Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

of the Commissioners in the business of 1793, alluded to by his right honourable Friend, and from his own knowledge, he could fairly fay, that it had completely answered its proposed object.

Mr. I. H. Browne said, he was happy that commercial gentlemen were so satisfied with the modifications which were to be proposed ; but he could not help observing, at the same time, that it appeared to him to be making a great concellion in favour of that class of men. He should be glad to accommodate commercial men as much as potlible, but he was bound also to take care of the interelts of others, and he was afraid that, by these conceflions, the general operation of the measure would be weakened.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to save the time of the Cominittee by again stating his former obfervations, that no schedule thould be required, unless a great majority of the Comunitioners agreed that it ought to be produced. They would take care that the ground upon which it was called for, thould be grave and weighty enough to induce their assent,

Mr. Jones wished to know whether, if the Commissioners divulged the secret and violated their oath, they should be iodictable for perjury?

The Chincellor of the Exchequer observed, that this was not the moment for answering that question. He was ready, however, fo far to satisfy the hon. Gentleman as to tell him that the oath in question was a promiffory oath, and that as such, in the nature of our laws, it did not make those who violated it indictable for perjury.

Mr. I mes contended that it should be viewed in the light of a contentious oath.

Sir Francis Baring objected to the powers entrusted to the office of Surveyor ; they, were entirely new, and if added to the powers granted last year, would prove inordinate. He withed to see them defined by a particular clause; it was also his desire that the statements given in by commercial houses should be given in in the name of the general concern, and not individually by each partner, and that the private property of each partner thould be distinguished from the profits of the trade.

The Chairman, Mr. Smith, here suggested the propriety of confining themselves to the clause now before the Committee, which he again read. Mr. Tierney faid, he did not disapprove of the new modifi

cations :

[ocr errors]

cations : he merely rose to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he meant to move that the Bill should be printed with the amendments, report progress, and ask leave to fit again. This would afford an opportunity of confidering the clauses respecting the mode of affeiling the mercantile and other interefts, and Gentlemen would fee whether they could agree to thein. He was speaking for the accommodation of the House ; but one point he must not overlook. On a former evening a worthy Alderman (Lushington) said, that no defcription of men could be more ready to aflist Government, even to the last shilling, than the commercial intercft; but now this interest was to be distinguished by peculiar immunities, was to become its own alleffor, by having Commisfioners selected from its own body, while the gentlemen of landed estate were to be dragged through the dirt, and their property subjected to the inspection of Commissioners, in a great measure aliens to their body. It could not be said that the patriotism of the city was long lived, it had lasted only twenty-four hours, For (contradičting his hon. colleague) a worthy Alderman (Curtis) near him, assured the Committee that he approved of the new scheme, yet the merchants of the city of London were to sacrifice their lives and fortunes to prosecute a war to which they were then only to contribute what they please.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, that there was a degree of candour in the first part of the hon. Gentleman's speech, which the latter part did not betray. It certainly was his intention to propose that the additional clauses should be printed, and he had no doubt but that they would be found! calculated to remedy the inconvenience of discovery to commercial men, an inconvenience which did not apply to gentlemen of landed property, and that by granting them this convenience, the measure itself, so far from being weaken. ed, would be improved, and the collection increaled. The hon. Gentleman had exprofied a wish to have these clauses printed, from a diffidence in his own abilities, a diffidence for which there certainly was no foundation. It so happened, however, that this diffidence was of not near so longa duration as he had supposed the liberality of the city to exist, for in less than five minutes after the hon. Gentleman had expressed this diffidence in his own abilities, he, either relapsing into, or deviating from his natural temper, felt himself warranted in deciding upon those very claufes which he before was apprehensive he did not understand. The hon. Gentle


be as open

man seemed to think that the worthy Alderman seemed to act in consequence of a kind of rotation. Now, among the various articles of luxury in which the hon. Gentleman was inferior to Aldermen, he certainly did not enjoy the luxury of this species of rotation, for he was obliged to contend alone. He was obliged to do all the duty by himself, and to thift his attacks as occasion required. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the clauses which he had announced to the committee were suggested in consequence of something that had happened this morning ; now the fact was, that had he not been deprived of an opportunity the preceding day by there. being no House, he would have then brought forward the regulations he now proposed; but from information he had received that morning, and from the delay that was afforded him, he was happy to say that he could now bring them forward in a more regular and better digested state, which perhaps lie could not have done with equal effect the preceding day. He could not see that the present was a moment for reporting progress; on the contrary, he thought the best way was now to go into the clauses. The new clauses might then

for discussion, as those now printed. It was indeed his iniention that the bill fhould be reprinted, but it was also his with that no time should be lost, but that the discusfion might take place on the report.

Mr. Tierney, in explanation, laid, that it were as well that the right hon. Gentleman had not mentioned the circumstance of there being no House the preceding day. Those who were in such a hurry to pass the bill before the Christmas holidays, should doubtless have been in their places at four o'clock, while those who opposed that hurry might be permitted to come down a few minutes after; only thirty-fix Gentlemen however thought proper to attend on a business of fuch weighty importance, and which they pretended should be carried into effet without delay.

Mr. Alderman Lushington begged leave to say a word in support of his consistency, which he trusted was as evident as that of the hon. Gentleman, (Mr. Tierney.) All he had said was, that he and his constituents approved the principle of the bill, but that he had strong objections to particular parts of it, which he trusted would be done away, as he felt particular satisfaction at the explanation given by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer; in all this he hoped he was perfectly consistent.

Mr. Wilberforce was of opinion that the severe animadver-
Vol. I. 1798.


fions of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tierney), on those whoin he thought Mould not have failed in making a House, could be intended only to injure the character of Parliament. If the hon. Gentleman had sat half so long in Parliament as he had, he would have known that the very circumstance of the importance of the measure might be the reason of there not being a full attendance at four o'clock. For Gentlemen ex. pecting an important discusion, might wait for that refreshment which was absolutely necessary in case of a long de. bate.

Mr. Wigley called to order, and said, that these observations were foreign to the bufiness before the committee.

Lord Hawkesbury also called to order, and wished to know what was the question before the House?

The Chairman said, there was no question before the com, mittee, but he was now going to read the clauses.

Sir W. Pulteney contended that the regulations now proposed in favour of commercial men put the bill altogether in a new light; it was not, therefore, wrong to enter upon the discussion of it, when its whole system and tenor seemed to Þe changed.

Mr. ĪVigley contended, that this claufe ought to be pofta poned; on which a conversation arose on the point of order, when it was decided, that it was necessary, in the first place, to dispose regularly of the clauses of the bill.

Upon the clause for regulating the functions of Surveyor,

Mr. Tierney suggested, that the commissioners should have the power of discharging him, in cases where he was officious and oppressive in his surcharges. It had happened last year, in the county of Lincoln, that a Surveyor had occaLioned much vexation and trouble by surcharges, which were afterwards all discharged by the Commissioners.

Lord Hawkesbury faid, that the very cafe alluded to, proved, that it such an abuse existed, there already was a disposition to correct it. The Surveyor in the county of Lincoln was refused. He also opposed the clause, because it had a tendency to hold up the Surveyors to the public as odious characters.

The Solicitor General agreed that the Surveyor in question had been very troublesome and impertinent; but it was true also that many persons had been found out by his means, not to have paid their due proportion of taxes.

Mr. Plumer asked whether it wa intended that the Commillioners under this A&t shouldre eive any salary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer eplied, that undoubtedly


[ocr errors]

the trouble to which this act would put the Commissioners, deserved remuneration ; at the same time, it was not his iné tention to propose any allowance of salary, and he doubted not but that,, independent of every pecuniary emolument, they would do their best endeavours for the good of the country

Mr. P'umer thanked the righthonourable Gentleman for his fair and explicit answer, with which he declared himself perfectly fatisfied.

The clause was negatived.

An amendment was likewise made to the clause respecting the powers of the Surveyor, by which the Commissioners are "left to judge, whether they are to proceed to issue any precept upon the surcharge made by the Surveyor ; and to consider and to examine the reasons he had for making it, and decide accordingly.

Upon this point some conversation took place between Sir William Pulteney, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The former said, that the amendment now proposed, had made a very material alteration in the bill; which, in its original state, conferred a very dangerous and oppressive power on the surveyor to harrass any perfon he chose, by calling upon him by a surcharge, to give a statement of his affairs.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that if such an alteration (certainly material, but perfectly consistent with the spirit of the measure) had reconciled the hon. Baronet to the bill, how could he justify the inflammatory language he had used respecting it, when he said it applied whips and scourges to the people of this country:

Sir William Pulteney said, he wanted none of the right hon. Gentleman's assistance to defend his consistency. He was not prepared to retract a word of what he had said of the bill in ihe shape it was first brought forward.

Mr. Wigley opposed that part of the bill which empowered the commissioners to call for a schedule with a detailed statement of a man's circumstances.

Mr. Tierney likewise opposed this clause. He said, that before such violent means were used, the right hon. Gentleman might try what mildness would do. Even last year's experiment might induce him to do this; for although there might have been evasion, yet a great part of the sum estimated had been obtained. It would be better to try to raise eyen # part of this sum without calling for such disclofurc.



« AnteriorContinua »