Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 9. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Friday, March 1.
Mr Comptroller Wharton.] I stand not up to hinder or interrupt the Debate, but, as the properest time, to acquaint you, that I am to déliver a Message from his Majesty. The Paper in my hand will express the matter better than I am able to do it.
[The Letter from the King imported, "To desire the House to regulate the abuses in collecting the Hearth-Money; or, if it be a Grievance to the Subjects, his Majesty will consent to take it away, as the House shall advise."]
—I cannot but say, this is the greatest honour the King can do me, to make me a Messenger of this. I have seen Messages for Money, but it is the first I ever heard of of this kind, for the King to part with a Revenue. I am to acquaint you farther, a little more fully than in this Paper, viz. that the King was the first that moved this in Council. He did it for the ease of the People, and would always do so: He, and only he, is to have the honour of it.
Sir Robert Howard.] It was very late, when no body expected any such thing, that the King made this Motion in Council: The King said, "It was much in his thoughts:" I could wish the House had heard his discourse of all this business; and in all his discourse from Exeter hither, he expressed his inclination to do good to the People.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I move, that both Houses would join in an Address to the King, with their humble sense and Thanks; and I would have it the Declaration of the whole Nation.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] We cannot but have a great sense of this gracious condescension of his Majesty; perhaps the most grateful and the greatest grace that has been done by any King formerly. And as this is a great favour from his Majesty, so I hope we shall take care, in due time, that his Majesty may be no loser.
Col. Birch.] I stand up to second not only our hearty Thanks, with the concurrence of the Lords, but this being such a Revenue that we were in no hopes ever to have an end of it, I would also signify this extraordinary favour to the Nation, and give the King an extraordinary compensation.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I move to have an addition to the Thanks, &c. "That the King need not doubt of the affections of his People, to supply his occasions from time to time."
Mr Hampden.] First resolve on Thanks, &c. and then you may add as has been moved; but not to join the Lords in any thing relating to aid, the King by way of compensation. You may appoint a Committee to draw up the Address.
[A Committee was appointed accordingly.]
Mr Hampden.] I am commanded by the King to acquaint the House, that several persons about the Town, in Cabals, conspire against the Government, for the interest of King James: Some the King has caused to be apprehended and secured, and thinks he may see cause to do so by others. If these should be set at liberty, 'tis apprehended we shall be wanting to our own safety, the Government, and People. The King is not willing to do any thing but what he may be warranted by Law; therefore, if these persons deliver themselves by Habeas Corpus, there may arise a difficulty. Excessive Bail you have complained of. If men hope to carry their great design on, they will not be unwilling to forfeit their Bail. The King asks your Advice, and hopes you will give it, as likewise the Lords. I forgot to tell you, some are committed on suspicion of Treason only.
Mr Garroway.] This Message requires your Advice. I conceive, the King is under some pressure by the Law; he does consider your safety, without violating the Law; our business is to take off all hardships from the King, and to take the burden upon ourselves. It is not unknown, at least some are suspected to be tampering, and the King has found out some, and by this he may proceed to the remainder. In this, we must consult the learned in the Law, to offer their opinions upon the present sense of things, and to beseech the King that no present proceedings may be against these men, but to take some little time to consider of it.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] 'Tis of great consequence, what Advice the Lords and Commons shall give in this. In the mean time, I desire the King may make no proceeding against these men; and I would add Thanks to the King for asking your Advice; a thing not very usual in this place!
Col. Birch.] I second that Motion. These are new things; and the King having thus freely delivered us from that badge of slavery, the Chimney-Money, (by which a Freeholder was not left in England) I second the Motion, that such Thanks, and special Thanks, may be given him on this occasion.
Mr Boscawen.] We are not only to consider these persons secured at present, but such as may be upon the same occasion. 'Tis not unknown, that many Soldiers disbanded, or who have disbanded themselves, have Arms in their hands. I have Letters, that the Soldiers in Cornwall are as bad as the rest; and when the Magistrates rejoiced at the happy change, the Soldiers killed a man. I would consider some regulation or discipline of the Soldiers, and not to have them proceeded against in Westminster-Hall, and to make some temporary provision for the safety of the Government. There is a Kingdom near us, where these Soldiers may go without ships (Scotland). I would take some effectual course. I have laid the thing before you.
* * * * *.] The matter before you requires no long time of consideration; the King has sent for your Advice, and he knows well enough how the Law stands, which ought to be inviolable, and I am always for keeping it. Therefore I would make immediate application to the King, to take up such persons as he shall suspect to be obnoxious; like wise I would have a short Bill, for two or three months, to enable the King to commit such persons as he shall have cause to suspect, without the benefit of Habeas Corpus.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] A thing of so extraordinary a nature as this, requires time to consider of it. I cannot consent to this Bill. 'Tis said, "these men may escape when bailed;" must we therefore intrench upon the Habeas Corpus Act? I would rather advise, that great security may be taken of them to appear, than that that Bill should be intrenched upon; a thing so sacred! The other Motion, about the disorders of the Soldiers, seems to touch upon Martial Law. If they do any violences, the Law is sufficient already; but if Martial Law be necessary, let it be by way of tryal by Juries. But I cannot abide Martial Law.
Sir Henry Capel.] This matter is for the House, and not Advice proper for the Privy Council. 'Tis the duty of every person about the King, to advise him to take the opinion of this House. Pray let there be no discouragement in the thing, the King asking your Advice so graciously. This thing is not slight; 'tis weighty, and a great deal is at the bottom. "That the King would continue his care, and to thank the King for it," was Clarges's Motion, which I second.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] I take the Act of Habeas Corpus to be the general security of all subjects. 'Tis not to be understood, that that Law will be shaken when you are gone, but to continue no longer than for the persons already taken, and at present in pursuit.
Sir Richard Temple.] 'Tis happy we have such a King, that is tender of our Laws and Liberties, and that will advise with his Great Council. I fear, those things offered you tend to more violation of that Law than a Bill. The taking extraordinary Bail was as much a violation of your Liberties as any, in the late King's time; and there is no way but to provide a short Law for it. If you advise the King to detain these persons, and no more, what needed the King to have had resort to you in this case? You can advise nothing else, but what will shake the Habeas Corpus Act. If it be required, in three days time they are to have their Habeas Corpus. Since the King has had recourse to us for Advice, let us give him none against Law. You may advise the King, that there be no proceedings, to deliver them, till you provide a Law; and that, in the mean time, he may go on to apprehend them.
Mr Hampden.] Some of the persons apprehended are sent to the Tower; and the King does not think that a Habeas Corpus does not lie there, and therefore sends you this Message. Lord Arran (who is committed) had not been taken, but that he fled in the disguise of a footman's habit, and was stopped by a Centry without Order. I am of opinion, before you send up your Address, to have a Vote for a Bill for the King to commit, without benefit of Habeas Corpus, ree months.
Mr Sacheverell.] The Message sent you is too weighty to determine on a sudden; but thus far you may go, to advise him to secure those he suspects. I cannot consent to go any farther, nor consent, on every great occasion, to dispense with that Act, and at last to take it quite away; but to secure those whom the King does suspect, or has cause to suspect at present.
Sir William Pulteney.] Suppose persons come to a Judge for a Habeas Corpus, what shall the Judge do in this case? To say, "that the House of Commons have advised the King otherwise," shall that supersede the Judge's proceedings? So that necessarily you must have recourse to the Legislative Power, and leave the matter stronger than before.
Mr Finch.] This is a matter of great consequence: 'Tis of absolute necessity, that those persons be secured for tampering with the Government, and of as absolute necessity, that the Law be secured too. There is no danger that persons should be delivered by Habeas Corpus; for as there are no Judges yet appointed, they can have no Writs, and so no necessity of bailing them immediately. If they cannot be immediately delivered, and may be secured, the King can do that without your Advice. But the Question is, What to do with the persons attached, seeing they cannot immediately be delivered? I think it fit to thank the King for his Message, and to adjourn the Debate.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I speak to the Question, for the Committee to draw up an Address of Thanks to his Majesty, &c. I find Gentlemen of various opinions. I am for Thanks, and would have that Question single, else I know not how to give my Vote: I would have Thanks to the King, for his gracious condescension in asking our Advice.
The Question passed accordingly.
Lord Falkland.] This Message from the King is of great consequence; and I am not for giving single Advice, but to give as much as we can. There is great cause to apprehend danger from caballing, and the old Army is discontented. Detaining these already apprehended, or that he shall have cause to suspect, I think we may advise without encroachment upon the Law.
Sir Robert Clayton.] When you have taken these People, how will you hold them in prison? Had it not been for the Habeas Corpus Act, there had not been many of us here now; we had been dead and rotten in Prison. I would have the Debate deferred. When the legislative power and the executive are far asunder, it might be difficult, but they are together. I would have this a temporary Bill for a short time, and not to be drawn into example.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am for that Motion for the King to apprehend suspected persons: Till you give your Advice, the King may do it without you. I would have such Advice given, as may consist with the gravity of this House. As for to-morrow, though the Tests, &c. are to be taken; there is no danger in taking them after to-morrow: I would have that understood that you have no restraint upon you that may put it off. As to this suspending the Habeas Corpus Bill, at present I am under great restraints in Judgment, therefore I would have it duly debated, and, it may be, I shall be for a temporary Act.
Sir John Lowther.] I think you are told by the learned persons "that it is no Question, but the King may secure these suspected persons, and 'tis in his power, and supposed to be his Duty, and the proper Administration of the Crown." I am not against adjourning the Debate till to-morrow, but I would not increase Jealousies in People, that you will not take the Tests. Those who advised the King to desire a temporary Act seem rather to confirm the Habeas Corpus Act, than to weaken it. When you exercise the legislative Authority in this Emergency, it is no invading your Law, but very necessary at present.
Mr Hampden.] The difficulty the King is in, is not to apprehend these Persons, but what to do with them. Your Advice is desired, and what he should do in this difficulty. I think the King may legally commit and do no man wrong. He asks your Advice, and I think 'tis no encroachment on the Habeas Corpus Act. No man took more pains in it, nor values it more than I do. These men will go on conspiring, and Gentlemen say, to-morrow is appointed for taking the Oaths and Tests. Those Gentlemen that refuse taking the Oaths and Tests, will sit very uneasily here. But if you gravely deliberate, and at the same time delay swearing Allegiance to the King, as though you intend no haste, consider what will be said abroad. Therefore I move for a temporary Act to dispense with the Habeas Corpus.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I stand up to vindicate myself: I am as free as any body to take these Oaths. I desire to justify myself.
Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to draw up a temporary Bill, to enable his Majesty to secure and keep in Custody all such as are committed for conspiring against the Government, and that no Person committed for Treason, or Suspicion of Treason, be bailed by any Judge upon a Habeas Corpus, without consent of the Privy Council, till the first day of the next Term.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] The Motion made last was of an unusual nature. To order Gentlemen to draw up a Bill, and immediately to bring it in! I think this is of an extraordinary nature.
A Message from the Lords, That they have made the like Vote with this House to stand by and affist his Majesty with their Lives and Fortunes.
Mr Garroway.] For the touching Money matters, this is no charge upon the Subject, therefore we may join with the Lords in this, for every man is bound to it by his Allegiance.
Mr Hampden.] As to Conference with the Lords about this Vote, that is at an end, (the Commons having made the same Vote,) therefore I would think of some way to present it yourselves as your own Vote.
Mr Garroway.] I have known, in such a case, that both Speakers have gone up to the King, being a Message of the same thing.
The Speaker.] I remember not the same thing, or that both Houses have gone up with each of their Votes.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I would inspect the Lords Journal, &c. [Which was ordered.]
The Bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act was read the first, and immediately after, the second, time, and ordered to be committed.
[March 2 was employed in taking the Oaths.]
Monday, March 4.
On the Bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I apprehend, nothing but the last necessity will cause you to part with the Habeas Corpus Act; the same example for others may be for the suture to do it. In what I say, I move for Privilege of Parliament; I would not have that suspicion extend to Members of Parliament. I think it reasonable, when you provide for the security of the Public to provide foryour own. I would have no Members taken upon suspicion of practising against the Government; but when they shall be first adjudged criminal here.
Sir William Williams.] Consider the quick flight this Bill has made here; 'twas voted, brought in, and committed all in one day. As you have overruled your own Order, so I must not wonder at irregularities, but I hope you will be tender in it for the future.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I spoke it now; if I am irregular, 'tis because I am going into the Country with your leave, and shall not have opportunity to do it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I think the Motion not irregular, For many more Reasons, for re-commitment; for if the Bill be once brought in, in Parchment, at the last reading it must be laid aside if it cannot be mended at the Table. I know 'tis a thing of great consequence for Members to be taken out of this House. But the ancient right, in the case of the five Members in 1640, was, that the cause of accusations must be showed in Parliament, and ought to be so, as well in accusation of Treason, as suspicion of Treason.
Sir William Williams.] There is no Privilege to any Member in case of Treason—That care may be taken in the ingrossment.
Sir Richard Temple.] No Privilege to a Member, &c. A Member may be accused untruly, for the cause and matter ought to be true. For Misdemeanor, or breach of the Peace, a Member is not to be tried in time of Parliament. 'Twas the case of Lord Devonshire (fn. 1), and Lord Lovelace. They pleaded they ought not to be tried in time of Parliament, though the misdemeanor was great, and done in the Court.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The charge of the five Members was undoubtedly Treason, but to be taken out of the House was a breach of Privilege, and afterwards owned and disclaimed by King Charles I, to be a rash attempt. A man may make a Motion for a Bill, in a thing unforeseen, and if it cannot be well done at the Table, you may re-commit the Bill. I move therefore, that some few Gentlemen may draw a Clause. You run the utmost hazard by bringing in a rider, which cannot be mended at the Table, and so the thing may be utterly lost.
Sir Robert Howard.] A thing of so ordinary and plain a nature as this may be brought in Parchment, and pray put an end to this thing.
Sir Thomas Lee.] If you think this Proviso necessary, three words do it, viz. "Provided that it does not extend to Privilege of Parliament," and I hope you intend it to those Members that do not attend in Parliament, and are absent (reflecting upon Seymour who had leave to go into the Country.)
Tuesday, March 5.
Sir Joseph Tredenham reports several Grievances to be presented to the King for redress. See the Journal.
Sir Robert Howard.] You have received a Report from the Committee in general: I would have some use of it, though it is actum agree, to do it over again— We have a great example of the King; instead of those indirect means used formerly to get Money, he has given you Money. He has been so far from breaking your Laws, that he has not so much as bowed them— I will wind all up in one Motion, to incite every Member to close with it. I find all the Answers from Burton and Graham, relating to the blood spilt by their Prosecution, that of the Sheriffs of London, &c. "that they were but ministerial in them;" they ought to be made an example, if they have a mind to gratify themselves by that, to make them originals, and a Bill of Attainder to be brought against them. Let us free ourselves from the guilt of that blood spilt, to all Posterity, and not leave ill Ministers, by these Examples, to do the same again. 'Tis impossible we should live, and not have blood upon us, if we pass this by unpunished. The next is the murdering our Civil Rights in Corporations, in taking away Charters, &c. If we do not punish these things, Corruption still remains encouraged, and we shall cause this to descend to Posterity. If the fault be in the Jury, and they will not tell us who gave the Counsels, they must take it upon themselves. To proceed upon some actings in this, I would have a select Committee. Let it go to what fountain it will, were my own Father concerned. Not but that I would have a Committee of Grievances to sit, but you may have a select Committee to sit upon Grievances, and you will find the parties and originals, or these men must make themselves murderers of these men, and murderers of our Liberties. "No Calamity so great (says Lord Coke) as what is done under colour of Justice."
Mr Howe.] These men are known to the boys in the streets. The delay of this may put the people upon great discontents. Suppose a tradesman dies, as a Shoe-maker, and another comes to take the House, and finds Awls and Lasts in the House, shall I believe a Painter lived in the House? I would have these Awls and Lasts thrown out of the House. I would have a select Committee to enquire into this, and then I hope you will have a good account of this, and let the tools be thrown away.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] There are a great many Grievances more than this, as the illegal Ecclesiastical Commission; dispensing with the Oaths, &c. to the overthrow of all our Laws; Money levied by a Charter upon Hackney Coaches; if that be so, you will be tript out of all your rights quickly. I wish the Committee, after the discovery of all these Grievances, would have named the Persons who had occasioned them. Had they brought you in the persons who had offended, you might then have done something. I could wish these Grievances might be re-committed, and so consider farther of these Grievances, and find out the Persons who occasioned them.
Sir Robert Clayton.] I would not hunt too many Hares at once. If you take too many things, you will finish none. All we could get from Burton and Graham was, "that they had their direction from the Attorney General," and there is the end of the thread. Pray enquire of the Attorney General.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I am of opinion with Clarges, that all the Grievances of this Nation are not in the Committee's Report. We have great obligation to the King, who has relieved us from the oppression of Chimney Money: But if I be not mis-informed, we owe that to the lower end, and not to the higher end, of the Council-Table. If these men act again, who have countenanced these things, no body will be afraid to offend. When you have voted the Grievances, you may, by a private Committee, find out the Persons. Punishment of Vice is as necessary as reward to Virtue.
Mr Love.] I am of opinion, that finding out mischiefs will do no good, without remedying them. The two first Heads of the Bill relate to the City of London (fn. 2). If you refer this till you have done all, you will never be at an end; it will find you work for a great while.
A Committee was appointed to examine what Persons have been concerned in causing these Grievances, &c.
Sir Thomas Lee.] No ordinary Treason is more dangerous than the practice of these men. I would have the Committee meet and examine their several practices, and then you may go to the Lords for committing them, as a Court, by the complaint of the Commons; else that Court cannot commit originally. A learned Lawyer (Maynard) has declared, that you are to proceed so in Common-Law Treasons.
Major Wildman.] I would consider whether this be practicable immediately. Possibly they may demand Habeas Corpus before night. There are thirty in number committed, and most without any Law, and committed by no Authority in Law. 'Tis notorious that they have broken Privileges of Parliament, by taking away Corporation Charters, by engaging Subscriptions to elect such as the King shall nominate, to overthrow the very foundations of Parliaments. The way proposed by Lee I think the best. But whether you will commit them for breach of Privilege of Parliament— You are told of a great sum of Money that has gone through their hands. I would have them in your power, for they have been guilty of the greatest subversion of the Laws that ever was.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I will agree that Burton and Graham are guilty of great Offences, but whether you will determine this breach of Privilege without hearing them? There is nothing expressed in the Warrant of Commitment of the cause of their Commitment, and I think there is no danger from the Lords Commissioners, who have three days to consider of the Habeas Corpus, and by that time possibly you may have special matter against them; therefore we are not to infringe the Laws, be the offenders ever so great. I know not whether the Lords, primâ instantiâ, may commit Commoners: I would rather go some expeditious way, by Impeachment.
Col. Birch.] If any Gentleman of this House will come and inform you of a breach of Privilege upon him, you never deny Commitment of the Person that did it. Scarce a Gentleman of this House that will not agree this to be a horrible breach of Privilege. Let your Serjeant take them into custody and examine them, and so you have them in custody according to usage of Parliament.
Mr Paul Foley.] I understand, a great many are in the Tower. If the King's Council, who hear us, will inform the King, some course may be taken with them. If this House talk of breach of Privilege with men they intend to hang, it is a strange course. There is no way we can proceed, but by Impeachment, and go generally to the Lords to accuse them, and appoint a Committee to draw it up.
Sir Richard Temple.] 'Tis strange that men who lie in the Tower for the greatest Crimes, should be fetched out for so low a thing as breach of Privilege, and if you impeach them for any thing under Treason, they may be bailed. I would have a Committee to draw up a charge against them. Any thing that tends to subvert the Laws is Treason. Parricide is as great a Crime as is in the World, but it is not High Treason. Before the Statute 25 Edward III, the greatest Treason was subverting the Law, and even a Judge to break his Oath, was judged Treason at the Common Law. You may provide your Evidence against these men, after you have impeached them, and I hope you will bring them to Justice.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] 'Tis your proper way to refer it to a Committee, to examine the matter, and then bring the accusation; let the Committee report to the House how the matter stands, but bring in no accusation, leaving that to the House.
Sir Rowland Gwynn.] Burton, Graham, and Lord Jeffreys, are committed with Crimes specified; the rest are not.
It was referred to a Committee to prepare accusations, &c. and so report to the House, &c.
[March 6 (fn. 3), 7, and 8, omitted.]
Saturday, March 9.
On a Motion for printing the Votes.
Sir Thomas Lee.] In the Roll of the 9th Henry IV, "Nothing is to be taken notice of in Parliament, but what you shall communicate to the King." I know not how the King may take notice of what you do, and if you print your Votes, the Lords may do the same. 'Twill only save the Gentlemen the trouble of writing to their Corporations.
Sir Henry Capel.] You are told of the 9th Henry IV. At that time, there were no Coffee-Houses, and no Printing. If you could keep your Votes out of the Coffee-Houses, and suppress the licentiousness of Printing, otherwise you make secrets here of what all the World knows. Treaties are made public amongst Princes, and 'tis no good thing to make secrets of that which is known. The World ought to know your Votes, and there is no harm in it. As to what is said, "that the King will concern himself in your Votes;" the Lords Journals are open, and so are ours. I think we make more of this than it is worth. I would have them printed.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I cannot be persuaded that any thing now, or heretofore, has been for your service, by printing your Votes, but extremely to your disservice. I appeal how it is for your Honour to make a Resolution in your Journal not to print your Votes, and now to make a contradiction in your Journal, to print them. Unless the cause of that contradiction do appear, it will make your Counsels of little value abroad in the World. That you should alter your Resolutions weakly is not for your Honour. What reason is there for most of your Orders, or for a Bill to be read three times, but for the more safety of your Proceedings? Whether it is for the Honour and Credit of the House to vary Resolutions, I appeal to you. Those Rules and Measures our Ancestors left us, are the safest way. The inconvenience every body is sensible of, in the ancient way of passing Bills by Items, where the King might reject and accept what he pleased. When the King shall come to take notice of what you do here, what becomes of your Liberty of Speech, and what becomes of your Freedom of Debates? 'Tis contrary to the course of nature here, to make a general publication of what you do, before you make it in course of Parliament. As for sending your Votes to Coffee-Houses, it is a great Crime; 'tis more for the service of the House that your Clerks take not that liberty to publish them in Coffee-Houses, and most for your Honour not to print them.
Mr Hampden.] I see Gentlemen ready to put the Question, when they think a man is against it. The Question is, Whether you print your Votes? I am sorry this Question is stirred again. I remember it at the Oxford Parliament—(I know the Wheels that moved it then) I know that printing your Votes sounded well abroad, and it seems a popular thing, like sitting at Charing Cross, but the People had much rather hear our Reasons than our Votes, and no more. I have seen a Vote in a full House, at six or seven o'clock at night; the Tide would not be stemmed, but there was a Vote passed; and when they thought better on it the next day, that Vote was unvoted again; whilst this is in your book only, there is no hurt. Is this all the Argument, or does it look like one, that the People should know what you do? No ordinary Council does it. The Lords have not done it. Should you desire their concurrence to print their Votes, they will laugh at it, and their books are Records. One great Reason for it is for the sake of the Booksellers, or that younger Gentlemen may be able, when the elder are in their graves, to know the Proceedings of Parliament; but they will see no reasons for them Bills are not written in Paragraphs, but all of a piece, and there is a reason in it; not that the Clerks may read Blank, but the reason is, that there may be no forging in it. If you print your Votes, consider what it is. There may be an inconvenience of intercourse; the Lords against our Privilege, and we against the Judicature of the Lords. The Lords may tell you, you have voted something derogatory to the Crown, and send you word, What have you to do with it? If you print it, will it not be a strange Message, that the Crown should send you word of what you do? You must send the Crown word, you intended not any thing against the Crown; and of what strange consequences may this be? I have no end in this but regularity and decency. I have as great reverence as any man has for this House; and when you reverence yourselves, the World will have it for you. I hope you will not print your Votes.
Sir Richard Temple.] This matter is of more moment than at first it seemed to be; little benefit, and great inconvenience, may come from it. I dislike all innovations. In a great Assembly, what is done must be with great reason: There ought to be no innovation. All that can be proved for printing it, is to rectify Coffee-Houses, and for beyond sea. I saw, at Oxford Parliament, another thing gained, upon Commissions that Gentlemen had from their Country about the Exclusion-Bill. I hope we shall not imitate Holland, to go to our Principals for Instructions; it may be of dangerous consequence to alter the Government. I hear of Balloting-Boxes; they have had them in Scotland, but they are weary of them, as precluding all Debates. This strikes at the essential Privilege of Parliament, when you have advanced in a Bill, and then reject it, and the People know not the reason of that. I would have sending the Votes to Coffee-Houses redressed; but it is far less inconvenience than that your Resolutions should go about from yourselves with approbation: I never heard any good reason for it, nor any good success of it when done. 'Twill prove a levity without doors, to alter your Vote already made, and your Reasons not known.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I am for printing your Votes, and I see no inconvenience by it; it will be great if you do not print them. England has from the Clerks all you do, but not the truth of what you do; and 'tis fit England should know both. In former Parliaments, when they were invading and undermining the People, they were ashamed of it; but we are now under a King that preserves our Liberties, and there is no reason but the People should know it. 'Tis fit the People should know the good things transacted betwixt the King and this House. Such a union may have great influence both abroad and at home. I am for printing them.
Mr Arnold.] I would not have L'Estrange and Nevil Payne, write false news beyond sea. I desire the truth may be known, and am for printing them.
Sir Robert Howard.] Methinks the Debate is, Whether you will publish your Votes tacitly, or expressly? If they are published without the Stamp of Authority, it seems you will rather permit it by an unjustifiable way, than a justifiable. If you will keep your Books secret, perhaps I shall be for that; but if you suffer them to be published by other means, then is not printing the honester and juster way? If the Question be, Whether they be kept secret, or not, I have my opinion: I know not the methods of Holland, but now you have more justification for printing than you had formerly, when they were better not published at all, but kept secret. But this Parliament has been chosen in better methods—Possibly some Votes are fit that the World should presently see; but whether they should be kept secret or not, I shall reserve my thoughts; but whether you will print them is much the more justifiable way.
Sir William Williams.] I am sorry this has been moved to-day. The Legality of doing it is out of the question. Notwithstanding all I have suffered for printing, by your Order, yet I think it not politic to do it now. It seems, 'twas a weak thing in me (when Speaker) to obey the House of Commons, and I was turned out, the last Parliament, and I believe that was the greatest reason for it. When you have vindicated the poor men who suffered for printing, then I shall be for it. As for Precedents abroad, I shall not take my measures from methods abroad, but from our own Constitution: They are a Commonwealth, and we under a Monarchy. There every man has a share in the Government, but here not. Your Reasons will not appear with your Votes; and the People will not apprehend the Reasons of your Contradictions. You will arm your enemies by it, and they will provide against your Counsels.
Mr Paul Foley.] Orders here are of several kinds; some are unfit to be published. You have Criminals come before you; 'tis unfitting their Accusation should be published, and unfitting the Evidence, that they may be prepared to surprize you.
Mr Hampden, jun.] Some Gentlemen argue, as if you should keep your Debates as secret as you can; but I think, if you print your Votes, you lay a sort of restraint upon yourselves. As for what is said of other Countries, Resolutions in Council in Holland are final Decisions, and fit they should be known; but when they are not finished (as in your Votes) it precludes your Liberty of Debate, and is a disservice to the House.
Col. Birch.] I humbly tell you, I am heartily sorry for this Debate, since 'tis not easy to see the consequence; it will reflect every way, it will let the World see you are subject to change—One day, Money is to be raised on one thing, another day, you reject it, and the World sees not your Reasons. I am one of those that are heartily sorry for Williams's great sufferings, when he took the employment of Speaker upon him, and was trusted with the printing the Votes; and he did take upon him the Sollicitor General's place in King James's time, because he did not know any way to get his Fine again, but by such an Office. This I say, for satisfaction to myself: I would not have Gentlemen take notice of it. When we debate here of projects to raise Money, perhaps the Book of Rates may save our Lands, and this may argue to the World impotency and weakness—In the mean time, any Gentleman may put out any thing in writing at his peril: 'Tis an unseasonable time, and an unseasonable Question.
Mr Sacheverell.] I was against printing your Votes formerly, and am so still. I think certainly, it will destroy all good correspondence betwixt the two Houses. Consider how things stand: If Gentlemen please to remember, the Lords sent down a Bill for the speedy Conviction of the Popish Recusants. This House passed a Vote, that the Bill should be rejected. How will that stand in your Books, that such a Bill was rejected? You went an extraordinary way, to tack Reasons why you rejected it; and you send into the country to subject it to their judgments. 'Twas ever held Parliamentary, that the King and Lords take no notice of what is done here, till communicated by the House; and you, by printing, go about to tell every body what you do. You put yourselves into an uncertain, unparliamentary condition, and I cannot agree to printing.
The previous Question passed in the Negative, [180 to 145.]
Sir Rowland Gwynn.] I fear, if we consider our condition, the Spring is far advanced, Ireland in disorder, and Scotland, I fear, not well affected to what you do, and at home, I fear, not so well as we could wish; Holland disappointed of assistance from us—I am sorry we should be, like Martha in the Scripture, minding little things, and not great. I desire the King's Speech may be read, that we may mind what we ought.
Sir Robert Howard.] 'Tis very true, that it is necessary, &c. But beginning so late in the day will not add to the expedition; therefore go upon the King's Speech on Monday; and, to give it some reputation, order a Committee of the whole House, &c. and nothing to intervene.
[It was ordered accordingly.]