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of re-committing the biU, and moved a question upon
No material debate occurred.
Friday, 2$tb March.
A petition of John Sirer was presented to the House, an< read; setting forth, that the petitioner is now in the custod of the Serjeant at Arms, for non-attendance on the Commit tee appointed to try the merits of the Exeter election; anc that the petitioner is most sincerely sorry for his misconduct in presuming to disobey the order of the said Committee. w»hich arose from ignorance, and not from disrespect; and that the petitioner is deeply sensible of his crime, and entreats the House, that he may be discharged out of custody.
That the said John Siret be immediately brought to the bar of this House, in order to his being discharged.
John Siret was accordingly brought to the bar; where he received a reprimand from Mr. Speaker, and was ordered to be discharged out of custody, pay ing his fees. Mr.Giey Mr. Grey begged leave to solicit the future attention of the House to a bill which he designed to introduce, for the purpose of making some alteration in the mode of determining on the merits of election petitions. Frivolous and vexatious he considered as terms of too harm, a construction, and such as might riot always be applicable, even when it was found necessary that the plea of the petition stioukl not be sustained. He mentioned the case of a Committee in which he had lately been engaged; and in which, though they had decided that the petition was not supprrted by evidence, they were unwilling to determine upon it as frivolous and vexatious. He did not mean that the party, whose petition was so decided on, should be excused from paying costs; but only that some different mode of determining should be substituted, as he considered the present as imputing intentions which might not be entertained, and even estaMilhing a fort of criminality. At any rate, if the terms were liable to such construction, it was proper that they should be corrected.
In consequence of this intimation, a conversation took place, in which Mr, Wyndham, Mr. Stanley, Mr. Baker, Sir William Scott, and Colonel Phipps, were speakers, and in which different opinions were given of the propriety and usefulness of the object of the intended bill.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt apptehended that, on a subject of Mr. Pitt, foch importance, it would be more proper to postpone any iiate until a regular motion stiould come befere the Me.
Sir Benjamin Hammet rising next, observed, that he had Sir Btnj. in his hand a petition against the bill for appropriating the Hammer, sum of rive hundred thousand pounds of uncla med dividtnds, he. signed by a most respectable body of siockholdei s; names ubich would be allowed to carry with them the greatest weight and importance. He had suggested his proposal to tleBank, of lending 50x3,000!. without interest, as long as the (ame should be unclaimed. There had, in consequence, ■•etna meeting os the Directors on the precedirg day, and a m«ti.,gof Proprietors was to take place upon the eniuing Tuesday.
The petition was brought up and read, as follows:
"To the Honourable the Commons of Great Britain, in
,; The humble Petition of the Subscribers who are Proprietors
* That your petitioners are deeply interested in the public fundscfGreat Britain.
w Thar your petitioners have invested their property in t'riose funds, with the most perfect reliance on the faith and njfiice of Parliament, and in full confidence and persuasion 'Hit the Legiflature of Great Britain would never, without lie consent of the Proprietor?, make any essential alteration, Bihtrin respect to their securities, which consist principally w funds specifically appropriated to the payment of their annuities, or in respect to the mode of their payment, exprestly simulated and delineated in the several statutes that fix the twtlitions of the public loans.
"That your petitioners have seen, with equal concern "xi astonishment, a bill brought into Parliament by the right honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the avowed Rectos which is to take back five hundred thousand pounds, Parr of the sums that have been issued by the Exchequer to 'he Governor and Company of the Bank of England, in purWee of many acts of Parliament; and particularly of the Consolidated Act, passed in the 28th year of his present Ma$7. being part of the funds appropriated by law to the P'yment of the public creditors, and expressly declared not tobedivertible to any other use or purpose whatever.
"That the principle of the said bill appears to your peti^BeTj to Have a direct tendency to destroy that confidence nion that the charter ought never to he. renewed, expreiZe his approbation of the motions which had been made.
General General Smith mentioned some obstacles, which, in Yi'.
Smith, opinion, were likely to arise against the prosecu.tion of th present war in India. Mr. Pitt. Mr. Chancellor Pitt answered, that the faith os the natioi was pledged to make provision for any engagements whic! had been entered into by Parliament, or through the mcdiur of the East-India Company. Mr. Mr. Maitland remarked, that during the discussion on th • Msitland. war jn India, it had been stated as of the utmost importanc to our possessions in that country, to give protection and iia hi 1 ity to the Company in the present state of their affairs With this view, the right honourable gentleman had pro fessed to come forward with certain resolutions. Now, a motion was made, giving notice of the expiration of the Company's charter, "without any provision being employed tc prevent its necessary effects. If the motion was merely ir compliance with the act, the Minister ought to have declared that he made it in his official capacity, without any intention that it should take effect to the prejudice of the Company's affairs. Or it ought to have been stated, that at the expiration of the present system of Government, another equally effectual and coercive would be adopted. But at present, the effect of the motion was to intimate to the inhabitants of that country, that the present system of that 'Government, with which they entered into connection, and formed engagements, would shortly expire, while it left them entirely in the dark what Government would succeed, or whether any provision at all would be made to supply its place. '1 he consequences of this uncertainty would not fail to communicate the most alarming apprehensions, and violently affect the present situation of the Company's affairs. He thought, therefore, that it was iiKumbent on the Minister to have been more explicit, and uot have continued satisfied to deal in guarded intimations, instead of proceeding to positive ascertainments.
Mr. Rose having brought up the report, concerning the Bank Dividend bill, Mr. Mr. Chiswtll rose, and observed, that his chief motive for
Chiswell. begging leave to trespass upon the patience of the House, was grounded upon the recollection of what had fallen from the right honourable gentleman, in the intimation which he had that day given of a message which might l>e expected on Monday, the na'ure of which, he thought, should induce the right honourable gentleman and the House to be very cautious in any proceeding that affected public credit, or
ewai thit affected the Bank and the stockholders; for it night happen that a future loan woald be required, and certsrlr, any thing that had a tendency to weaken the security cfifc public creditor, could not prove a favourable circumface upan such an occalion. Mr. Chiswell next reverted to the measure which bail been adopted when the term of payaeatofthe long annuities had been altered in 1786. It had rhjn ken thought necessary to allow a certain time for those who might not like the nature of the bill to express their dÆnt, and then continue to be paid as formerly. This he recommended in the present instance, if the bill was not to be given up ; a circumstance that would please him and many asre.much better than any possible amendment which could fe made to it. However, as he feared that this would not ^ done, he intended to offer a clause which he trusted the Hoose would accept and make part of the bill. The clause *ng moved and read, it appeared that the purport of it »cnt to enact, that a book should be opened and kept for six "<mths at the Bank, that those proprietors of unclaimed dividends, and other stockholders in the different public funds, -no difltnted from the proposal made in the bill to change taeir security, might have an opportunity of stating and sign'•agsuch dissent in that book, and thus escape from being in wnianneT affected by the bill.
Mr. Stecle remarked, that gentlemen who spoke on the 'Aerside, seemed to rest their arguments upon a necessity J!«h they conceived there was for having the particular '-ia'.ent of every individual proprietor of unclaimed divi^ods, and every proprietor in the public funds; but he ne'er would allow that any such consent was necessary, or tat, though one or more proprietors or stockholders mould poutively dissent, there was any reason for giving up the Wl; aed therefore, adopting a clause so contradictory to the 6 ■« parts of it, was nothing else than giving it up. With ^rd to obtaining consent, that clause in the bill which P7' the public creditor three months, after his dividend was -*i for considering whether he would withdraw his money, "■»l]ow the security to be transferred from the Bank to Go'frnment, was perfectly sufficient for every reasonable pur'&\ because, doubtless, if a man allowed his dividends to ^in three months after he knew that it was due, and by ''^operation of this bill, certainly, as he had the power of *'Mrawing it, which he had not done, it might be inferred, TMthe was, to all intents and purposes, satisfied with the ,r>wfei, and virtually gave his consent to take public secu"!r> instead of the Bank, thinking the one at least as good
Vol. XXIX. C Mr.
Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox observed, that he felt ample reason to apprcW • of the clause which had been brought up; and as he had a
along wished that the bill might have all success, he fhoul feel a greater pleasure if the clause were adopted. He no adverted to what the honourable gentleman who spoke la had said concerning the consent which had been, or could bi obtained to this measure; and this was a consent by infereno or rather a supposed consent. He allowed that there migl be a consent by inference, or a virtual consent, such as th; given to taxation, which the people gave virtually, becaul they, the House of Commons, whom the people had chose as their representatives, had agreed to it; but this was ver different, indeed, from the consent which the honourahl gentleman had talked of; all that was asked by the honour able Member who moved the clause, was, that persons wh were interested might have an opportunity of giving thei distent; which was certainly fair. He had, on a former oc casion, contended, and still should he persist in contending that not only the present proprietors of unclaimed dividends but all stockholders, must give their consent, before it was: proper consent; because all stockholder? may, at some futur period, have unclaimed dividends. Many respectable pro prietors had already given their dissent, as appeared by th petition from the Bank Proprietors, and that now upon th< table, signed by such men as, in point of wealth, gave i more weight than, perhaps, any petition which had eve been presented in any part of the world. He in general wa none of those who argued that the importance of, or pro priety of consideration concerning a measure, depended upor th;: rank or wealth of those interested in it; but surely, on; subject which was so materially connected with the property of the country, and the security of the public creditor, hi must contend that very great attention and respect was du< to the nVnes, characters, and situations of such men as tin petitioners. As to the Bank of England, on all emergencie the nation and they had acted together for a long time back and he was sorry that he was led to remark, upon the present occasion, that this was the first time, since the accession o the Brunswick Family to the throne, that the Bank of Eng land had sound it necessary to make any application to Par liament against a measure, which, as far as the national fait! and public credit were concerned, was, in the opinion no' only of the petitioners, but of all the men of monitd interel within the kingdom, so pregnant with the most alarmini danger. As to the virtual consent mentioned by the ho nmuable gentleman, it seemed to be founded on the dislen whish had been given, and would still be given, if time wen