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given in a false account of his income; yet, as it involved his character as a man of honour or of morality, the charge partook of the nature of a criminal charge.
The Committee divided
For the appeal, 59; Against it, 9.
The Houfe being refumed, progrefs was reported, and leave was given for the Chairman to fit again the following day.
Thursday, December 20.
Mr. WILBERFORCE faid, that before the House proceeded to other business, it was his with to bring forward a matter which had preffed with a confiderable degree of weight upon his mind.
Here the Ufher of the Black Rod came to demand the immediate attendance of the House, to hear His Majesty's commiffion read in the House of Peers.
Mr. WILBERFORCE then proceeded.
Mr. SPEAKER, upon his return, reported, that His Majesty's affent was given by commiffion to the bill authorizing regiments of English militia to continue their farther fervices in Ireland, for a time to be limited, and to several other public and private bills. He faid he wished to draw the attention of the House to a fubject which had once and again forced itself upon his mind, and been much in his thoughts; it was a fubject which nearly concerned the character and dignity of the House of Commons, and of every individual Member in it. Whether the matter which he meant to bring forward would lead to any motion, or farther measures, muft depend in a great meafure on the fentiments and wishes which other gentlemen might exprefs, and the reception which the House would give to the remarks he wished to throw out. Mr. Wilberforce faid, it was well known to be a standing order of the Houfe to exclude ftrangers from the gallery, but this order had not been rigorously enforced; and fome how or other, by the admiffion of ftrangers, or otherwife, ftatements had been made, even in the public newspapers, faid to be the report of what paffed within that Houfe, but, in various inftances which had come within his knowledge, they had given mifreprefentations, and with an evident tendency to prevent and prejudice the public mind against the deliberations of Parliament, during the difcuffion of important measures. It became the Houfe, therefore, feriously to confider whether it was not high time to take fome meafure calculated to meet the evil of which he complained, and to prevent the mifreprefentation of gentlemen's fpeeches, tending
both to pervert the public mind, and to prejudice Members in the opinion of their conftituents. For his own part, he entertained little doubt that the object of fome of thofe parliamentary reports to which he referred, was to aim a blow at the Conftitution, by means of an attack on the House of Commons and its Members.
If it was merely the cafe of an individual who had been thus injured, or of himself in particular, he confeffed he should not think he acted with becoming propriety in taking up the time and attention of the Houfe, by preffing this matter upon their confideration but, for his part, he had thought for years past that there had existed a studied and wilful defign to mifreprefent, and even vilify the Members and proceedings of this Houfe. He, for one, had been told, when in the country, that he had both fpoken and voted differently from what he had done; at the fame time he had the fatisfaction to know, that any attempts of that kind, with respect to his fentiments or character, had not been fuccefs ful-and he trufted that he ftood as fair as ever in the esteem of his conftituents. But the subject to which he alluded applied to the character of every individual Member; and he would repeat it, that he had heard perfons in the country again and again exprefs themselves with aftonishment at the fpecches and votes of Individual Members, to which they had been led by the mifreprefentations which had gone forth in the public papers. Some of thofe vehicles had contented themselves merely with ftating, that fome honourable Member had made a very able or eloquent fpecch, whilft the fpeech of another, in oppofition to it, had been given at great length; the evident defign of this was to bias the public mind against their conftituents. An evil of fuch magnitude was fuch as he thought fhould be remedied fome way or other. He could not but be anxious, not only that his character, but that also of every honourable gentleman within thefe walls fhould be represented fairly. He was afraid that the mifreprefentation of the proceedings of that House were wilfully given with a view to lower and ftigmatize the House of Commons, its Members and proceedings. There never exifted a time which discovered more evidently than the prefent, a defign to aim a blow at the Conftitution through the medium of an attack upon Parliament. He was far from objecting, nay he was willing and defirous that every thing tranfacted within. that Houfe fhould be fairly reprefented; but if it was found impoffible to have this account fairly given, and that they could not adopt any measure to secure themfelves from fuch attacks, it would then become matter for ferious confideration whether the Houfe should not fay, either that what pafied there fhould be fairly stated
or not at all. On the one hand, he was unwilling, with a view of. preventing mifreprefentation, to fhut up the door against all frangers, and on the other, he was defirous to have a fair statement of the proceedings of the Houfe. He was undetermined whether he fhould make any motion on the fubject, but he fhould confider of it, and whether an increafing evil did. not call for a special remedy. Mr. Wilberforce faid, that what particularly induced him to state this matter at prefent, was in confequence of a remark lately made by an honourable Member (Mr. Tierney), that on Tuesday last there * were not above 36 Members met at four o'clock to carry through the new tax upon income, and from thence it was inferred that thofe who were for the bill were not very anxious in its fupport. He knew what effects fuch statements were likely to produce, from the venom of fimilar remarks formerly, which had diffused themfelves through the community, and had produced very injurious confequences. He thought it therefore important to the character of Parliament that it fhould be known, that the reverfe of this ftatement was the fact, and that it was because gentlemen were anxious and zealous in favour of this measure of finance, that they were not present before four o'clock; gentlemen generally came carly when they meant to go away early; but, when they expected a late night, and intended to continue to the end of the bufinefs, it was usual for them to dine firft, and finish the business of the day before they came down to the Houfe; fo that on Tuesday laft, it was because they meant to attend the progrefs of the bill through the Committee that many gentlemen did not come to the House till a little after four o'clock.
He had thought proper, particularly, to notice this circumstance, because it was one, owing to which the character of the Houfe had been maliciously traduced. It was for the Houfe to confider what steps fhould be taken to remedy the evil of which he complained; as to himself, he had felt it a matter of the utmost importance to make the observations he had juft thrown out.
No Member having arifen to fay a word on the fubject of Mr. Wilberforce's obfervations, the matter dropped of course.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that the circumftances which at first rendered it neceffary to fufpend the Habeas Corpus Act ftill made the continuance of this fufpenfion fo forcible as to prevent his enlarging on the fubject, he would move, therefore, that leave be given to bring in a bill to continue the fufpenfion of the Habeas Corpus Act for a time to be limited.
Leave being given, Mr. Chancellor Pitt brought up the bill, VOL. VII.
which was read a first time, and ordered to be read a fecond time
Mr. WIGLEY wifhed a regulation to be introduced in the claufe which refpected the qualification of attorney's clerks, and that they might be allowed to enter, although they had not ferved five years to the attorney with whom they were first articled, provided they had, with the confent of that attorney, ferved five years
Mr. ROSE did not fee that this propofition came within the meaning and defign of the indemnity bill: he thought it better to be made the matter of a feparate bill.
Mr. WIGLEY faid, that undoubtedly it was an indemnity with regard to them; for, owing to a mistake of an act of Parliament, or through inadvertence, feveral gentlemen had ferved part of their time to another attorney, although with the concurrence of the gentlemen to whom they were first articled.
Mr. Chancellor PITT thought it unfit that things of fo different a description fhould be mixed together, and that it would be wifer that, adopting this regulation, it be an inftruction to the Committee to divide the other matters introduced into the Indemnity Bill, and that this clause should be added to them.
Mr. SPEAKER faid that there was a propriety in the remark, that different matters fhould not be introduced into one bill; he thought, therefore, that it fhould be an inftruction to the Committee to divide the Indemnity Bill, and to confine the bill itfelf to those who have neglected to qualify according to the Corporation Act. Mr. WIGLEY explained.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid he wished to divide all that had been introduced into the bill relative to the ftamp duties, and to confine it to what related to the Teft and Corporation Acts, which was a matter of public national policy.
Mr. WIGLEY then moved that it be an instruction to the Committee to receive a claufe, enabling the Judges to admit perfons as Attornies who have not ferved five years to the Attornies to whom they were articled, provided they have ferved five years to fome other Attorney."
Mr. Chancellor PITT moved, that it be an instruction to the faid Committee, that they have power to divide the Indemnity Bill into two bills.-Ordered; and the Indemnity Bill to be committed to-morrow.
The House then proceeded to the order of the day for the Committee for the farther confideration of the Income Duty BillMr. Smith in the chair.
Mr. Chancellor PITT propofed a claufe, purporting, that where a perfon delivered in a fehedule upon oath before the Commiffioners, that the infpector or furveyor fhould not have power in fuch a cafe to make an appeal to the Commiffioners of Appeal, provided the firft Commiffioners were fatisfied.
Mr. WILBERFORCE doubted whether this conceffion was not more favourable to the individual than to the public. He thought if no appeal from the firft Commiffioners by the Surveyor was allowed, that this would rather tend to caufe the schedule of income to be more frequently called for.
Colonel MARK WOOD thought, that in cafes where the Surveyors could not fubftantiate the grounds of an appeal to the Commiffioners, that they fhould be liable to all the expences of fuch appeal.
Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL objected to this, and obferved, that it was more likely that individuals would act dishonestly than that furveyors would act vexatiously. He hoped the House would do its duty, and fee that the tax be impofed juftly and equally, and not give way to a falfe tenderness or to clamour, and to the tendency of thofe fpeeches, which had for their only object, to make this tax unpopular. He wished, therefore, the clause, as it now ftood, might not be expunged.
Mr. I. HAWKINS BROWNE was of opinion, that there should be an appeal from the firft Commiffioners to the Commiffioners of Appeal, and that, not only on the behalf of the individual, but of the public. He thought an Infpector, in the lawful execution of his duty, deferved encouragement rather than difcouragement; he therefore muft object to the idea of his being obliged to pay the cofts of an appeal, if that appeal fhould be unfuccefsful; and he was of opinion that there thould be an appeal, in certain cafes, from the first to the second fet of Commiffioners.
Mr. TIERNEY faid, the right honourable gentleman's amendment of the claufe did not do away his objection to the Surveyor's having any right to make an appeal after the firft Commiffioners had decided on the tax to be paid. He felt himfelf bound to oppofe the bill in all its parts. He denied what he filed the coarse infinuation of the honourable gentleman (the Solicitor General), that he was courting popularity. Were that his object, the most dextrous course he could take, would be for him not to interfere at all. But he was not forry he had interfered as he had done; for what had been the confequence? He had brought the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) to his fenfes; and he now faw the neceffity of introducing conceffions, alterations, and amendments.