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So far from being deterred from doing his duty by any fuch imputations, he found encouragement from what he had feen to-day, to perf vere in making fuch remarks as was his duty.
The right honourable D. RYDER faid, if any thing could induce him to oppose any modifications introduced after mature deliberations, it would be fuch affronting infinuations as those of the honourable gentleman (Mr. Tierney), of his having brought his right honourable friend to his fenfes. By fuch Janguage he was throwing the strongest temptations in the way of friends to the bill attending to modifications, to be told that they are brought to their fenfes, if either by any change of opinion, or acquiefcence in the opinions of others, they propofed any modifications. With regard to the amendment, he was of opinion, that even though no appeal was allowed from the first Commiffioners, after giving in a statement of income upon oath, yet there fhould be liberty of reference to the Judges, as the dernier refort in fuch cases.
Mr. Chancellor PITT obferved, that the honourable gentleman had faid, that every modification propofed was to him and his friends fo much clear gain; whilft he had told the House that he was against the whole bill, and that every modification was a weakening of the effect of the bill. As to the honourable gentleman's idea of clear gain by fuch modifications, he was in hopes he would be difappointed; but he evidently faw that the honourable gentleman was willing to heap upon the bill every degree of obloquy: but, perhaps, although contrary to his real intention, he might, by his oppofition and fpecches fuggeft fome things which might tend upon the whole to make the bill more effectual in its operations; and he (Mr. Pirt) owned, that this was the chief revenge which he wifhed to be gratified in. He had had occafion to fee a great many fimilar inftances, when nothing had given more mortification and regret to those gentlemen, than when they found that the objections which they had thrown out had produced the tendency of strengthening a measure entirely the reverfe of what they had intended. The honourable gentleman had talked of acquiring popularity by not interfering at all; he wished to know from what quarter he expected it? Would it, he would afk, be a recommendation to the People of England, and the beft road to popularity, for the honourable gentleman to fay, "I have been prefent at the difcuffion of a great measure; and I have withheld my opinion, either whether the measure was oppreffive, odious, or practicable, which I could at the fame time have opposed, and, perhaps, with fuccefs?" The honourable gentleman had taken to himself the merit of every amendment, by indirectly faying, "this is owing to what I have
faid against the bill." He could not avoid remarking, that he had not heard from that honourable gentleman, or any other of his friends in Oppofition, any remedy propofed to any objectionable claufe. He rather supposed that they had ftudioufly abstained from any suggestion which, as they thought, could produce a remedy. Mr. Chancellor Pitt denied that the amendment he had proposed was any departure from the spirit of the clause as it originally ftood.
After Mr. Yorke, Mr. Vanfittart, and others had fpoken, the clause, with Mr. Chancellor Pitt's amendment, was carried without a divifion.
Some farther claufes and provifions of the bill, with fome amendments made thereto, were then agreed to by the Committee.
That part of the schedule of the bill being read, which went to provide for the payment of a certain portion of income arifing from lands occupied by the owners thereof, it was propofed by the rule, in fuck part of the schedule, that, in eftimating the annual value of thefe lands, &c. the fame, in no cafe, fhould be taken or reduced to less than the amount of one and a quarter year's rent, according to the rate at which fuch lands are worth to be let by the year, &c.
This provifion it was propofed to amend, by the supporters of the bill, by adding, "or rated at higher than a year and a half."
The general principle of the rule in increafing the estimate beyond the bare yearly rent, met with a ftrong oppofition from several gentlemen, and a defultory converfation of fome length enfued.
Mr. Chancellor PITT defended the rule, as originally propofed in the schedule, and the amendment, with his accustomed ability. It was intended, he faid, that a difcretionary power should be vefted in the Commiffioners, to vary their calculations, according to circumftances, from a year and a quarter to a year and a half's rent ; by this mode, the best under all the circumstances of the cafe that could pofiibly be ftruck out, the individual could be in no danger of being aggrieved, or the pule of fultring.
Mr. WIGLEY fpoke only in dilapprobation of fixing the minimum in fuch a manner.
Mr. ELLISON contended for the diffulties which he conceived the Commiffion rs would labour, under fuch vague and indefinite rules for their conduct. He was confident that, in fome cafes, they must be at a les luv to act. He alfo begged limply to be informed how Commiffioners could calculat, with any degree of precifion, the value of lands to occupied.
Mr. Chancellor PITT acknowledged the difficulty of ascertaining precifely the annual value of fuch lands; but there were a variety of circumftances to guide the affeffors-as the nature of the land itself, whether it was arable, or pafture, or what particular fpecics it might be, the mode of cultivating the land by the occupier, whether with a view to profit or to pleasure; the opinion of perfons of repute in the neighbourhood, refpecting the real value of the land. In fhort, a variety of other ways, perfectly known to perfons more converfant in these affairs than he could be expected to be.
Mr. BURTON and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL defended the rule and the amendment at fome length.
Some farther objections being made to thefe, by gentlemen who oppofed the bill,
Mr. Chancellor PITT contended, that the mode propofed by the amendment, of allowing the Commiffioners a difcretionary power of varying their calculations according to circumstances, from a year and a quarter's rent as far as a year and a half, would be found infinitely preferable on experience, to tying the Commiffioners down to a fixed limitation, or uniform ftandard, as preffed by gentlemen oppofite to him.
The Committee divided, when there appeared, in favour of the rule amended as above, 48; Againft it, 32. Majority, 16.
Mr. Chancellor PITT obferved, that on account of the length of the schedule, and the variety of amendments which were propofed to be offered, it would be impoffible to get through the bill at any reasonable hour that night. He therefore fubmitted, whether it would not be the better way to direct the Chairman to report progrefs, and afk leave to fit again.
Mr. BAKER took the opportunity to ask, what were the right honourable gentleman's intentions with refpect to the arrangement of the future progrefs of the bill?
Mr. Chancellor PITT replied, that fecondary to expediting a measure of so great importance, with all reasonable dispatch, his wishes were directed to the accommodation of the House. He imagined, that with a reference to the enfuing recefs, gentlemen would with rather to be detained a little longer than ufual in town, even at this feafon of the year, than have an opportunity of vifiting their country feats, and partaking of domeftic enjoyments there, for a very fhort period, which must be the cafe, were the completion of the meafure deferred until after the holidays. He had hoped the bill would have been perfectly gone through that night, in which case the whole, with the amendments, might have been printed without
delay, given out to the Members, and the general subject taken into farther confideration on Monday next. His wishes were, however, as he already stated, keeping in view every reasonable difpatch to a measure of such importance, directed to the accommodation of gentlemen on these points.
A converfation refpecting the future arrangement of the progress of the bill, between Meffrs. Baker, Pierrepoint, Tierney, Bragge, H. Browne, and Mr. Chancellor Pitt, then took place: the general refult of which was, that the remainder of the bill, with the amendments, should be gone through to-morrow night; the report received, pro forma, that the whole fhould be printed, and delivered to the Members, with as little delay as poffible, and the report taken into farther confideration on Wednesday next.
The Chairman left the chair, and, on the refumption of the House, reported progrefs, and the Committee was ordered to fit again to-morrow.
Friday, December 21.
The House having refolved itself into a Committee on the Indemnity Bill, Mr. Rofe in the chair,
Mr. SPEAKER ftated, that he had looked into the nature and practice of indemnity bills with great care fince laft evening, and was convinced, by the refult of his inquiry, that it would be much more perfpicuous and convenient, that all objects of the fame import fhould be included in one bill: it would afford a clearer fort of relief, and would operate better for the protection of the subject, and the fecurity of the revenue. He therefore recommended, that the Committee would not avail itself of the leave given them to divide the bill into two, but comprehend all the claufes under one He conceived it would be the best mode of preventing miftakes and mifconception.
Mr. WIGLEY concurred in this opinion; after which feveral claufes were received, granting indemnities to attornies' apprentices, whose indentures had not been ftamped; to attornies who had not been able to enter their certificates in the different Courts, &c.
Mr. Chancellor PITT moved the fecond reading of the bill for continuing the fufpenfion of the Habeas-Corpus A&t.
Mr. TIERNEY obferved, that when the bill for fufpending the Habeas Corpus Act was introduced in the laft feffion of Parliament, This was not the cafe with grounds were ftated for adopting it. the present bill, for the bringing forward of which no reason what
Indeed he was at a lofs to conceive what
ever had been affigned. reafon could be urged for continuing this measure. The right honourable gentleman had not thought proper to mention any perhaps he thought the motives which ought to induce the House to agree to the bill were fo obvious, that it was unneceffary to point them out. To him, however, they were not obvious; and until he heard fome folid grounds ftated for the meafure, he must be excufed if he withheld his affent from the bill.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, he had ftated yesterday, when he moved for leave to bring in the bill, that the motives which induced the Houfe to adopt this measure laft feffion ftill exifted, at least the fituation of public affairs was fuch as to demonftrate the policy and neceffity of continuing it. This, he believed, was too obvious to require any illuftration; but he muft obferve, that he neither was now, nor ever could at any other time be, at a lofs to ftate reasons which, he was convinced, were more than fufficient to induce the Houfe to continue the fufpenfion.
Mr. COURTENAY faid, he should take the liberty of stating a few words upon the question before the House. "Every Member in that Houfe," he obferved, "muft venerate a law which fecured the perfonal liberty of Englishmen-a law which every political writer has made the fubject of his higheft eulogium, and which has contributed fo much to the profperity and happiness of Great Britain. It is needlefs for me to urge to the House, that this great bulwark of British Liberty ought to be touched with a delicate hand, and that nothing but the most obvious neceffity fhould be pleaded in excufe for its fufpenfion. I cannot, therefore, give my affent to a measure, the object of which is to deprive the people, for a ftill longer period, of one of the greatest bleffings handed down to them by their ancestors, which, while it is allowed to operate, affords perfonal protection to every individual, and which at one time rendered the liberties of this country paramount to those of any other country upon earth.
"We must admire," fays an elegant and philofophical writer, Mr. Ferguson," as the key ftone of civil liberty, the ftatute which forces the fecrets of every prifon to be revealed, the cause of every commitment to be declared, and the perfon of the accufed to be produced, that he may claim his enlargement or his trial within a limited time. No wifer form were ever oppofed to the abuses of power." It is upon an inftitution like this that thofe Statesmen who wish to fubvert liberty will naturally commence their attacks. It has often been affailed, and, as the fame author well obferves,It requires a fabric no lefs than the whole political Conftitution