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These were cases in which the House had interposed its voice, surely as authoritatively as they had done in the present instance; for they had not now suspended law; they had not now given any other suspension than a solemn advice; and certainly a solemn monition and advice of that House would, as it ought, have its influence on any public body of men in the kingdom.
He said it was his intention to propose to the House six resolutions, and he would read them. Their purport was to declare, that it was illegal in either of the distinct branches of the Legislature to suspend the operation of an act of Parliament. That that House did not by the resolution of the 24th of December last deprive the Lords of the Treasury of the exercise of the discretionary powers vested in them by the act of Parliament, but merely advised them in the exercise of their discretionaiy power for the support of public credit, and the interests of their constituents. That it was the clear and undisputed privilege of that House to interpose its voice, and to give its opinion and admonition, either to the public Boards, or other bodies of men invested with discretionary powers, when they law reason to advise the suspension, or to direct the exercise of those powers. That their resolutions, though they possessed not the authority of law, were of that solemn nature, that it was the duty of the public Boards to pay respect to, and to be guided by them.
His Lordship, for the sake of fairness, and that the House might the more readily comprehend the whole os his purpose, read his six resolutions as follow:
r. <£ That this House hath not assumed to itself any right to suspend the execution of law."
2. "That it is constitutional and agreeable to usage, for the House of Commons to declare their fense and opinions respecting the exercise of every discretionary power, which, v hether by act of Parliament or otherwise, is vested in any body of men whatever for the public service."
3, "1 hat it is a duty peculiarly incumbent upon this House, entrusted by the Constitution with the sole and separate grant of the public money, to watch over, and by their timely admpuitions and interference, to endeavour to prevent the rash and precipitate exercise of any power, however vested, which may be attended with any danger .topublic credit, or with heavy losses to the revenue, and consequent burdens upon the public."
- Qjj 4. "That
4. " That the resolution of the 24th of December last, which declared the sense and opinion of this House, • That the Commissioners of the Treasury ought not to give their consent to the acceptance of any bills drawn, or to be drawn fiom India, until it shall be made appear to this
'House that sufficient means can be provided for the pay-. rnent of the fame when they respectively fall due, by a regular application of the clear effects of the Company, after discharging, in their regular course, the customs and .other sums due to the public and the current demands upon the Company, or until this House shall otherwise direct,' was constitutional, founded in a fense of duty towards the people of this kingdom, and dictated by a becoming anxiety for the preservation of the revenue and the support pf public credit." .
5. " That if this House had, in the unsettled state of the East-India Company, which was, and still is under the consideration of Parliament, in order to form some provisions for the relief of that Company and the security of :he public, neglected to pass the said resolution of the 24th of December, to guard against a new charge to a very considerable amount being rashly incurred before any means of answering it had been stated or provided, they would have teen justly and highly responsible to their constituents for the increase of those evils and difficulties which are already too severely felt."
si. *' That this House will, with the utmost moderation, but with the most decided sirmness, maintain inviolably the principles of the Constitution, and will persevere in the diligent and conscientious discharge of the duties which they owe to their constituents and to their posterity, equally solicitous to preserve their own privileges, and to avoid airy encroachments on those of either of the other branches of the Legislature."
He concluded with moving the sirst of the resolutions.
Mr. Macdonald and Sir Grey Cooper were both upon their legs at once; but Sir Grey declaring he rose to second the motion, Mr, Macdonald sat down. Sir Grey gjr gy^ Cooper said, the clear and manifest object and fc-ooper. purpose of the Lords' resolution, then under the consideration of the House, was to impress the minds of the people, and of the whole nation, with a persuasion that that House had, py its resolution of the 24th day of December }ast, transgressed. the Jjrnits of the power and the rights allotted lotted to it by the constitution. The inevitable consequence of it was to degrade the character, and to diminish the just weight and authority of that House, to lower the value of its confidence, and to justify the disregard with which its resolutions had been, and continued to be treated, even by its own members, contrary to the practice and example of all former times. Sir Grey said, he was not at liberty to« suppose or suggest that it was the deliberate intention of the House of Lords, that their resolution should have such a tendency and such a consequence, because he was not yet at liberty to conceive that a majority of the Lords would consent to lend their dignity, the fame of their wisdom, and the mighty space of their great honours, to serve the purpose of a temporary expedient, or to answer the spur of a particular occasion. He could not yet believe that they would condescend to compromise the most essential rights and privileges of Parliament for an object and a question so comparatively slight and trivial as the removal or continuance in office of any Minister, or any set of men; they must, therefore, by the rules of parliamentary candour and decorum, take it for granted, that this interposition of the Lords was made on the broad public ground of their anxious and vigilant care for the conservation of the constitution, and he would not hesitate a moment in, giving his full assent to this concession, if, as was observed upon the opening of this matter with the usual acuteness and penetration of the honourable member who made the observation, the Lords had not withheld their censure of that House's pretended breach of the constitution, from the 20th of January, the day on which they met after the recess, to the 4th of February; and if their anxiety for this important public consideration had not slumbered, until it was roused by certain resolutions which were moved and voted by the House, to the displeasure and offence of His Majesty's Ministers. He could not forbear observing, by the way, how singular it was, that their Lordships" should have been pleased to select and mark out this resolution of the 24th of December last, for the object of their animadversion. In the days of high prerogative, that House had been enjoined not to meddle with matters of state, and had been told by Kings and by Chancellors, that religion and the affairs of the Church were above the understanding of the Commons; but it was reserved for these times to condemn she House of Commons for declaring its opinion on the exexcise of a discretionary power, on which might depend the state of public credit, the amount of the supplies of the year, and the necessity of laying heavier burdens 011 its constituents. It was sonic consolation however to them, that although the thunder was directed against them by powerful eloquence and formidable abilities, they were covered by the segis of Minerva; that among other great arid respectable Peers, the Lord Chief Justice of England, of as high and consummate talents, knowledge, wisdom, and experience, as ever fat on the bench or in the senate, and that another great Law Lord, whose powers of eloquence and reasoning, whose mining abilities, and whose particular attention to the law and usage of Parliament, that House had often listened to with pleasure and instruction, opposed, spoke, and voted against this resolution. They were, Sir Grey declared, now upon their justisication in the issue which was joined by the fourth resolution which had been moved by the noble Lord, and they made it with the same temper and moderation which had hitherto accompanied all their steps in this business, and which was so wifely recommended to them when they sirst received an authentic account of the charge exhibited against them; they had given time for those sensations .which naturally rose upon a sudden, unexpected, and, as they conceived, unprovoked attack, to subside and to be composed; and they trusted, that they were now proceeding with that cool and calm constancy of mind, which most became every private man, and every body of men, when they were engaged in any arduous contest, and particularly in the article pf any imminent danger. It must be admitted, that the best rule for deciding the question in issue between.the Lords and the House of Commons, was the law and usage of Parliament; and that the best evidence of that law and usage were frequent and authentic precedents, drawn from good times: but besides the authority of precedents, they conceived that their resolution of the 24th of December last was justisied on the clearest ground of principle and reason, and that the power, which was so heavily censured, was, by the principles of the constitution, necessarily inherent in both Houses of Parliament; that it was essential for that House to have such a power in the execution of the trusts reposed in it by its constituents; in its supenntendency of executive government, and of the acts of those who can and may do wrong; in its inquisitp
rial character, and in its guardianship of the public revenue, and, above all, in its legislative capacity. There was a principle, Sir Grey said, which pervaded and illustrated all the precedents: in all cafes, and in every manner, upon which any proceeding had been instituted, and when the House was in the progress of any enquiry, upon the result of which either a charge might be formed, or a bill brought in, and there arose a just apprehension that the purpose of that enquiry might be defeated or perplexed by the exercise of any discretionary power vested by law in any per-* son, or in any body of men, or where, without any pre~' vious enquiry, it should appear to the House, that the public safety or interest might incur any danger, or the religion, revenue, or commerce of the kingdom might suffer any prejudice by an improvident exercise of such powers, the House had been in the immemorial, and hitherto uncontroverted use and practice, and had considered it as ilfS duty to interpose by resolutions, declaratory of its opinions, and as notifications of the fense of the House, of the particular circumstances of the cafe, which might be thought proper for its interposition, by Way of advice/ Warning, or monition to the servants of the Crown, and to all others, to whom discretionary powers were trusted for the public service, and even in some special cases to the courts of justice. That House had nevdr assumed, or at-, tempted' to assume, a right to suspend the execution of law, or the exercise of discretionary powers; but it did claim a right, and contended that it could not execute its trusts Without such a right, to pass monitory resolutions on the exercise of such powers, and to declare its opinion that they ought not to be exercised in the situation and circumstances of things at the time of passing the resolution, or until the House should take the matter under its farther consideration. If those who had the power, diid not take the advice or warning of the resolution, their acts were unquestionably good and valid in law, whatever might be the consequence to the public, or however those who did the act might be considered as responsible to the House for their Conduct. The ndble Loid had explained many of th4 precedents with great clearness and precision, and he re* quested the permission of the House to comment upon two or three of them, which appeared to him to require soms farther explanation. The precedent of the 12th of February, 1628, was very imperfectly stated in the Journal*,