Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 1. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Thursday, November 3.
Sir John Knight.] Supposes that some of this debt is for stores of the Navy and Ordnance; reducing the eight months to six, possibly a third part of the debt may be abated. The Wine may discharge the debt upon it, and the nation not be doubly charged for that debt—Would have these things ascertained before the manner of the Supply be debated.
Sir Thomas Strickland.] The 10 per cent. rakes all the money of England into the Bankers hands, who are rather the depositories, most of the money being none of their own. The money coming hither, we want it for stock; but yet they have been useful in their generation. The King could not else have been supplied—Hopes that if we can lay it upon such funds as are safe, the Bank may abate something of 10 per cent.
Mr Henry Coventry.] He would not have the debt paid by making the King break his word. Without these men the money was not to be had; and considering how long the Lord Mayor and City were in paying the 50,000l. you will conclude money not easily to be had at 6 per cent. Every man will put his money into your fund rather than the Bankers. He is not of the profession of those that manage the fleet; but will say, that if the neighbours that may be enemies shall know that supply cannot come seasonably, we may be at the same pass as when the Dutch came upon our coasts; which was caused by having spent our fleet out at sea too early that year.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] Fretchville Holles talks, as if money was to be given because it is asked. It was never heard of that the Parliament paid guards. What is the proper charge of Parliament he will be ready to pay; when accounts are better stated, will propose his way, as others have done theirs.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Have you a mind to spoil the Act for Excise? Drinking is the trade they grow rich by. Lay what you will upon Wine; but will you lay it upon your own manufacture? Let that be the utmost extremity. It was part of our order to have some particulars from the Custom-house, in order to foreign commodities.
Sir John Duncombe.] The King's estate is, in effect, mortgaged to these Bankers. Take the fund where you will, if it be but upon things certain, and time certain, and so transfer the debt as may satisfy. Without postponing, is there a better thing than the Excise? Hopes all ways will be tried before we come to Land-Tax. Is there a better credit, or one that comes in more easily? There is no hurt to say, let it bear what it can bear, in part of the whole.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] Moves that the Bankers may bring in the particulars whose this money is, and make them the King's creditors. You may, by that, take off a fourth part. Whatever excise you lay upon malt is an absolute Land-Tax—Would lay it upon Wine for some rime longer.
Colonel Birch.] Money is commonly now at 7l. 10s. per cent. and formerly at 5l. 10s. per cent. As Interest goes up, Land goes down, like a pair of scales. He would not have the King break his word; but when the Commons of England espouse his debt, it is another case —Would have some persons consult the Excisemen what it may bear.
Mr Garroway.] The Genoese Bankers have ruined the King of Spain. We should not have feared the King of France, if he had kept the Bankers; he made himself great by destroying them. Fouquett.—At this time he would only fright them, but if they attempted Banking hereafter, he would ruin them. They are the Commonwealth's-men that destroy the nobility and gentry. All tradesmen turn Bankers. To lay 18d. will destroy the Farmers; the Excise being high, will make every man turn Brewer for himself.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] At the best your choice must be comparatively, always will be ill. This same hand that calls for the former charge, may call for the rest. 'Till he can hear a better proposal, is for this. But fears still that Land-Tax, as certain, will be the last refuge.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Let us not please ourselves with names, when the thing will be Land-Tax, and shall never think himself safe 'till we say clearly we will not do it. The worst part of Land-Tax is to subject the farmer to the Excisemen. Would have the thing clearly spoken, whether the Seller, or Common Brewer, must only bear the Excise. Will you make poor labouring men drink water at home, by laying this upon the house-keeper? Is for it, if restrained only to Brewers.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Our business is not to be done at once, but we must approach it by degrees. Hopes we shall ransom ourselves from the Bankers by this Bill. Thinks that unless Excise be universal, it will destroy the revenue already granted. Every thing by consequence is a Land-Tax. Is it possible that this can do, for now much more will people brew at home, to avoid the charge; but for the farmer he hopes you will so order it, that that objection will be taken away. Wards are taken away. He is against Gagers and Searchers, but not against a Poll by proportion. You have your Bill for this already drawn; it is only a third Bill of Excise. It has been formerly in debate, 2s. 6d. a competent Poll, and rid of all the trouble of officers.
Sir Robert Howard.] If the Excise be greatly loaden, you may hear by the next Session that the Farmers will not take it. Domestic, in the way proposed, is unequal; the poll will not operate upon private barrels. Necessities are like absurdities in speech, one draws on another. Wishes that the King's steet may not have these continual defects. Why should we not fall upon things less scrupled against, as sealed paper, spices, linnen, &c. If these things may do, who cares for sealed paper, spices, &c. These things may produce 100,000l. and then we have still the less to do; these things as superfluous, and honest necessity supplied at last. Would have a Committee to consider on these things; then you have the less to do. But not by the barbarous way of a Poll, that I may not pay for so many of my dead men, and another for men he makes profit by.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Land-Tax is very unequal; Cambridge and Norfolk, and some other places, pay 4s. per pound. To say that Poll is an oppression—We have tried it; you may make the Poll to be rated at Sessions, and none to pay but such at brew themselves; they pay but for their family, so that no hospitality is destroyed. The House was once driven upon this point, and upon division, but three difference. Compounding for this Excise is not a greater grievance than the taking away the child, and heir of the house, from the mother's breast, for a ward.
Friday, November 4.
Mr Jones.] Would have it considered what the traders are, Foreigners, Jews, Spaniards, that deal here in person, and come with their own goods, and return their money by bill, or carry it away with them, which is all one. Should you lay a burden upon any commodity, it would spoil trade. It is the keeping up your shipping, your mariners, your land also, that is the whole support of the Crown. Chimney-money, Excise, all lights upon corporations. Hopes no burden will be laid, but what it may reasonably bear.
Colonel Birch.] It is certain that the number that bring honey to the hive is few. Any way to bring in money is grievous enough, easy only comparatively. If you lay any thing upon the importer of foreign commodities, you distress trade as much as a council of Dutch or French would do; but if you lay it upon the retailer, and but few commodities neither will bear it, you may better arrive at your end. If you would put on but 2d. more, you give the East India trade to the Dutch, because two-thirds are exported again. If 90,000 Apothecaries, that consume these drugs, may be rated, you may do something. A penny taken off at the Custom-house, and 6d. a year laid upon the retailer, you may raise what you will, and do no hurt. Tobacco adulterates our gentry, and hinders much consumption of corn.
Sir Charles Harbord.] Would never have the Farmer of the Customs, or the Merchant, your Counsellor only, but your informer.—Would have a special Committee to prepare things; we may quickly make a rich Merchant, but a beggarly Kingdom.
Colonel Birch.] Every Apothecary 4l. a-piece, will raise 360,000l. per ann. Would not have the importer charged, by reason of the numerous officers and streetwalkers. Formerly we bought all our arms in Germany; we having iron of our own, that trade is gone. We have now much silk of our own, and that will work out the foreigner.
Sir George Downing, against Birch.] What's good for trade is bad to raise money. Example—The Linnendraper sells your own, and by laying upon him you destroy home. So for silks, and a discouragement equal to home commodities. Dyers as bad; for blacks, and bright colours, and scarlets, are all foreign dyes. Bring down the Customs, and lay the whole load upon what is spent, or your land will never rise. Laying it upon the shop-keeper is nothing pro or con to the trade; it is only upon the person of the man. The Hollanders lay but 4s. per ton at the Custom-house, and yet they raise more money than we. But this collects all the Excise in Holland; no army in the case. The Wine pays no duty 'till it be stirred out of the cellar, and that not without the brief of the Excise officers, and by their Porter. This country knows very well what it is to pay, and what to be rich under payments; and that you may make this kingdom so, it is in your power—Thinks it will not be so well to refer it where opinions may be byassed in point of interest; but would have us limited to a question.
Monday, November 7.
Sir John Knight.] This commodity yields seven-score thousand pound per ann. one third part of the Customs of England. The port of Bristol has 6000 ton of shipping. The King gains 5l. a head by every man that goes into the Plantations. It employs half the ships of Bristol. Many leave their tobacco at the Custom-house, for want of money to pay the Custom. If you lay this 2d. at the Custom-house, it will spoil both navigation aud the King's revenue. If you will do any thing in tobacco, the 2d. a pound at the Custom-house must be taken away, viz. 1d. Custom, and 1d. Excise; if you export it again, you are abated three halfpence.
Sir William Thompson.] Those of Holland have lowered their Custom to six guilders, viz. 3s. the hogshead. In England it was once high rated, and then the people stole it. It came to 2d. and then it was well paid. It was raised in the troubles, and then ill paid. Now the Custom of 2d. raises more than ever. It is of great concern to the nation in point of navigation, for great ships in the Streights, which, in this day of our neighbours arming, are of great use to the King. If we lay great duty, great ships cannot bring it, and it will be stolen in by small ships into creeks, and so both ships and King's revenue be destroyed by it. It brings in 100,000l. per ann. to the King. It was once the King's commodity. The Patent to Lord Goring brought in nothing considerable; and for Licences it brought in 10,000l. per ann. It is now ordinarily 20s. to the importer; the King has 3l. Rate it higher, neither Merchant nor King will have benefit by it. It will be like the Mathematician's notion, that could quiet the sea ten miles off, and was himself driven in by storm.
Mr Cheney.] In the year 1656 tobacco came to 190,000l. per ann. It was then practised, and laid upon the first buyer. The foreign tobacco at 1 s. per pound, English Plantation at 1d. per pound, and after the landing; therefore no pretence of damage.
Sir Robert Howard.] The addition upon beer and ale will come to 200,000l. per ann. on tobacco 80,000l. salts of all sorts 30,000l. linnen, lockerums, canvas,*** currants, 50,000l. drugs numerous, iron, 10,000l. sealed paper, 40,000l. sugar Brasil at 6s. Muscovado at 3s. Barbadoes sugar 80,000l. Customs shall be entire, and no more officers. Can easily make out 500,000l. a year, and who shall be damnified? What he has said he will make good, and hopes it will be improved by some worthy Member.
Sir Robert Howard.] He will not expose himself to warrant what you will not accept of; but tell him which you will accept of, and he will give you good security for the rent. When you approve the clauses for the retailer, one Act will serve for all.
Sir Robert Howard.] Would not raise steps for others to go upon. If the House thinks this a reasonable revenue, he will serve the House; but if, by that day, the Lords of the Treasury can bring in more, he will not hinder the King's revenue.
Thursday, November 10.
Sir Robert Howard.] Returns all humble thanks to the Committee for their charitable interpretation of his proposals. Has met with difficulties enough to shake him, since he proposed the business, but hopes he shall answer their expectation in some measure. For this service he has taken care of the manufacture of the nation, that that be not impaired; exportation he has not touched at all. Brings in a paper of rates upon several things, as salts, linnens, silks, wrought and unwrought iron, sugars, fruits, spices, copper. If the Wine-Act may be let, in the method he proposes, with the Customs, &c. 516,000l. a year may be made. Some may say, that this being farmed by one person, here may be a banking trade set up. But for advance, he will undertake that the money shall be advanced at 6 per cent. All the country farmers shall not sink, but this and that stand together. If people like not the bargain, he will undertake it shall be made good, and will take it. 400,000l. a year clear he will undertake to make good. If you like this proposition, he hopes he shall be supported by you, and that another shall not build on his foundation. He will secure the rent, and hopes he may not suffer under it, and that you will take that care of him, as is requisite for one that will faithfully serve his prince.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] If he understands Howard right, he says that his proposals shall not at all hinder the Farmers of the Excise, which they hope to improve 30,000l. per ann. and the customs also—Thinks they have bodies of men, who will be competitors for the Customs, WineAct, and Licences. He thinks that what Howard has said, will not impede any of these; but if none of these proposals shall hinder, that it is one of the best propositions that can be made. There may be such discourse of this business at this Committee, as that no man will take it out of his hand.
Sir Robert Howard.] Now I am satisfied what is expected from me, I am to make the best of it, and have the worst. But what I said must be done by the same officers. The wind is now changed; some cannot be improved; he will secure the Country Excise; he will take the Wine at 160,000l. per ann. that improved 60,000l. per ann. If generally it can be said that it can be better improved, he has done. They that can serve the King better, he would have them rise and do it.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Supposes the Customs will be advanced 60,000l. and the Excise 30,000l. per ann. If we lay aside the form at the Treasury, we shall break the public faith; it is not one person or another that must please the King; it is the whole House.
Sir William Lowther.] Would not have the day for farming the Customs kept, but put off—That may as well be as the Excise: By that the Custom-house may be free to some alterations, as to Sir Robert Howard's proposals.
Sir Richard Temple.] It was never intended by Howard to take out of the Customs to make out his proposals. If you will dispose of the King's revenue, and join it to another proposition, you must have the King's leave. Upon the supposition that Howard thinks it a necessity that both be taken together, then, before Howard declares his way particularly, that you recommend him to the King to be the Farmer.
Mr Garroway.] Would never have it the practice of this House to make such bargains as Temple makes— Fears that that revenue being put into one hand (he knows not whose, and cares not) will be worse than the Bankers. Those that have it will be masters of all the money, and though it be but at 6 per cent. yet anticipations will make it 10 per cent. Does not believe but that Howard will offer fair things, but he has seen a Bill drawn with clauses of judicature, locks and keys, &c.—Would have no bargains; if the gentleman will rely upon the House, he will serve him, but farther no man.
Sir Robert Howard.] He designed no ingrossing, but is almost terrified, if such a thing could do it; he tells Garroway, he hates it as much as he, and with the loss of his head; but he never moved any going to the King, or bargaining. Had he thought of half this opposition, he would have had his hand struck off rather than he would have drawn a Bill "with locks and bolts."
Sir George Downing.] When he tells you how it shall be collected, then you may say which is better, but not till you have the proposition. Copper-plates, and silk thrown, is all the difference of what has been already proposed. Expressed himself, as if this was raking in the dirt for things.
Colonel Birch.] He is far from thinking that Howard comes hither for reward. He thinks he should say before the King and his Ministers what he has said to you; that the King's revenue should not be impaired; if so, all his motions fall to the ground. That he should be recommended to the King to farm that which no man else would, is a strange proposal. He is of opinion, that if the King's revenue should be in one hand, it would be ill—Would have the Debate adjourned.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] It is not he that bids most shall have the Customs and Excise, but he that gives the best security, and other cautions; so that the best bidder shall not have all, but with qualifications; that a body of men shall not have it, and the revenue be all in one hand.
Sir Robert Howard.] You will either in twenty-four hours hear no more of him, or else he shall come more chearful than formerly. With what care has he preserved the Excise? If he be as cold to-morrow morning as now, he has done; but will still make good the King's revenue, as he has proposed.
Friday, November 11.
Mr Waller.] Persons that serve here are fiduciaries for the places they serve for. In Queen Elizabeth's time, he has heard that, upon dismembering, we had recourse to the Lords in a legislative way. But he has seen forty expelled the House in the business of monopolies for crimes.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Unnecessary to debate what we shall not differ in first. Thinks that the ways and means of levying this Excise may be by the same ways and means as by the former Act. To make a vote against home Excise is to vote a Negative, which we need not fear in the way we are in.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] When a thing is ready, and all officers settled, although the thing be at first probationary for five years, it has lasted much longer. That being no argument, would have it with no other restrictions than the former Act.
Sir Richard Temple.] Hears that some Aldermen in London do brew for themselves, out of animosity, to break the Farmers of Excise. The restriction within corporations, he hopes, will break these animosities.
Sir Robert Howard.] If the gentleman cannot answer himself, he despairs of doing it. You must do it as you prove felony, or any thing else; and it is in the power of the Justice to send his Mittimus, or not, and so in this case.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] If any man that has not formerly brewed, and by frustrating the duty will brew himself, he shall pay the Excise, and would have what penalty you will upon any wrongful information.
[Resolved, That towards the King's Supply there be an additional Excise of 15d. on every barrel of strong beer and ale, and 6d. on every barrel of small beer and ale, brewed by the common Brewer and Retailer.]
Resolved, That if any person, inhabiting in any house within a corporation, or within distance thereof, in which house there hath been no brewing within time last past, that that person shall not be permitted to brew during the time that the additional excise shall be paid, without being liable to the payment of the said duty.
Saturday, November 12.
Sir Thomas Higgons, upon Mr Bertie's complaint, that [John Durant] a horse courser, did upbraid him, "That he cared not for him; he and the rest of the Parliamentmen had never done good to the nation," said,] These words were spoken by a drunken man. Qui non lædit sed offendit.
The man was brought to the Bar, and upon submission, and confession that he was drunk when he said the words, was dismissed; the Speaker bidding the Serjeant take 5s. of him, for being drunk (fn. 1).
Sir George Downing.] 315,000l. the highest that ever was in the book of Rates, 'till 1660, and then raised to 400,000l. Your navigation has increased upon it, and your trade. Diamonds rough, 200,000l. the year, come into England; the grinders, who formerly were at Amsterdam, now the trade is at London, are gone from thence and Venice. Plantations do not only bring home and send abroad too, but vend your manufactures. Butter formerly, and cheese, went out without licence; but by free trade of it, it is worth 20s. the firkin in the North, which was a Suffolk price, and they grown much into the trade. He says, lay what you will, it will prejudice the Customs, and the Farmer will not give. The first Act of Wine has had such an effect, that the abatement has been great by Wine-Licences, besides the King's Customs, so that in fact that commodity falls. Two ways are proposed, first buyer, or retailer. If you will answer your end, you must moderate the book of Rates, and lay all upon the Excise, and the charge upon the first buyer will be taken for granted. It is of great consequence that you lose not the plantation-trade. Does not say but the commodity may bear 2d. Tobacco in leaf is better for foreigners. Great quantities of tobacco are planted in Holland. By wrapping it up in our leaf, they sell it for Spanish, and their own for Virginia. The common people love tobacco, as they do ale, which is the headiest. They send it to Muscovy, and Northwards, wrapping it up in our Virginia leaves.—20l. of tobacco easily stolen in seamens slops; the reason why they wear them. You know the number of Holland fishermen and seamen, and it will be landed here, and carried away by such men, and so save the duty by importation. Besides, the Scotch have their spices out of Holland; they will be too at that pass for tobacco, that more [money] will come in at 2d. than 3d.
Mr Jones.] This commodity yields the King 100,000l. per ann. Retailers of this are like Apothecaries, they trade but for a little, and therefore they must get much. If the Londoner gets by the country chapman a farthing the pound, he thinks himself well, and, it may be, stays six months for his money. He that deals thus cannot stand, he must break. Most part of the corporations of England do subsist by this trade of tobacco, what in taphouses, and strong-water shops; the greatest part of the fleet depends upon it; they will think the Custom and Excise worth venturing, and they will steal. If they be but clear from discovery once in four times, they are gainers.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Making good what he has spoken of—It is not farming here, now no sum set by Parliament. A great sum of money was lent to the Chamber of St George at Genoa; both those that lent it, and their heirs, have governed Genoa by it ever since. Let us give frankly and freely what we do.
Sir Thomas Osborne.] Something of this has been formerly observed in point of trade. The buyer is to pay the moiety, and so it signifies nothing in frightening people away from our ports, as it has been in Wine.
Mr Spry.] The trade of tobacco could not have been continued, if tobacco had not been spent; all the King's revenue is laid on what is here consumed. The commodity may bear 3d. King's Custom 2d. the Planter 1d. In their country they pay 12d. for that will cost but 4d. per pound.
Sir Richard Temple.] Laying so great a duty on foreign, and small upon home commodities, will cause all our own to be consumed, and little foreign, and so the revenue not be made out—Would have a penny per galon Scotch salt.
Sir George Downing.] Salt upon salt is made often of foreign salt; as for that made only of home materials, would not have that in the question; not to discourage our own, would have a nick and a mark set on all French commodities—Moves for foreign salt upon salt a penny per gallon.
Tuesday, November 15.
[The House being informed, that the House of Lords had passed some orders concerning the Lord Newburgh's possession of certain lands in Lincolnshire; the said orders were read; the one dated the 10th, the other the 14th of November instant. Journal of this day.]
Sir Robert Atkins.] The Lords judgment is, that the Duke of Richmond be put into actual possession, and not be content with the rents only, and then Lord Newburgh has no remedy against the tenants by their bonds. The great point of this case is, whether the bare naked attournment (fn. 2) from one that has not so good title to another that has [be sufficient;] the Lords do adjudge this to be a breach of Privilege. Our Member, Lord Newburgh, does but barely accept the attournment, and this is punished as a breach of Privilege.—The tenant knows not which to attourn to, Privilege being in both cases. He should have advised the tenant to have exhibited a bill in equity; but the serving of the Subpæna would have been a breach of Privilege. In this case a great stress and difficulty lay upon the tenant; therefore thinks this very unreasonable to punish the tenant.—The Lords cannot but take notice that the consequence reflects upon your Member. They do judicially determine, as, by the words of the order, "they do not surmise that Lord Newburgh has done any thing indirectly;" therefore we are not to presume it—The Lords have given judgment, and this day have ordered execution; they are before-hand with us. It would have been an equal way, if the Lords would have had a conference with us.—Sees not what you can farther examine in the business.—Desires it may go speedily to an issue, not to a Committee, but by hearing of Counsel—Moves that if any persons be to be heard in it, they may be called in.
Mr Milward.] As the case may stand, attournment or no attournment may be a breach of Privilege, if any disturbance be on my person, or if goods or lands be taken. if the tenant pay not his landlord his rent, it is no breach of Privilege; attournment by tenant at will is. When I am sued, my Privilege is broken, but not in what occasions me to sue as Plaintiff.