Page images

they would go through the bufiness of the nation, propose their measures of finance, and then at the close of the feffion appeal to the people by a diffolution of Parliament.

The question for the Speaker's leaving the chair was put, and carried without any farther observations.

Mr. Ord took the chair of the Committee, and
The Sec. at The Secretary at War moved for the sum of 2,300,000l. to
War. defray the extraordinaries of the army. .
Mr. George Mr. George Onshow lamented that the House had destroyed
Oallow. the finest army in the world--the militia, and was now going

to vote an immense sum for another every way inferior to it:
the former was the natural army of this country: and as France
could at all times fit out a fleet at the breaking out of a war,
much sooner than we could, so of course a militia would be ab-
solutely necessary for the defence of the country against a sud1
den attack. (He alluded to the resolution not to call out the
militia this year.) He then faid that a saving might be made
of the whole garrison, artillery, and government of Gibraltar,
by a cession of that place, which by the enormous expence it
occafioned, was a mill stone about the neck of this country;
for, it had already cost it £ 5000,000; and to no purpose ;
for the trade with Spain was against us; it was an infignifi-
cant trade for white-wine and pig-nuts; and of fo little use
was Gibraltar, that he would venture to prophecy, another

British fleet would never be seen in its bay.
Mr. Muffey. Mr. Hulley said he did not like to ask an impertinent quel-

tion, but he wished to know whether Parliament was to be i
diffolved this week. A friend of his had a bill, then on the
table, which had been sent down from the Lords, and which
could not, according to order, be read a fecond time before
Friday next. He understood that when a diffolution was ex-
pected, the orders were relaxed, and bills fuffered to proceed
sooner, with the greatest difpatch. In that case, his friend's
bill might be brought on to-morrow, and be got ready for
the royal assent with the other bills : and this would
be to his friend a saving of near 200l. which would be
entirely lost, if the Parliament should be diffolved before his
bill passed. No answer was given to this question. The fup-
ply was voted, and the House resumed. Lord Mahon's bill
against bribery was then put into the Speaker's hand, and on
the motion for its being read a third time, the House divided;

Ayes, 45; Noes, 38.
The bill was then read a third time and passed.

bill pely loft, if the saving of near bills; and thiseady for

[ocr errors][merged small]

nd thor and hisces of the ple of duty on the p illic conduction is now siya but that difregarThe

March 23. Lord Mahon adverted to the proceedings of the upper House Ld. Mahon. on his bribery bill, and particularly to the speech of Lord Mansfield, of which he complained.

Mr. Ord having brought up the report of the Committee of Supply on the army extraordinaries, and the Speaker having i put the questions that the same be read,

Mr. É den said, that he did not rise in the hope of having Mr. Edea. better success than some of his friends had on the preceding day; but he was impelled by a sense of duty to state some remarks on the circumstances of the present motion. The Mi, nister of the day and his adherents might disregard or mis. apprehend those circumstances, but the time would come when the forewarnings now given would be brought back to their recollection. He would not now enlarge upon the fingular conduct of voting services to the amount of near ten millions and finding supplies for no more than a fourth part of that fum ; if such votes were brought forward merely as a mode of amusing Parliament, he could only say they were unnecessary, and therefore unbecoming and disrespectful: but if they were meant to give a fan&tion to the subsequent conduct of Ministers, and to enable them to say that they were justifin able in applying the public money to voted services, the rea. soning was flimsy and fallacious; the votes of such services would be a mere nullity from the moment of the diffolution ; they could derive no sanction from the present House of Commons; for that same House of Commons had voted, that any payment of the army, made after a diffolution, and previous to an act of appropriation, would be criminal, and a breach of public trust, and illegal and unconftitutional. He would not however press the right honourable gentleman, either on this point or on other great considerations respecting the commerce, the revenue, and of the kingdom, all which feemed to be gratuitously abandoned to confusion and ruin, at the very moment when both sides of the House concurred in giving every facility and dispatch to all the business of the nation. There certainly was an appearanceof an avidity to abuse the false popularity of the moment to the purposes of creating a more fubfervient Parliament-but the day of trial would come, and he acknowledged it to be unfair to urge the right honourable gentleman to foretel his defence, and to make it before a judicature to which he was not to be responsible. Mr. Eden.



added, that his present object was to mention two most im. portant considerations, which Parliament had unanimously voted to merit the most early attention, and in which he unworthily bore a principal trust. The first respected the illicit practices used in defrauding the revenue : it was his duty on that day to present the Third Report of the Committee : that Report comprehended all the means of prevention ; it was of a nature to merit the most immediate discussion : his own duty, however, and the duty of the Committee would be discharged, by presenting the fruit of labours which had been performed with integrity and with industry : he had only, therefore, to thank the House for having placed him in a Committee with a set of gentlemen, to whose candour, indul. gence, perseverance and abilities, he should ever bear testimony with 'gratitude and respect. The next consideration was the business of the East-India Committee; it was connected effentially with the leading feature of the present strange seffion of Parliament : the Committee had already gained informations of the moft interesting and most urgent importance : it would be impossible to ftifle those informations : there could not exist any where a wish to fifle them : but it was his wish that they should be brought forward soon, and it would be a matter of proper attention, both to the public interests and to the persons employed in this branch of those interests, to intimate, either openly or privately, whether there should be sufficient time for this Committee to form a report. He desired to be understood to state all this with the calmness which became a man who was standing at the side of a death bed ; in the expiring moments of the present Parliament. He was certainly forry for the interest of Sonne individuals, and for the increasing distresses of the public; but in the choice of present evils, he was glad, that the diffolution, however cootrary to credibility and common sense, was determined to take place; the kingdom, and all its dependencies, would suffer grievously by so wild a step; but the Constitution would be saved : 'the House of Commons would be annihilated, in the most inexpedient moment; but it was better that it should be annihilated than dishonoured ; it was better, that there should be a temporary diftrefs, than the mortal and fatal circumstance of a Miniftry continuing obftinately to exercise its functions in defiance of a vote of the representatives of the people.

. Ld. North. Lord North; after a momentary pause rose and said, that curiosity which was so nacural for his right honourable


Tento the Chad a fing ily.conce deather

friend, and for the House in general, to feel upon the pre- sent occasion, he felt in common with, them; and had hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have deigned to have uttered a single syllable by way of satisfaction on a point that so materially concerned them all. The report that they were at the point of death was in every body's mouth, but he was yet willing to believe that it was untrue, and that because no one public reason could be assigned in justification of such a measure. Indeed a váriety of circumstances made it appear to him to be imposa sible that Ministers could mean to diffolve Parliament under the present circumstances of the country. The two Committees that his right honourable friend had just referred to, alone afforded sufficient grounds to warrant the opinion he entertained upon the subject. Each of those Committees had business before them, not only of great importance, but such as required the immediate attention of Parliament.

That upon smuggling concerned the revenue so nearly, that he could not suppose any Minister who regarded the interests of his country, could possibly be brought to accede to a dissolution of Parliament, before something was done in consequence of the Reports of the Smuggling Committee. Again, the Committee on the state of the EastIndia Company's affairs was employed in a matter of too interesting a nature to be disregarded, nay, the right'ho. nourable gentleman himself had declared on a former occa. fion, that such was the urgency of the East-India Company's affairs, that the subject would admit of no delay; that it must be taken into immediate consideration, and that if any time was loft, the difficulty and the danger arifing to the country in general from the present state of the Ealt-India Company's affairs would be increased. To dissolve the Parliament, therefore, after such a declaration, and without there existing a possibility for one public reao son to be assigned for such a measure, would be not only unwarrantable, but in his mind highly criminal. The'fide of the House on which he stood had been charged with a design tò ftop the supplies, and to impede the progress of the public business; had not that charge received the am. pleft refutation? Did they impede the public business, or had they stopped the supplies ? On the contrary, had they not voted all that had been asked; and was it not sufficient Jy well known, that they had no intention to throw any impediment in the way of the public business? Another

· charge



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PARLIAMENTARY A. 1784. charge that had been brought against them had been, that they had established a system of procrastination. He begged to ask where the procrastination and where the delay was most truly imputable? They were ready, and had been ready for many days past, to go on with the public bufiness, to attend it fedulously, and to forward it with all necessary dispatch. To whom, then, was delay imputable, and what was to be thought of the consistency of the right honourable gentleman, who had formerly recommended dispatch, if he now consented to advise His Majelty to diffolve the Parliament, and by that means çreate, without any one public reason, additional delay, and put that House, with so much business before it, into a total state of inaction for two months ? His Lordship reminded gentlemen of the language of their Address to the Throne, deprecating a diffolution, and the language of the Royal answer. In both, the business then before the House bad been mentioned; by the House it had been pointed out ás business of great importance, and as bufiness that required dispatch; and in the King's answer it had been admitted to be business that was urgent, and dispatch had been earnest

Jy recommended to the House. From these considerations .. he thought the idea of a diffolution in the course of the

week an idea which it was impossible for Ministers to have entertained, much less to have embraced and resolved to carry into, execution. He would not, he said, put any question to Ministers upon the subject, because they were to answer for their conduct in that particular to another tribunal, should it hereafter appear that they had given His Majesty any such advice as to diffolve his Parliament under the present circumstances of public business. This, however, he proceeded to describe as a matter impoffible to be intended. He mentioned the vote of upwards of two millions of the preceeding day, and faid, he had freely afsented to that grant, and that he fhould be ready, in like manner, to give his vote for any other grant that the pubļic service required; but that vote convinced him that a diffolution of Parliament was not at hand, because, for Ministers to come gravely to that House and ask large grants of supplies, without having any intention to provide adequate ways and means, and to complete the business by following it with a bill of appropriation, but on the contrary, meaning almost immediately afterwards to dilo folve Parliament, would be to do an-unhandsome thing in


« PreviousContinue »