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, December 1.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] We struggled with a debt, after the war, between two and three millions, though it might be thought there was not such a debt, because they were ashamed to bring it out. Though they gave 10 per cent. yet every office was supplied, and by it they had credit. In all these straits the King spent not above half his revenue; whatever wanted, the King kept his navy in repair. The King was sensible how lands fell every where, and was unwilling to press you. The King was willing to part with his Fee-farm rents, and has and will place 7 or 800,000l. upon them; exposed his chimneyrevenue, and his Wine-Act; every year he spends 500,000l. more than his revenue. The death of one Banker has spoiled all the rest, and gentlemen withdraw their money, and that trade is gone. Now, with all the credit of that vote, 6000l. cannot be taken up, and two ships lie for want of the money. For beer, ale, and foreign commodities, on which you would transfer the King's debts, he will tell you the impossibility of that. If you pass your Law, it is more convenient to begin at Midsummer, because it suits with the Law of Excise. The Customs at Michaelmas; commodities then come in; the anticipation and debt is to be paid in fourteen months time. If four or five Bankers were to advance the money, the matter was not great; who knows what the money will do, and who will lend? But it is unanswerable, since you can never put it upon these funds. Most of the Farmers are the Bankers, and they will have a visible security. This is practicable, and will make it good of three millions yet unpaid; Wine-Act, Chimney, Fee-farm rents go towards it. We can put the house, stables, and all but the navy, without interest, but let there be 8 or 900,000l. for six years. The Banker is gone, and this will enable the King never to take up, which certainly will do the King's work better than 1,200,000l. This will break the back of the Bankers.
Sir William Coventry.] Seconds the motion of taking off Land-Tax.—Whoever would make a difference between the King and Kingdom, such is he that moves for Land-Tax—Sometimes we fear the King of France, and sometimes all people fear us—Would have an account of the King's money, and though we are not Privy-Counsellors, we are Counsellors, and hopes we shall be heard.
Sir William Hickman.] Has long feared this motion; he looks upon it as hazardous to the Crown. It is not only from gentlemen that have suffered, but upon tenants, who cannot keep on their market trade—Would raise the money, but would be secured from this.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] The last Land-Tax was brought up in waggons. The poor woman turned her pursestrings wrong side outwards. Clifford puts you in mind of 30,000l. but not a word of 80,000l. given for no fleet. Must we now come to the thing which must be our support in invasion? As much money [has been] given to this King, as since the Conquest. The cost and charge is not the King's; but such as were not born to scarce a pad nag, have a coach and six horses. That has consumed the King.
Mr Garroway.] Does not except against number of men or time. He has heard say, if we must give money, we shall have no fleet. When they asked 800,000l. he would have given a million to have heard no more of them. This Land-Tax is a mark of our chains. If you will take the tenth beef, lamb, or bullock, or part of the land, take it; but would have a question, that no part of this be raised by Land-Tax.
Sir Richard Temple.] You have great rocks on all hands; yet nothing of money, by reason of our great poverty, can come acceptable to us. Cannot be of the mind of that gentleman, " that he that moves for Land-Tax is an enemy to King and Kingdom;" but he must needs be, that would have this debt unpaid, and advise what will not do it, an enemy to both King and Kingdom. This does not only deliver you from a present evil, but prevents you of invasion spoken of.
Sir Robert Howard.] If the lands have no respite, the consumption must cease, and you consume not foreign commodities; therefore let it be one way or other; both ways will destroy one another—Moves to proceed some other way for the money than by Land-Tax.
Colonel Birch.] When you have pawned your land, what have you left to help yourself? That day you give Land-Tax, you will sink Land two years value. The land of England will not come to itself these twenty years, for the wounds you have given it already.
Mr Attorney Finch.] What are we a doing, or whither are we a going? When you hear of three millions debt, and the King charges his own lands, and other duties towards the paying it, you will have this effect, that the monarchy shall be at ease, and no farther need of help. Would not any man purchase the safety of the Kingdom with his blood? Will he not do it with his money? We may talk great words of being the balance of Christendom, and when our debts are always paying, and never paid, we shall lose that same. Every man says, it shall be the last; but why, by this question, you shall throw away the last remedy. Lay this to heart; if you put a Negative upon the main question, you put a thorn into your own foot, which you can never pull out.
Friday, December 2.
Sir Robert Howard.] The proposals shall be farmed for 400,000l. a year, without reflections on the Customs. Will say there shall be advance-money, and since he was against Land-Tax, as bringing a prodigious discontent (unless upon such Members as attend not their duty) he will make good that this shall be a better fund than the Land-Tax (with the paper, and some other things.) He will make good 600,000l. a year, and the Customs shall not fail, and this be paid when Land-Tax shall fail. The Paper Act and the Wine 600,000l. per ann. and if that fail, he will supply it with probats of wills, to make it up more than 600,000l. Will make it good by every particle, or all together; and that the Navy may not stand still, will propose something towards a subsidiary Bill.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] The money granted was to buy stores which are consumed. Yet, admitting the King has any stores which he knows not, if you leave him void of stores, and the yards empty, he is still to seek. The Banker will not lend, but for a year and a half; he will have the string in his hand. Some of the money in bank is upon bond, some upon none, some by ticket, payable upon sight; so that if you propose a better fund, no man is alarmed at Land-Tax; but if you lay it upon what must come in in three or four years, how will you keep the Banker from arrests? You must either stop all people's money, or protect the Banker from arrests.
Sir Richard Temple.] Here is a fund of 400,000l. proposed, if any man will advance upon this that the fleet may be set out. Upon all these things proposed, you may raise twice as much as you intend to grant. The Bankers must quit their good security for these things untried. When you have done all, you must come to ready money.
Sir William Coventry.] The thing proposed is to take off the debt by making a fund. The Wine-Act does in part for some, and by a Privy-seal going upon it, will have its full load. Fee-farms and the Wine-Act have taken care for the debt not at interest. This before us is at interest. Howard says, his proposal shall make 400,000l. per ann. for payment, he hopes the prospect may mend upon us every day. If a necessity compells you to impose a transferring the debt, he is not against it; but then you must transfer it with its burdens upon it, viz. 10 per cent. The question is, whether money can be raised to pay this; if you can, he finds no fault; but if by compulsion, that must be the last remedy. But an Act of Parliament is the best security; no man can say he has been defrauded a halfpenny. Another thing that opens mens eyes is the death of the Banker Covel. He sees, that he that trusts the Banker trusts the King. The hazard is of the Banker; you trust both the King and the Banker, and the Banker may break in the King's security; by Act you are safe. Men will by this be more willing to trust for a longer time, for twelve or eighteen; that now with the Bankers will be but at two or three months. Objection. Can you think that 1,300,000l. can be taken at a blow? If but 4 or 500,000l. in at a time, the King will be supplied by Customs and Excise in the mean time, and give 10 per cent. Thinks the Banker may come in for his share in this. They were Bankers before they had 6 per cent. When they give 6, the King gives 10 per cent. When the King can have for 4 per cent. the Bankers will come in to lend for 6 per cent. and they be sufficient gainers.
Sir George Downing.] Nothing is wanting in these funds, but that they are so far off; 5 per cent. is better from the Exchequer, than 6 per cent. from the Banker. When Chatham business was, the Bankers would let out no money, but Exchequer payments were made. Covel made himself by not dealing with the King, but now he is dead, the lenders find the difference.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Hears some persons make a glorious proposal, which he would not have pass; but if any man can undertake that the Fee-farm rents, Chimney, &c. may be taken off; and if by their proposals they will pay off three millions, they say something; but the payment of 1,300,000l. is not our work.—Would have some body say something to the three millions.
Saturday, December 3.
Sir Robert Howard.] Moves that charters and grants to corporations, &c. which are to pass the Privy-seal, not exceeding one skin of parchment, shall pay 2l. grants and leases, as before, 1l. Presentations of 100l. value, 5l. Fines, 3s. 4s. and 6s. 8d. Recoveries, 1l. Writs original out of Chancery, and other Courts, Processes, &c.
Mr Garroway.] Mandates, &c. 6d. Dispensations to hold more than one living, 10l. a-piece (fn. 1).
Mr Waller.] Knows not three livings in one hand, but Prebends, Deanries, and other promotions many. These may miscarry in the Lords House, because they are touched upon in Privilege; but Subsidy Bills never stop there.
Sir William Coventry.] To lay a year's value, as is proposed, is the way to have no Curates at all, after having paid his tenths and first fruits. This has been proffered at to be cured by a Bill. Thinks you cannot now do it by the bye; and 'till the Law has provided otherwise of Pluralities, looks upon them as things that be.
Sir Robert Howard.] Thinks that Pluralities are the most advantageous things that can be to the Clergy. If you lay a little tax, the little you lay upon it will not recompense being so taxed; he fears they will put in worse persons [to supply the Cure] than they have already.
Colonel Sandys.] Knows one that has a Gardener for his Curate, and the Parson brings a bit of beef behind him, and bestows a groat upon a cock, and this is his hospitality. Would have a Bill against Pluralities.
Monday, December 12.
Sir Richard Temple.] If a Subsidy be within the meaning of the vote, we have no way left; but he is of opinion that Subsidy will bury Land-Tax for ever; for in this you avoid the exception of counties growing worse and better in point of trade; but persons are not so mutable, and it is the interest of persons to discover one another. It differs thus; that Subsidies lie upon personal estates, which were usually accompanied with a Poll, that took in all profitable employments; besides, when you have given a Subsidy, there is an end; not from month to month, as in Land-Tax. You must alter the Subsidy book. In Henry VIII's time, Subsidy was brought to 30,000l. In Queen Mary's and Queen Elizabeth's time, the books were altered, and in the room of these Acts, the parties were put upon their oaths, and doubts not but that will put you in a way to bring in all money at interest.
Sir Richard Temple.] In Henry VIII's time, by rating it by the Parish-books, it raised it from 16 to 1000; for salvo contenemento, in Law, is only an extent upon goods, exempting lands.—Would have it upon intrinsic value.
Colonel Birch.] Make the Subsidy 6d. or 12d. he fears it will not do. Would know the difference between the 20l. man in the country, and one that lives at twice the rate here at London. If you excuse those here at London, you do nothing. Though the last Subsidy roll was stricter than the former, yet such as ought to have paid 100l. paid not 25l.
Sir Richard Temple.] In Edward VI's and Henry VIII' time, parties were examined upon oath, and were to forfeit the double value of what they were to pay, if they swore false—Would have it according to true value.
Sir George Downing hastily said, " That there was "110,000l. in the hands of Members of Parliament " who pleaded their Privilege, and would not pay it [..] being the Royal Aid."—He had time 'till next day [to] make it out.
Tuesday, December 13.
Wednesday, December 14.
Sir Charles Harbord.] In England, seventy-six millions of acres the surface; he judged it in the ship-money business, by the map, ten millions and a half per ann. fallen in twenty years a million. Would bring the value to an equal burden, so as best to be borne; and as you would have it Justly valued, so the calculation must not be a snare to any man; as if the land be worth 20l. to value it at 15l. so there will remain but nine parts of twelve, or seven of ten, whether at two-thirds or three-fourths.
Sir Richard Temple.] Thinks the calculation made a romance. If you had a calculation of acres, thinks you may be deceived in it. Land-Tax at 120,000l. a month, if you reckon 2s. per pound. Generally, one with another, all England comes to but 14,000,000l.—20 millions, 400,000l. at 1d. per pound. If England was then so much, he fears you cannot find now above ten or seven millions. Under three halfpence the pound, he fears it will never be raised. Would have Commissioners named by the King; if in this House, fears we shall not raise half, by partiality, and hopes this way may never be altered, you will find it so easy a method.
Mr Swynfin.] The great point, and what deserves our first consideration, is the laying it upon intrinsic value of land; by so laying it, you put the whole Kingdom to make a new levy; it will be found a vast work, and impossible; you must come to a consideration of every man's estate, high and low. In Sessions, it is a hard matter to get a Constable in a great parish, where apparently they are unequal, to give in a true value. The rich feeding and meadow lands are known. Of West and North, that are upon old rents, you never know, and never can, the true value; and lands vary in value every year. That strangers be put in Commissioners, will never do, for you will have strange values brought you in every country, who will think it their interest to give in the lowest value, and hide it from strangers, because it will be a standing value. Land-Tax was unequal, and yet the tax by Law was to be levied by pound rent. Therefore would have it well weighed, whether by intrinsic value, or a subsidiary way.—This Discourse was all against Order.
Sir Charles Harbord.] The monthly tax-way was unequal, 500l. as much as 1000l. in many places. No man under 10l. per ann. a Subsidy man for land; 20l. per ann. was the rate; two-thirds or three-fourths will be a safe rate; and formerly, when that rate was transgressed, they paid treble damages—Thinks two-thirds the most equal.
Thursday, December 15.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] He that has an office of 400l. per ann. it is better to him than land at 600l. per ann. being not charged with bridges, highways, poor, and many other things—Would have it at 2s. per pound.
Colonel Titus.] Is for taxing them, but not for punishing them as criminal, because they are but for life. If he had an office of 400l. per ann. would willingly change with any man of 600l. per ann.—Would not have it higher than land.
Mr Garroway.] Never made his estimate of 800,000l. for the setting out this fleet, for it is much more than will do it. He gives it because the King demands it. 60,000 Knights fees, and the four Northern counties and Clergy left out; 8,000,000 of acres; this is some mens estimate.
Sir Robert Howard.] Looks upon it as the most fatal thing in the world if this sum should fall short, and our being called to supply it again, will be a fatal thing—Would rather give somewhat more—If the 12d. should come up to the 800,000l. put that ever on the right hand; it would be much the safer, and no fatality in it.
Colonel Birch.] If you go to a longer time, you will get up the Bankers trade you endeavour to cast down— Hopes it may be returned out of the country; for the bringing away the small money out of the country ruins it.
Friday, December 16.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Would have no clause to break covenants between parties; a man may marry a daughter, and instead of jointure, would have a rent charge clear by covenant—Would not have any covenants violated.
Sir Richard Temple.] When the tenants are to pay the Clergymens Subsidies, the Clergy may give what they please; and that the Clergy shall not pay their part, now we are squeezing all people.—If the Clergy have made such covenants, would have them all destroyed.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The moiety of the tythes of England are in Laymens hands; if you go to void the Clergy's covenants, you will lose the King much money. If a man has the money, he pays for it; will you have him pay for his rent-charge? You tax the estate double.
Mr Waller.] Covenants between landlord and tenant are reasonable; but little conveniencies are not seen, but in magnifying glasses or multiplying glasses. The King would be put to take his money where it is not to be had. The taxing the Clergy to the Subsidies is a kind of excommunicating them; they ever gave double Subsidy. Laymen fell in Subsidy; the Clergy continued. It is a right to them, and would not have it taken from them.
Mr Coleman.] No gentleman, he believes, will make this place a violation of private faith. Now, to reach a Clergyman, you will bring upon yourself what you would avoid. If a tenant shall force a Churchman to abate, he is put into the black book, and is remembered for it in his next fine.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] In contracts, all these cases are foreseen, where a man will allow tax or no tax— Will you allow this when the thing is bought and sold? Will you relieve, by force, the tenant, what his landlord has given him already?
Mr Attorney Finch.] It will be the case of Colleges as well as the Clergy; you are going to gratify those who are already gratified in the bargain. This will not extinguish suits. The Colleges do but reserve a necessary subsistence.
Sir Winston Churchill.] Would have the words have a retrospect only, as to double charge. He covenants to pay, suppose, the 50l. clear; if he pays it, he does it double for himself, and the person that receives it would not be clear from the covenant.
Sir William Coventry.] Says, he is in a mistake; for when the money is paid, it is converted to personal estate, and has no reference to what it came out of. Taxes have been too long, and the gentleman would be released; he may as well say, the life he pays the rent charge to has lived too long, and therefore would be released. Means that where the covenant is express, as to the probability of taxes, the person being considered for that in the fine, it is fit he should pay it.
Sir Richard Temple.] No Bill of Subsidy has any clause to exempt the lands. Contracts, against supposed Acts of Parliament, were never favoured within these walls. Why contracts should be greater than Acts of Parliament, knows no reason; and would not have the words "in any wise notwithstanding" lest out.
Mr Hampden.] Suppose a person is rated in one county for an annuity, and he pays for it that receives it in another county, this will be hard sor him that receives it, as in other cases for persons that pay it.
Colonel Birch.] It is not equitable; for it was not believed the landlord could not foresee the charges and taxes, therefore it was equitably judged against him. Whatever was eight years ago granted at 100l. per ann. is not now worth 80l. and yet the tenant must pay this tax. This we shall do by this Act, that all payments will be put upon the poor tenants, and so they will be ruined at last. If land was rising as it falls now, there would be some equity in the case.
Mr Garroway.] It is not the number of these contracts that must make the justice of them; three are as good as three millions; both sides considered taxes when they contracted. If land had risen, would gentlemen have thought fit to set lands? Here would be a strange proposition, and it is as strange to fall rents here. " Except where it is otherwise provided by contract to the contrary expressly," would have that the question.
Mr Attorney Finch.] A man has 200l. per ann. and must render 100l. by demise and redemise to the Usurer, clear from taxes. The Usurer is taxed in London, and having paid it once, cannot be doubly charged; but if the sense be to preserve covenants, let it be so expressed. It was held by Rolls, Chief Justice in the Usurpation, that where the Act runs general, it was inclusive, and the contrary afterwards by Glynn; so suits were increased daily—Would have it now remedied.
Saturday, December 17.
Mr Garroway.] Begs it as a boon that none of this House should be Commissioners; we having attended the service all this while, it is not fit we should be put upon that trouble; if any, the absent Members.
Sir Richard Temple.] Knows not that ever you have limited the King, that Members should not be Commissioners, but that they should not be Assessors only; but would have it absolutely left to the King, as is accustomed; the King to name without any limitation.
It was said.] In a five pound matter you must have an oath, and will not a thing of so great importance be thought worthy of an oath, and shall it be said that the Parliament leave men at large, to oblige their friends?
Mr Swynfin.] Would have the question laid aside 'till the Bill be formed, and you may then the better judge; but he is against an oath. Thinks it will be extremely troublesome, both to the Commissioners and the persons to be levied, being all new ways. Land-Taxes were no personal levy, but every county had its proportion, and found out its particulars by being a general levy, if they had power to summon Juries, and so might take their own time; taking it to be a standard for ever, people will assess their neighbours at the lowest. If Commissioners were itinerant, then upon oath. Commissioners in the county were never upon oath, yet they are liable to enquiry above. It will never be well, unless instructions be given, and the counties will aim at the proportions, as they do in the monthly tax.
[To the Resolve of the Committee, "That towards the Supply, every one that resorts to any of the Play-houses who sits in the Box, shall pay one shilling, every one who sits in the Pit, shall pay six-pence, and every other person, three-pence," the House disagreed (fn. 2). All the other Resolves were severally agreed to, and a Bill was ordered in accordingly.]
December 20 (fn. 3).] The House adjourned till Dec. 29.
December 29 (fn. 4).] The House met, and adjourned till Jan. 3.