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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Wednesday, January 18.
On the Duke of (fn. 1) Albemarle's remove to the House of Lords; and Devonshire new Election.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Is not against reading the letters sent out by the Deputy Lieutenants, for we know that curiosity must be satisfied; but thinks it not proper to read them—The question is, Whether you want a Member?—He has seen copies of letters to Constables on both sides—It was said, "that if such a gentleman was chosen, they would throw him over Exeter castle-walls;" and in this case letters of pacification were written; so that these things are properly to be brought before you when the Election is determined, therefore thinks it not proper now to read them—There are 8 or 9000 freeholders in Devonshire, and these warrants were to prevent heats, they being mettled men—There is an order of the House for stopping the issuing out a writ for Devonshire—The Speaker now certifies a vacancy to the Lord Keeper, and does not send a warrant, as is your ancient way—Lord Mordaunt, the Lord General, and Lord Sandwich, sat here some days after they were created, and took their leaves of the House—This Duke of Albemarle is not unqualified to sit, having no writ—The Judges have sat here, before the writ that called them to the House of Peers incapacitated them—Moves to appoint a select Committee to enquire into precedents—Supposes him to be still your Member, and liable, upon default, to your double subsidies.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Chusing a Parliament-man is nothing to the peace of the country—Peers have no voices at Elections—It may come at last to the Lord Lieutenant and his Deputies to chuse Members of Parliament.
Mr Cheney.] Here is undoubtedly the substance of a warrant in this paper—My Lord of Bath meant it well, but by this warrant my Lord of Bath is injured, and so would have it voted—There was a report that this Parliament should be dissolved; and a person sollicited in a Borough to be chosen the next Parliament, and you sent for him in custody—Hopes you will think this a violation of your Privileges, and so vote it.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] 3 Hen: VI. "Clergy of the Convocation have the same liberty as the great men and commonalty of England"—23 Hen. VI. "Penalty of Sherisfs for false returns, &c."—23 Henry VI. "No man in power shall write letters;" and would have it put to the question, Whether this be not an imposition upon the subject?
Mr Waller.] They have been connived at—He was but sixteen when he sat first, and sometimes it has been thought fit that young men may be early in Councils, that they may be alive when others are dead—You cannot tax him, nor punish him, if he sat here—He must be tryed by his Peers.
Mr Swynfin.] You ought to grant a writ—It concerns both the County and the House—The Duke is so much a Peer, that he cannot serve here—One may be a Peer, and not sit there—The Catholic Lords were sometimes uncalled, and yet sat not here—He cannot give evidence in Westminster-hall upon oath—He is so much a Peer, that he cannot be a Commoner.
Resolved, That the sending of warrants, or letters in the nature of warrants, or letters to High Constables, or Constables, or other officers, to be communicated to the Freeholders, or other Electors, when a Knight of the Shire, or other Member, is to be chosen to serve in Parliament, or threatening the Electors, is unparliamentary, and a violation of the Rights of Elections.
Thursday, January 19.
Mr Garroway.] You must go in all measures with other nations in trade, and so in your interest of high and low—Would go high upon the Bankers, but low upon the King; for so the money of England will be at that rate.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] If you put it at 7 per cent. you may raise possibly 500,000l. upon the Act; if so, you know not the consequence—We flatter ourselves, that, if we think to have any relief, by transferring 8 per cent. it will bring in something to the purpose.
Sir Thomas Lee.] By transferring, they will save so much, for the Banker has more—The consequence of this is, that no man shall have money in the country to drive on his trade—The greater sum will create so many Bankers again.
Colonel Birch.] The Bankers may revive, though they are thought dead.—Knows not where they are wounded, but in the displeasure of this House—If he was one of them, he would think of transferring, and the consequence of 10 per cent.—Would have it that what Bankers will transfer to the King at 7 per cent. should be pardoned for their 10 per cent. for time past.
Mr Attorney Finch.] It is certain that they do take 10 per cent. but as certain that they take 6 and 4 gratuity—The consequence of Birch's motion is, that if they transfer, they shall be indemnified, but if not, they are not indemnified.
Sir John Duncombe.] If the words are directly, or indirectly, 7 per cent. it ties up the King for ever, that, let his necessity be what it will, he can never take up any money—It is said the King may be helped by Parliament, but shall he call a Parliament for every emergent extremity?
Mr Garroway.] Would have the Bankers indemnified, but only for their 10 per cent. and not upon the branches of the revenue that are ready money, as the ChimneyAct, &c.—It will not possibly do your business out of the country in that time, therefore you must think necessary tranferring no other than the Fee-farms and WineAct.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Is in great strait to hear that all the money the King owes is at 10 per cent. when he hears that now the King borrows at 6 per cent.—Would know from the Exchequer what those payments are.
Sir Robert Long.] In the Exchequer they never record above 6 per cent. The other is by way of gratuity, but is by Privy-seal—In another notion, the 4 per cent. is recorded in the issue as plainly as any other sum—The King gives authority to the Commissioners of the Navy, to take up at as great a rate as the Exchequer takes up; but all comes at last to the Exchequer.
Sir Thomas Oshorne.] In the Audit he is concerned in, they take all up at 10 per cent. but it may be it will not appear this year—The Exchequer sometimes gives you orders for a credit, when they have no money—The Commissioners of the Treasury allow them to give 4 per cent. gratuity, which they account for in the Exchequer.
Friday, January 20.
Sir William Coventry.] Would have stock in trade left out; you have excepted it in other Acts—Fears that it will be in this as in ill times, rather trust God with their souls, than men with their estates—Money I can hide, my goods I cannot, and so less will be found—'Till the Tax be over, I shall have as few goods in my shop as I can—The gentleman shall buy dearer, and that Merchant shall have it in his warehouse by him; and so your woollen manufacture be put a stop to, and wool not sold, which will come home to the gentleman—Barley will not enable him to set up his farm; and says the Malster, "I will have no stock by me," which in his hands is ware of trade, and so it must rest in the farmer's hand— Thinks that the nation will lose in manufacture, and the husbandman in tillage; therefore would have stock in trade excepted.
Mr Garroway.] You tax money at interest—The Merchant brings wares in, and is taxed; the Mercer that sells is taxed, and the Salesman, when made up into cloaths, and Taylor; in all these hands it is taxed, and you pay it four times over—The last buyer pays for all, and it recoils back upon you.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] If a Clothier have 100l. of his own, he is taxed, but his debt considered; but if a man have a moving stock, it must be left to the Commissioners for taxing of trades. The sum is not great; 6s. per cent. not so great as to change trade—You, by the clause, clearly intend stock, and only stock, not in part but in whole.
Sir Tho. Lee.] "Over and above debts"—Thinks it a most ruinous thing for every trader to discover his debts —Poor men will pay for an imaginary credit—Trade will be more easily discovered than money—Tax what you will here, the Merchant cannot raise it abroad—Wool is taxed, and corn, and that will have an effect upon the farmer—We think to meet with the citizens, but we meet with ourselves in it—Is not clear, but that the husbandman's corn in his barn is again to be taxed, and will not be thought stock upon land—Trade abroad is driven much upon barter—Would have English growth excepted.
Colonel Birch.] The question is, Whether the personal estates shall pay? and it is the gentlemens interest to keep it in—This is intended for a precedent for the time to come, and if you will walk in this way, it is the gentleman's interest to make it as equal as he can—Mens shops must not be inventoried—Exempt this, and you will lay all the burden on the land—If this be for a precedent, you have gone too far; for a Mercer, with 100l. stock, lives better than a man of 10l. a year—Lay a greater burden on land, and you sink the value two years purchase more.
Sir William Coventry.] 6s. per cent. is no great sum; but he does not consider that he that buys stock of barley has many accidents attend it of charge, together with the interest of his money—Why should I do all this hoarding for? After the Tax I will buy, and in the mean time put my money to interest, which I may conceal; for if he lends it to a man to stock with, he will take but 6 per cent. but covenant against taxes.
Mr Swynfin.] Finds there is no strict inquisition as inventories, but these are answered; for there is no such thing in experience, as is alleged. Before, if a man lived well, in good port, upon his trade, the Commissioners considered him accordingly, upon the ordinary reputation he bears in the place he lived in, and so proportioned the whole charge at some equality; and this was no burden upon trade. But now, the assessor is upon his oath, and no sum in gross, the whole coming from the persons. If he be charged over, the tradesman must show his debts, and discredit himself.—Oaths make all taxes to be troublesome, and the same care must be as in an inventory. They may be taxed the 6s. four times over, as is alleged; so that value of goods must be raised, or trade broken.—You never had the experience of this before; if taxed upon remove of lands, you tax so many times over.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] The three or four hundredth part is not taxed, and so you come to a low value. A man has but such an estate, and it is no matter whither goods go, or from whence they come, they shall be no more taxed—Go from Tower-hill to Tothill-street, and not one shop in ten is worth 100l. What will that come to, with the deductions?
Sir Charles Harbord.] In all subsidies that ever he remembers, there was never more than 18s. upon 100l. which is 8s. at Subsidy rate, and this lower than ever— You are not to look how a man is worth a thing, but that he is worth it, and has a share in the proportion of the government, and so must have his part in the tax.
Sir Thomas Clifford, to what Mr Gould said.] Forty millions is a great matter, and wishes that the numbers of people and wealth were greater—Knows not what he means by "catching it into hands;" the Commissioners are to assess it.
Saturday, January 21.
Colonel Birch.] The world is vying with you for this manufacture of cloth; he that sells cheapest will get most money—An interloper exported 52,000l. worth of woollen manufacture into Holland.—Now, if your trade be worse, it is because the Merchant must have his London and Country house, and his wife must go as fine as his neighbour John's.
Mr Spry.] Presents this Bill from the town Birch serves for, and wonders he should speak against it. Here is no putting out a 50,000l. trader, if he were a Merchant, and for such this Bill prays. The Bill prays that no Vintner may be a Merchant, for then he will make the wine sell at what rate he pleases.—Linnen-drapers have spoiled the trade of linnen, and the engrossers of oyls in the town of Plymouth—Is not against the Hamburgh company, but would have Merchants trade only—The Tuckers and Weavers, to be made Factors in Holland, do the business for Holland Merchants—One Tucker at Exeter entered 10,000l. worth of goods in one day—The question is, Whether you will give the trade to Hollanders, or keep it yourselves, which you will do, if you suffer these mechanicks to trade.
Sir John Birkenhead.] If you would have such promotions taxed, Birch about ten years since (fn. 2) might have been taxed—You have taxed the Clergy in two or three capacities; and this gentleman, because he could not keep his Church lands then, would have them taxed now.
Colonel Birch.] Would have all the trees in the forest cropped alike—They had nothing done upon them, but had the fruits of twenty years.—The Promotions are envied enough already; would not have them more by being exempted.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Thought it in jest, but now sees it in earnest, and the Church has reason to take it in earnest. It is God's inheritance—Many outlived the rebellion and faction, which could not extinguish their zeal—Is the Church under the envy of the nation? It is one step to expose the Church lands to sale—These evil communications corrupt good manners—But as to the Bill, it may be some may escape by their fines, but the tenants pay for it, and it does not escape your hands.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Moves for a deduction of onethird part for mens expences, hospitality, and debts; in this way it will have some latitude—Would not have us give an errant Land-Tax, instead of a Subsidy.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] It was once a Land-Tax in masquerade; so said by a gentleman; and it is now, by deduction, brought in masquerade—The House agreed to the 12d.—Every man is sensible of the occasion—You never knew that 70,000l. was voted, and you deducted it to 50,000l.
Sir Thomas Meres.] In a Subsidy it was always abated; he cannot say that more cannot be said, but less may (by order)—The last question was about offices, the outworks; this is our main fort—The gentleman is an officer, in many things without a fee; so that a gentleman of 700l. a year, by these chargeable offices, receives not 600l.
Mr Attorney Finch.] No man's land will be charged till the clear value be deducted—A man may deduct one shilling per pound for every charge of interest money; but to take away a third is the way to bring the Bill to nothing. This gives the King one day 18d. and another day 8d.—Whether this be suitable to the liberality of the House, and their engagement, leaves it to you.
Sir Richard Temple.] If any man be against this sum, he ought to show you how the money can be supplied another way—By Land-Tax, the House meant not a monthly Tax—It will justify ourselves to our country, that two millions here is but 12d. in the pound, to pay those that would endeavour to bring you into the mist— It will not be acceptable to the country, that you do not let the burden be borne with an equal shoulder—No Subsidy since the Conquest mentions any thing but deductions of debts—All upon oath, in Queen Mary's time—Henry VIII. and Edward IV. all upon oath.
Mr Garroway.] The Debate is, 12d. or 8d.—We are at liberty to make alterations, by agreement, to any part, and if so, then to the sum—"Supplying the King's occasions" was our vote—Foreign commodities, you know, voted 400,000l. a year —If the debt be paid, the pressure is not great upon us—The vote was, present yearly value—You cannot under eight months time set out a navy—You cannot now, with all the hands you can get, prepare a navy by April, and therefore the present necessity cannot be pleaded.
Sir Edw. Dering.] The reasons of abatements of offices are not applicable to this question—The vote computed this Bill at near 800,000l. the whole bulk of this must lie upon your land; stock will not raise above 100,000l. The product at 12d. will be 600,000l.—The present revenue of England is not above 12 millions per ann. 15 millions of acres, profitable at a noble an acre. Tanti est quanti vendi potest—Knows of no man that will farm this at 800,000l.
Mr Swynfin.] Lands will fare worse than any part of the Bill; for in offices you have allowed a third part, and in goods, but none for lands—Dares a man help himself by discovering what debt is upon his lands, and having it called in by his creditor?
Sir Fretchville Holles.] All that are to be set out now are new ships; 14,000 men must man the fleet; there are twenty sail now on the stocks, and at present the ships want nothing but graiving and rigging, which will be quickly done.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Never so bare in the stores, but so many may be set out; but will you leave the stores empty upon any emergency?—Half in half difference between a man of war and a merchantman, in all things that belong to it.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Upon another fund it will bring in the money sooner—You shall at Midsummer have but a bare 3d. but by the other way of but two payments, you shall have 4d. and it is easier for the people. The other way, whether you will or no, the gentlemen will bate in the country. The two-thirds they will fairly raise.
Mr Attorney Finch.] The matter is understood, and whether by a paraphrase we should distinguish; it is not fair to put a question, which all agree to—The fair question is, Whether there shall be an addition to the question?
Monday, January 23.
Mr Boscawen.] That of mines is a lottery, and the profit but small, he thinks not above 50l. and the King has a fifth part—Where one gets, a hundred lose, and if they do but make wages, they think they do well; for the people that work consume the provision of the country—How much tin you bring up, so much silver, and so much addition to the stock of the whole nation—It encourages iron, and smiths, and other manufactures— They go forty or fifty fathom deep, and sometimes lose all their work by starting aside—Seeing that they are so many industrious bees that work not for themselves, so much as for the nation, hopes you will favour them.
Serjeant Maynard.] Who shall pay this money? The owner, it may be, is a poor man; that when men have been at a great charge, if any thing retrospect to that charge, the whole profit raises but 11,000l. a year. Without regard to the charges, this will be a great discouragement to the country, and leaves it to you.
Colonel Birch.] Would have no persons escape in this Bill, and none over pressed.—That I shall pay for 40l. a year, and another, with some thousands by him, shall pay nothing, is unequal—Thinks to the plea, "that it is a lottery, or an adventure;" then the merchant adventurers must pay nothing—Would not put it on the day-labourer, but on the owner of the land, all charges deducted.
Mr Attorney Finch.] It is said "he had no directions for this clause, and that mines were not formerly charged;" then they have the more reason to be charged now. It is true there are great hazards, and it is as true there are great gains. It may be he that has bought land, knows not whether he has a good title; must he not pay?— Much money comes from them, and he hopes some will come to the King.
Sir Robert Howard.] The land is now fixed, and so mines cannot be favoured in gross, as in the monthly tax—1000l. is given for a supposed thing, and there is no equality in a known and an unknown thing. Will you say that the whole sum shall be considered from the beginning, or that year? These are the most contingent things in nature; tin and lead pay custom also, and should the mines be laid down for one year, you raise a mutiny, a little civil war. Some in ten years get nothing, others get into a vein the first. The Miners are lusty bodied men, and by this discontent can do no good. You cannot do much for the King—Would have the mines excepted.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Would have them left out of the Bill; and it was never in any Land-Tax, and yet the Commissioners did charge them with yearly value—Many go in joint stocks, that know not their gains till they have sold—All rents pay by the Bill—Your ancestors have done this, that instead of charging them, exempt them in the Bill of Militia—Tin is under the Warden of the Stannaries, and they have Parliaments, which take off the tedious suits at Westminster-ball.—No commodity is of such consequence as tin, all over Europe, Asia, Africa, &c. Many of the small vessels of Devon go to Alexandria—If the profit be certain, the King's may—The yearly value may be rated.
Mr Waller.] It is said the King has 10,000l. a year Customs, together with what the nation spends; and the places where mines are, the best returns of England for money. As for the uncertainty, that of the farmer is as great.
Mr Gould.] Waller argues from the Customs; but it is affirmed that three-fourths is the labour of the men, and but one-fourth a fund for you. If a real profit, that's a rent; but if you will tax the mine barely, you must direct your Commissioners how to do it.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Serves for a country (fn. 3) where there are both lead and coals, and would not have land pay all, and mines none. If you take in every thing, will you leave out a thing of so great consideration? Every thing has accidents as well as this, as charge of improvement. You tax according to the present value—In Sweden, the main income is copper; the owners have but one part, and the King three. This is another kind of tax than ours; for wool is forbidden to be exported, lead is not— The clear gains are what you intend by the Bill.
Tuesday, January 24.
Sir Thomas Lee.] A Commissioner created by Act of Parliament, it is but reasonable, should be punished for refusing to act, only by a clause in the Bill; else the Attorney-General may exhibit an information, by another Law, for not acting in the King's Commission.
Wednesday, January 25.
Col. Birch.] This "recording" is a new clause, never heard of before in any Act of Parliament. What if they never enter it?—It is usual that to our darling Bills the Lords add some clogs—When they command any of their paper Journal to be enrolled, then it is a record— The old way and mode of the Lords Journal is, to appoint a Committee to order what part of their paper Journal shall be enrolled—The Lords may urge this against us, when we least suspect it.
Serjeant Maynard.] In all Acts, unless a certain time be put, it is understood from the first day of Parliament. In a legal sense the Lords Journal is no record, and how shall the Judges take notice of it? Besides, it lies in the power of their Clerk to enter or not, and so make it, or not make it, an Act.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Our reason may be, "from time of Royal Assent," for Journals may perish. The King's assent is notorious, and always matter of record—Would have the words as little offensive, and with as much reverence to the Lords Journal, as may be.
Mr Swynfin.] Possibly the Lords might foresee, that Acts begin from the date of the Session, and therefore they put in the clause of recording. The question is, Whether legally you can take the entry in the Lords Journal for record? How rationally can they take notice of Royal Assent, unless expressed in the Bill?
Sir Job Charlton.] If you disagree with the Lords, you cannot qualify the disagreement, but you disagrce with these amendments.—Knows not whether by this consequence we shall have any Acts of Parliament at all —Would agree with those additions.
Serjeant Maynard.] In the Bill for taking away the Star-Chamber, and the Habeas Corpus, the Lords were convinced that their amendments were prejudicial; but how to retract, the Lords knew not. We made amendments, and the Lords agreed to them—Would not go upon new ways—It is clear that the date of all Acts is from the beginning of the Parliament, and no averment can be against a record, therefore would have a day certain.
Sir Thomas Lee.] This may have effect upon the persons, if any good estate descend upon these persons fifty years hence; therefore would not have an Act of Parliament depend upon an averment, which, it may be, cannot be obtained.
Mr Seymour.] In this question [there is] no such difficulty as is proposed; you seldom send a Bill to the Lords without amendments; you are not so straitly bound up to your amendments, but that upon conference you may alter.
Sir Robert Atkins.] The substance we agree to; to the circumstance, as to this or that day, we agree not—We may agree, but with an addition—Moves for a conference, to acquaint them with the difficulties we are under, and to tell them as to substance we agree, but not to circumstance, which may beget a free conference.
Friday, January 27.
Mr Dowdeswell.] Is there a Judge, Justice, or Juror, but upon oath? Can a way be found more safe? If two sisters do not agree to a partition, nothing but a Jury upon oath can do it; not cousins, nor brothers, though ever so equal, can do it without an oath; but would not have Assessors sworn in their own cases.
Mr Swynfin.] An Oath was to be taken, truly to swear according to the grant, viz. considering his port, children, debts, and servants, to discover what above all this his lands were worth; and there were Subsidy-books, to find out men, and their land, and the persons; but in this oath in the Bill, here is no consideration at all— Would have the oath laid aside.
Sir Richard Temple.] In Henry VIII's time, it brought the Subsidy from 16,000l. to 100,000l. All officers were upon oath.—43 Eliz. "all levies for the poor shall be upon the pound rate," and yet that not unequal. [He was set right by Sir Thomas Lee, that the Overseers of the Poor were not upon oath.]
Mr Milward.] "Taxed according to the sparable part;" but they must know the intrinsic value, else how shall they ever know the sparable part? If they were upon their oaths, what was the sparable part, the same reason holds now; whereas the Assessors are to be sworn. That being omitted, neighbour will swear against neighbour.
Mr Dowdeswell.] Confesses that no Juryman shall stand, if excepted against, when relations are concerned; but in this case, being ad informandam conscientiam, sons, servants, and relations, may be admitted to swear.
Sir John Duncombe.] Would have it in the power of Commissioners to give an oath upon their discretion, but would not have it general to all. It is possible they will give it general, but would make that scruple himself, that where he suspects a man would forswear himself, he would rather pay his fine, than give him the oath.
Tuesday, January 31.
Mr Howe brought in a Bill of Registers, in the nature of a Mount of Piety (fn. 4), which he withdrew by leave of the House.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] The Bill is not coercive upon any man. Why are Scotland's lands so dear, and England's so cheap, though but a hedge parts them, but because of Registers? The same of copyhold land, and freehold.
Colonel Birch.] You take away Bankers, and you set up nothing in their place where men may take up money. Suppose a man makes a lease, to commence six months after his decease, and the next day mortgages it, how can all the Law and skill in England avoid it?