Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 1. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Saturday, April 1.
[Resolved, on the Report from the Committee to whom the Petition of Sir Edward Thomas against his son was referred, (see p. 400, &c.) that there is no sufficient cause for the said Petition.] April 3 omitted.
Tuesday, April 4.
A Bill for building another bridge over the river Thames, from Putney, was read.
Mr Jones, Member for London.] This Bill will question the very being of London; next to the pulling down of the borough of Southwark, nothing can ruin it more. All the correspondences westward, for fuel, and grain, and hay, if this bridge be built, cannot be kept up—The water there is shallow at ebb; the correspondences of London require free passage at all times; and if a bridge, a sculler can scarce pass at low water. It will alter the affairs of watermen, to the King's damage, and the nation's—Thinks the Bill unreasonable and unjust.
Mr Waller.] As for the imposition laid by this Bill, men may go by water if they please, and not over the bridge, and so pay nothing. If ill for Southwark, it is good for this end of the town, where Court and Parliament are. At Paris there are many bridges—At Venice hundreds— We are still obstructing public things. The King cannot hunt, but he must cross the water. He and the whole nation have convenience by it.
Sir Tho. Lee.] This Bill will make the new buildings at this end of the town let the better, and fears the Bill is only for that purpose.
Colonel Birch.] Finds it equal to men, whether it does them hurt, or they think it does them hurt. Where a cart carries something to the city, it usually brings something home; and they that bring provision hither, will fetch back, but will not go to the city to fetch it.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] No Law can be made, but will transfer one or other inconvenience somewhere. Passages over rivers are generally convenient; and by the same reason you argue against this bridge, you may argue against London bridge and the ferries.
Sir William Thompson.] When a convenience has been so long possessed, as this has been, it is hard to remove it. This will make the skirts (though not London) too big for the whole body; the rents of London bridge, for the maintenance of it, will be destroyed. This bridge will cause sands and shelves, and have an effect upon the low bridge navigation, and cause the ships to lie as low as Woolwich; it will affect your navigation, your seamen, and your Western barges, who cannot pass at low water—Would reject the Bill.
Colonel Stroude.] In no city where bridges are, they were all built at a time. No city in the world is so long as ours, and here is but one passage for five miles—In frosts provisions may stop, and in case of any mutiny passages may be so stopped by water, as a correspondence cannot be held any way but by this convenience.
Mr Boscawen.] If a bridge at Putney, why not at Lambeth, and more? And as for Paris, where there are many bridges, [there is] no use of watermen at all; and the same reason that serves Paris may serve London. Neither Middlesex nor Surry desire it; at best it is but a new conclusion.
Sir John Bennet.] Says the Lord Mayor and Aldermen did agree to it, if it were for no other reason than to be secured from a bridge at Lambeth.
Mr Love.] The Lord Mayor of this year is of a different opinion from him of the last year. If carts go over, the city must be destroyed by it. It is said, "that it encourages but a few ferrymen, though in truth it does many —He hears that it must be of timber, which must be vast, and [will] so hinder the tide, that watermen must stay till it rises. When between the bridges the streams are abated, in time no boat will pass, and the river will be destroyed totally for passage, it being already full of shelves.
Sir Henry Herbert.] This looks like a monopoly. Several of these projects were in the late King's time, but rejected, because the Londoners and the adjacent countries would be prejudiced by it. It is matter of great concernment, and too thin a House; and now to receive a Bill of this nature, would be thought strange (fn. 1).
[The Bill was rejected, 67 to 54.]
Wednesday, April 5.
[The ingrossed Bill to prevent and suppress seditious Conventicles was read the third time.]
Debate on the Clause of Indemnity.
Colonel Birch.] Any man may make over his goods by Law, and they shall be good against Bill or Bond, if the Act be precedent; so that this is beyond any other Law. Now you are about suppressing Conventicles, take care you suppress not yourselves; for he finds that the use of a Commons House, the main use, besides giving of money, is to punish persons that have gone beyond Law, under a pretence of Law, as all impeachments are; so that this looks unjust to condemn at one time, and impeach at another time—Would have the thing indemnified for, specially named.
Sir Richard Temple.] Had you enumerated the things you indemnify for, he should not be against it. What will the consequence of this be? That every man will make this construction, that every thing, though ever so exorbitant, shall be justified by this Act; as the 5000l. bond taken in the city for good behaviour, without assigning a cause.
Sir Thomas Meres.] This Clause of Indemnity will not reach the 5000l. bond; but hopes his Majesty will give a general indemnity—Would have the Clause, directing imprisonment, left out—Would still go by way of purses —This will obstruct it at the Lords House, as it did the last Bill; you will differ, and therefore would have the Clause laid aside.
Sir Robert Howard.] It shows that one fort of persons, thus indemnified, do what they will, and the other is punished—Cares not how large mercy be, so that all our breasts may equally share of it—Can any terror be like this?—Whoever offends, never capable of mercy, áand the over-actors beyond the Law indemnified! It is against your own judgments, for you would all have an Act of Grace from the King, and have none yourselves.
Mr Waller.] All Laws made in terrorem have rather been commended than blamed for acting in mitiorem partem, as in that of the Papists. You in this take part with the injurious against the injured. If Juries have been menaced and fined, the precedent will come upon all the Commons of England; for upon that wheel hang all our lives and liberties—Revenge makes the bee lose his sting; and so shall we, if we pass this Bill.
Sir John Duncombe.] Is sorry such a stubborn people should be thus countenanced. Did not the city tremble under the menace of these people? And these are the people we must indulge. If you once come to weaken the hands of the Deputy-Lieutenants, the Government will be in danger. Nothing but numbers will content this people; they began the troubles, and will do so again; expects nothing from them but misery and ruin. No age, nor government, that ever trusted them, was secure. Whither will not these men go, and what have they not done, that will make their own spirits the dictates of their actions? Sow rebellion, and what not—Cares not whether the Bill pass or not, but would have the opinion of the House against them. When they had possessed the world with the mist of Popery, they go on—Keep both these down; between these foxes tails we shall be set on fire. Show the nation you will preserve the peace of the nation.
Mr Vaughan.] If Murder, nay, possibly Treason, be done by colour of prosecuting this Act, he is pardoned. If a Magistrate can alleviate a Law, natural Justice dictates it. Empson and Dudley had the modesty to stay for a Law before they acted—Such and such men are unjust, and they would have the House of Commons unjust with them. This is to proclaim that the people shall have no use of a House of Commons for grievances, and to take away præmunire from the King—Who are the persons to be indemnified? Believes, some amongst ourselves, which is unreasonable, that they should be judges of. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think of these things (fn. 2).
Mr Secretary Trevor.] No larger words [are] to be found than "under colour of the Law." The consequence of this is, an indemnity for all things that shall be done for the future. The consequence of this Bill looks both ways—It is a stirring world abroad, and [there are] many reasons to induce us to study moderation.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Every Presbyterian conforms not to three of the thirty-nine Articles. The Covenant obliges them to destroy the Church of England, and therefore they will not renounce it—The King, in his Coronation oath, swears to maintain the Church; this to destroy it. What can these men say that will hold no oath but that, [the Covenant,] though they have taken oaths before?
Mr Henry Coventry.] "Riot." It will be hard for a Justice of Peace to punish what he knows not.—Would have it made "a Riot," when any officer is refused, or opposed to enter, because it obliges the King to send force.
Sir Charles Herbord]. Would have it "a Riot," but not "a Conventicle" too. Justices are to be punished by the Statute of Hen. IV. and this also. People naturally run from what they are driven to, into the contrary extreme—That the King's debt should be satisfied out of another man's goods, was never known before.
Mr Cheney.] Temple [is] mistaken—Q. Elizabeth took care against Conventicles; they were under an abjuration; ours gives them an indulgence — Temple would have the Church join with them, and not they with our Church.
Sir William Lowther.] Look into the wars of Croatia, Hungary, and France, in Henry the fourth's time—This custom, so long habituated, is not easily rooted out. If we can bring them in, let us; it is so good a work, that he would have the Committee bring in such a Clause. And as to "the person standing mute, and not declaring his goods," suppose a Factor trusted with goods of another man's, to the value of 100,000l. would it be fit to send him to the House of Correction? Is the Church nothing but discipline? The Church of Christ is the doctrine of Christ; the ceremonies are the Church of men. As great men as the Church has had, have dissented in discipline, though they have not published it. The Church is built upon the state of England, and the Commonwealth bears the Church, not the Church the Commonwealth—A great Prelate, considering how to recover the honour of the Church, says, "How came the Church by that honour? By piety and humility, and by pride and insolence lost it." He was troubled at it, but says he, "What is to be done? Bring your Churchmen into good life and good manners, and you have restored it."—Would have the King's condition better than it is; but thinks this not the way to do it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] That which stumbles him is, that the same persons for the same offence shall be punished by two several Acts; the punishments, being by the two Laws different, may clain. This Bill was brought in to supply the defect of the other Bill, in power of distresses, and those Clauses were crowded into it. As for "standing mute," if they have not goods, and they tell you so, shall they be whipped for being no richer than they are?
Mr Henry Coventry.] Will you oblige a Committee to bring you in a Bill according to the debate of the House, which has two sides; and must the Committee report two opinions? It is upon the opinion and sense of the House.
Sir Edw. Dering.] Fears that Justices may be involved by the former Law in 100l. penalty for not suppressing Riot, and in 100l. more for not sending warrants to suppress Conventicles, &c. The Law commits rioters to Jail; this Bill to the House of Correction; which will involve the Justice in many inconveniences.
Mr Boscawen.] Is against the whole Bill—No exception of ages, and qualities, and persons, and thinks it will be a reproach upon us abroad, to send a person of quality to the House of Correction—Physic, of different natures, is not to be administered at the same time. The world is not the same as formerly; things of reconciliation will bring us to a better temper; and why may not this Bill be forborne now? Matters of Faith are not to be done by force; we have Laws sufficient already.
Colonel Birch.] If ever was a time, now is, to consider of this Bill—Every man is apt to lay his finger upon his neighbour's fore place—These people are Protestants, and agree in the articles of your doctrine. These people come not to the public [worship,] and the things imposed, that keep them away, the imposers of them do confess indifferent; and for these you lay punishments— Fears it may be a sin for you—We are strangely declined since these Acts; much calamity has been upon us. If ever a nation had need of union, it is now. Make these men fight for the King, and you do well. The burden and weight is great upon the nation, and you may have need of their hands—You would not have them glaze the windows that are not to live in the house—Has read and heard that a supreme Magistrate may better govern three or four parties than one; for he may set one against another. The Book of Sports was the beginning of the Rebellion —Would not have so great an interest twisted against our own—Is sorry there should be a separation, but you may unite them—Suppose a man twenty years ago was ordained by Presbyters, and we will not let him officiate, unless re-ordained; another scruples the Cross in Baptism; shall we whip and scourge this man out of the Church? Is this the way to deal with rational people? What must these do? One in the house sits, another stands, leans, or kneels, and must we be indifferent in the solemn worship of God, and enjoyn kneeling at the sacrament? So many men as you compell, so many subjects you lose the King.
Colonel Williams.] Remembers that, amongst the many expressions of Birch, in favour of the Church of England, he ever joins Popery and Prelacy together—Speaking of their numbers is threatening.
Colonel Birch.] The vote of "damnable heresy, Popery, and Prelacy," was voted in 1644 or 1645; he came not into the Long Parliament till 1646.
Sir Edmund Pooley.] Grant Birch's argument, and you take away the King's Supremacy, who may impose in things indifferent. All prefaces to the Liturgy tell you "ceremonies are indifferent," but cease to be so when commanded—Does not this carry rebellion in the face? The government is the case, and there is the root of iniquity. The same thing of the Cross in Baptism was before the Pope, in St. Jerom's time. Birch says, "for aught he knows, re-baptising may as well be as re-ordaining." Nothing of ordination by Presbyters before Calvin's time, and challenges any man to show the contrary.
Sir Richard Temple.] Asserts that what Birch says of the Prelacy was in Richard's Convention; by the same token they would have had "Presbytery" put in—Would have this Bill look both ways, to unite as well as to punish—Is afraid that you handle all Dissenters alike— Would have all these sons of Zeruiah handled differently—Queen Elizabeth did all by mildness. Lord Chief Justice Vaughan, when in this House, would have you consider that Queen Elizabeth made the saying morning and evening service be the standard of conformity, by Act.—The Presbyterians are not capable of toleration, because they are an army with banners; they draw many from you; separate them from Independents and Papists, and they will come into your Church. Let them renounce Presbytery in their practice rather than another way; Independents are not capable neither of comprehension, but they are not capable of imposing; they may be allowed Meeting-houses out of towns, under what security you will. Get your disease into a part, your gout into your toe, and you may get it sooner away. The King of France suffers no private meetings, all public; the Catholics get ground by a promiscuous toleration.
[The Bill passed, 74 to 53.]
[April 6, 7, and 8, omitted.]
Monday, April 10.
[The ingrossed Bill for laying impositions on proceedings at Law was read the third time.]
[Debate on the Proviso to prevent malicious and vexatious informations and indictments, that the party should be discharged without fees.]
Sir Richard Temple.] Would have the charge be at the cost of the informer, and that the officers of the Court should not pay where they were not in fault.
Sir Thomas Lee.] If you lay it upon the informer, no man will prosecute. The question is, that whether they shall be supported but by the charge of the criminal? people dare seldom traverse; it is better possibly, by the twentieth part, to confess the indictment. This will probably prevent the Clerks of Assize and Sessions from setting up prowlers and informers; they compound with these, and this makes the mischief.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Would not have this important Clause, that must pass as an Act, be of three minutes digestion. There are other remedies, as actions on the case, &c. for malicious prosecutions, which is so home a Law, that it sometimes makes witnesses swear too home to condemn a man for fear of the Law, as it is already.
Mr Boscawen.] People are advised by the Clerk of the Assizes rather to confess than traverse, which is an unnatural thing to justice; you ought rather to mitigate fees of traverse, or give some such remedy.
Colonel Birch.] Says that this Proviso is natural, and [will piease] the people, seeing your care in laying money, and easing them another way. This is a growing thing; men grow crafty, and though Benson, Clerk of Yorkshire Assizes, was quit before you, yet fees appeared justly to be 9 or 10l. This is contrary to the nature of the thing of an indictment. A man must sacrifice his purse for his innocence—If you say the informer shall pay, you will have no information; but if you will mend the fees, and make them smaller, likes it well.
[The Proviso was rejected, 67 to 60.]
[The Bill passed.]
A Message from the Lords, "to desire a Conference upon the Bill of imposition on foreign commodities, and also a Conference touching an Address to be made to his Majesty." Exceptions were taken that the Lords name not what the Address is.
Mr Waller.] In some things we cannot confer with the Lords, and thinks this one.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Possibly their Messengers may be mistaken, as sometimes ours are; but we are now grown more cunning.
Sir Thomas Lee.] If the thing be about forbidding wearing of foreign commoditics, and they have mistaken, let us have their paper, as the Lord Keeper often takes ours.
The two Masters in Chancery, who were the Messengers, had no paper.
Mr Attorney Finch.] We cannot deliberate upon this Message, for "sending answer by Messengers of our own," is like the King's s'avisera—Would agree, for we have sometimes done so.
Sir Richard Temple.] No man can give a precedent that a Conference was agreed to, when the subject-matter was not dictated.
Earl of Orrery.] "To send an answer by Messengers of our own" is a denial in the roughest manner that can be— Would not have any thing look like a breach.
Sir John Birkenhead.] If the Lords desire a free conference, the subject-matter must be known, because of answering. Possibly the things may not be fit to be told you now, 'till a day's time.
Sir John Duncombe.] Possibly this may be a communicating of private intelligence, or to open a thing you cannot otherwise comprehend—Would agree to it.
Mr Waller.] When he was a Manager in Lord Clarendon's business, a Bishop brought a great book (thinks it was the Lords Journal (fn. 3) ) and told us when they might deny Conference. Queen Eliz.—A hundred wiser men than he thought that such a thing as this broke the little Parliament, and drew after it all the ill consequences— Would have the commission of the Managers confined —3 Charles, in the Duke of Buckingham's time, he, and the rest, who attended a Conference of the Lords, out of a curiosity to hear the Duke speak (who did it very well) and it was not to the subject-matter of the Conference, all called out, "Aye, Aye;" and they were chidden when they came to the House for crying, "Aye, Aye."
Sir Rich. Temple.] It is an indisputable rule of Parliament, that you cannot confer upon a thing not depending between both Houses; and to preserve good correspondency, send to the Lords to know their meaning—It was so in King James's time, when a discourse happened at a Conference about the King's power to impose upon foreign commodities by Prerogative—To the first part of the Message would agree; to the second would send answer by Messengers of our own, and at the Conference you may let them know the irregularity; but whether by Message, or Conference, is the question.
Colonel Titus.] At the first did believe the Messengers had in their paper the subject-matter—Is against it, for the novelty of it, not saying any subject-matter, and for the precedent. The Lords well know the subjectmatter; it may be something they cannot admit, as upon judicature; then they deny; this may be of money, which we cannot confer about.
Mr Waller.] Has forgot whether the Conference in King James's time was declared for what; but since the Lords were so rigid, as at a Conference to show the precedents (as the Bishop of Rochester did with a great book) wherein the Lords denied Conference, has ever since been careful in the matter.
Answer to the Lords, "The House agrees to a Conference about the Bill of foreign commodities; but as to the Address to the King, will send an answer by Messengers of our own (fn. 4)."
The House [then] taking into consideration the Message sent down from the Lords for a Conference, touching an Address to be made to his Majesty, which not mentioning the subjectmatter of the said Address,
Ordered, That it be referred to a Committee named to search the books for precedents, concerning Messages between both Houses, and to report the same to-morrow morning.
Tuesday, April 11.
A Message from the Lords, by the same Messengers, "That the Lords think our answer unparliamentary, and desire a Conference at five of the clock in the afternoon, upon the subject-matter of our answer, and they will be sitting accordingly (fn. 5)."
Sir Thomas Meres.] All these goings to the Lords are lessening you—You have not affirmed any thing. "To be unparliamentary," and to send it you in the face of the House, by their Messengers, looks high. The second Conference, about the Address to the King, has neither time nor place mentioned—This word "unparliamentary," in the face of the House, ought not to have been said; it was never so before.
Sir Robert Howard.] The Lords do not recite our answer by their Messengers, but say it is unparliamentary; we cannot tell what to make of this Message, nor which Conference they mean, whether unparliamentary that we sent an answer, or whether delivered right or wrong, or whether our sending answer by Messengers of our own.
Mr Waller.] Verbera, sed cudi—Wonders that before the Lords hear us at Conference, they, being a Court of Justice, should call it unparliamentary.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Lords made you stay an hour and a half, in order to a Conference, and came not, and then send you a Message to the House—You have granted them their Conference, and you can do nothing but hear—It is not usual to confound two different matters at the same Conference.
Sir Charles Harbord.] Attend the Conference, and then consider what to do.
[The Messengers being called in, Mr Speaker acquaints them, that the House had considered of their Message, and did agree with the Lords to the Conference, at five of the clock this afternoon.]
[In the Afternoon.] A Conference.
Earl of Anglesea.] The Lords have desired this Conference, to preserve a good correspondence with the House of Commons—Takes notice of an unusual answer sent by their Messengers (and then repeats the Message.) The Lords took great care to satisfy themselves in the way their and your ancestors usually walked, and find it different from the usual ways of answers from the House of Commons.
Lord Holles.] To grant a Conference for one part of the Message, and not the other, [is] unusual.
Sir Robert Howard reports from the Conference.] "That they [the Lords] had received an unusual answer, and that caused the Lords to call it unparliamentary, which they look upon as strange, to agree to one part, and dissent to the other. Upon search they find this way was wholly strange to refuse Conferences, especially part agreed to, and part refused."
Sir Thomas Meres.] Lord Anglesea hinted in the end of his discourse, as if there was a mistake.
Sir William Coventry.] Conferences were not all to that purpose, but sometimes for communications.
Sir Richard Temple.] To possess either House of a matter new to them.
Sir Robert Holt.] In Lord Mordaunt's business, Conference was denied; but is glad to hear from the Lords that it is unparliamentary to deny Conferences.
Sir Richard Temple.] It has been usual to mind you of things at Conference; but the novelty is to demand one Conference upon more things; the one is explicit, the other implicit—Can show you where the Lords have denied Conference at first. A Bill signed by Queen Eliz. of particular grace to a Lord. The Commons would not so perfectly restore him, but they would have a saving to other persons interest. He complained to the Lords; but the Commons passed the Bill, and denied Conference, because the Bill was not returned to the Lords, and therefore they could take no notice of the thing—You excepted against Lord Mordaunt's sitting, as a delinquent. The Lords told you it was in their power not to grant Conference. In King James's time, the Lords refused Conference about impositions on commodities, because the subject-matter was not before them. The Bishop of Lincoln called it a noli me tangere. The Lords mistake themselves in saying "it is a refusal in part;" when we say "we will send an answer by Messengers of our own," it is as much as to say, "we will not send you an answer without thinking." There is an occasion sought by the Lords rather than given by us.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Never saw a business made shorter by over-leaping it; it is done best by gradation. In their Journal, one Conference upon different things; in ours, two Conferences, as we understand it—You should, in his opinion, send a Message to know what their Lordships meant by the whole Message—Thinks if they put any thing into the Conference, you ought not to receive it; you are to deny the whole Conference; we say the Message was two, and we did right to accept the one, and not the other.
Sir Robert Howard.] Would not stumble upon the threshold; their own Messengers returned it to the Lords as two. If the mistake was in the Messengers, it is easily rectified—(Precedent brought)—You are upon things known, as impositions and judicatures; but to send us an adjudication upon a Message, is strange—In all the hot votes in Skinner's business, you had but one such Message, and would have those that go up tell the Lords, that the Message was too hasty.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Whatever is of mistake, he would have forgotten—Takes that only for clear that is upon our books, and that is the right; but in a matter liable to a mistake, it was very early, in the middle of the House, to tell us "it was unparliamentary," at the first chop. Surely the Lords staid long for their dinner; it was too angry, and should have been said last. For aught we know, this address might be about money, or the Militia—Would therefore have a hint in the Conference, that we would have some word, as relating to the same Bill, to give us some light into what they mean, being, as they are now, two things of different natures; and would touch them upon making our Managers stay an hour and an half, and not coming to us.
The Speaker.] Whether the Peers can demand Conference, without declaring the subject-matter, is the debate—The case of Parry, 4 Henry IV.—Stroude's case, the Judges said, in Lord Holles's, Mr Selden's, &c. and it was Lord Chief Justice Vaughan's opinion, that it was a general case—You sent Mr Cheney for a Conference barely; they consented to Conference, without the subject-matter.
Mr Cheney.] Desired to know for what, when sent. He was answered, "nothing but barely Conference." The Lords, after some debate, called him in, and answered, "That the Lords would send an answer by Messengers of their own;" but your book is, "That the Lords, being not acquainted with the subject-matter, would send answer by Messengers of their own." Your book is marked in the margin as wrong entered. The Lords, having granted it, ought not now to deny you; here is nothing but mistake in the way.
The Speaker.] Nothing remains but that you take it unkindly they should send us a Message that the thing was unparliamentary.
Mr Harwood.] If your Money-Bill had not been sent up, possibly they would not have told you it was unparliamentary.
Sir Richard Temple.] You have more reason now to debate; if you can deny a Conference to what you know, surely you may to what you do not — Possibly we might have attended them at the Conference (when they made us stay so long) the whole Session; let us mind them when they halt.
Mr Henry Coventry.] We are fond, he fears, of things we are informed of, and know not in the manner we ought. They say they sent for one Conference, we say for two; you may possibly instruct your Members to say we may deny a Conference, but no farther.—Would have you limit your Members, before you come to a free Conference.
Earl of Orrery.] It is granted on all sides, that either House may send for Conference—Does not believe that the Lords sent the Message as we take it, though it was so delivered. When you justify your proceedings by your Journals, the fault will remain upon the Messengers, and so it remains a drawn battle.
Sir Tho. Meres.] Remembers, this Session, two Conferences demanded, one after the other, suddenly, upon two different matters.
Sir John Birkenhead.] 1 Queen Eliz. They sent, by the Sollicitor, for a Conference in the Painted Chamber, where they acquainted you that Queen Mary was dead; but, except that, knows of no precedent. But at that time the Queen was dead, and they [were] dissolved; though the Lords then usually met with the Privy-Council, to consult the quiet of the Realm.
Mr Waller.] We cannot say a time when we desire a Conference; the Lords may call, and we not [be] ready— We may find the Lords mistake, but they not ours—In the beginning of the Long Parliament, some Lords, as they thought, spoke in favour of the Irish rebellion— We can see their books, they not ours (being open for us) which will rectify the mistake—Has seen our Conference upon divers occasions, and can instance several particulars—We did not deny them Conference, as the Lords accuse us of; but let us tell the Lords where the mistake began, and desire Conference.
Mr Vaughan.] We did not reject the Conference, and there lies the mistake—Whether two Conferences, or two things in the same Conference?—We have retained the Conference in the intelligible part, and considered of it in the unintelligible part; but the "unparliamentary" expression in the Message is a reproaching us.
The Speaker.] In Queen Mary's time the Lords sent a Message, "that they had matter of great consequence to impart to us," and required a Conference with us; but the Lords did it not as a Parliament, it being dissolved by the Queen's death.
Mr Attorney Finch.] All the matter is to know how to get out of this—We may raise bug-bears to such an elevation as will trouble us.
The Speaker.] Vide Hackwell's book.—Some angry words, in the case of the Restoration in blood of a young Lord.
Sir Richard Temple.] 3 Charles—Sir Francis Goodwin's case of purveyance—The Commons would not proceed to Conference about it, having disapproved the thing. He can show many more such.
[Resolved, That a Conference be desired with the Lords, on the subject-matter of the last Conference; and that Sir Robert Carr do go up to the Lords to desire a Conference; which was agreed to by the Lord.]
Wednesday, April 12.
[Sir Robert Howard opened, and read to the House, the Message to be presented at the Conference, which is as follows.]
"My Lords, The House of Commons have commanded us to acquaint your Lordships, that they desired this Conference for the preservation of a good correspondence between both Houses, by representing to your Lordships the mistake that had happened. In order to which, they have commanded us to read to your Lordships the Message and Answer, as they are entered in their Journals. [Message and Answer read.] By these your Lordships may perceive, that, by the Message, two distinct Conferences were desired. To one the Commons agreed; to the other they replied, "they would send an answer by Messengers of their own; so that there was no Conference denied. The Commons therefore conceive, that your Lordships were very sudden, by a Message, to term it "unparliamentary," before reasons on either side were heard; and they conceive there is hardly a precedent to be found, where, by a Message, before any Conference, the Lords or Commons have called any thing "unparliamentary."
[This Message being allowed by the House, a Conference was desired with the Lords.
Sir Robert Howard reports, That, according to the commands of the House, they had attended; and read, and delivered the Message of this House to the Lords.
A Message from the Lords, by Mr Baron Turner and Mr Baron Littleton; "Mr Speaker, The Lords have sent us to desire a Conference with this House, presently, in the Painted Chamber, upon the Bill for an additional imposition on foreign commodities, and concerning an Address to be presented to his Majesty; and to let the House know, that this is the same Message which was then directed by the House of Peers, and delivered to their Messengers in writing, all but the time (fn. 6)." The Messengers being withdrawn, and called in again, Mr Speaker acquainted them, "That the House had considered of the Message, and did agree to a present Conference;" which the House then went up to attend accordingly.]
At the Conference.
Earl of Anglesea.] The Lords have had long consideration of this Bill, and have made amendments, some literal, some verbal. In the sugar, the Lords have made sugars from " one penny per £b." to "halfpenny half farthing." The Lords have heard the Merchants and Planters; the price agrees with the Refiners.
Earl of Essex.] The King's revenue will not be prejudiced by it—[As for the] Salmon trade at Berwick, they must buy French salt of the Scotch, for our own spoils the colour of the fish—That of " Coals" the Lords disagree to; a particular advantage for a general disadvantage, as to London, and it will divert your own vessels, and make other things dearer, and it did not appear to the Lords that any considerable quantities are exported, but for Smiths forges —[As for] Brandy, it is not orderly that whilst a Bill is depending of the same thing, without letting the Lords know any thing, the same should be returned verbatim to the Lords, in another Bill. In this Bill, therefore, the Lords have left out the whole Clause—Precedent, 23 Eliz. about fort fying the borders of Scotland. The Lords rejected the Bill without reading it, (which they have not done this,) [as] unparliamentary, and of dangerous consequence— Lord Stourton's attainder, 29 Eliz. March 22. The Lords having passed a Bill for Thomas Handford's lands, and the Commons rejecting the Bill without Conference, and another Bill sent up, the Lords would not read it. If the same thing [is] done once, then twice, and so ad infinitum— Those two Bills are contradictory to one another—Upon the whole, they find several things charged, not relating to the Bill. That a Bill of money shall come, like a great charter, to put in all that the subject desires to be granted, though ever so foreign to the Bill. Money-Bills may be new charters; a new precedent. Less temptation to the breaking this Law, by desiring the King to wear the manufactures of this Kingdom, and discountenance the wearing them in men and women.
Lord Ashley.] This will invert the course of Parliaments; by the same nature, freedom of debate, and all parliamentary things, fall; and by the same reason, any thing of any foreign nature whatsoever may be added.
Earl of Manchester.] The Lords have considered the great damage the Kingdom has by wearing foreign commodities, and not our own; and, in pursuance and confirmation of the Bill, have thought fit to make this Address, viz. " We your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Lords spiritual and temporal (and Commons) in Parliament assembled, do humbly beseech your Majesty, that you would be graciously pleased, by your own example, to encourage the constant wearing of the manufactures of your own Kingdoms and Dominions; and discountenance such persons (men or women) in your Court, as shall wear any manufactures made by foreign countries."
[Mr Attorney-General reports, from the Conference, That the Managers had attended the Conference with the Lords, where their Lordships opened the material Amendments that they had made to the Bill of impositions on foreign commodities, and expressed their reasons for the same. As to their Lordships Amendments to that part of the Bill concerning impositions on sugars, their Lordships gave their reasons for the same in writing, which he read in his place. And farther reports the Address to be made to his Majesty, (which see above) which Bill, with the Amendments and Address, being delivered in at the Clerk's Table,
Resolved, That the House do proceed on the aforesaid Amendments to-morrow morning; and that this House doth agree with the Lords, in the Address aforesaid, to be made to his Majesty.]
Thursday, April 13.
Debate on the Lords Amendments to the Bill for an imposition on foreign commodities (fn. 7).
Mr Attorney Finch.] Shall be the last man in this House that ever shall yield that the Lords have power to lower impositions, as well as lay impositions—Peruse the Lords paper, not with admitting they have power to lower any thing, but in order to convince the Lords.
The Speaker.] In the Lords Amendment there is a lowering of English, and raising of foreign commodities.
Sir Robert Atkins.] If the Lords have power to lower, they might have had just occasion in passing the book of Rates; but they did not so much as read the book, but took it pro confesso, that they had no power to lower.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] In cases where there is not one affirmative precedent, debates are the shorter; put the case a man says, Pay me my money; one reason is said, I have no money, and that silences all—First, would assert your Right, and then, considering the Bill to be of trade, agreeing with the Lords will be destructive to your Plantations, viz. Whether you should have your Resiners in the Plantations, or in England? Five ships go for the Blacks, and not above two, if refined in the Plantations; and so you destroy shipping, and all that belongs to it; and if you lose this advantage to England, you lose all. The materials are there dearer, and so the capital stock of the nation will be impaired; the current and standard money of the Plantations, by this means, will be in a few hands, to the destruction of your Plantations.
Mr Henry Coventry.] The Bill has two heads, imposition on foreign commodities, and encouraging your own trade. If the Lords had not said so much particularly, and sent to us for a Conference, without naming the quantum, the thing might have been fairly argued; but you must never come to debate their power of quantum; they have a negative voice, and may reject the whole. If we parley, it looks like yielding. If you yield this point of the quantum, the next will be to yield the power of heightening.
Sir George Downing.] If you give not the Lords reasons for not lowering, and that they ought to agree with you, they may totally reject the Bill. In your Calcule you reckoned two of brown sugar to one of white, and the navigation rateably. Taken down to Order by
Mr Hampden.] If this be clearly an imposing, would not have it put to the question, which is out of all doubt—Would have that stated—Would have the Lords keep their hands out of our purses, and at a Conference plainly to tell the Lords, that it is a raising they have no power to do; but as to the lowering, by debate we may clear that.
Sir John Birkenhead.] If the Lords would ease the people, and we will not let them, it is the way to make the people fall upon us. We dare not depart from the power of lowering and heightening—When a SubsidyTax comes from the Convocation, you cannot alter any tittle, no more than a general pardon; so it is with the Lords in these taxes upon the people. The Lords have given money without the Commons, but only from themselves; the Commons would not join with them; they called it a device.
Sir Edward Dering.] Is very well pleased to see the House assert our Rights and the people's, but would not enter into the debate, at the latter end of a Session, about Privileges. This is as clear an imposition as can be expressed; we tax all foreign sugars at such a rate. The new Clause the Lords add to it of the Portugal sugars, which by the former clause they must pay, and by this new one also—Would not agree with the Lords.
Sir Richard Temple.] In the silks they have taken off the charge also, and thinks they have power to do neither—The business of the Customs, tonnage and poundage, is purely our grant—"Your poor Commons, (or loyal subjects) considering the defence of the sea, at your great charges, do give and grant, &c." though the Lords, for form's sake, do legislatively pass it—The Commons usually brought a schedule of charge, and the Lords consent is only to the power of levying it. They have granted by themselves, and so have the Clergy, but [there is] no coertion in the gathering it; but they put themselves into our grants, by reason the King should not overtax them, and we have recourse to them for ways only of levying it—The Lords may say "that we agree pro tanto, and that is a concurrence;" but they may as well say, "that if they lay 8d. it is a concurring, &c. to 6d." The consequence will be, the Lords tell the world they are fitter judges what the people may give than we—Would advise you to assert your Right; that the Lords taking upon them to alter any rate, after it is adjusted by the House of Commons, is a breach of Privilege, and that you have not made use of this Right to prejudice the King, but to induce the Lords to concur with the whole Bill; and you may assert these to be the weighty reasons. Had we not been tied up with these reasons, the Lords would go away with the credit of easing the people; and then would give our reasons for our charge. But—
The Speaker.] This debate is disorderly, for it looks like instructions to Managers, before you have agreed, or disagreed.
Mr Vaughan.] That which must move you to agree, or disagree, must be debate, and not do it ex post facto.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Wonders that in a point where there is no negative in the House, we should have such circumstantial doubts—Sees no man for the amendments, but thinks the question for agreeing, regular.
Mr Cheney.] The Lords sent you down an Amendment upon the imposition of Beer and Mum, and you agreed to it in matter of fact.
Mr Attorney Finch.] We must never depart from our power of raising and lowering. If the Lords can show a precedent that they ever added, or took, a mite of what the Commons have given the King, they may impose now; and they may exempt themselves, by the same reason, from paying their proportion. The Lords will, by this, introduce a popularity, at the price of the reputation of the House of Commons. It will diminish our power, and not establish the right of the Crown—Proposes that the question shall be put, to demand a Conference upon the subject-matter of the last Conference, and assert our reasons for our judicature, in point of imposition, when that shall be exposed to the world, as if we knew not what we did—As the Lords have denied us a free Conference as to some supposed jurisdiction of theirs, so we may deny any Conference as to the point of our jurisdiction.
Mr Coleman.] If you dispute the power now, the next time you will grant it them; therefore would not have any debate at the Conference about it. After the question of not agreeing, &c. is over, would enter it into your Journal, without any touch upon our jurisdiction.
Mr Vaughan.] If they can be popular lawfully, let them. The Lords have right, as well as we, to debate a Bill, paragraph by paragraph, as to the tantum, so the totum—3 Hen. VI. The Lords were debating a Bill, and expressly said, "that if the Commons grant four subsidies, the Lords may lower them to two."
The Speaker.] It was said by a Judge, but never allowed in Parliament—But of Fitzherbert, 13 Edw. III. The Commons would not treat with the Lords, unless they came down to treat, and if the Lords agree not with them, they told them they might defend themselves— Two Parliaments in that year—The Commons called the Lords ordinance a new device—What a case shall the poor King be in, if the Lords can stop, and give more or less?—We have enough to do to give already.
Sir Robert Howard.] The balance of all these things is the right of both Houses; whether the Lords lower, or not, it is their rate, and the Commons give it not. We, the Commons give, and the Lords make it less; then we give not.—If the Commons cannot say they give, their title will be yielded.
Sir Robert Steward.] Would not debate the Lords power, for we have not agreed to their Amendments— No man can be imposed upon without his own consent— The Book of Rates was signed by Sir Harbottle Grimstone, the last Convention, and the Lords disputed it not.
Sir Thomas Strickland.] Thinks the consequence of lowering worse than raising; should the Lords have the power of lowering, we lose our reputation in the country, and let the emergency be ever so great, we shall be afraid to give the King money—The King can lower it, we may lower it, but the Lords have no power, and would not have the Lords go away with the popularity of the thing.
Sir Thomas Lee.] In this Bill you have provided against the King's lowering.—No man denies you the sole right. The Lords cannot propound money, but must the Lords pay whatever you send them up? The Lords were taxed in the Poll-Bill; you began it, and might not the Lords dispute themselves? Because the Commons are so liberal, may not the Lords say they cannot give so much? The Lords may be of opinion to tax, and yet they may not be able to pay what you say they can. They never hurt the people by lowering the rate, but in necessity of its defence, and for the popularity of the Lords: it is very well that one part of the Government be well in the eyes of the people. Whoever is of opinion they cannot lower the rates, gives you ill advice; if you give the Lords reasons, you draw yourselves into a Conference, in point of honour, to justify your balance of trade— Would willingly disagree, if you could maintain it—In the Ale and Mum the Lords desired a lessening of what was formerly granted. They only rebated as to so much before granted—The sale of the fee-farm [rents] came from them.
Colonel Birch.] Why do you subject a thing to the Lords debate, which is not debatable? If you examine it, you will never find the Lords have done it. This Bill being an aid by customs, and that in things of this nature the Lords never altered rates—You may say, at the Conference, you will give reasons for the whole.
Mr Harwood.] If ever he hoped to go to the Lords House, he would be of his opinion—We shall go off with a fear at the best—If we admit a debate, we admit some reason on the other side. If we come to debate it, we go yet farther back. We say "one penny," the Lords say, "a halfpenny and half farthing," Portugal and Plantations.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Would have it upon your books, "that the Lords ought not to alter any sum of money given by us," to remain to posterity—In Aids given by the Commons, rates are not to be altered.
Mr Powle, to the Clauses of Corn.] Deductions were made in tenths and fifteenths, to be seen in all printed Acts since Henry VIII. to King James, for decayed towns. This House has always made public deductions for public uses; and this of Corn, which the Lords would leave out, is a public help to the Kingdom, and would have us agree not to leave it out.
Mr Attor. Finch.] This Proviso of yours which the Lords would leave out, is as if, to help a woollen manufacture, you should take off the King's duty, and so of the rest.
Sir Thomas Doleman.] The time in the Bill was lengthened for the sake of this Clause, to help us the better to pay the King's Duty; and therefore would keep the Clause in, and not agree with the Lords.
On the Amendment of the Lords, "of determination of two Justices."
Mr Attorney Finch.] This Clause will erect as many Courts of Justice as there are Justices; and there may be a formal seizure, and as formal a delivery, and so the King be defrauded.
Mr Powle.] People may be vexed with suits that live an hundred miles off, in the Exchequer, where there is no damage against the King.
On the Lords leaving out "the exportation of Coals."
Mr Henry Coventry.] This way is as improper to us as the other to the Lords; it is to crowd whatever you would have into a Money-Bill.
Sir Richard Temple.] What was said at the Conference was, "that it might divert your ships from better employments." The Farmers told the Lords, that there is a necessity of such a proportion of Coals to be exported for Smiths, and such work abroad, who must be supplied, and they were willing that you rate it as high as you will; an argument they will not give much.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Lord Townshend (who has the Patent for Coals exported) not being heard, and you grant away his Patent; would have us return what Patents or Grants we have from the King, and then we shall be even, and he will begin with his.
Colonel Birch.] If no more Coals can be imported than already, what became of 3000 chaldrons extraordinary, exported out of Scotland, upon bating of the Custom one year? It is true you take some little from the King, but the return into the nation will be of great advantage. Whatever more Coals you carry, you have the more money, and the more you get, the more you have. In King's ships and Merchants you must have seamen; in Coal-ships country fellows, who are made seamen quickly, and it is the greatest nursery of seamen we have in England.
Mr Attorney Finch.] " We want seamen, and therefore the imposition hinders," is Birch's argument; upon that occasion seamen have not been wanting, for it is but two or three years since we wanted. We may adorn a thing by national epithets, but we must not forget common honesty; when the Lords plainly see it is the King's duty, and Lord Townshend, that has it from the King, is not heard—You may give it otherwise than by ways of injustice—Thus—
Sir Robert Howard.] If ever any thing looked partial, the Attorney's arguments do—Your want of paying the seamen is that which has lost them from you—Would consider public good before the particular interest of any Lord.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] Doubts we shall be deceived in this business. The Farmers say, that the rent of it is to be governed by the importation abroad. You are told, by Birch, of Scotland.—He will not affirm any thing against fact, but if he encounters that argument with the smallness of the rent of Newcastle Coal, the argument is equal. If you can find vent, you will increase the rates here double; and if no vent, wholly useless—Is against the Clause, take it which way you will.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Whatever you send abroad you are a gainer by it, for by impoverishing one you enrich two; you have so much wealth, no one thing you vend but brings you either ready money, or that which you must buy for ready money—Has heard that in case of murder the King cannot pardon, because against his coronation oath, unless the person is expressed in the general pardon; so this Patent, by the same reason, would be void, if the use be not expressed, viz. for defence of the nation. If the poor Commons grant to support the Kingdom, and things be granted away to support great persons, it will hinder grants for the future from the Commons.
Mr Powle.] The compensation of Corn and Coal was his greatest inducement to pass the Bill for nine years; if these had not helped out, would never have consented to the time.
Sir Thomas Meres.] This very thing of Coal has run in our stomachs these eight or nine years; if it will employ so many more hands, we shall have so many more seamen, and if ever we are ruined, it will be by want of them.
Mr Coleman.] Was lately at Ipswich, which has near 1000 seamen, and gentlemen are owners; that town is almost desolate, and merely by the imposition of Coals for London, they getting not three per cent.—Now it is so high, foreigners carry.
Mr Waller.] Never more plenty of any thing than what is carried most away. The more sheep, for exportation of woollen cloth—At Calais, when a ship of Coals comes in, the people run to fetch it, as if it was bullion. If this be cheaper than their own fuel, they will use it in the midland of France, as on the coasts.—If this Patent lies in our way, this may hinder all the Laws you make (if any bar or grant.) Tonnage and Poundage never granted, but for the life of Kings, not to save the purse of the nation, but the life of the nation, because no grants should be of it, being for defence—It is a hard thing, we being called by writ here, that a Patent or Grant should stop an Act of King, Lords, and Commons, given by chance, no man knows how; the King may make him right, and thither let him go for it.
Sir Solomon Swale.] The King was deceived in his Grant, and therefore the Patent is void in itself—Would have national things considered before private.
[Resolved, nem. con. That in all aids given to the King by the Commons, the Rate or Tax ought not to be altered by the Lords.]
Friday, April 14.
[On Sir Robert Howard's Report from the Committee appointed to consider of Reasons to be used at the Conference to be had with the Lords.]
Instructions to the Managers.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Confine your Conference with the Lords to the rates of merchandize, as in all former precedents we have done, without the interposing of the Lords, and not engage into the universal proposition of all aids whatsoever. To the former the Lords can have no precedent, nor reason against it—Cannot agree with Birch's agreement with him; if he does, he cannot agree with himself; he would not split upon that rock of offence, of engaging into our reasons into particulars [without saying, eo nomine.]—Would not engage into a general negative, but confine it to this of Merchants rates, and therefore, eo nomine, cannot agree.
Sir William Coventry.] You have put it into the general proposition of aids, but will take the substance of that particular for use—It is said the Lords cannot find a precedent—He has looked, from Henry VIII's time, given as the gift of the Commons in terminis, to 7th of King James—In the Customs you are pretty strong. In other things the Lords have given, as well as you. In Queen Elizabeth's time, the Lords have in subsidy given them, as well as in act with you.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Thinks it your prudence to make yourselves as small a mark for the Lords to hit as you can. Why should we hold a flag to fight in all propositions, whereas we have but one to maintain? The last Statutes, in the Parliament of Elizabeth, they will urge upon you.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] It is a usual thing in Conference to assign several parts to several persons—Would have Mr Attorney manage this.
Sir Richard Temple.] You assert "that in such aids as do proceed from the Commons the Lords cannot answer." If you only allege it as a reason of those that manage the Conference, and leave a vote for the after-game, you will be too late; therefore moves to pass a vote, and restrain your former vote, if you think it too general.— To go to Conference by halves, and the Managers to give it as the sense of the House only, without being armed by a vote, you invite the Lords to give you reasons again by a free Conference, in answer to yours; and lay your vote for a rule.
The Speaker.] Your vote goes thus far, that "no aid given to the King by the Commons ought to be altered by the Lords." At a Conference, says one, your latter part of the vote may be made use of as to the alteration of rates imposed by the House of Commons.