The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Mr Winnington moves, That no Sugar, Paneels, Syrups, Molosses, Rum, or Spirits, except from the British-Colonies in America, be imported, but from Great Britain only. ; Debate thereon. ; Mr H. Walpole moves for an Amendment to the above Motion. ; Which is agreed to. ; Farther Debate relating to the Trade of the Sugar-Colonies.
Feb. 21. The House resolv'd itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the State of the Trade of his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies in America; and Mr Winnington moved for a Resolution, 'That no Sugar, Paneels, Syrups, or Molosses, nor any Rum or Spirits, except of the Growth or Manufacture of his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies in America, should be imported into Ireland, but from Great Britain only.' This Motion was opposed by Mr Carey, (fn. 1) Member for Dartmouth, who said, 'That he would with all his Heart join in any proper Measures, that could be proposed, for encouraging our Sugar-Colonies, but he could not agree to the altering the Laws as they then stood, with respect to the Importation into Ireland: That the allowing of Rum so be imported directly into Ireland from any of our Colonies in the West-Indies, was with Design to discourage as much as possible the Consumption of French Brandies in that Kingdom; which Design would be entirely over-thrown by the Resolution proposed, if any new Law should now be made in pursuance thereof; for if it should be made necessary to bring Rum to, and enter it in England, before it could be carry'd to Ireland, it would very much enhance the Price of that Commodity, by which the Consumption thereof would be discouraged and diminished, and the Consumption of French Brandies would consequently be increased: That he thought it was unreasonable to lay such a Restriction on the Trade to Ireland, because that Kingdom was a Part of our own Dominions, and contributed very considerably to the Riches and Power of England: That besides, if a Law should be made in the Terms of the Resolution proposed, it would probably embroil us with some of our Neighbours: That he did not know but the French would look upon it as a Breach of that Article of the Treaty of Utrecht, by which it was stipulated, that the Trade between France and us should remain on the same Footing it was on at that Time: That the Portugueze would certainly look on it as a Breach of the Treaties of Peace and Commerce subsisting between us and them, because, by such a Law the Importation of Portugal Sugars directly into Ireland would be expresly prohibited.' He was answer'd by Mr Scrope, Member for Bristol, who said in Support of the Motion, 'That as to the enhancing of the Price of Rum in Ireland, and thereby discouraging the Consumption thereof in that Kingdom, there was no such Consequence could ensue from the Resolution proposed, or from any Law that could be made in Pursuance thereof, because there might still be as much Rum, as was requisite for the Consumption in that Kingdom, imported directly thither from our own Sugar-Colonies in America; what was proposed by the Resolution moved for, was only to prohibit the direct Importation of any of the Commodities mentioned therein, from any of the other Colonies in America, and we had very good Reason for making such a Prohibition, because it appeared that what was imported directly into Ireland from the other Colonies, was generally the Produce of the Foreign Sugar-Colonies in that Part of the World, whereby the Trade of those Colonies was very much encouraged and improved, to the Ruin of our own Sugar-Colonies in America: That though we were to look upon Ireland as a Part of our own Dominions, yet we ought not to allow them to encroach upon any Branch of the Trade of England: It was very well known that they were always endeavouring to encroach upon our Trade; and if we did not take Care to keep that Country under the Yoke, they might in Time grow so rich as to be able to throw it off, which they would perhaps willingly do, if ever it should happen to be in their Power: That as to Portugal, some Words might be put in, or some Proviso added, for obviating any Exception that might be taken by them.' Hereupon Mr Doddington said, 'That he was sorry to differ from his honourable Friend that sat by him, but that he had always look'd on Prohibitions in Trade as of dangerous Consequence, and that therefore no Prohibitions ought ever to be laid on it, but such as are in their own Nature absolutely necessary: That we had no Reason to be jealous of Ireland, or to lay them under any Restraints and Prohibitions; that Country had always appeared loyal and zealous for his Majesty, and for the present Royal Family; they had generally behaved as good Subjects, at least for many Years last past; and he believed the best Way to keep them so, was to give them all proper Encouragement; and to shun as much as possible the laying them under any particular Restraints or Disadvantages: That he looked on that Kingdom in a very different Light from what some other Gentlemen seemed to view it in; the People thereof he always consider'd as a Part of ourselves, and he hoped they, or at least the most of them, never did, nor ever would look upon themselves as being under any Yoke, but that of the Government, and the Laws of their Native Country.' Mr Horatio Walpole observed next, 'That as to what was proposed by the Regulation moved for, he could perceive nothing therein contrary to the Treaties of Peace and Commerce subsisting with Foreign Powers; 'twas a Regulation of Trade only within our own Dominions, and had no Relation to that of our Neighbours: That if we were to prohibit the Importation of any one of their Commodities into any Part of the British Dominions, they might perhaps have Reason to take it amiss; they might say, that such a Prohibition was an Infringement of some of the Stipulations subsisting between us; but what was now proposed, was not a general Prohibition, it was only the appointing of such particular Places within our own Dominions for the Importation of such Commodities, and prohibiting the importing of them at some other Places: That as this regarded only our Trade among ourselves, no foreign Power could take any just Exceptions thereto; but however, since there was no Design of prohibiting the Importation of French Spirits, or Portugal Sugars, directly into Ireland, therefore he would propose an Amendment, and that the Resolution should be in the Terms following, 'That no Sugar, Paneels, Syrups, or Molosses, of the Growth, Product, or Manufacture of any of the Colo nies or Plantations in America; nor any Rum or Spirits of America, except of the Growth or Manufacture of his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies there, be imported into Ireland, but from Great Britain only.' The Resolution being thus amended, it was agreed to without any Division; and then Mr Winnington stood up again, and mov'd, 'That a Duty of 4 s. per Hundred Weight, Sterling Money, be laid on all foreign Sugars and Paneels, imported into any of his Majesty's Colonies or Plantations in America.' This was agreed to without any Opposition. Then Colonel Bladen made the two following Motions, viz. I. 'That a Duty of 6 d. per Gallon, Sterling Money, be laid on all foreign Molosses and Syrups imported into any of his Majesty's Colonies or Plantations in America: And II. That a Duty of 9 d. per Gallon, Sterling Money, be laid on all foreign Rum imported into any of his Majesty's Colonies or Plantations in America.'
Six Resolutions relating to the Sugar-Colony Trade.
Hereupon Sir John Barnard, in Opposition thereto, said, 'That as the Trade then stood between our Northern Colonies and the French Sugar Islands, it appeared, that our Colonies bought Molosses of them at a very low Price, and distilled them into Rum, by which they provided themselves at a small Charge with the Rum that was necessary for them in their Trade with the Indians, and in their Fishing-Trade; they had, it was true, most of the Materials for making this Rum from the French; but then the Manufacture was all their own, and thereby a great many of our Subjects in that Part of the World were employ'd and maintain'd: That by laying such an high Duty on French Molosses, we should lay them under a Necessity of manufacturing it themselves, so that our Subjects would lose all that Employment, and instead of buying Molosses in their natural Dress from the French, as they did formerly, they would be obliged to purchase the same Molosses manufactured into Rum, whereby the French Sugar-Islands would take of them at least three times the Money they took formerly: That as Molosses was a bulky Commodity, it would not be easy to run them into any of our Northern-Colonies, so that the French would be laid under an absolute Necessity of manufacturing them into Rum, and when manufactured into Rum, it would be easy to carry that Rum, and sell it in a Smuggling Way to our FishingVessels at Sea, and even to run it into every one of our Colonies on the Continent of America: That the Sea-Coasts belonging to us in that Part of the World were of such a vast Extent, and so many little Harbours and Creeks to be every where met with, the Roads so little frequented, and the Towns so open, that it would be impossible to prevent the Running of French Rum on Shore, or the conveying it from one Town to another after it is landed: No, not even if we should send thither the whole Army of Excise-Officers which we have here at home; the sending them thither might, indeed, add a good deal to our Happiness in this Country, but all of them together could be of no Service for such a Purpose in that Country: That as to the laying a Duty both on foreign Rum and Molosses, he would not be altogether against it, but then it ought to be only a small Duty, for the sake of giving an Advantage to our own Sugar-Colonies in that Respect, not such an high Duty as was in a manner equal to a Prohibition; for that was really granting a Monopoly to our Sugar-Islands, with respect to a Commodity that is absolutely necessary for our Northern-Colonies, both in their Fishing-Trade and in their Trade with the native Indians; and as the French were our Rivals likewise in both those Trades, we were about giving them a certain Advantage as to these Trades, and that without doing them any Harm as to their Sugar-Trade; for if they sold Sugar and Rum cheaper than our Colonies did, they would have Vend enough for all they could make; they would have a stolen Market for it in the British Dominions, and an open Market in all other Parts of the World.' To this Colonel Bladen answer'd, 'That he had often heard our Army of Excise-Officers set in a very terrible Light, and represented as of the most dangerous Consequence to the Liberties of the Nation, but now he heard it urged that this whole Army would not be able to reduce our Northern-Colonies; and he was sure, if they were not, there was no Fear of their being able to reduce this Nation: But without sending any of that Army to America, he hoped there would be no such Thing as Smuggling in that Part of the World; it was to prevent such a pernicious Practice, that he proposed only laying a Duty on foreign Rum; he did not propose a Prohibition, and the Duty he had proposed was no higher, than what was absolutely necessary for putting our own Sugar-Islands on an equal Foot with the French.' Sir John Barnard reply'd, 'That he had said, that our whole Army of Excisemen would not be able to prevent the Running of French Rum in that Country; he did not talk of reducing the Country, he had not so much as mentioned the Word, but he believed it would be much easier to reduce the Country, than to prevent the Running of French Rum in it, in case what was then proposed should take Effect: That if the Gentleman really meant to prevent Running, he was very unfortunate in what he had proposed, for he had proposed the only Method that could be thought on, for setting up and encouraging the Smuggling-Trade; which was that of laying on a high Duty, equal to, if not above, the first Price of the Commodity upon which it was laid.' Then the Question being put, the three foregoing Motions were severally agreed to without any Division. After this, the two following Motions were agreed to without any Opposition, I. 'That all the Duties charged on the Importation of all Sugars and Paneels of the Growth, Product and Manufacture of his Majesty's Colonies and Plantations in America, into Great Britain, be drawn back on Exportation of the same.' II. 'That a Drawback or Allowance of 2 s. per Hundred Weight on all Sugars, refined in and exported from Great Britain, be paid on the Exportation thereof, over and above all Drawbacks or Bounties now payable thereon,' This last Resolution was seconded by Sir John Barnard, who said, 'That he would agree to that as well as the other Resolution with all his Heart, for that the two last were the only Resolutions they had come to, which, in his Opinion, would be of any real Use to our Sugar-Colonies; and particularly the last Resolution he was glad to see moved, because he hoped it would make them think of some other Things relating to our Trade, which stood in need of some such Redress from Parliament: That there were several foreign Materials imported into this Kingdom, liable to Duties on Importation, which Duties were drawn back, if the Materials were again exported in the same Shape; but if manufactured and made more valuable by the Labour of our own People, neither the Merchant nor the Manufacturer could draw back the Duties, even though they should afterwards export the same, and could shew that this Manufacture was made of Materials that had paid a Duty on Importation; and would have had a Drawback on Exportation, if they had been carried out rough as they were brought in: That this was a scandalous Oversight when these Duties were first imposed, but it was much more scandalous that in so long a Time this Oversight had never been amended: That there were several Examples of this Oversight could be given, but he would then only mention the Duties on foreign Hemp, Flax, Cordage, &c. which were drawn back if the Goods should be exported in the same Condition they were imported: But if these very Goods should, by the Labour and Industry of our own People, be manufactured into Cables, Ropes, and other Tackle for Shipping, and then exported, the Exporter could not have any Drawback: That this was a great Loss to that Branch of our Trade, which was a very considerable Branch, but would be much more considerable if it were not for this Hardship it laboured under.'
A Bill passed in Pursuance thereof.
These Resolutions being all agreed to as above recited, a Bill was ordered to be brought in pursuant thereto, which afterwards passed into a Law.
The Pension-Bill passes the Commons, and is again lost in the House of Lords.
The same Day the Pension Bill was read the third Time and pass'd; and Mr Sandys was ordered to carry it up to the House of Lords, where it met with the same Fate as in the two last Sessions.
Sir. R. Walpole's Motion for issuing 500,000 l. out of the Sinking-Fund, for the Service of the Year 1733.
Feb. 23. The House resolv'd itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider farther of Ways and Means for raising the Supply; the Account of the Money then remaining in the Exchequer, and of the Produce of the Sinking-Fund disposable by Parliament, having with others been referred to the said Committee, Sir Robert Walpole stood up, and spoke as follows;
'In the last Session of Parliament, this House came to a Resolution, which, in my Opinion, was a good and most reasonable Resolution; and that was to ease the Landed Interest of one Shilling in the Pound upon the Land-Tax, by granting in Lieu thereof, a Duty on Salt for three Years, [See p. 236] By this the Landed Interest, which has for so many Years borne so great a Share of the Publick Expence, has in this last Year found a most sensible Ease; and if any Method can be fallen on for continuing this Ease to them, such Method ought certainly to be followed. As I had, last Session of Parliament, the Honour of moving for that Resolution, the Approbation I then met with encourages me now to offer to your Consideration another Motion, which I hope will be equally agreeable, and that is, that it may be resolved, 'That it is the Opinion of this Committee, that towards raising the Supply granted to his Majesty, there be issued and applyed the Sum of 500,000 l. out of such Monies as have arisen from the Surplusses, Excesses, or Overplus Money, commonly called the Sinking-Fund, over and above what hath been applyed to the Payment of one Million, towards discharging the National Debt, pursuant to an Act of the last Session of Parliament.' This Motion, I hope, will meet with the Approbation of this House; for it has always been my Opinion, and I believe it will be granted by every Man, that the Publick Expence ought always to be raised according to that Method, which is the least burthensome to the People: By this Method we shall provide for a great Part of the current Service of the Year, without laying any Burthen whatever on the People, and without doing Injustice to any Man, or to any Set of Men: The Case of the Creditors of the Publick is now very much altered from what it was; the Competition among them is not now which of them shall be first paid, but which of them shall be the last to be paid; and therefore Gentlemen need not now apprehend, that any of the publick Creditors will look upon the House's agreeing to this Motion as an Injustice done them, or as any Hardship put upon them; on the contrary, they will look upon it as a Favour, and would be glad that a much larger Part of that Fund were to be apply'd in the same Manner. This Motion ought the rather to be agreed to, more especially by those who have a Regard for the Landed-Interest, because we can thereby continue to the Landed-Gentlemen that Ease which we granted them last Year; whereas if this Motion shall appear not to be agreeable to the Committee, then I, or some other Member of this House, must move for a Land-Tax of Two Shillings in the Pound, there not being, so far as I know, any other Way or Means left of providing for the current Service of the Year.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
This Motion occasioned a long Debate, and Mr William Pulteney hereupon made the following Speech:
'Though I was aware of the Motion now made by the honourable Gentleman fitting near me, yet I was in Hopes that what he has now moved for, was not all he was to open this Day to the Committee we are now in; and therefore I shall conclude with a Motion of a different Kind from what the Gentleman has been pleased to make to us. But, Sir, there is another Thing, a very terrible Affair impending! A monstrous Project! Yea, more monstrous than has ever yet been represented! It is such a Project, as has struck Terror into the Minds of most Gentlemen within this House, and into the Minds of all Men without Doors, who have any Regard to the Happiness or the Constitution of their Country, I mean, Sir, that Monster, the Excise ! That Plan of Arbitrary Power, which is expected to be laid before this House in the present Sessions of Parliament. This, I say, is expected, and therefore I am for having the Whole of that Gentleman's Designs laid before this Committee at once, and a sufficient Time given for us to consider the Whole, before we come to a Resolution on any Part.
'Of late Years Gentlemen have been led, I do not know how, into a new Method of proceeding in Parliament, a Method very different from what our Ancestors did always observe. In former Times, the general or particular Grievances were first examined, consider'd, and redress'd in Parliament, before they enter'd upon the granting of any Supplies; but lately we have been led into a Method of granting all the Money necessary for the Publick Service, among the first Things we do. The Malt-Tax Bill, the Land-Tax Bill, and such Bills, are now in every Session the first Things that appear upon the Journals of this House; and when these Things are finished, the Gentlemen in the Administration generally look on the whole Business of the Session to be over. If this House should then enter upon any disagreeable Inquiries into Grievances, we might then perhaps be told, that the Season was too far spent; that it was necessary for Gentlemen to return home to mind their private Affairs; we might probably be obliged to defer to another Session, what the Welfare of this Nation required to be determined in the present. I hope Gentlemen will consider this, and that they will again begin to follow the wise Method observed by our Ancestors, and keep some Security in our own Hands for our Sitting, 'till we have heard and redressed all the Grievances of our Fellow-Subjects. There are several Things which we ought to examine into, before this Session shall be concluded. Does not every Gentleman know? Does not every Gentleman expect that there is an Application to be made to us from the South-Sea Company? That Company has now made Choice of a Set of honest Proprietors to be the Directors of their Affairs; they are inquiring into the State of that Company's Affairs, and they must inquire into the Management of their Affairs for some Time past: In both these they will stand in need of a Parliamentary Relief, and in both it ought to be granted them.
'The honourable Gentleman addresses himself in a very particular Manner to the Landed Interest; I hope every Gentleman in this House has a Regard for the Landed Interest; but I hope the Landed Gentlemen of this House are not to be bully'd into any Ministerial Jobs, by telling them, that if they do not agree to such a Motion, a Land-Tax of Two Shillings in the Pound must be moved for. I hope, Sir, the Landed Gentlemen will never be induced to consent to any Thing that may undo the Nation, and overturn the Constitution for so small a Bribe, so trifling a Consideration, as that of being free from the Payment of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax, and for one Year only. The Landed Gentlemen of this Nation have often ventur'd their All in their Country's Cause; and it is an Indignity offer'd to them, to imagine, that paying or not paying such a Trifle as One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax, will be of any Weight with them, when it comes in Competition with the Welfare and Happiness of their Country.
'The Sinking-Fund, that sacred Deposit for extinguishing the Debts and abolishing the Taxes, which lie so heavy on the Trade and the People of this Nation, ought never to be touched; no Consideration whatever ought to prevail with us to convert that Fund to any Use, but that for which it was originally design'd. It has of late been too often robb'd; I beg Pardon, Sir, Robbing is a harsh Word, I will not say robbed; but I must say, that upon several Occasions there have been considerable Sums snipped away from it: Upon the Demise of his late Majesty, a large Sum was taken from the Sinking-Fund, and apply'd to the Civil-List: By the taking off the Salt-Duty, another large Yearly Sum was taken away from that Fund; and the People are now again charged with that Duty, but no Restitution has been made to the Sinking-Fund. Thus, Sir, there has been already a very large Sum taken from it at several Times, and now it is proposed to snip off it 500,000 l. at once. At this Rate, the People of this Nation must for ever groan under the Load of Taxes they are now subject to; and our Trade, as long as we have any left, must labour under the Difficulties and Discouragements it is now exposed to. Is this consistent with the Welfare or Happiness of the Nation? Is this the Method by which the Landed-Gentlemen are to be cased of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax?
'The honourable Gentleman has been called, and once had the Vanity to call himself, the Father of the Sinking-Fund; but if Solomon's Judgment was right, he who is thus for splitting and dividing the Child can never be deemed to be the true Father. He may claim, and I shall allow him the Honour of being the Father of two other Children lately brought forth in this Nation, a Standing-Army, and an Excise; but as for the Sinking-Fund, he seems now to renounce all Pretences of being the Father thereof. I shall not now enter farther into the Merits of the Motion that the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to make, because I hope a proper Time will be allow'd for Gentlemen to consider of a Question of so great Consequence; and therefore I shall conclude with a Motion for the Chairman to leave the Chair.'
Mr R. Walpole.
Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole stood up again, and made the following Reply.
'As for the Gentleman's saying, that I had once the Vanity of calling myself the Father of the Sinking-Fund, I must say, that whether I was vain of being thought so or no, I remember a Time when the establishing that Fund was treated as a monstrous Project, and then I was obliged to father it; but no sooner was it found out to be a good and a right Thing, and a Project that was both seasible and agreeable to the Interest of this Nation, but other Gentlemen endeavoured to rob the real Father, whoever he was, of the Glory of being the Father of that Child. As for the other monstrous Project so much talk'd of, which some Gentlemen now endeavour to shew in so terrible a Light, I doubt not but that in a little Time it will appear in a quite different Shape to the impartial and unprejudiced Part of the Nation: Let it be what it will, I am resolved to propose it; and if I have but a very little Time, I shall lay it before you for your Consideration: I have no Doubt, but that upon a thorough Examination, it will be found to be for the general Interest of the Nation, and for the Advantage of every fair Trader in particular; and this I am so much convinced of, that I believe I may live to have it told me, that I was not the Father of it, but that other People had thought of it before me. I never as yet was inclined to do that which I thought was ill; I am afraid of doing so; but I never shall be afraid of doing well; I never shall be afraid of doing Good, either to my Country, or to private Men, so far as is consistent with the Interest of my Country. As for the Sums which have been taken from the Sinking Fund, and added to the Civil-List, they were not taken from it by me, they were taken from it by the Authority of this House; I was only one of those who consented to it; and particularly as to the Sum which was taken from the Sinking-Fund upon the Demise of the late King, and given to the Civil-List, the honourable Gentleman, who sits near me, agreed to it as well as I did; both of us did agree to it, but our Motives for agreeing were perhaps very different.
'The Sinking Fund was established for the Payment of the Debts of the Nation, but still it was left subject to the Disposal of Parliament; if upon any Occasion it shall appear that a Part of it may be more properly applied to some other Use, the Legislature has certainly a Power to apply it in that Manner, which they shall judge to be most for the Publick Good, and for the Interest of the Nation in general. This is the proper Question now under our Consideration; we are now to determine, Whether the Sum of 500,000 l. shall be apply'd this Year towards the Ease of the Landed Interest, where it is very much wanted, where it is absolutely necessary to give some Relief; or if the whole shall be this Year applied towards the Payment of the publick Creditors, who stand in no need of such Payment, who do not so much as wish or desire it. This is the plain State of the Question; and I could hardly have expected that this would have stood a Debate.'
Sir J. Barnard.
Sir John Barnard spoke next.
'As to the Project, which the honourable Gentleman on the Floor seems to be afraid of being robb'd of the Glory of, I believe he may be very easy in that Respect; for whatever he has met with in other Cases, he need not be under any Apprehensions as to this; for my Part, I am so far from believing that, when it appears in Publick, it will procure either Honour or Glory to the first Projector, whoever he be, that I am firmly convinced it will turn out to his eternal Shame and Dishonour; and that the more the Project is examin'd, and the Consequences thereof consider'd, the more the Projector will be hated and despised.
'But as to the Question now before us, it affords me a most melancholy Consideration; I own that the Landed Interest, as well as every other Interest, stands very much in need of Relief; I allow that, by what the Gentleman now proposes, the Landed Interest may meet with some immediate Ease; and I will likewise easily grant, that it may, in our present Circumstances, be agreeable to the Creditors of the Publick; but while I have the Honour to be a Member of this House, I am not to consider the immediate Ease of the Landed-Interest in particular, nor the present Pleasure of the Publick Creditors; I am to consider the Welfare of the Nation in general, both as to the present and as to future Times; and as I am convinced that what is now proposed will, in the long Run, be contrary to the Interest of the Nation in general, I therefore must give my Dissent thereto.
'In all Affairs which come before this House, we are to have a due Regard to Posterity; we are in Honour and Duty bound to consider the future Happiness of the Nation, as well as the present; and the Question now before us is, Whether we shall give a present Ease to the Landed-Interest of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax, by unjustly loading our Posterity with the Payment of 500,000 l. and the Interest thereof from this present Year? Or, whether we shall continue to pay the One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax, and thereby free the Nation of a Debt of 500,000 l. and ourselves and our Posterity of a new Debt of 20,000 l. which must be yearly incurred by this Nation, for the Payment of the Interest upon that Debt, 'till the principal Sum be satisfy'd and paid. This is the Question before us, and every Man, who has a Regard to Posterity or to the future Happiness of his native Country, must easily determine what Side he is to take: This is the Light it ought to be considered in; and whoever considers it in this Light, must conclude, that what is proposed is robbing our Posterity of 500,000 l. and the growing Interest thereof, for the sake of a trifling present Ease to ourselves. If the Landed-Interest, or any Interest, could be relieved by reducing the Publick Expence, it would redound to the Glory of him who had the Honour of being the Author thereof; but to ease ourselves by loading our Posterity, is a poor temporary Expedient of short-sighted or self-interested Politicians; and the Author of such an Expedient must expect the Curses of Posterity, and can never expect present Thanks from any, but such as are as short-sighted or as self-interested as himself.
'I hope I shall not now be taxed with affecting Popularity, or with speaking Provincially, or as a Member for the City of London, as I have often been upon other Occasions; for as to the present Question, I consider it entirely in a National View. As a Member of this House, I shall always look upon myself as one of the Representatives of the People of Great Britain, and I hope every Gentleman, who has the Honour of being a Member of this House, will always do the same. I hope it will never be in the Power of any Man, to make the Landed-Interest range themselves in Opposition to the Trading-Interest of this Nation; but if ever such a wicked Design should take Effect, if the Members of this House should ever be brought to talk and to vote Provincially, or as Members for Cities or Boroughs, or Members for Counties; if the former were to join together against the latter, it it is easy to determine on which Side the Majority would be. The honourable Gentleman, who made the Motion, now seems to aim at the Affectation of Popularity among the Landed-Gentlemen of this Kingdom; this I am really surprized at, considering how often he has taxed me, and other Members of this House, with the Affectation of Popularity, as a most heinous Crime.
'The Creditors of the Publick are, perhaps, at present unwilling to be paid off, because they have a greater Interest for their Money from the Publick, than they can have any where else; this is one Reason, but not the principal Reason for it; for the chief Reason is, the Method and Manner of paying them. If a considerable Part of their Debts were to be paid at once, and a reasonable Notice given to them of such Payments being to be made, they could then make such an Arrangement of their Affairs, as to dispose of their Money to as good an Advantage for themselves, and much more to the Advantage of the Trade of this Nation: But in the present Method of paying them, the Payments are so small, and the Warning so short, that many of them do not well know how to dispose of the small Sums they receive, and therefore they are unwilling to receive any in that Manner: However, let their Inclinations be how they please, it is certainly the Interest of the Nation to have them all paid off, the sooner it is done, the happier it will be for the Nation; and therefore no Part of what is appropriated to their Payment ought to be converted to any other Use: Their Unwillingness to receive Payment, is so far from being an Argument against paying them, that on the contrary it shews that they have a better Bargain from the Publick, than they can in the same Way have from any other Person; and therefore if it were possible to borrow Money at a lower Interest, if it were possible to add to the Sinking-Fund, the Publick ought certainly to do it, in order to pay off those who are now Creditors of the Publick at so high a yearly Interest.
'I hope it will be thought that I am sincere in what I say, since I am in every Respect talking against my own private Interest; I have a Part of my Estate in Land, otherwise I could not have a Seat in this House; and as a Landholder, I ought, if I considered my own private Interest, to be for the reducing of the Land-Tax. I have another Part of my Estate in the Publick Funds; and consequently I ought to be as fond as other Men of not being paid off, and of having as high an Interest as I can possibly get from the Publick; and the remaining Part of my Estate I have in Trade, as to which also I speak against my own Interest; for as a Trader I ought to be against the paying off of the Publick Funds, because the Interest of Money will be there by reduced. Though it may seem a Paradox, yet it is certain, that the higher the Interest of Money is in any Country, the greater Profit the private Trader will always make; for in a Country where the Interest of Money is high, the Traders will be but few, the general Stock in Trade will be but small, but every Man, who is a Trader, must make a great Profit of what Money he has in Trade.'
Then Mr Danvers, Member for Bramber, stood up in Behalf of the Motion made by Sir Robert Walpole, and said, 'That he was so far from seeing the least Inconvenience in what that honourable Member had proposed; that considering how little Occasion there was for paying off any of the Publick Debts, he was surprized at his Modesty in asking so little from the Sinking-Fund; That had he asked the whole, it would have been but reasonable to have given it, since it is for the Support of a Government, under which we enjoy so many Blessings: That the Landed-Gentlemen bore the greatest Share of the late War, by which all those Funds were created, out of which the Plumb-Men of the City of London have made most of their Estates: That the Landed-Interest having thus laboured long under the greatest Distress, they ought to embrace every Opportunity to give it some Relief.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
Then Sir William Wyndham spoke against the Motion:
'Though I have the Honour to sit in this House as a Knight of a Shire, yet I look on myself as one of the Representatives of the whole Body of the People of England; and therefore I shall never endeavour to find out a Distinction, between the Interest of the Landed-Gentlemen and that of the Nation in general; such Endeavours I know to be vain, and whoever does endeavour it, will soon find himself disappointed in his Design. I know that since last Session of Parliament, it has been most industriously given about in the County, which I have the Honour to represent, 'O Gentlemen! The Knight of your Shire was against easing you of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax.' Whether this was done with a Design to do me Service or Disservice, I shall not determine; but if it was done with Design to do me a Disservice, I shall leave those who did it to brag of their Success. For my own Part, I am so conscious that my Behaviour in that Affair last Session of Parliament was right, that were I to plead Merit with my Constituents upon any one Vote I ever gave in this House, it would be upon my way of voting in that very Affair; for I shall always be against sacrificing the publick Happiness of the Nation, or the Security of our Constitution, to any such mean and sordid Views as that of a little present Ease in the Land-Tax; and I hope every Landed Gentleman, whom I have the Honour to represent, is now and always will be of the same Opinion.
'The Sinking-Fund is a Fund I have always had the greatest Veneration for; I look on it as a Sacred Fund, appropriated to the relieving the Nation from that Load of Debts and Taxes it now groans under; I take it to be so absolutely appropriated to that Use, that if upon any pressing and unlook'd-for Emergency, we should be necessarily obliged to borrow a little from it, the same with Interest ought to be repaid by some Tax to be raised within the Year. I have, indeed, been always afraid that some enterprizing Minister might be tempted to seize upon it, or some Part of it, in Time of War; but I little dreamt of seeing any Attempts made upon it in a Time of the most profound Tranquility. It is to me a melancholy Consideration to think of the present vast Load of the National Debt; a Debt of no less than forty five Millions and upwards, and that all contracted since the Revolution! This must be a melancholy Consideration to every Gentleman, that has any Concern for his Country's Happiness; but if the Motion now made to us shall be agreed to, how dismal will this Consideration be render'd, when we reflect upon the little Appearance that there will then be of this Debt's ever being paid? Is the publick Expence never to be lessen'd? Are the People of England always to pay the same heavy and grievous Taxes? Surely, Sir, if there is ever a Time to be looked for of easing the People of this Nation, the present is the Time for doing it: But when I reflect upon what was done last Session of Parliament, I am really afraid of proposing any Relief for the poor Manufacturers and Labourers of this Nation; I do not think we can trust ourselves. The Salt-Duty was taken off by this House, as a Tax the most grievous to the Labourer and to the Poor of this Nation, and the Sinking-Fund was thereby diminished: For the Relief of the Poor we did consent to this Encroachment on that Sacred Fund; but that very Tax was again laid on, because some Gentlemen pretended to have found out, that the Landed Gentlemen of England were poorer than the Poor. At this Rate the whole Sinking-Fund may by Degrees be exhausted, and the Poor of the Nation not relieved from any one Tax they now groan under.
'Last Year the Salt-Duty was laid on for three Years, in lieu of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax for one Year, and this was pretended to be a Relief to the Landed Interest; but it was then evidently made appear, that it was no Relief even to any Landed Gentleman in England, unless he was a Man of a plentiful Land-Estate; and it was then also made appear, that the People of the Nation were to pay above a Million, for the 500,000 l. then saved in the Pockets of the Landed Gentlemen. And now this Year the Sum of 500,000 l. is to be taken from the Sinking-Fund, in lieu of One Shilling in the Pound Land-Tax; this is likewise pretended to be a Relief, but, upon a strict Examination, it will be found to be much such another Relief as that of last Year. We are to save this Year in the Pockets of the Landed Gentlemen 500,000 l. but this Sum must hereafter be paid by the Nation some Time or other. If it be paid next Year, we then pay 520,000 l. for it; if not 'till Two Years hence we pay upwards of 540,000 l. and if it is not paid 'till Fifteen or Sixteen Years hence, by computing Interest upon Interest which in such Cases must always be done, the Nation must then pay above a Million for the 500,000 l. Ease, now pretended to be given to the Landed Gentlemen. This is the least Sum that it will cost the Nation; but if to this we add what might be saved by the abolishing of some of those Taxes, which now lie heavy upon Trade and which cost the Nation more in levying than the neat Produce ever amounts to; then it will appear, that the Nation must be infinitely a greater Loser by this Ease now pretended to be given to the Landed Interest. Let any Landed Gentleman consider this, and at the same Time let him consider, that the Lands of Great Britain stand ultimately obliged to pay all the Debts we owe, in case our present Funds should fail, which they may probably do by the Decay of our Trade, if it continues long under the Difficulties it at present labours under; let any Landed Gentleman, I say, consider this; and then let him determine whether he and his Posterity owe Thanks to the Gentlemen, who now pretend to be so great Friends to the Landed Interest.
'What can those Gentlemen say, who are thus for loading Posterity? Can they imagine that there will ever be a Time of more profound Tranquility? Can they imagine that there will ever be a less Occasion for Publick Expence? Or can they imagine that our Posterity will be in much better Circumstances than we are? I am sure, if we suppose the last, we must shew more Regard to the Trade of the Nation than has been shewn for some Time past; we must think of relieving the poor Tradesmen and Manufacturers from the many and various Kinds of Taxes they now groan under; and we must avoid all Occasions of loading the Publick with the Payment of Interest, by providing within the Year for the current Service of the Year: To this the Motion now made is directly contrary; for the not paying off of an old Debt is the same with contracting a new; and subjects the Nation to the same Expence with respect to the Payment of Interest. But I shall not trouble Gentlemen any farther upon this Subject at present, because I hope we shall have another Day to consider of this Question; and therefore I shall conclude with seconding the Motion for the Chairman's leaving the Chair.'
Mr H. Pelham.
Sir William Wyndham was answer'd by Mr Henry Pelham.
'As other Gentlemen have their melancholy Considerations, so I have mine; the most melancholy Consideration I have is, that notwithstanding our having a Government, under which we enjoy our Laws, our Liberties, and our Religion, to the utmost Extent; yet it is absolutely necessary to put the Nation to a very great annual Charge, in order to support that Government against the Foreign Enemies of both our Constitution and Religion, supported and encouraged by our Factions and Divisions at Home: This is the Reason that we cannot, by a Saving in the publick Charge, give that Ease to the Landed Interest, which is become absolutely necessary to be given; and since we cannot, with any Safety to the Constitution, or to the present happy Establishment, give that Ease by a Saving in the publick annual Expence, we must therefore resolve to give it in that Manner which will be least burthensome to the People, and that I take to be the Method which is now proposed to us.
'Gentlemen may talk as they please of what was done in last Session of Parliament, but I can say that in all Places where I have since been, I have had the Pleasure of receiving the universal Thanks of the People, for the Ease then given to the Landed Interest; and whatever Gloss may now be put upon that Affair, yet I know that some Gentlemen, who appeared against it, were heard to say at the Time that that Affair was first mention'd, 'This is a most damnable Project! It will please the Country too much, and therefore we must endeavour to render it abortive.' I will, indeed, do the Gentlemen the Justice to believe, that they then spoke as they thought; and they then did what they could to prevent the Success of a Design, by which his Majesty's Administration has gained the Favour and the Esteem of the Generality of the Landholders in England.
'I have as great a Regard for Posterity and for the future Happiness of the Nation, as any Gentleman in this House; and therefore I shall never be against any Thing, that is absolutely necessary for conveying to Posterity the many Blessings we now enjoy under the present happy Establishment. What is now proposed is not a throwing of any new Load upon Posterity; it is only a disposing of that Money which always has been, and still is at the Disposal of Parliament: We have a Right to dispose of it, in that Manner which we think most conducive to the general Interest of the Nation; and what is now proposed is only an Exercising of that Right, and thereby granting an Ease to the most oppressed Part of his Majesty's Subjects, at a Time when there is no pressing Demand for applying the Money, either to that Use for which it was at first intended, or to any other Use whatever. This is a Question that, in my Opinion, requires no Time to consider of; it is granted by every Gentleman who has spoke in this Debate, that the Creditors of the Publick do not desire to have their Money; and it is likewise granted that the Landed Interest stand in great Need of Relief; it cannot therefore be doubted, but that the Parliament may, and ought to apply at least a Part of that, which is not so much as wished for by the Publick Creditors, to the Relief of those who are now in so great Distress, especially since no Relief can be given to them by any other Means; for which Reason, I shall be for agreeing with the Motion made by the honourable Gentleman near me.'
Mr Waller stood up next, and spoke against the Motion, as follows:
'It is known, I believe, by every Gentleman in the House, that Scotland pays little or no Part of what is raised for the Use of the Sinking-Fund, and for the small Part they do, or ought to contribute towards that Fund, they have already receiv'd an Equivalent; so that by what is now proposed to us, that Part of the Nation is not to contribute a Shilling towards this 500,000 l. which is to be apply'd for the current Service of the Year: Now, I should be glad to know, by what Article of the Union they are to be free from paying any Part of so large a Sum, for the current Service of the Year. I find, by some Accounts call'd for, and now lying on our Table, that there has been but a very little paid by the People of that Part of the Island, towards the Support of the Government; and I believe that the little that has been paid, has generally been distributed away among themselves, in Pensions, Rewards, and Gratuities.'
Mr Taylor, Member for Petersfield observ'd, 'That there are some People in the Nation, who the more they owe the greater Advantage they make, and the richer they grow; such are the Bankers: That by the Motion made to the House, one would imagine some Gentlemen took the Case of the Nation to be the same; but for his Part, he could not think so, and therefore differ'd from the Motion.'
Sir R. Walpole's Motion for issuing 500,000 l. out of the Sinking-Fund, for the Service of the current Year, agreed to in the Committee. ; One Shilling in the Pound voted for the Land-Tax.
Then the Question was put, That the Speaker should leave the Chair; which being pass'd in the Negative, by 245 against 135, the Question was put upon the first Motion, and carry'd without any Division: After which it was resolv'd, without Opposition, That towards raising the Supply granted to his Majesty, the Sum of one Shilling in the Pound be laid upon Land for the Year 1733.
A Motion being made, for agreeing with the Committee in the Resolution relating to the Sinking-Fund, it occasions a fresh Debate.
Feb. 26. The above Resolutions of the Committee were reported to the House; and a Motion being made, for agreeing with the Committee as to the first Resolution, the same was oppos'd by Mr Sandys, who on that Occasion spoke as follows:
'Notwithstanding the long Debate that was in the Committee upon this Resolution, yet I cannot now let it pass without taking Notice of the bad Consequences it may be attended with. The perpetual Method heretofore, of providing for the current Service of the Year, has been to grant annual Supplies to be raised by Taxes which were granted for that Purpose, and consequently were granted only for one Year; at the Expiration of that Year they were at an End, and none of the Officers of the Crown durst pretend to levy them any longer on the People: It would have been High Treason for any Officer to levy any such Tax, after the Expiration of the Year for which it was granted by Parliament. By this Method our Kings have always been under a Necessity of calling Parliaments frequently; if the King wanted a Supply, there was not a Tax subsisting by Law, out of which he could get it, and therefore he was obliged to call a Parliament to grant him a new Supply, and to impose a new annual Tax for that Purpose; of this Nature is the Land-Tax; it has always been one of those Taxes which were granted for the current Service of the Year, and for that Reason has never been granted for more than one Year at a Time. But what are we now about to do? We are going to depart from this laudable Method always observed by our Ancestors; We are going to give up that Tax which we have always in our own Hands, and which we may grant or not as we see Occasion; and in the room thereof we are going to substitute a Tax, or at least a Method of providing for the current Service of the Year, which we have not in our Power; the Taxes by which the Sinking-Fund is raised, being all granted for ever, and may be levied on the People without any new Authority from Parliament. By this Method we clearly point out a Way, by which some future ambitious Prince may provide for the current Service of the Year, without the Assistance of Parliament; from whence he may judge that Parliaments are unnecessary, and will certainly lay them aside as soon as he finds them troublesome. By those Taxes granted for the Sinking-Fund, which his Officers may levy according to the Laws in being, he finds himself provided of a Revenue sufficient to support his Government, without the Assistance of Parliaments; and therefore he will resolve to govern without them, if they but once begin to thwart any of his Measures.
'I know it will be told me, that it would be as illegal and criminal, to apply the Revenue of the Sinking-Fund to the current Service of the Year, without the Authority of Parliament, as it would be to levy Taxes without any such Authority: But there is a very great Difference between the two Cases; in levying a Tax contrary to Law, every Officer employ'd knows that he acts with a Rope about his Neck, and therefore it would be difficult for the most powerful Prince to get Officers that would be employ'd in the levying such Taxes; whereas in levying those Taxes appropriated to the Sinking-Fund, every Under-Officer acts according to Law, there is no Man guilty of any Crime as to the levying of them; there are none guilty but a few of the chief Officers, who agree to or connive at the Misapplication.
'Another material Difference there is between those two Cases. The levying of any Tax, contrary to Law, gives immediately the Alarm to the whole Nation both poor and rich; every Man thinks he is robb'd of his Property, if he is obliged to pay the most trifling Tax, without the Authority of Parliament; and as the whole People in the Nation would on such an Occasion take the Alarm, so it would be easy to stop such a Prince in the Beginning of his tyrannical Career, before he could have Time to fix himself in Arbitrary Power. But though an ambitious Prince and his Ministers should misapply the Produce of the Sinking-Fund, by converting it to the current Service of the Year, the Body of the People would be no ways alarmed; they would not think themselves any way hurt, because they would find that they were not obliged to pay any Taxes, but those which they knew to be due by Law; on the contrary, they would probably be well pleased with the new Sort of Government, because they would find themselves, for some Time at least, free from the Payment of those Taxes which had formerly been annually raised by Parliament; and thus, before the Body of the People could be made sensible of the Tyranny they were under, the Arbitrary Power of the Prince would be established, and the Fetters of Slavery riveted upon the People. I cannot but dread the Consequences of the Resolution now before us, and therefore I could not let slip this Opportunity of again declaring my Dissent to it.'
Mr Danvers moves for clearing the Galleries of all Strangers. ; Mr Shippen.
Mr Shippen then rising up, Mr Danvers moved for clearing the Galleries of all such as were not Members, which being done accordingly, Mr Shippen made the following Speech.
'There was no Occasion for so great and solemn a Preparation for what I have to say; but as I did not take the Liberty to give you any Trouble in the Committee, I will now beg Leave to say a few Words to the Question before us.
'I have, in many former Debates in this House, heard Parliamentary Faith often mention'd, and much insisted on. Particularly I remember, that last Session of Parliament, when it was proposed that Scotland should pay equally with England, towards a Duty which was then raised, or rather revived, and apply'd to the current Service of the Year, a certain honourable Gentleman told us, and insisted much upon it, that it was a Breach of Parliamentary Faith. I wonder to see that Gentleman, who was last Year so nice an Observer of Parliamentary Faith, now so forward for committing what I take to be a real Breach of Parliamentary Faith.
'I remember the Time when the Law, which we are now going to break through, was brought into this House; I remember that the Gentleman, who brought it in, introduced it with the greatest Solemnity: He told us, that it was to be looked on as a Fundamental Law of the Realm, and that therefore it was to be always had in the greatest Reverence and Esteem; that no Attempt was ever to be made for encroaching upon or altering it; that it was a Law which was always to be deemed sacred; and that the Surpluses or Excesses of the Funds thereby established were always to be religiously preserved, and appropriated to the paying off the Debts of the Nation. He then said, That it was upon the strict and religious Observance of this Law, that the Credit and the future Happiness and Glory of this Nation entirely depended; and in pursuance of what he said, the Words of the Law were made very plain and express, 'That all the Excesses and Surpluses there mention'd, should be appropriated to the discharging the Principal and Interest of such National Debts, as were incurred before the 25th of December 1716, and were declared to be National Debts, and not provided for by Parliament, in such Manner as should be directed by any future Act, and to or for no other Use whatever.'
These are the Words of that Law, and by these Words it is plain, that the Sinking-Fund is not absolutely at the Disposal of Parliament; the Parliament may direct what Debts are to be paid off, but the Parliament cannot direct those Surpluses and Excesses to any other Use besides that of paying the National Debts before the Year 1716, without repealing that Law; and as all the Publick Creditors have as much a Right to have their Principal paid as their Interest, we certainly cannot divert that Fund which is appropriated for the Payment of their Principal, without their Consent, no more than we can divert those Funds which are appropriated towards the Payment of their Interest; it is a Breach of Parliamentary Faith in the one Case as well as in the other. It is to be presumed, that it was upon the Faith of this Law, that so many became soon afterwards Purchasers of our publick Funds, by which we have since been enabled to reduce the Interest payable upon them, and have thereby considerably increased this same Sinking-Fund; and can it be said, that Parliamentary Faith is observed towards those Purchasers, if without their Consent that Law be broke through, which was the greatest, perhaps the only Temptation for them to purchase?
'I am really surprized to hear Gentlemen argue as they do upon the present Subject; but I remember that the Author of, or at least he who brought in that Law, was a Country-Gentleman, and therefore I do not at all wonder to see a Minister of State endeavour to tear down any Monument, that was erected by a Country-Gentleman; but I would have Gentlemen reflect, that he that pulls down a Monument of Glory, erects thereby to himself a Monument of Infamy. For my Part, I have always been a CountryGentleman in this House: I am afraid, afraid I ought not to say, for I desire to continue always to be a Country-Gentleman; and therefore I am for preserving entire and inviolated this Monument of Glory, which was erected by an honest Country-Gentleman; and for this Reason I cannot agree with the Committee in the Resolution now before us.'
Sir W. Yonge.
Sir William Yonge spoke next:
'As we had the Sentiments of most Gentlemen on the Subject now before us when in the Committee, I was in Hopes that the Resolution would now have been agreed to without any farther Debate, but I find it is otherwise. An honourable Gentleman over the way pretends to be in great Fear, and to dread dangerous Consequences from this Resolution; but how he or any other Gentleman can be at present under any such Apprehension, I cannot comprehend; there cannot be the least Reason, or so much as any Colour of Reason for such, as long as the present Royal Family possesses the Throne of these Kingdoms; it can never be suspected that his present Majesty, or any of his illustrious Family, will ever think Parliaments useless, or make any Attempt for laying them aside; such a Thing might, indeed, very probably happen, if by a Revolution, a Revolution I say for I shall never give it the Name of a Restoration, the Pretender to his Majesty's Crown, or any of his Descendents, should get the Possession of the Throne; the Creditors of the Publick might then, indeed, despair of ever having either their Principal or their Interest; they would then be told that none of the publick Debts ought to be paid, because they were all contracted without any legal Authority, and for keeping the rightful Heir from the Crown: Parliamentary Faith would then, indeed, be laughed at, and those Taxes, which are now appropriated and faithfully apply'd to the Payment of the publick Creditors, would then be all at once converted to the Support of Tyranny and Arbitrary Power.
'This would certainly be the fatal Consequences of such an unhappy Revolution; but how invidious is it so much as to suspect any such Design in his Majesty, or any of his Family who shall succeed to the Crown; their Title, their Right to the Crown, flows from the Authority of Parliament, and entirely depends upon the Preservation of our present happy Constitution; how then can it be supposed that they will destroy Parliaments, since by the Destruction of them, they would certainly destroy themselves? But I find those groundless Jealousies and Fears are pretended not only in this House, but they are industriously spread through all Parts of the Nation; for I had myself a Letter lately from the Corporation I have the Honour to represent, desiring me not to consent to any Extension of the Excise-Laws, because our Parliaments would be thereby render'd useless: This Letter came to me by the Post, but by whom it was wrote I do not know; however, from thence I conclude, that it has been represented to the People in that Country, that if a certain Scheme now upon the Anvil should succeed, Parliaments would be render'd quite useless, and would be laid aside. The vulgar and the ignorant People may be possessed with such Fears; such Pretences may be made use of among them, but I little expected to have heard any such Arguments made use of in this House.
'I am, indeed, surprized to hear it so much as insinuated that the present Resolution is any Breach of Parliamentary Faith, or that the publick Creditors have a Right to demand that no Part of the Sinking Fund can be apply'd to any Thing but to their Payment. The Case of the Sinking-Fund is very different from those Taxes which are appropriated towards the Payment of their Interest: It was upon the Faith of this last Appropriation, that they lent their Money, and therefore they cannot be diverted to any other Use without their Consent; but the Sinking-Fund was established long after, there was no Money lent to the Publick by any Mau upon the Faith of that Fund; and therefore it is entirely at the Disposal of Parliament; the Legislature may convert it to any Use they please, without the Consent of any Man, or of any Body of Men; as to the Disposal thereof, we are under no Restraint but that of the Publick Good; and as I am convinced that what is proposed by this Resolution is the best Thing we can do for the Publick Good, therefore I shall be for agreeing with our Committee.'
Mr W. Pulteney,
To this Mr William Pulteney replied;
'The Fears, which my honourable Friend has expressed, are most just and reasonable, however groundless they may at present appear to the Gentleman who spoke last. His present Majesty is known to us, we know that all his Designs are just and honourable, and we know that he will not allow himself to be misled by any guilty Minister; he is too good to think of trampling upon the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, for the Sake of protecting any high Criminal whatever: But we cannot certainly know what is to happen hereafter; we cannot depend on the Dispositions, the Humours, or the Designs of all the Princes, even of the present Royal Family, that may in Course succeed to one another. Who knows but a Prince not yet born may arise, even of the present Royal Family, who finding himself possess'd of a Revenue, which he may raise by virtue of the Laws in Being, and which he knows to be sufficient for the Support of his Government, without any Assistance from Parliaments, may from thence conclude, that Parliaments are useless to him, and therefore resolve to lay them aside? The present Royal Family has as good a Right to the Crown, as ever any Family had that sway'd the Scepter of this Kingdom; their Right to the Crown no more depends upon Parliaments, than the Right of any former Royal Family ever did; and yet we know, that some of our former Kings have had Views of overturning the Rights and the Liberties of the People. The only Barrier against such Designs, is to take all proper Care that it shall never be in any future Prince's Power: This is what has hitherto preserved our Liberties, and this is our only Security in Time to come.
'The honourable Gentleman has, I do not know how, lugged the Pretender into this Debate; I am sure the mentioning of that Bugbear was as foreign to the Subject in hand, as it ever can be to any Debate that can happen in this House: But is the Pretender the only Person we have to fear? No, there is no Prince in Europe from whom we have less to fear than from him; he has so little Power or Interest in this Nation, that our Liberties can never be in any Danger from him, and I hope the present Royal Family will always be so fully possessed of the Hearts and Affections of the People, that it never will be in the Pretender's Power to do us any Harm. The only Hopes he can ever have must arise from the arbitrary Designs of the Prince upon the Throne, and therefore we ought carefully to avoid all those Measures, which may give a Foundation for the forming of any such Designs in Time to come.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
Sir William Wyndham spoke next against the Motion:
'I Did not design to have given the House any Trouble this Day; but such Insinuations are thrown out, and so often repeated by some Gentlemen in this House, as I cannot with Patience fit still and hear. I generally observe, that when proper Answers cannot be made to what Gentlemen advance, then Jacobitism is brought in; and because some Gentlemen in this House take the Liberty to differ from others, therefore they must be taxed with the terrible Name of Jacobite; I wish that Gentlemen would resolve for the future always to give us Arguments, and not Names, for the Support of their Opinions. For my own Part, I will leave it to the whole World to judge who most pursue the Principles of the Revolution, They who are for supporting the Government in that Way, which is most easy and least burthensome to the People; or they who are for doing it in a Way, which is so odious and so burthensome to the whole Nation.'
'Whenever there are any just Fears of the Pretender; if there ever shall happen to be any real Designs in his Favour, which I hope never will, then I shall do as I always have done, I shall shew by my Actions what my Principles are. I believe I stand in the Opinion of Mankind acquit of any Imputation of Jacobitism, as much as the honourable Gentleman over the way, or any Gentleman in this House; and therefore, I as much despise that Imputation, as I despise being always a servile Assentator to every Thing proposed by the Administration. But as such Insinuations have been often thrown out against me in this House, I must let Gentlemen know, that it is a Treatment, which I think inconsistent with the Dignity of this House, and a Treatment which I will no longer bear with.'
Then Mr Shippen said:
'I believe I have no Occasion to make any Professions of what I am; but I must take Notice that in private Life, any voluntary Securities, that may be granted to Creditors after the borrowing of their Money, are as binding upon the Grantor, and ought to be as religiously observed, as those that were granted at the Time the Money was lent: This is certainly the Case as to all private Affairs, and I cannot think but that the Case is the same with respect to publick Transactions. I do not know, but that some Gentlemen in this House may be offended at my so much as mentioning the Reign of King James II. yet upon the present Occasion I must mention it; and the Observation I shall make is, that that unfortunate Prince took many wrong Steps, ran himself into great Difficulties, and at last lost his Crown, by following too implicitly the wicked Councils of a bad Minister; and that very Minister most basely betray'd, and at last deserted his Master. One of the greatest Misfortunes of that Prince, and that which contributed most to his Overthrow, was his keeping up a Standing Army in Time of Peace; he did it, indeed, without the Consent of Parliament, but he did it at his own Expence; he did it without laying any Charge upon the People; and he did it without Consent of Parliament, because he could not find a Parliament mercenary and corrupt enough to give their Consent.'
The Resolution of the Committee agreed to.
Then Sir Robert Walpole and Lord Tyrconnel spoke in Favour of the Resolution; and Mr Wyndham spoke against it. At last the Question being put, it was carry'd to agree with the Committee, without any Division: After which the Question was put upon the second Resolution, and agreed to without Opposition.