Page images
PDF
EPUB

Tuesday, §th, and Wednesday, dtb Apr if,

}io material debate occurred.

Thursday, Jib April.

Mr. Chancellor Pitt, adverting to tfie election petitions Mr. P«. *l)'fh remained to be heard, remarked, that one stood for tie next day, and two for the next week, one of which, he Kakrstood, from the distance of the place whence the witnesses came, and on other accounts, it was necessary to appoint a Committee for before the recess, as the putting it off ■il! after would be attended with very great inconvenience aid expeme to all the panies interested. He observed, that Repetition, for which, according to the orders on the book, : Committee was to be balloted upon the morrow, » as that nfyt&\ng the. right of election for Westminster. He did "ot then fee both the Members for that city in the House, was the right honourable gentleman opposite to him was frefcnt, he presumed he might take the liberty of proposing io aVfer the ballot for that Committee to a future day, as the bearing of the petition was not at all pressing in point of time, /"^d as it was usual for the House to leave off balloting for Committees to try the merits of controverted elections about lie nth of April in every session of a new Parliament, and had already decided as many, perhaps more, than had decided in any former first s.-flion; he submitted it to tta consideration of the House, whether it would not be adviieable to ballot for only one more Committee before the ^1?, (that for Orkney) and postpone the rest till after the 'olkJjys, when he thought it' would at least be worth while 'atry the experiment, whether another Committee was to !* obtained or not.

Mr. Fox said, it had been his idea that the Westminster Mr. Fox. iWion, as it referred to the feat of no sitting Member, oaght to give way to others, upon the merits of which the completeness of representation more immediately depended, |nd therefore, as it always had been his opinion that three allots a week were not desirable, he had no manner of objection to the right honourable gentleman's proposition.'

Sir William Tburig having observed that he held in his s>r Wm, tand a paper, which was in fact a petition from the House Young. 1,1 Assembly and Council of Grenada On the subject of the ■j* trade, although it assumed the name of a remonstrance, that it wa< couched in terms of great loyalty, and % of great respect to the House, and, if the House pleased, would read the contents. Having read it, he moved, * That the paper be brought up."

The

3

The The Speaktr intimated, that it was not the practice of tl Speaker. House to receive remonstrances; but the paper being draw in such respectful terms, might, if the House thought pr< per, be brought up as a petition.

It was brought up accordingly, and ordered to lie on th table.

The House adjourned.

Friday, itb April.

The petition of certain housekeepers of London and Weft minster, respecting the characters of servants, was referret to the consideration of a Committee. Mr. Mr. Mincbin rose, and begged leave to press upon the at Mi neb in. tentiqn of the House, that a very considerable sum of monej was pal i for hemp to foreign nations, who, so far from being upon a friendly footing with this country, had at presenl rather given us cause to regard them in a contrary point 0/ view. Besides, it was in the power of those nations, on whom we depended for a supply of the commodity, at any time, by cutting it off, most materially to injure the interest of our manufactures. He proposed, therefore, that waste lands, which at present were useless, should be improved for the purpose of the culture of hemp, and that the owners of the lands mould contribute a sum in proportion to the degree of advantage which they might derive from this improvement, in order to diminish the oppressive burden of the poor's rates. Thus, a considerable sum, which, in one year, he stated to amount to not less than a million and a halri sent abroad for the purchase of hemp, would be saved to the country, the manufactures would be benefited, and the country in part relieved from a most enormous imposition. He concluded with moving, " That a Committee be ap"pointed to enquire into the state of the culture of hemp "in this country." Mr. Wil- Mr. Wilberftrce observed, that he felt it necessary to remind kersorce. the House that they would soon have an opportunity of taking into consideration the whole merits of the most important question concerning the slave trade. In order to form a just and correct judgement upon it, it would prove requisite not only for every Member of the House to peruse the evidence which had been taken in the Select Committee up stairs, but also to read the evidence given before the Privy Council. As the whole of this evidence was extremely voluminous, it would require great attention, before gentlemen could draw the just conclusions. Mr. Wilberforce added, that he meant at once to move for the entire and total abolition of the Have trade, without any other propositions or resolutions on the subject.

Lori

Lord Carhampton deemed it highly expedient that the Lord CarHc se mould be made acquainted with what had recently hampton. happened in the island of Dominica. He believed it was geani'r known that violent commotions and insurrections had 'ami taken place in that island. But he could not ascertain rderher the cause of these commotions was as generally understood. The slaves had conceived an idea, which had been i/icolcated into them, that the Governor had a power given him by the Parliament of Great Britain; and a power his Lordship did not know how to express, without offence, thocgh he was far from meaning any, that the Governor had the authority of the British Parliament, and of " Massa King Wilberforce," for a regulation, by which they should not be obliged to work more than three days a week, and be paid two shillings a day, and the other three days of the week were to be holidays of course. Their design, when they mde the late insurrection, had been to cut the throats of all the white inhabitants at a given hour at supper, and to possess themselves of the island. It was very true that this commotion had been quelled by the exertions of the Governor 33d the inhabitants. It was prevented by the 15th and 30th regiments, which happened to be on the island. One of the foWiers was taken prisoner by the negroes, and cut into pound pieces while alive. The soldiers at last got the better, / ind killed several of them. The ringleaders, it must be admitted, were taken to prison, examined, tried, and, he beloved, had now paid the forfeit of their lives. It was proper i should be known that this was one of the effects of the honourable gentleman's ill-understood philanthropy; nor, for aii own part, would it excite his astonishment, were we to We all our West-India islands, as a consequence of prohibitthe importation of slaves from Africa to the West Indies.

Mr. Wilberforce observed, that no person could rejoice Mr. more than himself to hear of the suppression of that insurrec- Wilberrion which had been mentioned by the noble Lord, as well as f°rceof another insurrection which had taken place long before he had brought forward the business to the view of the Public. He was convinced that the measures which were about to be adopted on the subject, instead of raising insurrections, would '*nd to quell them; and he had always done every thing in his power to prevent any circumstance of this kind, by clearly distinguishing, what had often been confounded, the abolition of the slave trade on the coast of Africa, and the emancipation of those slaves who were already in the West Indies.

Mr. Chancellor Pitt begged leave to move for a Select Mr. Pitt. Committee, to enquire into the slate of the public income ard expenditure. As the words of the motion would fuffi

Vot. XXIX. K ciently

ciently explain the nature of it, he need only propose, tli this Committee be appointed by ballot, in the fame man n as other Committees of the fame nature had been appoint:on former occasions.

The Speaker then read the words of the motion, the f\z stance of which was, that the several public accounts, an other papers presented to that House, during the present fe: iion of Parliament, be referred to the consideration of a SeleCommittee ; that they fliould consider and report the amou 1 of the public income and expenditure during the last fiv years; and that the said Committee be also directed to en quire what the public revenue and expenditure might be e:x pected to be in future, and what alteration had taken pla.<= in the amount of the national debt since the cih of lanuarv 1786. J Fox. Mr. Fox rose next, and having premised that endeavou r had been made by many to persuade this country that, dur ing the last five years, the national debt had been consideraKI diminisiied, added, that lie did uot pretend himself, from an\ investigation of his own, to be able to decide or to speak, with certainty, on the subject. He had no opportunity o) knowing whether the assertions were true or false. He had, however, taken more opportunities of examining into the state of the public revenue and expenditure, between Jan. 1, 1786, and Jan. 1, 1789, and he felt no difficulty in faying, that he was perfectly convinced that the assertions made in another place, and particularly by a most respectable and noble friend of his, were perfectly correct, that from Jan. 1, 1786, to Jan. 1, 1789, the public expenditure did exceed not only the regular income, but all income in every shape. All accounts of that fort were naturally involved in some intricacy, and it was an exceedingly good measure that a Committee fliould be appointed to examine them. But it was very material for that House to consider what sort of a Committee should be appointed for that purpose, and how it fliould beappointed. He remembered a Committee of a similar nature, formerly appointed by the right honourable gentleman, which gave much offence. He did not mean to find fault with the individuals who had composed that Committee, nor did he mean any disrespect to any one os them. But the names whicli composed that Committee gave every impartial man a degree of dissatisfaction. When a Minister pretended to wifli for a Committee to be appointed to give a fair, full, and correct account of the public finances, that Committee ought not to consist, as the former did, of a number of the Minister's friends, and of persons notoriously his warmest partizans, headed by one of his colleagues: it beiri£ naturally so much in the power of a Committee, in

stating

feting subjects of such great intricacy, magnitude, and extcj. to make a favourable or unfavourable report, just as tbsjdiought proper. Mr. F ox declared that he would pres;r my other mode of electing a Committee to that of an fiction by ballot. If the Committee were to be appointed openly in the House, he should then have an opportunity of tiling the sense of the House on each of the names which r. ght be proposed. No man would deny, that among those *ho sat on the side of the House on which he sat, and who professed themselves to be no friends to the right honourable gentleman's administration, there were several who were men of business, and men every way adequate to the investigation of a subject of that nature. If the right honourable gentleman were to vote names openly in the House, Mr. Fox said, it would be competent for him also to propose some names to the House, which if the right honourable gentleman did not Eke, he could also take the sense of the House upon them. Bat is the Committee was appointed by ballot, this could net be done. The last Committee-, however respectable they were individually, were no sooner appointed, than every impartial man had expressed his dissatisfaction. He did not oppose the very proper appointment of a Select Committee, tat his sole objection was, to its being appointed by ballot.

Mr. Chancellor Pitt thought that, on the presenr occa-Mr. Pitt, ion, it would be sufficient to state, that the interesting objects of inquiry to the country were, what had been really situation of the finances from the time of the institution of the plan for the reduction of the national debt, up to the present period? In the next place, what was the prospect in future with regard to the public income and the public expenditure ? What proportion were they likely to bear to each other? These were interesting objects, and they *we the objects which he wished the Cc. imittee fully to investigate. He wished that a strict and impartial inquiry night be made into the subject, not for three, but for the ipaceof five years. If they had confined their inquiries to three years, it might have been made as well two years ago "< at present. He was anxious that it might be understood, that there was no one period which he did not wish to have K fully enquired into as any gentleman could wish, Being irmly persuaded, that whenever the inquiry was made, and the matter rightly understood, it would be found, that during the three years between Jan. t, 1786, and Jan. 1, 1789, t'.ie public revenue of this country had exceeded the expenditure. As to the mode of appointing the Committee, he id not think it liable to the imputation which had been cast upon it by the right honourable gentleman, nor could he fee '•ny reason to imagine that they could not have a Committee

K 2 fairly

« PreviousContinue »