The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES AND DEBATES IN THE First Session of the First Parliament of King George II. And Seventh Parliament of Great-Britain.
The Parliament meet.
On the 23d of January, the Parliament being met at Westminster, the King went to the House of Peers, with the usual State and Solemnity; and the Commons being come thither, his Majesty signify'd his Pleasure to them by the Lord High Chancellor, that they should return to their House and choose their Speaker, and present him to his Majesty on the 27th.
Mr Onslow chosen Speaker.
The Commons being return'd accordingly, unanimously chose Arthur Onslow, Esq; Knight of the Shire for Surrey, to be their Speaker.
January 27. The King being come again to the House of Peers, and the Commons being sent for up and attending, they presented their Speaker for his Majesty's Approbation, and the King approved their Choice: After which, his Majesty made the following Speech to both Houses, viz.
The King's Speeches at opening the First Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is a great Satisfaction to me, that at my Meeting the First Parliament summoned and convened by my Authority, I am able to give you Hopes of seeing the Publick Peace and Tranquility very soon restored. I very much wished that the first Period of my Reign might have been distinguished, by putting an immediate End to the Troubles and Disorders of Europe, by a Reduction of some Part of my Forces, a Diminution of Taxes, and all the happy Consequences of an honourable and established Peace; to which my Endeavours have in no Manner been wanting, as far as was consistent with maintaining the Possessions, Rights, and Privileges of my Kingdom, and, I promise myself, not without great Probability of Success.
"I am very sensible of the disagreeable and uneasy Situation in which our Affairs have been for some Time, and have been extreamly concerned to see many of the Inconveniencies of a War attending us, without any Opportunity of resenting the Injuries we sustained, or gaining any of those Advantages in Return, which the vigorous Profecution of so just a Cause, and the Success of our Arms, might probably have secured to us.
"But you are sufficiently apprized, that Preliminary Articles for a general Pacification were some Time ago signed and accepted, by the contracting Parties on both Sides; and although the Ratifications of them had been exchanged by me and my Allies, with his Imperial Majesty; the good Effects, expected from them, were retarded by the Refusal on the Part of Spain, to execute some of the most material Points contained in them; and by Endeavours to alter and explain some Articles, in such a Manner, as immediately affected the Possessions and the just Right of my Kingdoms. I therefore, jointly with my Allies, declined exchanging the Ratifications of the Preliminaries with the Court of Spain; and rejected all such Propositions, as were detrimental and injurious to my Honour, and the Interest of my People.
"By these Means, the Negociations were unavoidably carried into a tedious Length, which I endured with the greater Patience, from an earnest Desire to procure to my Subjects a safe and honourable Peace, and to see the Tranquility of Europe preserved and settled upon a solid and lasting Foundation; during which Time, I received from the most Christian King, and the States General, the greatest Proofs of their Sincerity, and a Renewal of the strongest Assurances imaginable, that they would effectually make good all their Engagements in Support of the Common Cause, and of our mutual Interests: And I am very glad, that I can acquaint you, that our joint Endeavours have had so good an Effect, that by the last Advices from Abroad, I have great Reason to hope, that the Difficulties, which have hitherto retarded the Execution of the Preliminaries, and the Opening of the Congress, will soon be entirely removed.
"However, it will in the mean time be absolutely necessary to continue, as our Allies have already resolved to do, the Preparations which have hitherto been our Security, and prevented an open Rupture in Europe; that we may not at once lose all the Advantages, which our former Expences and Vigour have so nearly procured, by not being in a Condition, if that Necessity should unexpectedly be brought upon us, to vindicate our Honour, and assert our Rights. And you may depend upon it, that my first Care shall be to reduce, from Time to Time, the Expence of the Publick, as often, and as soon as the Interest and Safety of my People will permit it.
"The Preliminary Articles and such other Treaties and Conventions, as have not yet been communicated to Parliament, and which may, without manifest Prejudice, be exposed to publick View, shall be laid before you.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I have given Orders to the proper Officers to prepare and lay before you Estimates of the Expences for the Service of the current Year; and you may be assured, that the Supplies which I find myself obliged to demand of you, shall, as certainly as they do exceed my Wishes and Inclinations, be employed solely for the Interest and Security of the Nation. And I make no doubt, but that if any Method can be found out for raising the necessary Supplies, less grievous to my People than another, That will have the Preference in all your Deliberations.
"I think myself obliged to recommend to you a Consideration of the greatest Importance, and I should look upon it as a great Happiness, if, at the Beginning of my Reign, I could see the Foundation laid of so great and necessary a Work, as the Increase and Encouragement of our Seamen in general; that they may be invited, rather than compelled by Force and Violence, to enter into the Service of their Country, as often as Occasion shall require it: A Consideration worthy of the Representative of a People great and flourishing in Trade and Navigation.
"This leads me to mention to you the Case of Greenwich-Hospital, that Care may be taken, by some Addition to that Fund, to render comfortable and effectual that charitable Provision for the Support and Maintenance of our Seamen, worn out and become decrepit by Age and Infirmities, in the Service of their Country.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"As I have great Hopes that a general Pacification will be now obtained by a speedy Execution of the Preliminaries, I am satisfied, that nothing will more effectually contribute to, and secure this desirable End, than such an Unanimity, Zeal, and Dispatch of the publick Business in this Parliament, as may convince the World, that none among you are capable, out of any Views or Considerations whatsoever, to wish the Distress of their Country; or to give an Occasion, from the Prospect of Difficulties that may arise and be fomented here at Home, to interrupt or disappoint our present promising Expectations: This it is in your Power to defeat, and this I depend upon from your known Zeal and Affection to my Person and Government, and your hearty Concern for the Interest and Welfare of my People."
Jan. 31. The five Grand Committees for Religion, Grievances, Courts of Justice, Trade, Privileges and Elections, having been appointed, Mr Speaker reported his Majesty's Speech to both Houses; upon which the Lord (fn. 1) Hervey, Member for Bury, mov'd for an Address of Thanks to his Majesty, which being seconded, a Committee was appointed to draw up an Address to his Majesty upon the said Resolution.
February 1. The Lord Hervey reported the said Address, which was agreed to.
Feb. 2. The same was presented by the whole House to his Majesty, as follows:
The Commons Address of Thanks.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return our humblest Thanks for your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne; and to acknowledge, in the most dutiful and grateful Manner, the tender and affectionate Concern your Majesty has been pleased to express, for the many Inconveniences, that have arisen from the late disagreeable and unsettled State of the Affairs of Europe.
'We are sensible of the unwearied and uninterrupted Care with which your Majesty, ever since we have enjoyed the Blessings of your Reign, has laboured to put an End to the Disputes, and restore the Tranquility of Europe; of the Desire you have had to free your People from all the Burthens occasioned by impending War, and to procure to them all the happy Consequences of a safe, honourable, and established Peace; and we think it as impossible that any Difficulties should arise, to prevent us feeling the good Effects to be expected from your Prudence, as it is for any Event to make us forget the Marks we have already received of your Affection.
'The Firmness your Majesty has shewn in absolutely refusing to admit of any Explanations of Preliminaries, derogatory to the Honour, or prejudicial to the Interest of this Nation, we feel more sensibly; as we think 'tis equally for your Majesty's Glory and our Happiness to have it appear to the whole World, that the Care of your People is a Consideration so much superior to every other, in fixing your Majesty's Resolutions, that not even One so important as the Peace of all Europe could induce you to submit to the Demands of others, or recede from your own in any Point, where our Possessions were invaded, our Interest struck at, or our Privileges disputed.
'And since this Stand, which your Majesty, in Justice to yourself and Regard to your People, thought fit to make, has not broke off the Accommodation, but only retarded it for our Advantage; we beg Leave to congratulate your Majesty upon the near Prospect of that Success in your Negotiations, which cannot more effectually fulfil our Wishes, as the Earnest of our Prosperity, than it answers our Expectations in demonstrating your Wisdom.
'But in case your Majesty's Expectations, of seeing the publick Peace and Tranquility soon restor'd, should still be disappointed; that your People may no longer continue in that Uncertainty, in which the Policy of others may endeavour to keep us; and that we may be in a Condition to do ourselves Justice, should that Necessity unexpectedly be brought upon us, we are determined, out of Regard to our own Interest, as well as that we shall ever pay to your Majesty's Honour, most effectually to enable you to do yourself Right, and to assert and to maintain all the Possessions, Advantages, and Privileges of your People.
'Whatever Supplies therefore may be wanted for the Service of the current Year, your Commons will, with the utmost Chearfulness and Unanimity grant; being assured no Aid will ever be demanded by your Majesty of your Subjects, but what you judge absolutely necessary for their own Interest and Security. And as we are determined, in whatever Supplies we raise, to have Regard to such Methods as shall be least grievous to your People; so we have the greatest Satisfaction in thinking we may entirely depend on your Majesty's Justice and Wisdom, that whatever we do grant, will be constantly apply'd in the Manner that will be most beneficial to them. Neither had we the least Doubt, before we received your Majesty's most gracious Promise, but that your Majesty, from your paternal Goodness to your People, would, from Time to Time, take every Opportunity to make all such Reductions of the publick Expences, as should be for our present Ease, without endangering our future Safety.
'The Assurances your Majesty has given us of the Sincerity and Steadiness, with which you are satisfy'd all your Allies are determined, in all Events to adhere to their Engagements, and espouse the Common Cause, gave us the greatest Satisfaction; and let the future Dangers and Difficulties that may yet arise, impossible to be foreseen, be ever so formidable or ever so numerous, we do not imagine there can be any which your Majesty's Prudence, Caution, Abilities and Experience, join'd to the Assistance of your Parliament, the Firmness of your Allies, and the Bravery of your People, will not easily dispel.
'It is an indispensible Duty of those, who have a just Sense of the great Importance of the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, to provide proper Encouragements for our Seamen; and common Justice requires that we should take a compassionate Care of those, who by Misfortunes in their brave and faithful Services to their Country, are become equally incapable of continuing those Services, or providing for themselves; We beg Leave therefore to assure your Majesty, that we will take this Matter into our Consideration, and on this, as well as every other Occasion, pay the Deference and Regard due to your Majesty's most gracious Recommendation.
'If there are any so ill informed of the steady Affection of your Commons, as vainly to place their Hopes on any Disputes or Differences that might arise amongst us, we are determined, by a hearty, zealous and general Concurrence in all our Deliberations, for your Majesty's Interest and the Publick Welfare, effectually to disappoint such illgrounded Expectations; and we are satisfy'd we cannot give better Evidence of our Love to our Country, than by constant Demonstrations of our Duty to the best of Kings: And as your Majesty's Endeavours have been, and, we are persuaded, ever will be, to preserve us a free, and establish us a happy People, so we should think our selves undeserving all the Benefits and Blessings of your Reign, were it possible we could ever be wanting in the least Point, on our part, to make it as great, happy and glorious, as that of any of your Royal Predecessors.'
To this his Majesty return'd the following Answer.
The King's Answer thereto.
I Give you my Thanks for this very loyal and affectionate Address. Such Returns of Duty and Gratitude from my faithful Commons would add, if any Thing possibly could, to my Resolutions of promoting and consulting upon all Occasions the Welfare and Prosperity of my People. The entire Confidence you place in me will engage me more strictly to make Use of the Power and Trust you shall repose in me, for your Interest, and to your Satisfaction; and you shall always find my Readiness to ease and reduce the Expences of the Publick to your Expectations."
Feb. 6. Mr Henry Pelham presented to the House several Estimates which had been call'd for.
Debate on the Number of Land Forces for the Year 1728.
Feb. 9. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House on the Supply, considered of the Estimate of the Charge of the Guards, Garrisons, and other his Majesty's Land Forces in Great Britain, for the Year 1728; and a Motion being made, that the Number of effective Men, be 22,955; the same met with Opposition, some Members insisting, that the 8000, Augmentation-Troops, raised last Year, [See Vol. 1. P. 383.] should be entirely reduced: But being apprehensive that the Majority of the Committee were for the Motion, they endeavoured to put off the Debate, by moving, 'That Mr Speaker should resume the Chair;' which being carried in the Negative, by 290 Votes against 84, the Committee came afterwards to the following Resolutions. I. That the Number of effective Men to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, and for Guernsey and Jersey, for the Year 1728, including 1850 Invalids and 555 Men for the six Independent Companies for the Service of the Highlands, be 22,955 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included. II. That the Sum of 786,974 l. 2 s. 9 d. be granted for defraying the Charge of the said 22,955 effective Men. These Resolutions, being the next Day reported, were agreed to by the House.
Feb. 12. Sir Paul Methuen, by his Majesty's Command, laid before the House Copies of several Treaties and Alliances, and other Papers, which were order'd to lie on the Table.
Mr Walpole's Motion for keeping up 12,000 Hessian Forces for the Year 1728. ; Debate thereon.
Feb. 14. The House, in a grand Committee on the Supply, consider'd of the Estimate of the Charge of 2224 Horse, 1836 Dragoons, and 8034 Foot of the Troops of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, for the Year 1728. Then a Motion being made, that the Sum of 230,923 l. 11 s. 8 d. be granted for the said Charge, the same occasion'd a great Debate. Mr Horatio Walpole hereupon set forth the State of Affairs in Europe for some Years past, and endeavour'd to shew the absolute Necessity of keeping up all our Forces 'till the End of the present Negotiations, particularly the 12,000 Men, which, by the Treaty of Hanover, Great Britain stood engaged to furnish. He was answer'd by Mr Daniel Pulteney, Mr W. Pulteney, Sir William Wyndham, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, and Mr Bramston, Member for Malden, who objected, 'That by the said Treaty, the contracting Parties were not obliged to furnish the Succours stipulated therein, but within two Months after Requisition; and that, even in such a case, Great-Britain was only to furnish Men of War, or Transport-Ships, or even Subsidies of Money, at the Choice of the Party requiring the said Succours.' To this Mr Walpole replyed, 'That the late King, in his great Wisdom, had thought fit to provide betimes the said Body of 12,000 Men, in order to obtain the Ends of the Treaty of Hanover: That with this View a Convention was made with the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, whose Troops were the most ready at Hand for that Purpose, and much cheaper than the raising and mantaining National Troops: That the Necessity of making this Convention was the greater, by reason of an unforeseen Disappointment from one of the contracting Parties in the foremention'd Alliance: That Time had shewn, that the taking the said 12,000 Men into his Majesty's Service was a wise and necessary Precaution, since they had hitherto prevented the Kindling of a War in Germany; and that as the same Reasons, for which they were taken into Pay, still subsisted, it was Prudence and absolutely necessary to continue that Expence till the intended Congress at Cambray was over.' Then the Question being put upon the Motion above-mentioned, it was carried in the Affirmative by 280 Votes against 84.
The Motion agreed to.
Feb. 15. Sir Charles Turner reported the said Resolution, which was agreed to by the House.
Feb. 16. Mr Chocke, from the Exchequer, presented to the House an Account of the Monies paid into the Exchequer, arisen upon the Duties on Coals and Culm, from September 29th, 1720, to September 29th, 1727, distinguishing each Year; and also an Account of the present annual and other Charges thereupon.
An Address for an Account of 250,000 l. charg'd for Secret Service.
Feb. 19. It was resolved to address his Majesty for a particular and distinct Account of the Distribution of the Sum of 250,000 l. which, in an Account laid before this House, shewing how the Money given for the Year 1727 has been disposed of, is charged to have been issued for other Expences and Engagements, over and above such as are therein particularly specified, for securing the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and preserving and restoring the Peace of Europe; and of the Time or Times when the said Sum of 250,000 l. was issued and distributed.
The Committee of Supply resolve to raise 1,750,000 l. on the Coal-Duty. ; Debate thereon.
Feb. 23. The Commons, in a Committee on the Supply, came, inter alia, to the following Resolution, viz. 'That 1,750,000 l. be raised by Grant or Sale to the Bank of England, of Annuities not exceeding 70,000 l. per Annum, being after the Rate of 4 l. per Cent. per Annum, redeemable by Parliament, to commence from the 24th of June 1728, and to be charged on the Duties on Coals and Culm.' Hereupon Mr William Pulteney observ'd, 'That the Shifting of Funds was but perpetuating Taxes, and putting off the evil Day; and that notwithstanding the great Merit that some had built on the Sinking Fund, it appear'd that the National Debt had been increased since the setting up of that pompous Project.' Upon which Sir Nathaniel Gould, an eminent Merchant, said, 'He apprehended that Gentleman had his Notions out of a Treatise, intitled, A State of the National Debt, &c. supposed to be written by that very Gentleman; but that if he understood any Thing, it was Numbers, and he durst pawn his Credit and Reputation to prove that Author's Calculations and Inferences to be false and erroneous.' To this Mr Pulteney reply'd, 'That he took them to be right; and he would likewise pawn his Credit and Reputation to make good his Assertion.' Upon this Sir Robert Walpole took up the Cudgels, and said, 'He would maintain what Sir Nathaniel Gould had advanced.' Several warm Expressions having pass'd on both Sides, Mr Hungerford interposed, in a jocular Speech, that put the House in good Humour, and so the Dispute ended.
Petition of the City of London for Relief with regard to the Coal-Duty. ; Which is rejected.
Feb. 26. A Petition of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London, in Common Council assembled, was presented to the House, setting forth, 'That the Duties already laid upon Coals and Culm imported into the Port of London affect their Trade only; and that the Inequality of the Burthen thereof is a great Discouragement to the Manufactures, as well as an Hardship upon the whole trading People in and about the City of London; and praying the Consideration of the House, and such Relief as to the House shall seem meet.' But a Motion being made, and the Question put, that the said Petition be rejected, it was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 214 Voices against 92.
Then Sir Charles Turner reported the above Resolution, which being read a second Time, and a Motion being made and the Question put, that the said Resolution be recommitted, it passed in the Negative: After which the said Resolution was, upon the Question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.
The King's Answers to the Commons Address for an Account of 250,000 l. charg'd for Secret Service.
Feb. 29. Sir Paul Methuen reported to the House, 'That their Address for a particular and distinct Account of the Sum of 250,000 l. &c. had been presented to his Majesty; and that his Majesty had commanded him to acquaint the House, "That the late King, his Majesty's Royal Father, having the like Occasion, received from the last Parliament the most dutiful Acknowledgments of his great Care and Wisdom, in taking such Steps, and entering into such Engagements, as he thought would best conduce to the Security of this Kingdom, and the Preservation of the Peace of Europe; and at the same Time the strongest Assurances of their future Support, in all such farther Measures, as he should find necessary and expedient, for preventing a Rupture, and for the Honour and Advantage of these Kingdoms: And a Power being accordingly given by Parliament to his late Majesty, for issuing and applying such Sums of Money as he should find necessary, for answering and defraying such Expences and Engagements, as had been or should be made for these great and necessary Purposes; some Part of the Money, mentioned in this Address, had been issued and disbursed by his late Majesty; and the remaining Part had been applied by his present Majesty, for carrying on the same necessary Services; for strengthning his Alliances; and in fulfilling Engagements of the utmost Importance to these Kingdoms, and to the general Tranquility of Europe, and which require the greatest Secrecy. His Majesty therefore hopes, That this House will repose the same Confidence in him; and be assured, that the Money has been necessarily expended, pursuant to the Power given by Act of Parliament, and for the Uses and Purposes thereby directed; and that a particular and distinct Account thereof cannot be given without manifest Prejudice to the Publick."
Mr W. Pulteney's Observations thereon.
Upon this Mr Pulteney raised several weighty Objections against such a vague and general Way of Accounting for publick Money, as tending to render Parliaments altogether insignificant and useless; to cover Imbezzlements; and to screen corrupt and rapacious Ministers; Urging the Increase of the National Debt, notwithstanding the so much boasted Sinking Fund, and infisting on having that important Affair immediately debated in a Grand Committee. But the CourtParty waved it, by moving to adjourn the House to the 4th of March; which, after some Debate, was carried in the Affirmative by 202 Votes against 66.
The Commons in a Grand Committee consider of the State of the National Debt. ; Debate thereon.
March 4. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House, consider'd of the State of the National Debt, and the proper Officers were examin'd as to the following Accounts, viz. I. An Account of such National Debts, incurred before December 25, 1716, as are redeemable by Parliament, with the Interest attending the same, and when the same are redeemable. II. An Account of the Money paid into the Exchequer on the Duties on Coals and Culm, from the 29th of September 1720, to the 29th of September 1727, distinguishing each Year; and also the Account of the present annual and other Charges thereupon. III. An Account shewing how the Money given for the Service of the Year 1727 hath been disposed of, distinguish'd under the several Heads, until the 15th of February, 1727, with the Deficiency thereupon. IV. An Account of the Estimate of the Debt of his Majesty's Navy, as it stood on the 31st of December, 1727. Then a Motion was made by the Courtiers, 'That it appears, That the Monies already issued and applied towards discharging the National Debts, incurred before Christmas 1716, together with the Sum of 220,435 l. 16 s. 4 d. ¾ q. which will be issued at Lady-Day 1728, towards discharging the said Debts, amount to 6,648,762 l. 5 s. 1 d. ¼ q. Hereupon there arose a very warm Debate, and Mr Daniel Pulteney endeavour'd to shew the fallacious Tendency of that Motion; and was seconded by Mr William Pulteney, and supported by Lord Morpeth, Mr Shippen, and Sir William Wyndham. They suggested in general, 'That notwithstanding the Supplies that were annually raised in the last Reign; notwithstanding the great Sums of Money given from Time to Time, for extraordinary Expences and Secret Service; notwithstanding the Produce of the Sinking Fund; yet the Publick Debts, for the gradual Discharge of which that famous Project was said to be contrived, were rather increased than lessened; and this in a Time of almost uninterrupted Peace and Tranquility, which must be owing to a very profuse Management of the publick Treasure; and yielded but a very melancholy Prospect; since at this Rate our Debts must still grow faster in case of a War or publick Troubles; so that the heavy and numerous Taxes that now lay upon the Nation, must be perpetuated to the latest Posterity.' Then, entering upon Particulars, they took Notice of the Artifice with which the Accounts that lay before them, were drawn up; That in order to swell that of the Sums said to have been issued and applied towards the Discharge of the publick Debts, incurred before Christmas 1716, there were added to it above three Millions, for the advanced Price given in the Year 1720, in order to make the Irredeemables redeemable, which could not properly be call'd a Payment of those Debts; whereas, on the other hand, in the Account of the present National Debt, or of the Increase of that Debt since Christmas 1716, several large Sums were omitted, particularly One Million, raised upon the Credit of the Civil List, and several Deficiencies on the Land-Tax, Malt, and other Funds, which certainly still remained a publick Debt.' Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole, having shew'd the Nature and State of the publick Debts, and the Operation and Essicacy of the Sinking Fund, strenuously maintain'd the Assertion contain'd in the Motion. The opposite Party perceiving that the Majority of the Committee were for the Motion, moved that Mr Speaker should resume the Chair; but, after some Debate, the Question being put upon this second Motion, it was carried in the Negative by 250 Voices against 97. Then the Question being put upon the first Motion, it was carried without dividing; and the farther Consideration of the State of the Nation, in relation to the National Debt, was put off to the 8th.
The Resolutions of the Committee thereupon;
March 8. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House, resumed the Consideration of the National Debt, and after a long Debate came to the following Resolutions, which, together with the Resolution of the 4th Instant, are as follow: viz. I. That the Monies already issued and applied towards discharging the National Debts incurred before Christmas 1716, together with the Sum of 220,435 l. 16 s. 4 d. ¾ q. which will be issued at Ladyday 1728, towards discharging the said Debts, amount to 6,648,762 l. 5 s. 1 d. ¼ q. II. That the several National Debts, including the Debt of the Navy as it ftood December 31, 1727, contracted and incurred since December 25, 1716, for answering and defraying the annual Charges and Expences of the Publick, for the current Service of the several Years since the said 25th of December, 1716, amounted on the 8th Day of March, 1727, to the Sum of 2,605,545 l. 16 s. 0 d. ¾ q. III. That the National Debt contracted since the 25th of December, 1716, for or in respect of the Sum advanced by the South-Sea Company, pursuant to an Act of the 5th Year of King George I. for the Liberty of increasing their Capital Stock, being so much thereof as was apply'd to the Sinking Fund, doth amount to the Sum of 328,673 l. 4 s. 10 d. ½ q. IV. That the National Debt contracted since the 25th of December 1716, for making good the yearly Deficiencies of the General Fund, from the Establishment thereof to and for the Year ending at Michaelmas, 1726, the Surplus whereof is applicable to the Sinking Fund, amounts to the Sum of 703,740 l. 6 s. 2 d. ½ q.
Which, being reported to the House, occasion a second Debate. ; The Resolutions of the Committee agreed to by the House;
March 12. Sir Charles Turner having reported the abovementioned four Resolutions, the same occasioned a long Debate, which was chiefly managed by Mr William Pulteney on the one side, and Sir Robert Walpole on the other. Upon the whole, the First of the said Resolutions being read a second Time, and a Motion made, and the Question being put, That the said Resolution be re-committed, it passed in the Negative: After which the said Resolution was agreed to by the House. The Second Resolution being read a second Time, and a Motion being made, and the Question being put, That the said Resolution be re-committed, it passed in the Negative: Then the said Resolution was agreed to by the House. The Third Resolution, being read a second Time, was agreed to by the House. The Fourth Resolution being read a second Time, was, with an Amendment, agreed to by the House, and is as followeth, viz. Resolved, That the National Debt contracted since the 25th of December, 1716, for making good the yearly Deficiencies of the General Fund, from the Establishment thereof, to and for the Year ending at Michaelmas, 1726, the Surplus whereof is applicable to the Sinking Fund, amounts to the Sum of 703,740 l. 6 s. 2 d. ½ q. and that by Virtue of two Acts of Parliament of the 5th Year of King George I. farther Additions have been made to the Capital Stock of the South-Sea Company, for making good several Deficiencies of the original and additional Funds of the said Company, settled and established before the 25th December, 1716, amounting together to the Sum of 290,028 l. 19 s. 11 d. ½ q.
And a Committes appointed to draw up a Representation of the State of the National Debt, the Sinking Fund, and the Publick Credit.
The Courtiers having carried their Point so far, it was moved, and resolved, Nem. Con. That an humble Representation be made to his Majesty upon the said Resolutions, and upon the Debate of the House, laying before his Majesty a particular Account of the National Debts discharged and incurred since the 25th Day of December, 1716, distinguished under their proper Heads and Services; with a State of the Sinking Fund, and of the Publick Credit; and a Committee was appointed to draw up the said Representation.
Debate concerning the Omission of an Article of 300,000 l. in the Account of the publick Debts.
April 5, The House was informed, that an Article relating to the Duty upon Wrought-Plate, which amounted to 300,000 l. was omitted to be inserted in the Account of all the Publick Debts, at the Receipt of his Majesty's Exchequer, standing out at Christmas, 1727, with the annual Interest paid for the same: Hereupon it was ordered, That Mr Chocke have Leave to withdraw the said Account; and that he do present to the House a perfect Account of all the publick Debts, at the Receipt of his Majesty's Exchequer, standing out at Christmas 1727, with the annual Interest paid for the same. This most extraordinary Omission, however, occasioned a great Complaint and Debate, wherein severe Reflections were made on the Neglect and Carelessness, with which the Publick Accounts, laid before the House, were drawn up; and thereupon it was moved, That, in order to prevent the same for the future, all Accounts, to be delivered to this House from the Exchequer, be signed by the Auditor of the Exchequer, or the Clerk of the Pells, or by their lawful Deputies, or chief Clerks, or one of them: But the Question being put upon the said Motion, it was carried in the Negative.
Several Accounts from the Exchequer presented to the House,
The same Day Mr Chocke presented to the House an Account of all Money that has in any manner been paid, or any Exchequer-Bills which have been made out for Interest, Circulation and Charges of Management of the 4,361,025 l. principal Exchequer-Bills standing out at Christmas 1716, with the like Payments for the three Millions in Exchequer-Bills, made out pursuant to the Acts of the 6th, 8th and 9th Years of King George I. distinct from any Payments relating to any other Exchequer-Bills; with an Account of what Money on the same has been satisfied, and which of the said Principal Sums in Exchequer-Bills have been paid off. After this the House adjourn'd to the 8th.
April 8. Mr Chocke from the Exchequer presented to the House an Account of all the publick Debts at the Receipt of his Majesty's Exchequer, due or standing out at Christmas 1727, with the annual Interest paid for the same. Then the proper Officers were order'd to lay before the House, I. An Account of the Money paid into the Exchequer, arisen upon the Duty on Coals and Culm from March 25, 1719, to March 25, 1728, and also an Account how the same has been applied, distinguishing each Year. II. An Account of what Arrears of Land-Taxes were standing out at Michaelmas 1727. III. An Account of what Arrears of Window-Taxes were standing out at Michaelmas, 1727.
The above Representation reported,
Then Sir William Yonge reported from the Committee appointed to draw up a Representation to be made to his Majesty, upon the Resolutions of the House, of the 12th of March, and upon the Debate of the House, laying before his Majesty a particular Account of the National Debts discharged and incurred since the 25th of December 1716, with a State of the Sinking-Fund, and of the Publick Credit, that they had drawn up the said Representation, which he reported to the House, and being twice read, the same was, after some Debate, with some Amendments, agreed to by the House; and it was resolved, That the said Representation be presented to his Majesty by the whole House.
And presented to the King.
April 10. The House presented to the King the said Representation, the Substance whereof being already set forth in the Resolutions of the House thereupon, [See p. 26.] We think it needless to swell this Work with the Particulars at large.
April 11. Mr Speaker reported to the House his Majesty's Answer to their Representation about the National Debt, as follows.
The King's Answer to the said Representation.
"I Cannot but be very well pleased with this Representation, which must give general Satisfaction to all my People, by removing those groundless Jealousies and Apprehensions, which have been propagated and dispersed throughout the Kingdom.
"The happy Effects of the flourishing State of the Publick Credit are too sensibly felt and seen, not to be confessed and acknowledged by every Body.
"The Provision made for gradually discharging the National Debt is now become so certain and considerable, that nothing, but some unforeseen Event, can alter or diminish it; which gives us the fairest Prospect of seeing the Old Debts discharged, without any Necessity of incurring New.
"And you may be assured, That it shall be my particular Care and Study to maintain and preserve the Publick Credit; to improve the Sinking Fund; and to avoid all Occasions of laying any new Burthens upon my People."
May 6. Sir Paul Methuen deliver'd to the House a Message sign'd by his Majesty, which was read by Mr Speaker, as follows, viz.
The King's Message for a Vote of Credit.
His Majesty being under some Engagements, entered into, and concerted with the Advice and Concurrence of the last Parliament, for securing the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and for restoring and preserving the Peace of Europe; and having been enabled to answer and defray the Charges and Expences thereof, as far as they have hitherto become due and payable, and there being still wanting a Sum not very considerable, to perfect and fulfil these Obligations, relying upon the Duty and Affection of his Commons, hopes they will enable him to discharge such Engagements, as still remain unsatisfied upon this Head of Service."
The Consideration of this Message was put off to the next Day.
Debate thereon. ; A Vote of Credit agreed to, and an Address on that Occasion.
May 7. The House took into Consideration his Majesty's Message, and after some Debate, it was at last resolved, by 237 Voices against 101, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to declare the Duty and Fidelity of this House to his Majesty, and the entire Confidence which they repose in his Royal Care of, and Goodness to, his People; and to assure his Majesty, that this House will enable his Majesty to answer and defray the Charges and Expences, that still remain unsatisfied, of the Engagements entred into and concerted, for securing the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and for restoring and preserving the Peace of Europe.
May 8. The Commons presented the said Address to his Majesty, who return'd the following Answer.
King's Answer thereto.
"I Return you my Thanks for this very dutiful and affectionate Address; and you may be assured that the Confidence, you repose in me, shall be employld for the Publick Good, and Support of the Common Cause."
Mr W. Pulteney's Motion for an Account of Grants of Timbor from the Crown.
May 17. A Motion being made, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to give Directions, that the proper Officer do lay before this House an Account of the Sale of Woods, and Grants of the Falls of Woods, by his late Majesty, from Christmas, 1715, to June 1, 1727, and how the same have been accounted for:' It occasion'd a warm Debate, wherein Mr William Pulteney urg'd, 'That through the Connivance of some Men in Favour with our late most gracious King, his Majesty's Goodness had been abused in several Grants of considerable Falls of Woods, to the great Detriment and Waste of the Royal Forests, at a Time when the Nation stood in so great need of Timber, for the Repairing and Building of Ships; and therefore he thought it very proper for the House to inquire by what Means the said Grants came to be obtained.' He was answered by Sir Robert Walpole, who represented, 'That such an Inquiry might be injurious to the Memory of some Dead, and after all, prove altogether unprofitable to the Living.' Then the previous Question being put, that the Question be now put, it passed in the Negative.
May 28. The King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, his Majesty made the following Speech to both Houses:
King's Speech at putting an End to the First Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
The Dispatch you have given to the Publick Business, and the advanced Season of the Year, make it proper for me to put an End to this Session of Parliament.
"The Zeal and Unanimity which you have shewn in all your Proceedings, in regard to the true Interest of your Country, and in Support of the Common Cause, have fully answered my Expectations, and will, I am persuaded, give general Satisfaction here at Home, and cannot fail of having their due Weight and Influence Abroad.
I expect very soon to hear that the Congress is opened. The Preliminary Articles having laid so good a Foundation for a general Pacification, I hope all Parties will bring with them such favourable Dispositions for finishing and perfecting this desirable Work, that we shall soon see a happy Conclusion of this important Transaction, with that Satisfaction to Me and my Allies, which may reasonably be expected from the Justice of our Cause, and the mutual Confidence which is established among us.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I return you my Thanks for the effectual Supplies you have raised for the Service of the Year. The prudent Application you have made of the Produce of the Sinking Fund will contribute to the Support of the publick Credit; and the Power you have given me of borrowing 500,000 l. for the Discharge of the Seamen's Wages, will meet with universal Approbation.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is unnecessary for me to recommend, in any particular Manner, to your Care, the Preservation of the Publick Peace in your several Stations and Countries: Your own Inclinations will naturally lead you, by a due Execution of the Laws, and a faithful Administration of Justice, to promote upon all Occasions the Welfare and Prosperity of my People.
The Parliament prorogued.
Then the Lord Chancellor prorogued the Parliament to the 8th of August: They were afterwards farther prorogued to the 21st of January.