« AnteriorContinua »
Anno 8. Gco. 11. mark, it is certain that Houses, Docks, Dock-yards, and
Magazines, are as necessary for the Support of our Navy as Ships of War; and it is as necessary to rebuild the former, when fallen to Decay, as it is necessary to rebuild the latter. To pretend that Ministers, by Directions from his Majesty, ought not to order a Dock, Dock-yard, or Admiralty-Office to be repaired or rebuilt, without having first laid the same before Parliament, seems to me very extraordinary ; it may be as well pretended, that they ought not to order a Man of War to be rebuilt or repaired, without first having laid the same before Parliament : In this respect the Sum can make no Difference ; it is the Nature of the Service only we are to regard, when we are to determine, whether it ought to be laid before Parliament before it be undertaken ; and furely no Man will say, but that his Majesty, or his Minsters by his Direction, may give Orders to rebuild a Man of War, or to repair or rebuild a publick Office, without having first laid the Affair before Parliament for their Approbation. I believe it will be granted, and if it were inquired into it would be found, that no Money has been laid out in this way, nor any House built, but what were absolutely necessary; and if there had been any Fallacy in the Accounts relating to that Expence, as they have been long upon the Table, it would certainly before now have been taken Notice of.
• Thus it must appear, Sir, that the Story we have been told of a Steward's running his Master in Debt, is no Way parallel to the present Cafe ; for this Nation has been run into no extraordinary Expence, but what had not only the Authority of Parliament before it was undertaken, but the Approbation of Parliament after it was laid out : And if any Debt has been contracted, if the Funds appropriated for the Service of the Year have proved at any Time deficient, or if any Services have been incurred which were not provided for by Parliament, those Deficiencies and those Services have been regularly laid before Parliament as soon as they could be brought into an Account : And it is very certain, if a Steward should run his Master into no Expence but what he had a previous Authority for, and should fairly and honestly lay before his Mafter every Year, or as often as it could poflibly be done, a full Account of the Debt he had contracted in the preceding Year, that Steward could deserve no Censure from his Master.
• Now, Sir, as the naming of a select Committee, to irquire into Accounts and Estimates, is a very extraordinary Method of Proceeding, a Method which has not been practised for many Years, and never was often practised, we mult fuppose it will give a general Alarm, and make People
imagine that some Frauds have been committed. This will Anno 8. Geo. II. of course throw a Reflection upon his Majesty's Government; and therefore I think we ought not to enter into any such Method without some very Itrong Reasons ; and as I can see no Reason for our entering into any such Method, as I can see no Good that can be expected from any such Method, as I am convinced it will do a great deal of Mischief, by raising Jealousies and Fears among his Majesty's Subjects, therefore I must be against the Motion.' To this it was replied by Mr Gybbon, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Cybbon.
Sir Jos. Jekyll, Mr William Pulteney, and other Members as follows: Mr Pulteney.
Sir, . It is from the Knowledge I have of the History of this Nation in particular, and of Europe in general, that I am fo surprised, with respect to the small part of our publick Debts paid off, notwithstanding the Continuance of all our Taxes, and the vast Sums that have been raised every
Year; and the more I consider it, the less I can account for the unprofitable Use we have made of such a long Term of Peace. Bat I am ftill more surprised to hear any Gentleman fay, that all possible Methods have been pursued, either for diminishing the publick annual Expence, or the annual Intereft due to the Creditors of the Publick ; on the contrary I am convinced, that all possible Methods have been pursued for increasing the first, and no Opportunities have been embraced for reducing either the Principal or the Interest due to the Creditors of the Publick, but such as durft not be refused or neglected.
• We have been for these twenty Years in a continued Course of publick Peace, at least we have had no War declared, nor any Broil with any of our Neighbours ; and yet every Year we have been very near at as great an Expence, as we were at in any one Year of the heavy War in King William's Reign : We have had numerous Armies kept up in our own Country, we have maintained many Princes and Armies in foreign Countries, and we have sent many expenfive Squadrons into almost all Places of the World ; and I Thould be glad to hear a Reason given for any of our naval Expeditions into the Baltick or the Mediterranean, by those, who are now for our looking quietly on to see the Emperor ftript of his Dominions in Italy, and Muscovy giving Sovereigns to its neighbouring Kingdoms. I should be glad to hear a Reason for our being so alarmed at the Alliance, only between Spain and the Emperor, by those who now seem to be fo little alarmed at a Treaty, not only of Alliance but of Conqueft, between France, Spain and Sardinia : This, Sir, I do not say with a Design to infinuate that we VOL. IV.
Anno 8. Geo. U. have as yet any great Reason to be alarmed at this last Alli1734-35.
ance, but I must think we had from the Beginning much greater Reason to be alarmed with it, than ever we had to be alarmed with the former ; and I must think it would now have been more juftifiable to have thrown ourselves into the Arms of the Emperor, to have prevented the Consequences of this last Alliance, than ever it was to throw ourselves into the Arms of France, to prevent the Confequences of the former : From all which I must conclude, either that a great part of the Expence we have formerly been at might have been faved, or that our present Inactivity is highly inexcusable ; and which of these two to chufe I shall leave to the Gentlemen who now fo ftrenuously insist, that for these last twenty Years we have taken all possible Methods to diminish our annual Expence.
Now, Sir, as to the diminishing of the Interest payable to the Creditors of the Publick, can it be said that we have taken any one Method to diminish it, but what the Nature of the Thing and the Circumstances of the Nation pointed out 10 plainly, that it would have been highly criminal in any Adminiftration to have neglected the Opportunity? But if we had applied the Sinking Fund regularly to the Pay. ment of our publick Debts, if we had layed that Expence, which has been thrown away in maintaining numerous idle Armies, and sending out many idle Squadrons, and had applied all the Savings to the same honest Purposes, the Principal of our publick Debts would have been fo greatly reduced, that the Creditors who remained unpaid would have been glad to have taken what Interest we pleased: Nay, I do not know but the Principal would, by this Time, have been so greatly reduced, that the three great Companies would have been glad to have passed from the Payment of any future Interest- upon what was due to them, in order to have had their Charters continued.
• Whether Accounts were regularly laid before the Parliament of the present Navy-Debt, yearly as it became due, is what I shall not pretend to deny, because I do not really know whether it was so or not ; but if this be true, which I shall, in Complaisance to the honourable Gentlemen, admit, it is the strongest Argument that can be given for what is now proposed; it is a full Confirmation of the old Proverb that what is every Man's Business is no Max's Bufivefi, and therefore an unanswerable Argument for our returning to the old Cuftom of Parliament, and app. inting select Committees every Year to consider and examine every Ellimate laid before us : For I hope no Man will fay but that we ought, in Time of Peace especially, to raise as much within the Year as will answer the Service of the Year ;
and if any Deficiency should happen in the Funds granted Anne 8. Geo. II. for one Year, or if it should be found that the Etimates were deficient, all those Deficiencies ought certainly to be made good the very next Year. It is certainly inconsistent with the publick Good to leave Arrears long due, because when Tradesmen, or those who furnish the Publick with what is necessary for publick Use, mutt lie for Years out of their Money, it is certain they neither can nor will serve the Pablick fo cheap, as when they know they are sure of their Money within a few Months after the Goods are delivered'; and the longer any of those Arrears stand unpaid, the greater Price they will be obliged to pay for every Thing afterwards bought for publick Ufe.
• With respect to Ministers, indeed, and the Tools employed under them, I must observe, Sir, that it is of great Advantage to have publick Accounts stand long in Arrear ; and this Advantage is greater in the Navy than in any other Branch of publick Bufiness, because Tradesmen, and others who serve the Publick, but especially Seamen; cannot lie long out of their Money : If they cannot get their Money foon after it becomes due, they must go to Ufurers, minifterial Tools, and such like Extortioners, to sell or pledge their pablick Securities. This brings such Securities to Difcount, the longer they are of being paid, the greater Difcount they come to be at; so that at last they furnish a plentiful Harveft to Ministers and their Favourites ; for when the Discount upon those Securities is raised to a fufficient Height, Ministers then give the Watch-Word to their Agents and Favourites to go out and purchase; and when they have got them all, or most of them into their Hands, then the minifterial Bowels begin to yearn for the Sufferings of the publick Creditors, in having lain so long out of their Money; and great Merit is affumed from their coming to a compallonate Resolution, to have such or fuch a Class of pubfick Creditors paid off : This House is always too good natured to refuse such a juft Request; and thus Extortioners get the ful! Value of thofe Securities, which they purchase at a great Discount. This, Sir, I shall not say is the Case at present ; but I must say I am apt to believe, if an Inquiry were made into the Affair, it would be found that there is but a small part of the Debt, due upon the Navy, now in the Hands of the original Creditors of the Publick; and even this, Sir, is an Inquiry not unworthy of the Re. presentatives of Great Britain in Parliament.
• But, Sir, whatever the Interest of Ministers may be, it is certainly the Interest of the Publick to pay off their Debts regularly, and as soon as possible ; and as I am convinced every Gentlemen now, or formerly, in this House,
Anno 8. Geo. 11. has, and always had, the Interest of the Publick more at
Heart than the Interest of the Minister ; therefore I am convinced, that if these Accounts have been upon our Table, all the other Gentlemen of the House are in the fame Condition with me; they are so far from having canvassed every Article of them, that they are quite ignorant of their having been ever laid upon the Table before this Session : If any Gentleman had but cast his Eye upon such Accounts, in any preceeding Session, and had observed the Arrears standing unpaid, or unprovided for by Parliament, his Regard for the Publick, his Regard for the Distressed Creditors of the Publick, would certainly have prompted him to have moved to have had them taken into Consideration, and paid off long before now ; nothing could have prevented it but a Neglect, which has been occafioned by its not having been made the Concern of any particular Set of Men; and for this Reason we never ought to think it fufficient to have Accounts or Estimates laid upon our Table, we ought always to refer the Consideration of them to select Committees ; and thus, by making it the particular Business of a few, we may expect they will never be neglected as those now before us seem to have been, by their having been left to the Care of the whole House.
• I must beg Leave to differ with the honourable Gentlemen, when they say, that the Nature of the Service is only to be regarded, when we are to determine, whether it ought or ought not to be laid before the Parliament ; for in my Opinion, the Sum to be laid out ought likewise to be considered : If the Sum be but small, and the Nature of the Service such as often occurs, it may be undertaken without any particular Authority from Parliament ; but if the Sum be large, tho' the Nature of the Service be such as often occurred, and has generally been undertaken without any parcicular Directions from Parliaments, yet such Directions become necessary when the Sum is much larger than what is usually required for that Service: His Majesty may, without Doubt, give Orders to have a Man of War, or perhaps half a Dozen in a Year, repaired ; but if by any great Miffortune, it should become necessary to lay out, in any one, two or three Years, a very large Sum for that Parpose, it would then be proper to lay that Necessity before Parlia. ment; and I think no Minister ought to undertake such an extraordinary Service without having first obtained an Authority from Parliament for so doing : In the Case mentioned, I believe it will be granted, that the building of Houses is a Service that does not often occur ; and I am very sure the Sum that has been laid out, and which dow makes a great Part of our Navy Debt, is a much larger