The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
A Bill brought in for securing the Trade of the Sugar Colonies in America; ; Which upon Mr. Perry Motion, is order'd to be printed. ; Debate thereon.
Jan. 28. Mr Winnington presented to the House a Bill, For the better securing and encouraging the Trade of his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies in America, which was receiv'd and read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
Hereupon Mr Perry, Member for London, said, 'That this Bill was of such a Nature, that all our Colonies in America are some way or another concerned therein; That it was of the utmost Consequence to the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and therefore ought to be maturely considered, not only within Doors, but likewise by all those without Doors who understand any thing of Trade, and have a Regard for the Prosperity and Welfare of their native Country; and that all such might have an Opportunity of giving their Sentiments upon this Occasion, he moved, 'That the Bill might be printed.' This Motion being seconded and agreed to by the House, the Bill was accordingly ordered to be printed.
Mr Winnington moves, that the Representations, sent over from the Colonies to the Board of Trade, may be laid before the House.
Mr Winnington spoke next,
'As this Bill is of very great Consequence to the Trade of this Nation in general, and to the Well-being of our Settlements, either upon the Continent or in the Islands of America, we ought to consider the particular Trade and Produce of every one of our Settlements; and therefore, that we may have as much Insight into this Matter as possible, I move, 'That the Representations sent over from our several Colonies, and laid before the honourable the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, may be laid before this House, before we go upon the second Reading of the Bill.'
Mr Winnington was supported by Col. Bladen, who spoke as follows:
'There have been several Representations sent over to his Majesty from our Settlements in the West-Indies, which Representations have been referred to the Board of Trade to be considered by them, and for them to report their Opinion upon the Matter therein contained to his Majesty: Some of them we have already considered, and have given our Opinion upon them; but there are others that we have not as yet had Time so throughly to consider as to be able to give any Opinion upon them; however, Sir, in these last we shall make all imaginable Dispatch, and shall be ready to lay them before the House as soon as possible.'
Then Mr Perry spoke again,
'As this is an Affair of so great Consequence, we ought not to be in any Hurry about passing the Bill; we must wait till we have all those Materials, which are necessary for giving us a full Information in the Affair before us. There is particularly in the Bill, as now brought in, a Clause about Lumber, which in my Opinion will do more Harm to the Trade of most of our Colonies, and consequently to the Trade of this Nation, than all the other Clauses can do Good; but I shall have another Opportunity, I hope, of giving my Sentiments fully upon this Head, and therefore I shall not trouble the House with them at this Time.'
After him Mr Sandys said,
'This Bill was last Session of Parliament a long Time before this House; there is no Clause in the Bill now brought in, but what was in the former, and every one of them was then fully considered and particularly examined into. The Committee, that was appointed last Session of Parliament for drawing up the Bill, were no less than three Months about it; in which Time they certainly had under their Consideration every thing, that could possibly be thought of for giving them any Light into the Affair. I believe there is no Gentleman in this House, but what is persuaded that some Measures ought to be taken, and speedily taken too, for giving an Encouragement to our Sugar-Colonies, so as to enable them to carry on a Trade, at least, upon an equal Footing with their Rivals in the Sugar-Trade. The only Reason of the Bill's not passing, which was brought in last Session of Parliament, was that they had not had Time in the other House to consider the Affair so fully as they thought was necessary; I have been informed, that some of the Members of the other House even complained, that it was hard that we did not allow them three Weeks to consider of an Affair, that we had been above three Months in examining into. As the Bill now before us contains nothing but what was in the former Bill, which was so fully consider'd as to pass through this House, I am therefore of Opinion, that there is no Occasion to make any Delay in the passing of this Bill, or to wait for any farther Information in the Affair; for I am persuaded we can receive none, but what has been already laid before this House, and fully consider'd in the Passing of the former Bill.'
Mr Oglethorpe spoke next.
'In all Cases that come before this House, where there seems to be a Clashing of Interests between one Part of the Country and another, or between one Set of People and another, we ought to have no Regard to the particular Interest of any Country or Set of People; the Good of the whole is what we ought only to have under our Consideration: Our Colonies are all a Part of our own Dominions; the People in every one of them are our own People, and we ought to shew an equal Respect to all.
'I remember, Sir, That there was once a Petition presented to this House by one County, complaining, that they were very much injur'd in their Trade, as to the Sale of Beans, by another; and therefore they modestly pray'd, that the other County should be prohibited to sell any Beans.
'Such things may happen, I hope it is not so at present, but in the Case, before us, if it should appear, that all our Plantations, upon the Continent of America, are against that which is desir'd by the Sugar-Colonies, we are to presume, at least, that the granting thereof will be a Prejudice to the Trade or particular Interests of our Continent-Settlements; and surely, Sir, the Danger of hurting so considerable a Part of our Dominions, a Part so extensive as to reach from the 34th to the 46th Degree of Northern Latitude, will at least make us incline to be extremely cautious in what we are going about.
'I shall be as ready as any Man, to give all possible Relief and Encouragement to our Sugar Colonies; but if the Relief or Encouragement asked for appear to be an Injury to the whole, or if it appears that it will do more Harm to the other Parts of our Dominions than it can do Good to them, we must refuse it; we must think of some other Methods for putting them upon an equal Footing with those, who are their Rivals in any particular Branch of Trade.
'We may form some Judgment, Sir, from the Appearances that were before us last Session of Parliament: but we may form a much more distinct Judgment of Things from what may be brought before us now. Some of those, concerned here for our Settlements upon the Continent, seem'd last Year to be indifferent; they seemed in some Manner to give the Affair up, I believe without any good Authority from their Constituents; but now the Colonies themselves have had an Opportunity to consider the Affair then before us, and to send over their Thoughts upon the Subject in a proper and authentick Manner; their true and real Sentiments will best appear from the Representations they have sent over; and till these are laid before us, we cannot give our Opinions, either as to their Inclinations, or as to the Weight of the Objections that they may make.
'I must say, Sir, to the Honour of the Gentlemen concerned in the Board of Trade, that they are as exact and as diligent in all the Matters which fall under their Province as any Board in England; they have much more Business than most others, and their Business will be daily increasing, in Proportion as our Colonies increase in Riches and in Power. It is already one of the most useful Boards we have, and as long as the same good Conduct is pursued, it will always be of great Benefit and Advantage to the Trade of the British Dominions.'
Mr Winnington's Motion agreed to.
After this Debate, it was resolv'd, That an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to give Directions to the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to lay before the House, Copies of all Representations and Papers, which had been laid before them, since the last Session of Parliament, relating to the Dispute between his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies and Northern Colonies in America.
Mr Wyndham moves for appointing a Committee to inspect and settle the Fees of the House.
Then Mr Wyndham, Member for Dunwich, moved, That a Committee be appointed to inspect and settle the Fees to be taken by all the Officers and Servants of their House, and to examine what Salaries or Allowances they had from the Government, and to report the same, with their Opinion thereupon, to the House.
Hereupon Sir William Yonge spoke as follows:
Sir W. Yonge.
'Considering how much Business of great Consequence now lies, or may probably come before this House during the Course of this Session of Parliament, I do not think that we ought to take up the Time of the House with any Matters of such a trifling Nature. If any Complaint had been made to us of any Exactions or exorbitant Fees taken by any of our Officers or Servants, it would have been our Duty to have inquired into it, and to have given all proper Redress; but as there has been no such Complaint made, at least I have heard of none, I can see no Reason why we ought to enter at present into such an Inquiry.
To this Mr Wyndham reply'd:
'I made this Motion, not expecting indeed that it would have been opposed by any Gentleman in the House, and therefore I did not think it was necessary for me to give any Reasons for making the Motion; but now that I am called upon, I must say, I believe, Sir, it is well known, that there are very great Complaints without Doors of the extravagant Charges and Expences, that People are obliged to be at in passing private Bills, or in carrying any other Business through either House of Parliament; I do not know where the Fault lies, perhaps it may be in the other House, but let them look to themselves, we ought at least to take Care that there be no Ground for any such Complaint in our House. We are not to wait till a regular Complaint be made; few will venture to complain in Form, because no Man knows how soon he may be obliged to come back again; and when any Exactions are made, they are singly consider'd so inconsiderable, that no Man thinks it worth his while to complain; but many Trifles amount to a Sum, and such Things generally grow worse and worse when not look'd after and inquired into: If there be any Evil, what I have proposed will be an effectual Remedy; I shall be sorry if my Motion is not agreed to; but I will at least have the Pleasure of having made it, and thereby done what was in my Power for preventing any Evil that may ensue.'
Upon this Mr Speaker stood up, and spoke as follows,
'Since my Time, I know of no Exactions nor any exorbitant Fees that have been taken; I have been as careful as possible in this Point, and have always made as close Inquiries as I could. I remember some Time ago, I found that a Guinea was usually given to my Secretary, upon the giving out the Warrant for Writs, whereas the old Fee was but ten Shillings; I thereupon ordered expresly, that he should not receive any more upon such Occasion than the old Fee of ten Shillings; and to prevent all Pretence of giving or taking what is commonly called Expedition-Money, I ordered, that even this Fee should not be charged or paid till after the Election was made; and the Oaths taken upon the Return of the Writs. I likewise have observed, that the Clerk of Committees usually got a Guinea, in place of the old Fee of 13 s. and 4 d. This I also have endeavoured to rectify, though it must be granted that in most Cases, even a Guinea is a Reward small enough for his Trouble and Attendance upon such Occasions. But I believe that this Motion was made, not so much on account of any Abuses that have been lately committed, as to prevent any such in Time to come, which ought to be every Gentleman's Care, and shall be mine, in particular, as long as I have the Honour to be in the Place where I am.
Mr Sandys spoke next:
'I am persuaded, that it has always been your particular Care, that no Impositions should be made upon any of the Subjects, who have happened to have any Business before this House; and I believe no Gentleman thinks that we have any Occasion for such a Committee, as hath been proposed, on account of any late Exactions or exorbitant Fees; but now that an Inquiry into the Fees taken by our own Servants has been proposed, I am afraid it may be some Imputation upon us, not to agree to the Motion. Considering how many Years ago it is, since the Fees to be taken by the Servants of this House have been settled, I do not doubt but that some of them may now be found to be too small; and if this Affair be referred to a Committee, I think they ought to increase those which they judge to be too small, as well as to diminish those which they may think extravagant.
Mr W. Plumer.
After him Mr Walter Plumer said,
'I look upon this Motion so be a very proper one at present, and I hope the House will agree to it; because I think, Sir, we ought to search whether or no there be a Beam in our own Eye in order to pull it out, before we begin to pull out the Mote that is in another's. I presume the honourable Gentleman, who made this Motion, made it only as a Prelude to something of more Consequence; I hope, after we have examined into, and settled the Fees to be taken by our own Clerks and Servants, we shall next proceed to examine into, and settle the Fees to be taken by the Officers, Clerks and Servants of all our Courts of Law. As to the Fees of this House, I do not know what may be the Case, but I am sure that the other is a very great Grievance, and loudly complained of by the whole Nation. We have had printed Lists of all those Fees laid before us: As yet we have gone no farther but only to receive them; but those who brought them in have gone a little farther; they think they may now, by Authority of Parliament, exact all the Fees, at least, that are mentioned in those Lists, and from thence they have taken Occasion, even to encrease several of their Fees much beyond what they had formerly any Authority for; so that unless we proceed farther, and make some proper Regulations as to all those Lists of Fees that have been laid before us, we have by calling for them, done rather an Injury than a Service to our Country. I shall therefore be for agreeing to the Motion now made, on purpose that we may, with Decency, proceed to the inquiring into and settling the Fees, that are to be taken in all the Courts of Law, and other Offices in the Nation.
Then Mr Winnington stood up, and said,
'According to the Order of this House, a List of the Fees, usually taken by every Clerk and Servant belonging thereto, has been brought in, and has been, I believe, perused by most Members of the House. I do not hear that any Objection is made to any of them, or that it is pretended that more has been at any Time taken; I therefore do not see what Use there is for a Committee in this Affair; I believe if we order them to be printed, and Copies to be fix'd up in the publick Offices belonging to the House, it will be sufficient for preventing any exorbitant Demands in Time to come, and will be as effectual as any thing that can be done by a Committee. I suppose the Gentlemen have some farther Design in this Matter; but if they have, I think they may proceed upon it, without giving the House any needless Trouble as to the Committee now moved for.
Mr W. Pulteney.
To this Mr Pulteney answer'd,
'I was not at all in the Secret as to this Motion; I did not know any Thing of what farther Design there may be, so that I am sure I cannot in this Affair be any way a Blabber. I agree with the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, as to the ordering the List of Fees to be printed; let them be printed and published, and if my worthy Friend pleases, let them be printed in the Free Briton (fn. 1) too: But I cannot think, Sir, that we ought to rest satisfied with the List delivered, without inquiring any farther about the Matter; because a List of Fees has been delivered in, we are not surely from thence to conclude, that no greater Fee has ever been taken than what is mentioned in that List: Exactions are always made in a private clandestine Manner; such Secrets may be discovered by a Committee, but we are not to expect that ever the Authors of such will, in a publick Manner, come voluntarily and give the House an Information of the Crimes they have been guilty of. It is well known how terrible Parliamentary Inquiries are to those who have been guilty of any Iniquity; and though by the Inquiry now moved for, no Iniquity shall be discovered, yet the Terror of it will remain, and will be a Bar to Extortion for a long Time to come.'
Then the Question being put, it was carried in the Affirmative, and a Committee was appointed accordingly.
A Petition of Sir Tho. Lombe relating to his Silk-Engine.
The same Day a Petition was presented by Sir Thomas Lombe, alledging, 'That he had, at his own Expence, and with the utmost Difficulty and Hazard, discovered and introduced into this Kingdom the Art of making fine Italian Organzine or Thrown-Silk out of fine Raw-Silk, by large Engines of a most curious and intricate Structure, which Commodity was absolutely necessary to carry on our Silk-Weaving Trade, and was formerly bought with our Money, ready work'd in Italy: That his late Majesty had granted him a Patent for the sole making and using the said Engines for the Term of 14 Years; but that several Years of the said Term was expired before he could finish the said Engine, and by reason of other Difficulties, the whole Term was almost expired before he could bring the Manufacture to Perfection; and therefore praying that the House would take his Case into Consideration, and grant him a farther Term of Years for the sole making and using the said Engines, or such other Recompence or Relief, as to the House shall seem meet.'
Mr Perry's Motion for referring the same to a Committee. ; Debate thereon. ; Mr Oglethorp. ; Sir Tho. Aston. ; Sir John Rushout.
Upon this Mr Perry stood up and said, 'That he knew that the Petitioner had been at a very great Trouble and Expence about the setting up of that Engine; and that a great Part of the Term granted by the Patent had passed, before any Advantage could be made of that most useful Invention, and therefore he moved, That the Petition should be referred to the Consideration of a Committee.' Mr Oglethorp added, 'That since the Petitioner had, at his own Expence and Hazard, introduced a most useful and necessary Manufacture into this Kingdom, he certainly ought to meet with all proper Encouragement: That one Engine was now set up and finished in the Town of Derby, by which that whole County was improved, and many of their Poor employed, who probably would have otherways been a Burden upon their respective Parishes: Therefore he seconded the Motion for referring the Petition to a Committee.' Hereupon Sir Thomas Aston said, 'That Patents had always been look'd upon as prejudicial to the Trade and Manufactures of this Kingdom, more especially when continued for any long Term of Years; for which Reason their Ancestors had been so wise, as to make a Law against the granting of any Patent for a longer Term than 14 Years; and it would be a dangerous Precedent for them to prolong the Term, or to grant a new Term to any Patentee: That the Petitioner had enjoyed the Benefit of his Patent several Years, had carried on a vast Trade under the same, and had thereby acquired a great deal of Riches, which he thought was a sufficient Recompence for the Charge or Hazard he had been at: That the prolonging of the Term would not only be to prevent the Nation's making any Benefit of that Invention, but also to give the Petitioner a farther Opportunity of disturbing all other Inventions, Works or Engines, any way resembling his, which would be a great Discouragement to all new Improvements or Manufactures, and consequently of dangerous Consequence to the Trade of this Nation; therefore he could not but be against even referring the Petition to the Consideration of a Committee.' Sir John Rushout said, 'That as no Man was intitled to a Patent, but he who introduced some new Invention or Manufacture into the Kingdom, he did not know, whether the Petitioner had at first any Title to a Patent; for that to his Knowledge there had been, in the Parish where he lived, some such Manufacture for upwards of thirty Years. However, supposing that the Petitioner had at first a good Title to a Patent, yet he could not think that there was any Reason for renewing the Term; but as all these things would properly come under the Cognizance of the Committee, therefore he would not be against referring the Petition to the Consideration of a Committee.'
Hereupon Mr Perry stood up again, and spoke as follows:
'The Petitioner, Sir Thomas Lombe, happening to have a Brother whose Head is extremely well turned for the Mechanicks, and both of them being well informed of the great Charge, that this Nation was yearly put to in the Purchase of that Sort of Italian Thrown-Silk call'd Organzine, and that the same was all made within the Dominions of Savoy, by the Means of a large and curious Engine which had been set up and kept at work for many Years in that Country, but had been kept so secret, that no other Nation could ever yet come at the Invention; they resolved to make an Attempt for the bringing of this Invention into their own Country. They knew that there would be great Difficulty and Danger in this Undertaking, because the King of Sardinia had made it Death for any Man to discover this Invention, or attempt to carry it out of his Dominions; however, the Petitioner's Brother resolved to venture his Person for the Benefit and Advantage of his Native Country, and Sir Thomas was resolved to venture his Money, and to furnish his Brother with whatever Sums should be necessary for executing so bold and so generous a Design. His Brother went accordingly over to Italy, and after a long Stay, and a great Expence in that Country, he found Means to see this Engine so often, and to pry into the Nature of it so narrowly, that he made himself Master of the whole Invention, and of all the different Parts and Motions belonging thereto. After his Return to England, Sir Thomas, who knew the Excellency of his Brother's Genius, and could depend upon his Word, was convinced that he was fully Master of the Thing, and therefore he chearfully agreed to supply whatever Expence should be necessary for setting it up in England; but that he might have the same Advantage, that other Persons have and are intitled unto upon such Occasions, he applied and got a Grant of a Patent from his late Majesty in the Year 1718. This Engine is so large, and there are so many Wheels, Motions, Spindles, and other things belonging to it, that it was three Years after he had obtained his Patent, before he could possibly finish the Engine. After the finishing thereof, he could make no Benefit thereby, till he had procured and instructed a sufficient Number of Persons how to work the same; and before he could do this, his Sardinian Majesty had got an Account that the Engine was set up in England, and he was so sensible of the Disadvantage it would be to his Country, to have that Sort of Thrown-Silk made in any other Part of the World, that he immediately prohibited the Exportation of Raw-Silk out of his Country; and before Sir Thomas could fall upon any way of getting a sufficient Quantity of Raw-Silk stole out of that Country, so as to make any Advantage of his Engine, the Term of his Patent was within a very few Years of being expired, from which we may conclude that it is impossible, that he could as yet have got a sufficient Recompence for the Hazard and Expence that he has been at. There might have been before, there may be still, some other Sorts of Twist-Silk made in England; but there never was any such as Organzine made, nor was there ever any such Engine in England, as this that has been brought in and set up by the Petitioner and his Brother. Those who are expert in the Silk-Manufactures know well the Difference between the Organzine and any other Sort of Twisted-Silk, but Gentlemen who have not narrowly examined into the Affair may be mistaken; but as to the Engine, the Difference between it and any other may be easily discovered: It is a very large Engine, which is first moved by Water, by the Means of which first Motion a great many Wheels and Spindles are set a moving, and thereby great Quantities of Silk are twisted in a much finer Manner, and by much fewer Hands, than can possibly be done by any Engine that was ever yet invented.
Mr Barnard spoke next:
'The chief Reason why the Petitioner has never yet been able to make any great Advantage of his Invention is, that no Raw-Silk is proper for his Purpose but the Italian, so that he could have but very little, except what was privately stole out of the Dominions of Savoy. He has been at the Expence of making several Experiments of the Turky RawSilk, but has always found that it is impossible to make good Organzine of that Sort of Silk. He has likewise tried the Raw-Silk brought from China, and he finds that it would do as well as the Italian, but then the Company keeps it at so high a Price, that it will not answer; what may be the Reason of the Company's keeping that Silk so dear, I know not; I can find no other Reason for it, but only the great Profits that Company are resolved to make of every thing, which they have an exclusive Privilege for dealing in. I am sure they purchase it in the Country at a very cheap Rate, and the Danger or Expence of bringing it Home cannot be so great, but that they may sell it at a more reasonable Price. The Petitioner has likewise made some Experiments of the Raw-Silk that has been produced from Carolina, which has answer'd extremely well; and if there were enough of it, we should not perhaps be obliged to lay out so much of the Nation's Money on the Purchase of Italian Raw-Silk, nor should we have Occasion to trouble ourselves much about the prohibiting of the Exportation of their Raw-Silk; but as yet there is but very little Silk produced from Carolina, so that the Petitioner could not make any Advantage thereby. I do not know what this House may judge to be a proper Recompence to the Petitioner, for the Hazard and Expence he has been at; but whatever Resolutions may be made in this Affair, all possible Care ought to be taken for preventing the Invention's being carried out of this Country. If we can keep our Neighbours from stealing it from us, it will be a great Encouragement to several Branches of our Silk-Manufacture Trade; we shall have the Benefit at least of supplying most of them with that Sort of Thrown-Silk called Organzine.'
Then Mr Oglethorp stood up again, and said,
'The Act for confining the King's Patents to the Term of 14 Years, was made in the Reign of King James I. The Bubbles and Monopolies which were erected, and the many Enormities which were committed about that Time and for some Years before, had become a publick Grievance, and was loudly exclaimed at; and the Reason for making that Law, was to prevent the setting up of any such Bubbles or Monopolies for the future. The Petitioner has never so much as endeavoured to make a Bubble of his Affair, nor has he ever grasped at the setting up of any unlawful Monopoly. He pretends to nothing else but what every Author of a new Invention is reasonably intitled unto, that is, to have the sole Use of his own Invention for so long a Time, as may be a just Recompence to him for the Hazard and Expence he has been at, in bringing his Invention to Perfection. If he can shew to this House, that he has not yet had such a Recompence as is sufficient, we are not confined by the former Law; we not only may, but we ought, to bring in a Bill for prolonging the Term of his Patent, or we ought to grant him such other Recompence as may be deemed proper and reasonable. Raw-Silk may be bought even in this Country for 16 s. per. Pound, but when that very Raw-Silk is manufactured and made Organzine, it sells for 24 s. per Pound; the Difference, which is fifty per Cent. is all clear Money got to the Nation; the 8 s. per Pound, which is added to the Price of that Commodity, is all clear Gain to us, because it is added by the Labour and Industry of our own People; and since this Gain can be made only by the Means of this Engine, we must grant that this Gentleman has, at his own Hazard and Charge, brought home a very useful and profitable Branch of Trade to his own Country, for which he certainly deserves a Recompence. If he can shew that he has not as yet a Recompence by means of the Patent granted to him, either because of the Difficulty of bringing his Invention to Perfection, or because of inevitable Accidents that have occurred, his Case ought to be considered; and the only proper Way to inquire into this Matter, is to refer his Petition to the Consideration of a Committee.
Mr J. Drummond.
Then Mr John Drummond, Member for Perth, said,
'I shall only take Notice that since the Time that this Gentleman's Invention was brought to Perfection, our Exports of Gold and Silver Lace have increased to a great Degree; the Reason of which is, that the Sort of Twist or Thrown-Silk, that is made by the means of his Engine, is the only proper Silk that can be made use of in the Manufacture of Gold and Silver Lace; and we having now that Sort of Silk in much greater Plenty, and much cheaper than we ever had it before, our Manufacturers in such Laces have been able to sell those Manufactures much cheaper than they were ever sold before in this Country, from whence has proceeded the great Increase of our Exports of that Commodity; and when there are such Quantities exported, we may depend upon it that there is very little, if any, imported, notwithstanding that there is perhaps more of it now wore in this Country than ever was before. This I take Notice of, Sir, because I look upon it as an Improvement in our Manufactures, that is entirely owing to this Gentleman's Invention.'
14,000 l. granted to Sir Tho. Lombe for Encouragement of his Invention of a Silk-Engine.
Then the above Petition was referred to the Consideration of a Committee: A Bill passed afterwards, in this Session, for allowing Sir Thomas Lombe 14,000 l. as an Encouragement for his useful Invention, but without Renewing his Patent.
Motion for granting 25,348 l. 2s. for Out-Pensioners of Chelsea-Hospital. ; Debate thereon. ; Mr W. Pulteney.
The House having resolv'd itself into a Grand Committee, to consider farther of the Supply, a Motion was made, That 25,348 l. 2 s. be granted to his Majesty, upon Account for Out-Pensioners of Chelsea-Hospital for the Year 1732; which being seconded, Mr Pulteney spoke on that Occasion as follows:
'I do not now rise up to make any Motion; but I think I am, in Duty to my Country, in Duty to those who do me the Honour to give me a Place in this House, bound to take Notice of some Accounts or Estimates which have been laid before us, and which to me seem to be somewhat extraordinary. I must in general observe, that the Estimates of the Publick Expence increase every Year: From Year to Year there is always some new Article to be provided for, or some Addition made to the old. If we at any Time get free of an extraordinary Charge, it always leaves some Marks behind it; there is always some Part of it remains, and is continued to be a Burden upon the People: These small Remains may be by some thought too inconsiderable to be taken Notice of, but to me nothing seems to be inconsiderable that is a Charge upon the People; these small Remains and these annual Additions, by thus yearly increasing, may come at last to be a Burden too heavy to be borne.
'I cannot now omit taking Notice of the Article of Chelsea College; by the Estimate now laid before us, that Article appears to be heavier than it was last Year. During the last War this Nation maintained near 200,000 Men, of which near 90,000 were National Troops, yet towards the End of that War, the Pensioners of Chelsea College did not amount to above 2000, whereas if we include the Regiment of Invalids, and the several Independent Companies of Invalids, they now amount to above 4000 Men. I do not doubt but the Commissioners do whatever they can to examine, and to admit none but those, who by the Rules of that Hospital appear to be intitled to be taken in. I likewise know how many Solicitations they must daily meet with, and how hard it is in most Cases to refuse them; yet for the Sake of their Country they ought to be extremely cautious in this Respect; there may be many who are by the Rules intitled to be taken in, and yet are not proper Objects of Charity and Compassion either publick or private. I know, Sir, that there is a Spirit, among the Officers of the Army, for having all their Regiments look well to the Eye; there is a sort of Emulation among them, who shall have the most young and the best look'd Fellows in their Regiment: This is the Cause that many a brave old Soldier is discharged, in order to make room for a spruce young Fellow, who can powder his Hair and dress so as to make a good Appearance upon a Day of Review, though the old Man be perhaps the better Soldier of the two, and not only willing but able to serve his Country for many Years; yet he is discharged as unfit for Service, and brought in as a Pensioner upon Chelsea-College: They are admitted into the College as Men old and infirm, yet when once they are got in, they seem to be immortal; their Numbers never decrease; surely there are many of those immortal old Men who live so long as idle Pensioners of Chelsea College, that might have served for a great Part of that Time as good Soldiers even in a marching Regiment, more especially in Time of Peace, when there is not the least Occasion for their being obliged to undergo any great Fatigues; their Duty cannot be extraordinary, and their Marches may be made as easy as they please. I remember that at the last Scrutiny which was made into the Affairs of that Hospital, in which a Right Honourable Person had a principal Concern, above one half of the Persons, whose Names were entered as Pensioners, could not possibly be found; and of those who were entered as Letter-Men, there were above 100, which was at least one half discharged; I do not indeed know why there should be any entered in that Character, I do not see that there is any Necessity for it.
'We have heard, Sir, a great deal of the fine Roads lately made through the Highlands of Scotland, and I do not doubt of their being such as they have been represented; nor do I doubt but that the Gentleman, who had the Overfight and Direction of them, has taken Care to execute the Design as faithfully and as frugally as was possible; but I cannot see what it was that made such a Design so absolutely necessary: These Highlanders, it is true, were made appear terrible before they were known, but after we got a little more into their Acquaintance, they appeared to be but Men; and after they were disarmed, I cannot see that there was any great Occasion for this extraordinary Expence, for which I find there is now charged about the Sum of 10,000 l. but since we have been at this extraordinary and unnecessary Expence, and that the Highlands are thereby made accessible, whenever we have a mind to send any Troops into that Country, there is certainly no farther Occasion for the six Highland Companies, which are kept up only for preserving the Peace of that Country; these Six Companies amount to above 500 Men, and the maintaining of them costs the Publick much above 5000 l. yearly this Expence may certainly be now saved, and all the Service they do, or can possibly do, may for the future be performed by Detachments from the Regiments, which are kept in that Part of the Island. These Things, Sir, I thought myself obliged to take Notice of, but I shall make no Motion, only I hope that they will be seriously considered, and that all proper Methods will be taken for lessening the Publick Charge as much as possible.'
Sir W. Strickland.
Hereupon Sir William Strickland stood up and said,
'I have had the Honour to serve for some time at the Board, for admitting Pensioners into Chelsea-Hospital; I can answer for it, that in all my Time, and I believe I may say for several Years before, all imaginable Care has been taken, to admit none but those who were justly intitled to that publick Charity, or rather that publick Reward for long and faithful Services: None have ever been admitted but such as had been disabled in the Service, or such as had served their Country for at least twenty Years, and were discharged as unfit for farther Service. The Soldiers have always been obliged to bring Certificates from their Officers of the Time of their Service, or of the Manner of their having been disabled in the Service. We have been so cautious, that we have made the Fellows strip to the Skin, that we might examine them the more narrowly, and might be the better able to judge whether they were actually disabled and unfit for any farther Service; and after such a strict Inquiry, we could not in Conscience, we could not in Humanity, refuse to admit them.
Sir J. Rushout.
Sir John Rushout spoke next:
'It does appear strange to me, that notwithstanding our long Peace, the Number of those Pensioners, and the Charge the Publick is put to for maintaining them, should be every Day increasing: Twenty Years Services I must grant to be a long Term, but yet it is not always a proper Qualification; if a Man enters young into the Service, which most do, he may have been a Soldier for twenty Years, and yet very fit for Service, or for any Day Labour; and if such a Man be discharged, I see no Reason why the Publick should be obliged to maintain him; he may work for his daily Bread. The Publick ought not to encourage any Man to live idle, if he can possibly earn a Subsistance by his daily Labour: I believe, Sir, there are many, who are now Pensioners of Chelsea-Hospital, who have Wives and Children, and who not only can, but do earn as much by their Labour as might maintain them and their Families; what they have from the Publick only contributes to encourage and support their Extravagance: That Hospital was never designed for such Men; it was designed as a charitable Relief only for those, whose great Age, or great Sufferings in the publick Service, had rendered utterly incapable of maintaining themselves by their daily Labour, and such only can regularly be admitted as Pensioners upon the Publick.
Mr. H. Pelham.
To this Mr Pelham answer'd,
'I have had the Honour to be one of the Chelsea-Board for some Years, and am very certain that ever since I had any Concern in it, there have been few or no Impositions ever put upon the Commissioners; I could never indeed discover that any one Man was admitted, who was not justly intitled thereto. The worthy Gentleman, who spoke last, is mistaken, if he thinks, that the Number of the Pensioners of that College is this Year increased, upon the contrary the Number is diminished: There are twenty-two Pensioners less this Year than there were the last; it is true, the Sum charged for that Hospital is larger now than it was last Year, but that proceeds from this being Leap-Year, so that there is a Day's Subsistance for the whole Number of Pensioners more than them was last Year, which amounts to a much larger Sum than the Savings, by the Decrease in the Number of Pensioners, does amount to.
'As for the great Increase of Pensioners upon that College within these few Years past, it is very easy to account for it, because there were some time ago two or three Regiments brought over from Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, that had been in Garrison in those two Places for 15 or 16 Years, in all which time there had been few or no Men discharged upon account of Age or Infirmity, from either of those Regiments; the Reason of which, I suppose, was the great Expence of sending them home, and carrying over fresh Recruits in their room: These Soldiers having but very little Fatigue, the Officers found Means to make them perform all the Duty that was required of them, while they remained in Garrison; but upon their being brought home, the Change of the Air, added to their own Age and Infirmities, made most of them entirely unfit for a March, or for any Duty whatever; and it being then easy for the Officers to supply their Places with young Men that were fit for Service, great Numbers of them were discharged, so that I may say, that the most Part of those two or three Regiments came all upon the Hospital at once. Another Reason, Sir, that has contributed much to the Increase of those Pensioners, is, that there is as yet but a very bad Provision for decayed Soldiers in the Hospital in Ireland, which is the Cause, that whenever any Regiment is brought over from that Country in the Course of Changing, the old and disabled Men, who while in Ireland, did all they could to conceal their Age or Infirmity, then begin to solicite, and often obtain a Discharge and Certificate from their Officer, in order to get themselves entered as Pensioners in Chelsea College: This has been a Sort of Grievance, but his Majesty is doing all he can to get it rectify'd, as he does with respect to every Grievance as soon as ever he discovers it; and it is to be hoped, that he will have Success in his Endeavours as to this.
'The worthy Gentleman was in the right, when he said, that twenty Years Service was not always a proper Qualification; it is not always allowed of as such; I have myself known several Examples, when a sturdy well-looked Man has come with a proper Discharge and Certificate from his Officer, in order to be admitted upon the College, that the Board have been so far from admitting him, that they examined him as to the Method of his obtaining his Discharge, and if it appeared, that he had solicited the same, they have absolutely refused to admit him; upon the other hand, if it appeared that he had not solicited his Discharge, but was willing to continue in the Service, the Board has sent him back to the Regiment, with Orders to his Officer to receive him.
'As to the new Roads made through the Highlands of Scotland, they are certainly of great Use not only to that Country, but to the whole Nation, because of the easy Access that is thereby made to and from the Country; and the Expence will appear to be very small, when compared with the great Charges, that have formerly been brought in, for marching Detachments through that Country; one would be surprized to see the Difference between the Sums charged for the making of those Roads, and the vast Sums charged for some of those Marches; and whoever will be at the pains to compare them together, must grant, that the honourable Gentleman, who had the Direction of making those Roads, has taken the utmost Care to see the Design executed in the most faithful and frugal Manner, and that he has thereby done a Piece of signal Service to his Country and to Posterity.
Mr W. Pulteney.
Then Mr Pultency replied as follows:
'I doubt not but all necessary Precautions are taken, at present, as to the admitting of Pensioners upon that College, but whatever Strictness may be observed in the Inquiries as to that Affair, there may notwithstanding now and then an Imposition happen; I believe the Inquiries were made as strictly formerly as they are now, yet I know that some Years ago there was one Fellow got himself admitted a Pensioner, as having had two of his Ribs broke by a Cannon Ball, though it was afterwards discovered that the Fellow's Ribs were broke by a fall from a House, when he was serving the Builders as a Day-Labourer. The Roads made in the Highlands may be very good, that Country may be thereby rendered accessible, but certainly the more easy Access is made thereto, the less necessary it is to keep up the Independent Companies; and since we have been at the Expence of making the Country accessible, we may be relieved from the Charge of maintaining those Companies. I believe if the Case were examined into, there is not so much Money raised for the publick Service in all that Country, as will pay only those Independent Companies, and I do not see any Reason why the rest of the Nation should be put to any farther Expence that way; I have not as yet heard any Reason given for it, nor has there any Answer been made to my Objection against that Article of the publick Accounts. I know that, when Accounts have been demanded of the Produce of any Branch of the Revenue in that Country, a Right Honourable Person has been sometimes pleased to be facetious, and answer in the Exchequer Term Nichil, but such Affairs are a little too serious to be made a Joke of. I have no great Reason at present to expect any Reduction in our Standing-Army; but before I leave this Subject, I must beg leave to add, that if ever this Nation does arrive at the Happiness of seeing a Reduction, I hope his Majesty will take Care that entire Corps shall be reduced; for when Reduction is made in the Method lately observed, that is, by disbanding so many Men in a Company, the old Men only are discharged, and as soon as they are discharged as Soldiers, they enter as Pensioners upon Chelsea-College, so that the Publick can never save much by any such Reduction.
Sir R. Walpole.
Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole stood up, and said,
'I am surpriz'd to hear Objections made against the Articles now mentioned; they really seem to be made for the Sake of Humour only; every one of the Articles that have been objected against is in itself so necessary, and so much Care has been taken in every one of them to reduce the Publick Expence as low as possible, that it would seem as if Gentlemen were resolved to find Fault with something. As to the Article of Chelsea-College, I am persuaded, that all possible Care has been taken to save the Publick Money; no Man has been lately admitted, but one who appeared plainly to be either a Man who was grown old or infirm, or one who was actually disabled in the Service of his Country; such surely are Objects of the Publick Charity; and no Man who has a Regard for the Service, or for the Honour of his Country, will grudge a poor Subsistance to a brave Man, who by serving the Publick has rendered himself incapable to serve or provide for himself. Twenty Years Service only, is not, it never was, a Qualification sufficient by itself to intitle a Man to be admitted as a Pensioner upon Chelsea-College; besides his Service, every Man who comes to be admitted, must have a regular Discharge from his Officer, and it is not to be presumed that any Officer will discharge a brave old Soldier, as long as he is any way fit for Service, even though he were to lose nothing by such a Discharge; but we know that an Officer is a real Loser by every Discharge he grants; what is allowed for Levy-Money is always paid to the Officer, whether he has an Occasion for any Recruits or no; if he has no Occasion for Recruits, he puts it in his own Pocket, and if the Recruiting of his Regiment comes to more Money in a Year than the Allowance will answer, he must pay the Surplus out of his own Pocket; can we then imagine that any Officer will discharge an able and a disciplin'd Soldier, and thereby put himself to a great Charge for a new Man to be put in his stead, besides the Trouble and Fatigue which the Officer must undergo to see such new Men trained up to Discipline? Such a Supposition plainly appears to be unreasonable.
'It is very true, Sir, that when I came first into the Board for Chelsea-Hospital, which was soon after the late Queen's Death, there was a strict Scrutiny into the Affairs of that Hospital, and by the Consequences such Scrutiny appeared to be necessary; for though we found the Accounts all settled and signed by the former Commissioners, yet upon Examination we discovered, that there were no less than 7000 Names put upon the List of Chelsea-Pensioners, more than we could possibly find Persons to answer to, and a great many of those Persons who did answer to the Names put upon the List were Irish, who had no Title to have been admitted into that Hospital; yet if the Change had not happened at that Time, it is certain that the whole Money charged would have been advanced and paid to the Persons, that were principally concerned in inserting so many Forgeries into that List: From thence we may judge how necessary a Scrutiny was at that Time, and what a large Sum of Money was saved to the Publick by such Scrutiny. This, Sir, was one of the dark Pieces of Management in that Administration, which never could be cleared up, at least it was never publickly avowed what was meant thereby. I remember likewise that at the Time of that Scrutiny, there was a great Reduction among the Letter-Men, yet that is no Argument that it is not necessary to have any Letter-Men at all; it is but reasonable that some poor Fellows, who have served long as Serjeants or Corporals of Horse, or Gentlemen Cadees, who have had the Misfortune to be disabled in the Service, should be allowed some Sort of Distinction, and have a little more Pay than a common Soldier, especially considering that such an Allowance costs the Publick but a meer Trifle.
'As to the Roads made through the Highlands, I have heard them so much applauded by every body without Doors, and the Sum charged upon that Account is so inconsiderable, that I wonder to hear any Member of this House take Notice of it. That there was a Necessity for making such Roads, must be evident to every Man who considers the Circumstances of the Nation, and of that Country in partilar. It is well known that whenever any Design was set on Foot against the Government, or any Invasion intended, the first Scene has been always laid in that Country; that Country was formerly so inaccessible, that the Enemies of the Government could safely land or rendezvous there, and could easily defend themselves till they found an Opportunity of coming down to the Low-Country, and raising a Disturbance through the whole Nation. It is very true, that the Men of that Country are but Men, they are in themselves no better than other Men, and were terrible only because they could not be come at; from their inaccessible Country they made Inroads and plundered their Neighbours, and when a sufficient Force was raised against them, they retired again and took Shelter among their inaccessible Rocks and Mountains, where it was impossible to come at them; this only made them terrible, but by the Highways that are now made, this Cause of Terror is removed; their Neighbours are made easy, and that Country will no longer be a safe landing or parading Place for those who come to attack us, nor will it be a safe Refuge for those who fly from the Justice of the Nation.
'Though these Roads be now finished, and brought to a Perfection far beyond what could have been expected in so short a Time, or for so small a Sum, yet, Sir, the Independent Companies are not thereby rendered unnecessary; I have been informed by every Person, who has been in or knows the Country and the Nature of the People who are the Inhabitants thereof, that the keeping of those Independent Companies in the Country is by much the best Method of keeping the People in Order; and if those Companies were to be disbanded, and the Service to be performed by Detachments from the Regiments in the Low-Country, I am sure the Publick would save nothing, for notwithstanding the Highways that are now made, the marching of those Detachments backwards and forwards, and the sending them Provisions, which must be all sent from Places in the Low-Country at a great Distance, would cost the Publick full as much, if not more, every Year, than the Maintenance of those Six Independent Companies now amounts to. As for what Money may be returned from that Country for the publick Service, I do not know; but it is well known that every Part of that Country pays the Land-Tax, and every other Tax which they are subjected to by the Articles of the Union, and consequently they must certainly bear a Part of the publick Charge, and have from thence a just Title to be protected and defended, as well as any other Part of the Nation; North-Britain is a Part of Britain as well as South-Britain is; it is the same Country, and I hope in all the Resolutions of this House it will always be look'd on as such.'
The Motion relating to Chelsea-Hospital, agreed to.
After this the Question being put on the said Motion, the same was agreed to.
February 1. The above Resolution, being reported, was agreed to by the House.
The several Proceedings, relating to the Sale of the late Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, order'd to be laid before the House.
Feb. 2. The House order'd, that the proper Officer should lay before them all such Proceedings, Papers, and other Instruments, as he had in his Custody, relating to the Sale of the Estate of James late Earl of Derwentwater.
This Estate was forseited on account of his being concern'd in the Rebellion in 1715, [See Vol. I. p. 59.] but nevertheless so settled, that upon the Death of his Son John, then a Child, without Issue-Male, the Remainder was to devolve upon his younger Brother Charles Radcliffe: But he being also engaged in the said Rebellion, had thereby forfeited such his Expectation of that Estate; which was sold by the Commissioners of the forfeited Estates, which devolved to the Crown, for the Sum of only 1060 l. And the above-mentioned John, Son of James Earl of Derwentwater, dying December 31st, 1731, in the 18th Year of his Age, the Estate fell of Course to those who had bought that forfeited Reversion; and being reckoned at the Value of about 7000 l. per Annum, such a Purchase became the Subject of publick Observation, and some Circumstances also occurring, that bred Suspicions about the Methods used in gaining so great a Bargain, the Lord Gage took Notice of it to the House, and thereupon mov'd for the foregoing Order.
Petitions from Pensilvania, Massachussets-Bay, and Virginia, against the Sugar-Colony Bill.
Feb. 3. A Petition of Ferdinando John Paris, Agent for Pensilvania; likewise of Francis Wilks, Agent for Massachussets-Bay; and also of John Randolph, Agent for Virginia, against the Sugar-Colony Bill was presented and read, and ordered to lie on the Table 'till the second Reading of the said Bill; and that the Petitioners might then be heard by their Council.
Petition from the Proprietors of the Charitable Corporation, complaining of the Mismanagement of their Directors, &c. ; Mr Oglethorp's Speech on that Occasion.
The same Day Sir Thomas Robinson presented to the House a Petition of the Proprietors of the Charitable Corporation, complaining, That by the most notorious Breach of Trust in several Persons, to whom the Care and Management of their Affairs was committed, the said Corporation had been defrauded of the greatest Part of their Capital amounting to several hundred thousand Pounds; and that all the Petitioners were become great Sufferers thereby, and many of them reduced to the utmost Degree of Misery and Distress; and alledging, that some, who had been guilty of these Frauds, had transported themselves to Parts beyond the Seas, and carried with them some of the Books and Effects of the said Corporation; and that there was great Reason to believe, such an immense Sum of Money could not have been imbezzeled without the Connivance and Participation of others, who continued here; and that the Petitioners were unable to come at the Knowledge of their Combinations, or to bring them to Justice, without the Aid of the Power and Authority of that House; and therefore praying, that the House would vouchsafe to inquire into the State of the said Corporation, and the Conduct of those who had had the Care and Management of their Affairs; and would give such Relief to the Petitioners, as to the House should seem meet. This Petition being read, Mr Oglethorp stood up and spoke as follows;
'I am persuaded that this Petition will be received in a Manner deserving of the unhappy Case of the Sufferers, and of the Justice of this House: I can hardly suspect that any Gentleman, that has the Honour to be, a Member of this House, will oppose giving all the Relief we can to such a Number of unhappy People, who have been so much cheated and injured; yet because I have heard it whispered without Doors, that we ought not to receive this Petition, upon account, as is pretended, that the Common Seal was not regularly affix'd thereto, I think it necessary to take some Notice of that Objection, in case any such be to be made; I must say, that if there be any Irregularity as to the affixing of the Publick Seal of that Company to this Petition, it is in my Opinion so far from being an Objection to our receiving the Petition, that it is a very strong Reason for it; if there be any Fault in Form, it is the Fault of those who had the keeping of the Common Seal, and as they may perhaps be some of those against whom the Complaints made, and who may upon Inquiry be found by this House to be the guilty Persons, we are therefore to look upon any Neglect in Form to be a wilful Fault, and a Plot laid for preventing the Truth's being brought to Light; such Plots will, I hope, be always defeated by the Wisdom of this House, and whenever it can be discovered that any Frauds have been committed, or any indirect Practices used by those who have the keeping of any Common Seal, this House will, I hope, make use of that Power, with which it is by our Constitution invested, for detecting and punishing the Criminals: For my own part, I always was for encouraging the Design upon which this Corporation was at first established; People may call it Charitable or not, as they please; but I always looked upon it as an Act of Charity, to let necessitous Persons have Money to borrow upon easier Terms than they could have it elsewhere; Money like other Things is but a Commodity, and in the way of Dealing, the Use thereof, as well as of other Things, is looked upon to be worth as much as People can get for it; if this Corporation let necessitous People have the Use of their Money, at a cheaper Rate than any other Person would lend Money at, they were certainly useful to the Publick, and were so far to be reckoned a Charitable Corporation; and if they had asked more than what was usual to be given, they could not have had any Customers; the Design was therefore in itself good and useful, but the better the Design was, the more those Persons deserve to be punished, who by their Frauds have disappointed the Publick of reaping the Benefit, which might have accrued by an honest and faithful Execution of so good an Undertaking.'
Sir T. Robinson's Motion for referring the above Petition to a Committee of Secrecy.
Sir Thomas Robinson spoke next,
'There is no doubt but that a great many Frauds have been committed in the Affair now before us; so large a Sum of Money could not have been lost in so short a Time, by the greatest Misfortunes that possibly could have happen'd; nor could the greatest Mismanagement reduce such a Capital to nothing in so few Years, without some Fraud at Bottom; and as Matters now stand, every Man, who had any Hand in this unhappy Affair, is accused by the General Voice of the People; every Man concerned is presumed to have been a Partaker in the Crime, and the Innocent suffer in their Characters, as well as in their Estates, by the Frauds of the Guilty. As the Capital Stock of this Corporation was divided among a great Number of Proprietors, the Sufferers by these Frauds must be very numerous, and among them there are without doubt a great many who are quite undone; it is enough to move the Compassion of any Man to think, that Gentlemen and Ladies, who have been bred to an affluent Fortune, should thus at once be reduced to Misery and Starving; and that without any Fault of their own, but merely by the Frauds or by the Neglect of those, to whom they had intrusted the Management of their Estates. This is a Case, Sir, that deserves to be inquired into in an extraordinary Manner; such innocent Sufferers deserve the most speedy Redress that the Justice of this Nation can admit of; it would be Cruelty to leave it to the ordinary Forms, or to subject it to the long Delays that necessarily attend the ordinary Course of Justice; and therefore I hope, that no Member of this House will refuse to give ear to the just Complaint of the Petitioners, or appear to be against giving them all the Redress, that can be given, in a Parliamentary Method of Proceeding. There are, I think, three Things that must come under our Consideration in the present Case: We must endeavour to relieve as much as possible those who are the unhappy Sufferers in this Affair; We must endeavour as much as we can to discover those who are really guilty, and punish them as severely as their Crimes deserve; And we must endeavour to vindicate the Characters of those who are innocent, and who at present suffer by being blended with those that are guilty. These Things demand a most strict and a most exact Scrutiny into the Management of the Affairs of this Corporation, and therefore this Petition ought not only to be referred to a Committee, but to a select Committee of a certain Number of Members to be chose by Ballot, which Committee ought to be a Committee of Secrecy.'
Capt. Vernon. ; Mr Hopkins.
Captain Vernon agreed in every Thing to what Sir Thomas Robinson had moved for, except as to the Committee's being a Committee of Secrecy, in which he was seconded by Mr Hopkins, who said, 'That a Publick Committee would be more for the Purpose, because in such Case he and every other Member of the House, who could give them any Information, could then attend and know what they were about, by which they would learn how to assist the Committee in making Discoveries, and clearing up Facts which they might be in any Doubt about.' He added, 'That in the Management of this Affair, he could not but take Notice of one Fact, which to him appeared something extraordinary; which was, that at one Time there were Bonds or Notes of that Corporation issued, to the Value of about 120,000 l. about which Time the York-Buildings Stock rose from 18 or 19 to 36 or thereabout per Cent. This sudden Rise, he believed, was principally owing to the Bonds and Notes of the Charitable Corporation, which at that time went about current and in great Plenty in Change-Alley.'
Sir R. Sutton's, Mr. D. Bond's, and Sir A. Grant's Defence, as Managers of the Charitable Corporation.
Sir Robert Sutton and Mr Denis Bond said, 'That as they had the Misfortune to be named as Managers of the Affairs of that Corporation, they thought themselves obliged to say something upon the present Occasion: That they were both very considerable Proprietors, and consequently were very great Sufferers, but though they had been named as Managers, yet they were but seldom there, and knew very little of what was done.' Sir Archibald Grant said, 'That as he likewise had the Misfortune to be a Manager, he thought himself obliged to say something to the Affair then before them; that he also was a very considerable Proprietor, had no less than 1500 Shares of their Capital in his own Right, which had cost him above 8000 l. That he was very willing the Management should be inquired into, because he hoped the Fraudulent and Deceitful would thereby be distinguished from those, who had been deceived and imposed upon.'
Several Members spoke for the Committee's being a Secret Committee, because it had been always observed, that such Committees made the most narrow and the most speedy Inquiry into the Affairs that had been referred to them: That if every Member had a Liberty of coming there, it would occasion such Disturbance and so many Delays, that it would be impossible for the Committee to finish their Report, or for the House to give any Relief to the unhappy Sufferers, during that Session of Parliament: That its being a Committee of Secrecy could not be any Loss, as to their getting all possible Information from the other Members of the House, who could make any Discoveries; for that the Gentlemen of the Committee would be known, and it was to be presumed that every Member, that could make any Discovery of Consequence, would immediately give Information thereof to some of the Gentlemen of the Committee.
The above Petition referr'd to a Committee of 21 Members; and a Motion made for the same being a Committee of Secrecy.
Then it was resolved, without Opposition, That the said Petition be referred to a Committee of Twenty One, to be chosen by Balloting: But a Motion being made, and the Question put, That the said Committee be a Committee of Secrecy, it pass'd in the Negative by 212 Votes against 132.
It may be proper on this Occasion to give a short View of the Nature of this Corporation. It was first erected in the Year 1707; their professed Intention was to lend Money, at legal Interest, to the Poor upon small Pledges; and to Persons of better Rank, upon an answerable Security of Goods; and their Capital was then limited to 30,000 l. In the Year 1722, the Crown gave Licence to them to increase the same to 100,000 l. and again, in 1728, they received Licence for a Capital of 300,000 l. and, in 1730, for 600,000 l. This Charter being granted to the Corporation, they made Application to have the same confirmed by Act of Parliament in the last Session, and a Bill for that Purpose passed the House of Commons; but there was such vigorous Opposition made to it, that it was dropt in the House of Lords. However, upon the Support of the Royal Charter, the Corporation went on; but in October 1731, two of their chief Officers, viz. George Robinson, Esq; Member for Marlow, their Cashire, and Mr John Thompson, their Warehouse-keeper, disappear'd on the same Day. This gave the Proprietors a very great Alarm; and three several General Courts were held, in which a Committee was appointed, from among the chief Proprietors, to inspect the State of their Affairs. By the Report brought in by that Committee it was found, that for a Capital of above 500,000 l. no Equivalent was found to the Value of 30,000 l. the Remainder having been disposed of, by Ways that no one was able to give Account of.
Papers relating to the Sugar-Colonies presented from the Board of Trade.
Feb. 4. Mr Docminicque presented to the House several Papers from the Board of Trade, relating to the Dispute between his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies and the Northern Colonies in America.
Accounts presented relating to the Salt-Duty.
Feb. 7. Several Accounts relating to the Salt-Duty were presented by the Commissioners of that Duty.
Sir R. Walpole's Motion for reading the Pension-Bill the third Time.
The same Day a Motion was made by Sir Robert Walpole, for having the Pension-Bill read the third Time, on the 10th Instant, in a full House, because he did not know but that he might then offer several Reasons against it, and endeavour to shew, that it was neither a proper Bill for redressing the Evil complain'd of, nor was it offer'd at a proper Season.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
Hereupon Mr Pulteney said, 'That that Bill had been two Years successively before that House; during which Time they had had many Opportunities to consider every Clause in it, every one of which had been concerted by the ablest Men in the Nation: That the Bill was certainly a good and a necessary Bill, was very much wanted, and had the general Voice of the Nation in its Favour: That tho' the other House had twice thrown it out, yet he could not think that any Man of Honour could be against it; what their Reasons were for so doing, he could not tell; but it seemed, and he had even heard it whisper'd, that they were tired of doing such **** Work; they were resolved to do no more of it, and if so, says he, it is become necessary for us to do our own **** Work ourselves.' But Sir Robert Walpole's Motion not being insisted on, no Order was made.