Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 10. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Tuesday, May 6.
In a Grand Committee, on the Amendments to the Regency-Bill.
Mr Powle.] When I heard this opened, I did not well understand it. The words of the Clause do expressly vest the Power in the Queen, as in the King. Then comes the Proviso, and says, "It shall, notwithstanding, be in the Queen."
Mr Finch.] The first Proposition divests the King; but by making it lawful for the Queen, it does not say it is unlawful for the King to do it. There is a great deal of difference; the King is resolved to trust the Queen.
Sir John Guise.] I am dissatisfied with what fell from Finch. If "the King has resolved it," and we must not debate it, I think the freedom of Parliament is gone. If the King has said, "He will trust the Queen," and that is not a thing to be talked of here, I have done.
Sir William Pulteney.] The distinction offered by Finch, if it be a distinction, is a wonderful nice one. Whatever the Queen does, if it is lawful for him to do, does divest the King of Power. I would not have the Government depend upon such nice distinctions. If it puts the executive Power in the King and Queen to act differently, they may act differently. Perhaps all these objections may not happen; but when we do it, we must be able to satisfy the World as rational men. I appeal, whether ever a Regency of Lieutenancy, or Custos Regni, was pro hâc vice? This may, perhaps, as 'tis penned in the Bill, be for twenty years. If the King will go, he must go; but I would not leave it upon such nice distinctions.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I conceive we are in a miserable condition, and the King must go for our safety; and if we do not provide for his absence, we are in a miserable condition. Pulteney says, "He never knew a Custos, &c. for twenty years, &c." But he must consider, that he never knew any Custos, &c. but Subjects.
Sir William Pulteney.] He totally mistakes me in what I said; the meaning was this: Whatever Custos you have, when the King goes into Scotland, or France, there must be a Law for the Administration of the Government.
Mr Finch.] I should be loth that the Government should depend upon nice distinctions. Not any thing came from me that did occasion this. As for a Custos, &c. 'tis impossible there should be one so long as the Queen is here. This Clause is for the Administration of the Queen, and the King may take it when he pleases. If ever Execution of Power be so much in diminution of the King's Power, then Pulteney is in the right. Every Act the Queen does is supported by this Clause.
Mr Sollicitor Somers.] No man should make Objections, but should likewise propose Expedients. If supposed, or afraid, that it is absurd to have two cooperative Powers, or any mistrust of the Queen— I believe her the best Woman in the World, and she has showed herself so ever since she came hither— But I ask if any good Law was ever proposed, that it is a mistrusting the King? I say, there are difficulties—You may suppose absolute Power in two together; but separate, all writers agree, and I am as far from mistrusting the Queen as any body.
Sir Robert Howard.] This is as green a Motion as any. I believe Finch intended no Infringement of Debates; but, perhaps, might mention some innuendo's to fortify his Reasons. For a thing to be made use of when bad, because it can not be made good, is a strange argument to confirm many an ill thing that cannot be made good. We are told, "That it is inconvenient for the Government to be in two, and therefore the Administration should be in one." Two Czars of Muscovy at a time! (some laughing) Sure they can argue better in their reasons than in their noise. Let me ask how this is practicable? You must suppose the King will never act by this Power, or act nothing contradictory to it. If this be so, if you can allow that communication, it may be as sure to you without a contradiction—This Act is not only for this expedition into Ireland, but as often as he goes out of the Kingdom, during his Life. I think the Clause is full of contradictions.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] We are told, "The Bill is impracticable," and of "two Czars of Muscovy." I find no contradiction in the first Clause, at least. If there be any in the rest, I hope the wisdom of the House will mend them. For decision, pray put the Question.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I have heard so many Objections, that I believe you cannot mend the Clause. Suppose the King and Queen go into Scotland, shall not the Government be provided for? When the Bill of Rights passed, it was not out of disrespect to the Queen that the sole Government was in the King; it was because it was absolutely necessary the Government should be in one hand: Why not so still? Now the Clause is, first in the King, and then in the King and Queen too. 'Tis an easier matter to give an opinion, whether it goes with one's judgment, than to say how it shall be mended. They have said, "Mend it," but nobody proposes to answer objections, but by calling for the Question. I agree that 'tis debasing her authority to have the Queen in Commission to disparage her. If the authority be in both, suppose the Queen should think fit to dissolve this Parliament, and the King dislike it, yet he must call another.
Sir William Leveson Gower.] I take this Clause to be no less than, as Napier called it, Transubstantiation; Regal power in England, and Regal power in Ireland. I am against the Clause, and against the Bill, and all you can do in it; not that I distrust the Queen any more than I did the King at first. I would not have the King go into Ireland. When Gentlemen shewed a necessity for the King to go into Ireland, they must say that Ireland is of more consideration than England, and they had rather lose England. Another want is, Money; that Army is ill paid. I would not have the King go into Ireland to head a mutinous Army. I would not be lest in possession of a Government, that punishes nobody, and pardons nobody. I had rather Ireland was lost than England, if it must be so.
Sir John Lawther.] Gower has dealt sincerely with you: He is not for the King's going into Ireland. If the Debate must turn upon that hinge, I am ready for it; but if the House will offer advice to the King, I am willing to join. Some Gentlemen seem to agree, that a Proclamation may do as effectually as an Act of Parliament, but the objections are stronger against a Proclamation than an Act. How shall they obey the Queen, exclusive of the King, or jointly with the King? I see no way for the thing to be done by Proclamation, that may not be by Act. 'Tis strange not to suffer the King to go out of England, be the exigency ever so great. Kings have gone into France and Scotland, and then there was no difficulty in a Custos Regni, and now we have a Person, and no difficulty in the choice of a Person, only in the manner how to be invested with this Authority! State it thus, that it is absolutely necessary that the King go, and that there was no Queen in the case, then there must be a Custos; if a means is to be found out, then 'tis as absolutely necessary to be the Queen as any Person. The only clashing is about the Orders which shall stand in force, that they do not interfere; but then the King's are to be executed first, His general Instructions will be observed, and emergencies be supplied by the Queen. I see no difficulty in the thing.
Colonel Austen.] I have not yet seen it made out absolutely, that there is a necessity for the King to go into Ireland to hazard himself. I would present to the King the sorrow and great apprehensions we are under.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] I am sorry we have nothing but apprehensions upon us. I would not trust so much to ourselves as to be divided. I would [trust] in nothing but in God above, and our Sovereign below. 'Twould be strange for us to break such measures, under such an auspicious Government—I am sorry to hear mention of "the Czars of Muscovy;" 'tis foreign Language, and becomes not an Englishman. I look upon Austen's Motion to be like a Senate's Address to a Doge of Venice, as much as the Czars. There is nothing lest but that immediate way of the Queen, and I would acquiesce in that. I do it as to an English Princess; we may place our trust in her. I am not jealous, frighted, nor have apprehensions of it. No man can answer for this or that man's doubt. There is a necessity not to act by a Custos, but by a Regent. If you put in a Proviso, do you not leave it to the King, and in the King's power to pass the Act, or not? Will you say, he shall not go, and run all the risk of it? That is so choquant (shocking!) I'll quote a Precedent, and a full Precedent in this case. I'll fetch it from the flourishing Kingdom of Spain, under Ferdinand and Isabella. The King, in their Cortes (Parliament) of Arragon, did propose to go against the Moors; and that of Philip and Mary here from that Precedent. It suits extremely with your sense. I cannot say, I will advise the King to go or stay, but the safety of England depends on the immediate finishing the conquest of Ireland.
Col. Austen.] I know not how the comparison of "the Doge of Venice" can be applied to us. 'Twould be unmannerly for us to advise, now the King has declared his resolution, and this will make him "a Doge of Venice;" it would then be proper to have a table of what advice we should give, and what not.
Sir Robert Rich.] Whether it appears "a Venetian advice," or whatever it is, I shall speak my mind. I am convinced the Bill is impracticable, because to conquer Ireland is too high a flight. There is no powder, no stores, no money; and to send the King into Ireland to call for any of these, and not to be obeyed! The Army of Ireland is in a great General's hand, and Goodrick knows his merits better than I. Is it the King's resolution to go, and no one's else? Where did this scheme and resolution first rise? If it be good, they will own it; if not, it is in the dark. I doubt we shall bring one of the greatest Princes upon Earth into the greatest difficulties upon Earth. We have a right to address the King (and 'tis not so unmannerly done) to stay; but you may leave the Chair, go into Debate, and lay all these difficulties before the King, and leave it to him.
Col. Granville.] 'Tis not with respect to the King, if you address him to stay. He has so often published that he will go, that I fear his honour, as well as your safety, is engaged. If you enable him, I hope he will have Victory, and after that, Peace. I should be glad the Queen might have the power in his absence any way, but by Bill; but rather than Ireland should be lost, put the Question.
Sir Charles Sedley.] The King has not advised with us, but told us, "he will go." His foot is in the stirrup, and you catch him upon the shoulder, and say, "he shall not go." Whether the King go, or stay, leave it to his choice. If you do not pass the Bill, 'tis impossible for him to go.
Sir Edward Seymour.] We have been two days on this subject, and done little, and, in the method we are going on, shall do as little to-day. I have seen how the Debate has been carried on, and by whom. Yesterday you were under some perplexities. If we jogg our Constitution out of rules, of the two evils, the least is to be chosen. The Question is, Whether you will trust the Government in the Queen's hands, or not at all? Several projects have been offered, as a Proclamation, &c. It has been said, "As the Bill is penned, the Queen may dissolve this Parliament." But I would explain; as Thompson said, he cared not which side was uppermost, that is our uneasiness: But shall we sit still, and do nothing for your security and safety? 'Tis not proper to give advice, till asked of us. The King has told you, he will go into Ireland. What is the reason of borrowing on all our Money, but our belief that we are safe in the Resolution he has taken? If our advice is not mannerly, sure 'tis not prudent, and if not other vigour put into hands (fn. 1) than was last year, we shall not be long here. When the King is gone, the Government must be somewhere. Will you have it in other hands than the Queen's? You have a good Clause before you; there is no objection against it that is solid; put the Question for that Clause.
Sir John Guise.] 'Tis said, "The King resolves to go into Ireland." I had thought, that, by the Laws and Customs of the Realm, the King could do no wrong, because he takes the advice of others. The thing had better take up a quarter of an hour's debating now, than a year's fighting it out afterwards. Have you not any thing to regard but Ireland? I think you have England and Scotland. Should the King go and fail, or a greater misfortune [happen] his death, what a posture are we then in, in relation to England! I hope the Army is paid, and no parties in England; but I fear, should there be any ill management or disorders here, the French will make their advantages of it. As to Scotland, I have heard dismal accounts from thence. Who then is the person most proper to countervail all these difficulties? If the King go, have you any such thing as a General in his absence? If any misfortune happen, I have done my part, and I tell you, I will go as far for the good of the Nation as I can.
[The Amendments, reported by the Committee, were agreed to by the House, and the Proviso was ordered to be ingrossed.]
Wednesday, May 7.
[The Regency Bill was read the third time.]
Mr Foley.] I suppose 'tis the intention of the House, that the King have the Administration of the Government when he comes back. I proffer a Pro viso to assert whose Orders shall be obeyed; viz. "That the King's shall be obeyed."
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] This Proviso supposes, that the Queen will not obey the King's Orders. I would lay it aside.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] The Clause has no hurt in it: 'Tis possible the Queen may be surprized, and Orders may be given unknown to one another, and both cannot stand good: If such a thing should happen, there is no hurt in the Clause.
Mr Finch.] The only reason I hear for accepting this Clause is, "Because there is no great harm in it:" To let the Clause remain is no great harm; but I never heard it was a reason to receive it, because there was no great harm in it.
[The Proviso was rejected; and the Bill, with the Amendments, &c. passed.]
May 8 (fn. 2), 9, and 10 Omitted.]
Monday, May 12.
A Message from the Lords, to desire, That Sir Robert Clayton, and Sir George Treby may attend their House [on Wednesday next] concerning the Alteration of the Lieutenancy in London.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] For Persons to go from your House, to be sworn for Evidence to impeach your Judgment of the Lieutenancy of London, I hope you will consider of it. For your Members to attack your Judgment—I hope you will not compell your Members to that.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am sorry to hear such a Message from the Lords; 'tis an unfortunate thing; it affects me very much. They are scarce good friends to this Monarchy, that will make a difference betwixt the King and his People, to impeach the King's Authority into the bargain. By an Act of Charles II, the King has Power to place and displace in the Mi litia, and the King has taken great care of the Militi of London, which is the great Chamber of the Kingdom. The King has settled this by Commission, and placed persons as he thought fit; and it has been so well received by this House, that they addressed with Thanks to the King; and it is reported, that the Lords have sent for a List of the Lieutenancy, to know whether the King has done well, or no. The consequence, whatever it be, must tend to make a difference betwixt the Houses. As for one of the Gentlemen (Clayton) he is a party in the Lieutenancy, and as for the Attorney-General (Treby) the Lords have a Claim to call him to their House to sit there. Is not this a sort of bringing of original Causes before the Lords? In Appeals, and Writs of Error, they have Judicature, but not on the Commons: They are no censores morum; and to send a si quis, whether the King should give Men such Authority! Examine this, whether the Lords do it judicially, as an original Cause, and send the Lords Answer by Messengers of your own.
Sir Edward Seymour.] Some present Answer you must give, and 'tis moved "to send it by Messengers of your own." The Message is of great moment, for your Members to attend the Lords. In all the Enquiry I can make, I find no instance of such a Message, till the last Parliament, that Mr Hampden, junior, was sent for (fn. 3). Since it may be a Contest, whatever it is, I would have the right on your side. As for one of them, the Attorney-General, the Lords had a right to him before he was your Member; therefore I would not insist upon a Person that sits here by their courtesy, and not your right. The Lords never send for Witnesses in matters of Impeachments, as Goodrick said; you prepare all that. By the same reason that the Lords send for one of your Members, they may send for ten; and, by the same rule of proportion, call for the very Chair for Evidence. 'Tis against the right Being, and Order of the House to send your Members, and I am against it.
Sir William Williams.] I offer, that, as to the Attorney-General, the King calls him thither, and the Lords cannot distinguish him as to themselves. The Attorney is not in possession of his place there; it must be the King that calls the Lords to Parliament, as he may do any of your Members. I would send the Lords an Answer by Messengers of your own, till you can search Books; 'tis the best Answer that can be given.
Sir Thomas Lee.] 'Tis said, "The Debate may be long, and the Messengers will stay;" but the Messengers must attend the fate of that. I hope, whatever Sawyer's Opinion is, that the House did rashly in the Thanks to the King about the Lieutenancy, that you will not take the sole Advice of the King upon you; and, in the last Message, when you might have asked the Lords Concurrence, you said, "You thanked for the Cause, and not for the Persons;" the Lords now enquire into the Persons. Your best Answer is, by Messengers of your own. In the last Parliament, instead of giving leave to your Members to go to the Lords, to give Evidence, you should have let the Lords know that you are Prosecutors, though they are the Judges. I am sorry you have shown the Lords the way to the King without you—The Lords have a Right to begin an Act of Attainder, as well as you. If the Lords should proceed upon this as criminal, you let them know you are the Accusers; and the best Answer, for the present, is, by Messengers of your own.
Col. Austen.] It does not appear that the Lords, in this, act as in order to Judgment; and therefore it is no original Cause; but that the Lords may second you in their Thanks, if they shall think fit, I cannot see that any of those cases mentioned stand in your way. To suppose they shall shock you, is more than you ought to do. I would send Answer by Messengers of your own.
[Resolved, That the Messengers be called in, and acquainted, That the House will return an Answer by Messengers of their own. Then the Question for adjourning passed in the Affirmative, 159 to 156.]
Tuesday, May 13.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I will not enter into the history, how the Sun has gone back upon our Dial; only I desire we may be preserved for the time to come. If you can sit down with all the ill Administration of Affairs you have had already, there is an end of my Motion. I hope the King, upon passing the Bill of Regency, will leave us some time to consider; and 'tis worth your thoughts to consider to provide for the safety of the Nation in his absence, whether by the Militia, or otherwise. My Motion is, "To resolve the House into a Committee of the whole House, to consider how to preserve the Peace of the Nation in the King's absence."
Lord Castleton.] I am seldom of that Gentleman's Opinion, but I am now, and I second his Motion.
Col. Granville.] I have heard the Motion, and I think it so necessary, that I would not let it pass over. I am ready to embrace any remedy that may be offered. If we are in danger, now the King is here, and an Army to defend us, we cannot be safe when he is out of England; therefore I second the Motion.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] The Motion is of great importance; and that of the Militia, moved by Coningsby, is but one part of our safety; therefore I concur with Seymour's Motion.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I confess I do not understand the Motion. You have had the Militia under consideration, and disarming Papists. The persons most likely to endanger us are the Papists, who, in the North, are gone from their Houses, and are in Confederacies. I would not lose the fruits of that Bill, so much for your safety, but I would speedily proceed upon it.
Sir John Guise.] This is too weighty a matter to speak to it off-hand. 'Tis worth your time to consider, that a great part of the business of Parliament is consulatory. Many words are not requisite now; and I move "to go into a Grand Committee to-morrow."
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Question is of great weight, and 'tis late in the day. I cannot say, (as Lord Castleton) "That I am seldom of Seymour's Opinion;" but I must say, I have been more of late than formerly. I should be glad if he would propose something for you to go upon. I should be glad to have a little light what you have to do: But it falls oddly to have this Motion come on the same day you have agreed the Bill of Regency with the Lords (fn. 4); now to put it in the People's heads, that they are insecure. It may be of some danger to publish your Votes now, at a time when you have passed a Bill to be secure in a Regency, and that now you declare yourselves insecure.
Sir Edmund Jennings.] I suppose there is something latet in herbis in this Motion. I think it is time to adjourn, and go to dinner.
Col. Austen.] I wonder to hear Gentlemen speak of " the Security of the Nation in the King's absence," and the next Motion, "to go to dinner." I'll trouble you with nothing more than what has been said. I reckon there is to be a management by Council, and it is no disparagement— I think, if the Motion be not agreed to, it will look ill abroad.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] Perhaps this Motion may tend to taking the Ministry out of some hands, and putting it into others. 'Tis both the Right of the Crown, and a necessity of putting the Government in the Queen, a Princess of great judgment, and the King may well put her in that trust. I wish Seymour would be more particular in his Motion; if not, you may proceed upon general Heads of a Bill for the Militia; but if he will make no farther explanation of himself I would adjourn.
Sir Charles Sedley.] We are all contented, that the Queen should have the Administration of the Government, in the King's absence; and we now consider how to make it easy to the Queen. She is a wise Woman, but she is a Woman. The King will leave her some of his own Council, and some of King James's Council, a mixed Council. What concerns all People ought to be handled by all; and I move as Seymour, &c.
Col. Birch.] I am not fit to speak to this business: I cannot dance about it as others can. Nobody can doubt but the Queen is but a Woman still, and must have Council. This is the Great Council. What will the People say ? You have passed a Bill of Regency; but who shall advise and manage the Queen in the King's absence ? If Seymour meant not that, in his Motion, I know nor what he meant. If to have the Kingdom managed for its Safety be the meaning of it, I am for the Question.
Sir John Lowther.] I do not well comprehend the meaning of this Vote. I wish it may be explained, that we might. No Motions should be made without the subject-matter before you, and the meaning of it. I would not willingly anticipate any thing. If, by the Debate, we delay the King's Journey, or create apprehensions in the People, we make the danger greater, and the Enemies to the Government will proceed more boldly, when they see you apprehend your own weakness. Unless the Motion be explained, I second the Motion to adjourn.
Sir John Thompson.] I am for the Motion, and I wish it had been sooner, and for a reason not touched: In the last Parliament, when we were upon the consideration of the State of the Nation, and an Address preparing to the King, we were prorogued: We are doing what we were about then, and may be prorogued as we were then. After we have been hit twice in the same place, I am for the Motion for a Grand Committee to-morrow.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I had not gone on, but that the House seemed to acquiesce in my Motion, and that Gentlemen should be surprized to consult their own safety!—I should be glad to be so surprized. My Motion is plain and intelligible. He is a bold man that dares present you with a remedy to that end, otherwise than as a general proposition. If the Motion be not entertained, the World may think we are in Safety, and we need not consider of it.
Sir William Leveson Gower.] I cannot imagine what Explanation the Motion needs; 'tis as reasonable as ever I heard. Though Seymour be able to propose, yet that no man will do but at a Grand Committee. We must consider this whilst the King is here, else, when he is gone, we shall want him to help us. Provision for our Safety, whilst the King is here, is much better. I cannot apprehend what Gentlemen fear from this consideration. The Bill of the Militia will not reach your end. Since all conclude it difficult to keep us in Peace in the King's absence, pray put the Question, &c.
[Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow morning, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of Ways and Means to preserve the Peace and Safety of the Kingdom, in the absence of the King.]
Wednesday, May 14.
In a Grand Committee, [on Ways and Means to preserve the Peace and Safety of the Kingdom, in the King's absence.]
Mr Holt.] I hope this day will not prove as others have done. We find fault, and do nothing. Great complaints are made abroad, and, I fear, jealousies. The Papists say, "We dare do nothing." The Nation can never be safe, nor at ease, till Ireland be reduced. Now, consider what hands we shall leave the Queen in, in the Administration, &c. 'Tis of great consequence to be in hands we conside in. I hear that one Shales is come over. I would have him come up to give you account of the state of Ireland: They say, he is at Chester, and I would farther proceed to settling the Militia, and what else is requisite.
Serjeant Maynard.] We have had discoveries made of Conspiracies, but never bring them home to any body. We have sent for this man, (Shales) and cannot get him (fn. 5). I would know who has obstructed it.
Sir William Leveson Gower.] You have been moved for Shales to be sent for. Will that be any Security to the Government? I hope you will think of something else.
Sir John Guise.] The Order is, "To consider how to secure the Nation, &c." I know not how Shales comes directly into this case. If the Errors of the last year must not be redeemed but by Shales's coming over now, I think that strange. Perhaps the Queen may be very well satisfied without this; but it may satisfy her to have the Advice of this House; not that she wants Advice, but is it not usual for us to give Advice? The Credit of the Government may be in that Advice. I have laid down some of my own thoughts for the present: I hope other Gentlemen will do the same.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] Certainly Shales is in Custody by Duke Schomberg's Order. One thing weighs upon me extremely; there is a wicked Party in this Kingdom, that incline too much to their Opinion. I wish the public good may be the common standard: When I hear of such Assemblies of Men, and that the Scotch Party increases in Arms, and some whom the King has extended his Grace to; when I see several persons taken in Kent and Essex, &c. I have reason to believe a general Conspiracy. In four or five weeks they go loose again; every man will make friends of the unrighteous Mammon, and favour them. I hope you will leave some such Power to prevent this. Let us not enter into any thing now to breed distinctions, nor sow such seeds of discord as cannot become prolific, but by a separation amongst ourselves. I would consider such as are in actual opposition against the Government, that they may be secured.
Sir William Whitlock.] What I heard from Goodrick calls me up. That persons should be secured, seems to me to be a retrenching the Habeas Corpus Act. If an Angel came from Heaven that was a Privy-Counsellor, I would not trust my Liberty with him one moment. I would not now have a way to break in upon that Law; for this very reason, I would not touch upon that Law, for there never can be greater discontent than breaking in upon that Law.
Mr Coningsby.] For some time I would repeal that Law; it does not so much save you, as that your Enemies, that would destroy the Government, may not have the benefit of the Government.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] Our circumstances are very ill, if inconsistent with that Law.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] I appeal, how irregularly those Gentlemen speak to a thing never proposed. We are told of "Saints and Angels," by Whitlock, but I think there are none under his Cassock; but I offered only, whether it was not fit, some way or other, to save the Government; which it cannot be, unless the Persons that conspire its Ruin are prevented from walking about, &c.
Sir John Guise.] I desire that nothing may be done with the Habeas Corpus Act, which is part of the Bill of Rights; but a little severity to these men will be ineffectual. There is a Writ Ne exeat Regnum, and I hope the Lawyers will tell you, that that Writ may be extended without violating the Habeas Corpus Act.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I consider the Motion that brought you into this Committee, to preserve the Nation in the King's absence. I saw, in the Bill of Regency, the same dissatisfaction; if there be Reason, there may be Remedy—I expected to have heard another Debate than about Shales. The Habeas Corpus Act, the best Security of the Nation, I would not meddle with. I thought it had been the best part of the Security of the Nation, the Council about the Queen in the King's absence. I thought we could not be safe in the continuance of those hands who had so much shaken the Government. Whether it was their design, their ignorance, or misfortune, I would have no such bottoms to trust the Government upon. The King being here, the Government is assisted with vigour; if we have those Miscarriages now, I have no reason to believe we shall be safe in his absence. I believe no man will justify the Miscarriages. Now reflect how our condition will stand, in such arbitrary and uncertain hands. If a man be sick, and can have no remedy, when he finds one, and will not apply it, he is in a worse condition. I am afraid, if we do not apply to the King, to alter the Administration of the Government, in his absence, from the hands it is in now, your Government cannot last long.
Sir Charles Sedley.] That there are Misfortunes from Counsellors, I believe: I know not who they are, nor whether they are our friends. I have no Accusation against any of them. I have been at cooking this dish many a time. To put the King upon this Enquiry, now he is going away, would be unseasonable. Perhaps we are dissatisfied that some are in, and perhaps some would be dissatisfied if some of us were in. Pray let us go to some other business.
Mr Foley.] I have had experience how hard this has been. Heretofore none of the Privy-Council were shamed of the Advice they gave; they set their hands to the Privy-Council Book. I propose, that, for the future, all Orders passed by the Privy-Council may be fairly entered, and that those present may enter their assent or dissent. Thus we may know, for the time to come, who gives Advice.
Sir John Guise.] I do not doubt of Sedley's "eating well, and cooking;" but I know no meat you have before you: I think this is not a jesting matter. I am of opinion, two ways must secure the Peace of the Nation; by those who have done amiss formerly, not to be employed, to distaste the People. I know not who they are. We all know the Privy-Council who are present, and who the rest; 'tis an easy matter to take them down, to see the Characters of Men. If the Characters have been formerly before you, if in former Reigns, or this, they have given distaste— Let Names be after Things. If all be well, and you have nothing to say to any body, pray let us go to dinner.
Sir John Thompson.] When I hear the several discourses to-day of our condition, and the remedies, I would not leave them upon your hands. If you do not all the good, do some. I am only afraid of this, that they that have done you the mischief in time past will put you out of all power of remedy. They who sold you to France once, may do it twice. I desire to do something, and leave the rest to Providence. I would form it into a Motion, viz. "That all those who advised the King to dissolve the last Parliament, may be removed from his Council."
Mr Hutchinson.] I would have the Journals searched. I think those under Impeachments, in former Parliaments, not fit to be near the King.
Col. Granville.] I hope we shall have some good effect of this day's Debate. If we knew from whence our Misfortunes come, they might be the easier remedied. I have heard Persons described: I am for the Head of the Privy-Council (fn. 6); a great man, a bold man, and an able man, capable of making attempts on English spirits. When we reflect upon the arbitrary Actions and Counsels by the Marquess of Carmarthen, in King William's time, it reminds us of the same Actions in King Charles II's time. I have heard of his merit in the Revolution—A private life would have better become him, and been more for his interest. I cannot wonder if people be cautious in sending Money to those that have so often miscarried. At one leap, from being Prisoner in the Tower to be President of the Council, sticks with me. He has been impeached by the Commons of England, and now to grasp at Power to satisfy his revenge upon those who have impeached him, for betraying the Liberties of England !—I would pass some censure upon him, and pull him down, though he were greater than he is: And I will be ready to do always so to those that betray the Liberties of England.
Sir John Lowther.] I did not think we should have had so profound a silence, if the danger had been from so great, so bold, and so able a man as Lord Carmarthen. For an Impeachment against him, and he never tried, if that be a reason why he should be kept out of the Council, it may be a reason why he should come in. I think those were great Crimes in the last Reigns, of surrendering Charters, and those were not called to account. We were told then to lay all things asleep; but if you will look into Grievances, look into the last occasions of your Ruin, not only into 1678, but 1684, and the rest.
Sir John Guise.] Mention has been made of other People in other Parliaments, &c. that have been well spoken of in this House; but I wonder that so knowing a Person speaks of Justification, when Pardons have been pleaded. In this case you have one mentioned; you may demand Judgment against him, and he has nothing to plead but the Pardon; a man at that time questioned for French Money (fn. 7); and 'tis an easy inducement for me to believe he will do so again. This Nobleman has formerly been concerned in this House; we know how that went off. We had such Reasons as I can never forget, why a Pardon cannot against him, as unfit to be near him, and to remove him ? What can be more unfortunate, than for the King to tell you, he knows nothing of this Lord, why he should remove him ?
Mr Harbord.] The King's Enemies will be glad to hear of the divisions among us on this occasion. This Lord did two things remarkable in serving the Nation; no innocent blood was spilt in his time, when the Streets ran blood; and dissolving the Pensionary Parliament: And my Lord of Bath sent assurance to the Prince of Orange, "That he would be for him whenever he landed." It is unfortunate, that these two persons should be named. I dare not propose what to advise, but these animosities are not for the King's nor the Kingdom's service.
[Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to enquire into the listing, assembling, and exercising of Papists, and other disaffected Persons in Arms, in several Counties in the Kingdom, without their Majesties Commission.]
Thursday, May 15.
Sir Thomas Littleton reports the free Conference with the Lords, about nomination of Commissioners for the Poll Bill; viz.
" The Lords overlooked the nomination of Commissioners in the last Poll-Bill by haste, for the public good; and the Lords thought they might amend it by a subsequent Bill."
To which the Managers answered, "That had there been an omission of Commissioners, the Commons would have consented to have supplied it, but Commissioners were named— And to name Commissioners now the Act is in force, would weaken the Act; now if these Commissioners from the Peers have authority to tax them, it would abolish the old Commissioners—If the Lords had pursued former methods, and left the nomination to the King— but now we named them not, but left them to the King. He to appoint out of what Society, and not new ones, as the Lords have done, to invert the whole order of the Bill. In the last Poll, the Temple had no Commissioners, and so they were not taxed to that Society."
The Lords said, "They took this as a handle to retrieve their ancient Right."
Mr Sacheverell.] In the former free Conference, the Lords thought it a good opportunity to get this Privilege, and now they would take an opportunity to get two more. They tell you, "They are put upon this Conference to maintain a good correspondence," and now they bind you to confer with them, and you to say nothing. I never knew a free Conference, but there was liberty to debate, but in this there was not. But was the Money-Bill of ten times greater consequence than it is, I would never give this up upon a point no way justifiable. It seems, the Lords grudge the King the Money that the Commons have given him. I would adhere, and let the King know who has given the Money from him.
Sir Robert Howard.] At last this may become a Precedent for the Lords to tax themselves in any Bills of Money for the future. As for the Inns of Court, it is an argument ill returned upon us, as if that Body was an example for the Peerage—There is no need of fear for the loss of the Bill—In this Bill, you tax directly as you tax Land—I would rather lose the Bill, than not adhere.
Mr Hampden.] This is an odd way of a free Conference the Lords adhere;—they should have sent you the Bill back with the Vote—Say what they please, they will give you no liberty to reply. If Reasons, then according to method of Parliament, we should have first adhered. It so much concerns the methods of the Houses, that I would not depart from it. I would have a Committee to enquire into it, and then you may give your Reasons why the Order of Parliament is subverted.
The Speaker.] If the Bill be left with you, they may adhere, and it is not unparliamentary—It is not unparliamentary to adhere, upon the first free Conference.
Sir Richard Temple.] I would not dispute whether you may adhere, or not, but it is never delivered at a free Conference, which implies Debate; and they tell us, "They are tied up to debate no farther, but adhere." In this case, there is no colour for the Lords to stand upon this. In the old Subsidies, the King named the Commissioners. How can the Lords challenge any such Privilege ? After the King's return, upon the Act for settling the Militia, the Lords insisted upon it, "That they were obliged to go with the King to War, and therefore they were not taxable to the Militia;" but we showed them they had been taxed at so many Horses,—and we did retrieve that again. I say this only for the consequence sake. Upon these grounds, I would appoint a Committee to state these irregularities.
Mr Sacheverell.] I desire that a Committee may draw up truly the state of the case betwixt the Lords and you to-day, and have the Right entered into your Books.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Lords in a manner tell you, "They will recover their Privilege." In ordinary course of Parliament, there are two free Conferences at least answered, and both Houses considered by adding and improving their Reasons, and then they come to adhering. This is the usual course, but, by this short way, all opportunity of an expedient is lost. They will say the fault is ours; they will have the last word, like Counsel, the last argument.
Mr Hampden.] The proper Question is, Whether adhere, or not; for you cannot have a free Conference; you are to send up word, whether you adhere or agree. I would propose a distinct Conference only with the Lords, whether you agree or not agree to this; that the manner of passing Bills may be set right, and give the Lords Reasons, or else you will never have liberty to adjust the matter of proceeding; but no more upon this Bill.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I agree with Hampden, that you agree, or adhere, before you proceed farther. In the first place, I would determine the Question concerning the Conference. I never did know so irregular a proceeding as to require of you to repeal the manner and method of Parliament, in explanatory Acts—One might give this a very hard word. All we can expect upon appointing a Committee, &c. is to let the Lords see, they have inverted methods of Parliament. "Agree, or adhere," is your Question.
Sir Robert Howard.] It is impossible to go any other method than adhere, or not—On the case itself, whether you will allow the Lords this manner of way to tax themselves.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Lords, upon the first free Conference, have adhered; and, at the second, the Lords did not only give you a Vote, but strengthened it with Reasons; therefore I would not send the Lords a Message of "adhere, or not;" but ask a Conference to settle the Methods of Parliament, and then to show the Lords, that they have gone out of Methods, if not out of Precedent, and possibly you may not lose the Bill—Their adhering may possibly prove but disagreeing.
Mr Hampden.] I am willing to hear any expedient, but would not force one, where the thing will not bear it. I never knew Lee's distinction of "Adhesion, and final Adhesion." I confess I never heard it, not so much as a Term of Parliament. But how one House can adhere, and not finally, I never heard. You may send them a Message, that you adhere, and at the same time you may confer about Methods of Parliament; that can never be but in the usual course. I would send word, that you have adhered; and according as the Committee shall inform you of the course and method of Bills, if both Houses adhere, to find out any expedient; but I believe they cannot.
Sir Richard Temple.] The Lords will refuse Conference upon a general subject; but, before your Adhesion, you might have represented the Irregularities of the Lords Proceedings; but I would not send up your Adhesion, till you find, by your Committee, an Irregularity in the Conference.
Mr Sacheverell.] 'Tis the first time I ever heard of debating after you adhere. You adhere as the Lords have done, and now Temple offers you, that, after you have voted to adhere, you show the Reasons why—If you do adhere, why will you not send the Lords word, and then send them your Reasons?
Mr Hampden.] I said, "It was not too general a matter to desire a Conference of the manner of passing Bills," that is particular enough; but still there sticks, that the House is not satisfied in the manner of proceeding, and therefore desire a Conference—The more proper Message is, to desire a Conference upon the matter of passing Bills, and then adhere when you come to it.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I have known, when a general Message has been sent, the Commons have refused Conference about Impositions upon the Subject. Adhering is an end of all things; but I would have a Conference upon Methods, to preserve the ends of Parliament— My Motion is, that you acquaint the Lords, and then desire the Conference about the Method of passing Bills.
Col. Birch.] I desire to be excused if I differ in what you are about to do. I confess I never heard of that way before. I desire we may follow the old way. You have voted "adhere," and now you would mince it. I would have the Committee to collect Reasons for what you do, and enter them upon your Books. I was so bold as to tell the Lords, "That, if they got this, they would get more."—I would not therefore lose time in things fruitless; therefore I would look back into 1664 and 1665, about the rating Sugar: The Commons would not let the Lords touch it; but the Lords held us so hard to it, in several Conferences, that they told us we had joined with them in raising Money to build a Bridge in * * * * *shire (fn. 8). This Bill will be lost, and no Reprieve for it; but I see not yet, why, in three lines, you may not put this very thing in the Subsidy-Bill.
[Resolved, That a Message be sent to the Lords, That this House does adhere (fn. 9).
May 16, 17, 19, 20, and 22 Omitted.]
[Friday, May 23.
His Majesty, in the House of Lords, after passing the Bill of Indemnity (fn. 10), was pleased to speak to both Houses to the following effect:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I have had such assurance of your good affections to me, that I come now to thank you; and particularly for the Supplies you have given me. The season of the year is so far advanced, that I can no longer delay my going into Ireland; and therefore I think it necessary to have an Adjournment of the Parliament.
"And although it shall be but to a short day, yet, unless some great occasion require it, (of which you shall have due notice) I do not intend you shall sit to do Business untill the Winter; and I hope, by the Blessing of God, we then shall have a happy Meeting.
"In the mean time, I recommend to you the discharge of your Duties in your respective Counties, that the Peace of the Nation may be secured by your vigilance and care in your several stations."
The Lord Chief Baron afterwards signified his Majesty's pleasure, That both Houses should adjourn till the 7th of July next (fn. 11).
Monday, July 7, the House met, and was prorogued, by Commission, to the 28th instant; from thence to August 18; and from thence to September 8.
Monday, September 8, the House met, and immediately adjourned to the 11th instant; from thence to the 12th; and from thence it was prorogued, by Commission, to October 2.]
The Compiler being absent all this Session, the following Abstract is given from the Journal.