Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

I receive your congratulations on the increase of my family, and on the happy recovery of the Queen, as a mark of your loyalty and affection,

I have a firm confidence that the support of my faithful Commons, and the spirit of my brave people, engaged in a just cause, and fighting for their country and their

effential interests, will, in the end, enable me to surmount all difficulties, and to attain the object of all my measures and all iny exertions, a safe and honourable peace.

November 9. At three o'clock the order of the day was called for, for the House to go into a committee on the King's speech. Sir Grey Cooper was called for several times, and answer being returned, “ that he was not come down,” the cry was, Ado journ, adjourn. The order of the day prevailed, and Mr. Ord went to the table as chairman.

As soon as Mr. Ord, as usual, had read the King's speech,

Mr. Byng rose and observed, that in all that speech there Mr. Byng. was not one word tending to tell the people that their burthens should be lightened and their grievances redressed. This country, he said, had nearly exhaufted its resources, and it was absolutely impossible for her much longer to continue raising the immenfe fums annually requifite to support the expence of the war. For the ensuing year he was aware the burthen would not bear so heavy on the people as it had done of late, because the renewal of the East India Company's charter, and other matters in prospect, would materially afsift in producing and furnishing the chief of the money wanted. It was high time however to look forward, and to endeavour to put an end to such an expensive, fruitless, and inpracticable war. Mr. Byng complained of the careless manner in which the supplies were usually granted, and said, the indiffe. rence with which that House was treated by minifters, in points that peculiarly fell within the province of Parliament, was astonishing; he heartily wished to see the good old custom of our ancestors revived, and that the House of Commons should do its duty, and infift on a redress of grievances previous to their voting a supply.

Sir Philip Jennings Clerke faid, there was in fact an appa- Sir P. Jene rent carelessness in the manner in which ininifters called


nings Clerke. that House to vote supplies, but in fact there was a great deal of art in it. By doing the business with secming negligence, ministers carried an affential point. They got the House Vol. XVIII.



carelessly to vote the supplies before Christmas, and then, when the ways and means came under consideration after Christmas, if gentlemen objected to any part of them, they were told by the ministers, that having voted a supply, the House had pledged itself to vote ways and means; that the proper time of objection was past, and that the objection

hould ha been made to the supply. On this account Sir Philip begged that gentlemen would attend at the time when the specific articles of the supply were to be voted. At present he had no objection to a general motion, to vote his Majesty a supply, because a supply of some sort muft necefsarily be voted, but he should have a good deal to say when : the time for voting the supplies specifically came, and he thought that day ought to be previously fixed and known,

that gentlemen might not be taken by surprise. Sir George

Sir George Yonge complained of the insulting and neglectful Yonge.

manner in which parliament was treated. They were now called on to vote a supply to his Majesty, and there was not a single lord of the treasury, nor any one person belonging to the treasury in the House.

While Sir George was speaking, Sir Grey Cooper entered, of which Sir George took notice.

Sir Grey Cooper inade an apology to the House for his absence, declaring he had been detained by his duty at the treasury, and had imagined he should have been in time, bad he cone half an hour later, but the moment he heard the House was gone into a committee of supply, he haftened to it. He lamented that there should prevail any idea of neglect, and assured the House, that nothing could be more distant from his intentions at any time than incurring the charge of wanting respect for it. His with was, to have bufiness began earlier each day, than it had been in former ferfions; and whatever order the House should be pleased to make as to the hour of proceeding to business, he should рау.

ftriet attention thereto. Sir P. Jex- Sir Philip Jennings Clerke rose again, and urged the necessings Clerke. fity of appointing some certain day for voting the supply, and

letting the House have proper notice of it.

The question was then put, that the supply be granted to his Majesty, which was agreed to by the House.

November 10. Sir Grey Cooper moved, that an act of the 17th of his Cooper. present Majesty, intitled an act for enabling his Majesty to


Sir Gray Cooper.

Sir Grey


secure and confine persons guilty or suspected of high treason in the colonies or on the high seas, be continued for another year.

Sir George Yonge thought this too serious a matter to be Sir George made a thing of course, or to be agitated in so thin a House. Yonge, By the description in the bill, every Englishman might possibly, on pretence of suspicion of treasonable practices, be committed to prison. A matter of such serious importance as the suspension of the habeas corpus act, Sir George infifted, ought not to be decided upon but in a full House ; he therefore hoped that the first reading of the bill now moved would be in a full meeting of the House,

Sir Grey Cooper did by no means consider the continuance Sir Greg of the act in question as a matter of course. It had been ori. Cooper. ginally well weighed, and seriously considered, in a very full House, some years ago, and its necessity acknowledged and determined. At that time the rebels in America were the only enemies we had to contend with; since that time the rebellion had been supported by France and Spain : so that the neceffity of continuing the act had become greater.

Mr. Baker agreed with Sir G. Yonge, in regard to the mo- Mr. Baker. tion before them, for the following reasons :- During the course of three or four years upwards of four hundred persons had been imprisoned for treasonable practices, and not one of them had been brought to a trial. Why had they not been brought to a trial? Or how long were they to remain without one ? Are minifters, and not the laws of the land, to determine what shall be the fate of British subjects ? For it appears that minifters have taken upon them to compromise matters so far as to make an exchange of persons suspected or guilty of treason for other prisoners: whence it appears that arbitrary will, and not any certain rule, is followed in this matter. He hoped, therefore, that the bill moved for would be considered in a full House,

Sir Philip Jennings Clerke rose about three o'clock to make a Sir Pb. Jen. motion of which he had given previous notice on a former Clerka. day. He prefaced his motion by saying, he should make no apology to the House for troubling them so early in the Seffion, as he concluded every member of a new Parliament would be gladl to give an earnest to his conftituents of his future good intentions towards them. The general voice of the people, expressed by their numerous petitions presented to that House (by which alone their true sentiments were to be discovered) had called aloud for a more frugal expenditure of


I 2

the public money, and a reduction of unnecessary places and unmerited pensions. A right honourable gentleman at that time, and now a member of this House, ever zealous for the interest of the public, had proposed that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the causes of their complaints, and to regulate and adjust the public accounts; the noble Lord in the blue ribband, alarmed at the propofition, and shrinking from the appeal, and a tribunal fo impartially and so honourably conftituted, stepped in between the gentleman and the public, in a manner seldom practised in that House; produced a bill, appointing a certain number of his own friends, to try the imputed crimcs or mismanageinent of himself and his colleagues in office, annexing a very beneficial falary to each of these gentlemen; by this management the public was put into the situation of a traveller at a Dutch inn. When he complains to the landlord of the extravagance of his bill, he takes it away and makes a considerable addition to each article, which the unwary stranger is obliged to pay. When the people require a reduction of places and penfions, the noble Lord answers them with the appointment of half a dozen new commissioners, with a salary of one thousand pounds per ann, each, befides the expence of a large house, housekeepers, &c, and a new establishment of every kind; every part of which expence might have been avoided, and the public at least as well and more satisfactorily served by a cominittee of this House, as proposed by the right honourable genleman. I allow it was the opinion of one of the greatest lawyers, and of the greatest parliamentary authority at that time, that the appointment could not be lawfully made ; that the Commons of England were alone intrusted with the purse of the people, and they had no right to delegate that trust to any other persons, and it must appear to every body that they cannot or ought not to have such right, as there is not a man in this House who would suffer his steward to put his affairs into the hands of any other person, without his consent.

When the noble Lord named his commissioners, he began with an officer of the army, of high rank and great reputation, but one who had a long account of his own to fettle with the public; but the known honour and integerity of that gentleman, affitted with the interest of the noble Lord, overtuled the objection. The next gentlemen proposed by the noble Lord were two Mafters in Chancery, 'It was remark


ed, that these gentlemen, in their own departments, were not much accustomed to accelerate business; but it was answered, that they would have sufficient leisure during the suinmer vacation to attend to this great business, and much might be done in a few months, and indeed much ought to be done, as the commission was to laft only one year. Presuming therefore, that much has been done, I mean to move " that they now report a progress to the House;" a proposition which I think cannot be refused by the noble Lord : for in the last week in the last feffion, I gave notice that I meant to propose that a committee of the House should be appointed to superintend the commiffioners of public accounts.

The noble Lord at that time said the motion was unnecessary, for they were always amenable to the call of the House, and they might require a report of their progress whenever they pleased. I therefore hope the House will think proper to exercise that power at this time, not only to be informed what progress they have made, but also as it may be some guide to direct us in the making our future grants. The committee of supply fat yesterday for the first time, when the general proposition only was agitated, that a supply be granted to his Majesty ; but when the specific ones come under confideration, it may be of use to us to look back to the appropriation last year of the different sums that will now be required for the same purposes; and how far it may be right to enlarge or diminish our grants; for these reasons, he said, he then moved,

“ That the commiffioners of the public accounts do forthwith report a progress to this House."

The above inotion was agreed to nem, con.

Sir Philip then defired to know at what hour it was to be understood the speaker was to take the chair, or at what hour public business was to be entered upon ; let it be three o'clock, or half after three or four, but let the hour be fixed.

Sir Joseph Mawbey again supported Sir Philip, insisting, ei- Sir Joseph ther that a later hour, as one or twelve, be appointed for the Mawbey. adjournments, or that some hour should be fixed for the orders of the day being read. He seemed to wait for some reply from

The Speaker, who said, that for his own part he had not a Mr. Speaker with one way or the other, he would be directed by the House; at the same time he observed, that the necessity of


« AnteriorContinua »