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, January 3.
The Lords Protest upon throwing out Sir Edward Hussey's Bill for incapacitating Members to take Offices, or Places, during the time of Parliament. For these reasons, viz.
"Because the principal Objection made to this Bill was the great Danger that might happen thereby, of the too long continuing the Parliament, which is an ill consequence that we no way can apprehend, since we hope, and humbly conceive, his Majesty will never be capable of taking any advice of that kind, so plainly destructive to the subject's just Right of Election to frequent Parliament, and so many ways inconsistent with the good of the Nation.
"Because we are very sensible of the just occasion given for such an Act, (though we are loth to enlarge upon so tender a point,) but have good reason to believe the House of Commons would not have begun and passed a Bill of this nature, wherein the Members of their House are so particularly concerned, without having been fully satisfied in the reasons of it, and plainly convinced of the great need the people of England are in, at this time, of so just and wise a provision."
The Lords present, and Proxies, were forty-five for the Bill, and against it forty-seven.
Wednesday, January 4.
Col. Granville reports, That the Managers had met the Lords, at a free Conference, and that it was opened by the Earl of Rochester, who said, "That the free Conference was desired by the Lords, for the maintaining of a fair and good Correspondence betwixt both Houses; and that Conferences, and free Conferences, had always been the usual method of proceeding in Parliament, when the one House had a mind to enquire into any thing they would be informed of by the other House: That, when the Lords sent down to the Commons the Papers relating to the last Summer's Expedition at Sea, it was with an expectation to have some light in that matter from the information the Commons might receive from some of their own Members; which expectation of the Lords has not been answered by the Vote of the Commons delivered to the Lords at the last Conference.
"That it was a very unusual proceeding, because it was concerning a matter of fact only, without having given any reason to the Lords, which moved the Commons to make that Vote; and because many other things were contained in the same Papers, which might concern several others, besides the Person named in the Vote." (Admiral Russel.)
That the Managers for this House only returned answer, "That they had agreed to the free Conference, that nothing might be wanting in them, that might contribute towards a fair and good correspondence with their Lordships; and that they had not a power to proceed to debate the matter, till they had acquainted this House with what their Lordships had said."
[January 5,6,7, and 9 Omitted.]
Wednesday, January 10.
Debate on Advice to the King; sent to the Compiler by Mr Wilmot.
[Sir Francis Winnington reported the several Resolutions agreed to by the Committee.]
Report of the Advice to the King
To the first Resolve, viz. "That the King be advised to constitute an Admiralty of persons of known experience in Maratime Affairs, &c."
Many spoke in behalf of the present Admiralty, and many against it. For it,
Sir John Lowther said] The Hollanders, in whom there is no want of diligence, &c. have lost as many Ships as we, even whole Fleets of Merchants, and their Convoys, taken at once; and yet nothing is objected against their Admiralty. The Commissioners had no opportunity to clear themselves, being only generally charged.
Sir Robert Cotton] The miscarriage of our Merchants was, that having insured, they ran for Markets, and saved themselves well enough in the whole, though often they miscarried; and they might often have had Convoys, but would not stay for the above said reason. There is not a sufficient number of proper cruising Ships for Convoys. The Vote passed in the Committee without other faults mentioned, and the Gentlemen of the Admiralty are of great Integrity.
Mr Howe.] I think the fault not in the Admiralty-Board, and therefore it is improper for a hurt in the Leg, to lay a plaister to the Arm. Now they have gained experience at our cost, I would not lose their service, for some of them have had good experience. I am for a particular Vote to be put on each of them.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I am of opinion that fidelity and diligence (allowed by all that speak against them) will master any difficulty in this, or any other Office. Oliver Cromwell, when applied to by any person, to be employed in any Office, by several, by their respective friends, used to say, "Who will give me his hand, and say that he will engage that the person to be employed, shall be faithful to me and my Government?" I think those Gentlemen such, for my part, to the Government.
Sir John Guise.] Never Fleet was set out earlier, nor better provided, than ours the last year. In the former Session, the Gentlemen of the Admiralty moved to have some cruising Frigates built, to secure the Trade, but the House, for want of some formality, denied their desire.
Sir John Dorrell.] No fault was found in the Admiralty, when Lord Torrington was beaten, and faults there really were; but now our affairs have prospered, we find fault.
Against the Admiralty.
Sir John Guise.] I have nothing to object against their integrity, but the advice which came from the Committee mentioned, "That they should be of experience."
Col. Granville.] I must lay before the House the great loss of Ships on the Coast of Cornwall, last year. Forty sail were lost on that Coast, and not one Cruiser there for us. Our Ships were taken in fight of the Shore, and no Colours seen on the Coast, but those of the Enemies.
Sir Christopher Musgrave, in answer to Sir Thomas Littleton.] I cannot agree "That Industry and Fidelity are qualifications for any Employment," particularly not for this of the Admiralty. Some, in their behalf, said, "They had not the sole power and ordering of the Fleet;" but I say, they have the same power that the Admiralty ever had, and they do not exercise what they have, but order Petitions to go to the Secretary's Office. I am for advising the King, as thought well of in the Committee, for such advice will injure no man of experience.
Col. Churchill.] Those that serve in the Fleet see daily their want of experience, and the great Ships stay out too long, and the lesser, for cruising, set not out early enough. When the great Ships did come in, the Havens were filled before with the Virginia Fleet, and others; which Havens were the proper ones for the great Ships. The Admiralty have broken the public faith of the Nation, not observing the King's Proclamation, which promised that Seamen should not be turned over; yet they are.
Lord Falkland spoke very handsomely; making use of much that was said by others in behalf of the Admiralty: But, as to what Churchill said, he answered,] Some of the great Ships did come in early, and Churchill's Ship for one; the rest were ordered, by the Queen and Council, to stay out. As for turning over Seamen, some came in so very early, that they would have lain at great charge; and therefore another Proclamation was issued out for turning them over.
Colonel Churchill again stood up, and excused Lord Falkland, as having better experience than the ignorant major part which govern.
Sir Robert Rich recriminated on the Officers of the Fleet, (with intimation more particularly, that Churchill was faulty) that they pressed men, and took money for discharging them.
Mr Hutchinson divided the Question into two; which the House yielded to.
The first Question was, "That the King be advised to constitute an Admiralty of persons of known integrity and experience in maritime affairs."
The second Question was, "That all Orders for the management of the Fleet shall, for the future, pass through the hands of the Commissioners of the Admiralty."
The first Question the House disagreed to, 135 to 112.
The second Question passed.
Wednesday, January 18.
The following Reasons were given by the Commons, at a Conference, for not agreeing with the Lords in adding, by an Amendment, Commissioners of their own House to the LandTax Bill (fn. 1).
"That the Right of granting Supplies to the Crown is in the Commons alone, as an essential part of the Constitution; and the Limitation of such Grants, as to the matter, manners measure, and time, is only in them; which is so well known to be fundamentally settled in them, that to give Reasons for it, has been esteemed by our Ancestors, to be a weakening of that Right; and the Clause sent down by your Lordships, added to this Bill, is a manifest invasion thereof (fn. 2)."
Sent to the Compiler by Sir W.A.
Saturday, January 21.
Debate on a book, licensed and published, entitled, "King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, &c." (fn. 3) The Licenser, Bohun, was brought before the House, who said, "He thought the Book was innocent, because many Treatises had been published higher on this point than this." Whereupon the Bishop of Salisbury's "Pastorai Letter" was mentioned.
Mr Howe made a long, set Speech; and said,] The Bishops write themselves, will preach themselves, vote themselves, and flatter themselves out of all esteem. The Clergy who have preached us into Passive Obedience, and would now conquer, should be restrained, by Penalties, from preaching Law or Politics.
Some moved, "That the Bishop should be questioned."
The Speaker said, "His Book was printed before the Act of Indemnity.
Mr Foley moved, "That he should be impeached, and let him stand to his Pardon." Some moved, "To adjourn the Debate." Others, "To adjourn the House." But, after two hours Debate, it was resolved to adjourn the Debate, which was done sine die, and so entered in the Journal. But the House ordered the other Book, entitled as above, to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman; and Bohun, the Licenser, to lose his Place; but no Address for removing him was voted (fn. 4).
In a farther account of the same Debate, by the same hand,
'Twas said, "There were many good things in the Book." To which
Col.Titus replied] In the beginning of King James I's reign, the Bible was printed; and the word "Not" being left out out of the seventh Commandment, the whole impression was burnt; and yet no man can deny but there were many good things in it.
Mr Finch made a learned Speech, in defence of Dr Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury's Book, saying,] A great Lawyer, Judge Hales, whose manuscripts I have perused, tells us, "That William the Conqueror had, by his Conquest, acquired all the Right of Harold to the Crown, &c."
Mr Mordaunt.] I am glad to find that learned Gentleman of the opinion, that William the Ist was King de jure; and wish that all his relations were of the same opinion.
Mr Finch.] That Gentleman's apprehensions are very quick, but I know not how far his capacity enables him to comprehend the force of my argument.
Mr Mordaunt.] I thought that Gentleman truly had been of my opinion, that William the Ist had been King de jure; but if I mistake his opinion, I ask his pardon.
Then complaint was made of the Bishop of St Asaph's (fn. 5) Book (fn. 6) but this miscarried in the management; for Mr Goodwin Wharton produced the Book; and, instead of reading to the purpose, read another paragraph, asserting, "That the People had power to depose Princes for Mismanagement." This being foreign to the matter of the Debate, and a new invidious subject, spoiled all the business; so that Book escaped.
[Monday, January 23.
A Motion being made, and the Question being put, That a printed Book, entitled, "A Pastoral Letter, &c." be burnt by the hands of the common hangman; the previous Question was carried in the Affirmative, 160 to 136; and afterwards the main Question was also carried in the Affirmative, 162 to 155; and it was ordered to be burnt in Palace-Yard, on Wednesday next.]
Saturday, January 28.
Sent by Mr Wilmot.
An ingrossed Bill, from the Lords, "For the frequent calling and meeting of Parliaments, was read the first time. The Bill, first, set forth, "That a Parliament shall be holden once every year: Next, That a new one shall be called every three years, after the dissolution of the former Parliament: And, lastly, that a period shall be put to the present Parliament in January next." The Bill, in the opinion of most judicious persons, was not well drawn to answer the general seeming intentions of the Bill.
Mr Goldwell.] I can never give my consent to the Bill. It is calculated for some particular purpose. I desire you would consider, and reflect, upon what offence we have given the Lords, that it should be put upon us to dissolve ourselves. Consider, whether it was not the asserting ours, and the Rights of our Ancestors, by the Bill of Rights? Whether they are not offended at the Supply we have given for our necessary support and being?—The Lords have more justly incurred our displeasure, by assuming the Judicature of Westminster-Hall. —The Dissolution of this present Parliament is, to revive animosities in new Elections, and punish the King, by making it not his grace to call a Parliament; but to put it into the Lord-Lieutenants to pack a Parliament. The Lords assume much in dissolving the Commons; a Prerogative only of the King! It is ill timed, as well as ill designed.
Sir Charles Sedley.] Since the Lords themselves are firm and secure, it is unreasonable they should interpose in dissolving this House. It is plain, they intend not that you shall fit again to finish any thing, since the Session seldom determines so soon as January. It is ill timed. This Parliament is affectionate to oppose the French, and they are engaged in that matter; another may make alterations therein. The King having Prerogative to call and dissolve Parliaments, I am for leaving the same to him. The Lords have drawn all our Causes and Fortunes to their Bar, where relations and friends do decide matters.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I am for rejection of the Bill. We ought to be tender of the King's Prerogative, and the calling and dissolving Parliaments, the chiefest flower of the Crown— 'Tis not reasonable to receive such a Proposal from the Lords. The Commons have been and ought to be ever jealous of what hath come from the Lords, and have very good reason; the Lords having passed their Judgments on this present Parliament; though they have protracted the time of execution till January. I conclude, that we ought to vindicate the Prerogative, and ourselves.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I waited for Reasons for the Bill, but find none. Nobody doubts, but that holding of frequent Parliaments is good; but the Bill is not for that intent. 'Tis. a Law already, that a Parliament be every three years; so that the whole intent of this is the dissolving this Parliament. By this Bill, you will take off the Dependency of the People on the Crown, and set up the Lords, that have no Right, and turn the Commons out of doors. Is it reasonable that the Lords, who only represent themselves, should turn you out, that represent the People? Whenever the Lords set up a Right of their own, certainly some great end is to be suspected; since this Bill is against the Crown and the Commons.
Mr Finch.] I am against the Bill. The Lords may begin and send down any Bill, not relating to Money; but I consess, this cannot be very acceptable, for the dissolving this House. Whatever hath been said for the Bill, it is not such a Bill as is Law already. By a Law in Edward III's time, "That Parliaments be annual, and oftener, if need be," they are expounded to be annual, as well as oftener; and the Law also for Triennial Parliaments hath been expounded, that Parliaments shall be, not that new ones should be; and the best exposition of the Law is the use and practice of it. The Bill takes away the great Prerogative of dissolving Parliaments—That the proceedings of whole Parliaments have been vacated, because they have been against the Prerogative. The Bill supposeth kingly Government opposite to the People. Though the PensionParliament, as it was called, sat long, yet I desire Gentlemen to show me what Right that Pension-Parliament gave up?
Sir John Lowther.] By this, the Lords are doing a thing that strikes at your very Constitution. Their Rights of sitting are certain—Considering what we have done, it is to our disadvantage to be represented to the Lords as fit to be dissolved; as if there were some secret reason for the same. 'Tis enough to bring those we represent out of conceit with us, whose Purses we have disposed of. If the Lords House was to be regulated in their sitting, it would be much more reasonable to accept this Bill.
Sir Richard Temple.] I have ever been for Triennial Parliaments; yet this Bill is the most dangerous thing that ever hath been in the House; since this is provided for before by other Laws, this is designed for something else, plainly to end this House. It is directly against the King's Prerogative of Dissolution; and I doubt that new Elections may set the Nation in a ferment, in a time of War; and I doubt this is the design.
For the Bill.
Mr Pelham.] I am sorry to see Gentlemen offended at a Bill of so good a title and intent. The Objections have been three against it; I. "That it comes from the Lords." 2. "That it will hazard the Government." 3. "That it is unseasonable." As to the first, I take the Lords to be concerned to do some such thing, because they rejected a Bill from this House much to this purpose. As to the second, nothing of this kind can hazard the Government, from the People of England. A present Member of this House, a Member also of the PensionerParliament, told me, "That he, by Order, paid Pensions to thirty Members of that House." The like, by long sitting, may be done again. As to the third, the Bill can never be more seasonable than when we give so much Money.
Mr Hopkins.] Our ancestors always aimed at this, as appears by several ancient Laws to this purpose. The like was well enough offered at in the last ill times. When men continue here long, they alter. They come up hither free-men, but are here made bond-men. If to be elected be an honour, let neighbours share; if a burden, so likewise.
Mr Hutchinson.] I hope the Lords sent down this Bill on no ill Reasons; and I think that we, by negligence, and late attendance, seem weary of our own sitting.
Mr Herbert (fn. 7).] I am not of opinion that it intrenches on the King's Prerogative, or People—The Lords may as well send Bills to us, as we to them. The last Clause, upon Commitment, may be mended. As to determining this present Parliament, I had rather have a standing Army, than a standing Parliament.
Mr Bowyer, of Southwark.] The two greatest mischiefs to this Kingdom are, either to have no Parliaments, or to have long Parliaments. Both were experienced in King Charles I's time. We had also the experiment of an ill Long Parliament in King Charles II's time. If the late King James had not revoked the Writs for calling a Parliament, which he had issued out, he might have been here still (at which all laughed.) This present Parliament is esteemed a well-officered Parliament; and I doubt it will be so more and more every day than other. The Bill of Rights would have frequent Parliaments, in the plural number: Such a Bill will make men not spend Money to be elected.
Mr Harley arraigned the Lords for sending down this Bill; touched on their extravagant assuming of Judicatory Power; and then said] The Bill is a plausible panegyrick on this Parliament, for its Funeral Oration; yet, notwithstanding, I am for the Bill. Such remedies, to obtain good things, must he obtained in good Princes reigns. Annual Parliaments have been enacted by several Statutes. When one is grown a little old, another hath been made. It is no intrenching on the Prerogative, but is for the Honour of the King. He hath said, in his Declarations, "That he will put us in such a way, that we need not fear being under Arbitrary Power, by yielding any thing to make us easy and happy." Our Honour is concerned for this Bill; considering what we have done, we should let others come in, that they may find, that Money is not here to be gotten. A standing Parliament can never be a true Representative: Men are much altered after being some time here, and are not the same men as sent up. The Lords sent you a Bill in Hen. VIII's time, for settling their Precedency; and you have sent Bills to them concerning your Privileges.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I should be unworthy to sit here, if I did not give testimony to this Bill. It is the best Bill that ever came into this House since 25 Edward III, of Treasons, &c. I would never countenance any encroachment of the Lords; but I take it to be none; and I cannot refuse to speak in behalf of the Bill; we should otherwise go into the Country with discredit. I am not against my neighbours coming here, to see what we have done. I am much scandalized to see the Bill of Privileges not better received. (He probably meant that brought in by Mr Howe.) Such a Bill, not passing easier, may be soon the occasion of this. We should do well to imitate the Long Parliament in King Charles I's time, which, by their self-denying Ordinance, kept up their credit longer than otherwise could have been, and would otherwise have fallen sooner. In the Bill of Rights, the Clause of Triennial Parliaments is the chief good thing we can do for ourselves. The language of the Bill is the same with the ancient former Laws for annual Parliaments. The Long Parliament was ever esteemed a Grievance by me.
Mr Foley.] I take it, that the Bill is not against the Prerogative; for a present Law is for a Triennial Parliament. We may send any Bill to the Lords about their Members, and they also to us; only no Bill for Money is to be sent to us. It is necessary for us to have frequent Parliaments, and to take care also that Parliaments be not corrupted, which frequent and fresh are less subject to. Some deficiency is in the Bill, but all may be amended at Commitment; for something now ought to be to prevent Corruption.
Mr Freke, junior, only made this short observation] From this House, a Bill moved to the Lords against the Popish Lords, and was received.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] To receive the Bill is essential to the Peace of both Houses. It is not usual to reject a Bill at first reading. Such a rejection would be construed, that the House could not endure to be dissolved. To begin a new Bill here, touched on by some, would provoke the Lords. You amend all faults yourselves. Though there be Law for Triennial Parliaments already, yet plainly no effect hath been. The Clause of Dissolution of the present Parliament may be left out. If Gentlemen oppose the Bill for that reason, yet let us have the Bill for the benefit of posterity.
Sir Francis Winnington.] The great men that were for Prerogative in Charles I's time, in defect of Parliaments, turned Prerogative into Arbitrary Power. In the Pensioner-Parliament of King Charles II, made so by long continuance, a Bill against France could never pass, and it was against building of Ships. This Parliament is already so well-officered, that much enquiry is, how many things come to pass. There is as much Right to the People to have frequent Parliaments, as to have Parliaments; because they cannot recall and revoke their Members, when elected. The Lords may send down Bills relating to the good Government of the People, but not for Money. The Lords accepted from us a Bill to disable the Popish Lords: Short and frequent Parliaments would cure the great evils and oppressions of Privilege. There is no pressure on the Prerogative, because the thing used to be so, and, by Law, should ever have been. The Peoples Rights will hereby be settled, which, as King Charles I. said, "best supported the Prerogative."
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Since, formerly, Laws made to this purpose have been evaded, it is fit now that such Laws should be explained better. I have ever found long Parliaments ungrateful to the People. As to the objection, "That, being in a War, now Elections will give disturbance," I answer, that, by that reason, you must sit during the War. The reason, to perpetuate ourselves, is of no great benefit; but, on the other side, let your neighbours come in, and those we represent be at liberty to be served better. I think that long sitting of Parliaments is not for the King's interest. This Parliament hath either had Adjournments, or short Prorogations, by which means, by reason of Privilege, the People cannot have their Rights. By this, we shall show that we are not lovers of ourselves.
Capt. Mordaunt only answered an objection made, "That by change from the Convention to this Parliament, there were not above fifty different," by saying, "That he wished that the Opinions of the Convention and this Parliament had been the same."
Colonel Granville.] Whereas we are told, (by Finch) "That this Bill seemed to be founded upon a disaffection towards this King, and also to Kingly Government," I think this Bill takes care of our ancient Constitution, and doth not innovate. When Parliaments sit long, many will spend money to come in. The Lords have done no other good things this Parliament. This makes some atonement for casting out the former Bill (the self-denying Bill.) I hope Gentlemen will not be against looking their Country in the face when here discharged.
Lord Coningsby.] I am not afraid to have the Parliament dissolved, but would not have it from the Lords. If the Lords will make themselves temporary, I will consent to do it here in this House.
[The Bill was ordered to be read a second time, 210 to 132,]
Thursday, February 10.
Sent by Mr Wilmot.
The Bill for frequent calling and meeting of Parliaments was read the second time.
Against the Commitment.
Sir Charles Sedley.] I perceive, by discourse of many, that the Commitment of the Bill, would be the best news the Jacobites could possibly have. It is putting to an ingenious death this Parliament. The King hath reason to be satisfied with this Parliament, and, I believe, the People have so likewise. The Bill is maliciously penned; nothing can be done in the time that is prescribed for Dissolution. We can never finish so soon as the first of January, and to dissolve it sooner is not fit, left a Descent be made upon us. The next Parliament must do as we have done. The King hath usually, each Session, told us what is necessary, and we have complied therewith; so must they that come after us. I neither fear being chosen again, nor being at expence. I have served in Parliament 30 years, and could, for my own part, say with St Paul, Cupio dissolvi. I wonder the Lords could endure a Parliament seventeen Years, and this not above three Years.
Mr Dolben.] The Lords have taken upon them too much, to dissolve the Commons; they never did any thing that showed any regard to this House; they have frequently rejected or clogged our Bills sent to them; as, the Bill for regulating Elections, and spurned at the Bill at the first reading. They are for the increase of their own powers, and diminishing of ours. Why did they not join in the Bill of impartial Proceedings in Parliament, &c! I think, therefore, they have no zeal for the good of this House. Whatever is the intention of the Lords, the consequences must be dishonourable to us. The Bill doth certainly intrench upon the Prerogative, and every true Englishman ought to keep the true Balance. I am amazed that the Lords could bring themselves to sending such a Bill. I have read of indoctum Parliamentum, and of benedictum Parliamentum, but we, by yielding to pass this Bill, may be branded to be stultum Parliamentum.
Sir John Lowther.] Such a Law as this, in 1640, was the ruin of the Nation. They were not to be dissolved but by their own consent. It was ever esteemed the greatest Prerogative, to call and dissolve Parliaments; and, though the King's consent must be had, yet, in effect, it is when the People will. It is plain, the Lords think you not fit company for them to sit with, and they would recommend themselves by such a Law and Provision. We have a good King on the Throne, and may therefore certainly be happy in our ancient way and Constitution.
Sir Orlando Gee.] I was for the Bill at first, because it had a plausible Title, and I would not give offence to the Lords; but I doubt it will be an Invasion on the Prerogative. I would have the King have his Rights, as well as the People theirs. What we aim at by this Bill, may as well be done another way, and more decent. I would have the House humbly address, "That an end may be put to this Parliament, and that frequent Parliaments after may be." The King of France hath formerly given money for Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliaments, and now you do it for him Gratis. Our Alliances may be hereby weakened, as if we were weary of giving Money. After Dissolution, ill accidents may happen, to our prejudice. If a Parliament had not been, at the Duke of Monmouth's Invasion, it had been very hard, though no Title could have been pretended. I conclude to have an Address, &c.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I waited to hear if Gentlemen had proposed any Amendment, but none being, I must oppose the Bill. I will not mention what was said in a former Debate. I am no Prerogative-man; that is, to set up Prerogative against Law; but if you take away calling and dissolving Parliaments, you take away the Government itself. Queen Elizabeth said, "I called you hither to assist me, not to take away my Prerogative." The Prerogative is as inherent in the Crown, as the People's Rights in them. You have brought the Crown into a War; it is just now under the difficulties thereof; at this time to wrest the Prerogative from the Crown! We have given much Money; Credit must support what is to come, and this for the Bill will much impair such Credit. Will another Parliament always consider what a former has done? Nothing will more gratify the Enemies of our common Safety, than the passing this Bill.
For the Bill.
Sir William Strickland.] I think more charitably of the Lords intentions. I would know, if a Person do any of us a real kindness, whether it is reasonable to examine into the intentions? Frequent Parliaments will be much better, and the Ministry also will be thereby much better.
Mr Hutchinson.] The best of Kings was not against limiting the Prerogative, as in Edward III's time, when the Laws for annual Parliaments were made. The Corruption of the Pensioner-Parliament was by long sitting. I think none can be against this Bill, but such as doubt of being chosen again, and others also that are unwilling to spend money.
Mr Howe.] Many scandals are upon us. "The argument of Prerogative, and the advantage we shall give to our Enemies by this Bill," are Words we make use of for our own sakes. We are told, "That, by this Bill, our credit will be lessened." I do aver, that persons without doors thank us for it, and applaud the Bill. It is said, "It will weaken our Alliances:" It is unreasonable but we should have some good Laws for ourselves, and not respect Alliances with neglect of ourselves. I think that this Bill makes us more united among ourselves. The Lords were anciently called pro hûc vice, but now, by some vice or other, they are always called. Lord Coke says, "Before the Conquest, a Parliament was held twice in a Year, and in Edward III's time, once a Year, and this to redress Grievances, which every day happen." I hope to behave myself so well as to be again sent up.
Mr Brockman.] I would propose an Amendment; for, as the Bill is drawn, a Parliament may not be held in three Years. I wonder this should be thought to intrench upon the Prerogative, since the King hath declared so much in favour of Parliaments. The People are so well disposed, that no danger can be of a new Parliament. It is better for the King to rely on his People, than on the Ministry, not excepting the present Ministry.
Sir John Morton.] If I had thought the Bill against the Prerogative, I should be for casting it out, for the Government hath deserved better of us than the late ones, which were for cutting our Throats.
Lord Castleton.] Second thoughts are esteemed best, but it is not so in Sir Orlando Gee.
Mr Goodwin Wharton.] I believe the Bill not designed ill by the Lords. I am sorry that so frequent reflections are upon the Lords. I believe they thought not ill of this House, for only a good House will consent to such a Bill. I have no distrust of the King, but would have it now to be gained to provide against a bad Prince. The Bill is to provide against two extremes; Parliaments not too long, and Parliaments not too frequent. I think that freedom may be used here, and, I think, that those who are against this Bill are no friends to the Government.
Mr Foley.] Some have objected, what ill Laws were made in that Parliament, called "The Pensioner Parliament." What Rights of the People gave they up? By the Law of Triennial Parliaments, as passed and confirmed, they, by implication, perpetuated themselves; by means whereof, the ill Ministers of that time were perpetuated. I think it very fit, that, if we cannot find out our ill Ministry, others should come that may find them out.
Mr Neale.] It is the interest of the King that the Bill pass, as well as that the Subject will thereby be well pleased, since it will show them that their Majesties intend to govern by Law. It is objected, "That it came from the Lords." A good thing sometimes may come. I cannot think that passing this Bill will impair our Credit, as is told us, nor that it can gratify our Enemies. We are told; "This is not a proper time," but I think, that, in so good a Reign, such a good Law is to be gained.
Mr Hungerford.] Except the last Clause, the Bill is only declarative of the ancient Law; yet, perhaps, it is not amiss, to have this present sanction of a Law. In Edward III's time, the Law for annual Parliaments was not always observed, but the People therefore were dissatisfied; insomuch that the King called one; and the Bishop of St David's, who opened the Parliament, told them, "That the King called them in pursuance of that Law." The Triennial Act intended a new Parliament every Year, not a Triennial Sitting. A Parliament that sits long, cannot be a true Representative of the People of England; as in 1640, and 1660. The People of those times were of a different Spirit. The King employs all forts of Persons. In a former Debate on this Bill, the Persons employed were some for, and some against, the Bill. I am for having a new Parliament, that the King may be acquainted with all his People.
Sir John Guise spoke also in this Debate, in which he was not very short neither, but it was difficult to perceive, whether he was for, or against, the Bill.
The Bill was ordered to be committed. The Time of Dissolution was altered from January 1, to March 25, 1694, if the King pleases.
The Compiler had the following from Sir W. A. relating to the same Debate.
Pretty were the Tricks in putting Questions, but prevented by the care of the House. It was objected, "That this was a good House, and that the Nation would not be grieved with its continuance."
Colonel Titus.] Manna, when it fell, was sweet as honey, but, if kept, bred worms. It is objected, "We have good Laws for frequent Parliaments already." I answer, the Ten Commandments were made almost 4000 Years ago, but were never kept.
The House then was troubled with Riders, but they could not get into the Saddle.
At the first reading, when it was objected, "That this Bill did not only retrench the King's Prerogative, but might be reasonably ill taken by the King, who had done so great things for us."
Mr Harley, in reply, pulled out of his pocket the Prince of Orange's Declaration, and read it to the House.
February 9. The above-mentioned Bill passed, 200 to 161 (fn. 8).
Tuesday, February 21.
From Sir W. A.
The Lords, in a Committee on the 14th, finished their Address of Advice to the King, to which they added, ["That they humbly advised and prayed his Majesty;]
"First, That the Army of 20,000 men to be left in England, may consist all of their Majesties own Subjects.
"Secondly, That their Commander in chief be an Englishman born.
"Thirdly, That his Majesty would alter and regulate the Lieutenancy of London, before he goes abroad."
The day before, the Committee was to report it, but some hot-brained man (fn. 9), at the Lords House Door, dispersed a List of the Names of the Lieutenancy, with Notes, who refused the Oaths, corrupted Elections, were of Lord Russel's, and other Juries, and were for the Quo Warranto against the City Charter; which spoiled the business, and so it was adjourned sine die: [And the Lords, after some Debate, Resolved, (Majority of 14,) That the Paper was a scurrilous Paper; and ordered the Disperser of it into Custody.]
There is a Bill from the Lords, that has lain long upon the Commons Table, for indemnifying a certain Minister, for committing several Persons last Summer on Suspicion.
Under this specious Title, is prepared a Power for any six of the Privy-Council, to seize and secure all manner of Persons that shall refuse to take the Oaths already known, or any other that shall be imposed by this or any other Parliament, and cannot give such Bail, as six, in their discretion, think fit to require; and this to continue during the War with France. This Bill the Lords did not think fit to put the House of Com mons in mind of.
[Tuesday, March 14.
His Majesty came to the House of Lords, and, after passing several Bills, concluded the Session with the following Speech;
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"The large Supplies, which you have given me this Session, are so great Testimonies of your good Affections, that I take this occasion, with great willingness, to return my hearty Thanks to you. And, I assure you, it shall be my care, that the Money you have given, may be effectually applied to such services as may be most for the Honour and Interest of England.
"I must recommend to your care the Peace and Quiet of the several Counties to which you are now returning, and doubt not, but by your care, the Supplies which you have so freely given, will not only be effectually levied, but with the greatest equality too, and the least uneasiness to the People that is possible.
"The Posture of Affairs does necessarily require my Presence abroad; but I shall take care to leave such a number of Troops, as may be sufficient for the security of the Kingdom against any attempts of our Enemies.
"I shall add no more, but that, as I shall continue to expose my own Person, upon all occasions, for the good and advantage of these Kingdoms; so, I do likewise assure you, that my hearty and sincere endeavours shall never be wanting, in any other kind, to make this a great and flourishing Nation."
And then, by his Majesty's Command, the Lord Chief Baron prorogued the Parliament to May 2 (fn. 10).
Tuesday, May 2, 1693, the Parliament met, and was prorogued by Commission to September 19. From thence to October 3. From thence to October 26. And from thence to November 7.]