The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The seventeenth Session of the second Parliament.
The King's Speech to both Houses.
In the first place, I am resolv'd, as far as I am able, to save Flanders, either by a War or a Peace, which way I see most conducing to that end. In either way, I think it convenient to keep up my Army, and Navy at Sea, for some time; but I leave it to you to consider of Supplies for their Continuance or Disbanding; and in either case not to discourage so many worthy and gallant Gentlemen, who have offer'd their Lives and Services to their Country, and that in pursuit of your Advice and Resolutions: I must tell you, that a Branch of my Revenues is now expiring, and another Part of it is cut off by a Clause in the Poll-Bill; that I have borrow'd two hundred thousand Pounds upon the Excise at your request; of all which you are to consider. That I have no Intentions but of Good to you, and my People, nor ever shall; therefore I desire you will not drive me into Extremities, which must end ill both for you and me, and (which is worst of all) for the Nation. I desire to prevent all Disorders and Mischiefs that may befal by our Disagreement; but in case there do, I leave it to God Almighty to judge who is the occasion of it. In conclusion, I must tell you, That I will not, for the future, suffer the old course and method of passing of Laws to be chang'd, by tacking together several Matters in one Bill; but this Bill shall certainly be lost, let the Importance be what it will. The rest I leave to the LordChancellor.'
The Lord Chancellor's Speech. ; This Part of the Speech gave great Umbrage to the Commons.
Accordingly his Lordship made a long and remarkable Speech, of which the most material. Part is as follows: 'That with reference to the present State of Christendom, and a general Peace, the Advances which had been made abroad, tho' hastened by some late Occurrences, were long since meditated and prepared in Holland: For when the States-General perceiv'd, that tho' they had strain'd themselves to the utmost, and exceeded all the Proportions which by their Treaty they were bound to furnish, yet the Spaniards fail'd them in every Point, not only in the Subsidies they were oblig'd to pay, but in the very Strength and Forces they stood engag'd to set out; insomuch that all their Towns and Garrisons were so far from being in any tolerable Posture to receivé an Enemy, that they remain'd as perfectly defenceless as if they were intended to be abandon'd: Hereupon the States resolv'd to seek all Occasions of coming out of the War, and to lay hold on the first that should offer itself; and to that End, the last Year they solicited his Majesty to endeavour a Peace, and they would then have taken such a Peace as they now seek: But his Majesty thought he had done great Service to the Christian World, when he had gain'd two Points upon them; First, to model and concert with them the Terms and Articles of a better Peace; and then, on Prospect of that Peace, to enter into a League offensive and defensive with his Majesty, to obtain that Peace by Force, if it could not be had otherwise. Tho' the Dutch were still inclin'd to accept of Peace, and were hearkening after the French Propositions at Nimeguen; yet such were his Majesty's Resolutions to hold them to their League, and so constant were all his Refusals to hearken to such a Peace, that they must of Necessity at last have been oblig'd to continue on the War some way or other. But since it was heard abroad, that this League, which was the only Thing by which his Majesty could oblige the States, had been so ill understood at home, as to meet with some very unfitting, and very undeserving Reflections; as soon as it had taken Air, and understood, (fn. 1) That there was a Resolution to give no Money until Satisfaction was given in Matters of Religion, which in all Countries are the longest Debates that can be enter'd upon, and at this Time, above all others, should least have been stirr'd; and when at last the King had receiv'd an Address, which they took to be of such Nature as was never seen or heard of before in any State or Kingdom of the World, and proceeded so far as to express his Resentment of it: Then they concluded with themselves, That it was in vain to rely any longer upon England, for England was no longer itself: then all Sides began to wish for Peace, even Spain, as well as Holland; and if the Cessation, which is endeavour'd to be made in order to it, takes effect, as in all likelihood it will, we may conclude, That the Peace will soon follow.'
After this historical Account, he proceeded to this Effect: 'What Influence such a Peace will have upon our Affairs, is uncertain; only we know we have given no small Provocation to a mighty King, who may be at leisure enough to resent it when he pleases; therefore it imports us to secure ourselves, by preserving Peace and Unity at home: He that foments Divisions now, does more Hurt to his Country, than a foreign Enemy can do, and disarms it at a Time when all the Hands and Hearts we have are little enough to defend us: No Fears of arbitrary Government can justify, no Zeal to Religion can sanctify such a Proceeding!' He then reminded them of the late Times, 'When Religion and Liberty were truly lost, by being made a handle and pretence for Sedition; when Prelacy was call'd Popery, and Monarchy named Tyranny, &c. and can we now endure to see Men break the Act of Oblivion every day, by reviving the Memory of forgotten Crimes in new Practices ? It is worth the Consideration, whether we do not bring some kind of Scandal upon the Protestant Religion, when we seem so far to distrust the Truth and Power of it, that, after so many Laws past to guard it, and so many miraculous Deliverances from the Attempts made against it, we should still be afraid of its Continuance ? Hath not the late Act made it absolutely impossible for the most conceal'd Papist that is, to get into any kind of Employment ? And did ever any Law since the Reformation give us so great a Security as this ? As little reason there is to be jealous of our Liberties and Properties. Can there be a greater Evidence of the Moderation of a Prince, and his Tenderness of the Liberty of the Subject, than to suffer, as he does every day, so much licentious and malicious Talk to pass unpunish'd ? If there be not a single instance to be found in a whole Reign, of a Man that has suffer'd against Law, and very few of those that have suffer'd by it, shall we endure them that dare say in all public Places, That the Nation is enslav'd ? Let them shew the time, if they can, since the World began, and this Nation was first inhabited, wherein there were fewer Grievances, or less cause to complain than at this present time: Nay, let them search all Ages and Places, and tell us when and where there was ever found a happier People than we are at this day.'
He proceeded then to the Matter of the Revenue, and to the same purpose with what the King had said before, with some Enlargement; but plainly told them, 'That the Manner of their Proceedings was as considerable to his Majesty, as the Matter; and that he would not accept a good Bill, how valuable soever, unless it came to him in the old and decent Method of Parliaments: That the late way of tacking together several independent and incoherent Matters in one Bill, seem'd to alter the whole Frame and Constitution of Parliaments, and consequently of the Government itself It took away the King's negative Voice in effect, and forc'd him to take all or none, when one part of the Bill might be as dangerous, as the other was necessary for the Kingdom: It took away the negative Voice of the House of Peers by the same Consequence, and disinherited the Lords of their native Liberty of debating and judging what is good for the Kingdom: It look'd like a kind of defamation of the Government, and seem'd to suppose the King and Lords to be so ill affected to the Public, that a good Bill could not carry itself through by the Strength of its own Reason and Justice, unless help'd forwards by being tack'd to another that will be favour'd: It did at last give up the greatest share of the Legislature to the Commons, and by consequence the chief Power of judging what Laws are best for the Kingdom.' In fine, he shew'd that the same Method might be made use of by the Lords against the Commons; and thus every good Bill would be dearly bought at last, and one chief end of calling Parliaments, the making of good Laws, be wholly frustrated and disappointed, by departing from that Method which the Wisdom of our Ancestors purposely prescrib'd to prevent and exclude such Inconveniencies. These Innovations the King resolv'd to abolish, and had commanded him to say to them, State super Vias antiquas.' Then he said, ' If this Session do not repair the Misfortunes, and amend the Faults of the last, it will look like a Fatality upon the Nation. 'He whose House is destroy'd by Fire, would find but little comfort in saying, The fire did not begin by his means; but it will be a matter of perpetual Anguish and Vexation to remember, That it was in his power to have extinguish'd it. Let the World now see, that your Zeal to preserve the Government is the same as when you were ready to die for its Restoration; and know, 'tis an Act as meritorious, and of as great Duty and Loyalty, to stand between the King and those Libellers, who would create a Misunderstanding between him and his Parliament, as tis to sight for him in a Day of Battel. Embellish the History of this Parliament, by shewing us the healing Virtue of this Session: So shall your Service be acceptable to the King, who never forgets any thing but Injuries: So shall you recommend yourselves to Posterity, by transmitting to them the same Peace and Happiness you are trusted with. And the God of Peace and Unity prosper all your Consultations to the Honour and Happiness of the King, and the Joy and Comfort of all his good Subjects.'
Resolution relating to Bribery at Elections.
Resolved, That if any Person, hereafter to be elected into a Place to sit and serve in the House of Commons, for any County, City, Town, Port, or Borough, after the Teste of the Writ or Writs of Election, upon the calling or summoning of any Parliament hereafter; or after any such Place becomes vacant hereafter in time of Parliament, shall, by himself, or any other on his behalf, or at his charge, at any time before his Election, give any Person or Persons, having Voice in such Elections, Meat or Drink, exceeding in the true Value 10s. in the whole, in any Place or Places, but in his own Dwelling-house or Habitation, being the usual Place of his Abode for six Months last past; or shall, before such Election be made and declar'd, make any other Present, Gift or Reward, or any Promise, Obligation, or Engagement to do the same, either to any such Person or Persons in particular, or any such County, City, Town, Port or Borough in general; or to, or for the Use and Benefit of them, or any of them; every such Entertainment, Present, Gift, Reward, Promise, Obligation or Engagement, is by this House declar'd to be Bribery; and such Entertainment, Present, Gift, Reward, Promise, Obligation or Engagement being duly prov'd, is and shall be sufficient cause and matter to make every such Election Void, as to the Person so offending, and to render the Person so elected incapable to sit in Parliament by such Election: And hereof the Committee of Elections and Privileges is appointed to take especial notice and care, and to act and determine Matters coming before them accordingly.
A Motion to address the King to declare War against France. ; Carry'd.
The next remarkable Transaction of the House, was a Debate for an Address that his Majesty would acquaint the House with the state of Affairs in relation to War and Peace; as likewise to signify to his Majesty, that if he thought fit to enter into a War against the French King in concert with the Emperor, &c. the House would support him therein. Upon which, a motion was made to adjourn; which was carried in the Affirmative, Yeas 195, Noes 176. Nevertheless at their next Meeting, May 27, a Resolution past to the like purpose, with this additional Circumstance, that in case his Majesty declin'd to enter into the War, the House would provide for the speedy disbanding of the Army.
The King's Answer.
The House further order'd, That the Members of his Majesty's Privy Council, do acquaint the King with these Votes, and pray his Majesty's speedy Answer. To which the King return'd the following Answer, which was read the very next Day in the House of Commons: 'That the French King hath made such Offers of a Cessation till the 27th of July, as his Majesty doth not only believe will be accepted, but will end in a general Peace; yet since that is not certain, he does not think it prudent to dismiss either Fleet or Army before that time, nor doth he think it will add much to the Charge, in regard the raising Money, and paying them off, would take up that time, were they to be disbanded as speedily as possible: In the mean time he desired Money for their Subsistence, that, as hitherto they have been the most orderly Army that ever came together, they may be encourag'd to continue so. Then he concluded with reminding them of the two hundred thousand Pounds formerly mentioned in his Speech, which he wanted for the Subsistence of his Houshold.' Hereupon, on the next sitting Day, the Commons unanimously voted, 'That all Forces rais'd since the 29th of September last (except those transported to Foreign Plantations) be forthwith paid off and disbanded, and that they would consider of a Supply for that purpose.'
The Commons vote a Supply. ; A Message from the King. ; And resolve no Motion shall be made for a new Supply till after the next Recess.
Upon the 4th Day of June, the House of Commons, who seem'd now in a more giving humour than in the last Session, first voted two hundred thousand Pounds to be rais'd by a monthly Tax, in six Months, after the Land-Tax now in being, should be expired; but with a Clause, That this be for the disbanding the Army, by the end of this present June. The next day they voted the King two hundred thousand Pounds more, towards defraying the Expences of the Fleet; and were ready to add another such Sum for the King's extraordinary Occasions. Soon after which his Majesty sent them a Message by one of his Secretaries of State, importing, 'That his mind was still the same with what he deliver'd in his Speech the 23d of May last, viz. That the Army and Fleet ought to be kept up till the expected Peace be concluded: And he further recommended to their Consideration, whether it were not dishonourable for him to recall his Forces in Flanders, from those Towns which he had taken into his Protection, before they could provide themselves of other Succours.' Upon Consideration of which, the Commons extended the time, as to the Forces in Flanders, to the 27th Day of July. But upon Saturday the 15th of June they resolv'd, 'That after the Tuesday following, no Motions should be made for any new Supplies of Money, till after the next Recess; nor any more private Bills brought in, till after the said Recess.' The Division on the previous Question being Yeas 160, Noes 154; and on the Question itself, Yeas 163, Noes 154.
The King's second Speech to both Houses.
That the Season requiring a Recess by the middle of next Month, it was convenient that he and his Parliament should part fairly, and with a perfect Confidence of one another: Therefore he open'd his Heart freely to them in some Particulars of the nearest Concern: That what he told them in the Beginning of the Session concerning a Peace, seem'd ready to be determin'd, at least as to Spain and Holland; in which Peace his Part would be not only that of a Mediator, but also to give his Guaranty in it. That Spain writes word, That unless England bears the charge of maintaining Flanders, even after the Peace, they will not be in a condition to support it long; therefore to that end, it was necessary to keep up the Navy at Sea, and not only so, but to give the World some assurance of being well united at home: That tho' the House of Commons might think such a Peace as ill a Bargain as a War, because it would cost them Money; yet if they seriously consider'd that otherwise Flanders had been lost, and perhaps by this time, he believ'd they would give much greater Sums than that would cost, rather than the single Town of Ostend should be in the French hands, and forty of their Men of War in so good a Haven over against the River's Mouth. Then he insinuated to them, that they could not but be pleased to understand, the Reputation England had gain'd abroad, by having in forty Days rais'd an Army of thirty thousand Men, and prepar'd a Navy of ninety Men of War; therefore if they desir'd to keep up the Honour of the Crown at home, and look to the Safety of the Balance of Affairs abroad, and pursue the Wars of Algiers; if they desir'd he should pass any Part of his Life in quiet, and all the rest in Confidence and Kindness with them, and other future Parliaments; they must find a way, not only to settle for his Life his Revenue as at Christmas last, but also to add a new Fund of three hundred thousand Pounds per Annum, upon which he would pass an Act to settle fifty thousand Pounds upon the Navy and Ordnance; and should be likewise always ready to consent to all such Laws as they should propose for the Good of the Nation.' He lastly reminded them, 'to enable him to keep his word with the Prince of Orange, in the Payment of his Niece's Portion, which was forty thousand Pounds; the first Payment being now due and demanded by him.'
Not comply'd with.
Upon the Return of the Commons to their House, they immediately took the Speech into consideration, and soon voted his Majesty the humble Thanks of the House for his most gracious Expressions in it. But when they came to debate on the additional Revenue propos'd, they gave a total Denial to it; and not only so, but when a motion was made to give a Compensation for the lost Part of his Majesty's Revenues by the late prohibiting Act, concerning French Commodities, it pass'd in the negative, 202 against 145.
A Debate on Pensions, secret Service, &c.
The same Day, a Debate arose in the House on the following several Heads, viz. To have an Account of what Pensions have been charg'd upon the Revenue: what Privy Seals have been issued for such Service since May 1677, and for a Test concerning Bribery of Members for giving their Votes. And concerning Popery and taking the Sacrament: conversing with foreign Ministers, and receiving Money from them: concerning such as have receiv'd Money for Council for any Bill depending in the House, or any Reward for being Chairman of a Committee: such as have sollicited for Voices in any Cause depending before the House: such as have offer'd their Service to great Persons to give their Votes in Parliament, and have been refus'd: concerning such as keep public Tables, and such as have taken 'Money for granting Protections. Upon all which, a Motion being made to adjourn the House, it pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 173; Noes, 103. A Resolution was then taken for an Enquiry to be made into all the above Particulars; and the Question being put: whether they should be referred to a Committee, it pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 86; Noes, 100.
The Lords desire a Conference. ; Mr. Powle's Report.
On the 20th, the Lords having desired a Conference on Matters of great Concern; and the House having appointed a Committee for that Purpose, Mr. Powle, the same Day, made a Report of what pass'd at it, which was as follows:
That the Lord Privy-Seal (Earl of Anglesea) did manage the Conference, who acquainted the Manager for the Commons, that the Affair in question was a Message from his Majesty, which the Lords judg'd to be of such Moment to both Houses, and the whole Kingdom, that they thought it ought to be communicated without Delay. They then gave a Copy of the Message, which is here annex'd.:
The King's Message to the Lords.
The Lord Treasurer, by his Majesty's Command, did let the House know, 'That his Majesty had received a Letter from his Embassador at Nimeguen, Sir Lionel Jenkins, dated June 15, (N.S.) which gave an Account that the French Embassador had declar'd to the Dutch, that they would not void any of the Places they held in the Spanish Netherlands, until Sweden be effectually restor'd to the Places taken from them, notwithstanding the Peace was already sign'd and ratified between them: That, upon this is arisen a Difficulty upon the side of the Spaniards, whether they will accept the French Conditions: That Mr. Beverning, one of the States Embassadors there, had thereupon earnestly requiredof them, whether the Army of England was presently to be disbanded, for no body could tell to what End Things would come: For if France would keep all the Places in the Netherlands filled with Troops, it is in vain the States have taken so much Pains about the Barriers, for then they will have none when all is done: That Mr. Beverning was very anxious till he heard out of England: that the Army might not yet be disbanded: that the Imperial Ministers had been to visit him that Day, and that their principal Business was to learn what they could from him, and in what State our Army was, Things being in this doubtful Situation.'
The new Imposts on Wine confirmed.
The House then resolved into a Committee, to take into Consideration the Motion for confirming the new Imposts upon Wines, and also, to consider of the Supply for Repayment of the 200,000 l. borrow'd on the additional Excise, and for giving his Majesty 40,000 l. for his Niece's Portion: which being agreed to in the Committee, and resolved on in the House, a Motion was made, that the Words (the better to enable his Majesty to repair the Fleet) be added to the Vote, it pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 127; Noes, 176.
A Conference demanded with the Lords.
The 25th, the Lords having return'd the Bill for granting a Supply to his Majesty, to enable him to pay and disband the Forces rais'd since September 24, with Amendments; the said Amendments were severally read and rejected; after which it was resolved, that a Conference thereon be demanded of the Lords; and a Committee was appointed to manage it.
Sir Richard Temple's Report relating thereto.
'The Lords having agreed with the Commons in this Bill, that there is no farther Occasion for the Forces rais'd since September 29, and sent to the Commons some Amendments; the Commons find themselves obliged to disagree with the Lords Amendments, by reason of the Methods and Rights of their House in a Matter very tender to them: But for answering the End to which the Lords seem to aim, the Commons will offer an Expedient, which they conceive warranted by Precedents, viz.
The Earl of Thanet's Bill enter'd into the Lords Journal Feb. 1674, which the Lords then grounded upon a Precedent in 35 of Queen Elizabeth; in both which, Provisos were added by the Lords, after the Bill was sent from the Lords, not relating to any Amendments made by the Commons.
The House then resolved into a Committee on the Supply, in which it being resolved that 200,000 l. should be laid on all Buildings erected on new Foundations since 1656; the Question was afterwards put, whether the House should agree with the Committee thereon: It pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 88; Noes, 117.
The Lords desire a second Conference.
The 26th, the Lords by Message desired a second Conference on the same Subject with the former; and the same Committee having been again appointed to meet them, Sir Thomas Meers, the same Day, gave in his Report of what pass'd at it, is as follows:
Sir Thomas Meers's Report of what pass'd therein.
Their Lordships, finding that as the Bill came up to them limited to so very short a Time, for the Execution of it, and that under the Penalties of Forfeitures and Disabilities to bear Office on those who should not do their Work, according to the Purport of the Bill within the Time prefix'd, which their Lordships found absolutely impossible, they, therefore, proceeded to such Amendments as made the Bill practicable, by assigning farther. Periods of Time, viz. For disbanding the Forces in England, to the 27th of July, and for those beyond Sea to August 24. And for Apprentices to return to their Masters, September 29. To all which Amendments you tell their Lordships, the Commons find themselves oblig'd to disagree with them, by reason of the Methods and Rights of your House in a Matter very tender to you: But did not communicate to their Lordships what those Methods and Rights were. But, for answering the End, which you told their Lordships, they seem to aim at, you offer'd them an Expedient in the Proviso, then deliver'd, which you conceiv'd was warranted by two Precedents, which you mentioned. We are commanded at this Conference, to let you know that the Lords have disagreed to your Proviso, and for these Reasons:
3. You observ'd rightly that those Provisos, as added by the Lords after the Bills sent up to them by the Commons, did not relate to any Amendments made by the Commons, Whereas the Proviso, now made by the Commons, relates to two of the Amendments, made by the Lords.
4. Their Lordships take notice, that tho' you seem to disagree to all their Amendments, yet, in your Expedient, you take no notice of the Amendment relating to Apprentices, without which, the Provision which seems to be made for them in the Bill, will be merely illusory.
For these Reasons, as their Lordships have disagreed to your Expedient, they do insist upon their Amendments, and desire your speedy Concurrence in the Bill so amended, that his Majesty may not want the Money, so necessary to his Service, and the Kingdom's Quiet.
The Amendments of the Lords were then read; the first, and second of which, were again rejected, but the third agreed to: The House, likewise, resolv'd to adhere to their Proviso, and order'd their former Committee to draw up Reasons for the same.
A Supply voted.
Sir Thomas Meers's Report concerning the Conference.
The 28th, Sir Thomas Meers reported from the free Conference had with the Lords, on the subject Matter of their last, that the Lords had voted to adhere to the Amendments, and to disagree to the Proviso, but did not offer any Reason. This produc'd two Resolutions of the House, to adhere to the Proviso, and disagree to the Amendments.
July 1. The House desir'd another free Conference with the Lords, in consequence of the said Resolutions. The next Day it was order'd that the Members who manag'd the Conference, or any three of them, should prepare and draw up a State of the Rights of the Commons, in granting of Money, with the Reasons and Proceedings which had occurr'd at the Conference; as, likewise, consider how the Rights of the House might be asserted; and of the Methods and Manner of Proceeding in Conferences between the two Houses.
The 2d. It was Resolved, That all Aids and Supplies granted to his Majesty in Parliament, are the sole Gift of the Commons; that all Bills for the Granting any such Aids and Supplies ought to begin with the Commons. And, That it is the undoubted and sole Right of the Commons to direct, limit and appoint, in such Bills, the Ends, Purposes, Considerations, Conditions, Limitations, and Qualifications of such Grants, which ought not to be chang'd by the House of Lords.
The Money Bill pass'd.
Sir Richard Temple.
The 15th, Sir Richard Temple deliver'd in his Report from the Committee, appointed to prepare a State of the Reasons and Proceedings relating to the above-mentioned Conferences; but the Entring the said Report was respited till farther Order.
Several Bills pass'd.
The House was then commanded to attend his Majesty in the House of Peers, where the following Bills receiv'd the Royal Assent; viz. 1. An Act for granting a Supply to his Majesty of fix hundred nineteen thousand Pounds, &c. for Disbanding the Army, and other Uses therein-mention'd. 2. An Act for granting an Additional Duty to his Majesty upon Wines for three Years. 3. An Act to enable Creditors to recover their Debts of the Executors and Aministrators of Executors in their own Wrong. 4. An Act for Burying in Woollen. 5. An Act for Admeasurement of Keels and Boats carrying Coals. 6. An Act for Reviving a former Act, entitled, An Act for avoiding unnecessary Suits and, Delays, and for Continuance of another Act, entitled, An Act for the better settling Interstate Estates. 7. An Act for further Relief and Discharge of poor Prisoners for Debt. 8. An Act for Repealing certain Words in a Clause in a former Act, entitled, An Act for Enlarging and Repairing Common High-Ways. 9. An Act for Preservation of Fishing in the River Severn. After which the Lord-Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, acquainted the two Houses, 'That his Majesty had thought fit, in the present Juncture of Affairs, to prorogue them to the first of August next, and so to keep them in Call by short Prorogasions; his Majesty not knowing how soon he might have need of their further Service and Assistance: But that his Majesty's Intention was, they should not meet till towards Winter, unless there were Occasion for their Assembling sooner, of which he would give them timely Notice by his Proclamation.' And accordingly the Parliament was prorogu'd till the first Day of August.