but by reducing the Interest payable to the Creditors of the publick, or by reducing the publick annual Expence : The first of these Methods has been pursued, and luckily for the Nation, with great Success; and no Man can with Justice say, that for thele twenty Years the Nation has been put to any Expence but what was absolutely necessary, according to the Circumstances which the Affairs of Europe, or the Affairs of the Nation were in at that Time ; nor has ii been put to any Expence but what was regularly laid before the Parliament, and always approved of by Parliament ; so that the finding Fault with any Part of our Conduct for these twenty Years palt, is not really finding Fault with the Conduct of our Ministers, but with the Conduct of King and Parliament.

• I shall agree with the honourable Gentlemen, Sir, that Eitimates have been every Year laid before the House, of what was then suppos'd to be necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year; and I hope they will agree with me that it was right to do so; but I never heard that the Gentlemen, who computed those Estimates and laid them before the Pas


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

liament pretended to be infallible. The Estimates they have Anno 8. Geo. II. given in have been found to be deficient, some of the necellary Services have been sometimes omitted, or the Sums thereby allotted have been found not sufficient for answering the Services for which they were appointed, and this is one of the Reasons why so large a Debt now appears to be due on account of the Navy: Another Reason is, that the Funds appointed by Parliament for raising those Sums, which were yearly granted by them for the Service of the Navy, have been always found deficient ; and a third Reason is, that the Parliament have often found it necessary for the Safety of the Nation, to give his Majesty Votes of Credit, in Pursuance of which some additional Expences have been incurred, above what were mentioned in the Estimates yearly given in at the Beginning of the Seffion : And as such Expences were generally incurred by making Additions to our Navy, which is the natural Defence of this Nation in all Times of Danger, it has greatly increased the Debt due on account of our Navy, and is one of the chief Reasons why that Debt is now become so considerable.

Some of those Accounts relating to the Navy-Debt, have been for several years successively laid upon your Table, and all of them, except some few Articles which have lately accrued, were laid before the last Session of Parliament; and for what Reasons, I shall not pretend to determine, the Parliament never thought fit to provide for those Deficiencies, or to pay off any part of that Debt which had been thereby occafioned ; tho' I must suppose that, as the Accounts were regularly laid before the Parliament, when the Transactions to which they related were fresh in every Man's Memory, if an Error or Fallacy could have been pointed out, or if any Objection could have been made to any one of the Articles, it would not only have been taken Notice of in this House, but would have been made a Subject for Clamour over the whole Nation ; for there always have been, and I hope there always will be, a great Number of Gentlemen in this House not only capable, but ready and willing to discover any Fallacies that may be artfully foisted into our publick Accounts ; and if any such Discovery had been made, those who are disaffected to his Majesty's Government might, and would certainly have from thence endeavoured to have raised a popular Clamour against the Adminiftration : For this Reason I may fuppofe, that all the Accounts opon your Table have already been sufficiently canvassed, and therefore I cannot think there is any Occasion for appointing a sele&t Committee for that Purpose.

As for the Article, Sir, which the honourable Gentleten have been pleased to distinguish by a particular Re


« AnteriorContinua »