Page images

could havepported by times in boation for at more from its

terfere by any means with the exercise of the prerogative, the House was to blame for having agreed to the resolution which passed yesterday unanimously, which ftated that a firm, efficient, extended, and united Administration was necessary in the present state of affairs : for suppofing fuch. an Administration was now formed, what might not the. advocates for the prerogative of the Crown infer from it ?. That nothing could be more dangerous or more unconftitutional than such an Administration ; for being composed of all the heads of parties in both Houses, they would of course be supported by majorities in both; and then the King would have forced upon him an Administration which he

could not dismiss. . Mr. Banks. Mr. Banks spoke against the motion, as did Sir George

Howard, who condemned all the resolutions that had been passed against the present Ministry, because they were unfounded, being supported only on vague reports and idle rumours. Before he would consent that these resolutions should be laid before the King, he desired some fault might be alledged to have been committed by the right honourablz gentleman: for it was contrary to every principle of jul

tice that punishment should precede a trial. Mr. Rigby. Mr. Rigby replied, that it was by no means necessary that

a fault should be alledged against the right honourable member, whom by the bye he thought'faultless; it was sufficient for his removal that he poffeffed not the confidence of that House. When a motion was made for an address to remove Sir Robert Walpole, there was no crime or fault laid to his charge, and when he found that he had but a majority of one, he took the hint, and never after fet his foot in the House of Commons. When a motion was made to resolve that the House had no farther confidence in the noble Lord in the blue ribband, there was no charge of crime or fault brought against him ; and yet, though he negatived that motion by a majority of nine, he thought it prudent to retire, and did so. What could keep the right honourable gentleman in his fituation, in defiance of the resolutions of that House, he knew not; but this he knew, that the consequence of the House must fall, or the right honourable gentleman must retire. It had been objected to the late Ministers, that they had not been able to inake a fingle Peer; this was not an objection that could be made to the present Ministers, who had already been pretty liberal of honours : and it was not a little fingular, that of the


that Hor his term the byeed against

four Peers who had lately been created, three of them lived
in a' county where there were a great many of those places
which are generally called rotten boroughs. These creations
were not like those of Queen Anne's reign, which were for
the purpose of giving the Minister a majority in the House
of Lords; for the present Ministers were already in pol-
session of a majority there : but these creations had taken
place, in order that persons might be had who would do
-business in the House of Commons. Those who remem-
bered how the Duke of Northumberland gained his former
honours, could not be surprised to see that noble Duke,
tottering under the weight of ribbands and coronets, still
anxious to add to them the coronet of another barony. It
had been often suggested that if this House should go on
with resolutions, the House of Lords might come to coun-
ter resolutions : they might so; but he trufted there was still
too much sense in that House, to countenance any measure
that inight make a breach with this. If they did, however, ..
the counter resolutions would not prove the Commons in the
wrong: and he hoped, that when the Commons conceived
themselves to be in the right, they would not be intimidated
from the discharge of their duty by the proceedings of any
other affeinbly.

Mr. Aubrey and Lord Fielding spoke against the motion, as did Governor Johnstone, who made the House laugh Gov. Johns heartily, by saying, that the right honourable gentleman on Itone. the floor calling upon the right honourable gentleman at the head of the Treasury to relign before he would treat with him, put him in mind of the fable of the fox and the raven, in which the former said, “ Monsieur Corbeau, come down from the high branch on which you are perched, and then we shall settle these matters.

The Solicitor General disclaimed any intention to be per- The Srlici. verse, or to make use of any asperity ; but, fome few days torGeneral. ago, a gentleman on the other side of the House had used: very harsh and indecent language to his right honourable friend, and which might justify retaliation. He then called for the charge on which his right honourable friend was to be condemned; he defied his bittereft enemies to produce one that could affect his character. He concluded by move ing an amendinent to the motion for laying the resolutions before the King, to this effect : “ Although, after, various examinations into the state of the nation, no charge what


[ocr errors]

Tor Generalo gentler. Pouys faidhe right honohe Ho

ever was brought forward or proved, notwithstanding His

Majefty's Ministers had repeatedly called for the same." Mr. Sheri. Mr. Sheridan faid, that if the honourable gentleman, in

ftating that harsh and indecent words had been used by him some time ago to the right honourable gentleman, meant any allusion to any thing that had fallen from him, he wished he had quoted his words : the honourable gentleman had a convenient, if not an accurate memory. What he said in allusion to the great Duke of Buckingham was, that those persons who owed their promotion to the personal favour of the Crown, 'and stood on the principle of favoritism, were minions of the Crown: the right honourable gentleman'appearing to him to stand on that principle, he had, in very proper parliamentary language, called him one

of the minions of the Crown. The Solici. The Solicitor General said it was not to that honourable

“ gentleman who spoke last that he alluded, but to another. Mr. Powys. Mr. Powys said, that looking upon the charge originally

brought against the right honourable gentleman to be completed by the resoļutions of the House, the House was, of course, bound by them; and could not properly bear that language, which said that no charge had been brought. A charge, and of a very serious nature, was certainly brought, and after various debates, resolutions were finally agreed to. He would, indeed, gladly have the business revised; but as long as it stood as it did at present, he must look upon it as completed. He still believed that it had been intended that the prerogative should be set up in opposition to the rights and privileges of the House, and therefore he had voted on the opposite side to the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) to whom he was a fincere friend, but he was a still greater friend to the Constitution.

The question was at last called for, and put, when the Solicitor General's amendment was rejected without a divi. sion. The House then divided on the original question for laying the resolutions passed last night before his Majesty, when there, appeared

For the motion, 211; - Against it, 187. Majority

against the Minister 24. Mr. Foxi Mr. Fox then moved to adjourn the farther fitting of the

Committee on the state of the nation, which stood for this day, to Monday next; and the House adjourned to Thurs

the oppofite e fiof the Houfet up in on



onceive Decemolution Hourend for

February 5: After some previous uniinportant business, Lord Beau- Lord Beau. champ begged leave to submit to the House a inotion, to champo : which he did not believe there could be any objection : he confessed, he had no better grounds for making it than rumour ; but he was of opinion, that every one would allow tumour was a very good ground for enquiry. From rumour he had heard, that the House of Lords had taken into con. lideration a resolution which this House had passed on the ,24th of December, and made it the foundation of what he conceived to be a very unwarrantable attack upon the privileges of the House of Commons. His surprise was great, indeed, this day, when he was informed that the House of Lords had been fitting last night in folemn deliberation on a resolution which had been proposed in the House of Commons; and which had been adopted on Christmas eve. That resolution conveyed to the Lords of the Treasury an opinion relative to the farther acceptance of bills drawn from India on the East-India Company; and he understood that this resolution had been construed to amount to an assumption on the part of the House of Commons, of a power to supercede an act of Parliament, or, in other words, 10 take away, by a resolution of one branch of the Legislature, a power granted by all three. But this surely was a construction which the resolution would not admit; and nothing but captious malignity could think of torturing it, so as to make it speak a language fo little in the contemplation of the House when it agreed to the resolution. The House of Comnions assumed no new power, when it attempted to state to a public board, how far that board ought, in the opinion of the House, to exercise a power which they might or might not exercise, at their own discretion : there were a thousand instances in the Journals, of instructions given to all the public boards, with respect to the exercise of powers vested in them by act of Parliament; and there was not before yesterday, one fingle instance in which such instructions had been declared to be an attempt to dispense with an'act of Parliament. The right honourable gentleman at the head of the Treasury had, at the conclusion of the last session of Parliament, moved a resolution, that certain places, which it was clearly the just prerogative of the Crown to fill up, fhould not be dispored of till the next meeting of Parliament, because there were eertain regulations relative to these places then actually dem VOL. XIII.

. pending

pending in the House. Had any one ventured to assert, that the right honourable gentleman in moving, or the House in adopting his motion, had attempted, by the refolution of one branch of the Legislature, to take away from the Crown a prerogative vested in it by the law of the land ? No one had been so absurd as to advance such a proposition : and if it was not improper to state to the King an opinion of the House of Commons, relative to the exercise of a power. given to His Majesty by law, could it in fairness be said, that it was improper or unconftitutional for the House to state an opinion to a public board ? It ought to be particularly observed on the present occasion, that the resolution which had given the Lords so much offence, and which it was to him matter of surprise they had not long since taken into their consideration, related to a subject in which the public purse, of which the Commons were peculiarly the keepers, was deeply concerned. The Directors of the East-India. Company are by law empowered to accept bills drawn upon the Company to the amount of 350,000l. but when the sums drawn for exceed 350,000l. then the Directors must apply to the Lords of the Treasury, for leave to accept such bills, or as many of them as exceed in value that sum; and the Lords of the Treasury have a discrétion to grant or withhold that leave, as they.lhall think fit, or to grant it to what extent they may judge expedient. Now it was well known that bills to the amount of between one and two millions fterling had already been drawn and received, and that many more were expected from India. The sums for which these bills had been drawn were immense, and far beyond any thing that had been imagined by Parliament when the act alluded to was passed, If the Treasury should permit the acceptance of all the bills, the public credit would be thereby pledged, and bound to provide for the payment, if the Company should not be able to take them up; and would any man be bold enough to affert, that the House had not a right to give an opinion in a cafe which might so very materially affect the property of their constituents? He did not expect that this right would have been questioned by any one, and much less by the House of Lords. The Commons had a right to exercise it at all times; but more particularly in an alarming situation of affairs, when the names of the Lords of the new treasury board were not so much as known; so that it would be improper for that House, and a breach of its duty to its conftituents, to trust so important a concern to the discretion.


« PreviousContinue »