Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1667-1687. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Sabbati, 22 die Aprilis, 1671.
Remunerating Officers of the House.
THE House taking into Consideration the great Pains and Attendance of the Officers and Servants attending the Service of this House, and of what had, in like Cases, been formerly done for their Satisfaction therein;
Resolved, &c. That the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury be desired to recommend it to his Majesty to give Order for a Recompence and Satisfaction to the Chaplain, who hath performed the Duty of Reading Prayers in the House; and to the Clerk of the House, and his Assistant and under Clerks; and to the other Officers and Servants attending the Service of the House, for their great Pains and Service, in attending this and former Sessions, for which they have not hitherto received any Recompence or Allowance.
Answer to Address.
Mr. Speaker reports, That his Majesty was pleased graciously to accept the Address of both Houses; and declared, That He did willingly comply with their Desires therein; and did assure them, that, as he had already put it in practice in His own Person, so he would, for the future, take care that it should be observed by Himself, and those of His Family.
Thanks for Answer.
Resolved, &c. That the Humble Thanks of this House be returned to his Majesty, by such Members of this House as are of his Majesty's Privy Council, for his gracious Acceptance of, and Answer to, the Address of both Houses, for the encouraging the constant Wearing the Manufactures of his own Kingdoms and Dominions.
Conference; Foreign Commodities.
Sir Thomas Lee reports from the Committee, the reasons and Precedents agreed by the Committee, to be offered in Answer to the Reasons and Precedents delivered by the Lords in Writing, at the Conference desired by the Lords on Thursday Morning last: Which he read to the House; with some Amendments and Additions made at the Table, upon the Question, agreed to; and he also reports the Opinion of the Vote of the Committee, viz.
Resolved, &c. That this House doth agree with the Committee, that a Conference be desired with the Lords, upon the Matter proposed and delivered in Writing, at the Conference desired by the Lords on Thursday Morning last past: And Sir Robert Carr is to desire the Conference.
Thursday, April 20.
This Conference was desired by their Lordships, upon the Subject Matter of the last Conference, concerning the Bill for Impositions on Merchandize, &c. wherein the Commons communicated to the Lords, as their Resolution, that there is a fundamental Right in that House alone, in Bills of Rates and Impositions on Merchandize, as to the Matter, the Measure, and the Time.
And, tho' their Lordships had neither Reason nor Precedent offered by the Commons, to back that Resolution; but were told, That this was a Right so fundamentally settled in the Commons, that they could not give Reasons for it; for that would be a Weakening of the Commons Right and Privilege;
That the Power exercised by the House of Peers, in making the Amendments and Abatements in the Bill, intituled, An Act for an additional Imposition on several foreign Commodities, and for Encouragement of several Commodities and Manufactures of this Kingdom, both as to the Matter, Measure, and Time, concerning the Rates and Impositions on Merchandize, is a fundamental, inherent, and undoubted Right of the House of Peers; from which they cannot depart.
THE great Happiness of the Government of this Kingdom is, that nothing can be done in order to the Legislature, but what is considered by both Houses, before the King's Sanction be given unto it; and the greatest Security to all the Subjects of this Kingdom is, that the Houses, by their Constitution, do not only give Assistance, but are mutual Checks, to each other.
Conference Foreign Commodities.
2ly, Consult the Writs of Summons to Parliament, and you will find the Lords are excluded from none of the great and arduous Affairs of the Kingdom, and Church of England; but are called to treat, and give their Counsel upon them all, without Exception.
3ly, We find no Footsteps in Record or History for this new Claim of the House of Commons: We would see that Charter or Contract produced, by which the Lords divested themselves of this Right, and appropriated it to the Commons, with an Exclusion of themselves: Till then we cannot consent to shake or remove Foundations, in the laying whereof it will not be denied, that the Lords, and Grandees of the Kingdom had the greatest Hand.
4ly, If this Right should be denied, the Lords have not a Negative Voice allowed them in Bills of this nature, for if the Lords, who have the Power of treating, advising, giving Counsel, and applying Remedies, cannot amend, abate, or refuse a Bill in part, by what Consequence of Reason can they enjoy a Liberty to reject the Whole: When the Commons shall think fit to question it, they may pretend the same Grounds for it.
5ly, In any Case of Judicature, which is undoubtedly and indisputably the peculiar Right and Privilege of the House of Lords, if their Lordships send down a Bill to the Commons, for giving Judgment in a Legislative Way, they allow and acknowledge the same Right in the Commons, to amend, change, and alter such Bills, as the Lords have exercised in this Bill of Impositions sent up by the Commons.
6ly, By this new Maxim of the House of Commons, a hard and ignoble Choice is left to the Lords, either to refuse the Crown Supplies, when they are most necessary, or to consent to Ways and Proportions of Aid, which neither their own Judgment, or Interest, nor the Good of the Government and People, can admit.
7ly, If positive Assertion can introduce a Right, what Security have the Lords, that the House of Commons shall not, in other Bills (pretended to be for the general Good of the Commons, whereof they will conceive themselves the fittest Judges) claim the same peculiar Privilege, in Exclusion of any Deliberation or Alteration of the Lords, when they shall judge it necessary or expedient.
8ly, And, whereas you say, This is the only poor Thing which you can value yourselves upon to the King, their Lordships have commanded us to tell you, that they rather desire to increase, than any ways to diminish, the Value and Esteem of the House of Commons, not only with his Majesty, but with the whole Kingdom: But they cannot give way, that it should be raised by the Undervaluing of the House of Peers, and an endeavour to render that House unuseful to the King and Kingdom, by the denying unto it those just Powers, which the Constitution of this Government, and the Law of the Land, hath lodged in it for Service and Benefit of both.
9ly, You did, at the Conference, tell us, that we did agree to a Book of Rates, without so much as seeing it; and that never Book of Rates was read in the Lords House; and that the said Book of Rates was signed by Sir Harbotle Grimston, then Speaker of the House of Commons, and not sent up, lest the Lords Speaker might sign it too.
Conference- Foreign Commodities.
The Book of Rates, instanced in by the House of Commons, was made in a Way different from all former Books of Rates; and by an Assembly, called without the King's Writs; and which wanted so much the Authority of Parliament, that the Act they made was no Act, till confirmed by this Parliament; and though the Work, which happily succeeded in their Hands, for Restauration of the ancient Government of the Kingdom, will ever be mentioned to their Honour; yet no Measure for Parliamentary Proceedings is to be taken from this one Instance, to the Prejudice of the Right of the Crown, in making Books of Rates, and of the Lords, in having their due Consideration thereof when they shall be enacted in Parliament: Which was so far from being according to former Usage, that the Lords, considering the Necessity and Condition of that Time, and there being no Complaint, passed that Bill, upon Three Readings, in One Day, without so much as a Commitment; little imagining the Forwardness of their Zeal to the King's Service in such a Time, would have created an Argument in the future against their Power: And if the Lords never did read Books of Rates in their House, it is as true, that the House of Commons do not pretend, nor did shew, that ever any was read there but this.
Introduce the Precedents Thus.
Though where a Right is so clear, and Reasons so irrefragable, it is not to be required of those who are possessed of the Right, to give Precedents to confirm it; but those who dispute the Right, ought to shew Precedents or Judgments to the contrary, not passed sub silentio, but upon the Point controverted; yet the Lords have commanded us to offer, and leave with you the following Precedents.
1. That the Lords and Commons have consulted together, and conferred one with another, upon the Subject of Supply to the King; and of the Manner how the same may be levied, as the 14 E. III. N. 5. "Apres Grand Tret & Parleance entre lez Grantz et le ditz Chevaliers et autres des Communes esteans en dit Parliament est accordes et assentus par tous les Grants et Communes, &c." That they grant to the King the 9th of Corn and Wool.
Another 29th Ed. III. N. 2; and another more particularly in 51 E. III. N. 18; where certain Lords were named, from time to time, to confer with the Commons, for their better Help, in consulting for the raising Money.
And sometimes by desire of the Commons, 47 E. III. N. 6. 4 R. II. N. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. upon a great Sum demanded for the King, the Commons come to the Lords and desire a Moderation of the Sum, and their Consideration how it shall be levied. And it is very observable in this Record, Num. 13. which saith, "that the Lords sent for the Commons often before them, and shewed to them their Advice, how the same shall be levied; and thereupon was granted, by Lords and Commons, Twelvepence of every Man," 6 R. II. N. 14. And in the case of the great Contract before-mentioned, 7 Jac. 18 June, 1610, the Commons, at a Conference, desire to know what Project their Lordships will propound for levying that which shall be given other than upon Land; and afterwards, by the Commons Answer to the Lords Proposal, agreed, that the Manner of levying it may be in the most easeful and contentful Sort that by both Houses can be devised. See the whole Proceedings of this intended Contract, which doth in several remarkable Instances shew that the House of Commons themselves did allow the House of Peers their Part, in treating and debating on the Subject of Money to be levied for his Majesty.
2ly, That, in Aids and Subsidies, the Lords have anciently been expressly joined with the Commons in the Gift, as in the first we can meet with in our Statutes: That, in the Body of Mag. Charta, cap. 37. "The Archbishops, Bishops; Abbots, Priors, Earls, Barons, Knights, Freeholders, and other our Subjects, have given unto us the Fifteenth Part of all their Moveables;" which undoubtedly included Merchandize: And this Style the ancient Grants of Subsidies, and the modern ones too, do retain (the troublesome Time of the War between the Houses of Yorke and Lancaster only excepted); and even then it was, "The Commons, by Advice and Consent of the Lords, do give and grant," till the Beginning of King Charles the first by the Words "We your Majesty's loyal Subjects in Parliament assembled," the Lords implicitly; or by the Words "We the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled;" the Lords expressly, are joined in the Grant, as by Perusal of the Statutes will appear.
3. That in Subsidies of this Nature, viz. Customs, the Lords have joined with the Commons in the Grant of them; and That in the very Beginning of those Impositions: As, when Forty Shillings on every Sack of Wool (a native Home Commodity) was granted to Ed. Ist, in the Third Year of his Reign, to him and his Heirs: The Grant is, Magnates, Prælati, et tota Communitas concesscrunt: See Patent Roll, 3 E. I. M. 1. N. 1. As also, in other Patent Rolls, where Subsidies are recited; as the 15 E. III. N. 1. M. 12. the Close Roll and the Patent Roll of 3 E. I. M. 6.
And, more particularly in Impositions of this very Species, Tonage and Poundage, the Lords were, even at the first Beginning, joined with the Commons in the Grant; as the Parliament Roll in the 47 E. III. N. 10. the first Establishment of it by Act, doth declare, where it is expressly, "The Lords and Commons do grant:" And this Style did continue, in Acts of this nature, till the End of R. II: After which, in those troublesome Times, the Style was various, till King H. VIIIth's Time; and the Style of Acts of Tonage and Poundage was, "We the Commons, by Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, do give and grant:" This Form of Gift, in Tonage and Poundage, lasted E. the VI, Q. Mary, Eliz. and King James's Time, as the Statutes themselves do declare.
5. And, to prove most undeniably, that the Lords have their Share in the Gift of Aids and Supplies to the King, see the Act 9 H. IV. commonly called, The Indemnity of the Lords and Commons; which provides expressly, that the Lords shall commune apart by themselves, and the Commons by themselves; and at the latter End enacts, that the King shall thank both the Lords and Commons for Subsidies given to him.
6. That the Lords may make Amendments and Alterations in Bills which grant Tonage and Poundage, (the very Question now between us) appears in an ancient Book, Case 33 H. VI. fol. 17; which was a Consultation of all the Judges of England, and the Master of the Rolls, and the Clerk of the Parliament called to inform them of the Manner of Proceedings in Bills of Parliament: Where tis said, That if the Commons grant Tonage and Poundage to endure for Four Years, and the Lords grant it but for Two Years, it shall not be carried back to the Commons, because it may stand with their Grant, but must be so inrolled: And, that the Lords have made Amendments and Alterations in Bills granting Tonage and Poundage, appears by that of the 1 E. VI. and 1 of Q. Eliz. and even in the very Point now in Dispute, such Amendments as do lessen the Sum to the King, at the first of H. VIII.
Read the Proviso.
We have seriously consulted our Judgments and Reasons to find Objections, if it were possible, against this Power of the Lords; and are so far from finding any, that we are fixed in Opinion, that the Want of it would be destructive to the Government, and Peace of the Kingdom, and the Right of the Crown, in balancing and regulating of Trade, and the making and preserving Leagues and Treaties with foreign Princes and States; and the Exercise of it cannot but be for the Security of All, and for the Ease and Benefit of the Subject.
Their Lordships are very far from desiring to obstruct this Gift, no, not for a Moment of Time, much less for ever, as was hinted to them at the last Conference: And therefore they desire the House of Commons to lay it to Heart, and consider, if it should happen, (which they heartily wish it may not) that there should be an obstruction upon Occasion of this Difference, at whose Door it must lie; Theirs, that assume to themselves more than belongs to them, to the Prejudice and Diminution of the Others Right; or Theirs, that do only exercise that just, lawful, and necessary Power, which, by the very Nature and constant Practice of Parliament, is, and for many Ages hath been, vested in Both Houses.
Their Lordships had under their Consideration and Debate, the desiring a free Conference with your House, upon the Reasons of the Amendments in Difference between the Houses: But when they found, that you had interwoven your general Position with every Reason you had offered upon Particulars; it seemed to them, that your Judgments were prepossessed: And they hold it vain, and below the Wisdom of Parliament, to reason or argue against fixed Resolutions, and upon Terms of Impossibility to persuade; and have therefore applied themselves only to That Point which yet remains an Impediment in the way of free and parliamentary Debates, and Conferences; which must necessarily be first removed, that so we may come to a free Conference upon the Bill itself, and part with a fair Correspondence between the Two Houses.
Saturday, 22 April.
The Commons have desired this Conference, to preserve a good Correspondence with the House of Peers; and to prevent the ill Consequence of these Misunderstandings which may possibly interrupt the happy Conclusion of this Session, and of all future Parliaments too, if they be not very speedily removed:
Wherein the Commons are not without Hopes of giving your Lordships full Satisfaction in the Point in Question; and That without shaking any Foundations, unless it be such as no Man should lay, much less build upon, the Foundations of a perpetual Dissention between the Two Houses.
First, That where they expected a Discourse upon some Amendments to that Bill, they met with nothing but a Debate of the Liberties of their House, in the Matter, Measure and Time, of Rates upon Merchandize; with a Kind of a Demand, that these Liberties might be delivered up to your Lordships, by our public Acknowledgement, before there should be any further Discourse upon that Bill.
Thirdly and lastly, That your Lordships should be so easily induced to take this Resolution, if there be no other Motives for it, than those Precedents and Reasons which your Lordships have been pleased to impart to us.
The Commons confess, that the best Rule for deciding Questions of Right between the Two Houses, is the Law and Usage of Parliament; and that the best Evidences of that Usage and Custom of Parliament, are the most frequent and authentic Precedents:
Therefore the Commons will first examine the Precedents your Lordships seem to rely upon: Then they will produce those by which their Right is asserted: And, in the last Place, they will consider the Reasons upon which your Lordships ground yourselves.
By the Nature of the Precedents, which your Lordships produce, there is an evident Departure from the Question. As the former Conference left it, There the Doubt was narrowed to this single Point; Whether your Lordships could retrench or abate any Part of the Rates which the Commons had granted upon Merchandize: Here the Precedents do go to a joint Power of Imposing and Beginning of Taxes: Which is a Point we have not yet heard your Lordships to pretend to, though this present Difference prepares Way for it:
Conference; Foreign Commodities.
And yet they do not prove a Power of Imposing neither: For these Words, "the Lords and Commons grant," must either be understood, reddendo singula singulis; that is, The Lords grant for Themselves; and the Commons grant for the Counties, Cities, and Boroughs, whom they represent: Or else the Word "grant" must be understood only of the Lords Assent to what the Commons grant; because the Form of Law requires, that both join in one Bill, to give it the Force of a Law.
This answers the Statute of Magna Charta, C. 37, and those few instances; where it is said, "The Lords and Commons grant," viz. 47 E. III. N. 10. 4 R. II. N. 10. 11, 12, 13, 14. 6 R. II. N. 14. But what Answers can be given to those ancient and modern Precedents and Acts, where the Grant moves, and is acknowledged to come, from the Commons alone? of which a Multitude shall be herein after-mentioned.
The Case of 14 E. III. N. 5. "Apres grand tret & parleance enter les Grantz & Chevaliers & Communs fuit assentus, &c." is no Grant of the 9th Sheaf, as your Lordships cited it to be; but an Agreement, that the Nones, granted in a former Parliament, should now be sold, because the Money came not in fast enough.
22 E. III. N. 3. which your Lordships cite to prove, that the King did sometimes command the Lords to consult with the Commons, about raising Money, proves little of That: But it proves expressly, that the Commons granted Three Fifteens: And, as the Grant runs wholly in their own Name, so the Record is full of many Reasons, why they could grant no more; and, upon what Conditions they granted so much.
And yet all these Records, wherein the Lords advised with the Commons, about raising Money, though they seem to make a Shew in your Lordships Paper, yet they prove Two Things of great Importance to the Commons: First, That all Aids must begin with the Commons; else the Lords needed not to have conferred about the Aids, but might have sent down a Bill. Secondly, That, when they are begun, the Lords can neither add or diminish; else it was in vain to adjust the Matter by private Conference before-hand, if the Lords could have reformed it afterwards: Which shews, how little Service the Records of 29 E. III. N. 11. 51 E. III. N. 18. can do your Lordships in the present Question.
From the Time of R. II. your Lordships come to 7 Jac. to tell us of the Treaty between the Lords and Commons, touching the Contract for Tenures in Capite; wherein the Lords and Commons being to be Purchasers, it was less subject to Objection to confer both of the Method and Manner how the Price agreed might be paid, for the Satisfaction of the King: But this Matter hath so little Affinity with the present Question of lessening Rates upon Merchandize, given by the Commons, that nothing but a Scarcity of Precedents could ever have persuaded your Lordships to make use of this Instance.
As for the Precedent of 3 E. I. cited by your Lordships, the Commons have most Reason to rely upon that Case. Your Lordships say, In the Beginning of Impositions, when 40 s. upon a Sack of Wool was granted to E. 1st, and his Heirs, the Lords joined in the Grant; for the Words are, Magnates Prælati, & tota Communitas concesserunt: Wherein are these Mistakes;
First, That Record was not a Grant of 40 s. upon a Sack, as your Lordships suppose; but a reducing of 40 s. upon a Sack, which E. I. took, before Magna Charta was confirmed, to half a Mark, viz. 6 s. 8 d. per Sack: And it was at the Prayer of the Commons, as some Books say, and cite for it 3 E. I. Rot. fin. Memb. 24.
Conference; Foreign Commodities.
Secondly, The Record which your Lordships cite, is twice printed, once in the Second Part of the Institutes, Page 531; and again in the Fourth Part of the Institutes, Page 29: And by both those Places it is evident, that the Concesserunt is to be applied only to the tota Communitas, and not to the Magnates: For this was a Grant of the Commons only, and not a Grant of the Lords. And, to demonstrate this beyond all Possibility of Scruple, the printed Books do refer us to the Statute of 25 E. I. C. 7. called Confirmationes Chartarum, wherein it is expressly so declared by Act of Parliament: For, by the last Statute, it appears, that the Male tot' of 40 s. upon a Sack was again demanded by E. I.; and was therefore now abrogated, saving to the King, and his Heirs, the Demi Mark upon a Sack of Wool, granted by the Commonalty: Which is the very same Grant of 3 E. I. cited by your Lordships in the present Question.
But this is also a convincing Evidence, that these Words, "The Lords and Commons grant," are Words of Form; and made use of in such Cases where the Grant did certainly proceed from the Commons alone. And to clear this Point yet more fully, by a modern Precedent, we pray your Lordships to take notice of the Statute of 2 and 3 E. VI. Cap. 36. where a Relief is given to the King, by Parliament: And in the Title of the Act, as also in the Body of it, it is still called all along, The Grant of the Lords and Commons: Yet in 3 and 4 E. VI. Cap. 23. this former Act is recited; and there it is acknowledged to be only a Grant of the Commons.
Thirdly, That no Report should be made to the King of what the Commons have granted, and the Lords assented to, till the Matter be perfected: So that a plain Declaration is made, That the Commons grant, and the Lords assent.
The Book Case 33 H. VI. 17. is the weakest of all; for the Words are "Si les Commons grant Tonnage p' 4 Ans, & S'urs grant mes p' deux Ans ceo ne serra reliver aux Communs mes via versa si Communs Grant p' 2 Ans, & S'urs p. 4 ceo ne ser' reliver.'
3ly, `Tis impossible to be Law, being against the constant Practice and Usage of Parliament: For then your Lordships may not only lessen the Rates and Time; but you may choose, whether you will send us the Bill or no back again, with Amendment; which was never heard of: And if that may be, why was it not done so now ?
But if the Law Books are to be heard in this Matter, 30 H. VIII. Dyer 43. is a Judicial Authority, where Subsidy is defined to be a Tax, "Assess p' Parliament & Grant al Roy p' les Communs durant vie de chest' ou Roy tantu p' Defence des Merchants sur le Mere."
The Provisoes in the Bill of 1 H. VIII. which your Lordships seem mainly to rely upon, we conceive to be of no Force at all, unless it be against your Lordships: For, by your Lordships Journals, the Case was this; The Bill itself did not pass till 3 H. VIII.; and upon the 43 Day of the Parliament the Lords assented to it: Afterwards upon the 45th Day Two Provisoes came in; one touching the Merchants of the Hanse Towns; another touching the Merchants of the Staple of Calais: Both were signed by the King and the Chancellor: And the Bishop of Winchester did declare, that the signing of those Provisoes by the King's own Hand was enough, without the Consent of either House. So that the Addition of those Provisoes prove nothing, for which your Lordships cited them: Because,
4ly, Your Lordships Journal declares, that the King, without those Provisoes might have done the same thing by his Prerogative: Only This may be fit to be observed by the way; that as the Bill was a Grant of the Commons alone, so the Thanks for that Bill was given to the Commons alone; and so appears upon the Endorsement of that very Record.
The Wars of Yorke and Lancaster are so far from weakening these Precedents, it strengthens them rather; For no Man can think the Lords were then in less Power, or less careful of their Rights, than your Lordships are now: Wherefore, if, in those Days, those Forms were approved by those mighty Men, it is a Sign the Right is clear.
15 H. VII. In Ireland was the First Grant of Tonage and Poundage: But it said, At the Prayer of the Commons, it is Enacted: Which, in a Kingdom where they are not tied to Forms, shews the clear Right.
1 E. VI. Cap. 13. 1 Mar. Cap. 8. 1 El. Cap. 19. We your poor Commons, by Advice, &c. grant: And also avers the Right, Time out of Mind, to be in the Commons. In like Manner this Statute of the 1st of El. Cap. 19. gives us Occasion to put your Lordships in mind of another Precedent, which appears in your own Journals, Wednesday, 15 Feb. 1 Eliz. For while the Bill was passing, the Inhabitants of Cheshire and Wales petition the Lords upon the Second Reading, That forasmuch as they were subject to pay the Queen a certain Duty, called Mises; that therefore they might be excused of the Subsidy, and abated their Parts of it. The Lords, who then knew they had no Power to diminish any Part of the Aid granted by the Commons, did therefore address themselves to the Queen, in their Behalfs. The Queen commands an Entry to be made in the Journal of the House of Lords, that she was pleased, that the Cheshire Men and the Welsh Men should be respited the Mises, when they pay Subsidies; and respited the Subsidies, when they pay Mises. Which is a strong Proof, that as the Commons alone grant, so nobody can diminish their Grant; else what need had the Lords to apply themselves to the Queen for it ?
17 Car. I. Tonage and Poundage was granted once for a Month; then again for Three Months: But still the Grant was by the Commons: In those Days, (how tumultuous soever) the Commons did not rise against the Lords; they agreed well enough.
All Grants of the Commons: Yet none of those Bills were ever varied by your Lordships, or your Predecessors: Which if there had been such a Right, would some time or other have been exercised, though in very small Values, purposely to preserve that Right.
Thus an uninterrupted Possession of this Privilege, ever since 9 H. IV. confirmed by a Multitude of Precedents, both before and after, not shaken by one Precedent for these Three Hundred Years, is now required to be delivered up, or an End put to all further Discourse: Which Opinion, if it be adhered to, is, as much as in your Lordships lies, to put an End to all further Transactions between the Houses, in Matter of Money. Which we pray your Lordships to consider;
Because there appears not to the Commons any Colour from the Precedents cited by your Lordships, why your Opinions should be so fixed in this Point: We suppose the main Defence is in the Reasons have been given for it.
That Paper begins with an Observation that your Lordships had neither Reason nor Precedent offered by the Commons, to back their Resolution; and yet concludes with an Answer to a Precedent then cited by the House of Commons, viz. the Act of Tonage and Poundage now in Force: And if your Lordships heard but one Precedent then, you have now a great Number, besides those of 3 E. I. and 1 H. VIII. and 9 H. IV. and divers others your Lordships furnished us with.
Before the Commons answer to your Lordships Reasons in particular, they desire to say first in general, that it is a very unsafe Thing in any settled Government, to argue the Reasons of the fundamental Constitutions; for that can tend to nothing that is profitable to the Whole.
For there are several Precedents in Parliament, and some in Book Cases; which prove, that the Judicature is not to be exercised by all the Lords, but only such as the King is pleased to appoint. So is the Book Case of 22E. III. 3. A. 6. And so is the Parliament Roll, 25 E. III. N. 4; and divers other Rolls of Parliament.
Several other Precedents there are, where the Commons, by the King's good Pleasure, have been led into a Share of the very Judicature. So are the 42 E. III. N. 20, 21. 31 H. VI. N. 10. 8 Ed. IV. Hugh Brice's Case; in the Rolls of Parliament.
Conference; Foreign Commodities.
Also there is a Precedent of an Act of Parliament, passed by the King and Commons alone, without the Lords; viz. 1 E. VI. C. 5. and That twice approved, viz. 1 Eliz. C. 7. and 5 Eliz. C. 19. which do both allow and commend this Act:
But, on the other Side, it would be a double Check upon his Majesty's Affairs, if the King may not rely upon the Quantum, when once his People have given it: And therefore the Privilege now contended for by your Lordships, is not of Use to the Crown, but much the contrary.
2ly, Your Lordships Reasons, drawn from the Writ of Summons, is as little concluding: For though the Writ do not exclude you from any Affairs; yet it is only de quibusdam arduis negotiis; and must be understood of such as by Course of Parliament are proper; else the Commons, upon the like Ground, may intitle themselves to Judicature, for they are also called ad faciend' & consentiend' de quibusdam arduis & super negotiis antedictis.
Answer. To this Rhetorical Question, the Commons pray they may answer by another Question: Where is that Record or Contract by which the Commons submitted, that Judicature should be appropriated to the Lords in Exclusion of themselves?
Answer. The King must deny the Whole of every Bill, or pass it; yet this takes not away his negative Voice. The Lords and Commons must accept the whole general Pardon, or deny it; yet this takes not away their Negative.
The Clergy have a Right to tax themselves; and it is a Part of the Privilege of their Estate. Doth the Upper Convocation House alter what the Lower Grant ? Or do the Lords or Commons ever abate any Part of their Gift ? Yet they have a Power to reject the Whole. But, if Abatement should be made, it would insensibly go to a Rising, and deprive the Clergy of their ancient Right to tax themselves.
Answer. If Contracts were now to be made for Privileges, the Offer might seem fair: But yet the Commons should profit little by it; for your Lordships do now industriously avoid all Bills of that Nature; and chuse to do many Things by your own Power, which ought to be done by the Legislative: Of which we forbear the Instances, because your Lordships, we hope, will reform them; and we desire not to create new Differences, but to compose the old.
6ly, Your Lordships say, you are put to an ignoble Choice, either to refuse the King's Supplies when they are most necessary; or to consent to such Ways and Proportions, which neither your own Judgment, nor the good of the Government or People, can admit.
Conference; Foreign Commodities.
2ly, It gives you Power to raise and encrease Taxes, as well as to abate: For it may sometimes, in your Lordships Judgments, be for Interest of Trade to raise and increase a Rate, as well as to lessen it: And then, still you are brought to the same ignoble Choice, unless you may raise the Tax.
But it is a very ignoble Choice put upon the King and his People, that either his Majesty must demand, and the Commons give so small an Aid, as can never be diminished, or else run the Hazard of your Lordships Re-examination of the Rates; whose Proportions in all Taxes, in Comparison to what the Commonality pay, is very inconsiderable.
Answer. We hope no Assertions or Denials, though never so positive, shall give, or take away, a Right: But we rely upon Usage on our Side, and Non-usage on your Lordships Part, as the best Evidences by which your Lordships, or we, can claim any Privilege.
Answer. We have so great Confidence in his Majesty's Goodness, that, we assure ourselves, nothing can lessen his Majesty's Esteem of our dutiful Affections to him: And we hope we have deserved so well of our Country, by our Deportment towards his Majesty, that we shall not need your Lordships Recommendations to any, who wish well to his Majesty, or the present Government.
But we are so far from wishing to raise an Esteem by any Diminution of your Lordships Honour or Privileges, that there never was any House of Commons, who had a more just and true Respect of that noble Constitution of a House of Peers; of which your Lordships have had frequent Instances, by our consenting to several Clauses in former Bills, for the Securing and Improving your Lordships Privileges.
9. We are sorry to see your Lordships undervalue the Precedent of this last Act of Tonage and Poundage; because, though it were an Act of the last Convention, it was confirmed in this Parliament; and because the Right of the Commons, there asserted, was pusuant to a former Precedent in 1642, and possibly had not passed so, if the younger Members of that Convention had not learned, from some of those great and noble Lords, who now manage the Conference for your Lordships, and were then Commoners, that this was the undoubted Right of the Commons.
To conclude, the Commons have examined Themselves, and their Proceedings; and find no Cause, why your Lordships should put them in mind of that Modesty, by which their Ancestors shewed a great Deference to the Wisdom of the Lords: For they resolve ever to observe the Modesty of their Ancestors; and doubt not, but your Lordships will also follow the Wisdom of yours.
That the Thanks of the House be returned to Mr. Attorney General, for his great Pains and Care in preparing and drawing up the Reasons, delivered to the Lords, in Answer to their Reasons, which was by him performed to the great Satisfaction of this House, in Vindication of their Privilege, and just and undoubted Right of the Commons of England.
Preventing Export of Wool.
Hemp and Flax planting.
Lords agree to Conference.
Mr. Speaker, The Lords sent us down to acquaint you, That they did agree to a Conference, upon the Amendments to the Bill for preventing the Exportation of Wool, at Four of the Clock, in the Painted Chamber: And likewise to acquaint you, that their Lordships have agreed to the Amendments to the Bill concerning the truly loyal indigent Officers.
Address relating to Governors of Plantations.
Resolved, &c. That his Majesty be humbly desired, by such Members of this House as are of his Majesty's Most honourable Privy Council, that such as are, or shall be, appointed Governors of any of his Majesty's Plantations (Tangier excepted) to take the Oaths appointed to be taken by the Acts of Navigation and Trade.
Conference on Wool Bill.
Ordered, That Sir Geo. Downing, Mr. Powle, Mr. Bence, Sir Rich. Temple, Sir Will. Bucknall, Sir John Earnely, Colonel Birch, or any Three of them, do withdraw; and prepare Reasons for the Conference, to be had with the Lords, upon their Lordships Amendments to the Bill to prevent the Exportation of Wool.
Conference on Wool Bill.
Mr. Speaker, The Lords have sent us down to acquaint you, That they have agreed with this House in their Amendments and Proviso to the additional Bill for preventing the Disturbances of Seamen, and Preservation of his Majesty's Stores.
Message to attend the King.
And accordingly Mr. Speaker, with the House, went up to the House of Peers, to attend his Majesty: Where his Majesty was pleased, by the Right honourable the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, to prorogue the Parliament till the Sixteenth of April next.