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 Second Session of the First Parliament of King George II.
Anno 2. Geo. II. 1728-29.
The King's Speech at opening the Second Session.
I Am sensible you are met together in Expectation of being informed of the present Situation of publick Affairs; and of receiving that Satisfaction which the Expences already made, and the Apprehension of their being continued for some longer Time, make it just and reasonable for you to desire.
"The Execution of the Preliminary Articles, and the Opening of the Congress at Soissons, laid a Foundation for you to entertain Hopes of seeing, very soon, the happy Fruits and Effects of a general Pacification.
"But the various and extensive Views, which fell under Consideration, in settling and reconciling the different Interests and Pretensions of so many different Powers, appeared to be a Work of so much Time and Difficulty, that the Project of a Provisional Treaty was thought of as a proper Expedient; which being concerted and negotiated among the Ministers of the principal Powers, Parties to the Treaties of Hanover and Vienna, was approved of by me and my Allies, not without reasonable Hopes of the Concurrence of the Imperial Court and the Court of Madrid.
"But no definitive Answer being yet returned by either of them, nor the Project of the Provisional Treaty either accepted, or rejected, the Fate of Europe is still held in Suspence, labouring under Difficulties that unavoidably attend such a doubtful and undetermined Condition.
"It is with no small Concern, that I am again obliged to speak to my Parliament in this State of Uncertainty; nor am I insensible of the Burthens which my Subjects bear, and that in our present Circumstances some may be induced to think, that an actual War is preferable to such a doubtful and imperfect Peace. But as the Exchange is very easy to be made at any Time; and as I am confident I shall not be thought backward in doing myself and the Nation Justice, when a proper Occasion calls upon me for it, I hope you will believe, that a just Regard for the Ease and Interest of my People alone prevailed upon me, rather to suffer some temporary Inconveniencies, with the daily Prospect of obtaining a safe and honourable Peace; than too precipitately to kindle a War in Europe, and to plunge the Nation into still greater and unknown Expences. But how disagreeable soever these Delays may be, nothing is more unjust than to impute them to the Conduct of me, or my Allies. No Endeavours indeed have been wanting to separate and dissolve the happy Union that is established among us; but long Experience, and repeated Proofs of mutual Fidelity, have so strengthened and cemented this Alliance, founded upon, and united by common Interest, that all Attempts to weaken it, or to create Jealousies and Diffidence among us, have proved as vain and fruitless, as the Insinuations to the contrary are false and groundless.
"It will nevertheless be incumbent upon us to bring this important Transaction to a speedy and certain Decision, that if a Conclusion can be put to it, consistent with the Security and Preservation of the Rights, Privileges, and Possessions of Great Britain and my Allies, the Blessings of Peace may be diffused throughout Europe, and my Kingdoms again enjoy the happy Effects of a settled Tranquility; or, if this cannot be had, that the Allies may unite with Vigour and Resolution, and exert themselves in procuring that Justice and Satisfaction which has been so long delayed. If this should unavoidably be the Case, I depend upon the Zeal and Affection of this Parliament, that they will chearfully and effectually support me in carrying on a just and necessary War.
"I wish'd and truly hop'd to have seen the publick Expences lessened before this Time, but the present Circumstances of Affairs oblige me to ask of you such Supplies as shall be necessary for answering and defraying the Charge and Services of the ensuing Year, and for enabling me, as Events may require, to act with Vigour, and in Concert with my Allies, who have resolved to make the same Preparations, and to keep on Foot all their extraordinary Forces: I will order the proper Estimates to be immediately prepared and laid before you. And as the Produce of the Sinking Fund has exceeded our Expectations, I must recommend it to your Care to make a farther Application of it to its proper Uses.
"It cannot be expected that I should enter into the several Causes and Motives, which may have occasioned the present Delays in the Courts of Vienna and Madrid; but if, among other Reasons, Hopes given from hence of creating Discontents and Divisions among my Subjects, and a Prospect of seeing Difficulties arise at Home, have greatly encouraged them in their dilatory Proceedings: I am persuaded, that your known Affection to me, and a just Regard for your own Honour and the Interest and Security of the Nation, will determine you effectually to discourage the unnatural and injurious Practices of some Few, who suggest the Means of distressing their Country, and afterwards clamour at the Inconveniencies which they themselves have occasioned. It is more than probable, that Foreign Courts will wait now for the Result of your Deliberations; and as you may depend upon my Constancy and Steadiness, that no wicked and groundless Suggestions or Insinuations shall make me depart from my present Purposes, so I entirely rely upon your Wisdom and Unanimity, to convince the World, that such pernicious Designs and Intrigues shall not alter that Affection, Harmony, and good Understanding, which has hitherto subsisted, and I hope will always subsist, between me and my Parliament.
Sir G. Oxenden's Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon.
The Commons being returned to their House, and the Speaker having reported his Majesty's Speech, Sir George Oxenden (fn. 2)mov'd for an Address to return his Majesty the Thanks of the House, for his most gracious Speech; to congratulate his Majesty upon the Arrival of the Prince of Wales; to acknowledge his Majesty's Goodness and Wisdom, in avoiding all Difficulties and Delays, by concerting the most expeditious Methods of concluding, with Honour and Justice, the Negotiations depending at Soissons: To express their grateful Sense of his Majesty's tender Regard for the Ease and Interest of his People, in declining to plunge the Nation into greater and unknown Expences, as long as there is a Prospect of obtaining a safe and honourable Peace: To assure his Majesty, that this House, fully convinc'd, that his Majesty's own Honour, and the Honour of the Nation, are, above all Things, dear and precious to him, entirely relies upon his Majesty to do himself and the Nation Justice, as soon as any proper Occasion shall call upon him for it, and to secure the Commerce of this Kingdom: Sir George Oxenden was seconded by Mr Walter Chetwynd, Member for Lichfield, and supported by Mr Edward Thompson, and Sir William Yonge. Some Members hereupon took Exception at the Words to Secure the Commerce, instead of which they thought it more proper to say, Restore the Commerce: And to support their Opinion, took Notice of the many and great Losses sustain'd by the British Merchants, by the Depredations of the Spaniards, both in Europe and the WestIndies; not without reflecting on some Persons, for not giving proper Orders to secure our Trade, to repress those Insults, and to make Reprisals, according to the Law of Nations. This occasion'd a Debate, upon the Question, whether the Word Secure should stand, or whether Restore should be inserted instead of it; but Sir George Oxenden, Mr Walter Chetwynd, Mr Edward Thompson, Sir William Yonge, Mr Doddington, Mr Horatio Walpole, Lord Finch, Lord Malpas (fn. 2), Mr Talbot (fn. 3), Sir William Strickland, Sir Paul Methuen, and Sir Robert Walpole insisted on the former; and on the other Hand, Sir William Wyndham, Mr William Pulteney, Capt. Vernon, Mr Shippen, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Lutwyche, Mr Sandys, and Mr Winnington, were as strenuous for the latter; and an eminent Courtier having offer'd to produce a Pamphlet, [Intitled, Observations on the Conduct of Great Britain, with regard to the Negotiations and other Transactions abroad, 1729.] to justify the Conduct of Great Britain, with relation to the supposed Inactivity of our Squadrons, and the Depredations committed by the Spaniards; and, with that View, containing Abstracts of the Instructions given to Admiral Hosier, and the other Commanders of the British Squadrons; Mr William Pulteney animadverted upon, and exploded that Pamphlet, as made up of glaring Misrepresentations of Facts, Inconsistencies, and Contradictions. He urg'd, 'That tho' the Author, by his bold launching into Politicks, his pretending to be let into the deepest Mysteries of State, and his publishing Part of the Instructions given to our Admirals, would be thought to write with Authority; yet it seem'd very extraordinary, and highly improbable, that an obscure and nameless Pamphleteer should be favour'd with Papers of such Importance and private Nature: That therefore it was more reasonable to believe, that this Scribler had surreptitiously procured these imperfect Lights and lame Abstracts from some of the Under-Clerks, which he printed with his crude and indigested Observations, in order to curry Favour; for that it could not be supposed, that Men of so great Abilities, as they who are at the Head of our Affairs, should not know the Difference between the Flotilla and Galleons, or that they sail'd from two Ports, at a very great Distance from each other. Mr Pulteney was back'd by Capt. Vernon, Member for Penryn, who said, 'That he would not pretend to determine, whether those Scraps of Instructions publish'd in the Pamphlet in Question, were genuine or forged; but this he would venture to averr, that there were in them some Things so very odd and inconsistent, as gave them a very suspicious Aspect; or, if genuine, render'd them impracticable.' Hereupon Sir Joseph Jekyll said, 'That since the Courtiers so strenuously insisted on the Word Secure, he would readily comply with them, provided a small Addition was made to the Address, to put them in Mind of securing the Rights and Liberties of the People. At last the Question being call'd for, and put, Whether the Word Secure should stand? It was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 249 Votes against 87; and a Committee was appointed to draw up the said Address.
An Address resolv'd on and presented.
We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great-Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave humbly to return our sincere and unfeigned Thanks for your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'We are not insensible of the various and extensive Views, which must naturally arise in settling and reconciling the different Interests and Pretensions of so many different Powers, Parties to the Treaties of Hanover and Vienna; and we acknowledge, with the utmost Gratitude, your Majesty's great Wisdom and Prudence, in avoiding, as far as was posssible, all Occasions of Difficulties and Delays, by concerting the most expeditious Methods of concluding, with Honour and Justice, the Negotiations depending at Soissons.
'We have the Happiness to see your Majesty indefatigable in the Pursuits of the Interests of your People; accommodating and composing the publick Differences, declining the Temptation of Military Glory, and chusing rather to secure to your Subjects their just Rights and Possessions, by the milder Arts of Moderation and Forbearance, than to plunge the Nation unnecessarily into infinite and unknown Expences.
'But your faithful Commons are so fully convinced, that your own Honour, and the Honour of your Kingdoms, are Considerations so dear to your Majesty, and so inseparable from your Royal Mind, that we can, with the greatest Confidence imaginable, entirely rely upon your Majesty's undoubted Valour and Resolution to do yourself and the Nation Justice, whenever a proper Occasion calls upon you for it; and we cannot in the least doubt, from your Majesty's constant and due Regard to the Rights, Privileges, and Interests of your People, but that your Princely Care will equally extend itself to the Securing our Commerce, and obtaining a just Satisfaction for the many and great Losses sustain'd by your trading Subjects.
'The mutual Harmony and Fidelity, so firmly established and subsisting between your Majesty and your Allies, cannot fail to create in your Commons the highest Satisfaction; and it is with Pleasure we observe, that all Endeavours and Attempts to separate and dissolve this happy Union, of such Consequence to your Kingdoms, and so essential to the preserving the Peace and Tranquility of Europe, have proved vain and unsuccessful.
'We beg Leave to assure your Majesty, that we will, with the greatest Chearfulness, raise the Supplies necessary for answering and defraying the Charges and Expences of the ensuing Year, and will not fail to make the proper Disposition of the growing Produce of the Sinking Fund. And if, after all your Majesty's unwearied Endeavours to procure a safe and honourable Peace, a Rupture should become unavoidable, your Majesty may depend upon the Zeal and Affection of this House, effectually to support your Majesty, in carrying on a just and necessary War, and enable you to act with Vigour in Conjunction with your Allies, as future Events and the Circumstances of Publick Affairs may require.
'And as nothing can be more injurious to your Majesty's Honour, and the Interest and Reputation of your People, than the vile and detestable Practices of those, who by giving Hopes of Discontents, Divisions and Difficulties arising here at Home, encourage the dilatory Proceedings that have hitherto retarded the Conclusion of this important Transaction: We look with the utmost Abhorrence upon the Authors and Contrivers of such base and unnatural Artifices, who suggest the Means of distressing their Country, and clamour at the Inconveniencies which they themselves have occasioned. This makes it highly incumbent upon us to give your Majesty the most unfeigned Assurance, that this House will, by an unshaken Duty and Affection to your Majesty, and by a steady Perseverance in Support of your Government, convince the World, that no false and groundless Insinuations, no wicked Designs and Intrigues whatsoever, shall be able to alter or diminish that Harmony and good Understanding between your Majesty and your Parliament, which our Inclination, Duty, and Interest call upon us inviolably to preserve.'
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
I Thank you for this very dutiful and affectionate Address, and for the Assurances you have given me of your Concurrence and Support in my present Engagements: You may depend upon it, that the Honour and Interest of my People shall be my principal Care and Concern, in all Events."
A Supply votes.
Estimate of the Hestian Forces for the Year 1729, presented.
Jan. 31. Mr Henry Pelham presented to the House an Estimate of the Charge of 2224 Horse, 1836 Dragoons, and 8034 Foot, the Troops of the Landgrave of HesseCassel, for the Year 1729; which Estimate being read, was order'd to lie on the Table.
Debate concerning the Number of Land-Forces for the Year 1729.
Then the Commons being in a Grand Committee on the Supply, a Motion was made for continuing the same Number of Men for Guards and Garrisons in Great-Britain, as were provided for the Year 1728, amounting to 22,955 Men. This was strongly opposed by Mr William Pulteney, and Mr Shippen, who urged, 'That a Standing Army was altogether inconsistent with our Laws and Constitution: That there is no Instance of any regular Force kept in England in Time of Peace, before the unfortunate Reign of King Charles I. That the Armies that were raised in former Days, either to suppress intestine Commotions, or for foreign Service, were always disbanded immediately after those Occasions were over: That the Army in the Time of King Charles I. prov'd no less fatal and oppressive to the Parliament that rais'd it, than to the King himself whose Head they cut off; for tho' they were raised in Defence of Liberty, yet they served at last to support an Usurper, and to establish an arbitrary military Government: That the Army King James II. raised was the primary Cause of his Misfortunes, as it rouzed the true English Spirit, and created those Fears and Jealousies, which his subsequent Acts of Power and Bigotry made afterwards appear to be but too well grounded: That the Nation were so sensible of the Dangers they had escaped, by the seasonable coming over of a Deliverer, that one Fundamental Article for the Establishment of our Liberties, in the Bill of Rights, is, That the keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace, is contrary to Law: That, accordingly, after the Peace of Ryswick, the greatest Part of the Army was disbanded; and though, upon the just Fear of a new War, the Parliament complemented King William with an Establishment of 10,000 Men, yet the same was not obtained without Opposition; many honest and sober Men, among the warmest Sticklers for the Revolution, looking upon it as an Encroachment on our Liberties, and being justly apprehensive it would prove a dangerous Precedent: That during the late War, our LandForces, together with those in our Pay, amounted to above 200,000 Men, the Load of which still lies heavy upon us; but after the Peace of Utrecht, there was a general Reduction, except about 12,000 Men: That upon the late King's Accession, when the Rebellion broke out in Scotland and England, the Army was, indeed, augmented with several Regiments, and other additional Troops; but these were again reduced not long after: That in the Year 1727, upon the Prospect of the great Dangers that were apprehended from the Treaty of Vienna, an Augmentation of about 8000 Men was moved for in this House; [See Vol. I. p. 383.] but the same was warmly opposed; nor was it granted but upon Assurance that this Expence should cease, as soon as the extraordinary Occasion that call'd for it was over: That the Event has shewn, that most of these Dangers were ill grounded and chimerical, the Court of Vienna having readily agreed to Preliminaries, that have been look'd upon as a sufficient Foundation for a general Pacification. That, at the Sollicitations both of the Emperor and King of France, the King of Spain being prevail'd upon to come into the same Measures, the Congress of Soissons was form'd, in which, it seems, a Provisional Treaty has been negotiated, among the Ministers of the principal Powers, Parties to the Treaties of Hanover and Vienna, which has been approved of by his Majesty, and his Allies, not without reasonable Hopes of the Concurrence of the Courts of Vienna and Madrid: That therefore this seem'd a most proper Time to retrench our annual Expences, and by using the most exact OEconomy, to shew they were willing to ease the Nation of the immense Load of Debt that lies upon it: That besides the present Establishment of Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, the Forces in Minorca, Gibraltar, and the West-Indies, we pay for 12000 Hessian Auxiliaries and Subsidies to the King of Sweden, and the Duke of Wolfembuttle: And since, by the Situation of the Publick Affairs, it was apparent, that those extraordinary Expences might with Safety be lessen'd, they ought to begin with reducing, if not All, at least Part of the Additional Forces that were raised two Years before: That his Majesty was entirely possess'd of the Hearts of his People, wherein his best Security is; but if any Thing could lessen their Affections to the present happy Settlement, and make the Nation jealous and apprehensive of Dangers to our excellent Constitution, it would be to see such numerous Forces kept up, while there was no manner of Business for them, either at Home or Abroad.' To this Mr Walpole and Mr Doddington answer'd, 'That Arguments against Standing Armies, drawn from antient Times, were foreign and inconclusive, since, in those Days, there were no regular Forces kept up in any Part of Europe; whereas, at present, there is no Kingdom nor State without them: That the supposed Inconveniencies and Dangers from Standing Armies ought not to be of any Weight, since more Instances might be produc'd of their being beneficial than of their being hurtful; for many States, and, in particular, the Republick of Holland, owe the Preservation of their Liberties to their regular Troops; and others have been enslaved by encroaching ambitious Neighbours for want of them: That the Body of Forces now on the Establishment, though larger than in former Times, could give no Jealousy or Umbrage to any reasonable Englishman; for, if it deserves the Name of an Army, it is but an Annual and Parliamentary Army, under the severest and strictest Discipline, and not only dependent upon, but subservient and useful to the Civil Power; and therefore it was no less unjust than absurd, to entertain and infuse Apprehensions from such an Army: That as long as the main Reasons, for which our National Forces were encreased, subsisted, so long, in Prudence, ought that Addition to be kept up. That the publick Affairs have now, indeed, a fairer Aspect than some Years ago, yet no reasonable Man would have the Army reduc'd before a Peace is fully concluded: That a provisional Treaty for that Purpose had been concerted at Soissons, and approved of by his Majesty and his Allies; but as this Project was not yet accepted, either by the Court of Vienna or that of Madrid, the Fate of Europe was still undetermin'd; and therefore to reduce our Forces in such a State of Uncertainty, which, of course, implies Danger, would be the highest Piece of Folly, and expose the Nation to fresh Insults and Depredations from the Spaniards.' Then the Question being put upon the Motion, the following Resolutions were carried without dividing. I. That the Number of effective Men to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, and for Guernsey and Jersey, for the Year 1729, be including 2815 Invalids, and 555 Men, which the Six Independent Companies consist of, for the Service of the Highlands, 22955 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included. II. That the Sum of 784,9831. 12 s. 10 d. be granted to his Majesty for defraying the Charge of the said 22955 effective Men, for Guards, Garrisons, and other his Majesty's Land Forces in Great Britain, Guernsey and Jersey, for the Year 1729.
Mr Pulteney's Observations on the Publick Debts.
The same Day, Sir George Oxenden, from the Commissioners of the Navy, laid before the House, an Account of the Amount of the Interest-Money which had been paid for Navy and Victualling Bills, from the 25th of December, 1721, to the 25th of December, 1728. This Account gave Occasion to Mr Pulteney to take Notice, 'That notwithstanding the good OEconomy that was said to be establish'd in the Management of the Revenues, the publick Debts still increased every Year;' to which the Courtiers answer'd, That the contrary plainly appear'd, from the Produce of the Sinking Fund, by Means whereof, the Supplies for this Year would be raised, without laying any new Taxes;' Hereupon it was moved, ' That this House will raise the Supplies necessary for the current Service of this Year, without creating any new Debt upon any Fund whatsoever: But the Question being put thereupon, it pass'd in the Negative.
Motion for an Address to his Majesty to know what Succours he had demanded from his Allies, during the late Hostilities.
Feb. 5. Mr Pelham presented to the Commons an Account of Subsidies payable by his Majesty to the King of Sweden, and the Duke of Brunswick Lunenburg Wolfenbuttle; Then a Motion was made, and the Question put, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire that this House may be inform'd what Demands were made in Behalf of the Crown of Great Britain, to his Majesty's Allies, for Succours of Troops, Ships, or Money, which they were obliged to furnish, in Pursuance of Treaties, during the late Hostilities, and Siege of Gibraltar, and in what Manner the said Demands were comply'd with; or whether any Measures were settled and concerted between the Crown of Great Britain and its Allies, in order to carry on a general and vigorous War, in case the Project of the Preliminary Articles of Peace, under Consideration during the Siege of Gibraltar, had not been accepted: But the Question being put, it was carry'd in the Negative.
Debate on the Hessian Troops.
Feb. 7. Mr Pelham laid before the House a Copy of the Establishment of the Hessian Forces for the Year 1729; and then, in a grand Committee, the Commons consider'd the Subsidies payable to Foreign Princes. Mr Pelham, Sir William Yonge, and some other Members, having shewn the Necessity of making good his Majesty's Engagements, which the Commons had made their own, by approving them; Mr William Pulteney said thereupon, 'He had so great Regard for the King's Honour, that he would readily, at any Time, give his Vote to enable his Majesty to answer and discharge his Engagements; but that, at the same Time, out of Regard to their Country whom they represented, and who labour'd under a heavy Load of Debts and Taxes, he thought it a Duty incumbent on them, to retrench all superfluous Expences: That in Relation to the Demand now before them, he would not enter upon the Inquiry, whether such a large Body of Hessian Auxiliaries was necessary at a Time of perfect Tranquility, at least, of Inaction: But he begg'd Leave to observe, that the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel used to keep 7000 Men constantly in his Pay; and as he had only added 5000 Men, to make up the 12,000, which he was to furnish to the Allies of Hanover, it seem'd but reasonable that GreatBritain should pay for no more than these 5000 Additional Troops; adding, That the same might be said, with respect to the Duke of Wolfenbuttle, who, notwithstanding the Subsidy he received from Great Britain, maintain'd no more Troops than he did before.' Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole endeavour'd to justify the Measures that had been taken, in Consequence of the Hanover Alliance; and in particular to shew how useful this Body of 12,000 Hessians had been, towards preventing the kindling of a War, for which the Court of Vienna, with the Assistance of Spanish Subsidies, had made great Preparations, and, in order thereto, had retain'd Troops of three Electors, besides the Augmentation of its own. Adding, That for his Part, he was fully convinc'd, that had it not been for the Hessians, the Emperor would not have come into the Preliminaries, and other Pacifick Measures; and therefore they ought not to grudge an Expence, which had already prov'd so beneficial to the Tranquility of Europe. To this, Sir Joseph Jekyll and Mr Lutwyche, reply'd, 'That whatever Gloss might be put upon such Measures, yet, in their Opinion, they were repugnant to the constant Maxims, by which England, in former Times, steer'd and squar'd its Conduct, with relation to its Interest Abroad: That when our glorious Ancestors had any Quarrels with their Neighbours, they bravely fought them 'till they either beat them into Peace, or forc'd them to buy it; of which there were many Instances in our History: That our Navy is our natural Strength; and, if well managed, our best Defence and Security: But if, in order to avoid a War, we are so condescending and so free-hearted as to buy and maintain the Forces of Foreign Princes, we are never like to see an End of such extravagant Expences.' They were replied to by Sir Philip Yorke and Mr Talbot; but at last, by a Majority of 256 Voices against 91; the following Resolutions were carry'd, viz. I. That the Sum of 241,259 l. 1 s. 3 d. be granted to his Majesty, for defraying the Expence of 12,000 Hessians, taken into his Majesty's Pay, for the Year 1729. II. The Sum of 50,000 l. for one Year's Subsidy to the King of Sweden, pursuant to a Treaty dated the 14th of March, 1726-7. III. The Sum of 25,000 l. for one Year's Subsidy to the Duke of Wolfenbuttle, pursuant to a Treaty dated the 25th of Nov. 1727.
An Address that the Foreign Troops in British Pay may be clothed with British Cloth.
Feb. 10. These Resolutions being reported were agreed to by the House, without dividing: But it was resolved to address his Majesty, That whenever it shall be necessary to take any Foreign Troops into his Service, he will be graciously pleased to use his Endeavours, that they be clothed with the Manufactures of Great Britain.
Motion for an Account of what Losses the South Sea Company have sustain'd by the Spaniards.
Feb. 18. A Motion was made, that the Court of Directors of the South Sea Company do lay before the House an Account of all Demands, with the Value thereof, which the Company has, since the Year 1717, had upon the Spaniards, for Seizures made by them of Ships, or other Effects of the said Company, together with an Account of what Satisfaction has been made to the Company for the said Losses, and how much of the same still remains unsatisfy'd: But the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Negative.
Petition of the American Merchants relating to the Depredations of the Spaniards. ; Which are referred to the Grand Committee.
Feb. 21. A Petition of the Merchants trading to, and interested in the British Plantations in America, in Behalf of themselves and many others, was presented to the House, and read, complaining of great Interruptions, for several Years past, of the Trade of this Kingdom to the British Colonies in America, by the Spaniards, whose Depredations in those Seas endanger the entire Loss of that valuable Trade; and that the Petitioners are without Remedy, for want of proper Powers for the Recovery of their Losses; and that the Spaniards treat such of his Majesty's Subjects, as have fallen into their Hands, in a very barbarous and cruel Manner; and praying the Consideration of the House, and such timely Remedy as the House shall think fit: This Petition, after some Debate, was referr'd to a Committee of the whole House.
Motion for taking off the Duty on Soap and Candles.
Feb. 24. The Order of the Day being read, for going into a Grand Committee on Ways and Means, a Motion was made, and the Question was propos'd, That it be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they do consider of proper Means to take off the Duties upon Soap and Candles, granted and made a Security for several large Sums of Money, advanced for the Service of the Publick upon Parliamentary Credit, the greatest Part of the Surplusses whereof belong to the Sinking Fund, appropriated to the discharging the National Debt, incurred before the 25th of December, 1716: But the previous Question being put, that the Question be now put, it passed in the Negative, by a Majority of 217 Voices against 79.
Motion for an Account of 60,000 l. charg'd for Secret Service.
March 11. A Motion was made, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would direct the proper Officers to lay before the House a particular and distinct Account of the Distribution of the Sum of 60,000 l. which in an Account laid before this House, shewing how the Money given for the Service of the Year 1728, has been disposed of, is charged to have been issued to perfect and fulfil the Obligations his Majesty is under, on account of Engagements enter'd into and concerted, for securing the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and for restoring and preserving the Peace of Europe.
A Bill against Bribery at Elections order'd to be brought in.
Petition of the Portuguese, Spanish and Italian Merchants relating to the Depredations of the Spaniards. ; Which is referr'd to the Grand Committee.
The same Day Petitions of divers Merchants trading to Portugal, Spain, and Italy, &c. were presented to the House and read, complaining of great Losses for several Years past, by their Ships and Effects having been seiz'd in the Harbours of Spain, and taken at Sea by Spanish Men of War and Privateers, and confiscated; and tho' regular Application had been made for Redress, and Proofs given of the Losses; and Satisfaction might have been demanded at the Court of Madrid, yet no Benefit had been receiv'd thereby; and therefore praying the Consideration of the House, and such Relief as to the House shall seem fit. These Petitions were referr'd to the Committee of the whole House.
Resolution of the House relating to the American Traders Petitions. ; And an Address thereon presented to the King.
Then the House, having resolv'd it self into the said Committee, consider'd farther of the Petitions of divers Merchants and others, interested in the British Plantations in America; proceeded in the farther hearing of the Petitioners; went thro' the Evidence; and, at last, after some Debate, put off the farther Consideration of that Affair to the 20th, but came to the following Resolution, viz. 'That from the Peace concluded at Utrecht, in the Year 1713, to this Time, the British Trade and Navigation to and from the several British Colonies in America, has been greatly interrupted by the continual Depredations of the Spaniards, who have seiz'd very valuable Effects, and have unjustly taken and made Prize of great Numbers of British Ships and Vessels in those Parts, to the great Loss and Damage of the Subjects of this Kingdom, and in manifest Violation of the Treaties subsisting between the two Crowns.' Then Mr Winnington, by Direction from the Grand Committee, mov'd, and it was accordingly resolv'd Nem. Con. That an humble Address be presented to the King, to desire his Majesty will use his utmost Endeavours to prevent such Depredations; to procure just and reasonable Satisfaction for the Losses sustain'd; and to secure to his Subjects the free Exercise of Commerce and Navigation to and from the British Colonies in America.
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
"I Have always had the greatest Regard and Concern for the Commerce and Navigation of my Kingdoms; I am sensibly affected with the Losses sustain'd by my Trading Subjects; I have upon all proper Applications given the strictest Orders for procuring just and reasonable Satisfaction; and you may be assured, that I will use my best Endeavours to answer the Desires and Expectations of my People, upon an Affair of so much Importance."
The Lords, at a Conference with the Commons, desire their Concurrence with a Resolution relating to Gibraltar and Minorca.
March 19. The Lords sent a Message to the Commons, desiring a present Conference, relating to Gibraltar and Minorca; which being agreed to, the Managers for the Lords communicated to those of the Commons a Resolution which the Lords had come to, as follows: viz. 'Resolv'd by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, that they do entirely rely upon his Majesty, That he will, for the maintaining the Honour, and securing the Trade of this Kingdom, take effectual Care in the present Treaty, to preserve his undoubted Right to Gibraltar and the Island of Minorca.'
An Address for a Copy of a Letter from King George I. to the King of Spain, relating to Gibraltar, which is accordingly laid before the House.
The Lord Malpas, one of the Managers for the Commons, having reported the Conference to the House, it was resolv'd to address his Majesty for a Copy of the Letter written by his late Majesty to the King of Spain, in 1721, relating to Gibraltar. This may be found in the APPENDIX.
Debate thereon. ; The Commons agree to the above Resolution of the Lords.
March 21. The said Letter being laid before the House, the same was taken into Consideration, together with the Lords Resolution above-mentioned; upon which, there was a warm Debate. Many severe Reflections were made on those who first advised his late Majesty to write such a Letter, as either implied, or at least was taken by the Spaniards, as a positive Promise of giving up Gibraltar; and therefore might be look'd upon as the main Source and Occasion both of the subsequent Measures that have been pursu'd to recover that false Step, and of the Difficulties we at present labour under.' The Courtiers endeavour'd to justify those Measures, and assur'd the House, 'That effectual Care had been taken in the present Negociation, to secure the Possession of Gibraltar to the Crown of Great-Britain:' But the Country-Party answer'd, 'That the same did not plainly appear by the Tenor of the Provisional Treaty; and therefore mov'd, That to the Lords Resolution, now under Consideration, the following Words might be added, viz. 'And that all Pretensions on the Part of the Crown of Spain to the said Places be specifically given up.' But after some farther Debate, the Question being put upon the said Motion, it was carried in the Negative, by 267 Voices against 111. After this, the Question being put, That this House does agree with the Lords in the said Resolution, it was carried in the Affirmative without dividing.
The Bribery Bill twice read,
His Majesty's Answer to the above Resolution of both Houses.
The King's Answer to the Address for an Account of 60,000 l. charg'd for Secret Service.
The same Day, Sir Paul Methuen deliver'd to the Commons the following Answer to their Address of the 11th Instant, viz. "That the Sum of 60,000 l. mentioned in that Address, had been issued and disbursed, pursuant to the Power given to his Majesty by Parliament, for necessary Services and Engagements enter'd into for restoring and preserving the Peace of Europe, and which require the greatest Secrecy; and therefore, a particular and distinct Account of the Distribution of it, could not possibly be given, without a manifest Prejudice to the Publick."
March 27. The Commons, in a Grand Committee, consider'd farther of the Petition of several Merchants relating to the Spanish Depredations; heard some of the Petitioners; examin'd Witnesses; and after a warm Debate, put off the farther Consideration of that Matter to the 2d of April.
The Bribery-Bill pass'd, and sent up to the Lords.
April 1. The Bill, For the more effectual preventing Bribery and Corruption in Elections was read the third Time, pass'd, and sent to the Lords by Mr Watkin Williams Wynne, Knight of the Shire for Denbigh.
Resolutions of the House relating to the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian Merchants Petitions.
April 2. Several Papers from the Admiralty-Office were laid before the House, and all of them referr'd to the Grand Committee, who made some farther Progress in the Consideration of the several Petitions, complaining of the Spanish Depredations; and then this Affair was again adjourn'd to the 3d of April; when, after a Debate, the Committee came to the following Resolutions, viz. I. That several Ships, Merchandizes, and Effects, belonging to the Merchants of this Kingdom trading to Portugal, Spain, and Italy, have been taken and seiz'd by the Spaniards, in manifest Violation of the Treaties subsisting between the two Crowns, for which no Restitution has yet been made; and that the Masters and Crews of several of the said Ships have been barbarously and inhumanly treated. II. That in order to take the necessary Care of the Interests and Properties of his Majesty's Subjects, and those of his Allies, very much concern'd in the Cargo and Effects belonging to the Flota and Galleons, and that all possible Justice might be done to all Parties interested therein; and to the End that the said Treasure should not be employ'd in carrying on and supporting dangerous Measures and Engagements, against his Majesty and his Allies, the Orders and Instructions given to Vice-Admiral Hosier to block up the Flota and Galleons; and to endeavour to secure and detain them, without any Embezzlement, until Justice and Satisfaction should be given to his Majesty and his Allies, were just, prudent, and necessary, tending very much to prevent an open Rupture, and to preserve the Peace and Tranquility of Europe.
Address to the King thereon.
April 4. The above Resolutions being reported were agreed to by the House; and then, it was farther resolv'd, 'That an Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will use his best Endeavours to obtain all just and reasonable Satisfaction for the Losses and Damages, which the Merchants of this Kingdom trading to Portugal, Spain, and Italy, have sustain'd by the Spaniards taking and seizing several of their Ships, Merchandizes, and Effects, in manifest Violation of the Treaties subsisting between the two Crowns.' The House also order'd, That the above-mention'd Resolutions be laid before his Majesty, at the same Time with the said Address, by such Members as were of the Privy-Council.
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
April 9. Sir Paul Methuen acquainted the House, 'That the said Address and Resolutions having been laid before the King, his Majesty was pleased to command him to acquaint the House,' "That his Majesty was always extremely concern'd when he heard of the Losses and Sufferings of his Subjects; and would continue to use his best Endeavours, as he had hitherto done, upon all Occasions, to obtain for them just and reasonable Satisfaction."
Accounts relating to the Civil List Revenue laid before the House.
April 11. Upon a Motion of Mr (fn. 4)Scrope, Member for Bristol, it was resolv'd to address his Majesty for an Account of the Produce of the Civil List Revenues, within the Year, from Midsummer 1727 to Midsummer 1728, over and above the annual, weekly, or other Payments and Incumbrances thereon, and over and above all Grants made by any of his Majesty's Predecessors: And some other Papers relating to the particular Receipts of the said Revenues, were call'd for, and laid before the House.
Motion for granting to the King 115,000l. on Account of Arrears in the Civil List Revenues. ; Debate thereon.
April 23. The Commons went into a Grand Committee on the Supply; and after Examination of the Commissioners of the Customs and Excise, the Post-Master General, and other Officers concern'd in the Civil List Revenues, the Courtiers endeavour'd to prove, 'That there were so great Arrears standing out on the several Branches of those Revenues, that they fell short of producing within the Year, the clear Sum of 800,000 l. which was settled for his Majesty's Civil List; and hereupon Mr Scrope mov'd, 'That the Sum of 115,000 l. be granted to his Majesty, upon account of the Arrears of his Civil List Revenues, to be replaced and refunded, for the Use and Benefit of the Publick, out of such Arrears of the said Revenues, as shall be standing out at his Majesty's Demise, and together with the said Sum of 115,000 l. shall be more than sufficient to make up the Produce of the said Revenues 800,000 l. per Annum, during his Majesty's Life, to be computed from the 25th of June 1727. Though the Design of this Motion was easily apprehended, yet many Members express'd their Surprize, that it should be made so late in the Session, and after the Recess of Easter, and when it was generally understood that there was no farther Demand of Money to be made; since it related to an Account, said by the Member who made the Motion, to have been closed at Midsummer 1728, and consequently proper in every Respect, if at all, to have been brought in very early in the Session, and to have been considered in a full House; and this Motion appeared to them the more extraordinary, because, in the former Session, the several Duties and Revenues granted by the Act for the better Support of his Majesty's Houshold, and of the Honour and Dignity of the Crown, were understood, and appear'd by the Accounts then before the House, to produce yearly much above the Sum of 800,000l. for which they were given; and therefore the said Motion was vigorously oppos'd by Mr William Pulteney, and other Members, who mov'd, 'That these Accounts and Papers should be referr'd to a Select Committee, with Power to send for such other Accounts, and to call before them and examine such Officers of the Revenue as they judg'd necessary, and then to report to the House a true State of the Fact, and whether it did appear to them that there really was such a Deficiency in the Produce of the Civil List Revenues.' But this was oppos'd by Sir Robert Walpole, and Mr Scrope who had delivered in these Accounts; and the Question being put upon Mr Pulteney's Motion, it passed in the Negative. Then it was moved by the Country Party, 'That this Affair might be considered in a full House, and that for that Purpose all Leaves of Absence might be revok'd, and the Members summon'd to attend; which having also passed in the Negative, the Question was put upon Mr Scrope's Motion, which was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 241 Voices against 115. The Reader will find a List of the Members who voted Pro and Con on this remarkable Occasion in the APPENDIX.
The above Motion agreed to by the House.
April 30. The Commons, in a Grand Committee, consider'd of a Bill for settling the Price of Corn and Grain imported, &c. and after some Debate, the Resolution for granting to his Majesty the Sum of 115,000 l. on account of Arrears due on the Civil-List Revenues, were made Part of that Bill, which afterwards pass'd into an Act.
May 6. The Lords sent back to the Commons the Bill, For the more effectual preventing Bribery and Corruption in the Election of Members; with some Amendments to enforce that Law, by increasing the Penalty of 50 l. to 500 l. and adding other Clauses.
Debate concerning the Amendments made to the Bribery-Bill by the Lords. ; Which are agreed to, and the Bill pass'd.
May 7. The Commons having taken these Amendments into Consideration, some of the Courtiers represented, 'That the Lords making Alterations in a Bill of this Nature was an Encroachment upon the Rights and Privileges of the House of Commons, who were the sole Judges of the Merits of the Elections of their own Members.' To this Mr William Pulteney answer'd, 'That the Freedom of Parliament is essentially necessary to the Preservation of our ancient Constitution: And the Freedom of Parliamentary Elections the most valuable Branch of the Rights and Liberties of Englishmen, of which, the Lords are the proper Guardians, as well as the Commons, both as a Part of the Legislature, and as the supreme Court of the Kingdom: That the Freedom of Elections, and consequently of Parliaments, is the great Bulwark of Popular Liberty against the Encroachments and Oppressions of arbitrary Power and wicked Ministers: That if ever this Bulwark should be thrown down by Force, or undermin'd by Corruption, the very Essence of our excellent Constitution would be lost, and we should no longer be a free People: And therefore no Man, who had any Sense of, or Value for Liberty, could either think the Penalties against Corruption too severe, or grudge the Lords the Honour of having made the Provisions of this necessary Law more efficacious. Then the Question being put for agreeing to the Amendment made by the Lords, it was carried in the Affirmative, by two Voices only, viz. 91 to 89.
May 14. The King came to the House of Lords with the usual State, and the Commons attending, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to several publick and private Bills, and then made a Speech to both Houses of Parliament, as follows,
King's Speech at putting an End to the Second Session.
"The Season of the Year, and the Dispatch you have given to the publick Business, make it proper for me to put an End to this Session of Parliament; which I cannot do without expressing my Satisfaction at the just Regard you have shewn upon all Occasions, to my Honour, and to the true Interest of my People.
"The Prudence and Temper, with which you have proceeded at this critical Conjuncture, have been very acceptable to me, and cannot fail of meeting with general Approbation: Your several Determinations, upon Matters of the greatest Nicety and Importance, have shewn you not insensible of the Difficulties we labour under, without suffering yourselves to be transported, and carried into any unreasonable Warmths and Animofities. You have consider'd the Losses of our Merchants, with a becoming Compassion and Concern; and received their Complaints in such a Manner, as will best conduce to the obtaining them Justice and Satisfaction; and you may be assur'd, no Endeavours shall be wanting, on my part, to answer the Expectations and Wishes of my People.
"The Supplies which you have granted me, and so effectually raised, in a Manner the least burthensome to my Subjects, are a new Proof of your Zeal, Affection, and Readiness to support me in the Defence and Protection of the Rights and Privileges of my Kingdom. It is a great Satisfaction to me to observe, that you have been thus able to supply the necessary Charges and Expences that have been unavoidably brought and continu'd upon us, and at the same Time to make a farther Progress in lessening and reducing the National Debt.
"I have already acquainted you, that it being necessary for me to visit my German Dominions this Year, I have determin'd to make the Queen Regent here, during my Absence; and I must, in a particular Manner; recommend it to you all, to make her Administration as easy as possible, by preserving the Peace and Quiet of the Kingdom, in your several Stations and Countries; and by endeavouring to discountenance and restrain the vile and seditious Practices of raising unjust Clamours, and creating Discontents in the Minds of my People."