The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1734-1737. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The House proceed farther on the contested Election for Yorkshire, and resolve, That Freeholders in the Aynsty have a Right to vote for Knights of the Shire.
March 9. The House proceeded farther on the contested Election for the County of York, and the Counsel for Sir Rowland Winn having proposed to disqualisy William Stothard, who voted in Right of a Freehold at Acomb in the Wapontake of Aynsty, within the County of the City of York, and having examin'd a Witness concerning the Usage of voting for Freeholds lying in the said Hundred at Elections for the County of York, the Counsel for Sir Miles Stapylton, sitting Member, were heard in Answer to the Evidence of that Disqualification. And a Copy of the Record of the Letters Patent granted by King Henry VI. to the Mayor and Citizens of York was read, reciting that the Mayor and Citizens were Bailiffs of and in the Hundred of Aynsty, and granting to them and their Successors that the said Hundred or Wapontake, with the Appurtenances, should be annexed and united to the County of the said City, as Parcel thereof, excepting the Castle of York and its District; and saving to the Archbishop, Dean and Chapter; and all other Persons, all kind of Franchises, Privileges, &c. to them of right belonging: Hereupon it was resolved, That Persons whose Freeholds lie within that Part of the County of the City of York, which is commonly call'd the Aynsty, have a Right to Vote for Knight of the Shire for the County of York.
A Petition of the Druggists, &c. complaining of the unequal Duties upon Tea, and the pernicious Practice of Smuggling.
March 10. A Petition of the Druggists, and other Dealers in Tea, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, 'That the Petitioners were induced to hope, that the Interest of the fair Trader in Tea would have been effectually secured by an Act passed in the 10th Year of his late Majesty, by which an Inland Duty of 4 s. per Pound was laid on all Tea, without Distinction of Quality; but notwithstanding the Regulations made by that Act, and the many Penalties the Smugglers of Tea and their Accomplices were liable to by Law, the Petitioners had fatally experienced, the clandestine Importation of that Commodity was so far from being prevented, that it was carried on to such a Degree, that the Petitioners had the strongest Reason to believe, near one half of the Tea consumed in this Kingdom paid no Duty; and that the very high Duty of 4 s. per Pound, as well as the Inequality of its being laid, were the principal Foundations of the pernicious Practice of Smuggling, the coarser Sort bearing much too great a Proportion of the said Duty, and by the Smugglers bought Abroad at one third of the Price it would stand the fair Trader in at Home; and that unless some Remedy should be applied effectually to prevent that known Evil, the Petitioners and all fair Traders would be under extreme Difficulties in carrying on their Trade, by reason of the Disadvantages they were under, from the Practices of Smuggling, as well as from the Hardships they endured, and the Trouble they were put to, by the Execution of the said Act; and that the Petitioners conceived the most effectual Means of putting a Stop to the clandestine Importation of Tea would be, to alter the Duty of 4 s. per Pound to a certain Rate ad Valorem, according to the Prices Tea should sell for at the East-India Company's Sale; by which Alteration, the Petitioners apprehended, the Amount of the Duty to the Publick would be equivalent, considering the Quantity, before that Time fraudulently imported, would be then added to the Revenue; and therefore, for the Preservation of that Trade to the Petitioners, by putting an End to the Practice of Smuggling, and for securing a Revenue to the Publick, by the Importation of that Commodity in British Ships from China and other Parts of India, and for preventing any Money being sent to neighbouring Countries for the Purchase of Tea to be clandestinely imported and consumed in this Kingdom, praying the House to take the Premises into Consideration, and give the Petitioners such Relief, as to the House should seem meet.' Hereupon it was resolved, Nem. Con. That that House would, upon that Day Seven-night, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the most effectual Means to put a Stop to the great and growing Evil arising from the unwarrantable and illegal Methods of importing Tea and other Goods into this Kingdom; and the said Petition was order'd to be referred to the Consideration of the said Committee.
Mr Plumer's Motion for repealing the Test-Act.
March 12. A Motion was made by Mr Walter Plumer, That an Act made in the 25th of King Charles II. intitled, An Act for preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants, might be read; and the same being read accordingly, Mr Plumer stood up and spoke as follows:
'I believe every Gentleman that hears me may easily judge, with what View I have desired this Act to be read to you. It is, Sir, with a Design to have some Part of it repealed, and another Part so amended and explained, as to make it consistent with that Charity and good Nature which every Member of the Christian Religion ought to shew to another.
'The Motion I am now to make, Sir, proceeds chiefly from these three Considerations: That I am, and I hope shall always be, an utter Enemy to all manner of Persecution; That I have a great Reverence for that solemn Institution called the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and That I shall always be for every thing which I think may tend towards establishing and preserving the Unity, Peace, and Trade of my Country. These are Considerations which I am persuaded are of as great Weight with every Gentleman of this House as they are with me; and therefore, if I can shew that there is any Thing in this Act that looks like Persecution, any Thing that brings a Contempt upon that holy Institution of our Religion, or any Thing inconsistent with the Unity and Peace of our People, or with the Trade of our Country, I make no Doubt of having the unanimous Assent of this House to what I am to propose; and, in my Opinion, it would contribute greatly to the Glory of this Generation, as well as the Honour of this House of Commons, to have it agreed to Nemine contradicente.
'I hope, Sir, it will be granted me, that the subjecting a Man to a great Penalty if he refused to subscribe to an Opinion which he thought inconsistent with the Christian Religion, or to join in any Ceremonies of publick Worship which he thought sinful or perhaps idolatrous, would be a very heavy Persecution; and I hope it will likewise be granted, that to render a Man upon any such Account incapable of holding a Land-Estate, or of succeeding to any Estate as next Heir or next of Kin, would also amount to a high Degree of Persecution: Now in this Statute which has been read to you, there is one Clause which enacts, 'That all Persons that shall bear Office, Civil or Military, or receive any Salary or Wages by any Grant from the King, or shall have Command or Place of Trust from or under him, or shall be in his Navy or Houshold, in England, Wales, Berwick, Jersey, or Guernsey, shall not only take the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, in the next Term, or at the Quarter Sessions, within three Months after their Admittance, but shall receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the Usage of the Church of England, of which they are to deliver a Certificate, and make Proof, at the Time of their taking the said Oaths; in Failure of which they are ipso Facto disabled to enjoy the said Offices or Employments, or any Profit thereby:' And by another Clause, 'Persons beyond the Seas or under any of the other Impediments there mentioned, are to receive the Sacrament and take the said Oaths, within four Months after such Impediment removed.' By this Regulation it is evident, that no Man can hold or enjoy an Office or Employment, Civil or Military, without declaring himself a Member of the Church of England as by Law established; and as there are great Numbers of faithful Subjects, who have the Misfortune of believing that some of the Opinions established by our Church are not entirely consistent with Christianity, and that some of our religious Ceremonies tend towards Idolatry, such Men cannot sincerely communicate with the established Church; upon which Account, and upon that only, they may therefore be subjected to Penalties, or deprived of a yearly Revenue, according to the Nature of the Office they may be named or entitled to; for if the Post or Office be such a one as is attended with Trouble only, there is generally a Penalty upon a Man's refusing to serve it; which Penalty every Man must pay who is not a Member of the Church of England; because by this Clause he is debarred from serving the Office; whereas if it were not for this Incapacity he is laid under, he might probably chuse to serve the Office rather than pay the Penalty; and I would be glad to know the Difference between subjecting a Man directly to a Penalty for refusing to join in any religious Opinion or Ceremony, and this indirect Manner of subjecting him to it, by tacking to an Office, in itself meerly temporal, a most solemn Approbation of all the religious Doctrines and Ceremonies of the established Church.
'Again, Sir, if the Post or Office to which a Man is named or intitled, be one of those to which a yearly Salary or Revenue is annexed, from the Day of his Nomination he has as good a Right to receive the Profits of that Office as any Man has, or can have, to his Ancestor's Estate, they being both founded chiefly upon the Law of the Land; nay it often happens, that the Person named to any Post or Office has by long and faithful Services fully deserved that Nomination; and this I take to be a more meritorious Title, than the Title any Man can have to the Estate of his Ancestor or next Relation. Suppose we should have a new foreign War of ten Years Duration, as we had in the late Queen's Reign; suppose a Gentleman of the Dissenting Persuasion should in the Beginning of that War go abroad a Cadet in one of our Marching Regiments, and in Consideration of much Blood lost, and many brave Services performed in the Cause of his Country, should be at last made Colonel of a Regiment, would not such a Man be fully intitled to the Profits of his Commission, during the Time his Majesty should think fit to continue him in Command? Would it not be downright Persecution to turn him out of his Commission, and reduce him to a starving Condition, meerly for the sake of a Scruple of Conscience? Yet the Case would be so, if this Law should be then in Force: Upon the first Return of the Regiment to England, he would be obliged, within four Months to give up his Regiment, or receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the Usage of our Established Church, which his Conscience would not permit him to do, if he should happen to be a sincere Dissenter: Therefore I must look upon this as a much higher Degree of Persecution, than it would be to render a Man, on Account of any religious Opinion, incapable of holding a Land-Estate, or of succeeding to any Estate as next of Kin.
'From what I have said, Sir, I hope it will appear that a very high Degree of Persecution lurks under the incapacitating Clauses I have mentioned, and therefore, in my Motion for the Repeal of them, I hope I shall have the Concurrence of all those who are real Enemies to that Antichristian Practice; but when I consider the Reverence due to the Sacrament of the Lord's-Supper; a sacred Mystery which none ought to approach, without having first diligently examined themselves, and to which all are to be invited, but none to be compelled, I am surprised that it should ever have been turned to such a prophane Use, as that of qualifying a Man for being an Adjutant to a Regiment, or the Bailiff of a little Borough. This, Sir, is perverting it to an Use for which I am sure it was never intended, and this Perversion has already produced, and will always produce, many and great Abominations. It is well known how many have become unworthy Partakers of the Holy Communion, for the sake only of intitling themselves to some lucrative Post or Employment; it is well known what terrible Indecencies some have been guilty of, upon such Occasions, and what a Scandal has often been thereby given to all those who are truly devout. This is so generally known that it is now the common Practice in all the Churches of England, for the Curate to desire the legal Communicants if any there be, I mean those who come there in Obedience to that Statute, to divide themselves from those who come there purely for the Sake of Devotion; and, indeed, it were to be wished that none of the former should ever be allowed to Communicate in the Presence of, much less at the same Table with any of the latter; for the former are often so well and so generally known to be unworthy Partakers, that their being admitted upon any Pretence whatsoever, gives great Offence to the truly Religious, and tends to subvert the Morals of the Vulgar, by lessening that Esteem which they ought to have for the established Religion of their Country, and which wise Magistrates will always cultivate with all possible Care; but this by long and general Experience we know, is not to be done by Penal Laws. On the contrary, such Guarantees for the established Religion of any Country, have always produced Pride, Ignorance, Luxury, and Oppression, among those of the Established Church, and invincible, nay, often victorious Enthusiasm, among those of the contrary Religion. Even in this Kingdom, we know, that Penal Laws and Persecution raised so high the Torrent of Enthusiasm among us, that our Established Church was at last quite overwhelmed by the dissenting Interest; and happy was it for our Church that those Enthusiasts destroyed our Constitution, as well as our established Religion; for if they had preserved the former, I am afraid the latter had never been restored. Since the Repeal of most of our persecuting Laws, the dissenting Interest has daily decreased; and I am convinced those Remains of it that are now among us, are chiefly owing to the Act now under our Consideration, and one other Act of much the same Nature.
'With regard to the Peace and Unity of our People, I must say, Sir, it is Matter of great Surprise to me, how the Legislature of any Country could be prevailed on to annex temporal Rewards or Punishments to speculative Opinions in Religion. I can easily conceive how Doctors might differ in speculative Points of Divinity, as well as in speculative Points of Law, Physick, or Philosophy; and I know with what Vehemence a learned Doctor in either of those Sciences maintains his own Opinion, and with what Envy, Malice, and Rage, he pursues his Adversaries; but I cannot easily conceive what Reasons the Lawgivers of any Country could have, to adopt and establish speculative Opinions of any particular Doctor in Divinity, while at the same Time they shewed a very great Indifference, with regard to the speculative Opinions of the Doctors in all other Branches of Literature: The Cause of this different Behaviour in our ancient Lawgivers, I say, I cannot well comprehend; but whatever may have been the Cause, if they thereby intended to establish an Uniformity of Opinion with respect to religious Matters, Experience has shewn that they have been most egregiously mistaken; for the annexing of temporal Rewards and Punishments to speculative Opinions, has been so far from reconciling Men's Minds, and making them agree in any one Opinion, that it has rendered those of different Opinions in Religion, not only implacable, but most cruel and barbarous Enemies to one another; an Effect which has never been produced by Difference of Opinion in any other Science. In Law, in Physick, in Philosophy, there are, and always have been, Doctors of different Opinions; and among them too there have always been, I believe, some who would have gladly consuted their Adversaries by Fire and Faggot, especially when they found themselves overcome by fair Reasoning; but as the Law of no Country has as yet thought fit to interpose in those Disputes, we find the Followers of these Doctors have generally argued the Matter very coolly, and when the Dispute was over have parted as good Friends as they met. This has hitherto been the Case in all Sciences except Divinity; but if we should make a Law for punishing those who did not agree with the Newtonian System of Philosophy, or for rendering all such incapable to hold any Post or Office in our Government, I am persuaded we should have, in a few Years, great Numbers of our People who would be ready to sacrifice Life and Fortune in Defence of the Aristotelian or the Cartesian System: Nay, if any such Law were made against all those who did not believe that the three Angles of every Triangle, are equal to two right Angles, I make no doubt but that this plain Demonstration would be most violently opposed by great Numbers of Men in the Kingdom; for when the Passions of Men are stirred up by temporal Rewards and Punishments, the most reasonable Opinions are rejected with Indignation, the most ridiculous are embraced with a frantick Sort of Zeal. Therefore, Sir, if we have a Mind to establish Peace among our People, we must allow Men to judge freely in Matters of Religion, and to embrace that Opinion they think right, without any Hopes of temporal Rewards, and without any Fears of temporal Punishment.
'As to our Trade, Sir, the Advantages we have reaped in that respect by the Toleration Act are so apparent, that I shall not take up your Time with enlarging upon that Subject; but in order to retain those Advantages, and to improve them as much as possible, I shall beg Leave to move, that Leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal so much of the said Act passed in the 25th of Charles II. intitled, An Act for preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants, as obliges all Persons, who are admitted to any Office, Civil or Military, to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, within a Time limited by the said Act, and for explaining and amending so much of the said Act, as relates to the Declaration against Transubstantiation.'
Mr Plumer being seconded by Sir Wilfrid Lawson; the same was oppos'd by Lord Noel Somerset, Lord Viscount Tyrconnell, Mr Danvers, Mr Shippen, and Sir Robert Walpole, who urged the following Arguments against the Motion.
'As I have hitherto appeared to be an utter Enemy to all Persecution, I hope my disagreeing with this Motion will not be looked on as any Sign of my having changed my Opinion, or of my having any Intention to alter my Conduct for the future: So far otherwise, Sir, I have still, and I hope shall always have, as tender a Regard for the Dissenters of all Denominations, as any Man can have, who is a true Member of the Church established by Law. As a sincere Member of the Church of England I must, and I do wish that all the Dissenters in the Kingdom could be gained over to the Established Church; but though I wish for this happy Event, yet I shall never be for attempting the Accomplishment of that Wish by any Methods that have the least Tendency towards Persecution, or towards doing a real Injury to any Man whose Conscience will not allow him to embrace the Established Religion of his Country: For all such I shall continue to have a real Concern; because I think this Difference of Opinion is a Man's Misfortune, and not his Crime.
'But, Sir, the Word Persecution has, in my Opinion, been very much mistaken by the honourable Gentleman who made you this Motion; for according to the Meaning he has put upon the Words, there could be no established Church, or established Religion in the World, but what must be deemed guilty of persecuting all those who differ from it; and yet those Gentlemen will, I believe, grant, that in every Society there ought to be an established Religion, or a certain Form of publick Worship established by the Laws of that Society; therefore we must find out a Meaning for these Words different from that which has been put upon it.
'As there is in every Society a certain Form of Government established, I hope it will be granted, that it is the Duty of every Member of that Society to support and preserve that Form of Government as long as he thinks it the best that can be established; and on the other Hand, if there be any Man, or any Set of Men, who are convinced that a different Form of Government would render the Society much more happy and powerful, I believe it will likewise be granted, that it is the Duty of all such Men to endeavour, in a peaceable Way, at least, to bring about an Alteration. These two Duties therefore being altogether inconsistent, nay, even destructive of one another, it is absolutely impossible for the one Set of Men to do their Duty, without laying the other Set under some Hardships: When those Hardships are no greater than what are absolutely necessary for the End intended, they are just and reasonable, and such as those who are subjected to them, ought not to complain of; but when they are greater than what are necessary, they then begin to take and to deserve the Name of Oppression, and according to the Degrees of this Excess, the Degrees of Oppression are always to be computed. In this Kingdom we know there is a Set of Men who think it their Duty to endeavour to bring about an Alteration of our present happy Establishment, I mean our Nonjurors; who for that very Reason are excluded from all Posts and Places in our Government, which is certainly a Hardship upon them; but I am sure it cannot be called an Oppression; nor can this Exclusion with Respect to them be called a Punishment.
'And if there be a Set of Men in this Kingdom who think the Doctrines of the established Church inconsistent with Christianity, or the Ceremonies of our publick Worship idolatrous, it is their Duty as Christians to attempt to bring about an Alteration in our established Religion, and they certainly will attempt it as soon as it is in their Power; nay, with all Deference to the honourable Gentlemen who have spoke upon the other side of the Question, for all of whom I have the greatest Esteem, I must look upon this very Motion as a Beginning of that Attempt; but as I am a Member of the Church of England, and think it the best Religion that can be established, I think it my Duty to prevent its being ever in the Power of such Men to succeed in any such Attempt; and for this Purpose, I think it absolutely necessary to exclude them from any Share in the executive Part of our Government at least; because if the executive Part should once come to be generally in their Hands, they would very probably get the Legislative Part likewise, from which Time it would be in vain to think of preventing, in a peaceable Manner, their doing whatever they had a Mind; and it must be presumed they would do what they thought themselves in Duty bound to do. To exclude a Man from a profitable Post or Employment, I shall admit to be a Hardship upon the Man so excluded; but as it is absolutely necessary for the Preservation of our established Church, to exclude those, who think it their Duty to destroy it, from any Share in the executive Part of our Government; therefore this Exclusion can no more be called Persecution, than it can be called Oppression, to exclude Nonjurors from any Share of our Government Executive or Legislative, nor can such Exclusion be deemed a Punishment in the one Case any more than in the other.
'In the supposed Case of a brave Dissenter's being advanced to the Command of a Regiment, I shall grant that it would be a great Hardship upon him to be turned out of his Command, and to be exposed to a starving Condition, upon his return to his Native Country; but the same Case may be supposed with respect to a Roman Catholick Gentleman; yet there would be no Persecution in either Case; because the excluding of all such Men from any Command in our Army, especially here at Home, is, I think, absolutely necessary for the Preservation of our Constitution in the happy State it is in at present: Nor could such an Exclusion be called a Punishment upon the Man so excluded, no more than it can be called a Punishment upon a Man of five Foot and a Half to be excluded from being a Soldier in the Guards; for neither of these Exclusions proceeds from any Crime or Fault in the Man, it being as impossible for a Man to alter his Opinion when he has a Mind, as it is to add two or three Inches to his Stature when he has Occasion for it; but as the latter becomes necessary for the Sake of preserving the Beauty and Symmetry of a Regiment, so the former becomes necessary for the Sake of preserving the Beauty and Symmetry of a Society.
'The Argument raised from the supposed Abuse of the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is founded upon a Fact which I cannot admit; for as there is nothing in this Law that can compel the Admission of an unworthy Person; as the Ministers of our Church may refuse to admit any Person to that Sacrament, who does not devoutly and humbly desire it, or for any other lawful Cause, [See Statute I Edward VI. Chap. 1.] I must presume no unworthy Persons are admitted; or at least, if there be, it does not proceed from any Fault in this or any other of our Statutes, but from the criminal and irreligious Neglect of the Minister who admits them.
'As to the Unity and Peace of our People, I am persuaded, Sir, the Repeal of this Law, and another which I believe is likewise intended, would raise most terrible Disturbances and Confusions; for with Respect to all Posts and Employments that go by Election, we should have all the Dissenters combining closely together to bring in their Friends, which would of course breed many Riots and Tumults. And as to our Trade, it depends so much upon the Peace and Tranquility of the Nation, that if we have a Mind to preserve it, we ought not to make any new Regulation or repeal any old, if by so doing we run the Risque of raising Heart-burnings and Jealousies among our People.
To this it was replied by Lord Polwarth, Mr Heathcote, and Mr Holden, as follows:
'I shall take up very little of your Time in replying to what has been said; for in my Opinion, the Arguments for the Motion have been enforced by what has been said by way of Answer to them.
'If the Hardships imposed upon the Dissenters, by the Law under our Consideration, are greater than what are absolutely necessary for preventing its being in their Power to destroy the Established Church, it must be granted, from what has been said of the other Side of the Question, that this Law is a persecuting Law: Now, Sir, to determine this Question in the Affirmative, we need have Recourse to no other Nation but Scotland: With regard to that Nation, we know that the Presbyterian Religion, which is here one of our Dissenting Religions, is there the Established Church, and what is here our Establish'd Church, is there a Dissenting Religion; yet the Established Church in Scotland have never thought it necessary, nor does it appear to be necessary, for their Preservation, to exclude their Dissenters from all Posts and Employments in the executive Part of their Government, nor have they any Law for such a Purpose; but on the contrary some of their Judges and Magistrates, and many of those in Posts and Employments in that Kingdom, go openly, and in the most solemn Manner, to the Episcopal or Church of England Meeting-Houses; and tho' this Practice or Indulgence has been continued for many Years, and continues to this Day, yet the Established Church in that Country is so far from being in any Danger of being overturned by what is there the dissenting Interest, that the former is daily gaining Ground upon the latter; which evidently shews the great Weight and Effect of a legal Establishment, with respect to Religion, when the Minds of Men are not irritated by any unnecessary Hardships put upon them. I could likewise instance Holland, and several other Protestant Countries, to shew that rendering Dissenters incapable of serving the Crown in any Post of Honour, Trust, or Profit, is a Hardship put upon them, which is so far from being absolutely necessary, that it is not at all necessary for preserving the Established Religion of any Country; and therefore this Hardship must in the strictest Sense be called Persecution, even according to the Meaning put upon it by the honourable Gentlemen, who have spoke on the other Side of the Question.
'With respect to Nonjurors and Roman-Catholicks, the Hardships put upon them are not for the Sake of a Scruple of Conscience in any Matter of a religious Concern, but because they are Enemies to the State, and to the present happy Establishment; but I am surprized to hear it said that the rendering of them, or the Dissenters, incapable of holding any Post of Honour, Trust, or Profit under the Crown, is no Punishment, when I consider that that very Punishment has often been inflicted by Parliament, as one of the greatest Punishments they could inflict upon Crimes of a very high Nature: Surely this legal Incapacity must be looked on as a Punishment upon both, but with this Difference, that upon Nonjurors or Roman Catholicks, it is with great Justice inflicted, but upon Dissenters it is inflicted without any Occasion, no Party among the latter having ever yet been suspected of being Enemies to our present Establishment, unless the rejecting of this Motion should make them so. I am sure every Gentleman that hears me must grant, that there is some Difference between a Capacity of being a Soldier in the Guards, and a Capacity of holding any Post or Preferment under the Crown: The Guards are the King's own Servants, and every Man may chuse what sort of Servants he has a mind; therefore no Man has a Title to any Capacity of being a Soldier in the Guards; but every Subject has a Title to a Capacity at least of sharing in the Honours and Preferments of his Country, and that Capacity ought not to be taken from him, but by way of Punishment for some very high Crime or Misdemeanour; for it is a Punishment so dishonourable and severe, that we never find it inflicted by our Laws upon Crimes of an ordinary Nature.
'I shall grant, Sir, that a Minister of the Established Church is not, by any express Words in this Act, ordered or compelled to administer the Sacrament to an unworthy Person, who desires it only for the Sake of enabling himself to hold a beneficial Employment; but if a Minister of the Church of England should refuse to administer the Sacrament to any Person, upon such Occasion, and that Person should by means of such Refusal lose his Post, or only a Year's Salary, he might bring his Action at Common Law upon the Statute of King Edward VI. against such Minister, and would recover great Damages, if the Court should not approve of the Minister's Reason for refusing to administer the Sacrament to the Plaintiff: Whereas, before the receiving of the Sacrament was made a Qualification for a civil Employment, no such Plaintiff could have recovered any considerable Damage; nay, I doubt if he could have recovered any Damage at all; for he could not probably have proved any temporal Damage by his not receiving the Sacrament when he desired it; and I do not see how a Jury could pretend to put a Value upon the spiritual Damage he might pretend to have received. Those Laws therefore, which have made the receiving the Sacrament a Qualification for a civil Employment, have subjected all the Clergymen of the Church of England to a very great Difficulty; because they are by those Laws, and by those only, subjected to the Danger of having such Damages given against them as may ruin them and their Families for ever, in Case they refuse to administer the Sacrament to a Person, whom they know to be a most profligate and impenitent Sinner; for this a Minister of our Church may be fully convinced of, and yet it may be impossible for him to make the same appear to a Jury.
'To pretend, Sir, that if those incapacitating Laws were repealed, the Dissenters would combine closely together in all Elections, and that these Combinations would occasion terrible Disturbances, is contradicted by Experiences, is contradicted by Experience in England as well as Scotland; for tho' many of the Dissenters in England do communicate sometimes with the Established Church, and in Consequence thereof become Candidates, from Time to Time, for almost every elective Civil Post in the Kingdom; and tho' the Dissenters do generally join pretty unanimously upon such Occasions, I believe more unanimously than they would do if these Laws were repealed, yet we find it never produces any Disturbances. And in Scotland, where the Dissenters from their Established Church are under no incapacitating Laws, we find that the Disputes about Elections never produce any Disturbances between the two religious Parties in that Kingdom; altho' it must be granted that the People of that Country are as violent in all their Desires, as bold and enterprising in their Designs, and as turbulent under Disappointments, as the People in any Country, I believe, upon the Face of the Earth. We must therefore from Experience conclude, that the Repeal of those persecuting Laws, which, to our Misfortune, are still in Force in this Kingdom, would confirm rather than disturb our present Tranquility; and it would certainly increase our Trade, because it is not to be questioned but that a great many more rich foreign Merchants would come over and settle among us, if they could enjoy all the Privileges of Englishmen without changing their Religion: Whereas, while those Laws remain unrepealed, a few foreign Tradesmen and Mechanicks may perhaps come over; but rich and opulent foreign Merchants will neither come nor stay to settle their Families in this Kingdom, when they consider that neither they nor their Posterity can aspire to any Honour or Preferment, unless they make a Sacrifice of the Religion of their Ancestors.'
The Motion for repealing the Test Act, passes in the Negative.
The Debate being over, the Question was put, and upon a Division, it was carried in the Negative by 251 against 123.
Sir R. Walpole's Proposals, that the Loss the Civil List might sustain by the Duties on Spirituous Liquors, might be made good by some other Fund, and all the Duties on Spirituous Liquors appropriated to the Sinking Fund.
March 17. The House being in a Grand Committee on the Supply, Sir Robert Walpole acquainted the House, 'That the Share the Civil List only had in the Duties on Spirituous Liquors, had for several Years last past amounted to at least 70,000 l. yearly, one Year with another; and as a great Part of this Annuity would be lost to the Crown, it was necessary to make it good from some other Fund; therefore he proposed appropriating all the Duties on Spirituous Liquors to the Aggregate Fund, which makes a Part of the Sinking Fund, and charging that Fund with all the Annuities and Payments formerly payable out of those Duties.
But this was oppos'd by several Members, who strongly insisted, That the Civil List, instead of being a Loser, would be a Gainer by lessening the Consumption of Spirits, because the Consumption of Beer and Ale, and of Wine, and the Produce of the Duties on Wine-Licences, &c. would be thereby greatly increased; so that the Loss the Crown might sustain by lessening the Produce of the Duties upon Spirituous Liquors, would be much more than made good by the Increase of almost all the other Revenues appropriated to the Civil List; particularly that upon Beer and Ale.
To this the Courtiers answer'd, 'That there might probably be an Increase in the Excise upon Beer and Ale; but as what the Amount of that Increase might be, was uncertain, and as the Amount of the Loss the Crown was to sustain was certain, therefore that Loss ought then to be made good out of some certain Produce; and if there did really happen any Increase in the Excise upon Beer and Ale, they might call for an Account of it in two or three Years after, in order that the same might be appropriated to the Aggregate Fund, for making good what was proposed to be taken from that Fund.
Two Resolutions in pursuance thereof.
After this the two following Resolutions were agreed to without a Division, I. That the Duty and Revenues, which should arise by Licences for vending Brandy or Spirits, as also the present Duties on Low Wines, Strong-waters, Brandy, Rum, Arrack, and all other Spirits whether Foreign or British, and such Duties as should arise by retailing the same, should be united to, and made Part of the general or Aggregate Fund established by the Act of the first of King George I. and should be issued and applied to the Uses to which the said Fund is, or should be made applicable. II. That all the several Annuities, Payments, and Appropriations, which were then charged upon, and payable out of the said several Duties on Strong-waters, Brandy, Rum, Arrack, or any other Spirits, should be charged upon, and made payable out of the said Aggregate Fund.
The Quaker's Bill order'd to be printed.
The same Day the Quaker's Bill was read the first Time, and order'd a second Reading: It was likewise order'd to be printed.
A Bill order'd to be brought in, relating to Spirituous Liquors.
March 19. The Resolutions of the 8th and 17th in the Committee of Supply, relating to Spirituous Liquors being reported, were agreed to by the House; and then a Motion was made, 'That the Resolutions reported from the Committee of the whole House, who were appointed to consider of the Petition of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for Middlesex, in their general Quarter-Session assembled, and agreed to by the House upon the 24th of February, might be read; and the same being read accordingly, it was ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the Resolutions then last read, and also upon the Resolutions that Day reported from the Committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred, to consider farther of Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to his Majesty, and agreed to by the House; and that Sir Joseph Jekyll, Sir Charles Turner, Sir Robert Walpole, Mr Doddington, Sir George Oxenden, and Mr Winnington, should prepare and bring in the same.
Debate on a Motion for an Account of the Produce of the Excise, from 1716 to 1726.
March 22. A Motion was made, That the Commissioners of the Excise should lay before the House an Account of the Net Produce of the Hereditary and Temporary Excise from Midsummer 1716, to Midsummer 1726, distinguishing each Year, and the Produce of the several Duties belonging to the said Excise.
The Reason of calling for the said Account of the Net Produce of the Hereditary and Temporary Excise, was in order that it might afterwards from thence appear what Increase had arisen in the Excise upon Beer and Ale, by the preventing or lessening the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors; and in order that the Increase might be appropriated to the Aggregate Fund, by the Bill which was then to be brought in: But upon putting the Question, after a long Debate, it was carried in the Negative, by 182 to 122.
Petitions from the Clergy against the Quaker's Bill.
March 26. A Petition of the Clergy of Middlesex was presented to the House, and read, alledging, That the Bill depending in that House, to enlarge, amend, and render more effectual the Laws in Being, for the more easy Recovery of Tythes, Church Rates, Oblations, and other Ecclesiastical Dues from the People called Quakers, would, as the Petitioners conceived, if passed into a Law, be extremely prejudicial to themselves and Brethren, excluding them from the Benefit of the Laws then in being for the Recovery of Tythes and other Dues, and thereby putting the Clergy of the Established Church upon a worse Foot than the rest of his Majesty's Subjects; and therefore desiring to be heard by their Counsel upon the Subject Matter of the said Bill.
This Petition was ordered to lie upon the Table, till the Bill should be read a second Time; and that the Petitioners, if they thought fit, should be then heard by their Counsel against it: It was also ordered that Counsel be then heard for the Bill. The Clergy from all Parts of the Kingdom sent up Petitions to the same Purpose.
Sir Joseph Jekyll presents to the House the Bill against Spirituous Liquors;
March 29. Sir Joseph Jekyll presented to the House, according to Order, A Bill for laying a Duty upon the Retailers of Spirituous Liquors, and for licensing the Retailers thereof; and the same being received, Sir Robert Walpole stood up, and by his Majesty's Command acquainted the House, "That, as the Alterations proposed to be made by that Bill in the Duties charged upon all Spirituous Liquors, might, in a great Degree, affect some Parts of his Majesty's Civil List Revenues, arising from the same, his Majesty, for the Sake of remedying so great an Evil, as was intended by that Bill to be prevented, consented to accept any other Revenue of equal Value, to be settled and appropriated in lieu of his Interest in the said Duties."
The Bill was then read the first Time, and ordered to be read a second Time: After which a Motion was made, That the said Bill be printed; but the Question being put, it was carried in the Negative.
Which is twice read and committed.
March 31. The said Bill was read a second Time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.
The Bill for limiting the Number of Officers in the House dropt.
The same Day the Bill for limiting the Number of Officers in the House of Commons, was read a second Time, and a Motion being made for committing the same, and the Question being put, it was carried in the Negative by 224 to 177. [See Vol. III. p. 122.]
A Petition of the Traders to the British Sugar-Colonies in America against the Bill relating to Spirituous Liquors.
April 6. A Petition of the Merchants and Planters trading to and interested in the British Sugar Colonies in America, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, That the Resolutions which the House had come to for granting to his Majesty a Duty of 20 s. per Gallon for all Spirituous Liquors sold by Retail, and for the Payment of the Sum of 50 l. Yearly to his Majesty by every Person retailing the same, would bring, as the Petitioners apprehended, unavoidable Ruin on the Sugar-Colonies, tho' the Evil complained of did not arise from the Consumption of the Commodities imported from the said Colonies; and representing to the House a State of their Case, with regard to the Consumption of Sugar, Molosses and Rum, as it would be affected by the Bill brought in upon the said Resolutions; in full Assurance, that the Wisdom of the Legislature would find Means effectually to suppress the Evils occasioned by the excessive Use of Spirituous Liquors, without destroying the Sugar-Trade, upon which the Subsistence of so many Thousands of his Majesty's Subjects depended; and therefore praying that the Petitioners might be heard by themselves, or their Counsel, against so much of the said Bill, as they conceived might extend to their Prejudice, or affect the British Sugar-Trade.
After the Reading of this Petition, a Motion was made, That the said Petition be referred to the Consideration of the Committee of the whole House, to whom the said Bill was committed; and that the Petitioners be heard by themselves, or their Counsel before the said Committee; but it being alledged, that it was contrary to the Method of Proceeding in that House, to hear Counsel or Parties upon any Petition against a Money-Bill, [See Vol. II. p. 371.] the Members, who had made and seconded the Motion, desired that several Journals relating to the receiving Petitions against Money-Bills, might be read, viz. 1. The Journal of the House, June 1. in the 10th of King William. 2. The Journal of the House of April 15. in the 11th of King William. 3. The Journal of the House of May 5. in the 13th of King William. 4. The Journal of the House of April 3. in the 8th of King William. 5. The Journal of the House of April 7. following. 6. The Committee-Book of the Committee of the whole House, in relation to the Proceedings of April 9, 1696. 7. The Journal of the House of May 9. in the 13th of King William. 8. The Journal of the House of March 20. in the 1st of Queen Anne. These being accordingly read, the Members who were for the Motion urg'd,
'That with respect to those Money-Bills which were brought in for answering the current Service of the ensuing Year, there was some Reason for not admitting Petitioners to be heard against them; because such Services required an immediate Supply; they could not be carried on without Money, and they generally could not admit of any Delay; therefore the publick Safety made it often necessary to pass such Bills with the utmost Dispatch, and for that Reason the House had laid it down as a Rule not to admit Petitioners to be heard against them; but even in such Cases the Rule was not without Exception, as appeared from the first of the above Journals, viz. June 1. in the 10th of King William, relating to several Petitions of the Bailiffs, Wardens, and Commonality of the Occupation, Art, and Mystery of Weavers, within the City of London, and of the Wardens and Assistants of the Company of Worsted Weavers in the City of Norwich, and to the several Orders of the House thereupon; and to the Order of the House for referring the Consideration of the Petition of the East-India Company to the Committee of the whole House, to whom the Bill for raising a Sum not exceeding two Millions, for settling a perpetual Fund or Payment of certain Annuities after the Rate of 8 l. per Cent. per Annum for every 100 l. and for farther Advantage therein mentioned, redeemable by Parliament, was committed, and for hearing the said Company by their Counsel upon the said Bill before the said Committee; where the Petitioners were admitted to be heard against that Bill, notwithstanding the great Sum that was thereby to be raised, and notwithstanding the greatest Part of that Sum was designed, and was absolutely necessary for the Support of our Civil Government, and of our Land and Sea-Services, as appeared by the Clause of Appropriation contained in that Act; and considering the precarious Situation the Affairs of Europe were then in, it could not be denied but that the Demands for those Services were then as pressing, and required as much Dispatch as could almost at any one Time be supposed.
'That with respect to the Bill then before them, it could not properly be called a Money-Bill: There were, 'twas true, some Taxes to be imposed by the Bill, but those Taxes were not designed as Supplies for answering the current Service of the Year; they were designed only for putting an End to an Abuse which had lately crept in among our People, and therefore the Rule for not admitting Petitioners to be heard against a Money-Bill, could in no Manner of Way be applied to the Bill then before them.
'That with respect to any Trade in which the Subjects of this Nation had no Rival, the Legislature might pretty freely make such Regulations as they had a Mind, but with respect to any Trade in which our Subjects were rivalled by Foreign Powers, we ought to be extremely cautious in making any new Regulation; because in such a Case the smallest Discouragement might give Foreigners such an Advantage over us, as might enable them to turn us entirely out of the Trade; which might very probably be the Case with respect to the Sugar-Trade; for in that Trade it was well known we had a most powerful and a most dangerous Rival; and for us to make a new Regulation which might affect that Trade, without so much as hearing what our own Subjects, who were engaged in the Trade, had to say against such Regulation, was shewing such a Disregard to the Subjects, and to the Trade and Commerce of Great Britain, as they hoped would never in any Case be shewn by that House.'
To this it was answered by the Courtiers, 'That every Bill by which any Tax was levied upon the Subject was a Money-Bill, and had always been understood as such by that House; and therefore the Bill then before them was as much a Money-Bill as any other. That with respect to the Rule of not hearing Petitioners against such Bills, it must be supposed to have had a Beginning, as all such Rules have; and therefore before that Rule came to be fully established as a Rule for directing the future Proceedings of that House, many Precedents might be quoted against the observing of that Rule, because it was from those very Precedents that the Rule took its Rise: It had been observed, that as soon as any Bill was brought in for laying a Tax or Duty upon any Sort of Goods, the Dealers in such Goods always petitioned, and desired to be heard by themselves or their Counsel against the Bill, and always under a Pretence, that the passing of such a Bill would injure the Trade of the Nation; yet upon hearing what they had to say, it was generally found, that all their Arguments proceeded from private Views, or that they had nothing to offer but what had been before under the Consideration of the House; so that it almost always appeared, that the Hearing of such Petitioners by themselves or their Counsel, was taking up a great deal of the Time of the House to no Purpose: For this Reason the House came at last to establish it as a Rule not to be departed from, not to admit Petitioners to be heard by themselves or their Counsel against any such Bill; which Rule had then been inviolably observed for many Years, and the Reason for observing it was as strong with respect to the Bill then before them, as with respect to any other.
'That they ought, without Doubt, to be extremely cautious in making any Regulation which might discourage our Sugar-Trade, or our Sugar-Colonies, but neither that Trade nor any of those Colonies could be of any Weight, when put in the Ballance against the Health and the Happiness of the People of Great Britain; and if, for the Preservation of the Health and the Morals of the People of Great Britain, they found themselves under a Necessity of making a Regulation which might lessen the Consumption of Sugar among the People of this Island, they must fall upon some Way of giving an Encouragement to that Trade with respect to Foreign Markets, which would be a greater Advantage to the Nation, and would prevent the Ruin of our own People. But that for this Purpose they had no Occasion for hearing the Petitioners by themselves or their Counsel; because as every one of them had a Representative in that House, they might communicate their Thoughts upon that Subject to their several Representatives, [See Vol. II. p. 309.] by which Means the House would be as fully informed of what they had to say, as if they were to be heard by themselves or their Counsel at the Bar; and therefore, as the granting them any such Hearing would be taking up the Time of the House to no Purpose, they could not but be against it.'
The Question was then put upon the Motion, and carried in the Negative without a Division: Whereupon the Petition was ordered to lie upon the Table.
A Petition of the Bristol Merchants against the Bill relating to Spirituous Liquors.
Immediately after this a Petition of the Master, Wardens, Assistants, and Commonalty of the Society of Merchants Adventurers within the City of Bristol, under their common Seal, was presented to the House and read; setting forth, that the Bill then depending before the House, to lay a Duty of 20 s. a Gallon on all Spirituous Liquors sold by Retail, and a Sum of 50 l. yearly to be paid by every Retailer of the same, would, if enacted, be destructive to the Petitioners, and many Thousands more of his Majesty's Subjects, as well in the Sugar-Colonies, as in the adjacent Parts of the said City; and therefore imploring the House to consider the great Loss, which must immediately thereafter ensue to the Revenue, Navigation, Traders, and others concerned in Sugar and Rum, and what Advantage Foreigners might make thereof; and to afford such Relief therein, as to the House should seem meet; for that in their humble Opinion, a proper Relief might be granted to them, without preventing the Evil complained of in the Bill from being effectually suppressed.
And from the Leverpole Merchants to the same Purpose.
This Petition was likewise ordered to lie upon the Table.
April 8. A Petition of the Merchants and Owners of Ships trading from the Port of Leverpoole in the County Palatine of Lancaster, to and from the British Sugar-Colonies in America, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that the greatest and principal Branch of their Trade consisted in the Exportation of Manufactures, the Produce of Great Britain, to our Colonies in America, and bringing Muscovado Sugars in Return for the same, three fourth Parts of which Sugars, could not be consumed without being first refined, and two fifth Parts when refined were drawn into Molosses, whereof near two thirds were distilled into Spirits; and that if the Bill brought in upon several Resolutions of the House, in order to lay a Duty of 20 s. a Gallon upon all Kinds of Spirituous Liquors retailed within this Kingdom, Rum from his Majesty's Plantations not excepted, should pass into a Law, the greatest Consumption of refined Sugars would be entirely lost, and Rum which is near a fourth Part in Value of the Produce of our Sugar-Colonies, would also be rendered of little or no Value, and two thirds of the Molosses produced from refined Sugars, must become useless, to the inevitable Ruin of our Sugar Plantations, and Destruction of the two most valuable Branches of our foreign Trade, to the British Colonies and the Coast of Africa; and therefore expressing their Hope, that the Legislature would not hazard so beneficial a Trade, to cure an Evil, that never would have happened from Rum, or any other Liquor of that Value, but would be able to find Means effectually to suppress the same, without extending such Means to any of the Liquors that were distilled from the Produce of our own Plantations; and praying, that the House would be pleased to take their Case into Consideration, and give such Relief therein, as the House should find most meet.
Distillers enabled to follow any other Sort of Business in any Corporation in England.
This Petition was likewise ordered to lie upon the Table.
April 9. The Order of the House being read, for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider farther of the said Bill, it was ordered, That it should be an Instruction to the said Committee to have Power to receive a Clause for enabling such Persons as had exercised the Business of Distillation for a Time to be limited, or had served, or were then bound as Apprentices to such Business, to follow any other Trade or Business in any City, Town, or Place, in England.
Farther Debate concerning the Application of the Revenues arising by the Retailing of Spirituous Liquors.
After this the House resolved itself into the said Committee, but when they came to that Clause by which it was enacted, 'That the Duties and Revenues which should arise by Licences for vending Brandy or Spirits, as also the present Duties on Low Wines, Strong Waters, Brandy, Rum, Arrack, and all other Spirits, whether Foreign or British, and such Duties as should arise by retailing the same, should from and after the 29th of September 1736, be united to, and made Part of the general or Aggregate Fund established by the Act of the first Year of the Reign of his late Majesty King George I. and should be issued and applied to the Uses to which the said Fund was, or should be made applicable.'
The same was opposed by several Members, as being unnecessary, because, tho' the Produce of those Duties was appropriated to the Payment of several Annuities and other particular Uses, and tho' that Produce might perhaps be less in Time to come than it had been for some Years past, yet they did not believe that by the Regulation made by that Bill, the Produce of those Duties would be so much reduced, as to be under what it was when those Appropriations were made; and if that should be the Case, any small Deficiency that might happen, might be provided for by next Session of Parliament, when the Amount of that Deficiency would be ascertained: But it being insisted on, That the future Produce of those Duties could not near answer the Ends to which it was appropriated, and that it was absolutely necessary for the Sake of publick Credit, to grant a new Fund to the Creditors of the Publick, by the same Bill by which they took away or diminished their old, the Clause was agreed to without a Division.
Debate concerning what Sum should be granted to the King for supplying such Deficiency as should happen in the Civil List by altering the Duties on Spirituous Liquors.
Then the next Clause was read, as follows, 'And whereas the said Duties upon Low Wines, Strong Waters, Brandy, Rum, Arrack, and all other Spirits whether Foreign or British, are amongst other Duties and Revenues charged with, and liable to pay several Sums of Money, as well for the Support of his Majesty's Houshold and Family, and the Honour and Dignity of the Crown, as for Payment of Annuities and other Payments to several Corporations, and to other Persons intitled thereunto; and it may so happen, that by making the Alterations aforesaid in the said Duties, the Funds charged with the Payments aforesaid may prove deficient: And whereas by a Medium of eight Years, computed from the Time of his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne to Midsummer last past, the Sum of is taken to be the Medium of the annual Produce of what has been applied of the Duties aforesaid to the Service of his Majesty's Houshold and Family: To the End therefore, that neither his Majesty, nor any other Person or Persons, Bodies Politick or Corporate, who is or are intitled to any Part, Share, or Interest, in the Money arising by the said Duties, may be Losers, or receive any Prejudice by the Alterations aforesaid, be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That from and after the said 29th Day of September, 1736, there shall be paid to his Majesty during his natural Life, (which God long preserve) out of the Monies of the said general or Aggregate Fund, the Sum of per Annum, being the aforesaid Medium of what has been annually applied of the Duties aforesaid, towards the Service of his Majesty's Houshold and Family, and other his Expences and Occasions, from his happy Accession to the Throne, to Midsummer last past.'
'After which a Motion was made by some of the Members concerned in the drawing up of the Bill, to fill up the Blank with the Sum of 70,000 l. that Sum, as they said, being the Medium of what had been annually applied of the aforesaid Duties, towards the Civil List, from his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne, to Midsummer last past: Whereupon the Members who opposed the former Clause declared, that they were likewise against this whole Clause, and that they would afterwards take the Liberty to give their Reasons; but as it was necessary in Point of Form, to fill up the Blank before any Thing could be said either for or against the Clause, therefore they would propose that the Blank should be filled up with the Sum of 43,000 l. which being the lesser Sum, the Question was of Course to be first put for filling up the Blank with this lesser Sum, and as this was opposed by the Gentlemen who had proposed the Sum of 70,000 l. it brought on a long Debate, in which the chief Arguments in Favour of the lesser Sum were as follows:
Argument for granting 43,000 l. only for that Purpose.
'I am of Opinion that the Civil List cannot be any Loser by diminishing the Consumption of spirituous Liquors, because, whatever may be thereby lost to the Civil List, will be much more than made good by the Increase of the Consumption of other Liquors, of the Duties upon which the Civil List has a much larger Share than it has of those Duties payable upon spirituous Liquors; therefore whatever Sum this Blank may be filled up with, I must look upon every Shilling of it, not as a Compensation, but as a new Addition to the Civil List Revenue, and since I do not think that the Crown has Occasion for any new Addition to that Revenue, I must look upon this whole Sum as a real Loss to the People: I must look upon the Whole, Sir, as a Sort of Purchase Money we are to pay for the Bill now before us; and since we must pay a Price for preserving the Health and Morals of the People, surely if we are good Merchants, if we are honest Trustees for the People, we should endeavour to bring down that Price as much as we can. But supposing, Sir, that the Loss the Civil List may sustain by dininishing the Consumption of spirituous Liquors, were not to be made good by the Increase which that Diminution will naturally produce in some of the other Branches of that Revenue; the yearly Sum to be given to the Civil List in Lieu of that Loss, ought not to be calculated from a Medium of eight Years after his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne, but from a Medium of eight Years immediately preceding his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne; for when the Parliament, which established the present Civil List, were considering what Duties wouldbe sufficient for raising that Revenue, which they thought was necessary for supporting his Majesty's Houshold and Family, they could not have under their Consideration the Produce of those Duties in time to come; and much less could they have under their Consideration an Increase which might arise by an Abuse, so as to put it out of the Power of Parliament to rectify that Abuse, without making good to the Civil List the increased Revenue it had acquired by that Abuse: They could have nothing under their Consideration but the Produce of those Duties for Years past, and for this Reason the Clause, now before us, ought to have been drawn up in a quite different Manner from what it is; or at least it ought to have been left to the Committee to determine, whether they would take the eight Years before, or the eight Years after his Majesty's Accession; in which Case it ought to have been in these Terms: 'And whereas by a Medium of Years computed from to the the Sum of is taken to be the Medium of the annual Produce of that Part of the Duties aforesaid, appropriated to the Service of his Majesty's Houshold and Family.'
'This, Sir, was, in my Opinion, the only proper and regular Method in which this Clause could have been brought in: If it had been brought in according to this Method, the Committee, where only it is proper to determine such Things, would have been left at full Liberty to chuse the Medium of any Number of Years after, or the Medium of any Number of Years before his Majesty's Accession; and if we had chose the Medium of eight Years before his Majesty's Accession, which we certainly ought to have done, the Medium would not have amounted to the Sum now under our Consideration; because the Abuse with respect to the Consumption of home-made Spirits was not near so great in the eight Years preceding his Majesty's Accession, as it has been in the eight Years since; and every one knows how greatly the Produce of the Duties upon foreign Spirits increased after that miraculous Tide which opened the Port of Dunkirk, and which brought in upon us an Inundation of French Brandies under the Name of Flemish; insomuch that in the Year 1723, which was the Year after that prodigious Tide, and but two Years after a very remarkable Change in our Administration, the Duties on foreign Brandies and Spirits amounted to above 70,000 l. whereas in the Year 1721, they did not amount to 25,000 l. and we likewise know, that, since his Majesty's Accession, this Inundation has rather increased than diminished.
'But again, Sir, supposing we were to take this Matter in the best Light we can for the Crown, and in the worst Light for the People: Supposing thatwe ought to calculate the Loss which the Civil List may sustain, by diminishing the Consumption of spirituous Liquors, from a Medium of eight Years to be computed from the Time of his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne to Midsummer last; yet surely the extraordinary Increase that happened in the Duties upon foreign Brandies and Spirits in the Year 1733, ought not to be brought into that Calculation; for in that Year, we may remember we reassumed our Desire to encourage our own Distillery, and for that Reason French Brandies being wanted, as was pretended, to mix up with and rectify our own Spirits, as well as for the Love and Esteem we bore the French, a Law was passed, for lowering the Duties upon French Brandies, and for making all foreign Brandies pay an equal Duty with them: This of course gave the Alarm to our old Friends at Dunkirk, who foresaw that they could no longer import French Brandies upon us under the Name of Flemish, and therefore, before that Act took Place, they brought in such large Quantities of Brandy, that the Duties on foreign Brandies and Spirits, for that Year only amounted to near 318,000 l. which was near 200,000 l. more than was usual in any one Year; yet this extraordinary and casual Produce seems now intended to be brought in, for magnifying the Loss which the Civil List may sustain by diminishing the Consumption of spirituous Liquors, and for increasing the Sum, with which the People are to be loaded for making good that pretended Loss. I say pretended Loss, Sir, because I am convinced the whole will appear to be so, and therefore I am now for filling up the Blank with the smallest Sum I have here proposed; but when the Question comes to be put upon the Clause in general, I shall give my Negative to the Whole, and for that Reason I shall give myself very little Concern about the Sum with which it is now to be filled up.'
Argument for granting 70,000 l. on that Account.
To this it was answered as follows, viz.
'I shall not take up your Time with endeavouring to shew, that the Loss which the Crown may sustain, by lessening the Consumption of spirituous Liquors, cannot be made good by the Increase that must thereby be occasioned in the Consumption of other Liquors; because I do not take it to be the Question now before us: It is evident from the Accounts upon our Table, that his Majesty's Share of the Duties upon spirituous Liquors has for these eight Years last past amounted yearly to about 70,000 l. one Year with another, therefore if the whole of these Duties be for the suture appropriated and made payable to the Aggregate Fund, it is evident, and I think admitted on both Sides, that his Majesty will by such Appropriations lose a yearly Revenue of 70,000 l. which he has enjoyed ever since his happy Accession to the Throne; and that that Loss ought to be made good to his Majesty is a Question that seems to me to have been already determined by this House, when we agreed to those Resolutions upon which this Bill was founded: Therefore the only Question now before us, is, to determine how much his Majesty will really lose, in order that the same may be for the future made good to his Majesty, out of that Fund to which we have already appropriated those Duties, which formerly belonged to his Majesty's Civil List. This, in my Opinion, is no more than doing that Justice to his Majesty, which every man in a private Capapicity would in such a Case most reasonably expect from another: If I surrender a Part of my Estate to my Neighbour for his Conveniency, it is but reasonable he should make good to me the Damage I may sustain by such Surrender. Whether the Loss his Majesty will most certainly sustain, by taking from him those Duties which formerly belonged to him, may be made good by the Increase of some of the other Duties appropriated to the Civil List, is a Question of a different Nature: I am certain it cannot now be determined whether there be any such Increase or not; and if any such Increase should hereafter appear, then it will be Time enough to determine how that Increase ought to be disposed of.
'Now, Sir, with Respect to the Loss his Majesty may sustain, and the Method by which the Quantum of that Loss is to be determined, it seems a little odd to me, that, in order to put a Value upon a Loss which his Majesty must sustain, by taking from him a Revenue which he has enjoyed, Gentlemen should propose to put a Value upon that Loss, by computing the Produce of a Revenue which his Majesty never enjoyed: This Method of Computation appears to me so very extraordinary, that I think I need only put it in its true Light, in order to shew that it is a Method we ought not to take. But it is said that when the Parliament, which established the present Civil List Revenue, were considering what Duties would be sufficient for raising the Revenue, which they thought was necessary for supporting his Majesty's Houshold and Family, they could not have under their Consideration the Produce of those Duties in Time to come. In this, Sir, I happen to be of a very different Opinion; for as they were considering what Duties would be sufficient to raise a future Revenue, I think they could consider only a future Produce; and the Method in which that Revenue was established shews, that they had under their View only the future Produce of those Duties, which they appropriated to the raising of that Revenue: They considered that 800,000 l. a Year was the least that was necessary for supporting his Majesty's Houshold and Family, and the Honour and Dignity of the Crown of Great Britain; and therefore, if the future Produce of those Duties, which were then appropriated towards raising that Sum yearly, should fall short, they obliged themselves to make it good: The yearly Sum of 800,000 l. I say, they reckoned the least that was necessary for the Purposes intended; but then they considered, that even a large Sum might be beneficially applied to the same Purposes, and therefore, in Case the future Produce of those Duties should amount to more than 800,000 l. a Year, those Surplusses by them were likewise appropriated to the Civil List, and his Majesty has as good a Right to those Surplusses, if any has arisen, or should arise, as he has to any Part of the 800,000 l. a Year.
'From this Consideration, Sir, every Gentleman must see, that, if by any new Regulation we diminish the Produce of any of those Duties appropriated to the Civil List, we are in Justice to his Majesty obliged to make good the Loss which the Civil List may thereby sustain; for I hope the Parliament of Great Britain will never act so childish a Part as to make a Grant in one Year, and to take back that Grant, or any Part of that Grant in the next: We may be obliged, for the Sake of the publick Good, to make some Alterations in the Grants we have made, or may hereafter make; but it is to be hoped we never shall make any such Alterations without the Consent of all those interested therein, or without making good the Loss they may sustain. The Grant of the Civil List, as it now stands established, I must look upon in the same Way as if one Gentleman, for Favour and Affection, or some other Consideration, should make a Grant or a Present to another of a Ticket in the present Lottery with this Condition, that if it came up a Blank, he would give him 5 l. in Lieu thereof, but if it came up a large Prize, the Whole should belong to the Grantee. Now if, after such a Grant made in the most solemn Manner, the Ticket should come up a large Prize, I should think the Granter both very childish and very unjust, if he insisted upon having any Share in that Prize, or upon taking any Part of it from the Grantee, without giving him an adequate Consideration. We are not now to inquire whether the Duties granted to the Civil List produce more than 800,000 l. a Year, or not; but if they do really produce more, that Surplus is a Sort of Prize we have already granted to his Majesty, and we neither can nor ought to take any Part of that Surplus from him, or to make any Alteration by which that Surplus may be diminished, without making good the Loss in some other Way; and that Loss ought certainly to be computed from the Produce of the Grant since it was made, for before the Grant was made, there could be no such Produce.
'Having now, Sir, shewn that it would be a most preposterous Method of Computation, to compute the Loss his Majesty may sustain, from a Medium of the Produce of any Number of Years before his Accession, I think I need not take any Notice of those Alterations which happened in the Duties upon Spirituous Liquors, or any other Duties, before that happy Period; but give me Leave to take some Notice of that Alteration or Increase, which happened in the Year 1733, with respect to the Duties on foreign Brandies and Spirits; and give me Leave to say, that from the very Nature of that Increase, it appears to me evident, that it ought to be taken into the Calculation, in order to increase the Medium of the Produce of the eight Years since his Majesty's Accession; because the large Quantities of Flemish and Dutch Brandies, that were then imported, were not all brought hither to be consumed within that Year, there having been in that Year no greater Consumption, I believe, of such Liquors than in former Years: No, Sir, they were imported, in order to avoid paying that high Duty which was soon after to take Place, and were to be lodged here as a Stock in Hand, in order to supply the Consumption for several Years then to come, therefore we must suppose that that Stock, which was then thrown in upon us, has lessened the Importation of such Liquors, and consequently the Produce of the Duties upon them ever since; so that to exclude that Increase from our present Computation, would be doing a manifest Injury to his Majesty, because it would be taking from him the Advantage which appears upon one Side of the Account, without making any Allowance for the Loss, with which that Advantage is balanced upon the other Side of the Account.
'From these Considerations, Sir, I am convinced that 70,000 l. is the least Sum the Crown can lose, by taking from the Civil List that Share it formerly had of the Duties on Spirituous Liquors; and as we cannot now have any Certainty that any Part of this Loss will be made good, by the Increase of the Duties on other Liquors, therefore I shall give my Negative to the present Question, in order that the Question may be next put for filling up the Blank in this Clause with the Sum of 70,000 l. to which I shall most heartily give my Affirmative.'
To this it was replied by the Members, who were for granting only 43,000 l. for the said Deficiency, as follows:
Farther Arguments for granting no more than 43,000 l.
'Tho' the proper Question now before us be not, whether the Civil List may be a Loser or a Gainer by diminishing the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors, yet we find from what has been said on both Sides, that it is impossible to argue upon the present Question, without touching a little what belongs to the other; and when we do come to the other, I hope to make it as plain as Figures can make it, that without any Allowance from the Aggregate Fund, as is proposed by this Clause, the Civil List will be a Gainer by the Diminution, or rather Prohibition of the Use of Spirituous Liquors by Retail: But in considering this Question, we ought to distinguish most accurately what the Gentlemen of the other Side seem most industriously to confound: We ought to distinguish between this Question, Whether the Civil List will be a Loser by taking from it the Share it formerly had in the Duties upon Spirituous Liquors? And the other Question, Whether the Civil List will upon the Whole be a Loser by diminishing the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors?
'With Regard to the first of these Questions, Sir, it is what we have nothing to do with; for no Man ever doubted, but that the Civil List will be a Loser by taking from it that Share of the Duties on Spirituous Liquors, which formerly belonged to it: But with Regard to the other Question, If the Loss the Civil List may sustain by diminishing the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors, or even by taking from it the Share it had formerly in the Duties upon such Liquors, if this Loss, I say, be made good to the Civil List, by the Increase that will thereby be occasioned in its Share of the Duties upon Beer and Ale and all other Sorts of Liquors, are we then bound, either in Justice or Honour, to make that Loss a second Time good to the Civil List, out of that Fund which is appropriated to the Payment of our Debts, and to the Relief of our People from the heavy Taxes they groan under? I say, No, Sir; both Honour and Justice are, in my Opinion, staked upon the other Side of the Question, and I hope this House will always be upon that Side, where they are at Stake.
'It is true, Sir, that by the present Establishment of the Civil List there are a great many Duties appropriated towards the raising of that Revenue, with the Proviso, that if they do not produce 800,000 l. yearly, if there happens a Deficiency, we are to make it good; but if there happens an Increase or Surplus, the Whole shall belong to his Majesty. This, I grant, is the present Establishment of that Revenue, but this Day's Debate shew us the Inconvenience of making such Establishments; and I am very sure, that neither his Majesty nor the Parliament ever thought, or ever intended, that any of those Surplusses should be increased by any Thing that might tend to the Destruction of the People in general; nor was it ever intended, that the Parliament should not have it in its Power to prevent, or to put a Stop to a pernicious Consumption, without making good to the Civil List the Surplus that had arisen from that very pernicious Consumption. It may as well be pretended, that if the Plague should spread itself over Spain and Portugal, we could not prohibit Commerce with them, or prevent the Importation of their Wines, without making good to the Civil List its Share in the Duties upon those Wines, at a Medium to be computed for eight Years past: Whereas in such a Case, I believe, it will be granted, that the highest Obligation we could lye under, would be to make the Civil List good 800,000 l. a Year, in Case the Produce of the other Duties appropriated for that Purpose should fall short of that Sum.
'But, Sir, the Case now under our Consideration stands in a much stronger Light; for if all the Duties appropriated to the Civil List now produce a Million Sterling yearly, the Regulation we are to make, tho' it may intirely take away one Branch of that Revenue, or very much diminish it, yet it will increase some of the others so much, that altogether they will still produce at least a Million yearly; and the utmost that can be pretended is, that the Parliament shall not by any new Regulation diminish the general Produce, or general Surplus of the Civil List Revenue, as it stands at present, or may stand at any future Period of Time. Nay, even with Respect to this general Produce of the whole Duties appropriated to the Civil List, we ought to distinguish between those Regulations, which may proceed from accidental Misfortunes or the Nature of Things, and those Regulations which may proceed meerly from the Will and Authority of Parliament; because his Majesty's unaccountable Right to this general Produce must remain subject to the former, tho' perhaps not to the latter: If the Parliament should discharge or give up any of the Duties now appropriated to the Civil List, or apply them to some other Use, it might perhaps be said that we should be obliged to make the Loss good to his Majesty, even tho' it should be made appear, that the remaining Duties would produce more than 800,000 l. a Year: This, I say, might be said, tho' I am far from thinking so; but if a War, or a Plague, or any such Misfortune should oblige us to make a Regulation, by which the Produce of any one of the Duties now appropriated to the Civil List should be intirely annihilated, or very much diminished, I am sure it could not be said, that we should be obliged to make the Loss good to the Civil List, as long as the remaining Duties produced the full Sum of 800,000 l. a Year; and the Reason is plain, because this was a Misfortune incident to the Duty when granted, and therefore the Grant of that Duty must still remain liable to this Misfortune.
'Now, Sir, in the present Case, if instead of the high Duties by this Bill proposed, we had made a severe Law against Drunkenness, and had inflicted high Penalties upon all those who should have got drunk, or should have allowed any Person to get drunk in any of their Houses, after Michaelmas next; and had by such Means put an effectual Stop to that pernicious Practice of drinking to Excess, would not such a salutary Law have much diminished the Produce of most of those Duties appropriated to the Civil List? In which Case I would gladly ask the Gentlemen of the other Side of the Question, If they would, or could with any Reason have insisted, that we were obliged to make the Loss good to his Majesty, even tho' the remaining Produce should still have amounted to above 800,000 l. a Year? And again I would ask them, Wherein the Difference lyes between a Law for prohibiting Drunkenness, and a Law for laying such high Duties upon Liquors, as to prevent its being in the Power of most Men to purchase a Quantity sufficient for making them drunk?
'I shall agree with the honourable Gentleman, Sir, that if I surrender a Part of my Estate to my Neighbour for his Conveniency, it is most reasonable he should make good to me the Damage I may sustain by such Surrender: But how is this applicable to the present Case? We do not desire any Surrender, we desire that the Duties may stand appropriated as they are at present; and we insist upon it, that no Damage can happen to his Majesty by what we propose: It is the Gentlemen of the other Side of the Question who insist upon making a Surrender, and tho' they know they can sustain no Damage by that Surrender, yet they insist upon our paying them what Price they please to set upon it. We have indeed given a Lottery Ticket, and I believe that Ticket has proved to be a Benefit Ticket: We do not desire to take away any Part of that Benefit; but we find, that the very Fund from which that Benefit is to arise, is in Danger; and we only desire, that those to whom we gave this Benefit Ticket, would join with us in Measures for preserving that Fund: This is but reasonable; and since this can no way diminish the Benefit they are entitled to, it is not reasonable they should insist upon our giving them another Benefit Ticket for joining with us in a Measure, which appears to be necessary for our mutual Preservation.
'From what I have said, Sir, I think it is evident, that altho' the Civil List were to suffer by diminishing the Consumption of Spirituous Liquors, we are not obliged to make good the Loss: But as the Blank in the Clause now before us must be fill'd up with some one Sum or another, I shall now consider what has been said with respect to the Method of calculating the Sum, with which that Blank is to be filled up; and as upon the present Occasion the Establishment of the Civil List has been represented to us as a Grant from the Parliament to the Crown, which ought not to be touched or in the least diminished, even for the Safety and Preservation of the People, I must take Notice of one Rule observed by all Courts of Equity in the World, and that is, to explain the doubtful Meaning of a Grant, by that which may be presumed to have been the Meaning of the Grantor at the Time the Grant was made. Suppose then, Sir, we had had at that Time a Prophet amongst us, and that Prophet had informed the Parliament, that in a few Years after, the Duties on Spirituous Liquors would increase considerably, and that our People would begin to drink so excessively of such Liquors, that for the Preservation of the People it would become necessary to put a Stop to that Excess: Suppose, that upon such Information a Question had arisen in that Parliament, for obliging any future Parliament that might find it necessary to put a Stop to that Excess, to make good to the Civil List its Share in those Duties according to the Value it should arise to by that Excess, and according to a Computation to be made at the very Time when that Excess was to be at its highest Pitch. Can we imagine that such a Question would have met with any Reception in that Parliament, or in any Parliament? And if we cannot suppose it would, can we presume, that that Parliament meant or intended to give his Majesty such an indelible Right to the Increase, that might happen by the Extravagance of the People in any of those Duties then appropriated to the Civil List, that it should not be in the Power of any future Parliament to put a Stop to the Extravagance of the People, without making good to his Majesty's Civil List the Increase that had arisen by that Extravagance?
'To illustrate this Matter still a little more clearly, suppose, Sir, that Parliament which established the Civil List had laid a Duty upon Laudanum, and had appropriated that Duty to the Civil List: Suppose that in a few Years after, the Use of Laudanum should have become more general and more excessive in this Nation than ever it was in Turkey, insomuch that Multitudes of our People should have been every Day found in the Streets murdered by the excessive Use of that Poyson; and that by this general and excessive Consumption the Duties upon it should have occasioned a vast Increase in his Majesty's Civil List Revenue, will any Gentleman pretend, that the Parliament could not make any Regulation for preventing the Abuse of that Poyson, without making good to his Majesty the Increase in the Civil List Revenue, that had been occasioned by that Abuse? Is not this the very Case with respect to Spirituous Liquors? Therefore I am surprised to hear it said, that we cannot put a Stop to, or prevent the Abuse of such Liquors, without making good to his Majesty the Increase in the Civil List Revenue that has been occasioned by that very Abuse?
'Thus, Sir, I think I have fully shewn what could not be the Meaning or Intention of the Parliament, when they granted to his Majesty the whole Produce of those Duties they appropriated to the Civil List; but now let us inquire a little what may be presumed to have been their Intention: For my own Part, I believe the only Meaning or Intention they had, was a good-natured one, to give his Majesty's Ministers a little more Latitude in the Disposal of the Civil List Revenue, and to prevent their being put to the Trouble of laying the Accounts of that Revenue yearly before Parliament. But suppose they meant to grant his Majesty a Right to the whole Produce of those Duties, as it then stood according to the Calculations they had made, which is the utmost that can be supposed they meant; upon this Supposition, in order to know what his Majesty has a Right to by that Grant, we must examine into the Calculations they may have been supposed to have made for ascertaining, or at least guessing at, the Value of what they were about to grant. In this Case we are told, that as they were considering what Duties would be sufficient to raise a future Revenue, they could have under their Consideration only a future Produce. I am sorry, Sir, to hear such a Manner of arguing in a Matter of such Consequence: For the raising of a future Revenue, to be sure a future Produce must be applied, but when People are considering and calculating what the Amount of that future Produce may be, and whether it will be sufficient to raise such a future Revenue, surely their Calculations must be founded upon their Experience of what is past, or upon their Knowledge of what is then present: If it is a new Duty, they found their Calculations on what is then supposed to be the Quantity or the Value of the Goods, made liable to that new Duty; and if it is an old Duty, they always consider the Produce of that Duty for such a Number of Years past, and from thence calculate what it may produce in Time to come; therefore we cannot suppose that the Parliament which established the Civil List, granted, or intended to grant, any more than a Share of the Produce of the Duties upon Spirituous Liquors, at a Medium calculated for seven or eight Years before his Majesty's Accession; and for this Reason, supposing that we are obliged to make that Grant good to his Majesty, which I am far from thinking, the Sum we are now to give to the Civil List for making that Grant good, ought to be taken from a Medium calculated for seven or eight Years before his Majesty's Accession, and not from a Medium since his Majesty's Accession, which has been greatly increased by the very Abuse we are now about to rectify.
'It has likewise been said, Sir, that it seems a little odd, for Gentlemen to propose putting a Value upon the Loss his Majesty may sustain by taking from him a Revenue which he has enjoyed, by computing the Produce of a Revenue he never enjoyed. Surely every Gentleman must see the Fallacy of this Argument: We do not desire to take any Revenue from his Majesty, and therefore we are not to compute the Loss he may sustain by the taking of any Revenue from him; but if any Revenue be taken from him, the Parliament we say is obliged to make it good only according to that Value which was put upon it by the Parliament that granted it, and not according to the increased Value it may since have arisen to, by an Abuse which ought, long before this Time, to have been effectually prevented.
'With Respect, Sir, to the great Increase of Foreign Brandies and Spirits, that happened in the Year 1733, by the great Importation of French Brandies under the Name of Flemish, I shall readily grant that they were not imported for immediate Consumption, but in order to remain, and be kept here as a Stock in Hand; nay, I must go farther, I must suppose, that all or most of them still remain here as a Stock in Hand; I cannot suppose that any great Quantity of them has yet been consumed, because the Duties upon Foreign Brandies have been as high in the Year 1734, and 1735, as they were in any two Years before 1733. And the Reason of this may be easily assigned; for as the Merchants at Dunkirk were obliged to make their Importations in 1733, in a great Hurry, they had not Time to send to Nantz and other Places of France for old Brandies, therefore they run in upon us all the new Brandies they had in their Cellars at Dunkirk; but as these new Brandies could not be fit to be drank in the Year 1734, or 1735, our Consumption for the two Years was supplied by new Importations of old Brandies from France: From whence we must reckon, that the great Importation in the Year 1733 has no ways lessened the Duties upon Foreign Brandies or Spirits for these last two Years, but may very probably do so for two or three Years to come; and therefore we must grant, that to include the Increase of those Duties in the Year 1733 in our present Computation, is reckoning all the Advantage, which happened by that casual Importation, to the Account of the Civil List, in order to bring a double Loss upon the Sinking Fund; for that sacred Fund is to be charged with near 4000 l. a Year, during his Majesty's Life, more than it would have been charged with, if no such extraordinary Importation had ever happened; and by that extraordinary Importation, and the Decrease in the Duties on Foreign Brandies, which must thereby be occasioned for several Years to come, that Fund to which those Duties are now to be appropriated must lose a very considerable Sum.'
In a Committee of the whole House 70,000 l. is Voted, for making good the Deficiencies, that may happen in the Civil List, by the Bill relating to Spirituous Liquors.
Then the Question being put for filling up the Blank with the Sum of 43,000 l. it was upon a Division carried in the Negative, by 211 to 109; and then the Question being put for filling up the Blank with the Sum of 70,000 l. it was carred in the Affirmative without a Division.