Page images
PDF
EPUB

could not but be jealous of rights, of which they were the guardians and trustees for their constituents: but still it was not necessary, that at this moment a manifesto should be published; the House should sirst proceed, and having come to a decision, theH it might not be improper to publish the whole of the proceedings. The Chan- The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he wished not for

Exche°uerC an^ de'ay: ^ut ne thought, that in so serious a matter, the xc equer. jjoufe OUgnt not to act with any thing like precipitation.

The question was at last put, and it passed in the affirmative without a division. Lord Beau- Lord Beauchamp moved that the report be taken intoconslchamp. deration on Monday next. This passed also in the affirmative..

Mr. Fred. ^Mr. Fred. Montagu then moved, "that the House at its Montagu. rjfulg d0 adjourn to Monday,next."

The Earl of The Earl of Swrey observed, that while the present MinisSurrey.' ters remained in office, for good or for bad purposes he would not fay, and while they and their friends were thus putting off business from day to day, the whole business of this country was at a stand, to the ruin of the public. Mr. Dun- Mr. Dundas insisted, that when he moved for the printing of the reports, he did not do it with an intention to delay business, but to obtain necessary information.

An uninteresting con verVation occurred on the subject of delaying the public business, and accusations were made from both sides of the House on the matter. Adjourned to Monday.

February 16.

Lord Mait- Lord Maitland introduced a conversation relative to Lord land. George Lenox having vacated his feat in Parliament, by accepting the Constablefhip of the Tower, on which he moved, that a copy of Lord George Lenox's commission be laid before the House.

Mr. Steele. Mr. Steele, and some others, endeavoured to prove, that the office of Constable of the Tower was a mere military employment, and therefore did not fall within the meaning of the statute, there being an exception in favour of military promotions. Besides, Lord George Lenox's commission had not yet been made out; the warrant had been only signed by his Majesty, directed to the Attorney or Solicitor General; therefore, allowing even that he ought to vacate his feat on accepting that office, as he had not yet received his commission, he ought not to be precluded from voting.

After

After various observations by Captain James Luttrell, Mr. Pitt, Lord North, Mr. Pelham, &c. Lord Maitland's motion was changed to the following: "That; a copy of the warrant, appointing Lord George Lenox's commission to be made out, as Conilable of the Tower, be laid before the House; as also a copy of the commission of the late Constable, with a lift of the various fees, &c. &c. independent of the salary of ioool. per annum, specisied in the warrant, belonging to that employment." This motion was agreed to. And as heavy penalties attach on members voting on a question after their seats have been vacated by accepting a place of civil emolument under Government, Lord George's friends declared the noble Lord would not vote in the House during the investigation, whether the ofsice of Constable of the Tower is to be considered as a civil or military employment.

The order of the day was.then called for, and after a few words from Earl Nugent on the point of order,

Lord Bcaacbamp rose to move his propositions, in conse- LordBea«» quence of the resolutions of the other House. Now, he said, ctlillnPthat the Report of the Committee appointed to search the Journals was in every hand, they would be able to inform themselves fully on the rights of the House, with regard to their control and guardianship of the public boards. The resolution of the House of Lords was, as he had already stated, of a nature so truly alarming, that they could not sit still and observe it in tame acquiescence. At the same time, it was not his wish nor design to bring forward any proposition which should divide the two Houses, or create dissention between them. Perhaps the other House had not been equally cautious and considerate; or else, when they referred to a resolution on their Journals of the 27th of February, 1704, declaring it to be illegal in either of the branches of the Legislature to suspend the operation of an act of Parliament, they would have turned to the next page, where they would have found a resolution declaring, that it was the duty of the House, in case of any difference of opinion on any point resolved by the other House, to desire a conference, in order that they might learn the reasons upon which the House had acted, before they proceeded to give their opinion on the matter. This, he said, he should have expected from the nobleness of the House, as the means of preventing discord 1 and division between the two Houses. It was not the business of either House to pass abstract resolutions. The tendency and intention of all their proceedings should be manifest. This, he believed, he might venture to fay was a duty

which

which that House constantly kept in view, and in all their resolutions constantly practiced. In their late resolution to which they came, nemine contradicente, that a firm, efficient, extended, and united Administration could alone put an end to the present distensions, and restore harmony and give vigour to the State, every one saw at what it aimed ; everyone was able to explain its meaning, and acknowledge its force. Every one saw that it evidently implied that the present Administration did not possess the qualities which that resolution declared to be essential in our present circumstances. The other side of the House joined in the resolution, as well as they on his side who proposed it, and in so doing, they acknowledged and declared that the present Administration was not firm, was not efficient, was not extended, was not such an Administration as could restore harmony or vigour to the State. Was the resolution of the House of Lords on the 4th instant equally perspicuous? That resolution declared, "That an attempt in any one branch of the Legislature to suspend the execution of law, by separately assuming to itself the direction of a discretionary power, which, by act of Parliament, is vested in any body of men, to be exercised as they shall judge expedient, is unconstitutional." Had they attempted, by the resolution of the 24th of December, to suspend the execution of the law? Had they assumed to themselves the direction of a discretionary power? No; they had barely assumed the right of giving a monition to the Board of Treasury in a matter which most nearly concerned public credit, and the purses of their constituents. They had done this at a time which required their interference, and when, if they had failed to give the admonition, they would, in his mind, have failed in the performance of their duty. One of their first and most ancient duties it was to watcli over the conduct of the public Boards, and to give them such seasonable and previous advice, as they in their wisdom should think necessary to the maintenance of the public funds, and to the prevention of heavy burdens on the people. They had always interfered with their advice. They had passed monitory resolutions in terms infinitely more authoritative than a late resolution; and it was to be remarked, that even in the present moment, when the House of Lords seemed to watch their proceedings with so jealous an eye, this was the only resolution to which they objected. All the other resolutions therefore which they had lately passed, met with the approbation of the House of Lordsi To prove that this exertion of their authority was perfectly legal and cus

tomaryj tomary, that it sprung from an unquestioned privilege, the Committee appointed to search the journals, had made their report of a variety of precedents, some of which went much farther than the present resolution. The Committee had been careful to take no precedent from any period of our history which might he called a time of violence j they had therefore omitted many which they might have brought forward ; but thole they had adduced would be respected as precedents of authority which ought to guide that House. It was not his intention to call them to the consideration of all the cafes in the report; but some of them were so remarkable, and so clearly adapted to the cafe now questioned, that he could not help drawing their attention to them. The first which he would mention was in the year 1628, a period of our history to which he was certain no gentleman would object. The resolution on the journals was,

Jovis, 12° Februaru l6a8.

«* Mr. Shervyle reporteth from the Committee for tonage and poundage, that a great stop to it, the detaining the possession ot the merchants goods, and the stay of their proceedings, by injunctions in the Exchequer Chamber. That the Committee hath resolved to send a message to the Court of Exchequer: and a draught of it. . . .

«' Upon question, a message to be sent from this House to the Court of Exchequer, to the essect of the draught nowread. This to be done by four of the House: Mr. Chan-, cellor of the Duchy, Sir Francis Cottington, Sir Nath. Rich, Sir Ro. Phillippes. This writing, with the papers annexed, to be delivered by Mr. Chancellor of the Duchy -y and to report their answer."

The noble Lord said the purport of the message was, that these injunctions in the Exchequer Chamber were exceedingly Injurious. They ordered them to be taken off, and in consequence of this message the practice complained of was altered. Every body knew the persons concerned in this famous interference. Mr. Shervyle was remarkable, as being of all other men in his day deeply versed in the law and constitution of the country. The noble Lord then related another case not in the report, after which he came to the resolutions extracted from the journals of the year 1680. In this year the Commons interfered, and gave their advice in two memorable instances. The first was with respect to anticipations of the revenue, and the resolution was as follows:

Vol. XIB. Q. Fcnsris, fcneris, ']Q die Januarii 1680.

Resolved, nem. con. that whosoever shall hereafter lend, or cause to be lent, by way of advance, money upon the branches of the King's revenue arising by customs, excise, or hearth money, shall be judged to hinder the sitting of Parliaments; and shall be responsible for the same in Parliament.

Resolved, nem. con. that whosoever shall accept or buy any tally of anticipation upon any part of the King's revenue, or whosoever shall pay such tally hereafter to be struck, shall be adjudged to hinder the sittings of Parliaments; and shall be responsible therefore in Parliament.

Here, he said, there was as clear an interposition of their opinion as could well be imagined, and it was by such seasonable and well directed cautions that that House had been able, at all times, to guard the public purse. The other precedent in the lame year was,

-'. Lunte, 10° die Januarii 1680.

Resolved, nem. con. that it is the opinion of this House, that the prosecutidn of protestant dissenters upon the penal laws, is, at this time, grievous to the subject, a weakening of the protestant interest, an encouragment to popery, and dangerous to the peace of the kingdom.

The noble Lord related the historical circumstances of this remarkable exertion of their privilege, and said he would not trouble them with' any other remote cases, but would mention two Or three that came within the observation of themselves, as being passed in their own time. He said they must all remember them, and they were passed with so much unanimity, that though some of them, when read by the clerk, had occasioned smiles from certain members, they were what he believed all sides of the House'would pay respect to. One of them was moved by a learned gentleman on the Treasury Bench, (Mr. Dundas.) Those which followed one of the reports from the Commissioners of public accounts, Came from his noble friend Lord John Cavendish; and the last from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Those were the resolutions for the recall of Mr. Hastings, <tic. and for the abolition of certain useless offices in the Exchequer, which were made on tb,e 28th of May and 19th of June, 1782.

2 Theft

« PreviousContinue »