Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Thursday, March 31, 1659.
Colonel White had offered it immediately upon a petition (fn. 3) read to the purpose.
Mr. Broughton. If they could so long be content with a Bishop, (fn. 4) and never complain, let them stay awhile. I would have the generality considered. Divers members are sent upon the account of thatchers and thrashers.
Mr. Bulkeley. I am against reading the Bill now. I would have a more equal distribution. (fn. 5) As I hear, there is one Papist has sent you thirteen members. (fn. 6) I know not how true it is. If you please, refer the petition to a Committee. I shall not be against it.
Resolved, that this petition be referred to a Committee; and they do bring in a Bill for an equal representative, to serve in this present Parliament for the county and city of Durham. A Committee was named.
Sir Henry Vane. I would not that all have voices. It is the first time that ever I heard of the whole House being appointed to bring in a Bill. There never were above nine. It is but one man's work to draw it.
Mr. Turner. In the Parliament of 54, you spent a month's time at a Grand Committee, at distribution. There is need of taking many away. The distribution is now very unequal. (fn. 7)
Mr. Speaker. There are either far too many, (fn. 8) or far too few; and if you will not refer it for a general distribution, then the first six will be enough.
Mr. Annesley (fn. 9) moved to alter the words "three nations" for "Commonwealth."
Mr. Swinfen. The business of the Scotch and Irish members will ask too long a debate; therefore, I would have it at present extend no farther than to England, and would have the order of the day read touching the abating the time of the Excise and Customs. The people listen very willingly after any thing that may give them ease.
Nothing but an unavoidable necessity could have laid excise upon the people. (fn. 10) It was not. intended to be continual.
Sir Henry Vane. All you have done these two months is to settle all power without you, but nothing is done for the people. In former Parliaments the grievances of the people were always heard first. This will make the people that sent you, think you came not to do their business, but the business of the single person.
I never knew the like, to settle this for life. It is to settle it to perpetuation; for you can do no less for one than for another. I wonder who dare levy the excise upon any law now in force, unless you settle it by this law.
First, see what you have fought for. Be sensible you have somewhat left. We are not so ready to fill up those blanks. The Bill came in irregularly, against order. It is surely to serve some interest; else he durst not have done it.
Mr. Turner. I must in many things disagree from this gentleman. The government by a single person and Lords and Commons, was never the quarrel. Great necessity brought in the excise. That Government (fn. 11) brought it in, and causes the continuance of it. All king's and public lands are sold. Shall your single person, that you have voted, live on the air. I wish it could be done without.
Serjeant Maynard. I except to the words, (fn. 12) "dare levy it." Who dare not levy it, if there be a law ? We are loose from all rules of government, if we admit any thing to be no law till you have declared it no law. For any judge to have done as much as has been said, I know what you would do with him. (fn. 13)
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I thank the knight in the corner for speaking so plainly. I hope to hear no more of comparing any judge with this House. We may make laws, or repeal or alter laws, which a judge cannot do.
I stand amazed how this Bill came in. You know how the Bill of Recognition came in; (fn. 14) how the Petition and Ad vice was made out a law, you know; a possessory right, to all intents and purposes, as was learnedly said.
This Bill brings a double lash with it. If I had brought in this Bill without your command, I should have expected to be sent to the Tower. To the word "dare," I may say, who dare do any thing against law, especially in the sitting of a Parliament? If there had been a law to maintain it, I believe it had not been now brought in to you. There have been so many brought in by side-winds from step to step.
This is a most terrible double-axe Bill, a brown and a black one; brought in instead of a redress of our grievances. It is not to be made a good Bill. I would, therefore, have it reversed. A matter of twelve or thirteen lines is to settle the greatest revenue that ever was.
It is now managed with so much opposition, that I wish not only my tongue cut, but my hand off when I consented; but there was necessity. The butchers rose up upon us, so that else all flesh had perished. I hope this will take you up time enough. I would have it disputed, if any law be of force.
Let us see what we can do about settlement. We go from step to step, to forget what belongs to the liberties of the people. Any three lines in it would do it. I would have it in two bills. Refer it to a Grand Committee to bring in these Bills.
Mr. Drake. I am against rejecting it. If it had not been a law, and that to perpetuity, it had not come in here to retrench the time. The greatest grievance is free quarter; and if this were no law, free quarter must follow.
Mr. Annesley. It came in against order, and I must not but assert it, what is a known order of the House. That word "dare," was mistaken. He said, if there was no law, who dare ? The excise was not brought in in the time of a Commonwealth. (fn. 15) It was settled by both Houses before a Commonwealth was. (fn. 16)
This can never be made a good Bill. I would not have us confirm laws by the lump. It was the error of last Parliament. Sixty Acts were confirmed without reading. (fn. 17) If we mention the continuance of it, we admit it already settled by law. The words, "unless continued," imply as if it might be now continued by Act of Parliament.
That bill in tertio Caroli, was brought in, not with a blank as this. The word, "continue," is much excepted against. I would have nobody flatter themselves that the excise shall not be continued, unless you will come to a knd tax.
Too great excise upon cloth, fish, and tin, destroys trade. This is like the man that wanted a stock, and proposed that living in a great town, every man would give him 5l. They thought he might deserve sixpence a-piece. I know not whether you will think so of this.
Mr. Scot. This is either the best or worst time to bring this in. This is not properly for the maintenance of his Highness. There is another revenue for him. It is for your army. Forty of them now live in the other House. (fn. 18) It is a well rivetted favour to them at first.
I have heard it said that never a good motion in Parliament died. Parliament was never called these one hundred years, but to repair the exhausted charge of the Chief Magistrate. I would see things at ease before you settle this.
The law is not without its flaws. Make it something sweeter, as well in the time as the thing. To settle it for a year will be long; but, it may be, the contracts will lead you out to a further time. The burthen is grievous. There are horrid barbarities in the levying this, which it will probably come to my share to report from the Committee.
Observe and you will find the Government, since 53, more chargeable than in five years of that of 48. Your expense will be found by the business of Spain and Flanders, and not for want of a provision for your army.
The Committee for the maintainance of ministers (fn. 19) met, and sat in the Inner Court of Wards.
T. B. (fn. 20) was in the chair, upon the desire of Mr. Hewley, who could not attend.
There were brought in the accounts from the trustees for —, (fn. 21) but so imperfect that they were returned to them again, to be brought in more perfect on Wednesday next.
Counsel were heard long in the business of Castle Rising, Colonel Fielder, (fn. 22) against Colonel Jeremy. The election was very foully carried by the Mayor, as influenced from Court, from Mr. Secretary by name, on Mr. Harry Howe, who was lord of the manor, and forced the mayor to return Fielder and Goddard, (fn. 23) as he had done in twelve boroughs more. It was not long since moved in the House, by the by, that a Papist had chosen twenty-six members. (fn. 24)
The Court party were so afraid of the consequence, that they durst not venture it upon a report to the House; so chose, rather than lay things at Court open to the House, to move to have the election void as to both, and it was so resolved accordingly, wherein Mr. Trevor, being Fielder's brother-in-law, did very discreetly.