The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Names of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Charitable-Corporation.
Feb. 11. The Lord Vere Beauclerk reported the Names of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Affair of the Charitable-Corporation; as follows, viz. Mr Perry, Mr Palmer, Mr Barnard, Lord Viscount Limerick, Hon. Mr Digby, Mr Watkin Williams Wynn, Mr William Bromley, Jun. Mr Edward Harley, Mr Walter Plumer, Mr Sandys, Mr Oglethorpe, Sir Thomas Saunderson, Sir John Rushout, Lord Morpeth, Mr Thomas Wyndham, Sir Thomas Robinson, Mr Danvers, Mr Bramston, Mr Winnington, Mr Conduit, and Mr John Campbell.
An Address for Papers relating to the Sugar-Colonies.
The Sugar-Colony-Bill read a second Time.:
Feb. 15. The Sugar-Colony Bill was read a second Time: Then the House proceeded to hear Counsel upon the said Bill, which lasted also the 17th, 18th, and 23d, during which Time all the Papers call'd for were laid before them.
The Papers, &c. relating to Lord Derwentwater's Estate referr'd to a Committee.
Debate on the Sugar-Colony-Bill. ; Mr Winnington.
Feb. 23. The House proceeded to the farther Hearing of Counsel for and against the Sugar-Colony Bill, and the Counsel on both Sides having finish'd their Argument, Mr Winnington stood up, and spoke as follows:
'I find that some of the Counsel at the Bar have endeavoured to turn the Affair now before us into such a Shape, as if the Question to be determined were, whether the Northern Colonies, or the Sugar-Colonies ought most to be encouraged by this House. This, Sir, is not at all the Question now before us; the Affair in hand is the Dispute between the English and the French Commerce: We are now to determine, whether we ought to encourage a French Trade, which tends to the Ruin of our own Sugar-Colonies, for I have not heard it so much as disputed by any Man, but that they must be soon undone, if some Redress be not given to them in Time; and the only Redress now proposed, the only Redress they want at present is, that a Parliament of England will only do as much as they can to discourage the French Sugar-Trade. One would realy imagine, that such a Proposition would not meet with any Opposition in a British House of Commons.
'This, Sir, being the true State of the Question, I do not wonder to see it twisted and turn'd into twenty Shapes, rather than to let it appear in its own genuine and natural Colour; but of all the Lights this Affair has been put into, the most invidious is, that of pretending that the Sugar-Colonies by this Bill are contriving a Method of putting their Sugars and Rum upon us at any Price they please to demand; that by this Bill they want us to make a Law for enabling them to sell their Sugars and Rum, at a much dearer Price than what is necessary. If this, Sir, were truly the Case, I should be against this Bill as much as any Man in this House; but to me it appears evident, that what they want, is only to have such a Price for their Sugars and Rum as they can possibly make them at so as to live thereby: This is a reasonable Demand, and this we ought to grant, if it be in our Power. Now, Sir, I think it has been made appear, that the French are our greatest Rivals in the Sugar-Trade; and it has been likewise made appear, that the French have been enabled to become our Rivals in the Sugar-Trade, only by the Trade carried on between them and our Northern Colonies; the great Vent they thereby have for their Rum and Molosses, and the easy Access they thereby have to Lumber, Horses, and all other Necessaries for their Sugar-Plantations, which are naturally much more fruitful than ours, enable them to sell their Sugars and Rum at a much lower Price than it is possible for our Sugar-Planters to sell at; it is therefore apparent that our Sugar-Plantations must be undone, or we must fall upon Ways and Means of preventing the French from selling their Sugars so cheap as they do: Those Ways and Means are easy; they are every Day in our Power; put a Stop to the Trade that is carried on between our own Colonies upon the Continent and the French SugarIslands, and you must at once a great deal enhance the Price of all French Sugars; the Charges of making their Sugars will then be a great deal more, and their Rum and Molosses will yield them nothing; they must lay all Charges upon the Returns of their Sugars, and therefore it will not be possible to sell them so cheap as they are sold at present. By this Method our own Sugar-Colonies will be greatly encouraged, and the French may be totally undone; whereas if we leave Matters in the present Situation, the French Sugar-Colonies will be increasing every Day, and in a little Time our own will be quite destroyed.
'But, Sir, it has been pretended, that if we put a Stop to the Trade now carried on between the French SugarIslands and our Colonies upon the Continent, it will in a great Measure ruin our Colonies upon the Continent, because it will entirely destroy their Fishery, and also their Trade with the Indians, both which are carried on principally by the Means of the Rum and Molosses, which our Colonies purchase at so cheap a Rate from the French Sugar-Islands: If there were any Foundation for this, it would indeed be a very great Objection to the Bill now before us; but as our Colonies upon the Continent carried on their Trade with the Indians, and also their Fisheries, long before they had either Rum or Molosses from the French Islands, it is plain that neither of those Trades can depend entirely upon their Trade with the French Sugar-Islands; but upon the contrary it is evident, that the Opening of this Trade with those Islands, has not only encouraged the French Sugar-Plantations to the great Detriment of our own, but has also in a great Measure discouraged or rather entirely destroyed the Sale of English Spirits in that Part of the World, which is a considerable Loss to this Country; for it is well known, that before our Colonies upon the Continent of America sell into this destructive Trade with the French Sugar-Islands, they made use of great Quantities of English Spirits, both in their Fishing Trade, and also in their Trade with the Indians. And if we should put a Stop to this Trade with the French Sugar-Islands, there is no Doubt but our own Colonies would again fall into their former Method, and would be able to carry on as extensive a Trade with the Indians, and as great a Trade in Fishing, by the means of English Spirits, as they ever did by the means of French Rum. Besides, Sir, if some Rum or Molosses were absolutely necessary, do not we know that they could have as much from our own SugarIslands as they had Occasion for, and within a Trifle at as low a Price as they can have the same sort of Rum or Molosses from the French Sugar-Islands? for in Proportion as the French Sugar-Plantations decrease, it is certain that our own will be daily increasing: Though Barbadoes may perhaps be as much improved as the Extent of Ground will admit of, yet we know that Jamaica, and several other of the Islands belonging to us in that Part of the World, will admit of very great Improvement; we know that if they were all improved to the full Extent, they would produce as much or very near as much Sugar, Rum and Molosses as could be consumed in Europe and in America. Thus, Sir, to me it appears plain, that the Method proposed by the Bill now before us, is the only proper Method for discouraging the French Sugar-Plantations, and encouraging our own; and that it is a Method by which no Part of our own Dominions can be any way injured; therefore I must be for the Bill, and for that Reason, Sir, I move, That the Bill may be committed.
Mr G. Heathcote.
'I should with all my Heart be for the Bill now before us, if I could find any thing in it that would encourage our own Trade to the Detriment of that of the French; but realy, Sir, I cannot find any such thing in this Bill; upon the contrary, I clearly foresee, that by the Method thereby proposed, we are going to destroy a very prositable Branch of our own Trade, and to do all that is in our Power to encourage, or rather to set up a new Trade for the French, which they of themselves, notwithstanding their utmost Endeavours for that Purpose have never been able to accomplish. We are amusing ourselves with a vain Conceit, that it is impossible for the French to carry on or manage their Sugar-Plantations, without the Assistance of the Lumber, Horses and other Necessaries, which they have from our Colonies upon the Continent; and that their Rum and Molosses would be of no use to them, if they could not dispose of them to the Inhabitants of our Northern Colonies. If it were so, I am sure the French would permit that Trade to be carried on openly and freely; they would not leave it under the Discouragement of being carried on in a clandestine Manner, by giving great Bribes to the Governors of their Sugar-Islands: We have no Reason to despise the French Knowledge as to the Methods of improving any Trade they aim at; and we know that they have for several Years been doing every thing that was in their Power to encourage their Sugar-Plantations. Can we then imagine, that they would have left such Checks and Discouragements upon the Trade between their Sugar-Islands and our Northern Colonies, if they had thought that their Sugar-Works or Plantations could not subsist without it? No, they know that that Trade is a great Hindrance to the Improvement of their own Colonies upon the Continent, and therefore they have endeavoured to put a Stop to it by Degrees, but have never as yet been able to effectuate what they proposed; and now we are by a publick Law to contribute as much as we can to render their Endeavours effectual. I must therefore look upon what is proposed by this Bill, as a Method not at all certain for improving our own Sugar-Plantations to the Discouragement of the French, but as an infallible Method for improving the French Colonies upon the Continent to the very great Discouragement of our own; I therefore think, I have very good Reason to be against the Bill as it now stands, and consequently I must be against committing it.
'The Affair now before us is of such Consequence to the Navigation, the Trade, and the Happiness of this Nation, that it ought to be weighed with the utmost Nicety and Exactness: There may be a great deal said upon both Sides of the Question. For my own part, I have not had Opportunities of acquiring so extensive, and so general a Knowledge of Trade as the worthy Gentleman upon the Floor, who spoke first in the present Debate; but as I have been dealing in Trade ever since my Insancy, I have a good many Facts to lay before you, and several Things to say upon the Subject in hand, which, in my Opinion, ought to make us extremely cautious of laying any Restrictions upon the Trade of any Part of our Dominions. But it is now, I think, too late to enter upon a Debate of so serious, and so extensive a Nature; and therefore I am for adjourning the Debate till to-morrow, or any other Day this House shall please to fix on.
'If the House be resolved to proceed, I will speak to the Affair in hand; but if otherways, I will not now offer to detain them with any thing that I have to say upon the Subject. [Here he made a Pause, and the House seeming inclined to proceed, he went on as follows.] In the Question now before us, Sir, it is certain that some Relief ought to be immediately thought of for our Sugar-Colonies. Our SugarTrade is without Doubt at present in a most lamentable Condition, and must necessarily in a few Years be quite undone, at least in so far as regards our Exportation to foreign Markets: But, Sir, I am very far from thinking that the Method, proposed by the Bill now before us, is the proper Method for giving Relief to our Sugar-Colonies; I do not think it will afford them any Relief; it may cramp and injure our Northern Colonies in some Branches of Trade now carried on by them, but it never can be of any Advantage to our own Sugar-Colonies, as long as they make more Sugar than is requisite for answering the Consumption within our own Dominions. I should be glad that we could fall upon any way of making the French. Sugars dearer than they are at present, but I am afraid all Attempts of that Nature will prove to be chimerical; and I am sure there is no Method proposed by the Bill now before us, that can in the least answer that Purpose: As to Lumber, Horses, and other Necessaries for Sugar-Plantations, which are now brought from our Colonies upon the Continent to the French Sugar-Islands, there is no Provision in this Bill against their being furnished with such Things from thence for the future; and it would be very wrong to make any such Provision; for it is very certain, that if they could not have such Things from our Colonies, they would soon fall into the way of having all such Necessaries from their own Colony at Canada. It cannot be pretended but that the French Colony at Canada, with a very little Encouragement, would soon be able to furnish the French Sugar-Islands with Lumber, Horses, and all such Necessaries: Though the Navigation of that River be difficult and uncertain in the Winter Time, yet they might easily fall upon a way of bringing all such Stores down that River in the proper Season, and lodging them at their own Settlement at Cape Briton, from whence they could easily be transported to their Sugar-Islands at all Seasons of the Year: This, Sir, would, I am persuaded, be the Consequence of our prohibiting the Exportation of such Things from our Colonies to the French Sugar-Islands; and thus, instead of discouraging their Sugar Plantations, or enhancing the Price or first Cost of their Sugars, we should by a British Act of Parliament do more towards the encouraging their Settlements at Canada and Cape Briton, than they themselves with all their Edicts and Arbitrary Power, have been able to do since the first Establishment of those Settlements. In a little Time we might expect to see those Northern Seas swarming with French Ships and Sloops, and a great Part of the Trade of our own Northern Colonies being thereby destroyed, our own Seamen must either starve at home, or run into the Service of the French for the sake of daily Bread.
'But, Sir, granting that it were impossible for the French Sugar-Islands to have what Horses, Lumber, and such Things they want, from their own Colonies upon the Continent, or from any other Part of America besides our Settlements there, yet we all know that they could have Plenty of all those Necessaries from France itself; and it is well known, that Sugars are such bulky Commodities, that they require a great many Ships to bring them to Europe, which Ships return again to the West-Indies for the most part in Balast, so that the Freight outwards is generally at a very low Rate; by which Means they might have all such Things from Europe, for a very little more than prime Cost: And suppose that the Price of such Things stood them a little more than what is paid for them in our Sugar-Islands, yet we know that such a small Sum of Money is laid out in furnishing a Sugar-Plantation with all such Necessaries, that it bears but a very small Proportion to the other Charges that are necessary in furnishing and managing such a Plantation; the Difference in this Respect between the Charges of a Plantation, in their Islands or in ours, would be so small that it could not be taken Notice of, nor would it any way enhance the Price of their Sugars in any Market in Europe.
As to Rum, I think it is not pretended that the French deal much either in the making or vending of that Commodity, but it is said, That our Northern Colonies purchase all their Molosses from them, and thereby contribute towards the enabling of them to sell their Sugars at the low Price they do at present; and it is farther said, That if our People upon the Continent of America did not purchase their Molosses of them, they could make nothing of them in any other Way: This is realy supposing the French to be a more stupid Sort of People than any of the Native Indians upon the Continent. They know that Rum is made of Molosses; they know that Rum is valuable in almost every Part of the World; they understand the Art of Distilling Rum from Molosses; or if they do not, it is certain there is no such mighty Secret in the Art, but that they may easily learn it. Can it then be doubted, but that if they could not sell their Molosses to our Colonies upon the Continent, they would set up Stills of their own, and make Rum out of their own Molosses? And could not they sell that Rum both in America, Africa, and Europe, as well as we do? To this it is answered, That their Government would not allow them to make or sell Rum; because it would prejudice the Sale of Brandy, which is the natural Product of France itself: But this we have not the least Reason to suppose; for if the very Being, or even the Well-Being of the French Sugar-Colonies depended upon their making and selling Rum, we cannot suppose, that the French Government would ruin them, in order to keep up the Price of their Brandies; unless we were to suppose, that the King of France, and all his Advisers, were Masters of Vineyards and of nothing else: We may as well suppose, that the King of France would make an Edict, for obliging their Sugar-Planters to throw all their Molosses into the Sea; because if they are made into Rum in any Place, either in Europe or America, it may prevent or prejudice the Sale of French Brandies. We must therefore presume, that if the French Sugar-Planters could not dispose of their Molosses in the Way they now do, they would not only be permitted, but would actually set up Stills of their own, and would make their Molosses into Rum, and send it to Europe; also to their own Colonies of Mississippi, Canada, and Cape-Briton, in order to supply all the Indian Nations therewith at a cheap Rate; and they would likewise be able to smuggle a great deal of it into our Northern Colonies, and even into Great Britain and Ireland, notwithstanding any Laws we could make, or any Precautions we could use to the contrary. We may perhaps, by putting Arbitrary Powers into the Hands of our Commissioners of the Customs and Excise, make it difficult to bring French Rum ashore in any of our Dominions; but it would be absolutely impossible to prevent the Sale of it to our Fishing Vessels in the North Parts of America. Thus instead of buying their Molosses at the cheap Rate we now do, and having the Advantage of manufacturing them into Rum ourselves, we should give them the Advantage of the Manufacture, and should buy their Rum at a dear Rate; and instead of giving them Lumber and other such Goods for their Molosses, we should be obliged to give them ready Money for their Rum. As the Sale of our Lumber, Horses, and such Things, even now depends entirely upon the Courtesy of the Governours of their Sugar-Islands, we may depend upon it, that if our People could take nothing but ready Money from them in Exchange for such Goods, no such Sale would ever be allowed of; such strict Injunctions would be sent over, that their Governours durst never venture to permit, or even so much as to wink at, any British Ships ever coming into any of their Ports, and those Goods are too bulky to be smuggled into any Part of the World.
'Since then, Sir, we cannot propose to make the Cost of the French Sugars higher than it is at present, let us consider and examine if we cannot make the Cost of our own Sugars less, in order thereby to enable our Sugar-Colonies to sell their Sugars at a lower Price, than they can possibly do at present: This, Sir, is the proper and only Consideration for this House to enter into. We ought never to make Laws, for encouraging or enabling our Subjects to sell the Produce or Manufacture of their Country at a high Price, but we ought to contrive all Ways and Means for enabling them to sell cheap; for in all Matters relating to Trade, we ought chiefly to consider the Foreign Exportation; and it is certain, that at all Foreign Markets those who sell cheapest will carry off the Sale, and turn all others out of the Trade: We may indeed confine our own Subjects to the buying of what Sugars they have Use for, from our own Sugar-Colonies, at any Price they please to put upon what they have to sell, but we have no Power over Foreigners; so that unless our Sugar-Planters do sell their Sugars as cheap as any other Sugar-Planters can do, we shall soon lose our whole Foreign Trade as to Sugars: And even as to our Home-Trade, our Sugar-Planters must all join together, and consider nicely the Home-Consumption, if they have a mind to keep their Sugars at a much higher Price, than what they are sold for in other Parts of Europe; for if they in any one Year make more Sugars than we can consume at Home, it will of course run down the Price of all their Sugars for that Year, even at Home amongst our selves. Supposing that we consume 80,000 Hogsheads of Sugar every Year, if they should in any one Year send home 100,000 Hogsheads, the additional 20,000, which we have no Occasion for, cannot be sent abroad, they must be sold amongst ourselves; and the Sale of that 20,000 would run down the Price of the whole 100,000. So that let us put this Affair in what Shape we will, the Methods proposed by this Bill can never be any real Relief to our Sugar-Colonies.
'There are many Ways, Sir, for enabling our Dealers in Sugar to sell their Sugars at a less Price, than they can do at present; one Method the French have long ago chalked out to us, and that only I shall mention at present. The French foresaw the great Advantage of encouraging their Sugar-Colonies; they knew the Hardships that ours laboured under, from their being obliged to send all their Sugars to be unloaded in England, before they could be exported to any other Part of Europe: They knew how greatly this enhanced the Price of our Sugars, at all the Markets in Europe; and in order to give their Sugar-Colonies an Advantage over ours, they gave them a Liberty of sending their Sugars directly to foreign Markets, without unloading, or so much as touching at any Port in France. This is an Advantage over our Sugar-Colonies, which the French Sugar-Colonies have enjoyed for several Years. Let us then follow the Example of our Neighbours the French; let us at least put our Sugar-Colonies upon an equal Footing with their Rivals. This will be one great Encouragement to them, and it is to be hoped, that in the Course of this Bill, a great many others may be thought of, which will be real Advantages to them, without doing any Injury to any of our other Colonies in that Part of the World.'
'As the only Dispute now is, whether this Bill ought to be committed, I think the Gentleman who spoke last, has given a very good Reason for the committing thereof; he said, That some Relief ought certainly to be given to our Sugar-Colonies, if any such can possibly be contrived or thought on. I believe every Member of this House is of the same Opinion, and therefore every one must think, that the Bill ought to be committed. We shall thereby have Time to consider and examine all the Circumstances of so weighty an Affair; we shall have Time to consult and advise with all those of our Acquaintance, who understand any thing of Trade and Commerce, by which Means we may have an Opportunity of contriving the most proper Methods for encouraging and promoting our Sugar-Trade, without injuring any other Branch of our Trade; and when we are in a Committee upon the Bill, every Member will then have an Opportunity of offering such Clauses and Amendments as he may then think proper: In my Opinion, it cannot so much as admit of a Debate, whether the Bill is to be committed or not. The least Delay in this Affair may be the Occasion of the Loss of the Bill, and therefore I am for committing it immediately.'
'There never was perhaps before this House an Affair of greater Moment, than the Affair which is now before us. The whole British Trade, all our Colonies and Settlements in America, may be ruined and undone, or very much encouraged and strengthened by the Resolutions we come to upon the present Occasion. Every Man, who knows any thing of the Trade and Commerce of this Nation, knows how much the whole depends upon our Colonies in the West-Indies. Every Man may see by the Accounts that have been laid before us, what vast Quantities of Goods are every Year brought from thence, by the Re-exportation of which we balance our Trade with almost every Nation in Europe; and I believe I may say, that it is owing to this only, that the general Balance of Trade has always continued so much in our Favour.
'Let us but consider the vast Quantities of Goods, the vast Quantities of British Manufacture and Produce, sent from hence every Year to our several Settlements in the WestIndies; let us but consider what Numbers of British Ships and British Seamen are employ'd in the West-India Trade, and we shall see how much that Trade and those Settlements ought to be the Care and the Concern of a British Parliament.
'Our Sugar-Colonies are of great Consequence to us, and I join in Opinion with those, who think that we ought not to leave them under any Hardships, or under any Distress. Let it never be said of a British House of Commons, that the Distress of any of their Fellow-Subjects was pointed out to them, and they neglected or delayed to do what was in their Power for their Relief: But our other Colonies in that Part of the World, ought also to be consider'd; from them we have likewise Yearly very large Quantities of Goods, such as Tobacco, Rice, Naval-Stores, and the like, which contribute not a little towards preserving the general Balance of Trade in our Favour. We ought not to encourage or raise one Colony upon the Destruction or Detriment of another; much less ought we to grant a Favour to any Subject, or to any particular Set of People, which may prove to be against the publick Good of the Nation in general.
'I am convinced, that some Relief, or some new Encouragement ought to be given to our Sugar-Colonies, and I shall readily join in any Measure for that End, which is not inconfistent with the publick Good: But this, Sir, is no Reason for committing the Bill now before us; for if there is not one Clause or one Article in it proper for the Purpose for which it was designed, we cannot properly go into a Committee upon it; we may in a Committee upon a Bill add Clauses; we may make Amendments, but we are not to make a new Bill. In such a Case the proper Method would be, to have the present Bill withdrawn, and to have a new Bill brought in; and this will be a much surer and a speedier Method of procuring Relief for our Sugar-Colonies, than by sending up a Bill to the other House, so irregular or so improper, that they may find themselves under a Necessity of throwing it out, or which is much the same, of letting it drop in their House, whereby our Sugar-Colonies will be obliged to continue for one Year more, at least, under the Hardships and Incumbrances, which now lie so heavy upon them. This Affair being therefore of the utmost Consequence, I must be of Opinion, that it is now too late, and the House too thin, for entering upon the present Debate: Besides, Gentlemen, we ought to have a Regard to the Chair, and not subject him to so great and so long a Fatigue; I must therefore join in the Motion that the Debate may be adjourned till some other Day.'
Mr Giles Erle.
'As the great Advantage reaped by the Nation, by any Branch of its Trade or Manufacture, depends upon the Exportation; therefore when any Matter of Trade comes to be considered in this House, we ought to regard only those Methods or Means, which may tend towards the encouraging and promoting the Exportation of any Manufacture: Now as to the Case before us, if our Colonies do not sell their Sugars cheaper, or at least as cheap as the French, Dutch, or any other Nation can possibly do, it is certain, that no Part of that Manufacture can possibly be exported to any foreign Market. I shall therefore be for any Method, that can reasonably be proposed, for enabling them to sell cheaper than they do at present, but I shall never be for impowering them to exact higher Prices from any of their Fellow-Subjects, being convinc'd, that no Laws we can make, can oblige Foreigners to pay a higher Price for our Sugars, than that for which they may every Day purchase foreign Sugars of equal Goodness.'
The Sugar-Colony Bill committed.
Then Mr Barnard and some other Members declaring, 'That they would rather be for having the Bill committed, than that it should be thrown out; because they thought it was necessary to do something, this Session of Parliament, towards the Relief of our Sugar-Colonies; the Question was thereupon put for committing the Bill, which was agreed to.
The Salt-Bill read a first Time, and order'd a second Reading.
Feb. 25. Sir Charles Turner presented the Salt-Bill to the House, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time; and a Motion being made for reading it a second Time on the 2d of March, the same was strenuously opposed, as being too short a Time for considering a Bill of so much Consequence; but upon a Division, it was carried in the Affirmative, by 206 against 180.
Debate concerning the Expelling Mr Robinson, a Member of the House, who together with John Thompson, had fled beyond Sea, on account of the Charitable Corporation.
The same Day Mr Sandys reported from the Committee appointed to inquire into the Affair of the Charitable Corporation, the Result of their Inquiry as to the Time, Manner, and Circumstances of George Robinson, Esq; Member for Marlow, and Mr John Thompson's withdrawing themselves beyond the Seas. Then a Debate arose as to expelling Mr Robinson; many Members were for expelling him immediately, because tho' they were to endeavour, by Rewards and Punishments, to bring him over in order to make a Discovery, yet they were to have a particular Regard to their own Honour: That it was proposed to grant him a general Indemnity by Act of Parliament; and putting the Case that he thereupon came over, and made as full and as ample a Discovery as could be desired, yet he would still continue a Rogue, notwithstanding such Compliance; and no Man of Honour would keep him Company: That therefore it would be very improper that he should continue a Member of that House; and for that Reason it would be necessary to expel him before the bringing in of this Bill for a general Indemnity; for if the Bill were once passed, he might next Minute take the Benefit of it, and they could not in Honour afterwards expel him; because it would be inflicting a Punishment upon him for a Crime, for which he had got an Indemnity by Act of Parliament.'
To this it was answer'd, 'That it were to be wish'd that the expelling or not expelling of him had not been mentioned: That the only Thing they had then before them, was to contrive Means for prevailing upon him to come over and make a Discovery of that whole Affair: That if they should then expel him, it would be terrifying him from coming over at the same Time that they were inviting him to come, which would be a very inconsistent Manner of Proceeding: That besides, it was not regular for them to proceed directly to the expelling of him, without giving him Time to be heard: That by the Report then made to them, there was no Crime as yet proved against him; for by that Report they could take no Notice of any thing but his Bankruptcy, and as to that he ought at least to have Time to be heard before he was expelled: That the Honour of the House was as much concerned in proceeding regularly even against a Rogue, as in not sitting with a Rogue; and therefore they were against so abrupt a Method of expelling him.'
To this it was reply'd, 'That by the Report then made to them it appeared, that a Statute of Bankruptcy had been issued against him; and that thereby his whole Estate, Real and Personal, was vested in the Commissioners, and consequently he could not have the Qualification as to an Estate, that was necessary for every Man in order to intitle him to a Seat in that House: That moreover, by the Laws relating to Bankrupts, a Bankrupt was declared to be out of the King's Protection; he was in a manner an Outlaw, and therefore could not continue a Member of that House; and for that Reason they thought that the Bankruptcy alone was sufficient Ground for the House to proceed immediately to the expelling of him.'
Hereupon some Members, Barristers at Law, declar'd, 'That the Question as to a Man's being a Bankrupt or not, could not properly come before them, more especially before he had submitted and acknowledged himself a Bankrupt: That a Statute of Bankruptcy's being taken out against a Man, was no incontrovertible Proof of his being a Bankrupt; because if upon his Petition it should appear that he was not a Bankrupt, the Statute would in that Case be superseded:' They allow'd, 'That by one of the Laws against Bankrupts in Queen Elizabeth's Time, a Man who was declared a Bankrupt according to that Statute, was declared to be out of her Majesty's Protection; but that there had been very few declared Bankrupts according to that Act: That they did not know of any one but Mr Ward of Hackney; and that therefore no Argument could be drawn from that Statute as to the Case in Hand.'
Mr H. Pelham.
Then Mr Pelham proposed, 'That the Bill of Indemnity to be brought in as to Robinson, should contain an Exception as to the Privilege of his sitting in that House, by which they would leave themselves at Liberty to act as they thought proper, supposing he should appear and take the Benefit of the Indemnity to be granted him.' To this it was objected, 'That the sending up of such a Bill to the other House, would be giving them a Power to intermeddle in an Affair relating to the Privilege of that House, which was not at all proper to be done, and therefore it was proposed to have the Indemnity Special; but this likewise was objected to, as being what would not be effectual for the Purpose intended, because upon such an Indemnity it was not to be presumed that Robinson would come over; that he could not be thereby secured against Parliamentary Censures, and therefore he would never trust to any Special Indemnity.'
A Bill order'd for the Appearance of George Robinson and John Thompson.
Then it was order'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for the Appearance of George Robinson, Esq; at a certain Time to be fix'd in the Bill; and it was also order'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to encourage and compel John Thompson and his Accomplices to surrender themselves, with the Books and Effects of the Corporation, at a certain Time to be fix'd in the same Bill.
Debate on the second Reading of the Salt-Bill. ; Mr W. Pulteney.
'By the ancient Orders and Methods of Proceeding in this House, nothing relating to the raising of Money, or Taxing the People, can properly be brought before us, till it has gone regularly through the Committee of Ways and Means. In the Committee of Supply we examine every Article relating to the Publick Service; we settle the several Articles; we examine what Sums will be necessary for each Article; and we resolve upon granting such Sums as we then determine to be necessary. In the Committee of Ways and Means we take into our Consideration those Methods, which are proposed for raising the Sums resolved on in the Committee of Supply, and after we have fixed upon those Methods which are judged most proper, we order a Bill or Bills to be brought in, in pursuance of the Resolutions then made: This has been the constant and uninterrupted Method of Proceeding in all such Matters; and therefore it is certain that no Bill, relating to the Taxing of the People, can be regularly brought into this House, till it has once been considered of, and resolved upon in the Committee of Ways and Means. When this Affair about the Salt-Duty was brought before us in the Committee of Ways and Means, the only thing that was then thought of, was, the laying the same Duties upon Salt, as had been laid on by the Acts of the 5th and 6th and of the 9th and 10th Years of King William III. and thereupon we came to a Resolution for reviving those Duties: This was the Resolution as to the Duty upon Salt we then came to, and in pursuance of this Resolution a Bill was ordered to be brought in; but by the Bill brought in, as pretended, in pursuance of that Resolution, I find that a great many Laws are thereby to be revived, which we never so much as thought of, or once mentioned in the Committee of Ways and Means.
'Besides, Sir, I find that by this Bill there is a new Tax to be laid upon the People of Great Britain; a Tax I find is by this Bill to be laid upon white Herrings; and I am sure there was no such Tax ever mentioned in the Committee of Ways and Means, nor did we come to any Resolution for laying any such Tax upon the People of Great Britain. There is not so much as one Word of Herrings, or of any other Fish, in the Resolution we then came to. Since then the Bill now before us is no way warranted by that Resolution, the Passing thereof as it now stands would be a breaking through the most solemn Orders of this House, in Matters of the highest Consequence, That of raising Money and taxing the People of Great Britain; I therefore think, Sir, that the Bill brought in ought to be withdrawn, and this whole Affair brought again to be considered in the Committee of Ways and Means. As we are now more apprized of the Matter before us, than we were at first, we may upon second Consideration come to such Resolutions, as may authorize the bringing in and passing of such a Bill as is now before us, without transgressing the ancient Orders and constant Rules of Proceeding in Matters of so great Consequence.
'The Objection that has been made, as to Order, cannot properly come in to be debated till the Bill has been read, for till then we cannot pretend to be certain of the Contents; if the honourable Gentleman thinks proper, he may then insist upon his Objection; but in my Opinion, there is not the least Foundation for such an Objection; for when the Bill is read, I believe it will appear, that there is no Law mentioned therein to be revived, but what is generally referred to in the Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means; and it has always been the Practice of this House, to revive Laws by a General Reference: There are every Year some expired or expiring Laws revived or continued by a General Reference to them, without particularly and at length reciting every one of them.
Sir J. Rushout.
'As I was from the beginning, so I am still against this extraordinary Method of raising Money by laying a Duty upon Salt; but since such a Method was to be chosen, the regular Way would have certainly been to have come to this downright and plain Resolution, That a Duty of so much per Bushel should be laid upon all home-made Salt for a Term of three Years. I now find such a regular and plain Resolution was not to be made, because in such a Case there could not have been the least Pretence for not making the Duty general all over the United Kingdoms; and therefore to save a Part of the Nation from the Payment of the greatest Part of this Duty, this extraordinary Method has been taken, which is as inconsistent with the ancient Method of Proceeding in Parliament, as the Duty itself is inconsistent with the Freedom or the Happiness of the People: But we see the Consequence; for by taking this new and extraordinary Method, a Blunder was committed in the very first Formation of the Resolution which we were to come to; whether that was realy a Blunder, or a Design to save some People from paying any thing towards this Tax, I shall not pretend to determine; but I would have some People to consider, that it is very probable this Tax may be continued after the Expiration of this Term of three Years; and if it be, it is not very probable that the Indulgence now to be granted, will then be continued. This Blunder or Design, be it which it will, in the forming of the Resolution which we were to come to in the Committee of Ways and Means, was however accidentally then taken notice of, and was accordingly corrected in the best Manner possible; but I wish, Sir, that the Gentlemen who were then, and seem still to be so fond of this extraordinary Method of taxing their Fellow-Subjects, had then likewise taken Notice of all the other Blunders that were then committed, rather than that the ancient Method of Proceeding in this House should be altered, or that this House should, by such Blunders, be brought in to do any thing that is irregular in an Affair of so great Consequence.
Mr Wal. Plumer.
'When this Affair was under our Consideration in the Committee of Ways and Means, there was not certainly any Duty or Tax mentioned, but those that were laid on by the Acts of the 5th and 6th, and of the 9th and 10th Years of the Reign of King William: There was no other Duty so much as mentioned at that Time, by any Gentleman in the Committee; but it appears by this Bill now before us, that there are Acts of Parliament to be revived, by which a quite different Duty was laid upon the Subjects of this Nation: These Acts being repealed, they are now in the same Case as if no such Acts had ever been made, and therefore the reviving of them is the very same Thing, as to make a new Law for the Taxing of the People of this Nation; and consequently it must be granted, that the reviving of them, without having considered them in the Committee of Ways and Means, and coming to a proper Resolution for that Purpose, is contrary to the constant Practice of this House, in all Matters relating to the raising of Money, or imposing Taxes upon those who sent us hither, for the Preservation of their Liberties and Properties, as well as of our own. The Taxing of the People, is an Affair of the highest Consequence; no Tax ought to be agreed to, without the most mature Deliberation; and for that Reason our Forefathers established it as a Maxim, never to impose any Tax, without first having it under our Consideration in the Committee of Ways and Means; so that as long as we observe the ancient Orders of this House, no Tax can ever be imposed, without coming several Times under the Consideration of the House; but if we depart but one Step from this ancient Custom, it will be a most dangerous Precedent; we know how easily bad Precedents are improved upon, and by such Improvements our Constitution may be quite overturned: The most heavy Taxes may come to be the Produce of a Day, nay the Produce of a few Hours.
'But, Sir, This is not all: By this extraordinary Bill, and this extraordinary Method of Proceeding, there is another dangerous Precedent introduced, another Breach of the Orders of this House committed. In all Bills by which the People of this Realm are subjected to any Penalties or Forfeitures, it is the ancient and the known Practice of this House, to leave Blanks for such Penalties and Forfeitures in the first Draught of the Bill, which Blanks are never filled up till the Affair comes before the House in a Grand Committee upon the Bill: It must be twice read and considered before such Blanks are filled up, and a considerable Time must intervene between the first Reading of the Bill, and the filling up of such Blanks, in which Time every Member has an Opportunity to consider the Affair, to consult with others, and to determine whether it be consistent with the Liberties of the People, to subject them to any Penalties or Forfeitures in such Cases, and to what Penalties or Forfeitures it may be proper to make them liable. This is a wise and a necessary Precaution, and ought not to be departed from upon any Account whatsoever: But in the Case now before us, we are to revive several Laws, which is the same thing as to make new Laws, by which the People are subjected to many and grievous Penalties and Forfeitures, without giving ourselves any Opportunity to consider of such Penalties and Forfeitures when this Bill comes before us in a Committee; because all the Penalties and Forfeitures are already filled up in the Laws referred to and to be revived by this Bill as it now stands. The Circumstances of Things and of Countries alter every Day; those Penalties and Forfeitures, to which the People were subject by those Laws while subsisting, may now be extravagant, may now be absolutely inconsistent with the Freedom of the People, though they were not so when those Laws were first made; and therefore there having been once such Penalties and Forfeitures established, cannot afford us the least Pretence for departing from an Ancient Custom, which has been so long observed, and has always been deemed absolutely necessary for the Preservation of the Liberties and Privileges of this Nation. For which Reason, Sir, I shall be for the withdrawing of this Bill, and resuming the Consideration of this Affair in the Committee of Ways and Means.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'I have been long accustomed to be affronted and insulted, both within Doors and without; but while my Intentions are good, while my only Aim is to serve my Country to the best of my Knowledge, and to the utmost of my Power, I shall always disregard the Reflections that are thrown out by those, whose Sentiments or Views may be different from mine. Gentlemen may talk which way they please about Blunders, but there was no Blunder, nor any bad Design in the first or second Draught of the Resolution passed in the Committee of Ways and Means, nor in the drawing up of the Bill which has been brought in, in pursuance of that Resolution. Even by the first Draught of that Resolution, there was no Part of the Nation, but what was subjected to the Duties proposed to be laid upon Salt: There were some Doubts then started, which were, in my Opinion, without any Foundation: However, to satisfy those Gentlemen who had raised such Doubts, some Words were immediately added, which, according to their own Confession, put the Matter out of Dispute: And even the Case which is now pretended to be a Blunder, was under Consideration, and the Words of the Resolution were concerted so as to prevent this, or any reasonable Exceptions being taken to the Bill when it should be brought in. The Words of the Resolution we came to in the Committee of Ways and Means were, 'That towards raising the Supply granted to his Majesty, the several Duties on home-made Salt, granted to the late King William and Queen Mary, by an Act of the 5th and 6th Years of their Reign, for a Term of Years, and afterwards made perpetual; and also the additional Duties on Salt, granted by an Act of the 9th and 10th Years of his said late Majesty King William, and all the Duties chargeable on home-made Salt in Great Britain, which by an Act of the 3d Year of his present Majesty's Reign, ceased and dedetermined on the 25th of Day of December 1730, be revived and granted to his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, for the Term of three Years, from the 25th of March next, 1732.' I really should be glad to know what Words are wanting in this Resolution; for my own part, I cannot imagine any one Word to be wanting, unless it be the Word and, before the Word which; but the leaving out even of this Word and was no Blunder; even that Word was then under our Consideration, and it was judged, that it was better to leave it out.
'I am sure, Sir, that there is no Man but must upon the reading over of that Resolution conclude, that it refers to all and every one of the Acts any way relating to the Salt-Duty, which were repealed by the said Act of the 3d Year of his present Majesty's Reign. The two Acts of King William and Queen Mary's, and of King William's Reign, which are there particularly mentioned, were the only two Acts of all those that are to be revived, by which any Tax or Duty was laid upon the Subject. It had indeed been discovered, that by Means of the Drawbacks which were allowed upon the Exportation of Herrings, a great many Frauds had been committed, and the Publick had been cheated out of very large Sums of Money; and therefore it was afterwards found necessary to take off those Duties which by those Laws in King William's Time were paid upon all Salt used in the Curing of White Herrings; and the same were accordingly taken off, by an Act of the 8th of the late King, and a proportionable Duty was thereby laid upon White Herrings cured with Salt for Home-Consumption: But is it not plain that this was no new Duty? it was no new Tax laid upon the People; it was only a new Method of raising the Duty upon such Salt as should be thereafter made use of in Salting of Herrings, and therefore it was applied to the same Purposes, to which the Duties upon Salt had been before applied; it was not looked on as a new Fund, nor was it applied to any new Purposes; nay it was so much looked on as a Duty still remaining upon Salt, that when the Act was made for abolishing the Duties upon Salt, this Duty upon Herrings was not so much as mentioned in the Act; and yet by that Act this Duty ceased and was abolished as well as all the other Duties upon Salt. It is therefore plain we do not transgress the Orders of this House, or the ancient Method of Proceeding with respect to Taxes; there is no Tax by this Bill to be laid upon the People, but what was under our Consideration in the Committee of Supply, and particularly referred to in the Resolution then made.
'As to the other Acts which are to be revived by the Bill now before us, they were all made for the more regular raising of that Duty, which had been laid on by the said two Acts of the 5th and 6th of William and Mary, and the 9th and 10th of William, and for preventing the Frauds which might be committed with relation thereunto. When we were in the Committee of Ways and Means, and had had the Reviving of those Duties under our Consideration, could any Man then imagine that we were to revive those Duties, and yet not revive all those Laws, which had been made for the regular and fair raising of them? No Man could form to himself such an absurd Imagination. These Laws were all repealed by the Act of the Third of his present Majesty, and as that Act is particularly mentioned in the Resolution we came to, therefore we must grant that every one of the Laws mentioned in this Bill to be revived are generally referred to in that Resolution. The very Nature of the Thing itself, as well as this general Reference, brought every one of those Laws necessarily under our Consideration; and it is certain that if any of us had had any Objection to the Reviving of any of those Laws, such Objection would then have been started, and would have been fully considered; but no reasonable Objection could then, or can now be made to the reviving of any of them, or of any Part of any of them. Surely no Man will say, that it was necessary to mention particularly every one of those Laws in the Resolution we then came to; it was certainly enough to refer to them in general as repealed by the Act of the Third Year of his present Majesty; such References are frequent in the Resolutions of this House; it is what is done every Year with regard to the Malt-Tax, and yet the Malt-Tax Act of the preceeding Year, is as much a dead Law, before the new one takes place, as any Law whatever. Every Act that ever was passed in this House for raising the Malt-Tax, is in every Clause thereof as much a new Law as any Act that is by this Bill to be revived, and therefore it cannot be said that there is any Law now to be revived, but what was under our Consideration in the Committee of Supply, and is as much referred to by the Resolution we then came to, as is usual in such Cases, according to the ancient Method of Proceeding in all such Affairs.
'Even as to Laws inflicting Pains and Penalties upon the Subject, we know, that it is the common Practice of this House to revive such Laws by a General Resolution; it is practised every Year; Laws expiring or expired are continued or revived by General Resolutions and General Clauses, without any new Recital of the whole Act so to be continued or revived, or leaving the Penalties blank to be filled up when the House goes into a Committee upon the Bill, which is brought in for the continuing or reviving of such Laws; there are, I believe, Sir, a hundred such Precedents in the Journals of this House. The making of a general Recital of the Laws to be revived by this Bill, is only making a short Bill in place of a Book as large as the Land-Tax Bill. In my Opinion, there was not an absolute Necessity even to have mentioned in this Bill every Law that was to be thereby revived; a general Revival of all the Laws repealed by the Act of the Third of his present Majesty would have been enough; even such a general Revival would not have been contrary to any of the Orders of this House; but it was thought proper to mention every Law particularly, that no Man might have it to say, that he was catched, or that any thing was secretly foisted in, or included under the general Words of the Bill, which was not under Consideration at the Time the Bill was passed.
Sir W. Wyndham.
'As to this Tax upon Salt, I must still say, that I cannot but look upon it as a very great Grievance upon the poor of this Nation. The poorest Labourer consumes for his own Personal Use as much, nay more Salt than any Member of this House, or any rich Man in the Nation, and therefore we must reckon that the Poor pay as much as the Rich: There are but very few of the poor Labourers and Tradesmen that live in the Families of those that employ them, they generally live upon the daily Wages they receive, and it is very hard to make such a poor Man pay out of the poor Pittance of Wages he receives for his daily Support, as much towards the Publick Expence, as is paid by the richest Man in the Nation. We ought, Sir, to consider, that by taking from the Rich, we only diminish their Luxury, but by squeezing from the Poor, we increase their Misery. This, Sir, must be a moving Consideration to every Man that has any Bowels of Compassion towards his Fellow-Creatures.
'But, Sir, besides oppressing the Poor, we are now, I find, to overturn the Method of Proceeding always observed in this House in the like Cases. This, Sir, is of the utmost Consequence to the very Being of our Constitution. The ancient Orders of this House ought most punctually to be observed. Some of them may perhaps seem to be of little Consequence: But if we fall into a Way of breaking thro' them upon slight Occasions we shall soon fall into Confusion; then indeed we may probably discover, that those Orders which we now think to be trivial, were of the utmost Consequence; but then it will be too late. I am realy surprized to hear it said, that a Tax upon White Herrings is a Tax upon Salt: We may as well say, that a Duty upon Fish, is a Duty upon Flesh, or that Fish is Flesh: And if we once come to give such a blind and implicit Assent to the Dictates or Assertions of any Man breathing, we may have Freedom, we may have Liberty, but I am sure it cannot then be said, that we make any Use of the Freedom we enjoy. We may perhaps now agree to this odd Proposition, that a Duty upon Fish is a Duty upon Salt; but I am sure this House was of a different Opinion when this Duty was taken off of the Salt, and laid upon White Herrings; it was then looked upon as a quite different Duty, and therefore the laying on of this Duty upon White Herrings, was first taken into Consideration in the Committee of Ways and Means, and a Resolution was there made for the laying on of this Duty upon White Herrings cured for HomeConsumption, in the Place of the Duty that had been before laid upon the Salt with which they were cured. If it had not then been looked on as a different Duty, there was no Necessity for having taken it into our Consideration in the Committee for Ways and Means, or for our having made a Resolution in that Committee before any Bill could be brought in for that Purpose.
'But it seems, Sir, this Tax upon Herrings, or the Tax upon Salt, has since that Time changed its Nature; for a Bill I find is now brought in for reviving the Duty upon White Herrings, in Pursuance of a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means for reviving the Duties upon Salt, laid on by two Acts, in that Resolution particularly mentioned; in neither of which is there one Word mentioned of any Duty upon White Herrings: This Pretence might perhaps have admitted of some Shew of Reason, if neither of these Acts had been mentioned; if we had in general resolved to revive the several Duties on home-made Salt, which by an Act of the 3d of his present Majesty's Reign ceased and determined, such a general Resolution might have perhaps afforded some Pretence for reviving this Duty upon White Herrings, but even in that Case the Pretence would have been a very lame one; for in order to include this Tax upon Herrings, we ought to have made our Resolution still more general; we ought to have resolved, to revive the several Duties which by the Act of the 3d of his present Majesty ceased and determined, without the inserting of those Words Home-made Salt; for by the inserting of those Words, we confined the general Reference after-mentioned to the Duties on home-made Salt only, and by the inserting particularly those Laws of King William's Reign, we still more strongly confined our selves to those Duties, even on home-made Salt, which were laid on by those two Acts only: If there had been any additional Duty laid even upon Salt by any other Act, surely no Man will say, that by our Resolution, such a Duty could have been revived, though the same had ceased and determined by the Act of the 3d of his present Majesty. Nor is it any Argument for proving this Duty upon Fish, to be a Duty upon Salt, that it ceased and determined by the same Law by which the Duties upon Salt were taken off, though in that Law there was no Mention made of the Duty upon White Herrings; because by the very Act which establishes this Duty upon White Herrings, there is an express Provision, that this Duty upon Herrings should cease and determine as soon as the Duty upon Salt should be taken off, or in Proportion, in case any Part of the Duty upon Salt should be taken off, as every Gentleman may see who has a Mind to peruse the Act of the 8th of his late Majesty, by which this Duty upon Herrings was first established.
'It has been pretended, that Precedents may be found in the Journals of this House for warranting the Method of reviving Laws; which is now contended for; I do not believe that any such Precedent can be found. An obsolete Law may without doubt be revived by a new Law. A Law repealed may be revived, by repealing of that Law, by which it was repealed: But I do not believe, that ever any Law was revived, till after the House had taken such Law particularly into their Consideration in some sort of Committee or another. The expired or expiring Laws are never revived or continued till they have been severally and particularly examined and considered of in a Committee, and a particular Resolution made as to each: Do not we every Year name a Committee for inspecting into the Laws expired or near expiring, and for considering which of them, and what Parts of each, are fit to be revived or continued? Does not that Committee examine every one of them particularly, and come to a Resolution upon each Law by itself? Are not those Resolutions reported to the House? Then the House takes every one of those Resolutions separately into Consideration, and orders a Bill or Bills to be brought in, in Pursuance of such of the Resolutions as are agreed unto by the House. Every Member of this House knows that this is the constant Method of continuing or reviving the Laws that are expiring or expired. And is not this directly contrary to the Method we are now about? Can any Man say, that any one of the Laws to be revived by this Bill, was ever taken into Consideration by any Committee of this House, or that any Resolution has been made and agreed to for reviving all or any one of them? There was not so much as one of them mentioned in the Committee of Ways and Means, when we had the reviving of the Duties upon Salt under our Consideration. They are neither generally nor particularly referred to in the Resolution we then came to. In the whole Resolution, there is not so much as one Word mentioned of the reviving any Law whatever; we resolved only upon reviving of the Duties, we did not so much as think of reviving any of the Laws relating to the collecting of such Duties. That ought to have been the Affair of another Day; we ought to have taken every one of them separately into our Consideration, in order to have determined which of them were proper to have been revived; and we ought to have come to a particular Resolution as to each; and then in Pursuance of all those Resolutions, such a Bill as the present might have been regularly brought in.
'As to the Malt-Tax-Bill, there is no sort of Parallel. It is true, the Malt-Tax-Act of the preceding Year must certainly be expired before the new one can take Place; but while the new Bill is under the Consideration of the House, the old is subsisting: Yet even in that Case we do not lay any Tax upon the Subject, till it has been particularly before us in the Committee of Ways and Means. We there take all the Duties laid on by the former Bill particularly into our Consideration, and the Resolution we always come to is, that the same Duties shall be raised upon Malt, &c. which were raised by such a former Act, particularly therein referred to; upon this Resolution a new Bill is brought in for continuing the same Duties: This new Bill is indeed generally much the same with the former; but in this Case there is no repealed or expired Law revived: The Bill is entirely new, and whatever Penalties or Forfeitures are thereby to be inflicted upon the Subject, are left blank to be filled up when the House goes into a Committee upon the Bill: The same Penalties are indeed generally filled up, but not till the House has an Opportunity to examine them in a Committee upon the Bill: This shews that the Method of proceeding as to the Malt-Tax-Bill can be no Precedent, nor any Authority for the Bill now before us, by which a great many Laws are to be revived, which were never inspected or considered by any Committee of this House. Penalties are to be inflicted upon the Subject, without leaving it in the Power of the House to examine them when they go into a Committee upon the Bill; and a Tax is to be laid upon the Subject, without its having been considered of, or resolved upon in the Committee of Ways and Means.
'I would be glad to know how it was possible for any Member of this House, when we were in the Committee of Ways and Means, to make any Objection against any of those Laws which are by this Bill to be revived: There was not one of them so much as mentioned at that Time; no Man then proposed the reviving of any one of them; how then was it possible to start any Objection thereunto? I believe till this Bill was brought in, no Man dream'd of such Laws being to be revived; and now it is too late to make any Objections: This Bill will be passed, before any Man can have time to peruse and consider all those Laws that are thereby to be revived; this alone may shew the Irregularity and Inconvenience of the present Method of proceeding: This shews what a dangerous Precedent we are about to make for those that come after us: A Precedent, Sir, that will be an eternal Reproach upon this Session of Parliament, and a Precedent that our latest Posterity will have Cause to complain of.
'I shall take Notice only of one thing relating to the Debate. It is well known, that upon the Death of every King, all those Duties which had been granted for the Support of the Civil List, expired of Course, and are in the Case as if no such Duties had ever been granted; and yet the very first Parliament next after the Accession of a Successor, those very Duties are all revived, and are settled upon the Successor, for his Life, by a general Bill: It is no way thought necessary to bring in a particular Bill for every Duty that is then to be revived. This, Sir, is an Argument for the present Method of Proceeding, to which I defy any Man to give a sufficient Answer.
'From this very Debate it appears plain to me, that we are in some doubt, whether we are regular in our present Method of Proceeding or not; I am persuaded that if there was no Doubt in the Case, if there were no plausible Reason for suspecting the Regularity and Order of our Proceedings as to the Bill now before us, the Right Honourable Member on the Floor would not have taken so much Pains to explain the Case to us; and I must think, Sir, that in an Affair of so great Consequence, an Affair of as great Consequence as any that ever did, or ever can come before this House, the least Doubt as to the Regularity of our Proceedings, the least Suspicion of our being got into any Method contrary to the ancient Orders of this House, ought to be a sufficient and a prevailing Argument for the withdrawing of this Bill, and for our resuming the Consideration of this Affair in the Committee of Ways and Means. It is no Scandal, Sir, for us, or for any Man to own that he has been in a Mistake; the wisest Men are not infallible; but for Men to persist in a Mistake, after it is discovered, or even after they begin to doubt whether they are in a Mistake or no, does not favour much of Wisdom, more especially in an Affair which may be so easily rectified. This Session of Parliament must continue sitting for some considerable Time as yet; and as we have Time enough, I can see no Reason why this Affair may not be brought again before the Committee of Ways and Means, where all Mistakes, if any be, may be corrected, and even all future Doubts or Disputes, as to Regularity and Method, may be obviated.
'As to what the worthy Member who spoke last observed about the Civil List Duties, it must be granted, that they expire at the Death of every King; and, Sir, it must likewise be granted, that since the first Establishment of such Duties, they have all been most punctually revived by the very first Parliament after the Accession of the next Successor. But in what manner? Why, Sir, by the House's taking them one by one under Consideration in a Committee, and coming to a particular Resolution as to every one: Then indeed one general Bill is ordered to be brought in, in Pursuance of all these particular Resolutions: But is not this, Sir, a Method of Proceeding quite different from the Method we are now in? If those Civil List Duties had ever been revived by a general Resolution, and a great many expired or repealed Penal Laws, relating to the Collecting of them, revived by a general Reference in the new Bill, without being mentioned in the Resolution of the Committee, then an Argument might have been from thence drawn for the Regularity of our present Method of Proceeding; but as there never was any such thing pretended to be done in the reviving of those Civil List Duties, I am of Opinion, that the usual Method of Proceeding with respect to the Revival of them, is a very strong Argument against the Regularity of the Method we are now in, with respect to this favourite Scheme of reviving the Duties upon Salt. And thus, Sir, I hope, I have given a sufficient Answer to the Argument made use of by the Gentleman who spoke last. But, Sir, as to the Duty itself, I am surprized that there should be any farther Dispute about it, for it really appears to me, that every Man in this House is against it: Even of those who at first seemed to be for it some have since acknowledged, that it will be an intolerable Grievance upon the People in Scotland; and the rest have acknowledged, that it will be liable to a great many Frauds: Sir, I cannot think that any Man, who thinks this Duty an intolerable Grievance upon Scotland, will be for reviving it; and we have so many fraudulent Practices already in this Kingdom, that I cannot think any Man will be for reviving a Duty which he thinks will increase them, At this rate, Sir, I cannot really perceive that any Man in this House is for the Duty; why therefore should we dispute any longer about the Method of reviving this Duty, since every Man, that has spoke in the Debate, has given a good Reason for his being against the Duty itself ?'
The Salt-Bill, having been read a second Time, is committed.
This Debate being over, the Bill was read a second Time, and a Motion being made for the committing thereof, and the Question being put, it was carried in the Affirmative, by 209 against 154; and it was resolved, That the House would resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, upon the said Bill, on the 8th Instant.
A Bill, For securing the Freedom of Parliaments read the first Time.
March 7. Mr Rolle presented, according to Order, a Bill, for amending and making more effectual an Act made in the 9th Year of the Reign of Queen Anne, intitled, An Act for securing the Freedom of Parliaments, by the farther Qualifying the Members to sit in the House of Commons; which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
The Bills relating to George Robinson and John Thompson committed.
The same Day two Bills were brought in, relating to George Robinson and John Thompson, pursuant to an Order of the 25th of February, which were both read twice and committed: It was also ordered, That the Committee do make the said two Bills into one.
The House, in a Grand Committee, proceed farther on the Salt-Bill. ; Debate concerning several additional Clauses, and other Amendments to the said Bill.
March 8. After the Order of the Day was read, for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Salt-Bill, it was moved and ordered, without any Division, That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause of Credit. Then the Country Party moved, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause to restrain any Person, during the Time he shall be concerned or employed in the charging, collecting, levying, or managing any of the Duties to be granted by the said Bill, from being a Returning Officer, or voting, or influencing any Elector to vote, in Elections of Members to serve in Parliament, which passed in the Negative. Then it was mov'd, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause, to exempt from the Duties to be laid by the said Bill, all home-made Salt used in victualling Ships, which having likewise a Negative put upon it, the Country Party moved again, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause, that the Potters might be allowed a Drawback of the Duty upon all Salt used in glazing their Earthen-Ware: And also, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause, that Salt used for manuring of Land-should be exempt from the Duties to be laid by the said Bill.' Likewise, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have Power to receive a Clause to six the Assize of all Salt, which should be sold before the Duties laid by the said Bill should take Place.' All these Motions met with the same Fate with the former, but it was ordered, 'That the Committee should have Power to receive a Clause to make void all Bargains then subsisting for the Delivery of Salt at any future Time. Then the House resolv'd itself into the said Committee; and Mr. Speaker resumed the Chair: After which it was resolv'd, That the House should again resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, on the 10th, to consider farther of the said Bill.
March 10. The above Order being read, a Motion was made, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they should have a Power to receive a Clause to exempt from the Duties, to be laid by the said Bill, Salt used in dressing and curing of Leather: And also, 'That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee, to exempt from the Duties, to be laid by the said Bill, Salt used in making Glass and Glass Bottles;' but the Question being put upon both these Motions, it was carried in the Negative. Then it was ordered, without a Division, That the Committee should have Power to receive a Clause, for allowing Fish cured with Scots Salt to be brought from Scotland into England, the Person or Persons, who shall bring the same, paying such Duties upon bringing in such Fish, at the Port it is brought to, as, added to the Duty payable upon Salt made in Scotland, should amount to the full Duty payable in England, for the Quantity of Salt necessary for curing such Fish. After this the House resolved itself into the said Committee, and went through the Bill, and the Speaker having resumed the Chair, the Report was ordered to be receiv'd on the 20th.
The Bill relating to George Robinson, and J. Thompson pass'd, and sent to the Lords.
The Sugar-Colony Bill read the third Time, pass'd, and sent to the Lords, where it is lost.
The Salt-Bill read the Third Time, and pass'd.
Lord Gage presents a Report from the Committee relating to the Earl of Derwentwater's Estate; which is order'd to be printed.
March 22. Lord Gage reported from the Committee appointed to inquire into the fraudulent Sale of the late Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, that they had examin'd the Books, Papers, &c. referr'd to them, and had agreed upon a Report, with an Appendix, which he read in his Place. Then it was order'd, That the said Report and Appendix be printed.
The Bill, For securing the Freedom of Parliaments, read the Third Time, and thrown out.
March 23. The Bill, For the better securing the Freedom of Parliaments, by farther Qualifying Members to fit in the House of Commons, was read the third Time, and the Question being put, that the Bill do pass, it was carried in the Negative, by 66 Votes against 60.
Motion for a Committee to inquire, if any Member sate, contrary to Law.
Then a Motion was made, That a Committee be appointed to inquire, whether any Member of that House did sit in the House contrary to Law; but the Question being put, it passed in the Negative, by 83 Votes against 37.
Report relating to the fraudulent Sale of the Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, taken into Consideration. ; Resolutions thereupon, with regard to M. White and W. Smith, the Purchasers.
March, 30. The Report presented by the Lord Gage on the 22d Instant, was read, and taken into Consideration, whereupon it was resolved, Nem. Con. I. That on the 30th of July, 1723, Matthew White, Esq; was declared the Purchaser of an Annuity of 200 l. during the Life of Charles Ratcliffe, issuing out of the Estate of James late Earl of Derwentwater, with all the Arrears thereof from his Attainder, for 1201l. 1 s. without due Notice of Time or Place for exposing such Annuity to Sale, and without the Presence of a sufficient Number of Commissioners and Trustees, as required by the Act appointing such Commissioners and Trustees. II. That William Smith, Esq; did on the 11th Day of July 1723, for the Consideration of 1060 l. contract for an Estate of James late Earl of Derwentwater, mentioned, in a Particular published by the said Commissioners and Trustees, to be of the annual Value of 5013 l. subject to the Annuities and Incumbrances in the said Particular mentioned, and to be sold during the Continuance of an Estate in Tail-Male, vested in Charles Ratcliffe in Remainder, Expectant on the Death of John Ratcliffe under Age, and without Issue-Male, which Contract was, on the 30th of the same July, vacated and torn out of the Book of Contracts, and a new one then procured and dated as on the 11th, by which the said William Smith not only obtained the said Remainder in Tail, but also the Reversion in Fee of the said Estate for the same Sum of 1060 l. although a sufficient Number of Commissioners and Trustees, as required by Act of Parliament, was not present either on the 11th or 30th of the said July, nor had any Notice been given of exposing to Sale the Reversion in Fee of the said Estate. III. That Matthew White and William Smith, Esqs; were present on the 30th of the said July, when Samuel Allen, Secretary to the said Commissioners and Trustees, signed the Names of Sir Thomas Hales and Sir John Eyles to the respective pretended Contracts, made with the said White and Smith on the said 30th of July, when no Commissioner and Trustee, but Dennis Bond, Esq; and John Birch, Serjeant at Law, were present. IV. That the contracting for the Sale of the aforesaid Estates, by a less Number of the Commissioners and Trustees than Four, and the not giving Fifteen Days Notice at least of such Sales, was a manifest Violation of the Act of Parliament for the Sale of the said Estates, highly injurious to the Publick, and a notorious Breach of the Trust reposed in such Commissioners and Trustees.
A Bill order'd for making void the said Safe.
Upon these Resolutions it was ordered, That Leave should be given to bring in a Bill to declare and make void the several Contracts, and the Conveyances made in Pursuance thereof, of the Estate of James late Earl of Derwentwater, to William Smith, Esq; and also of the Annuity of 200 l. during the Life of Charles Ratcliffe, with the Arrears thereof, to Matthew White, Esq;
The House resolve that a Commissioner of the forfeited Estates, suffering the Secretary to sign the Name of an absent Commissioner, is guilty of a Breach of Trust.
After this the House resolved, Nem. Con. That any Commissioner and Trustee, appointed by the said Act of Parliament, directing or permitting the Secretary of the Commission, or any other Person, to sign the Name of any absent Commissioner and Trustee, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners and Trustees required by the said Act, to any Sale, Contract, or other Proceedings, was guilty of a Violation of the said Act, and of an high Breach of Trust.
Debate concerning an absent Commissioner, suffering the Secretary to sign for him.
Then a Motion was made to resolve, That any absent Commissioner and Trustee appointed by the said Act of Parliament, impowering any Person to sign his Name for him, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners and Trustees required by the said Act, to Matters of Form in Proceedings under the said Act, was guilty of a great Irregularity in the Execution of the said Act: But many Members being of Opinion, That it was as great a Violation of the Act, and as high a Breach of Trust, for any absent Commissioner to impower any Person to sign his Name for him, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners required, as it was for any Commissioner present to direct or permit any other Person to sign the Name of any absent Commissioner, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners present; the said Motion was warmly oppos'd: However, after a long Debate, the Question was put, and it was carried for the Motion, by 175 Votes against 140.
Dennis Bond, Esq; and Serj. Birch expell'd the House.
That Part of the Committee's Report, which related to Dennis Bond, Esq; Member for Poole, being read, it was resolv'd, That he was guilty of a notorious Breach of Trust, as a Commissioner for Sale of the forfeited Estates, and that he be for the said Offence expell'd the House. The same Resolutions were made with regard to Serjeant Birch, Member for Weobly, and he was also expell'd the House.
Sir John Eyles voted guilty of an Irregularity; and order'd to be reprimanded by Mr Speaker.
Then that Part of the Report which related to Sir John Eyles, Member for London, was read, and the Recital of a Conveyance enter'd in a Book belonging to the said Commissioners and Trustees was read; then it was resolved, That he was guilty of a great Irregularity as a Commissioner and Trustee for Sale of the forfeited Estates for the Use of the Publick, by impowering Mr Samuel Allen, Secretary of the Commissioners and Trustees for the Sale of the said Estate, to sign his the said Sir John Eyles's Name, when absent, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners and Trustees required by Act of Parliament, to Matters of Form in Proceedings under the said Act. And it was order'd, That he should for his said Offence be reprimanded in his Place by the Speaker, and that he should attend the House in his Place the next Morning.
The Speaker's Reprimand to Sir John Eyles.
The House have come to a Resolution, that you are guilty of a great Irregularity, as a Commissioner and Trustee for Sale of the Forfeited Estates for the Use of the Publick, by impowering Mr Samuel Allen, Secretary of the Commissioners and Trustees for the Sale of the said Estates, to sign your Name, when absent, in order to make up the Number of Commissioners and Trustees required by Act of Parliament, to Matters of Form, in Proceedings under the said Act.
And have imposed a Command upon me, which is the only one, I can truly say, that I ever received with any Uneasiness in the Place I now sit; not from any Doubt of the Justice of the Command, nor from any Unwillingness in me to obey an Order of the House; but because you, Sir, are unfortunately the Subject of it, for whom I have always bad the greatest Personal Regard.
The Offence you are guilty of having come within the Notice of the House, it was impossible it should escape their Censure, as it had a Reference to a Trust reposed in you; repos'd by Parliament ! the bigbest and most sacred Authority any Subject of this Kingdom can act under! and with a particular Confidence in you, and the others join'd with you, because of the Relation you bore to the Parliament: A Trust of great Importance, and which required great Pains and Attention to it, and for that a very considerable Recompence was assigned to you out of the publick Treasure. The Recompence, Sir, you enjoy'd; but the Pains and Attention expected from you, you fail'd in, and illegally delegated your Trust, in Instances where a false and fraudulent Use has been made of it.
But, happy for you, Sir, it appears to the House to have been a Matter rather of evil Example, than evil Intention in you; for which Reason, the Resolutions of the House, on this Occasion, have a Mixture of Justice and Mercy; and as your Offence will always justify the Censure of the House upon you, let it be your Care, Sir, that your future Bebaviour always justify the Lenity of the House to you. Let the Justice of the House make you fear, and the Clemency of the House make it a Matter of Sorrow in you to offend again.
Sir John Eyles's Reply.
I Am very much ashamed of an Offence that has drawn upon me the Animadversions and Censure of this House; an Offence, which at the Time of committing it, I had scarce any Idea of being subject to blame for. I am now made truly sensible of it, and the strong and lively Colours in which you, Sir, have drawn it, will be to me a lasting Memento of future Caution.
'The Judgment the House has passed upon me I endure with a dutiful Submission; and you, Sir, having shewn that Tenderness and Humanity, which is agreeable to your Nature, in pronouncing it, and thereby, in some Degree, abated its Rigour; I cannot but express my grateful and sincere Acknowledgment to yourself, and also to the House, for their Favour in not carrying this Censure to any farther Consequence.'
The Thanks of the House given to Lord Gage for his Management in the Affair of the Charitable Corporation.
The Lord Gage, Chairman of the Committee appointed to inquire into the fraudulent Sale of Lord Derwentwater's Estate, having taken a great deal of Pains in that Affair, it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. That the Thanks of this House be given to his Lordship for the great Service he had thereby done the Publick. Then it was order'd, That the Report of the said Committee be printed.
Farther Debate concerning Robinson and Thompson. ; George Robinson Esq; expell'd the House on account of the Charitable Corporation.
April 3. The Affair of George Robinson and John Thompson occasioned a new Debate, for the Day being then passed, on which Robinson and Thompson were to appear by the Act before-mentioned, [See p. 221.] and neither of them, but particularly Robinson, not having appeared or surrendered himself in the Terms of the said Act; it was moved, That he might be expelled: But some of the Members took Notice, 'That by the said Act, he might within the Time limited surrender himself to either House of Parliament; and though he had not surrendered to that House, yet they did not know but that he had surrendered himself to the other; and therefore they moved, That a Committee should be appointed to inspect the Journals of the Lords, and to report to that House, whether any and what Proceedings had been before the Lords in Consequence of an Act passed that Session, intitled, An Act to encourage and compel George Robinson, Esq; and John Thompson to appear, &c. But to this it was answered, 'That according to the Terms of the said Act, the said Robinson might have surrendered himself to the other House, and might thereby have freed himself from the Pains, to which he was by the said Act subjected, in case of his not appearing and surrendering; but this they had nothing to do with, when they came to consider whether or no he ought to be expell'd; because in that Question, the only Point to be consider'd of was, whether or no he had attended the Service of the House according to Order; if he had, it would appear by his answering for himself in his Place, or by some Member's rising up and making an Excuse for him; if he had not, he was guilty of a high Contempt of the Orders and Authority of that House, for which he ought to be expelled; and that therefore they had not in the present Question any Business with the Journals of the other House.' At last the Question was put upon this Motion, and it was carried in the Negative. Then the House came to a Resolution, Nem. Con. That George Robinson, Esq; having been charged in Parliament with being privy to, and concerned in many indirect and fraudulent Practices, in the Management of the Affairs of the Charitable Corporation for Relief of industrious Poor, by assisting them with small Sums upon Pledges at legal Interest; and with having got into his Hands very large Sums of Money belonging to the said Corporation; and being returned a Burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the Borough of Great Marlow, in the County of Bucks, and having never attended the Service of the House, although required so to do, was guilty of a high Contempt of the Orders and Authority of the House. Then it was likewise resolved, Nem. Con. That the said George Robinson, Esq; should be for his said Offence expelled the House: And Mr Speaker was ordered to issue his Warrant for making out a new Writ for the said Borough of Marlow, in his Place.
22,694 l. 7s. 6d. granted to the King of Denmark, for making good the Agio of his Subsidy in 1727.
The same Day the House resolv'd itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider farther of the Supply; and the Estimates of the several Sums of Money due to the King of Denmark, by virtue of his late Majesty's Declaration to that Purpose, for the Agio or Difference of the Subsidies payable to the Crown of Denmark, in pursuance of the Treaty between his late Britannick Majesty, the most Christian King, and the King of Denmark, dated the 16th of April 1727, together with several other. Papers relating to that Affair, were referred to the said Committee. Then a Motion being made, That the Sum of 22,694 l. 7 s. 6d. be granted to make good the said Agio or Difference; the same was warmly opposed by several Members, but at last the Question being put, it was carried in the Affirmative.
April 4. The above Resolution being reported to the House, a Motion was made that the House do agree with the Committee, which after some Debate, was carried in the Affirmative, by 216 Votes against 104.
The Bill for making void the Sale of the Earl of Derwentwater's Estate read the first Time.
April 6. Lord Gage presented to the House, a Bill, For making void the several Contracts for Sale of the late Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
Petition of W. Smith and M. White against it. ; Motion that the Witnesses to be examin'd at the second Reading of the said Bill, be examined upon Oath.
April 17. A Petition of William Smith, Esq; and Matthew White, Esq; was presented to the House, and read; praying to be heard by their Council against the said Bill, which Petitions were ordered to lie upon the Table till the second Reading thereof; and that the Petitioners might be then severally heard by their Counsel: Hereupon a Motion was made, That the Witnesses, who were to be examined for and against the said Bill at the second Reading thereof, should be examined in the most solemn Manner. This occasioned a long Debate in the House. Those that were against the Question represented, 'That the House of Lords had always insisted upon it, that the House of Commons, being no Court of Judicature, had not therefore a Power to examine Witnesses in the most solemn Manner, at the Bar of their House: That though this Power had always been claimed and insisted upon by the House of Commons, yet it was a Point still in Dispute between the two Houses: And that if the House of Commons should upon that Occasion make use of this disputed Power, it would occasion a Breach between the two Houses, which might not only prove to be the Loss of the Bill then under Consideration, but might be of much worse Consequence, by putting a full Stop to all the publick Business of the Nation; it being well known, that whenever any Breach happened between the two Houses, it proved always to be a very difficult and tedious Matter to re-establish that Harmony, which ought always to subsist between the two Houses, and without which the publick Affairs of the Nation cannot be carried on; so that their coming to any such Resolution might intirely unhinge the Government, and throw the whole Kingdom into Confusion.'
Those Members upon the other hand, who were for the Question, declared the great Regard and Concern they had for the Bill then under Consideration, and for the publick Peace and Quiet of the Nation; but said, 'That the true Method of preserving the publick Quiet of the Nation was, for each House to take care to preserve those Powers and Privileges which properly belong to them; for if that House should begin to yield up, or not exert a Power which they had always enjoyed, only because the other House pretended to dispute their having any such Power, they might come at last to be stript of all the Powers and Privileges they ever had or could pretend to: That it was well known, that the House of Commons had always been used to impower their Committees to examine Witnesses before them in the most solemn Manner; and it was very odd to pretend, that the House itself could not make use of that Power which they every Day delegated to their Committees; it was not to be presumed, that the other House would raise any such groundless Dispute: That it might perhaps be pretended, that as the House of Commons was no Court of Judicature, they could not therefore administer an Oath; but that was not now to be brought into Question, because they might get such of the Members as were Justices of the Peace to administer the Oath to the Witnesses, upon which Oath the Witnesses might afterwards be examined at the Bar of the House; or they might get one of the Judges to come to the Speaker's Chamber to administer the Oath to the Witnesses, which was no new or unheard-of Method of Proceeding; for that there was upon their Journals a Precedent for the same, and that Method was then allowed of by the other House without any Dispute: That even as to their having a Power of administring an Oath in the most solemn Manner, they hoped that there was no Member of that House who doubted thereof; and if it were to be brought into Dispute, it could be proved to the Conviction of all impartial Men: That the House of Commons was certainly a Court of Record, their being such having been admitted of by the other House in the most solemn Manner, as appeared by the 6th of Henry VIII. Chap. 16. By which it was enacted, 'That no Knight, &c. should depart from the Parliament without the Licence of the Speaker and Commons in Parliament assembled, to be entered upon Record, in the Clerk of the Parliament's Book, on pain to lose their Wages.' That this was an indisputable Testimony of their being a Court of Record, and as such they certainly had a Power to administer an Oath in any Affair which came properly before them, and upon which it was necessary that Witnesses should be examined: That as there was a Precedent for examining Witnesses in the most solemn Manner at the Bar of their House, without bringing their Power of administring of Oaths into Dispute, if the present Question was agreed to, they might follow that Precedent, and thereby prevent all Occasion of Difference between the two Houses.'
Which passes in the Negative.
Then the previous Question being put, That the Question be now put upon the said Motion, it passed in the Negative. The Majority of the House, being desirous to have the Bill pass'd, were unwilling to agree to any Motion that might create a Difference between the two Houses, and thereby hazard the Loss of the Bill.
The Report from the Committee on the Charitable Corporation order'd to be printed.
April 20. Mr Sandys presented to the House a farther Report from the Committee appointed to inquire into the Charitable Corporation, which, with an Appendix, he read in his Place, and the same was order'd to be printed: To this therefore, which may be found in the POLITICAL STATE for December 1732, we refer the inquisitive Reader for the tedious Particulars of this iniquitous Transaction.
The Bill for vacating the Sale of Ld Derwentwater's Estate read a second Time, and committed.
Sir Robert Sutton and Sir Archibald Grant expell'd the House on account of the Charitable Corporation.
May 4. Upon the farther Hearing of the Report, made by the Committee appointed to inquire into the Affair of the Charitable Corporation, which had been several Days under Consideration, Sir Robert Sutton and Sir Archibald Grant were expelled the House.
Motion to resolve, That Sir R. Sutton, Sir A. Grant, D. Bond, W. Burroughs, G. Jackson, B. Robinson, W. Squire, G. Robinson, J. Thompson, R. Wooley, and T. Warren, having been guilty of a Breach of Trust, and other fraudulent Practices in the Management of the Charitable Corporation, ought to make a just Satisfaction to the Sufferers. ; Debate thereon.
May 8. The House resumed again the Consideration of the said Report, and a Motion was made to resolve, That Sir Robert Sutton and Sir Archibald Grant, Dennis Bond, Esq; (who had been expelled this Session, on account of the fraudulent Sale of Lord Derwentwater's Estate, See p. 238.) William Burroughs, Esq; George Jackson, Benjamin Robinson, William Squire, George Robinson, John Thompson, Richard Wooley, and Thomas Warren, having been guilty of many notorious Breaches of Trust, and many indirect and fraudulent Practices in the Direction and Management of the Affairs of the Charitable Corporation, and having thereby occasioned great Losses to many of his Majesty's Subjects, ought to make a just Satisfaction for the same: But some Members were for leaving out the Words, ought to make a just Satisfaction for the same; hereupon Mr Shippen stood up, and spoke as follows:
Mr Shippen's Speech on that Occasion.
'The House is extremely obliged to the honourable Gentlemen of the Committee, for the great Pains they have taken, and for the great Skill they have shewn, in detecting a dark and execrable Scene of Villainy: And surely we ought not to entertain any Proposition which comes from them, in consequence of their Inquiry and of our own Proceedings, with Jealousy and Distrust.
'I can therefore by no Means agree with those Gentlemen, who suspect that there is some latent and disguised Meaning in the Question before us, and who are for leaving out the latter Part of it; because I think no Question was ever framed with more Candour, or conceived in more clear and intelligible Terms, than this is; and the latter Part is so far from being exceptionable or supersluous, that it is the necessary, the natural Conclusion from the Premises contained in the first Part: For since the Persons named have been lately voted guilty of the Crimes, with which they stand charged in the Report of our Committee, what is the next Step we are to take, but to vote some Punishment? and what Punishment so mild with regard to the Offenders, or so just with regard to the Sufferers as Restitution?
'Let us take the whole Question together, and we shall judge best of the Propriety and Coherence of its several Clauses. It runs thus, viz. 'That Sir Robert Sutton, &c. having been guilty of many notorious Breaches of Trust, and many indirect and fraudulent Practices, in the Direction and Management of the Affairs of the Charitable Corporation for Relief of Industrious Poor, by assisting them with small Sums upon Pledges at legal Interest; and having thereby occasioned great Losses to many of his Majesty's Subjects, ought to make a just Satisfaction for the same.'
'Now, as I have already said, no Question was ever conceived in more clear and intelligible Terms than this is; and I am at a Loss to comprehend, why Gentlemen should dislike any Expressions in it, especially, why the ingenious Lord, and the worthy Person his Second, should object to the Words, Just Satisfaction. For certainly they cannot imagine that these Words will be declared unintelligible in this House, where the Nature and Meaning of Justice is supposed to be perfectly well understood, as it is or ought to be the Rule and Measure of all our Determinations; and they must forgive me, if I think no Dutch Commentator ever mistook the Sense of an Author more grossly, than they have mistaken the Sense of this Question.
'But what is most remakable in this Debate is the Impatience some Gentlemen express to know, whether the Advocates for the Question intend to proceed against the Offenders by Impeachment or by Bill; and they seem to demand that we should immediately come to a Resolution.
'Whence can this Impatience arise? If it arises from Compassion, why were these very Gentlemen, who now interpose, silent? Why did they suffer the Objects of their Compassion to be unanimously censured, when they had made but an insufficient Defence for themselves, and wanted the Aid of their Eloquence? If it arises from Curiosity, I think it ought rather to be kept in Suspence than gratified, because it is unseasonable and irregular. If it arises from the Fears and Apprehensions of particular Persons; why should others, who are under no such Anxiety, be obliged to remove those Fears and Apprehensions, especially when it is impossible for them to know how well they may be grounded.
'Since then no good Reason appears to justify this extraordinary Demand; since this Question is only declarative of our present Disposition to do Justice, and to give Satisfaction to the injured and distressed Proprietors, methinks there should be no Difficulty in passing it: For we shall be as much at Liberty, after we have passed it, as we are before, to choose that Method of Proceeding, which shall be thought most proper, when we are sufficiently prepared for a final Decision.
'What has been said, concerning the Difference betwixt Impeachments and Bills of Attainder, is foreign to our present Point, and might have been spared in an Audience, where that Argument hath been so fully and frequently discussed, at the End of almost every Administration.
'We all know, that Impeachments are the ancient Parliamentary Method of bringing Publick Criminals to Publick Justice, and it is the Method we ought to pursue on common and ordinary Occasions. Not but that it is liable to many Difficulties, to the Tediousness and Perplexity of Forms, to the Caprice of the House of Lords, by which means Justice hath very often been delayed, and sometimes entirely defeated.
'We all know too, that Bills of Attainder are the utmost Stretch, and the terrible Part of Parliamentary Power, which ought never to be exerted, but in the most heinous and most flagrant Instances. I have always considered them as such: My Aversion is sufficiently known by my constant Opposition to them; and I envy no Man the Glory of having carried Bills of Pains and Penalties through this House, by being Prosecutor, Judge, Juryman, and even Evidence in the same Cause.
'But should it happen in our Day, that an overgrown unweildy Minister of State should tumble from the Height of his Power, and fall under the Censure of this House, for protecting Fraud, and patronizing Corruption: A Minister, Sir, who may have made such Bills, as are now dreaded, the Instruments of his personal Vengeance, and the Support of his cruel Administration; perhaps the Voice of an injured and oppressed Nation, crying aloud for Justice, and demanding speedy and exemplary Punishment, may then prevail over Gentlemen's natural Inclinations, and force them to comply with what they would otherwise decline and disapprove; nor could the Criminal himself, with any Appearance of Modesty, or Colour of Reason, complain; for Lex Talionis would at least be Argumentum ad Hominem, and the World would universally allow, that it would be a righteous Judgment, for Necis Artifices Arte perire suâ. But we shall have a better Opportunity of explaining ourselves, and delivering our Sentiments at large, if the Case which I here only suppose, should ever come actually before us, and undergo a Parliamentary Examination.
'I should apologize for this Digression, had not the Course of the Debate led me into it, and made it necessary to say something on these Heads: But I shall conclude with returning to the Question, and humbly offering my Opinion, that we ought to assure the Proprietors we will assist them in a future Session, tho' we cannot in this, to repair the excessive Losses they have sustained by the Frauds and Iniquities of their Directors, as far as lies within the Reach of this Part of the Legislature.
'I hope too we shall not only concur with the honourable Gentlemen of the Committee in their Proposition, but give them the Thanks of the House for the Honour and Integrity, with which they have acquitted themselves in the publick Service.'
The above Motion agreed to.
After this the Motion as above pass'd into a Resolution: Then it was order'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, to restrain all the said Persons, (except William Squire, George Robinson, and John Thompson, who were absconded) from going out of the Kingdom for one Year, and till the End of the then next Session of Parliament; and for discovering their Estate and Effects; and for preventing the transporting or alienating the same. As to William Squire, the Members, appointed to prepare and bring in the said Bill, were order'd to insert a Clause, for obliging him to surrender himself at a Time and Place to be mentioned in the Bill; to give Security for his not going out of the Kingdom for one Year; for discovering his Estate; and for preventing the transporting or alienating the same. It was also order'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, for the Relief of the Sufferers in the Charitable Corporation.
Two Bills pass'd in pursuance of that Resolution. ; G. Jackson and B. Robinson struch out of the Bill by the Lords.
Mr Sandys reports from the Committee on the Charitable Corporation, that Signor Bellonl had wrote to them from Rome, that John Thompson was detain'd Prlsoner there.
May 16. Mr Sandys acquainted the House, that Sir Robert Sutton had come to him that Morning, and told him, that he had received a Letter from a Correspondent of his at Paris, in which was inclosed a Letter from Signor Belloni, a Banker at Rome, directed to the Committee to whom the Petition of the Proprietors of the Charitable Corporation was referred, or in case the said Committee did not subsist, to Sir Robert Sutton and others, acquainting them, that the said Belloni had procured John Thompson, late WarehouseKeeper to the said Corporation, to be secured a Prisoner in the Castle of St Angelo at Rome: Hereupon the said Committee was ordered to be revived.
Signor Belloni's Letter order'd to be translated.
May 22. Mr Sandys made a farther Report from the above Committee, and thereupon it was order'd, That the several Letters and Papers mentioned in the said Report should be laid before the House. Then it was referred to a Committee to translate Signor Belloni's Letter.
Signor Belloni's Letter.
It is with great Pleasure that I lay bold of this Occasion, which now offers, to shew my Esteem and my Affection for the English Nation, by contributing to the Advantage of many private Persons in that Kingdom, and consequently to the Satisfaction of the Parliament, and the Nation itself.
As the Frauds, that have been committed in the Management of the Charitable Corporation, have made a great Noise every where, People here have been sensibly touched with the Misfortunes these Frauds have occasioned, and have felt the Interest the Nation had to redress them, which could not be effected, but by seizing the Person and the Papers, the Books and the Effects of Mr Thompson, which the Parliament had not yet been able to compass.
To this End having received Advice, that the said Thompson might come to Rome under some borrow'd Name, the necessary Measures were taken to put him under an Arrest upon his Arrival there, which have been put in Execution; at the same Time his Papers, Letters be has received from England since his Departure from thence, Copies of Letters he has written to his Confidents, and Notes of his most secret Affairs have been seized: He himself is at present in the Castle of St Angelo, and has by this Means been put under a Sort of Necessity to discover the whole Mystery of this Affair; which he has amply done, by discovering not only the Books and Effects of the Corporation, but also his own.
This being done, I have been ordered to communicate this important Discovery to whom and where it may be proper, for the Good and Advantage of the Nation; wherefore I dispatched without Delay a Courier to one of my Correspondents at Paris, with all the Papers relating to this Affair, that be may find the Means to have them put into your Hands.
But as Equity requires, that the Proprietors of the Charitable Corporation, who will reap so great an Advantage from this Discovery, should yield to certain Conditions before the Papers and Writings be delivered to you; I have ordered my Correspondent to insist on these Conditions being previously agreed to, and in the mean Time to look on these Papers, as a simple Deposit in his Hands not to be parted with till this be done; and I doubt not, but this Precaution, as well as the Conditions, will appear just and reasonable to all those who are interested in this Affair.
The Commons resolve that Sir Belloni's Letter is an insolent Libel, with which Resolution the Lords concur. ; It is also order'd to be burnt by the common Hangman.
Then several other Papers being read, the Commons came to two Resolutions, with which the Lords concurr'd as follows. I Resolv'd Nem. Com. by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembled, That the Paper dated at Rome, the 4th of May, 1732, N. S. signed John Angelo Belloni, is an insolent and audacious Libel, attempting, by false and insidious Insinuations, to impose upon the Parliament and British Nation; and by specious Pretences, and Professions of Esteem, Affection, and Compassion, to amuse the unhappy Sufferers of the Charitable Corporation, with vain and deceitful Hopes of Relief: That the said Paper is, in itself, absurd and contradictory, conceived, at the beginning, in Terms and in the Style of Power and Authority, or as proceeding from some extraordinary Interest and Insluence, but concluding in the Person and Character of a private Banker of Rome; offering, upon certain Conditions, on the behalf of John Thompson, to deliver certain Book and Papers of the said Thompson, the Contents, Value, and Consequence whereof are unknown, without any Offer to surrender the Person of the said Thompson, although represented to have been arrested and detained in safe Custody, from a Sense of the Frauds committed by him, and a due Regard to Justice; the Conditions, demanded and insisted upon by, and in behalf of, the said Thompson, appearing at the same time to be loose, evasive, and uncertain, tending to procure Advantages and Indemnity to himself and his Accomplices, without any Intention or Prospect of Benefit to the Corporation: And that this whole Transaction appears to be a scandalous Artifice, calculated purely to delude the Unhappy, and to disguise and conceal the wicked Practices of the professed Enemies to his Majesty's Person, Crown, and Dignity. II. Resolved, That in Abhorrence and Detestation of this vile Attempt, the said infamous Libel be burnt by the Hands of the common Hangman, before the Royal-Exchange in London, upon Friday next, at One of the Clock: And that the Sheriffs of London do then attend, and cause the same to be burnt there accordingly.
An Address for a farther Representation of the State of the American Colonies; ; Also for an Account of what Instructions had been given to the several Governors of those Colonies, &c.
May 25. The House resolv'd, That an Address be presented to his Majesty to give Directions to the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to prepare a farther Representation, [See p. 84.] to be laid before the House, in the next Session of Parliament, of the State of his Majesty's Colonies and Plantations in America; with respect to any Laws made, Manufactures set up, or Trade carried on there, which may affect the Trade, Navigation, and Manufactures of this Kingdom. It was also resolved, That an Address be presented to his Majesty to give Orders, that the proper Officers should provide Copies, to be laid before the House, in the next Session of Parliament, of the several Instructions, which had been given by her late Majesty, his late Majesty, and his present Majesty, to the respective Governors of his Colonies in America, relating to the taking, or not taking any Sums of Money, by way of Present or Salary from the Inhabitants thereof, and when and how the same have at any Time been varied; and also what Directions had been given by any of their said Majesties, for the Repair of the Forts and Fortifications of Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands.
The Royal Assent given to the Bills relating to the Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, the Charitable Corporation, &c.
June 1. The King came to the House of Peers, and gave the Royal Assent to the Bills relating to the Earl of Derwentwater's Estate, and to the Charitable Corporation, as also to several other publick and private Bills, after which his Majesty made the following Speech to both Houses.
The King's Speech at putting an End to the Fifth Session.
You having now dispatched all the Publick Business, that it was practicable for you to go through with at present, and the Season of the Year being so far advanced, I believe it will not be disagreeable to you, that I give you an Opportunity of retiring into the Country, by putting an End to this Session of Parliament.
"It is unnecessary for me to represent to you the happy State and Situation of Publick Affairs, both at Home and Abroad. You must all be sensible of what is universally seen and felt in the full Enjoyment of a general-Peace. The Concurrence of the States General, in the late Treaty of Vienna, has perfected the Establishment of the publick Tranquility, as far as human Prudence can foresee or provide; and a faithful Observance and Execution of the Treaties and Alliances, now subsisting among the several Princes and Powers of Europe, free from groundless Jealousies, and void of all ambitious Views, will be the most effectual Means to continue and preserve these Blessings to us.
"I return you my Thanks for the Provisions you have made for the Defence and Security of the Kingdom, and for carrying on the Service of the current Year. It is a great Satisfaction to me to see you have turned your Thoughts towards raising the necessary Supplies, by such Methods, as may be the least burthensome to my People: And as this cannot but be received in the Country as a most grateful and acceptable Service, I hope it will encourage you to pursue such Measures for the future, as may on all Occasions render the Supplies, that shall be necessary, as equal and easy as is possible.
"It being necessary for me to visit my German Dominions this Year, I have determined to leave the Queen Regent here during my Absence; and I doubt not but it will be your Endeavours to make the Government as easy to her, as, I am confident, it will be her Care, by a just and prudent Administration, to deserve your Duty and Regard. I recommend to you all in your several Stations, to study and consult the Preservation of the Peace and Quiet of the Kingdom."