Imatges de pÓgina

interested with themselves in concealing their proceedings. In the next place, in order to prevent the result of the final judgement of the Commiffioners from tranfpiring and becoming public, by returning to the furveyors the amount of the fum the parties concerned are adjudged to pay, a fecret book fhould be keept by the Commiffioners, with numbers correfponding to the names of the different parties, while those parties fhall be at liberty through themselves or their agents to pay into the Bank of England, or to the Receiver General, the fum in which they are affeffed. The parties afterwards, on the production of a certificate to the Special Commiffioners, that the fum in which their numbers are affeffed, has been paid, shall have their names written off by the Commiffioners. But in case of non-payment after a certain time, the Commiflioners fhall be empowered to open the fecret book, and to proceed by public process to recover payment from the parties fo failing. For the fuggeftion of thefe improvements he was particularly indebted to gentlemen much experienced in commercial concerns, who recalled to his recollection how this very mode had been fuccefsfully practifed in a business of a far more delicate nature than the present.' What he alluded to, was the fecret aid granted by Parliament, in 1793, to many refpectable commercial gentlemen, who then laboured under a temporary embarraffment. The difclosure of their fituation; the degree of aid they each folicited; and the nature of the fecurity given by them for fuch aid, were communicated only to perfons in fimilar circumftances with themfelves, and to fuch as it is now propofed to make something of a fimilar difclofure: it never then tranfpired who were the individuals that received the aid, or to what extent it was granted to them. By adopting in the prefent measure a like mode of proceeding, mercantile men muft feel that they are entirely relieved from all dread of bringing publicity on their private concerns, or disclosing the state of their property. Thus much he thought it neceffary to throw out respecting the intended regulations; of which he would enter into a more detailed explanation when the particular claufes containing them came regularly under difcuffion.

Colonel MARK WOOD approved in a great measure of this improved plan; but he thought it would be ftill more perfect, if it were made more general, and if all commercial men, as well as of thers, were compelled to balance their books upon a certain day every year, and declare the amount of their profits.

Mr. Alderman CURTIS highly approved of the proposed regulations, and was ready to do every thing in his power to give them effect; he was confident, they might be enforced with the utmost fecrecy, for he had the honour of being one of the Commissioners in

the business of 1793, alluded to by his right honourable friend, and from his own knowledge, he could fairly say, that it had completely anfwered its propofed object.

Mr. H. BROWN expreffed his apprehenfions, that these new regulations might tend to weaken the bill, to which he profeffed himself a very warm friend.

Mr. Chancellor PITT wifhed to fave the time of the Committee by again ftating his former obfervations, that no schedule should be required, unless a great majority of the Commiffioners agreed that it ought to be produced. They would take care that the ground upon which it was called for, fhould be grave, and weighty enough to induce their affent.

Mr. JONES wished to know whether, if the Commiffioners divulged the fecret, and violated their oath, they should be indictable for perjury?

Mr. Chancellor PITT obferved, that this was not the moment for answering that queftion. He was ready, however, fo far to fatisfy the honourable gentleman as to tell him that the oath in queftion was a promiffory oath, and that as fuch, in the nature of our laws, it did not make those who violated it indictable for perjury.

Mr. JONES 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 furveyor; they were entirely new, and if added to the powers granted last year, would prove inordinate. He wished to see them defined by a particular claufe; it was alfo his defire that the statements given in by commercial houfes fhould be given in in the name of the general concern, and not individually by each partner, and that the private property of each partner fhould be diftinguifhed from the profits of the trade.

The Chairman, Mr. SMITH, here fuggefted the propriety of ticking to the claufe now before the Committee, which he again read.

Mr. TIERNEY did not difapprove of the new modifications; he rose only to afk if it was the intention of the right honourable gentleman to have the bill reprinted after the new clauses were brought up, or thus he might not have an opportunity of examining them previous to their difcuffion. He could not, however, omit obferving, what a marked difference was now drawn between the mercantile and the landed intereft. The one was permitted to benefit their common intereft, and to impose taxes upon themselves, under the pretence of commercial expediency, while the landed gentry were

obliged to fubmit to whatever might be propofed, and be thus dragged through the dirt. Indeed the city patriotifm, as appeared before on another occafion, proved very fhort lived. One worthy Alderman (Mr. Curtis) highly approved of the measure, while another (Mr. Lufhington) was clamorous for modifications.

Mr. Chancellor PITT obferved, that there was a degree of candour in the first part of the honourable gentleman's speech, which the latter part of it did not betray. He wished the bill to be reprinted that he might ftudy the nature of the propofed claufes, but after confeffing his ignorance of them, he proceeded to inveigh against the predilection they fhewed for the mercantile intereft, to the prejudice of the landed gentry. Indeed the honourable gentleman's diffidence feemed to be as fhort-lived as the patriotifm of the city; for he must have recovered from, or relapfedin to his nature, for the fake of indulg ing in an invective against tl ¢ commercial intereft, though they little deferved it, as at their exprefs defire they came forward to contribute their full share. Had he not been deprived of an opportunity yefterday by there being no Houfe, he would have then brought forward the regulations he now proposed; but from information he bad received this morning, and from the delay that was afforded him, he was happy to fay that he could now bring them forward in a more regular and better digefted ftate, which perhaps he could not have done with equal effect yefterday. He could not fee that this was a moment for reporting progrefs; on the contrary, he thought the best way was now to go into the clauses. The new claufes might then be as open for difcuffion, as thofe now printed. It was indeed his intention that the bill fhould be reprinted, but it was alfo his with that no time thould be loft, but that the difcuffion might take place on the report.

Mr. TIERNEY, in explanation, faid, that it were as well that the right honourable gentleman had not mentioned the circumstance of there being no Houfe yefterday. Those who were in such a hurry to pafs the bill before the Chriftmas holidays, fhould doubtlefs have been in their places at four o'clock, while thofe who oppofed that hurry might be permitted to come down a few minutes after; only thirty-fix gentlemen however thought, proper to attend on a bufinefs of fuch weighty importance, and which they pretended fhould be carried into effect without delay.

Mr. Alderman LUSHINGTON begged leave to fay a word in fupport of his confiftency, which he trufted was as evident as that of the honourable gentleman, (Mr. Tierney). All he had faid was, that he and his confiituents approved the principle of the bill, but that he had firong objections to particular parts of it, which

he trusted would be done away, as he felt particular fatisfaction at the explanation given by the right honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer; in all this he hoped he was perfectly confiftent.

Mr. WILBERFORCE was of opinion that the fevere animadversions of the honourable gentleman (Mr. Tierney), on those whom he thought should not have failed in making a Houfe, could be intended only to injure the character of Parliament.

Mr. WIGLEY called to order, and faid, that these observations were foreign to the bufinefs before the Committee.

Lord HAWKESBURY alfo called to order, and wifhed to know what was the question before the House?

The CHAIRMAN faid, there was no question before the Committee, but he was now going to read the clauses.

Sir W. PULTENEY contended that the regulations now propofed in favour of commercial men put the bill altogether in a new light; it was not, therefore, wrong to enter upon the difcuffion of it, when its whole fyftem and tenor feemed to be changed.

Mr. WIGLEY rofe and contended, that this claufe ought to be poftponed; on which a converfation arofe on the point of order, when it was decided, that it was neceffary, in the first place, to difpofe regularly of the claufes of the bill.

Upon the claufe for regulating the fanctions of furveyor, Mr. Tierney fuggefted, that the Commiffioners fhould have the power of discharging him, in cafes where he was officious and oppreffive in his furcharges. It had happened last year, in the county of Lincoln, that a furveyor had occafioned much vexation and trouble by furcharges, which were afterwards all difcharged by the Com


Lord HAWKESBURY faid, that the very cafe alluded to, proved, that if fuch an abuse exifted, there already was a difpofition to correct it. The furveyor in the county of Lincoln was refufed.

To a queftion, whether the Commiffioners were to be paid for their trouble? The Chancellor of the Exchequer faid they were not.

An amendment was likewife made to the claufe respecting the powers of the furveyor, by which the Commiffioners are left to judge, whether they are to proceed to iffue any precept upon the furcharge made by the furveyor; and to confider and to examine the reafons he had for making it, and decide accordingly.

Upon this point fome converfation took place between Sir William Pulteney and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The former faid, that the amendment now propofed, had made very mate

rial alterations in the bill; when in its original state, it conferred a very dangerous and oppreffive power on the furveyor, to harass any perfon he chofe, by calling upon him by a furcharge, to give a statement of his affairs.

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that if fuch an alteration (certainly material, but perfectly confiftent with the fpirit of the measure) had reconciled the honourable Baronet to the bill, how could he justify the inflammatory language he had ufed refpecting it, when he said it applied whips and fcourges to the people of this country?

Sir WILLIAM PULTENEY faid, he wanted none of the right honourable gentleman's affiftance to defend his confiftency. He was not prepared to retract a word of what he had faid of the bill in the shape it was firft brought forward.

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

Mr. TIERNEY likewife oppofed this claufe. He said, that before fuch violent means were used, the right honourable gentleman might try what mildnefs 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 fum eftimated had been obtained. It would be better to try to raise even a part of this fum without calling for fuch difclofure.

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that to do what the honourable gentleman recommended, would be to enable those who were unwilling to contribute to escape, while it would lay the burden on thofe who in other cafes had evinced a difpofition to contribute to the public exigencies.

The Committee then divided upon the clause enabling the Commiffioners to call for the difclofure

For the claufe, So; Against it, 4.

On the claufe which provides that an appeal fhall be allowed from the decifion of the Commiffioners to other Commiffioners, and that the appeal fhall be allowed to the furveyor, as well as to the perfon charged, a debate arofe, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Solicitor General, Mr. Simeon, Mr. Percival and others, fupported the claufe, and confidered it as only a question like of civil fuit, and granting a new trial; and Mr. Tierney, Mr. Wigley, and Sir W. Geary opposed it, and confidered the allowance of appeal to the furveyor, like giving an accuser the power of having a man tried a second time for a crime of which he had been acquitted; for although, in strictness of language, it was not a crime that a man was accufed of when he was charged with having

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