Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 3. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Saturday, May 15.
The E. of Ancram reports, That, according to the Order of the House, he delivered the Message, but was made to stay five hours, before the Lords called him in to receive the Answer. Where Lord Mohun said, " The Lord Keeper called for the paper of the Message," fleering, and laughing; he never saw such a carriage.
The Answer to the Message was, "Gentlemen of the House of Commons, The Lords have considered of your Message, and the matter contained therein, and they return you this Answer; That they find Lord Mohun hath done nothing but [what is according to] his duty."
Sir Charles Wheeler.] You have heard an account of Lord Mohun's behaviour, and merry gesture, at the delivering your Message—Should the Lords Messengers to us be turned into ridicule, some of us may be made so at a Conference.
Then he proceeded to the relation of what passed between them in the Painted Chamber. "That which stuck with him was an expression,—but, before that, Lord Mohun came to him for the paper of his Message; to which Lord Ancram replied, "He would not show it him above all men, he might snatch the paper away." He added, "Suppose one had a fine purse, with guineas in it, and [another] should desire to see the purse, and, when he had it, pocket up the guineas." "No," says Lord Mohun, "I would not do that; but would snatch away a knife from a man I feared would cut my throat with it." Lord Ancram replied, "Does your Lordship think the House of Commons would do so?" Lord Mohun answered, "Taking our privileges away is as bad as cutting our throats."
Sir Thomas Lee.] "Messengers from the Lords, at the door" he hears called for. He fears the Message will not please you; they have not yet staid "five hours," as the Lords made ours do. He renews his motion of yesterday, to send a Message to the Lords, to cease proceedings in the Appeal against Fagg—They have made entry in their books of their undoubted right in it, and have judged it privilege. 'Tis dangerous to rest so long before you do it, whilst you are disputing collateral issues about taking away your Warrant.
Mr Garroway.] At this rate, the Lords will come to be a brave Aristocracy—A strange judicature! He knows not what they would be at, or pretend to be. We have formerly been afraid of this, and now we are as much as ever.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Undoubtedly you are not to put yourselves out of all possibility of reconciliation with the Lords. According to the examination of your Officer, you have cause of complaint of their Member, and it may be, on Conference with the Lords, they will complain of your Messenger; and so you may be rightly informed. Though your Messenger staid long, yet he believes the Lords were not idle that while—Would hear the Lords Messengers, and then proceed.
Mr Vaughan.] Taking away your properties is not only danger, but a perfect dissolution of the Government, and this on record, a perfect Aristocracy. Our lives may be questioned by the Lords, next to our estates called in question.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Yesterday you "demanded" justice against Lord Mohun. This is breach of privilege to day, and you may demand it as well as that. That the Lords should not proceed against your Member, you claim of right.
Sir Charles Harbord.] No use of privilege, if no right to it—A question whether this be right, or not. It may be dangerously extended, and he would not innovate at all—But not give the Lords again more than is their due, and would well consider of it.
Col. Titus.] Can there be a harsher expression than "to send to the Lords to stop proceedings?" The word "desire" may be right. If I "demand" justice, many times the way of Address is as much as the thing itself.
Sir Thomas Meres.] In the case of Skinner, your Vote was recited, and 'tis that you must stand by in Conferences; in which Vote, when homely asserted, you may use the word "desire"—We never lose by civility.
Resolved, [as before] that the Appeal brought by [Dr Shirley] against Sir John Fagg, a Member of this House, in the Lords House, and the proceeding thereupon, is a breach of the undoubted rights and privileges of this House, and therefore this House desires that no farther proceedings may be in that cause before their Lordships.
Sir Thomas Lee.] As for Conference, the Lords are not fond of showing you the way to question their privileges. If you ask not the first Conference, you will never have a free Conference. It has been your method, formerly in the case of Skinner, about the East India company. Would have a Conference desired, about the privileges of Sir John Fagg.
A Message from the Lords, "The Lords Spiritual and Temporal, [in Parliament assembled] have received a Warrant, signed "Edward Seymour, Speaker, "and desire to know, whether it be a Warrant ordered by this House?"
Sir Edward Baynton.] We may give an unexpected, answer to an unexpected question, to this purpose, "That this House has considered the Lords Message, and (if the House think fit,) will send an answer by Messengers of their own."
Col. Titus.] Would have no sudden answer, but such a one as becomes the gravity and wisdom of this House; would have now only, "That we will send an answer by Messengers of our own," and then consider of our answer.
Mr Vaughan.] If you received a Message 'twould be a proper answer—"Messengers of our own;" but these are interrogatories, as if we were criminal, like the authority of a justice of the peace. You commit a man to the Tower, and the Lords send to know whether you have committed him or not.
Earl of Ancram.] Observes a new thing in the Message, "The Lords Spiritual and Temporal;" formerly Messages were usual" from the Lords" only. As if the Church asked you a question—Would send an answer in few terms.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Whether the weather grows hot, and it seems as if we were not like long to continue together, and so we make our strokes as fast as we can, (he speaks only by way of metaphor,) therefore would come as soon to the matter as we can.
Mr Swynfin.] The Lords had an examination upon the Warrant. Shirley was examined. 'Tis much more to say, " 'tis unparliamentary;" for 'tis after we sent our Message. He is against adding the last words, "Messengers of our own"—You need not reserve any thing. Would have this the clear Answer, "That the matter of this last Message is unparliamentary."
Sir Robert Howard.] First, to say a thing is so, and then afterwards to say Reasons! He is against it, but would give the thing a mark, without setting a bar betwixt the Lords and us—The worst logic in the world is, to do a thing, and then give Reasons afterwards for it.
Col. Titus.] Would have some brand put upon it, yet would not put so harsh a term as "unparliamentary"— Would have it thus, "of unusual nature, and therefore would send an Answer by Messengers of our own."
Sir Thomas Meres.] If our Answer concludes it not "unparliamentary," it must impertinent. If they ask you Conference, they will cast the force of their words upon "unparliamentary"—You are gone as far as you can go—And then not to send an Answer by Messengers of our own.
Mr Vaughan.] The Question is entered on your books —and is the proper place to be informed—Would have the latter words left out—You may, at this rate, be made common witnesses to what the Lotds will interrogate you unto.
Sir Edward Baynton.] 'Tis "unusual," because never used before. It looks so like things formerly in the Long Parliament, that we could smell things out. But make not their proceedings the measure of yours. Would give an unusual return to an unusual Message, without harsh expressions, in order to a Conference.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Will not excuse, nor justify, the Lords in this Message. By whom do you send this Message? Things of exposulation are not usually sent from us, in Answer, by the Lords Messengers. They have nothing under your hand. By your own Messengers send what you please.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] He that was most moderate, always overcame the more eager; as in Skinner's case. Would not now repell heat by heat. And you may show you are not altogether pleased with what the Lords have done.
Sir Richard Temple.] By course of Parliament, the Messengers should have no Answer at all. A strange thing, to send to know whether you own an Order! You send for Conference, and the Lords may deny it, being matter of judicature, which they have, and say they may do it. Would, in plain English, return no Answer at all.
"The Commons will consider of the Message from the Lords, and will return an Answer by Messengers of their own (fn. 1)."
Sir Thomas Meres.] They call themselves "Lords Spiritual and Temporal, assembled in Parliament—" When we, in a Message, have called ourselves "The Commons assembled in Parliament," there, to his knowledge, the Lords have taken it so ill, that they have given no Answer.
[The House being informed, that there is a Cause upon an Appeal brought by Sir Nicholas Stoughton against Mr Onslow (fn. 2), a Member of this House, appointed to be heard at the Bar of the Lords House on Monday next;
Ordered, That Mr Onslow do not appear any farther in the prosecution of the Appeal brought against him in the House of Lords; and that Sir Nicholas Stoughton be sent for in Custody of the Serjeant at Arms, to answer his breach of privilege.
Resolved, That whosoever shall appear at the Bar of the Lords House, to prosecute any suit against any Member of this House, shall be deemed a breaker and infringer of the rights and privileges of this House.]
Monday, May 17.
3. For that the matter of the Message doth also highly reflect upon the whole House of Commons, in their Lordships questioning that House, concerning their own Orders; which they have the more reason to apprehend, because the day before this Message was brought to them, the Warrant was owned, by the complaint of the House of Commons to their Lordships, that the same was taken and detained from a servant of theirs, by a Peer: Which imports, that the Question in that Message could not be for information only, and so tends to interrupt that mutual good correspondence, which ought to be preserved inviolably between the two Houses of Parliament.]
Mr Eyre.] Wishes the digestive faculty of this House answerable to the hands that feed it, that we might dispatch what business now may be brought before us; but because we have much upon our hands, and the time we are to sit probably not very long, moves "that no other Bills may be received, but what are already before us, or which may come from the Lords."
Sir John Coventry.] We have yet neither removed Privy Counsellor, nor broken the French league, since we sat. Would have Members stay here, and attend their duty, and not go down these holydays; and seconds Eyre's motion.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Thirds the motion, "that to Bills be brought in, but what are already depending, and may come to us from the Lords, [till after] this recess," or what the King will please to make it.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] Would never tie up our hands from other business. He never knew a precedent of it— He being interrupted by many saying "No, No," said, He would be answered by reason, and not by noise.
Sir Robert Carr.] He has known when no private business might be brought in, to interrupt the public; but he never knew such an order made as is moved for. 'Tis very extraordinary to exclude public business, which may be of dangerous consequence—Would, therefore, exclude private business only.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Anciently this motion was parliamentary, when Parliaments sat a shorter time than now —No new petitions were to be brought in. You cannot have a more advantageous thing to the Bills before you. Let such as will go down see what is before you, that no new matter may be started.
Sir Henry Ford.] Is glad to see the House so unanimous for Bills in your hands, but is not for this Question—Will you preclude yourselves from taking any more Bills? What occasion can you tell but you must have more Bills? You were told, not long since, your Being depends on the Address about the French forces; and will you shut up your hands against all possible cases whatsoever?
Mr Vaughan.] We are but passing a Vote, not making a Law for it, If we were, would then be of Ford's opinion—Constantly Parliaments have set a time for receiving Petitions, when Parliaments were shorter than they are now. The King has pointed out to us Religion, and Property, and Safety. We have let others in, and that out, by new business; and is the more for it, by what he has heard abroad of our sudden recess. Therefore moves, "that all Bills we are not already possessed of, or may come from the Lords, may be excluded."
Sir Charles Wheeler.] Should not have been against the motion, had you said, "till the Bills before you were finished, no new Bills should be brought in." If the King adjourns us not yet, or we sit six months, will you sit still, and do nothing? The precedents of 1641 and 1642 may be brought up an hundred years hence, like the nineteen propositions—Are we not masters of our own sense and resolutions? The Vote is altogether needless.
Sir Thomas Meres.] We abominate the actions of 1641 and 1642, as much as Wheeler; though he is not so old as Wheeler, our ancestors have suffered as well as he; abominates "the nineteen Propositions" as much as he, or any man.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] To say, positively, not to receive any thing from the King, we know not how such a thing may be. He has no foresight of any thing that may come from the King. The thing is too much unprecedented, and, whenever done, it ought to be with great deliberation. Ptay God, our difference with the Lords may be happily composed! He should hate himself, if he did not desire it. 'Tis not easy to see an accommodation with the Lords, but by a Bill, and possibly more natural for us. We are not yet prepared for matter for so good a Bill, but the Long Robe may adjust your privileges; and is sure it would be prejudicial to your reputation, should such a Bill come from the Lords. Why should our hands be bound? We are in a profound and safe peace, by God's providence—Who knows but there may be a necessity of the very safety of the Government, by loss of battles abroad, and other contingences?—Would not presume upon God's providence, so much as this Vote will.
Mr Swynfin.] The motion is, "That no new Bill be received, other than what shall come from the Lords"— What is moved hinders no Bills from the Lords. If any thing should be extraordinary, as the miscarriage of a battle, mentioned, you are secured by the Vote not excluding Bills from the Lords, and you are free—But here is your danger, a custom of receiving new Bills almost every morning. So many Bills make your Committees diverted; and scarce a new Bill, but the Committee is called from the attendance of the former Bills. He has observed of this Parliament, that there were never more explanatory Bills. This motion is not to tie up your hands, but not to stretch them so, that business may fall from you by grasping more; having already several Bills, that cannot pass this Session, of great importance, and like to have long Debates. There may be an emergency, and 'tis supposed only. If you take more Bills upon you, you cannot pass many before you. 'Tis a reasonable motion.
Sir Francis Drake.] If this difference between the Lords and us be accommodated by Bill, WestminsterHall must judge our privileges, which, he hopes, he shall never see. They say abroad, that the King of France will not go into the field till this Parliament be up, and for that reason he would not lengthen the Session.
Col. Titus.] 'Tis reason, that the Bills before you should not be obstructed, till they shall have their doom; possibly something as necessary may happen as any thing already before you—'Tis answered, "it may then come from the Lords." Supposing the Lords have such notice, they may make such a Vote likewise. It may be of dangerous consequence.
Mr Hale.] Considering the time of the year, and the little yet done, must leave other gentlemen to find a reason for it, he cannot hope to do it, how to be dispatched. —He fears a thin House, this festival calling people out of town—And if a motion should be for a million of money, here would be few to maintain the battle.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Suppose the King should send us an Act of Indemnity, he should be loth to lose his share of it—Will you tie your hands against receiving it? A gentleman said, "he heard the King of France will not take the field till we rise;" therefore he would fit on. The thing has an ill aspect—He would have precedents for it.
Sir John Talbot.] You are offered arguments for this motion, which are strong reasons against it, "Members going out of town."—Is, therefore, against the motion, because it will keep Members here—But would have the word "private" added to "Bill."
Mr Waller.] Reflects upon the first Debate this Session, about Thanks for the first part of the King's Speech. As to our Religion and Property, we gave Thanks. Wonders that any thing should be insinuated, when the King called us for nothing else. The Ordines, or States, were never made to adjust differences among themselves, but left commonly, as most cases,—Consuetudines—We say, "we will not exclude the Lords"—They may imitate us, but remembers not, when no money asked, and in hot weather, we were kept long together. When men go home, and there is a fear of surprize, he thinks, the last Session, there was such a Vote as this. Would one see the growth of Popery hindered, though we pay money for it? We paid 400,000l. for the Test against Popery; and now the King asks more; we may well put the vote proposed to the Question.
Sir Edward Dering.] This is an unusual vote proposed; would see one such vote that ever passed—Remembers only something like it, when our days were numbered. He usually gives his negative to what he understands not—Would willingly have some consideration of it. If it be a good Vote, 'tis a good one two days hence; and would adjourn the Debate to Wednesday next.
Mr Powle.] This Vote proposed does not so oblige, but, that, if any extraordinary thing come to pass, we may revoke it. Had we put Popery, Property, and the Fleet, in any way, we might have come to such a Vote, in obedience to the King's Speech. What can be done by Bills is already before us; to admit more, is but to incumber those. This seems to him to be perfectly the state of the Question, whether we shall do any thing, or no? Therefore he concurs with the motion.
Mr Pepys.] The little he has to say, is, to join with Powle about the Navy. How far Religion and Property are secured, he knows not, because he has not seen the Bills. In his humble apprehensions, the Navy is not provided for. He takes his rise from the Bill for appropriating the Customs; if what he said the other day be true, and [he] can make it out, that there is yet no provision made out for it. If 400,000 l. be no superfluity, to make this fleet of yours equal to what it should be with your neighbours—plainly, in view, 'tis necessary, indispensibly—To the value of the bill, then, have you complied with the King's Speech? For all this is but necessary to keep the fleet as it is.
Sir Eliab Harvey.] As for the great war of Tripoly, he hopes we are in a better condition than not to maintain six ships for that war. He told us, 195,000l. would set out the fleet for eight months; therefore, that is provided for—Many Bills may lie here, possibly, till October—So many Committees are on foot, that, should we sit to October, say we should, we must have time to go into the country.
Mr Pepys.] 'Tis not for your service, nor the Government, to let go an error uncorrected. 'Tis to no purpose to deliver it in writing; 'tis not capable of mistake. Expressly, all particulars have been told you, but not one syllable of wages. When he has exposed his papers, would appeal to them.
Mr Garroway.] Ford called him up, by saying, "No money was asked nor desired." And as for Sandys's motion of the chimney money's being taken off, he is against it— When he remembers that the fee-farm rents were sold by forty-four voices—When all agree nothing is asked, nor expected, where is the prejudice? If he thinks the Bill of Popery and Property will not do the work, he may offer amendments, if he please, and no danger in the vote, as is said.
Sir John Ernly.] In chimney-money, he said heretofore, that the Parliament was to give, and not to take away from the King—The strength of your neighbours is recommended to your consideration; if you think yourselves in a good condition to oppose your enemies, on occasion, 'tis well. Estimate the French ships, built but of late years; but he has built eight great ones, since. If you think we are fully provided for, and no need of building more ships, when seven or eight of the first rate must be built, he says nothing; if all be well pleased and contented, to let things be as they are, so is he.
Mr Harwood.] Is sorry the Crown of England has gone so far backward, as France has gone forward. We hear of the ill condition of the navy, but not of the good. If we ought to be afraid of the French, by sea, or land, why do we suffer our men to stay there? As to the navy, so considerable to us, when our wooden walls are down, every one may come at us. The French having so admirable navies, and we so poor ones—Which might have been otherwise, if all the money given to that purpose had been so spent. If that which you have appropriated to the Navy will not do, you may think farther of it, when you meet again. He concurs with the motion.
Mr Sawyer.] Here is a great Debate. For fear of confusion on one side, and surprize on the other, moves to have no more Bills brought in, after the first day of the next term. It is for the interest of the King to finish those before you; and he would have a convenient time set, for bringing in any more. The surprize of the passing the Bill for the Fee-farm Rent—Great defect followed. A convenient time set to limit the bringing in of Bills, would salve the doubts on both sides.
Mr Finch.] We ought not to put the Question, to prejudice any other business; we have not yet proceeded sufficiently for that. We are not to exclude Property, by Petitions from private persons, that cannot have remedy in another place. He has received many particular papers; he calls them so, because delivered to him by particular men. Trade respects Property. The Motion about Trade, for planting flax in England, is public, because it saves 800,000l. a year for coarse cloth, brought from beyond the sea—Religion ought to have the first place in your thoughts; but he moves that last, to rest it in your thoughts the better—The last Session, you considered of Indulgence; and because we are safe on the shore, shall we have no consideration for them who struggle with the tide? Whatever the case be, 'tis charity and prudence to think on them, so considerable a part of the nation; and would not have them in despair.
Sir William Stroude.] A predecessor of his, in Henry VIII.'s time, had a particular Act for him, called "Stroude's (fn. 3) Case." He hopes he shall not be debarred his property, having lands taken from him, for the making Plymouth fort larger, and was never considered for them.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] All these things will be provided for, as well as any great matters have been provided for. The expence, we are told, of the Navy is 400,000 l. per Ann. one year with another. Of late years we have had a Dutch war, or have been sore of the wounds by it. Always an old debt remaining (though he hears 'tis in some measure paid)—The first-rate ships are built; and no man can say, that the current charge of the Navy is 400,000 l. per Ann. therefore the Custom Bill is sufficient for that`purpose. There are several precedents, and right, at a time for such a vote, when our days of sitting have been numbered—When we have had a prospect of a recess, we have excluded private business—But, 'tis said, for public, who knows what emergencies may happen? The argument is the same for the one as for the other. Should we not stop business, we should keep the door so open we should never have done; and for what is already before us, we shall never have a greater prospect than we have now.
Col. Birch.] Hearing gentlemen have told you, "We shall give no money" (which is more than he knows)— He seldom gives his negative to money, because he has the least of it. If you bind not your own hands, he would not let others bind them for you—If the King's protestant subjects were united, he would not fear the great man beyond sea. For Flax, 'tis past time of the year to plant it—'Tis but a dwindling sum, spoken of, for the Navy—But he would have such a Navy as has never been, and not by money and wares upon interest— The Navy wants men—He sees not so absolute a necessity of fear of the great man beyond sea, 'till we see how we stand with him in the Treaty—And seeing, he that moved once for money did so well with it, and the Navy so ill, would stop, and consider it.
Sir Charles Harbord.] 'Tis not time now to save your time, nor your money, though there is a time for both. He is against the Question, but desires admission of no more Bills, 'till the great ones are in a fairer progress.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Would have this word added to the Question, not foreseeing what great occasions might come; for extraordinary occasions alter all orders; therefore would have the words, "unless upon extraordinary occasion," added to the Question.
Mr Vaughan.] Should any great occasion come, the ruin of the nation cannot follow, but in the manner of our dismission, if, by prorogation, the King cannot call us again; if, by adjournment, 'tis held, by many, he may call us by proclamation.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Speaker said, "He cannot take the Question from any particular man;" but when one, two, or three, have delivered you the very words in their speech, you are to put them to the Question.
Sir Charles Wheeler.] 'Tis not possible to arrive at the King's intention, if this vote be pressed ready coined— Would know how the King would explain that expression in his Speech, "against the minds of men," because we cannot interpret—He explains himself upon the word "ready coined," as a metaphor only—Then speaks of what has been used this Session, in penning Questions.
Sir Richard Temple.] If the House hold not to the Question, 'tis the Speaker's duty to collect the sense of the House in the Question, and he would have the word mentioned, but not the word—in the King's Speech.
Mr Swynfin.] Rises to speak to the words, "extraordinary occasion," proposed to be added to the Question. "If the extraordinary occasion be from abroad or at home," must be meant, which this House has no prospect of now. It will be private interpretation in this case; it will occasion, no man knows how many motions and interpretations, a man's own way, and give interruptions to your business, and he is therefore against the words being added to the Question. Of two inconveniences, the greatest is to be avoided—If any man thinks that, by it, he has excluded all extraordithings, the House is the judge of that only.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Has heard, in former days, when the army men were in parliament time, they gave money, and gave it to themselves. We that live about the town shall be the only judges of it. The rest, that live remote, will have no share in it; therefore is against the addition.
Sir Richard Temple.] Thinks you sufficiently armed against these "extraordinary occasions." Your vote itself will give you liberty sufficient—'Tis only a tryal, whether any man will offer you any thing extraordinary, or not.
Sir William Coventry.] He has the less to say, because his sense is already expressed—The word "extraordinary" is not only useless but dangerous; as if the House, without those words, was not masters of their own orders. Should be loth that it binded us up so as not to alter it, either on some great victory obtained, or new occurrences.
The main Question passed, viz. "That no Bill be brought in, or received, but such as are always ordered to be brought in, or shall be sent down from the Lords, 'till after the recess mentioned in his Majesty's Speech."