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First Parliament of George II: Third session - begins 13/1/1730

Pages 51-69

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 Third Session of the First Parliament of King George II.

The King came to the House of Peers, on the 13th of January, and the Commons attending, his Majesty made the following Speech:

King's Speech at opening the Third Session.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

It is with great Satisfaction I acquaint you, that we have at length extricated ourselves from the many Difficulties and Inconveniences that attended the uncertain State of Affairs in Europe, by having concluded an absolute Peace with the Crown of Spain.

"This Negotiation hath been carry'd on, and finish'd, with a perfect Union, Harmony, and Fidelity, between me and my Allies, with no other View but to prevent the Miseries and Confusion of a War, which if once kindled in Europe, it had been as hard to know the End, as to determine the Success of such a fatal Event.

"As this Alliance is built upon the Foundation, and is agreeable to the Purport and Intentions, of former Treaties, without any Alterations in the principal Articles, but such as tend to render more effectual, what the contracting Powers in the Quadruple Alliance were before engaged to see perform'd, it is very justly to be presum'd, that from this happy Beginning, the great Work, of a general Pacification, will soon be perfect and compleat.

"But if, contrary to Expectation, and in Resentment of the present Engagements, any new Troubles, altho' with little Prospect of Success, should be raised in Europe, to oppose or disappoint the Execution of them, I am confident I shall not want the Support and Assistance of my Parliament in so just a Cause, which hath the joint Concurrence of so many considerable Powers, for the Honour and Credit of the present Measures, and their united Strength, in Maintenance of our mutual Stipulations.

"In the mean Time, I can assure you that I have made it my first Care to consult the immediate Interests of these my Kingdoms, preferable to any other Consideration, and at the Hazard of all other Events.

"All former Treaties and Conventions made with Spain, in favour of our Trade and Navigation, are renewed and confirmed; not only a free and uninterrupted Exercise of our Commerce, for the future, is restored; but just and ample Restitution and Reparation, for unlawful Seizures and Depredations, are expresly stipulated and agreed to: In general, all Rights, Privileges, and Possessions, in any Manner belonging to me and my Allies, are solemnly reestablished, confirmed and guarantuyed, and not one Concession is made to the Prejudice of me or my Subjects.

"By this Means, a Foundation is laid for removing all former Animosities and Misunderstandings between the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Spain: And it is not at all to be doubted, but that, by a faithful Execution of our reciprocal Engagements, a perfect Friendship betwixt the two Nations, united by the common Ties of mutual Interest, may be more strongly established and cemented than ever.

"And that my Subjects might reap the earliest Fruits of this advantageous Peace, I gave Orders for the immediate Reduction of a great Number of my Land-Forces, and for laying up and discharging a great Part of my Fleet.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

"This will make a considerable Saving in the Expence of the current Year, and I hope it will give a general Satisfaction to my People, as it is a most sensible Pleasure to me. The proper Estimates shall be laid before you, and I make no doubt but you will grant me the necessary Supplies, and enable me to make good my Engagements with my Allies, in such Manner as shall be most effectual for the publick Service, and most easy to your Fellow Subjects.

"You will see, by the Accounts that will be laid before you, the State, Produce, and Application of the Sinking Fund, as far as hath been hitherto directed by Act of Parliament; and you will not fail to take into your Consideration the farther Disposition of the growing Produce: You are the best Judges, whether the Circumstances of the Sinking Fund, and of the National Debt, will as yet admit of giving Ease, where the Duties are most grievous. I have the greatest Regard for the Sinking Fund, and look with Compassion upon the Hardships of the poor Artificers and Manufacturers. I leave it to your Determination, what may reasonably and with due Caution be done upon this critical Consideration.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

"That we may receive the natural Advantages of our present Situation, I must in the strongest Manner recommend to you a perfect Unanimity among yourselves; such as may entirely defeat the Hopes of our Enemies both at Home and Abroad: The groundless Insinuations, Cavils, and Clamours of some few ill designing Persons, to shake the Steadiness of those Powers who are already my Allies, or to hinder others from becoming so, will, by your Unanimity, be render'd ineffectual; and I desire that the Affections of my People may be the Strength of my Government, as their Interest has always been the Rule of my Actions and the Object of my Wishes."

Mr Speaker having reported his Majesty's Speech, a Motion was made for an Address of Thanks, which was agreed to; and a Committee was appointed to draw up the same.

January 15. The House presented their Address to his Majesty, as follows:

The Commons Address of Thanks.

Most gracious Sovereign,

We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great-Britain in Parliament assembled, return your Majesty our most humble Thanks for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.

'We cannot omit taking this first Opportunity to congratulate your Majesty upon your happy Return into these Kingdoms: The just and prudent Administration of the Government during your Majesty's Absence by the Queen your Royal Consort, ruling by your Authority, and governing by your Example, could alone compensate for the want of your Royal Presence and auspicious Influence among us.

'The welcome News of your Majesty's having concluded an absolute Peace with the Crown of Spain, effected by a perfect Union, Harmony and Fidelity between your Majesty and your Allies, fill'd the Hearts of all your good People with inexpressible Joy and Satisfaction; and we should be wanting in Duty to your Majesty, in Justice to ourselves, and not answer the Expectations of those we represent, if we did not approach your Majesty upon this happy Occasion with Hearts full of Duty and Gratitude, and with the strongest Acknowledgments of your Majesty's Goodness, Wisdom, and Resolution; your Wisdom and Resolution, in not suffering yourself to be diverted by any false and malicious Clamours and Insinuations, from steadily pursuing the great and desirable Work of giving Peace to your People; your Goodness in consulting the immediate Interests of these your Kingdoms, preferable to all other Considerations, and at the Hazard of all other Events.

'This must convince the World of your Majesty's paternal Care and tender Regard for your British Dominions, when we see all former Treaties made in Favour of our Trade and Commerce; and for the Security of the Rights, Privileges, and Possessions belonging to your Majesty renew'd and confirm'd; when we see the Crown of Spain under new and fresh Obligations to your Majesty, not only to permit to your Subjects a free and uninterrupted Exercise of their Trade and Commerce for the future, but to make just and ample Restitution and Reparation for all former unlawful Seizures and Depredations.

'The Extension of former Engagements, without any material Alterations in the principal Articles from the Purport and Intentions of former Treaties, in order to obtain these great and truly valuable Advantages, without one Concession made to the Prejudice of your Majesty or your Subjects, is a Consideration, that to reject, had been losing the fairest Opportunity to recover the ancient Freedom and Liberty of Trade and Commerce to these Kingdoms; and not faithfully to fulfil and execute what is stipulated on your Majesty's part to secure a reciprocal Performance from your Majesty's Allies, of the Engagements they have enter'd into, would be abandoning the particular Interests and Properties of your Majesty's trading Subjects; and to expose the Trade and Commerce of this Nation to all the Hazards and Uncertainties, which they have so long labour'd under.

'These Blessings, secured to us, will sufficiently compensate all Inconveniencies that can attend the Performance of your Majesty's Engagements: And as it is justly to be presumed, that a general Pacification and Tranquility in Europe will be the Consequence of the present Treaty, the Prospect of seeing this soon compleat and perfected adds greatly to our Satisfaction.

'But if, contrary to Expectation, and in Resentment to your Majesty's just and prudent Measures, any new Troubles should be raised in Europe, to oppose or disappoint the Execution of the present Engagements, we think ourselves obliged by the strongest Ties of Duty, Affection, and Gratitude, to assure your Majesty, that we will stand by and support your Majesty against all Insults and Indignities that shall be offer'd to your Majesty, and that we will enable you to make good your Engagements with your Allies.

'The immediate Reduction of so considerable a Part of your Forces by Sea and Land, upon the first Notice of the Confirmation of the Peace, is another Instance of your Majesty's Care and Attention to the Ease and Welfare of your People; and the recommending to our Consideration the State of the Sinking Fund, in so gracious and condescending a Manner, obliges us to proceed with all possible Caution and Prudence in an Affair of that Nicety and Importance, where the earliest Discharge of the National Debt on one Hand, and the Hardships of the poor Artisicers and Manufacturers on the other, require the greatest Regard, and deserve the most mature Deliberation.

'From a due Sense of these many Proofs of your Majesty's unwearied Endeavours to consult the Happiness of your People, we think ourselves obliged to assure your Majesty, that this House will, by the best and most easy Methods, effectually raise the necessary Supplies for the Service of the current Year; and by a proper Zeal and Concern for the Honour of your Majesty, the publick Tranquility, and the Good of your People, defeat the vain Expectations of such ill-designing Persons, who may flatter themselves with the Hopes of being able, by groundless Insinuations, Cavils, and Clamours, to shake the Steadiness of those Powers who are already Allies to your Majesty, or to hinder others from becoming so.'

To the above Address, his Majesty gave this Answer.

The King's Answer thereto.

Gentlemen,

I Return you my Thanks for this very affectionate and loyal Address. The Assurances you have given me, and the Support of my Parliament in enabling me to make good my Engagements with my Allies, will, I promise myself, greatly contribute towards settling the general Pacification of Europe.

"You may be assured, that the Considence you repose in me shall never be made use of, but for preserving the publick Tranquility, for maintaining the Rights and Interests of my People, and in Vindication of my Honour and Dignity."

Debate concerning the Number of Land-Forces.

Jan. 28. The Commons, in a Grand Committee on the Supply, took into Consideration the Charge of the Land-Forces for the Service of the Year 1730, and Mr Henry Pelham (fn. 1) mov'd, That the Number of effective Men for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, Jersey and Guernsey, with 1850 Invalids and 555 Men, for the fix Independent Companies in the Highlands, be 17,709 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included. This Motion was seconded by Sir William Yonge, but was oppos'd by Mr Pulteney, and Lord Morpeth, who were for reducing the Number to 12,000 Men, Mr Pelham in Support of his Motion, having urg'd, 'That every Reduction, which hath been made within these fifteen Years, has been attended with some ill Consequence or other, which soon after forc'd us upon a more considerable Expence; and that it would be necessary to continue that Number, if they consulted the Preservation of the Government itself; Mr Shippen hereupon stood up, and spoke as follows;

Mr Speaker,

'After the Debates we have had on this Subject for many Years successively, it is hardly possible to offer any Thing new; and Repetition, if I may judge by myself, is as disagreeable to those that speak, as it can be to those that hear. However, a total Silence at this time would misbecome me, who too often trouble you on Occasions of less Importance, when you are going to put a Question, that tends directly towards the Establishment of an Army in Great Britain, which I hope will never be so far Germanized, as tamely to submit to a Military Government.

'I will not insinuate, that the honourable Person, who made the Motion, did it rather to comply with the Obligations of his Office, from whence the Army-Estimates are brought into the House, than out of any Conviction that the Troops demanded are necessary for the Service of the Year, because he declares otherwise: And as we are all supposed to act here without Influence, so we must not suspect, that he ever countenanced those almost irresistible Jobbs, which my new Ally on the Floor [Mr W. P. (fn. 2)] owns attended the War-Office in his Time, and which he believes now attend all Offices concerned in the Publick Expences. But I will insist, that this Motion is a flat Negative to the Address, for which he voted the first Day of the Session; and it plainly implies a Distrust of the Validity of the Treaty of Seville, which he then assured us would immediately produce all the Blessings of an absolute Peace, and deliver us not only from the Apprehensions, but from the Inconveniencies, of a War. Now he is pleased to change his Language, and endeavour to persuade us, that we ought not to make any Reduction of our Land Forces; because our Circumstances have been such for sixteen Years past, that, whenever any Reduction has been made, something happened which soon occasioned an Increase of Troops and Expences.

'If we were to allow him this last Sort of Reasoning, in opposition to his former, it would prove too much; it would prove, that we have no other Cause to rejoice at the late Reduction, for which we have humbly thank'd his Majesty, than that it was so small; it would prove, that, notwithstanding our famous and successful Negotiations, we are like to remain in the same Condition, and under the same Difficulties, we have been for sixteen Years together. But to pass over these Remarks, the late Reduction was very fallacious, and looked as if those, who had the Direction of it, were not heartily inclined to get rid of our growing military Power, or to return to the free Exercise of our Civil Government. Nay, we have just heard it laid down for Doctrine, that tho' our Government is not military, tho' an Army is not Part of our Constitution, yet is will be necessary to continue our present Army of near 18,000 Men for many Years longer, on account of the Government's consulting its own Preservation.

'Sir, the Principle of Self-Preservation will last as long as Persons and Governments themselves subsist, and is an Argument that may be constantly renewed; that may be urged ad infinitum. But I am so far from admitting this Argument in its full Extent, that I cannot admit it in any Degree, as applied to the present Question. For it does not appear to me, that we can have Occasion, even this Year, for all the Troops demanded, considering the glorious Scene of Affairs, which the honourable Gentleman says is opened to us, and to all Europe: They are not necessary, I suppose, to awe Spain into a firm Adherence to its own Treaty: They are not necessary, to force the Emperor into an immediate Accession: Nor are they, in any sort, necessary, for the Safety of his Majesty's Person and Government.

'Force and Violence are the Resort of Usurpers and Tyrants only. — I perceive some Gentlemen take Offence at my Words, and therefore, that they may not be misconstrued, I will repeat them. — I assert then, it is a grounded Maxim in Civil Science, that Force and Violence are the Resort of Usurpers and Tyrants only; because they are, with good Reason, distrustful of the People, whom they oppress; and because they have no other Security for the Continuance of their unlawful and unnatural Dominion, than what depends entirely on the Strength of their Armies.

'But it is the peculiar Happiness and Glory of Great Britain to be bless'd with a Prince, who wants no such Support; who reigns absolute in the Hearts of his Subjects; who prefers their Ease and Interest to the Lustre and Grandeur of his Crown; who sets them a Pattern of Prudence and Wisdom; whose Royal Goodness would be offended with continuing any Tax, or any Burthen upon them, but what is requisite to supply the immediate Occasions and Necessities of his Government.

'For these Reasons, Sir, I cannot assent to the Question. But, before I conclude, give me leave to say, there is an Article in the Estimate, under your Consideration, which I readily allow, in the midst of all my Frugality; tho' I must at the same Time own, with those Gentlemen who dispute it, that it is a new Item, and an additional Article to the Estimate of the last Year, I mean the Salary of 200 l. for the Physician of the Tower: For no Person, who shall hereafter have the Misfortune to be confined there, on any Account whatsoever, should want proper Assistance in case of Sickness. Members of this House have been frequently sent thither, and for very different Reasons. Some for speaking freely, [See Vol. I. p. 161.] others for acting corruptly. Now, as it is uncertain of what Denomination the Member, or any other Gentleman may be, who shall next be committed to that State-Prison, let us give an Instance of our general Companion, and not grudge so tristing a Sum for so charitable a Purpose.'

After this the Question being put on Mr Pelham's Motion, it was carried in the Affirmative; and it was farther resolv'd, That the Sum of 723,032 l. be granted for the Charge of the said 17,709 Men.

Debate concerning a Bill to prohibit any Persons in Great Britain from lending Money to any foreign Prince, without Licence from the King.

Feb. 24. A Bill, To prevent any Persons, his Majesty's Subjects, or residing within this Kingdom; to advance any Sum of Money to any Foreign Prince, State, or Potentate, without having obtained Licence from his Majesty, under his Privy Seal, or some greater Authority, was read a second Time, in which, inter alia, was the following Clause, viz. 'That the King be empower'd by Proclamation, which shall take Place within a limited Time, to prohibit all such Loans of Money, Jewels or Bullion; and this Prohibition to continue a limited Time, under limited Forfeitures and Penalties, unless dispens'd with by the Crown; that the Attorney General be empower'd by English Bill in the Court of Exchequer, to compel the effectual Discovery on Oath of any such Loans, and that in Default of an Answer to any such Bill, the Court shall decree a limited Sum against the Defendent, refusing to answer. Probided that this Act do not extend to prohibit any Subscriptions to the Publick Funds or Trading Companies of Foreign Kingdoms.'

Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole stood up, and endeavour'd to shew that such a Bill was always right and necessary; that all possible Care had been taken in drawing this Bill to obviate every Objection, to avoid every Inconvenience; that as to any Exception which Gentlemen possibly might make to the Frame of it as it now stands, he conceived they would properly come under Consideration when the Bill was committed; that any reasonable Alterations might be regularly offered and agreed to in such a Committee; and therefore he mov'd, 'That the Bill might be committed to a Committee of the whole House, on the 4th of March.' But this was oppos'd by Mr Daniel Pulteney, who declar'd, 'That this being the second Time of reading this Bill, he thought it was proper to give his Opinion; and that after having consider'd it fully, he neither approved it on the whole or in any part, for it would entirely prove ineffectual to all the Purposes proposed; it could not possibly answer good Ends, and it would certainly produce very bad ones; he thought it would be a Restraint upon Commerce, a Restraint of a dangerous Nature; he had heard all the Merchants in general complain of its Tendency, and he wish'd they might not feel it in a very grievous Manner: That by denying this Liberty to all the People of England, by restraining all Loans or Assistance of Money to Princes and Powers abroad, we made Holland the Market of Europe and the Mart of Money to the Nations of the Continent: That this was unjust and imprudent in us, when our Subjects had Money to trade with as well as their Neighbours; when his Majesty's Subjects might make an Advantage even of his very Enemies, were it not for this ill judged Prohibition: That our Neighbours the Dutch would rejoice at such a Procedure; they would certainly make this most fortunate Accident as beneficial as it could be to their People: That the contrary could not be expected, for not only the late Wars of Europe evince that the greatest of Dangers, the most formidable Enemies, could not be so terrifying as to prevent them from lending their Money to their private Advantage; but that even in their ancient War with Spain, a War wherein they were treated not only as Enemies but Rebels, and had they been conquer'd, they must have been Slaves to the Victor, they must have submitted to Popery and Chains; yet their Merchants assisted the Spaniards, even in that most hazardous Juncture, with Money, with Arms and Ammunition; nor could we suppose they would scruple to furnish the Emperor also with the very same Assistance, whenever he ask'd it, as had always been practis'd since the first Foundation of that wise Republick.' He added, 'That this Bill was a general Prohibition, extending to all Princes, States, or Potentates whatever: That thus we were wholly disabled to assist the best Allies, the truest Friends, and those who really well deserved our Aid: That he was credibly informed, that the King of Portugal, to whom we could have no Exception, very frequently borrow'd Money of our Merchants residing within his Dominions; and that it could not be denied him, without disobliging a Prince on whose Favour our Commerce depends, nay, exposing it to his severest Displeasure: That should a Proclamation issue here, the British Subjects who reside in Portugal, or more remote Dominions, may contract for Loans, tho' liable to Penalties, of which they may be wholly unapprized: That he had therefore the most powerful Motives to throw out the Bill, because it prevented the People of England from aiding their Friends and Allies; but what was more it might involve many innocent Persons in unavoidable Guilt, and expose them to the heavy Pains of unknown Crimes. But his principal Objection to this Bill was the Power of Licensing reserved thereby to the Crown: That he believed it a Power the King would apply to the Welfare and Advantage of the People, therefore he was not against it, as a Power in the Hands of the King; but he knew it would be influenced by an Administration; that whenever these Licences issued, it must be thro' the Hands of the Ministers; and whilst such a Prohibition continued, he knew not but the Licensing-Trade might become a new Branch of their Business, and a managing Minister might make it, by tolerable Husbandry, an Article of 20, 30, or 40,000 l. a Year; and that therefore they might easily see it was not for the Honour of the King, or the Interest of his Subjects, that any such Bill was contriv'd, but that it was wholly design'd for creating of profitable Jobbs, and making a Market of the Merchants. That he opposed this Bill, because it made the Court of Exchequer a Court of Inquisition: That it gave new, great, and extraordinary Powers to the Crown, already arm'd, in his Opinion, with weighty and terrible Authority: That whilst it restrained our Merchants from assisting the Princes and Powers of Europe, it permitted our Stock-Jobbers to trade in their Funds without any Interruption: That he knew for whose Benefit, this Complaisance was design'd, but that Jobbing Abroad, in the Stocks of Foreign Nations, was what we should least encourage, and what we ought most to prohibit; for we have suffer'd severely by that Means already, and our Ministry would never give us Relief or Assistance; and thus our People, when they trusted their Money with our faithful Allies the French, in the Affair of the Mississipi, were ruin'd and betray'd by their Edicts of State, and had nothing but Paper for Specie: That notwithstanding this most shameful Treachery, this great Injustice and Violation of the Laws of Nations, the Ministry never interposed with the least good Office for their suffering Fellow-Subjects, who have irrecoverably lost the Money they unhappily advanc'd in those fatal, those faithless Schemes.

Mr Pulteney having done speaking, Sir Robert Walpole replied, 'That he thought those Objections more proper for the Consideration of the House, in a Committee of the whole House, where every Paragraph would be debated; where every Member might reply as often as Occasion required, and fully pursue the Inquiry: That he did not desire this Bill for any Advantage to himself, for any Accession of extraordinary Powers to the Crown, or for any Thing else, but the pressing Occasion, the apparent Necessity of this important Conjuncture: That if this Bill was committed, he would heartily concur in every Amendment that could be with Reason propos'd: That he would freely consent the Committee should make it a temporary Law, should enact it for a short Duration, and limit the Continuance for a very small Space of Time: That the honourable Member, who spoke last, had departed from the Question before them; had opened a Charge against France, and had brought in the old Mississipi Affair, in debating a particular Bill on an Argument about lending Money: That he thought it a weak Reasoning, that we should not do ourselves Justice in this Point, because that our Neighbours had treated us ill in another; and because that the French had not yielded us all we could wish for, that therefore the Parliament should not in this Case do all that they ought.' He added, 'Why was not this Matter laid open in the Committee on the State of the Nation, but that this was an Objection indeed to the French, like all other Complaints against France; it was raised on occasion of proper Precautions to prevent a War with the Emperor: That he was fully convinc'd, this Bill was a Matter of great Importance and Necessity: That he had been so tender in this Argument, that he had not even said what he was authoriz'd to say; he had meant no Aspersions or Reflections on any Gentlemen; he was willing that this and all other Debates should be manag'd with Decency and Candour: But since that these Things had thus passed, he was thereby provok'd to declare, what he knew, what he had the King's Leave to declare, and what would effectually silence the Debate; that he was very much inclin'd to say it, he would say it, if the Gentlemen required it; [Here several Members call'd out for this Affair] he would say it before he sat down: This Bill was not drawn or promoted from any other View than its great Necessity, its being now absolutely expedient to the Peace of Europe, and the general Repose of Mankind; for he could say it, he had the King's Leave to declare it; viz. That there was at this Time a Subscription transacted for the Service of the Emperor, and Money was raising for his Use, no less than the Sum of 400,000 l.' He added, 'That this Bill could not possibly be a Restraint upon Trade, or a Grievance to the Merchants in any one lawful Point of Commerce: That the View of this Bill having been to prohibit such Loans and Assistance to the Emperor, who could not march his Armies, or cloath his Troops without Supplies of Money, it was not just or reasonable, he should have Assistance from us; from that Nation against which he was forming a War, and projecting future Disturbances; could the Emperor maintain the Soldiers he had in his Troops, and the numerous Forces he quarter'd upon his own People; or could he bring them into the Field, without Treasure to pay the Expence; and now when, by Treaties with Spain, that Prince was deprived of those Subsidies and that Assistance, which once made him dangerous to us; when thus he is happily cut off from all Communications with these Countries, from whence his Treasure used to flow, shall the People of England assist him themselves with Supplies? Shell they arm an Enemy with Strength, which his best Ally denies? And the British Merchants lend their Money to a Prince against the British Nation? If this should be done in the Time of Hostilities, and after the Commencement of a War, it would be High Treason by Law; for to aid, abet, or assist a Foreign Power at War with the King, is expresly declared in the Statute of High Treason: And shall the Merchants be allow'd to enable a Prince to become our Enemy, whom it is even High Treason to aid when an Enemy? shall it be allow'd with Impunity to aid the Emperor to march his Troops and yet open Rebellion to assist the Emperor whilst those Troops were marching? Must the Quiet of the whole World be a Victim to the Avarice of Men, who would make an inglorious Advantage of their Money? Must Men be indulged in those Dealings which bear such Analogy even to High Treason, only for the Sake of Self-Interest?' He added, 'It was Compassion and Humanity, to ignorant unwary Men, which led him to bring in this Bill; for in case of a War with the Emperor, Merchants might transact with his Imperial Majesty for Loans before it broke out, and when their Second Payments became due, it would be within the Statute should they make them good; so that such a Proclamation would warn them of approaching Dangers: It would give them due Notice of a Rupture, and prevent them incurring the unforeseen Pains of Capital Crimes, by coveting such a Premium and Interest.' He own'd, 'That many Difficulties had occurr'd to him, and the Gentlemen order'd to bring in this Bill: That he was sorry to be sensible, that it could not be so effectual as many might wish, and himself had most heartily desired; but was this an Argument to a House of Commons against a Bill for such important Ends, that because they could not do all that they would, therefore they must not do all that they could? if their Power could not wholly prevent those Practices, must they not exert the utmost of their Power? if they had not an absolute Redress for the Evil, must they not find out all possible Redress? and because they could not shut up all the Avenues of Assistance, therefore must they leave all open?' He added, 'That it was no Objection to the Bill before them, that any Prince, State, or Potentate, was equally intended with the Emperor; for that the End of it was to prevent a War with that Prince, and to name him in this Case distinct from all others would amount to a full Declaration of War; besides, one Prince might borrow Money for another, and elude the Import of the Law: That as to the King of Portugal, or any other Prince in Alliance with the Crown of Great-Britain, his Majesty would readily grant his Allowance for Loans to so good an Ally: That however, this Law would not have an Effect, but in case of apparent Necessity; if the Emperor gave his Majesty Reason to oppose his Intentions, it might produce a future Proclamation; yet this was eventual, it might be, or it might not be: And if it ever should happen, no Subjects of Britain, no Merchants Abroad could offend through Ignorance of such a Proclamation; for the Bill was drawn with a Blank, to be fill'd with a proper Limitation of Time, before the Law should take Place, or the Prohibition hold good; and the Limitation might be very large and extensive, that Merchants Abroad might be duly inform'd of the Terms which the Law had enjoin'd.' He said, 'That it was the proper Policy of Nations, the reasonable Authority vested in the Councils of a Country, to use such Precautions and lay such Prohibitions, on an Appearance of Danger, although not discern'd by the People: That the Reason of this was, because they had early and secret Intelligence not proper for the Publick View when immediatly received, yet highly expedient to be observ'd: That as to the Indulgence allow'd to those Persons who traded in the Funds Abroad, or trusted their Money in Foreign Companies, it was reasonable and proper, because many Persons thought those a good Security for their Fortunes: That many of the British Merchants in other Countries had no better Employment for Cash in their Hands; and it would occasion great Confusion to include those Cases in this Prohibition, neither indeed did they any ways relate to this Case; for tho' Money might be lent to the Emperor by private Persons, he would never have Aids from the Publick Companies Abroad.' He own'd, 'That he was not so conversant in the Laws as some Gentlemen were, who could justly support this Bill in its Provision for a proper Discovery of Evidence by Precedents; he was a Stranger to that; but he himself remember'd the Act to prevent the Subjects of Great-Britain from trading in the Ostend Company, and that there the same Method of Discovery was provided; and should not the Publick detect such a criminal Commerce with a powerful and national Enemy, when they were allow'd it against a little interloping Company? It was far from setting up a Court of Inquisition, it was far from laying Hardships or Severities on any Man; but it was for the Prevention of fraudulent Dealings and conceal'd Transactions; and it involv'd the Party in no other Penalty than one, which he could not incur but thro' conscious Guilt, which he might easily avoid by purging himself of the Crime; and that this Penalty was still in the Judgment of the House to be limited by their Authority, having no other End than to be such a Tax upon Loans, as might make it unprofitable to advance them for the highest Premiums or Interest.' He also observ'd, 'That the Proclamation provided in the Bill, was the same as by Law had been usual in the case of Quarentine in the Apprehensions of a Pestilence, and as a Prevention of any contagious Distempers; he thought it a reasonable Remedy on all such Appearances of Danger; it would not be made use of unless such Grievances happen'd; and if they did happen, he thought they deserv'd a Redress: He therefore insisted on committing this Bill, as highly expedient and necessary.'

Sir Robert Walpole having ended, Mr Wortley Montague said, 'That he had a Point of Order to debate: That that honourable Member had brought in the Name of the King to influence their Considerations contrary to a standing Rule of the House: And that it was never allow'd that the Name of the King should ever be used upon any Occasion to awe their Proceedings, or to over-bear their Debates: That if that honourable Member had been properly careful of his Majesty's Honour, he would not have mention'd his Name at that Rate; he would have inform'd them of the Evidence they had, and regularly brought it before them in the present Inquiry: That whatever that Evidence might be, he suppos'd it must come from Foreign Ministers, and he thought the House ought to have it open'd in a proper Parliamentary Way.' He added, 'That his Opinion was against the Bill, for he thought it restrain'd our Commerce, and we might as well prohibit all Commerce.' To this Sir Robert Walpole replied,' That the Manner of his Declaration had been very much mistaken, in asserting that what he had said was Unparliamentary, for he well knew and duly observ'd the Orders of the House: That he had not brought in the Name of the King to influence Gentlemen, or to over-bear the Debates: That he had mention'd the positive Assurances which were receive'd, not as a Message from the King, but by his Majesty's Leave; not by his Command, but only by his Permission; that the Station he was in oblig'd him to ask that Permission, because that by his Oath he was oblig'd to keep the King's Council secret, and therefore he ask'd this Allowance from his Majesty Yesterday Morning, apprehending the Debate of this Day would require him to mention it, and he had offer'd it to prove the Importance of the Bill now before them.

Mr Gould said, 'He was a Merchant himself; that he could make it appear to the House, the Emperor's Agents had been in Change-Alley; that he knew a particular Jew, who had been apply'd to for 30,000 l. and others for very large Sums, but refused to advance them, as fearing it would draw the Displeasure of the Government upon them: That he thought the Bill a good Bill, and all reasonable Licences might be obtain'd, whenever they might answer an innocent Purpose; nay, he thought they ought to be granted when apply'd for, without any Charge to the Merchants; which Sir Robert Walpole agreed to. Hereupon Mr. Walter Plomer said, 'That he would not oppose the Design of this Bill; he would never oppose whatever might strengthen his Majesty's Hands, he never did nor ever would appear in any such Cause: But if this must be done, why was it to be effected by a Proclamation? why were the Ministry to be Judges in this Case? let the House determine the Fitness of the Affair, let them enact the Prohibition, let them alone have the absolute Direction, and then he had nothing to offer against such a Bill.' To this Mr Henry Pelham reply'd, 'That that Gentleman misunderstood them, if he imagin'd that he or the Persons employ'd to prepare and bring in that Bill, intended to make any Ministers Judges where the House might much better decide; but it was a Tenderness to the People, that made them provide a Proclamation; they hoped this Affair might even yet be adjusted without a Prohibition; but if the House would not have it eventual, if they would have it immediately, he should not stand in Opposition to any such Demand.' Then Mr Barnard declared himself against the Bill. He said, 'That he thought it a Restraint upon Commerce, that could not be justify'd, and such Restraints had ever been prejudicial to ourselves; That he remember'd a Bill of this Sort against Sweden, to prohibit all Commerce with that Kingdom, [See Vol. I. p. 179] yet the Consequence was, that we were forced to enable our Merchants to carry it on in Dutch Bottoms, which render'd the Prohibition useless, as well as burthensome, before we took it off: That he thought if the Dutch could assist their Enemies the Spaniards in a War, where Rebellion was the Quarrel, and the Crown of Spain claimed all the People as its natural born Subjects, they would surely lend Money to the Emperor when he apply'd for Assistance. He added, 'That the Argument used about Merchants incurring High Treason for their Second Payments was very absurd, for no Men in the World would contract for Loans on such Terms or make them good. 'He insisted,' That they should name the Emperor expresly, and not make a great Prohibition to affect the whole World as if we were at War with all. He said, 'That however the Practice might obtain of Licensing Loans to his Majesty of Portugal, or to any of our good Allies, that this would be of no Service to our Merchants, who would lose the Advantage of lending their Money, because other Nations could furnish such Loans with more Readiness; and whilst ours were applying for Permissions to the Crown, the others would advance such Assistances in the mean Time, and supplant our People in all their Money-Dealings. He likewise declared against making the Court of Exchequer a Court of Inquisition; he conceived it unknown to the Laws; nay, odious to the Constitution, that Men should be obliged to accuse themselves, and thereby incur the worst of Penalties; he knew not what Precedents might be furnish'd; he believ'd that they could easily find Precedents for any Thing: But he thought the Liberties of his Country much more weighty with him than any Precedents whatever; and he would never consent to a Bill, which he thought a Violation of our Fundamental Laws, a Breach of our dearest Liberties, and a very terrible Hardship on Mankind.' To this Sir Philip Yorke said, 'That himself and the Gentlemen honoured by the House with their Commands to bring in the Bill, had considered the Dutch and the English Merchants as two different Resorts, where the Emperor might apply for Assistance; that if one Shop was shut up, he had one the less to make use of; and even the other, if our true and faithful Ally, and govern'd by Reason and right Policy, not under extraordinary Influence, might also be prevailed on to stop this Assistance of Money, and yield a private Interest to the common Cause of Europe; he thought they were very well justify'd in drawing this Bill, not only from Reason and the Fitness of Things, but from the Common Law of the Kingdom; That the King had a lawful Prerogative to recall his Subjects by Proclamation from the Service of Foreign States, and should he not also have Power to prohibit them from lending their Money, which might be more useful and dangerous than even the Service of their Persons: That in Ireland the Parliament had made it High Treason, to enlist Men for Foreign Service without Licence obtained from the Crown; and surely a Restraint upon Money, the Sinews of War, was highly expedient any where; That this Law was intended only as a temporary Restraint, a present Remedy apply'd to an approaching Evil, and not to be establish'd in Perpetuity.' He observed, 'That the Clause for discovering Evidence, by English Bill in the Court of Exchequer, was the only Me thod to make this Law effectual; for such a Transaction, as lending of Money in this Manner, would always be done in a very concealed, a very clandestine Way: That if they did not pass this Clause, they might justly throw out the whole Bill, for there would be no Evidence ever to support its Design: That many such Laws had provided such Methods of Discovery; that memorable Law, among others, which punish'd the South-Sea Directors, made it Felony to refuse answering or to demur to a Bill for Discovery of Concealments; and yet if they did discover a Concealment, the very Answer was good in Evidence against them, and the Concealment was Felony; but here was a limited Sum, and no other Penalty could be the Consequence, attending conscious Guilt upon such a Bill of Discovery: That by the Construction of a Court of Equity, such a Bill of Discovery would have been allow'd, if this Clause had not been inserted: That the Barons of the Exchequer had maintain'd the Legality of Suits, to discover Frauds and Misdemeanors relating to the Revenue; nor could they deny that this was as just by Parity of Reasoning; tho' if the House should throw out this Clause, it might make the Judges unwilling to supply it by such a Construction; and therefore he hoped they would not throw it out. Hereupon Sir William Wyndham said, 'That he hoped when this Bill was committed they would make it a reasonable Bill: That the honourable Member, who spoke last, had mentioned a possible Case, that the Dutch would shut up their Shop to the Emperor; and such a bare Possibility it was, that no Man could think it a common Probability: That in the late Wars with France, we drew them into a Bargain, and paid them a Price to discontinue their Trade with the French, which they did for one Year only, but took our Money for two or three more, and when required to follow the Tenor of their Contract, they declared they neither could nor would do any such Thing: That therefore we could not imagine the Dutch would refuse to lend their Money to the Emperor now, any more than to trade with the French in the Queen's War: That he looked on all these Restraints upon Liberty, as unjustisiable Powers in the Hands of a Ministry: And that to argue from any Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, to the Suspension of Trade, was to argue from one Evil to another: That he was also against the Practice of an English Bill in the Exchequer, to discover Evidence; That he had heard the South-Sea Act mention'd, but tho' it was a Law, and therefore to be tenderly us'd, he was no more convinc'd of the Justice of that than he was of this: And that he found from some Passages in this Debate, that because we stood in fear of a War with the Emperor, therefore the Nation must bear whatever the French should impose.

Mr Danvers said, 'That this was a Bill of Terrors; and that tho' a temporal Act, it would be an eternal Yoke on them and their Fellow Subjects: That since the honourable Member in the Administration had open'd secret Intelligence, they should also know what he knew of this Matter: That the Emperor had deposited Jewels in Holland, as a Security for the Sum of 400,000 l. and that he himself had Money to lend, and he did not know any Cause why he and other People might not make an advantageous Bargain, as well as their Neighbours the Dutch.' To this Mr Fane (fn. 3) Member for Taunton, reply'd, 'That indeed it was a Bill of Terrors, and he hop'd it would prove so to all the King's Enemies, the Foes to the Peace of Great Britain; but that the Terror of our Enemies would be the Delight of our Friends;' and added, 'That that Gentleman was misinform'd, for the Emperor had no Jewels to mortgage, but the Revenues of his Hereditary Countries.

Then the Question being put, it was carry'd without any Division, that the said Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House: It afterwards pass'd into a Law.

May. 15. The King came to the House of Lords, and the Commons attending, his Majesty made the following Speech to both Houses.

King's Speech at putting an End to the Third Session.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

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; and I make no doubt, but the Conduct and Behaviour of this Parliament, as it has answer'd my Expectations, will be equally satisfactory to all my good and faithful Subjects.

"The Support you have given me, in enabling me so effectually to make good my Engagements with my Allies, will, I persuade myself, have the desired Effect; and when it shall be seen, that the Allies of the Treaty of Seville are not only determined, but in a Readiness, to execute their mutual Engagements, it is very much to be hoped, that a general Pacification will be the happy Consequence of this just and powerful Alliance.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

"I give you my Thanks in particular for the Supplies you have raised for the Service of the current Year. It is a great Satisfaction to me, that you have had such a due Regard for the Ease of your Fellow-Subjects, whose Welfare and Prosperity it shall always be my principal Care and Study to advance and promote.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

"I am very glad, that, for the general Satisfaction, you entered into a particular Consideration of the State of the Nation; and it is a great Happiness to see, after so many unjust and unreasonable. Clamours raised with all possible Art, Industry, and Malice, that, upon mature Deliberation and the most solemn Debates, you were so far from finding any Thing worthy of Blame or Censure, that all Matters which came under your Consideration, met with your Approbation.

"This must give all Mankind a just Detestation of those Incendiaries, who, from a Spirit of Envy and Discontent, continually labour, by scandalous Libels, to alienate the Affections of my People, and to fill their Minds with groundless Jealousies and unjust Complaints, in Dishonour of me and my Government, and Defiance of the Sense of both Houses of Parliament.

"But I must rely upon your Prudence, and your Concern for the Peace and Happiness of your Country, to discountenance all such seditious Practices, and to make my People sensible, that these wicked Proceedings can have no other View or End, but to create Confusion and Distraction among us.

The Parliament prorogued.

Then the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, prorogued the Parliament to the 14th of July: They were afterwards farther prorogued to the 21st of January.

Footnotes

  • 1. Secretary at War.
  • 2. Secretary at War from Sept. 27, 1714, to April 10, 1717.
  • 3. King's Council, and Solicitor General to the Queen.