The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES and DEBATES In the Sixth Session of the First Parliament of King George II.
Anno 6. Geo. II. 1732-33.
King's Speech at opening the Sixth Session.
"It is a great Satisfaction to me, that the present Situation of Affairs, both at Home and Abroad, makes it unnecessary for me to lay before you any other Reasons for my calling you together at this Time; but the ordinary Dispatch of the Publick Business, and that I may have an Opportunity of receiving your Advice upon such Affairs as may occur to you, and shall require the Care and Consideration of Parliament.
"I will order the proper Officers to lay before you the Estimates for the Service of the current Year; and I make no Doubt but that you will, with the same Chearfulness as I have always experienced in you, effectually raise such Supplies, as you shall judge necessary for the Honour, Safety, and Defence of the Kingdom; and I cannot but recommend it to you, as a Consideration worthy the Commons of Great Britain, that in all your Deliberations, as well upon raising the annual Supplies, as the Distribution of the Publick Revenues, you pursue such Measures as will most conduce to the present and future Ease of those you represent.
"You must be sensible, that it is very desirable to give all possible Dispatch to the Publick Business, and that nothing can give more Weight and Credit to all your Resolutions, than to avoid unreasonable Heats and Animosities, and not to suffer yourselves to be diverted, by any specious Pretences, from stedfastly pursuing the true Interest of your Country: Let that be your first and principal Care; and the People will be sensible of the Benefits they shall receive from your Wisdom and Resolution, in preferring their Ease and the Publick Good to all other Considerations.
Mr H Bromley's Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon.
The Commons being returned to their House, Mr Speaker reported his Majesty's Speech to both Houses, and the same being read, Mr Henry Bromley, Knight of the Shire for Cambridge, stood up and took Notice, 'That the present profound Tranquility was entirely owing to his Majesty's great Wisdom and Conduct, by which he had surmounted all those Difficulties, which were thrown in his Way by the Enemies of the Nation, and had thereby at last establish'd our Affairs both at Home and Abroad upon a most firm, and he hoped, a lasting Basis: That we ow'd a great many Acknowledgements of Thanks to his Majesty, for his prudent and careful Management of our Affairs both at Home and Abroad, and therefore he would beg Leave to move, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return the Thanks of the House for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; to express the Satisfaction of the House at the present Situation of Affairs both at Home and Abroad; and to assure his Majesty, that the House would, with all possible Duty to his Majesty, and just Regard and Concern for those they represented, chearfully and effectually raise such Supplies as should be necessary for the Honour, Safety, and Defence of his Majesty and his Kingdoms; and that, in all their Deliberations upon raising the annual Supplies, and the Distribution of the Publick Revenues, they would pursue such Measures as would most conduce to the present and future Ease of their Fellow-Subjects; and that, in order to give the necessary Dispatch to the Publick Business, and that their Proceedings might carry with them that Weight and Credit in the Nation, which ought always to attend the Resolutions of the Commons of Great Britain, they would endeavour to avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities, and not suffer themselves to be diverted, by any specious Pretences whatsoever, from stedfastly pursuing the true Interest of their Country, which should upon all Occasions be their first and principal Care.' This Motion was seconded by Mr Knight, Member for Sudbury, who likewise spoke in Praise of his Majesty's Conduct, and added, 'That he hoped the House would be unanimous in agreeing to the Address of Thanks, moved for by the honourable Member who had spoke before him.' Hereupon Sir John Barnard, Member for London, rose up and mov'd for an Amendment to the said Motion as follows:
'I shall always be ready to make all proper Acknowledgements of Thanks to his Majesty; but there are some Words in the Motion made by the honourable Gentleman who spoke first, which I cannot but take Notice of. I do not really know what the honourable Gentleman means by saying, 'We will endeavour to avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities, and not suffer ourselves to be diverted by any specious Pretences whatsoever.' I hope there never were, nor never will be any unreasonable Heats or Animosities in this House, nor any specious Pretences made use of by any Gentleman who has the Honour to be a Member thereof; at least, I hope, that if any Man shall ever be vain enough to endeavour to impose upon this House, by making use of specious Pretences for concealing Designs which he dare not openly avow, that there will always be in this House Men of Understanding and Integrity sufficient to expose any such Attempt, and to render it vain and ridiculous. But if any Gentleman of the House happens not to like what is said, or what is moved for by another, cannot he oppose it, and give his Reasons for so doing, without being guilty of any unreasonable Heat or Animosity, or of making use of specious Pretences? I must say, Sir, that the desiring such Words to be put into our Address of Thanks to his Majesty, to me looks as if the Gentleman was conscious that there is something to be brought before us, in this Session of Parliament, which he foresees will meet with a warm Opposition; and, I hope, if any Thing of an extraordinary Nature is to be brought before us, no Gentleman will be precluded by these Words, or by any Words that can be put into our Address, from giving his Sentiments freely upon any Question that may occur. If any Thing should happen to be proposed in this House, which evidently appears to be inconsistent with the Liberties or the Trade of this Nation, I hope the Indignation of every Man that thinks so, will rise against such a Proposition, and that he will oppose it with that honest Warmth, as becomes every Man who has the Happiness of his Country really at Heart: Such a Warmth is no unreasonable Heat; it does not proceed from Animosity, but from that honest Zeal, which every Man in this House ought to have for the Constitution of his Country, and for the Liberties and Properties of the People he represents.
'But before I say any Thing more upon this Subject, I must take Notice of a preceding Part of the Motion made by the honourable Gentleman: He proposes for us to say, 'That we will raise the Supplies in such Manner as will most conduce to the present and future Ease of the Subject.' Now, there seems to be a great Jealousy without Doors, as if something were intended to be done in this Session of Parliament, that may be destructive to our Liberties, and detrimental to our Trade: From whence this Jealousy hath arisen, I do not know; but it is certain that there is such a Jealousy among all Sorts of People, and in all Corners of the Nation; and therefore we ought to take the first Opportunity to quiet the Minds of the People, and to assure them that they may depend upon the Honour and Integrity of the Members of this House; and that we never will consent to any Thing that may have the least Appearance of being destructive to their Liberties, or detrimental to their Trade; for which Reason I must move for an Amendment, and that these Words, And such as shall be consistent with the Trade, Interest, and Liberty of the Nation, may be added to what the honourable Gentleman has already proposed.'
Sir John Barnard was back'd by Mr Sandys, Member for Worcester, who declared, 'That he saw no Manner of Occasion for inserting, 'That they should endeavour to avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities, nor suffer themselves to be diverted by any specious Pretences;' for that twas never to be presum'd with regard to the House of Commons, that they should fall into any unreasonable Heats and Animosities, or suffer themselves to be diverted by specious Pretences from stedfastly pursuing the true Interest of their Country: That such a Reflection was derogatory to the Honour of the House in general, and of that House in particular, who deserved it, in his Opinion, as little as any House ever did; nay, 'twas somewhat strange that this House, after having sat so quietly for so many Sessions, and granted so many considerable Supplies, should at length so officiously be put in mind of their Duty, and desired to avoid unreasonable Heats and Animosities: And as for the other Part of the Motion, taken Notice of by Sir John Barnard, 'twas his Opinion the Amendment proposed was not only very proper, but also became absolutely necessary at that Juncture.'
'I have always been against long Addresses; I am ready enough to agree to an Address of Thanks to his Majesty for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; but such Address ought to be in the most concise Terms, and the most general Words: This was the ancient Usage of Parliament, and I find but few of our old Customs that are alter'd for the better: However, if we must go on with the Custom of making long-winded Addresses, I think we ought to take some Notice of the Spirit that is at present among the People. It is very certain, that there are great Fears, Jealousies, and Suspicions without Doors, that something is to be attempted in this Session of Parliament, which is generally thought to be destructive to the Liberties and to the Trade of this Nation. There is at present a most remarkable and general Spirit among the People, for protecting and defending their Liberties and their Trade, in Opposition to those Attempts which they expect are to be made against both: From all Quarters we hear of Meetings and Resolutions for that Purpose; and this Spirit is so general, that it cannot be ascribed to any one Set of Men: They cannot be branded with the Name of Jacobites or of Republicans, nor can it be said that this Opposition is made only by Jacobites and Republicans; no, the whole People of England seem to be united in this Spirit of Jealousy and Opposition. Whether there be any Reason or Ground for exerting such a Spirit at present, I do not know; but I am sure it ought not to be entirely neglected. It is well known that I am no Friend to popular Remonstrances; a Man that is a Favourer of Monarchy cannot well approve of such Measures; but such Remonstrances are not to be contemned: A thorough Contempt of them may produce the most terrible Effects.
'I look on it as a most certain Maxim, that the People never would so generally complain, unless they found themselves some way hurt; and then they have a Right to complain, and it is our Duty to take Notice of their Complaints; but at the same Time we ought to have a Regard to the Honour and Dignity of Parliament; for which Reason I shall beg Leave to add to the Amendment proposed, and move that these Words, And such as shall be consistent with the Honour and Justice of Parliament, may be added to what has been before proposed.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'I now rise up, Sir, to do what is not usual for me to do; it is to second a Motion made by my worthy Friend who spoke last. I was really of Opinion, that his Majesty's Speech was in such Terms, that no Exception could have been taken to any one Word at it; and the Motion for an Address of Thanks was so short and so agreeable to his Majesty's Speech, that I could not imagine any such Objection could have been made, as has been made to some of the Words thereof. His Majesty in his Speech recommends the avoiding of unreasonable Heats and Animosities, and in Answer to that Part of his Majesty's Speech, the honourable Gentleman, who moved for the Address, proposed that we should say, that we would avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities: In my Opinion, there cannot be a more proper Return to that Part of the Speech: And as his Majesty only desires that we would avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities, he surely did not thereby intend to preclude any Man from offering his Sentiments freely on whatever may be proposed. If any Thing be proposed that is inconsistent with the Publick Good, no Opposition thereto can be called an unreasonable Heat or Animosity; nor is such an Opposition any Way comprehended in the Words made use of by his Majesty, in his most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'As for the Amendment proposed In the other Part of the Motion, it really seems to me to be liable to the same Objection, that has been made to the Words I have just now taken Notice of. It is not to be presumed that we will do any Thing that is inconsistent with the Honour and Justice of Parliament; if any such Thing should be proposed, it would, without Doubt, be rejected with Scorn. And as for the Trade of the Nation, I do not know what the Gentlemen mean thereby; but as to what I mean by the Trade of the Nation, and in so far as I understand it, I hope nothing will ever be brought into this House that is or can be detrimental thereto; if there should, it would most certainly be rejected. I am sure, Sir, that I know of no such Design, I know of nothing that is to be brought in, that can any Way injure the Trade of the Nation; but if any Thing can be proposed for the Improvement thereof, I shall very readily agree to it, and so, I hope, will every Gentleman in this House.
'I agree with the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, that the Complaints of the People are not to be neglected, when they are sincere and true; I hope they will always be regarded by every Gentleman in this House: If the People are hamper'd in their Trade, or in any other Way hurt, they must feel it, and they will feel it before they begin to complain; in such Case it is the Duty of this House, not only to hear their Complaints, but to find out a Remedy, if possible: But the People may be taught to complain, they may be made to feel imaginary Ills, and by such Practices they are often induced to make Complaints before they feel any Uneasiness. However, let the People's Complaints be real or imaginary, let them be well or ill founded, it does not signify to the present Question: If the Gentlemen think it necessary to add the Words they have proposed, the Adding or not Adding of them is to me a Matter of absolute Indifference, they may do whatever they think proper.'
Mr W. Plumer.
Sir Robert Walpole having done speaking, Mr. Walter Plumer hereupon replied, 'That he did not know whether or no the People might be taught to complain when they felt no Hurt; but was well assur'd, that if by any Means they were taught not to complain, they would at last come to feel the Hurt severely, when perhaps their Complaints would avail nothing, but rather expose them to the Contempt of those who had done them the greatest Injuries.'
Sir J. Barnard.
'If the honourable Gentleman on the Floor [Sir Robert Walpole] thinks that our Trade cannot be hurt by what the People seem to be afraid of, I am sure he must think that he understands Trade better than all the Traders in England; and if that is his Notion, I do not really understand what Trade he means, but he must mean, by the Trade of the Nation, something different from what is thereby meant by all those that are concern'd therein, I thought I had given a sufficient Reason for adding the Words I proposed; but since it has been infinuated, that they are liable to the same Objection as the Words first taken Notice of by me, I must explain myself a little farther. It is certainly to be presum'd, that this House will never agree to any Thing that is destractive to the Liberties, or detrimental to the Trade of the Nation: I am sure, if ever we do, we shall do what is inconsistent with the Honour and Justice of Parliament. This is certainly not to be presum'd; yet we find there is a Spirit of Jealousy gone forth; there are very general Apprehensions that some such Thing is intended; and for this Reason, I moved for the Amendment; but there are no Jealousies, no Fears of our falling into unreasonable Heats and Animosities; his Majesty, I hope, never had any such Jealousy, and I am sure the Body of the People apprehend no such Misfortune; and therefore there is no Reason for having any such Words in our Address.'
Sir T. Aston.
The Question was then put, and the Amendment proposed was agreed to without any Division: Then Sir Thomas Aston, Member for Leverpool, stood up, and made a farther Objection to Mr Bromley's Motion as follows:
'I cannot in any Address, to be presented to his Majesty, approve of saying what I do not believe to be true. It is proposed, that we should congratulate his Majesty upon the Situation of our Affairs both Abroad and at Home. This I cannot by any Means agree to, because I do not really think that our Affairs are in the best Situation either Abroad or at Home. Are not our Neighbours the French still going on in fortifying and restoring the Harbour of Dunkirk, under our very Nose, and contrary to the Faith of the most solemn Treaties? We cannot now say that the French are our good Allies; and by their Behaviour in this Particular, we may see that we cannot much depend upon the Faith of any of the Treaties now subsisting between us and them: Even this very Affair we may, perhaps, in a little Time hear made Use of, as an Argument for our keeping up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace; and can we express a Satisfaction at the present Situation of our Affairs, as long as there is any Argument lest for keeping up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace, which has always been thought so inconsistent with the Constitution and Liberties of our Country ?
'Have our Merchants as yet met with any Redress for those Depredations committed upon them by the Spaniards? Is not that Affair still delay'd and put off, notwithstanding the most explicite Engagements enter'd into by the famous Treaty of Seville? That Treaty which we have heard so much applauded, and by which we enter'd into Engagements of the greatest Consequence; on our Part it has been most punctually perform'd, and yet our plunder'd Countrymen, our Merchants, are still waiting for that Reparation, which in Justice is due to them, which by the most solemn Engagements has been stipulated for them, and which was, I may say, the only Stipulation in our Favour contain'd in that Treaty. Shall we then say, that we are satisfy'd with the present Situation of our Affairs, while the Cries and Complaints of our injur'd and unredressed Countrymen are dally meeting us in every Corner of the Streets?
'Again, as to our Home Affairs, is not our Trade daily decaying? Even our Staple Manufacture is almost quite undone. There is scarcely any Sort of Trade in a thriving Condition, but that in Change Adley; and there, Sir, there are such abominable Frauds, and such wicked Impositions daily practised, that many honest well meaning Men have thereby been totally ruin'd and undone. Does not almost every Session of Parliament open to us some new Scene of Villainy and Roguery? These Calamities are almost universal, they do not fall upon single Persons, or upon a few, but upon Multitutles at a Time; and these, for what I know, may be owing, in some Measure, to some of those Persons who have in their Hands the Management of Publick Affairs: It may be owing to their Neglect that Rogues are thus enabled to dress up and manage such publick Scenes of Knavery. While such fraudulent Practices are suffer'd, and our Trade thereby so much injured, can we approach the Throne, and say in such a solemn Manner, that we are satisfy'd with the Situation of our Affairs at Home? For my Part, I am no Way satisfy'd with the present Situation of our Affairs either Abroad or at Home, and therefore I must move that these Words should be left out, or some Way alter'd.'
Upon this Mr. Speaker stood up, and told Sir Thomas Aston, 'That by the Orders of the House, and the constant Forms of their Proceedings, the making of an Amendment to any Part of a Motion, was an Approbation of every preceeding Part of that Motion; and as that Part of the Motion, which he proposed to amend, preceded that which the House had agreed to amend, therefore they could not now receive his Motion.' This last Motion was therefore dropp'd: Then the Question was put upon the Motion made by Mr Bromley, as amended by Sir John Barnard and Mr Shippen, which was carry'd without any Division; and an Address was drawn up and approv'd of by the House.
We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, humbly beg Leave to return your Majesty our most sincere and hearty Thanks, for your most gracious Speach from the Throne.
'The Situation of Affairs, both at Home and Abroad, gives your faithful Commons the highest Satisfaction, and fills their Hearts with the deepest Sense of Gratitude to your Majesty, being fully sensible, that the present Happiness we enjoy is the entire Effect of your Majesty's Wisdom and Resolution.
'Such Supplies, as shall be necessary for the Honour, Safety and Defence of your Majesty and your Kingdoms, shall chearfully and effectually be raised by your faithful Commons, with all possible Duty to your Majesty, and a just Regard and Concern for those we represent.
'We also beg Leave to assure your Majesty, that in all our Deliberations, as well in raising the Supplies, as in the Distribution of the publick Revenues, we will pursue such Measures, as will most conduce to the present and future Ease of our Fellow Subjects, and such as, agreeably to your Majesty's known Goodness and gracious Intentions towards your People, and the constant Endeavours of your faithful Commons, shall be consistent with the Honour and Justice of Parliament, and with the Trade, Interest, and Liberty of the Nation.'
'That our Proceedings may carry with them the Weight and Credit, which always ought to attend the Resolutions of the Commons of Great Britain; and that the necessary Dispatch may be given to the Publick Business, we will use our utmost Endeavours to avoid all unreasonable Heats and Animosities, and not suffer ourselves to be diverted, by any specious Pretences whatsoever, from stedfastly pursuing the true Interest of our Country, which, in Pursuance of your Majesty's most gracious Recommendation, from your great Example, and our own indispensible Duty, shall upon all Occasions be our first and principal Care.
The King's Answer thereto.
"I Return you my Thanks for these dutiful Assurances of your Zeal and Affection for me; and I make no Doubt but that your Resolutions to pursue such Measures, as will most conduce to the Ease and true Interest of all my Subjects, will as effectually recommend you to the good Opinion and Esteem of my People, as they are acceptable to me.
Mr Sandys's Motion for bringing up the same Pension-Bill, which was pass'd last Session by the Commons, and rejected by the Lords.
'As the House seems at present to be at Leisure, I shall take the Opportunity to put them in Mind of a Bill, that for two or three Sessions successively has passed in this House, without any Opposition whatever, and has been as often thrown out in the other. What their Reasons were in the other House for so often throwing out such a Bill, I shall not take upon me so much as to guess at; but I think it never met with any real Opposition in this House: There were indeed some Gentlemen, who testified a Sort of a Dislike to the Bill, but I think they never carried it so far as to form any Argument against it, or to bring the Affair to a Debate. It has been often remarked, that there never was, as yet, any thing brought into either House of Parliament, that was really in itself useful and necessary for the publick Welfare, but what, by a proper Perseverance, was at last carried through and passed into a Law. Even a good Thing may, for a considerable Time, by many be mistaken; from private Passions and Prejudices, for want of being rightly understood, it may for some Time meet with Opposition, but Truth and Reason will always at last prevail; and when we are fully convinced of the Goodness and Usefulness of what is offered, it has always hitherto been found, that a Sense of our Duty has in both Houses of Parliament got the better of all other Passions, which some Men might privately harbour in their Breasts. This, Sir, encourages me to persevere in what I have so often had the Honour to offer to this House, and to renew it again this Session, notwithstanding its bad Fate in former Sessions of Parliament. I am thoroughly convinced, that what I have to offer, is not only a good Thing, but absolutely necessary for the Preservation of our Constitution; and therefore I hope it will, by its own Weight, at last force its Way through the Opposition it has hitherto met with.
'I believe, Sir, every Gentleman in the House, by this Time, supposes that I mean the Bill, For making more effectual the Laws in being, for disabling Persons from being chosen Members of, or Sitting or Voting in this House, who have any Pension during Pleasure, or for any Number of Years, or any Office held in Trust for them. This is the Bill I propose to have renewed; and as this House has been fully apprized of the Contents of the Bill, designed in former Sessions, for these good and salutary Purposes, I have prepared a Bill which I have here ready to offer to the House, and which is the very same, Word for Word, with that which in the very last Session of Parliament had the Approbation of this House; I therefore think it quite unnecessary to move the House for Leave to bring in such a Bill; but my Motion shall be for Leave to bring up the Bill which I have now in my Hand.'
Mr Winnington's Objection to that Manner of Introducing the Pension-Bill. ; Debate thereon. ; Sir E. Stanley.
'Hereupon Mr Winnington observed, 'That the constant Practice of the House, for an hundred Years past, has been to move for a Bill to be brought in, and not for Leave to bring it up to the Bar: That should this laudable Method be broke into, and the ancient Custom reviv'd for each Member to present what he pleas'd, they might be surpriz'd into Things very improper and inconsistent with the Dignity of the House: That therefore, though he had nothing to say against the Bill, 'twas his Opinion the honourable Gentleman's Motion ought not to be comply'd with: Then to wave the Question, he call'd for the Order of the Day. Upon this Sir Edward Stanley, Knight of the Shire for Lancashire, spoke for the Motion, and declar'd, 'That he saw nothing in it irregular; for that Leave to bring in a Bill, or Leave to bring up a Bill, was in Effect the same Leave; nor could he conceive wherein lay the mighty Difference.'
Sir W. Yonge.
'I do not at all wonder to see the Gentleman who made the first Motion, persevere in the same Thing; but I must confess I am a little surprized to see several State-Topicks every Year renewed and insisted on by some Gentlemen in this House, notwithstanding their having seen these Topicks so often disapproved of by a Majority of the House. As to these, I am really quite tired with hearing the same Arguments repeated over and over again every Session of Parliament: The honourable Gentleman should not have said, that the Bill he mentioned had always passed, even in this House, without Opposition; there were generally some Gentlemen appear'd against it, and even testified their Dislike to it: But let the Bill be what it will, let it be a good Thing, or let it be a bad Thing, the Manner in which the Gentleman desires to have it introduced is very extraordinary. It is indeed a Privilege of the Members of the other House, that any Lord may offer a Petition or a Bill to the House without asking Leave of the House; but this Privilege the Members of this House have, for the Sake of Decency and Order, given up long ago; and I can see no manner of Reason for our reassuming it, or for our beginning now to extend our Privileges beyond what they have been for so many Years past. As to the bringing of Bills into this House, it is well known, that the usual Motion on such Occasions is for Leave to bring in such a Bill as is proposed; but this is a new Sort of Motion; it is a Motion for Leave to bring up such a Bill, which is a very extraordinary Motion, and such as I am sure there is, in the present Case, no manner of Occasion for, and therefore I really think the Motion ought to be rejected, it ought to have a Negative put upon it; but since the worthy Gentleman near me [Mr Winnington] has waved that Point, and has moved for the Order of the Day, I shall now only second his Motion.'
Mr W. Plumer.
Mr Walter Plumer stood up next, and took Notice of what Sir William Yonge had urg'd touching the same Arguments being repeated every Session of Parliament, tho' the Majority had often determined against them; and added, 'That whatever that Gentleman might think in that Respect, it was his Opinion the Majority could not alter the Nature of Right and Wrong; and for his Part, let the Majority determine as often as they would, yet he should always be ready to offer those Arguments, which he took to be good ones, against such as he thought were not so: As for the Gentleman's being afraid lest the Members of this House should re-assume any ancient Privilege, or extend those they at present enjoy, he saw no Reason for his being so cautious in that Respect, since what was proposed was in Effect no Reassumption of any old Privilege; nor Extension of any Privilege they enjoy'd, it was at most neglecting only a Piece of Form upon an extraordinary Occasion, when there appear'd no manner of Use in observing it.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
'I am surpriz'd to hear any Gentleman in this House find Fault with Gentlemen insisting upon their Opinions, notwithstanding their having been disapproved of by a Majority in former Sessions of Parliament. I do not think that the Majority's being of a contrary Opinion, can ever be made Use of as an Argument for convincing Men that they are in the wrong: The Minority, notwithstanding their being out-voted, may still have as good an Opinion of their Opinions, as the Majority have of theirs. It has often happened, that what has been disapproved of by the Majority in one Session of Parliament, has been approved of by a Majority in some future, perhaps in the very next Session of Parliament; and even as to the Bill now in Hand, it has been two or three Times approv'd of by the Majority of this House, and as often rejected or disapproved by the Majority of the other House; what their Reasons were I do not know, but I am of Opinion, that the same Reasons against the Bill were not offered to the Members of this House, that were offered to the Members of the other; for if they had, it would probably have been disapproved of, and rejected by the Majority even of this House. From hence it appears, that the Majority's being of any one Opinion, is no infallible Sign of that Opinion's being right. This, Sir, I thought myself obliged to take Notice of, that those Gentlemen, who happen to be generally of the same Opinion with the Majority, may not from thence conclude that they are certainly right. As to the Matter now in Dispute, I really think it is of no Moment: Whether the Gentleman shall have Leave to bring up the Bill, or to bring in a Bill, is to me a Matter of so much Indifference, that I cannot find out a Reason why the Gentleman's Motion should have been opposed; for to order a Gentleman to prepare a Bill, after he has told us that he has prepared one, and that it is the very same with what the Majority of this House has in former Sessions approved of, really seems to me to be a little incongruous: I can find out no Reason for Gentlemen's insisting upon this Piece of Incongruity, unless it be that they have a Dislike to the Bill itself. We certainly ought in general to observe the usual Method of Proceedings; but surely, we ought not to observe any customary Method, when the observing it appears to be in itself absurd.'
Sir J. Rushout.
Upon this Sir John Rushout declar'd, 'That he saw nothing in the Motion either new or unprecedented: That he remembred there was a Bill presented in the House of late Years, in the same or rather in a more extraordinary Manner, and this was the last Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in the late Reign; when the Gentleman who brought in that Bill, sitting close at the Bar of the House, rose up, and after informing the House of the Danger the Crown and Kingdom were in from the rebellious Plots then carrying on, and the Necessity of impowering his Majesty to secure all suspected Persons, he told them he had prepared a Bill for that Purpose, and therefore moved for Leave to bring it up, which was immediately granted; and the Bill, to the best of his Memory, was read twice that Day, and ordered to be committed: That this was something more extraordinary than the Motion before them, because the Bill then ordered to be brought up had never been before the House, and by Consequence no Member could be any way appriz'd of the Contents thereof; whereas the Bill in Question had been before the House, and frequently had their Approbation: That as for the Privilege inherent in every Member of this House, he believ'd none would dispute but that the ancient Method has been for any Member to offer what he pleases.'
Sir W. Yonge.
Hereupon Sir William Yonge stood up, and explained himself with regard to that Part of his Speech, which touched on the Privilege of Members. He said, 'That there seem'd to be a Mistake, as to what he had mentioned about the Members of the House not being allowed to bring in any Thing without Leave of the House: That this has not properly any Relation with what are called the Privileges of the House: That it is only a Restraint which the Members of the House have thought proper to lay on themselves, for the more orderly carrying on the Publick Business, and to prevent any Thing that is trisling from being brought before us; and this Restraint has been found so convenient and necessary for preserving the Honour and Dignity of the House, that it has never for many Years been departed from, but upon the most extraordinary Occasions.'
Sir R. Walpole. ; Mr Sandys.
Sir William Yonge was back'd by Sir Robert Walpole, who added, 'That the Precedent quoted by Sir John Rushout was on one of the most extraordinary Occasions that ever can happen, and in a Case that required the utmost Dispatch; That in short there was no Comparison between that Case and the Case before them; That the Case of this Bill did in no ways depend on this extraordinary Method; for should the Gentleman move in the usual Manner for Leave to bring in the Bill, and Orders should thereupon be given by the House to some Gentlemen to prepare and bring in the same, this Method would be no Hindrance to the passing of the Bill, or occasion its being put off 'till the next Session of Parliament.' Upon this Mr Sandys rose up, and spoke a second Time as follows;
'I shall be very far from making any Comparisons between the Case in Hand, or between any Case, and that which immediately concerns the Safety and Preservation of the Crown: But, as I had assured you that the Bill, which I have in my Hand, was the very same with that which had before been approved of by this House, I thought it was quite unnecessary for the House to observe that Ceremony of ordering some Gentlemen to prepare and bring in a Bill, which was already prepared; and which the House has approved of in the very last Session of Parliament: This was my Reason for moving for Leave to bring it up. I do not desire to bring any Thing into this House without first having the Leave of the House for so doing; yet I cannot think, that though the antient Method of proceeding were revived, the House would be in any Danger of being surprized into any Thing: There is no Bill can pass in this House 'till it has been three Times read in the House, and has passed thro' a Committee of the House; and while those Forms are observed, the House never can be surprized into the passing of any Bill, even though we should again re-assume that Privilege of every Member's having a Power to bring into the House whatever he pleases. It is not the Restraint we have laid ourselves under, that prevents the House's being surprized; it is the Necessity of having the Bill so often read before it can pass; for when a Gentleman has moved for Leave to bring in any Bill for the Purposes he mentions, the House cannot know whether the Bill prepared and brought in be according to their Orders till it be once read in the House: Some Gentlemen might move for Leave to bring in a Bill, and upon their obtaining such Leave, and being ordered to prepare and bring in the same, might bring in a Bill of a quite different Nature; but this would probably be discover'd on the first Reading, and the Bill would without Doubt be thrown out; and whoever endeavoured thus to impose on the House, would deserve, and would probably meet with a most severe Censure.
'But the present Dispute is not whether any Thing shall be brought into the House without Leave; the whole Dispute really seems to be between the Words to bring up, and the Words to bring in; for my Part, I am quite indifferent in this Affair; whether I have Leave to bring it up now, or to bring it in a little while hence, does not, in my Opinion, signify much; if I have Leave to bring it up, I must immediately take a Walk to the Bar; if I have Leave to bring in a Bill, and am order'd to prepare one for that Purpose, I shall take a Walk the same Way in a very little Time; this I do not take to be any material Difference: But as for the Bill itself, I do think it of such Consequence, that if there were any Method by which we could shew a more than ordinary Regard to this Bill, that Method ought certainly to be observed.'
A Precedent relating to the bringing up a Bill, read by Mr Speaker.
The usual Method of Proceeding in this House, as to bringing in of Bills is, first, to move for Leave to bring in a Bill for such or such Purposes, and that being agreed to, the House then orders some of their own Number to prepare and bring in the Bill; this is the usual Method, but in the Precedent I have now read to you it appears, that the then Solicitor General [Sir P. Yorke.] moved for Leave to bring up such a Bill, which was granted, and be immediately brought up the Bill, and the same was read a first Time; from which it is plain that Mr Solicitor, when he made his Motion, inform'd the House that he had prepared such a Bill, and had it then ready to be laid before them, and therefore be moved for Leave to bring it up, which it seems the House at this Time comply'd with.
Upon this some Members suspecting that Mr Speaker was, in Pursuance of this Precedent, going to put the Question on the Motion made by Mr. Sandys, they call'd out, No, No. Hereupon Mr Speaker immediately resum'd his Speech, as follows.
At to the Affair in Hand, or any Affair that comes before this House, I am not to appear of one Side of the Question nor of the other. It is my Business to take Care that the Orders and Methods of Proceeding shall be regularly observed. In all Questions about Order I am to inform you, so far as consists with my Knowledge, of what has been formerly done in the like Cases; and I am to take Care that all Decency and Order shall be observed, both in our Debates and Proceedings: This is my Duty, and this I shall always endeavour to perform as far as lies in my Power: In all Cases I am to observe those Directions that the House shall be pleased to give; and in the present Case I only desire to know from you, what Method you will observe, whether you are inclin'd to follow the Precedent now read to you, or if you are inclined to proceed according to the Method usually observed: But I must put you in Mind, that if you proceed according to the usual Method, Decency requires that the Bill shall not be brought in immediately after the Order for preparing and bringing in the same; it is necessary that some Time should intervene between the Order for preparing it, and the Presenting of it to the House; and therefore I must desire; that those Gentlemen who shall be order'd to prepare and bring it in, may not go immediately to the Bar, and tell us, that they have, according to Order, prepared such a Bill, and are ready to bring it in.
Mr Sandys drops his Motion for bringing us the Pension-Bill. ; And Instead thereof a Bill to the same Effect is order'd to be brought in.
Hereupon Mr Sandys not insisting on his Motion, but agreeing to have the Bill brought in according to the usual Method, the Question was put, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, For making more effectual the Laws in Being for disabling Persons from being chosen Members of, or sitting or voting in, the House of Commons, who have any Pension during Pleasure, or for any Number of Years, or any Offices held in Trust for them; This being agreed to without any Opposition, Mr Sandys and Sir Edward Stanley were order'd to prepare and bring in the same. Then the House resolv'd itself into a Committee of the Supply, and as soon as that was over; Mr Sandys presented the said Bill to the House, which was received and read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
Debate concerning the Number of Land-Forces, ; Mr Andrews.
February. 2. The House resolv'd itself into a Committee, to consider farther of the Supply granted to his Majesty, and Mr (fn. 1) Andrews, Member for Hindon, moved, 'That the Number of effective Men to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, and for Guernsey and Jersey, for the Year 1733, be, including 1815 Invalids, and 555 Men, which the Six Independent Companies consist of, for the Service of the Highlands, 17,709 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included.
This Motion was seconded by Mr Whitworth, Member for Minehead; and supported by Sir Thomas Robinson, Member for Morpeth; Sir Richard Lane, Member for Worcester; Sir Archer Croft, Member for Beeralston; Sir William Yonge, Hon. Mr Henry Pelham, Mr Horatio Walpole, and Sir Robert Walpole: But was very warmly oppos'd by several Members; and the Lord Morpeth thereupon mov'd, 'That the Number of effective Men for the Year 1733, be only 12,000; he was seconded by Mr Harley, Member for the County of Hereford; and back'd by Mr Bramston, Member for Malden; Mr Rolle, Knight of the Shire for Devonshire; Sir John Barnard, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Shippen, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Palmer, Member for Bridgewater; Mr Thomas Wyndham, Hon. Mr Edward Digby, Knight of the Shire for Warwick; Mr Pulteney, Sir John St. Aubin, Knight of the Shire for Cornwall; Sir Thomas Saunderson, Knight of the Shire for Lincoln; and Sir John Hinde Cotton, Member for Cambridge. The Courtiers urg'd in Support of the Motion, ' That tho' the publick Tranquility of Europe was now established, yet the Preservation thereof depended on so many Accidents, that it could not be certainly rely'd on, and therefore we ought always to be in such Circumstances, as to be able not only to defend ourselves, but likewise to fulfil all our Engagements to our Allies: That there was still a very powerful and considerable Party in the Kingdom, firmly attach'd to the Interest of the Pretender, and daily watching for an Opportunity to disturb the Quiet of the Nation, by endeavouring to overturn the present happy Establishment; and therefore it was necessary to keep up an armed Force sufficient to dissipate any sudden Insurrection that might be raised by such Men: That this Party was still the more audacious, and the more to be dreaded, because they were encouraged and spirited up by a great many scandalous and seditious Libels, which were daily spread abroad, even by those who pretended to be Friends to the Protestant Succession, and to the illustrious Family now on the Throne.' Sir Archer Croft said on this Occasion, 'That the continuing of the same Number of Forces was the more necessary, because to his Knowledge Popery was increasing very fast in the Country, for that in one Parish which he knew, there were no less than seven Popish Priests; and that the Danger from the Pretender was the more to be feared, because they did not know but that he was then breeding his Son a Protestant.' Then Sir Robert Walpole took Notice, 'That a Reduction of the Army was the chief Thing wished for and desired by all the Jacobites in the Kingdom; that no Reduction had ever been made, but what gave fresh Hopes to that Party, and encouraged them to raise Tumults against the Government; and he did not doubt, but that if they should resolve to reduce any Part of the Army, there would be Post-Horses employ'd that very Night, to carry the good News thereof to the Pretender and his Adherents beyond Seas.' To this Mr Horatio Walpole added, 'That the Number of Troops then proposed was absolutely necessary to support his Majesty's Government, and would be necessary, as long as the Nation enjoy'd the Happiness of having the present illustrious Family on the Throne.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
Sir William Wyndham alledg'd, in Support of Lord Morpeth's Motion, 'That if they gave any Credit to his Majesty's Speech from the Throne at the Opening of the Session, which they were in Duty bound to do, the Tranquility of Europe never was, nor ever could be on a more firm Basis than at present, and therefore a Reduction was now to be made in the Army, or such Reduction was never to be expected: That as to the Pretender, he did not believe that there was any considerable Party for him in this Nation: That that Pretence had always been a Ministerial Device made use of only for accomplishing their own Ends; but that it was in reality a meer Bugbear, a Raw-Head and BloodyBones, fit only to frighten Children; for that he was very well convinced his Majesty reigned in the Hearts and Affections of his People; upon that his Majesty's Security depended; and if it did not depend on that, the illustrious Family now on the Throne could have but little Security in the present Number, or in any Number of Standing-Forces, that could be kept up for its Defence: That if there was any Disaffection, or any Discontent in the Nation, it was owing to the keeping up of such a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace within this Kingdom, whereby the People were subjected to many Loads and Hardships which they were never before acquainted with: That the People of England had never gone into any violent Measures, or carry'd their Resentment to any Pitch against the Prince upon the Throne, but when the Prince, or those employ'd by him, were first in the Fault: That this Maxim was so generally true, that in our whole History, there was no Instance to the contrary, but only that which happen'd in the Reign of King Charles I. and that therefore, if there was any Uneasiness among the People, the proper Remedy was, to remove those Things which were the Causes thereof: If the Ministers should change their Measures, the People would certainly alter their Minds: That the Dutch were, by the Situation of their Country, in a much more dangerous State than we are or can be in, and yet the Dutch had then resolved on a Reduction of their Army, and therefore we could have no Pretence for continuing ours.'
Mr Shippen likewise observ'd, 'That though the general Arguments in the Affair before them had often been canvassed in that House, yet, that the Debate of this Day seem'd to him something new: In former Years the Gentlemen, who argued for the Continuance of a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace, always argu'd for the Continuance thereof only for one Year longer; but that Gentleman had now thrown off the Mask, and were become daring enough to declare, 'That the same Number of Forces must always be kept up; and that a numerous Army must for ever be continu'd, and be made, as it were, a Part of our Constitution:' That we have already continu'd the Army so long, that some Gentlemen had told the House this Day, what no Man would have ventur'd to have told them a few Years ago: That if they continued the same Army but a little while longer, it might be in the Power of some Gentlemen to talk to the House, in Terms no Way agreeable to the Constitution or to the Liberties of our Country: That to tell the House that the same Number of Forces must be always kept up, was a Proposition fraught with innumerable Evils, and more particularly with this, that it may make wicked Ministers more audacious, than otherwise they would be, in projecting and propagating Schemes, which may be inconsistent with the Liberties, destructive to the Trade, and burthensome on the People of this Nation: That in Countries which are governed by Standing Armies, the Inclinations of the People are but little minded, the Ministers place their Security in the Army, the Humours of the Army they only consult, with them they divide the Spoils, and the wretched People are plunder'd by both.' He added, 'That in this Kingdom, his Majesty has the Hearts, the Hands, and the Purses of all his Subjects at his Service, and he wish'd he might have them always at his Service; but he hoped they would never be in his Power; That his Majesty desired no such Thing; That he never can desire it; That he depends only on the Affections of his People; That therefore he was convinced, that the Demand of so numerous a Standing Army never could come from him: That it was no Way necessary for his Support, whatever it might be for the Support of those who now desired to have it continued.' Mr Rolle said, 'To him it appear'd, in order to preserve ourselves against one who might perhaps prove a Tyrant, we were going to establish 18,000 Tyrants, and to make their Establishment in some Measure a Part of our Constitution: And that in order to be free of a Religion which we think a bad one, we are resolved to have none at all: That as to the Party which the Pretender had in this Nation, he could not believe there was any such Thing: It was nothing but a mere Pretence, and the making Use of that Pretence on all Occasions, really could not but make him recall to Mind that wicked and blasphemous Saying of Pope Leo X. who, on Occasion of a Procession's passing by while he was at an elegant Entertainment, said to his Cardinals, Quantum prosuit Nobis bæc Fabula Christi! He concluded with these Words: Let us do as our Forefathers used to do, Let us remove the Wicked from before the King, that so his Throne may be establish'd in Righteousness.' Mr Pulteney said, 'That he could not but be diverted with some Arguments that were then, and had been on former Occasions made Use of, for keeping up a Standing Army in Time of Peace: That the last Year the House was told, that a Popish Solicitor was a dangerous Man to the Government, [See p. 123.] and now that Popish Solicitor had spawn'd out seven Popish Priests, [See p. 268.] and even the Post-Horses [See p. 269.] had join'd in this traiterous Confederacy.'
In Answer to the Argument brought from the Reduction of the Dutch Forces, Mr Pelham declar'd, 'That the Reduction mention'd was not then agreed to by the States General: That it was a great Question whether it would or no, and if it should, it was only a Reduction of the last Augmentation, whereas the last Augmentation had been reduced by us long ago; so that the Dutch were now only going to make that Reduction, which we had made upon the first Prospect we had of seeing the Tranquility of Europe establish'd: That tho' the Reduction proposed in Holland should be made by them, yet they would still have in Proportion a much greater Number of Standing Forces, than what was now proposed to be kept up in this Kingdom.' Sir Robert Walpole added, ' That he could not help taking Notice of an Observation one Gentleman had made, as to the People's never carrying their Resentment to any Pitch against the Prince upon the Throne, unless the Prince, or those employ'd by him, were first guilty of some Fault: That that Member was pleased to admit of one Exception to this Rule, in the Case of King Charles I. But the Gentleman ought to have admitted of another Exception, and that was in the Time of King George I. That he did not know what Pitch of Resentment the Gentleman might mean, but he was sure there were some People, who carry'd their Resentment against that King to a very high Pitch; and it could not be said that he was ever guilty of any Fault, nor that those employ'd by him had, then at least, been guilty of any Fault; yet some people carried their Resentment so high, that they appear'd in Arms, in order to dethrone him; That he thank'd God, they did not succeed in their Attempt: That they happen'd to be defeated by the small Number of Regular Forces we had then in the Kingdom, which were much inferior to them in Number; such was our great good Luck at that Time; but that he must say, That those Gentlemen, who desired to have the Country left as void of Defence as it was at that Time, could have but little Regard for our present happy Constitution, or for the Security of the illustrious Family now upon the Throne.'
Mr W. Williams Wynne's Motion for recommitting the Resolution of the Committee relating to the Land-Forces. ; Debate thereon.
Feb. 5. The above Resolution of the Committee was reported to the House, and thereupon Mr Warkin-Williams Wynne, Knight of the Shire for Denbigh, mov'd for the recommitting of that Resolution; which Motion was seconded by Mr William Bromley, Member for Warwick; and supported by Sir John St Aubin, Mr Sandys, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mr William Gwyn Vaughan, Mr Heathcote, and Mr Wyndham. They were oppos'd by Lord Hervey, Lord Malpas, Mr Danvers, Mr Clutterbuck, Sir Philip Yorke, and Col. Bladen. In this Debate Mr Clutterbuck having said, 'That he wonder'd to see Gentlemen so jealous of Encroachments upon our Constitution, at a Time when it was in its greatest Vigour, and shone forth in its purest Lustre;' Mr Wyndham, in answer thereto, gave the House an historical Account of our Constitution, and of the several Dangers it had been in, and the Changes it had gone through; and from thence he shew'd, 'That it was very far from being now in its greatest Vigour, and that on the contrary, there were many bad Customs had crept in of late, which were of dangerous Consequence to our Constitution; and might prove to be the Cause of its Overthrow, if some effectual Remedy was not speedily apply'd.'
The Resolution of the Committee agreed to by the House.
Then the Question being put, for recommitting the above mentioned Resolution of the Committee, it was carried in the Negative, by 207 against 143; after which the said Resolution was agreed to by the House.
Lord Morpeth moves for an Address to the King, to reduce the Land-Force on the first Opportunity. ; Debate thereon.
Then the Lord Morpeth stood up, and represented the bad Circumstances of the Nation, by reason of the great Debts and the many Taxes the People groan'd under, and therefore mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased, from his earnest Desire to ease his People of every Charge not absolutely necessary, and his Regard to the Constitution of this Kingdom, to take the first favourable Opportunity of making a Reduction of those Forces, which this House hath voted in pursuance of the Estimate laid be fore them by his Majesty's Direction.' His Lordship was seconded by Mr Sandys, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Pulteney, Mr Shippen, and Mr Heathcote, who urg'd, 'The great Necessity that there was for taking all Opportunities to reduce the publick Expence; that thereby some of those Taxes might be taken off, which at present lay so heavy on our Trade and our Manufactures, that most of our Neighbours were enabled to undersell us in foreign Markets: That the keeping up of a Standing-Army in Time of Peace, without any absolute Necessity for so doing, was altogether inconsistent with the Liberties of this Nation: That tho' there might be at present an absolute Necessity for keeping up the Number of Forces agreed to by that House, yet that that Necessity might cease in a few Months, perhaps in a few Weeks; and if so, it would then become necessary both for the Ease of the Nation, and for the Preservation of the Constitution, to disband some of then. That though the King was always to be presumed to be thoroughly acquainted with the Circumstances of the Nation, and always inclined to do that which might most contribute to the publick Welfare; yet it had always been the Custom of that House, and was their Duty, to address the King upon Matters of very great Consequence; in order to recommend to his Majesty those Measures which they thought would conduce most to the Happiness and Safety of the Nation.' But this Motion was oppos'd by Mr Talbot, Lord Hervey, Mr Henry Pelham, and Sir Robert Walpole, who alledg'd, 'That the Presenting of such an Address was in some Measure inconsistent with the Resolution they had then agreed to: That it was resolving that the Number of Forces for the Year 1733 should be so many; and addressing that they should not be so many: That these two Resolutions, following one another upon their Journals, would appear to be very extraordinary: That besides, the Presenting of such an Address would be disrespectful to his Majesty, in so far as it would be a Sort of Insinuation that his Majesty might neglect taking the first Opportunity of reducing the Army, and thereby lessening the publick Charge; and as they never yet had the least Occasion to suspect any such Thing, it would be now unjust to harbour any such Suspicion: That in many Cases it might be the Custom, it might be the Duty of that House, to address the Throne on particular Emergencies; but in a Case that regarded his Majesty and his Administration in such a general Manner, as the Case in Hand did, it would be most disrespectful: That they might as well address his Majesty to govern according to Law, or not to encroach upon the Constitution; and an Address in such Terms would, they believ'd, be allow'd to be shewing a very high Disrespect to the King upon the Throne.' Mr Shippen, on the other Hand, insisted, 'That his Majesty knew how much the Nation was loaded with Debts and Taxes, and how inconsistent it was with our Constitution to keep up a Standing-Army in Time of Peace, and that therefore his Majesty, he was sure, would not look on their Presenting of such an Address as any Way disrespectful to him.' Some Members having taken Offence at these Expressions Mr Shippen reply'd, 'That he could not but look on himself as a very unfortunate Man, for that in the late Reign he had incurr'd the Displeasure of many Gentlemen, and had undergone a severe Censure of that House, for saying that it was one of the greatest Misfortunes of his late Majesty's Reign, that he did not know our Language, and was unacquainted with our Constitution; [See Vol. I. p. 157.] and that now he had disobliged several others, by saying that his present Majesty well knows the Circumstances of the Nation, and is acquainted with our Constitution: But that, however, he could not help thinking but that his Majesty was thoroughly acquainted with both; and that therefore he would look upon such an Address, as proceeding from that honest Care and Concern, which every Member ought to have for those who sent them thither, and not as proceeding from any Disrespect towards him: That his Majesty could not be displeased therewith, and that those they represented must be highly pleased to see the House so watchful of all Opportunities to lessen their Charge, and to recommend their Ease and Advantage to the Crown.' But the Question being put on the Lord Morpeth's Motion, it was carried in the Negative, by 203 against 136.
Motion for raising the Supply for the current Year, without creating a new Debt on any of the Funds.
Feb. 7. Being the Day on which the House was, according to Order, to resolve itself into a Committee to consider of Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to his Majesty; a Motion was made, 'That this House will raise the necessary Supplies for the current Service of this Year, without creating any new Debt upon any Fund whatsoever.' But upon the Question's being put, it was carried in the Negative.
Sir Wilf. Lawson's Motion for an Address to the King, to know what Satisfaction had been made by the Spaniards to the British Merchants. ; Debate thereon.
'The many and great Losses our Merchants have sustained by the Depredations committed on them by the Spaniards, are, I believe, well known to every Gentleman in this House; and it is likewise known, that by the second separate Article of the Treaty of Seville, all those Affairs were to have been settled and adjusted in the Space of three Years: These three Years are now expired, but I do not find that any Body knows how any of those Affairs have been settled and adjusted, at least I cannot hear of any one of our Merchants who has met with any Redress.
'As the Time is now expir'd, I hope our Merchants have already got, or are very soon to receive a sufficient Reparation for all their Sufferings; this I hope for, and I should be extreamly glad to have my Hopes confirmed; it is an Affair on which the Happiness of many private Men depends, and is of so much Consequence both to the Honour and Trade of this Nation, that it is incumbent upon us, as Members of this House, to inquire into it; and therefore I shall move, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to give Direction, that there may be laid before this House, Copies of the Reports made by his Majesty's Commissaries in Spain, together with all Letters and Papers relating thereto; and what Satisfaction has been made to the Subjects of Great-Britain, for the Losses they sustained by the Depredations of the Spaniards in Europe, or in the Indies, pursuant to the second separate Article of the Treaty of Peace, Union, Friendship, and mutual Defence, between the Crowns of Great-Britain, France, and Spain, concluded at Seville on the 9th of November, 1729.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'Such an Address as has been moved for, may, if Gentlemen insist on it, be presented to his Majesty, but I can now assure you, that there is as yet nothing that his Majesty can lay before you; for though by the Treaty of Seville the Commissaries of the two Nations were to settle all the Affairs, referred to them by that Treaty, within the Space of three Years from the Date thereof, yet, by Reason of several unforeseen Accidents, they never could meet so as to enter upon, or do any Business till the Month of February last: Since that Time they have been proceeding upon the Affairs referred to them; but as yet there is nothing brought to that Maturity, or formed into such a Shape, as to be proper to be laid before this House. The Delays they at first met with made it necessary to prolong the Time for settling and adjusting those Matters, and therefore it has been agreed between the two Nations, that the three Years shall be computed from that Day in February last, on which the Commissaries first met; and by that Time it is to be hoped that all those Affairs will be settled in such a Manner, as will give full Satisfaction to every Member of this House, and full Reparation to every one of the Subjects of Great-Britain, who has met with a real Injury from the Spaniards.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
'There is a Term made use of in the Exchequer, called Nichil, which Term has been sometimes made use of by the Gentleman who spoke last, and has often been given as an Answer to this House, when Accounts of the Produce of some certain Branches of the Revenue have been called for. Now as to the present Affair, it may be that there has not as yet been any Thing done, or at least not brought to Maturity, and formed into such a Shape, as to be proper to be laid before this House: This, I say, may be the Case, though I must say it is a little surprizing, that in so long a Time there should have been nothing done; however, supposing that it is the Case, yet his Majesty may give us this Exchequer-Term for Answer; he may tell us that there has not as yet been any Thing done: It is from his Majesty only, that this House can properly have an Answer; even such an Answer we are not to take from any Member of this House, or from any Subject whatsoever. And as the Presenting of such an Address to his Majesty, will shew our Constituents that we are careful of the Affairs of the Nation, and have a Concern for the Merchants, who have been so great Sufferers by the Depredations committed by the Spaniards; therefore I am for agreeing with the Motion.'
Sir T. Aston.
'If in all this Time there has been nothing done by those Commissaries, I am much afraid that this Affair may be spun out to a very great Length. I do not know but that it may last as long as the Gentlemen who are employed as our Commissaries may live; for as they have thereby a good Salary from, and all their Charges borne by their Country, they may not perhaps be too hasty in concluding the Affairs referred to them, and thereby putting an End to the beneficial Post they enjoy; and on the other Hand it is to be presumed, that the Spaniards will make use of all the Excuses they can invent, for delaying their making that Reparation, which in Justice they ought to do, and which we are engaged in Honour to insist on. It is therefore our Duty, as Members of this House, to desire from Time to Time to know what is doing in an Affair, in which both the Interest and the Honour of the Nation is so much concerned, in order to prevent all unnecessary Delays, and to satisfy the World that this Nation does not tamely put up such Injuries.'
Hereupon Mr Conduit (fn. 2) replied to Sir Thomas Aston:
'I find there is a very great Mistake in Prejudice to the worthy Gentlemen our Commissaries in Spain: I must do them the Justice to declare, that to my Knowledge they very much despise the Salaries they have from the Publick, and are pushing as much as possible the Accommodation of all the Affairs referred to them, in order that they may return home to look after their private Affairs. I am very sure that there is not one of those Gentlemen, who, for the Sake of the Salary would have gone out of the Kingdom, or who would stay one Month in Spain, or any where, for the Sake of enjoying so trifling a Benefit. It was the Hopes only of being serviceable to their Country, that prevailed on any of them to go thither, and they are doing as much as lies in their Power to render their Service as beneficial as possible to their Country; the sooner that Affair is brought to a Conclusion, the more beneficial will their Service certainly be. This I know to be the Case as to the Gentlemen that are employed, but if it were otherwise, his Majesty could certainly take Care, that no unnecessary Delays should be allowed in an Affair of such Consequence, and certainly will lay before this House an Account of all the Proceedings in that Affair as soon as it can be conveniently done; and therefore I must be of Opinion, that there is no Occasion for our presenting any such Address as has been moved for.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
'We may always depend on it, that his Majesty will take all possible Care of this, as well as of every other Affair that regards the Honour or the Happiness of the Nation; but in all Affairs his Majesty must employ others under him, he must necessarily employ Ministers and other inferior Agents, to transact and manage the publick Affairs of the Nation; and as they may be dilatory or negligent, therefore it is the Duty, and has always been the Practice of this House, to inquire into the Management of Affairs of great Consequence. In the present Case I am for the Address proposed, because it will be a Spur to the Ministers, to procure as speedy and as ample a Satisfaction to our injured Merchants, as they can possibly get. Our having taken Notice, in the last Session of Parliament, of the Spanish Depredations, procured, I believe, those Commissions and Instructions, which were last Summer sent to his Majesty's Ships of War in the West Indies: That, I believe, was the chief Cause of sending some of our Ships to the Spanish Coast to demand Satisfaction for English Merchant-Ships, which they had violently taken, and unjustly confiscated. One of these Captains did accordingly, in Pursuance of the Instructions he had received, send his Boat with his Lieutenantand some of his Sailors on Shore, to demand the Satisfaction proposed; but the Spaniards were so far from complying with so just a Demand, that they added a new Affront, by making the Lieutenant and the Men Prisoners; whereupon he, like a brave, honest, downright English Captain, did what he ought to do, he seized the first Spanish Ship he could meet with; but I have been since informed, that this Spanish Ship has been restored, tho' the English Ship has neither been restored, nor have the Owners met with any Satisfaction for the Damage and Loss they have sustained. How this came about, how we came to restore this Ship to them, before they had agreed to release our Ship, is more than I know, or can comprehend; for as they had done the first Injury, they ought, in my Opinion, to have been obliged to have made the first Reparation. As to the Gentlemen that are employ'd as our Commissaries in Spain, I do not know whether they despise their Salaries or not, but I am sure, if they continue as long in Spain as one Gentleman seems apprehensive they may, it will verify what I said in this House in relation to those Affairs, that it would have been better for the Nation, and more to the Satisfaction of the Sufferers, to have given up the Affair at first, and to have given the Sum of Money, which such Commission might have cost the Publick, to be divided among our Merchants, who had been robbed and plunder'd by the Spaniards; for even as it is, I am afraid that if the Charges which that Commission has already, and will stand the Publick in, were to be deducted from the Sum, which we may recover from the Spaniards by Way of Reparation, there will very little remain to be divided among the Sufferers.'
Sir R. Walpole. ; Mr Plumer.
Mr Pulteney having done speaking, Sir Robert Walpole observ'd, 'That wherever that honourable Gentleman got his Information, in relation to the Restitution of the Spanish Ship he made Mention of, to his Knowledge it was erroneous, for that at the same Time Orders were sent from hence for releasing the Spanish Ship, Orders were in like Manner sent from the Court of Spain, for releasing and restoring the English Ship and Cargo, which they had before taken; and that her not being restored was no Neglect, either at this or the Spanish Court, but owing to the Excuses and Delays of his Catholick Majesty's Governors in the West-Indies; who, notwithstanding express Orders from their Court for delivering up the Ship and Cargo, had found some new Pretences for delaying it.' To this Mr Plumer reply'd, 'That if the Case was, as the honourable Gentleman who spoke last was pleased to assure them, he could not but with Pleasure observe, 'That if ever a War should happen between Spain and us, we must certainly get the better of them; for that our Governors and Officers in the West-Indies are, it seem'd, most punctual and exact in observing and obeying the Orders and Instructions received from hence, even tho' they may be perhaps not much to their own private Liking; whereas on the other Hand it appear'd, that his Catholick Majesty's Governors and Officers in those Parts had but little Regard to the express Orders they received from him; that King, it seem'd, having no Authority over his own Officers; and consequently in Case of a War between us, we should have a very considerable Advantage over that Nation.'
An Address agreed on.
The King's Answer thereto.
Feb. 16. Sir Conyers D'Arcey (fn. 3) reported his Majesty's Answer to the said Address, viz. "That although by the Treaty of Seville, the Commissaries on the Part of Great Britain and Spain were to meet within four Months after the Exchange of the Ratification of that Treaty, and their Commissions to continue for three Years from the Date of the said Treaty; and altho' his Majesty's Commissaries were appointed on the 2d of April 1730, yet by several unforeseen Accidents, the Meeting of the Commissaries in Spain was so long delay'd, that the first Conferences were not open'd 'till the 23d of February 1732, N. S. And that as so much Time was elapsed before the opening of their Commissions, it has been since agreed between the two Crowns, that the three Years, for finishing the Commission of the said Commissaries, shall be computed from their first Meeting on the 23d of Feb. last; which makes it impracticable for his Majesty to give the proper Orders, for laying a perfect Account before this House, of what is desired in their Address."