« PreviousContinue »
The Attorney General replied, that it was owing merely to The Attorthe circumstance of having come down late, that he had not Gcntr>1 shewn the motions to the right honourable gentleman; for he, certainly intended to have done it. The right honourable gentleman might have expected some such proceeding as the present; for when he was last in office he had a conversation with him on the subject of his balance; and the right honourable gentleman assured him, that in the course of a few months he would be able to collect the money, and pay it al\ in: when the right honourable gentleman had told him this, he pledged his honour to the House. The obligation of the oath he took, when he was sworn into office, compelled him to see, that as far as in him lay, all the money belonging to the public should be paid into the Exchequer with as little delay as possible. He had found, in the discharge of his duty, much difficulty with respect to the balances of the late Lord Holland, and of the right honourable gentleman. With respect to the former, he was at this moment at a loss where to find a representative of him against whom he might proceed. Of the three executors whom that noble Lord had appointed, one only had ever acted, the late Mr. Powell j but by his death, the proceedings against him as Lord Holland's executor had abated; and as the other two executors had not thought proper to prove the will, he was as yet at a loss for a representative against whom he could proceed. As to the right honourable gentleman, (Mr. Rigby) the fame difficulty did not exist with respect to him. The balances in his hands were great; they amounted at the last payment made by him to 200,oool. but instead of paying them off in a few months as he had promised, he had since applied to a favourable Board of Treasury, and obtained, in addition, the farther sum of 140,0001.
Mr. Fox said, that of the three executors appointed by his Mr. For. father's will, Lord Digby and himself had never acted as such; and since the death of Powell, neither of them had • proved the will, nor would they: as for himself, he was deterred from it, when he saw that the public political conduct of men in that house made them objects of favour or persecution, according to the side they took in public affairs. He understood that in cafes of this kind it was customary to apply to the nearest relation, when the executors refused to prove a will, and that nearest relation was at liberty to' make himself the representative of the deceased, and his acting executor. Now, in this cafe Colonel Fox (his brother) was the nearest relation: but he had not been more than ten days 1 m
in England; no very long time for consultation or deliberation whether he should consent to prove the will or not % however he could assure the House that he would on this night or to-morrow determine on that point. Mr. Rigby. Mr. Rigby denied, in the most positive terms, that he had ever said he would pay his balances in a few months. Indeed it was impossible for him to have said any such thing; for every man, who was acquainted with the money matters in this country for some time past, must know that money could not be got by transfer or sale of securities, but to the greatest disadvantage; all that he promised on the subject was, that he would lose no time in getting in money; and that he would pay it into the Exchequer with all possible dispatch. He complained of the extraordinary want of candour in the learned gentleman, in stating the circumstance of the 140,000'!. that he got last year from the Treasury. The House, he made no doubt, imagined, from the manner in which the business was mentioned, that he had now that sum in his hands, together with the outstanding balance of 200,0001. but the fact was, that the very day he received that sum, he paid it away for public service. The nature of the Pay Office had hitherto been such, that large sums had been issued to it for extraordinaries of the army, which generally remained a long time in the hands of the Paymaster General; in the German war they had accumulated to the amount of 5,000,000!. and in the last war to very near 4,000,0001. This was to pay expences already incurred, and not provided for by Parliament. The debt therefore was contracted before the money was issued from the Exchequer. The debt for which he had applied for 140,0001. had been contracted while he was in office; but having no longer the public money in in his hands, he got it at the Treasury, and paid it away immediately. He would be very glad at this moment to pay in his balances, but money was so scarce, that he could not raise it now, without a heavy loss. It wap well known, that in the present state of credit, and lowered value of lands, the Court of Chancery would not suffer a mortgage to be foreclosed. It was true, that in the mean time he received the interest of the balances in his hands } but this was an emolument which all his predecessors in the Pay Office had enjoyed before him, but he wished not on this account to hold the public money in his hands; so far was he from wishing it, he would consent to pay interest for it to the public, until he could, at a more favourable opportunity, call in the principal, and pay it into the Exchequer. In the present proceeding, he would seem to aslc a favour; it was not, he believed, in the nature of the learned gentleman to grant one. He had not experienced from him that civility which was generally (hewn between man and man; he did not speak without grounds. He lately received a note from Mr. Chamber lay ne (Solicitor to the Treasury) to inform him, that by order of the AttorneyGeneral, a difiringas ad computandum had been issued against him. The note stated not the time when the dijlringas issued; but, on enquiry, he found it was in Trinity term last; and yet he received no notice of it till within these few days. Of the candor and the motives of the learned gentleman he would leave the House to judge; to them he appealed, if any man in his situation had ever met with such treatment from an Attorney General, as he had experienced from the present. The obligation os his oath was his excuse; but this obligation was not felt so very forcibly by the learned gentleman some time ago, when he would not say, for political reasons, his oath did not force him to proceed as he was now about to do. But this prodigious obligation upon oath, which galled the learned gentleman so much, was never felt to such a degree by the most able, honourable, and learned os his predecessors. Lords Camden, Thurlow, Loughborough, and the late Mr. Wallace, whose characters he hoped he might venture to oppose to that of the learned gentleman, never felt that the duty of their oath called for such a mode of proceeding as was that of the learned gentleman.
The Attorney General said, it was always the practice of The Attorhis predecessors to order a dijlringas to issue regularly twice ney Gen, a year, in order to put the public accountants in mind' of their duty. If he forbore to proceed sooner against the right honourable gentleman, it was in consequence of the promise he had made to pay in his balances in a short time.
Lord 'John Cavendijh observed, that by the operation of Lord John his honourable friend's (Mr. Burke) bill, not one single Cavendift, shilling of balance would in future be in the hands of the Paymaster General, but all would be deposited in the Bank.
The motions all passed without a division.
Vol. XIII. 'Ff" February
The House went into a Committee, Lord Maitland in the chair, on Mr. Dempster's Naturalization bill, the principal object; of which was to declare it to be at this moment the law of this country, that children born out of the British dominions, of British mothers, are entitled to all the rights of natural born subjects of this country. The preamble stated, that there were doubts oh this subject, which this bill was to remove.
Mr. Eden objected to the bill on the ground that no doubts did really exist, and that ill consequences might arise from it.—The bill was lost.
The report from the Committee on the bill for the Receipt-tax act, was brought up and read. Mr. Alder- Mr. Alderman Newnbam rose to oppose the motion, rrunNewn- c< That the report be read a second time," and consequently kam' to defeat the bill if possible. He said, that early in the session he moved for leave to bring in a bill for repealing the tax entirely; but his motion was negatived. Since that, the present bill was brought in, which, as it was meant to enforce the tax, was very unpopular through the nation. Those who disliked it had conceived that the right honourable gentleman at the head of the Treasury was an enemy to it j there were bills stuck up at the corners of the streets, which stated he disliked the tax. If this was the cafe, he would now give him a fair opportunity of proving that ^he was; for if he would rife and fay he was an eneny to the tax, he would vote with the right honourable gentleman against the bill, in obedience to the instructions of his constituents.
EailWogent Earl Nugent, so far from concurring in an opinion that the bill ought not to pass, wished that the principle of the Receipt tax was carried still farther; and he made no doubt but it might be made to produce i,ooo,oool. annually, in« stead of 260,0001. for which it was originally given. Mr. George Mr. Gtorge Onflow called upon the right honourable genOaflow. tleman at the head of the Treasury to declare himself an enemy to the tax; and in the thin House that he then saw, there was not a doubt but he would have a majority for rejecting the bill.
Mr.B.Wat- Mr. B. Watson said he approved of the different regulations that had been made in the Committee; they would be necessary if the tax was to be continued; but as he
meant meant to obey the instructions of his constituents, he would vote against the report generally.
Mr. Eden thought there was no occasion to call upon the Ms. Eden. right honourable gentleman to declare himself farther than - he had already done; he, or whoever should happen to be the Minister of this country, could not look for much popularity, when he knew there were 18,000,0001. of unfunded debts, and 12,000,0001. of navy, victualling,. and other bills, which were now at 201 per cent. discount, to be provided for.
Lord North was also of opinion, that the right honour- Ld. North. able gentleman ought not to b& Called upon to deliver his sentiments on the Receipt tax.; he had already sufsiciently declared, that he would susfer the:present bill to go on; and consequently he could not be a friend to a repeal of the tax.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that as the House ^'^hanhad thought proper to negative a motion for the repeal of Exchequer. the tax, he would support a measure that was calculated to render it productive.
Mr. Alderman Newnham thought it a poor way to courfc Ms. Alderpopularity, by affecting to be the enemy of a measure "TM Newnwhich he was in fact supporting; it was not becoming a great Minister. If the right honourable gentleman was, what he affected to be, an enemy to the tax, he was entitled Jto the popularity he enjoyed through the supposition that he was; but if he was a friend to that tax, as from his conduct he appeared incontroyertibly to be, it was pitiful in him to endeavour to court popularity, by suffering his friends to insinuate to the public that he was an enemy, when in reality he was a friend to a most unpopular tax.
Sir Watkin Lewes spoke against the bill, because it tended SirWatki* to enforce a tax which was greatly oppressive, vexatious, LewMand unpopular.
The House at last divided on the question for reading the report a second time, when there appeared, Ayes, 51; Noes, 12. Majority in favour of the bill, 39.
The report was then read a second time, and agreed to by the House, without any alteration.
Mr, Hussey had a clause received on the report, for making the writer os a receipt furnish the stamp, but. at the sam^ time for empowering him to charge it in his bill.
Ff 2 , February