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the house; and he relies on the wisdom and liberality of his faithful commons, that they will enable his majesty to make good his engagements with an ally of such approved firmness and fidelity."
His majesty's message was ordered to be taken into consideration on Monday, on the motion of lord Hawkesbury, who stated that copies of the treaty would probably be delivered to their lordships before they separated. The earl of Lauderdale asked if there was any article in the treaty, for imposing duties similar to those in the bill for carrying into effect the orders of council? Lord Hawkesbury answered in the negative.
[EXPORTS.] Lord Auckland held in his hand, and perused with satisfaction, a paper lately laid before their lordships, of the amount of the exports from this country; which almost reached the sum of 40 millions. He had already observed to their lordships what a very large proportion of those exports were taken by America; and hence he had urged how ruinous to our commerce the operation of the Orders in Council must prove, especially if carried to their utmost extent against the trade of the United States. It would be found, that between the account now in his hand, and a similar one presented last year, there was a difference of between three and four millions, but of this falling off he was not disposed to complain; but at the same time, he must advise their lordships to prepare their minds for a very different statement next year, should the measure of the Orders in Council be unfortunately persisted in to their present extent. The noble lord further observed that, in order more precisely to ascertain the difference between the two years in the different branches of our manufactures, he should now move, That there be laid before the house an account of the amount of the value of the Exports for the last three months, ending the 5th of Jan. 1808."
The Earl of Westmoreland would not object to the motion of the noble lord; but he could not help remarking the difference of tone which the noble lord assumed on the same subject this year, from what he had assumed in the preceding year. Last year his observations were accompanied with a warm panegyric on the late administration. This year there was no panegyric on his majesty's present ministers.
Lord Auckland said it was too much for
the noble earl to expect a panegyric on the present occasion, unless he should praise ministers for the diminution in the exports of the country to the amount of nearly four millions. He had indeed adverted to that falling off; but he had said, he did not complain of it. To panegyrise ministers must surely have savoured of irony.
Lord Stanhope advised ministers not to provoke comparisons between their own conduct and that of their predecessors. In the conduct of the latter there was every thing good, in that of the former nothing but mischief.-The question was then put and agreed to.
[OFFICES IN REVERSION BILL.J-On the order of the day being read for the house resolving itself into a committee on this bill,
Lord Arden rose to oppose the measure altogether. Nothing had occurred to his mind since the question was last agitated to induce him to depart from the opinion he had then expressed; he should, therefore, still persist in considering the bill as an infringement of the prerogative of the crown; and, in the manner in which it was brought before their lordships, he might also fairly contend that it was an encroachment on the privileges of their lordships' house. He could not but express his apprehension of what might be the consequences of their lordships' acquiescing in the measure. He would, however, refer them to the measures that were witnessed in this country in the year 1641, and to the consequences with which they had been attended. They afforded so strong a lesson to him on the present occasion, that he must give his decided negative to the bill going into a committee, as he completely despaired that it would be possible, by any amendment, to free it from the objections to which he thought it liable. He should therefore move, that the order be discharged.
Lord Boringdon was at a loss how the bill could be viewed in the light in which the noble lord seemed to consider it. It was not in the contemplation of the bill to infringe the prerogative of the crown. Its object merely was to suspend the granting of places in reversion for a time to be limited; such at least he understood would be one of the amendments proposed in the committee? and on the ground of that intended amendment it was that he should vote that the bill be committed. That suspension of the exercise of the prerogative he could not view as an infringement
of it; nor could it be fairly supposed that the measure was unacceptable to the crown. It must be remembered by all their lordships, that in the last session of parliament it was recommended by his majesty, in the speech delivered by the commissioners, that both houses of parliament should pay an early attention to the best means of introducing economy into the public expenditure. The recommendation proceeded, no doubt, from the address of the house of commons to his majesty, praying that his majesty would not in future grant any places in reversion. Here then it appeared that the measure, as proposed by the other house, was a part of a system of economy which the present situation of the country seemed justly to call for; and that, as such, it was recommended from the throne. How then could noble lords object to the bill in toto, as an infringement on the prerogative? If it was intended to make it a permanent legislative measure, he should object to it also; and look upon it be, in some measure, an encroachment on the usage of the prerogative. But the reason, as he already stated, for the bill going into a committee, was, that in the committee he expected its duration would be limited. He did not expect any great saving would be made by it to the public; nor would he allow it to be a permanent legislative measure; but he was anxious it should be fairly entertained out of respect to the opinion of the other house, and to the recommendation that opinion had received from the throne. He did not conceive that any inconsistency would be imputed to him on account of any difference in the opinion he had expressed of this measure, when it had in a former session been before the house. His opinion was then, as it was now, guided by the same principle and the same spirit; and under that impression, he should vote for committing the bill.
Lord Redesdale argued, with great warmth, against the bill. It was not only an infringement of the prerogative, but an encroachment on the privileges of that house. The increasing influence of the crown was a topic which, in all times, it had been fashionable to dwell upon. Since Mr. Burke's famous bill, he would, however, contend that the influence of the crown had been diminished rather than increased. Since that period, the commercial wealth of the country had very considerably augmented; and, with it, the price of land had also risen. So that,
upon due consideration, it would appear that the influence of the other orders of the community had increased, while that of the crown remained stationary, or, in comparison, seemed to decrease. The form and manner in which the bill was brought in, had also much in it to alarm their lordships: it appeared to him in the shape of a threat, or as the commencement of measures the consequence of which we might too late deplore. He agreed with his noble friend (lord Arden) in representing it as one that might remind their lordships of the year 1641, and of the calamities that ensued. He could see nothing to fear in the influence of the crown; it was no more than it ought to be for the maintenance of its own dignity, and for the security of the privileges of that house, with which the security and authority of the throne were so nearly connected. As in other things, the terrors of the influence of the crown continued after the cause of these terrors had long ceased. There was nothing now in that influence justly to alarm the country. It was fully counterbalanced by the growing influence of the other estates.
But we were told it was not the intention of the measure to go any further than to a temporary suspension of the prerogative. Whether the bill was for one, or two years, or four years, was just the same to him. It was the principle, not the duration of the measure, he objected to; in the principle was the mischief of it, and he would oppose it in the very beginning. It was the beginning of every evil that ought to be resisted, because resistance might afterwards be fruitless. Let their lordships look to the beginning of the French revolution. Let them consider what irreparable mischief followed the advice of M. Neckar to increase the number, and consequently the weight of the tiers etat. The tiers etat prevailed; the nobility were soon proscribed, despoiled of their possessions, and driven into beggary and exile; and what was the pretext and cause of that violent change? The reform of abuses; the adoption of an economical system. If their lordships were therefore wise, they would meet this first attempt of a similar nature, and not yield to it. For his part, here he should make his stand. The other house might propose such measures of reform and economy, but he was determined not to submit.
The Lord Chancellor left the woolsack merely to observe, that he had delivered
the offices granted in reversion ought to be regulated or abolished. Their lordships had an important public duty to perform; they ought not to be swayed by influence on the one hand, or by clamour on the other; but do steadily that which seemed the best mode of removing any grievance, or carrying into effect any proper plan of public economy. He could not see any danger in agreeing to this bill; if any other measures should be proposed which were inexpedient or improper, as his noble and learned friend seemed to apprehend, it would be competent for their lordships to reject them.
his sentiments fully on a preceding day; | considered in the interim, whether any of that he continued in the same persuasion; and that this bill should not, with his individual concurrence, go into a committee. Lord Holland urged the expediency of agreeing to the bill, and defended the conduct of the house of commons, which he conceived to be perfectly constitutional, the amount of it merely being an address to his majesty not to grant any offices in reversion until six weeks after the commencement of this session of parliament. He differed with the noble and learned lord as to the causes of the evils which followed the transactions of 1641; he thought they were rather produced by high prerogative lawyers stretching the prerogative too far. As to the fears of what had been once formidable remaining when the danger had ceased, it might be to that sentiment that we might attribute the terrors some people even now had of the pope, and their fears for the return of queen Mary. He intreated their lordships not to reject the bill; but, on the contrary, by agreeing to it, to shew their disposition to concur in measures of public economy.
The Earl of Carlisle objected to the bill, on the ground that no necessity for it had been proved; there was nothing but the mere statement in the preamble that it was expedient, but why it was expedient was not shewn; and that, in his opinion, was not a sufficicient ground for calling upon the king to give up a long-used prerogative. He thought the bill ought to be discussed there on its own merits, without mixing with it any question about the conduct of the house of commons.
The Earl of Moira also objected to the bill, on a similar ground. He did not think the bill at all a measure of public economy; or that it had any greater connection with public economy than with the Greenland whale-fishery. The prerogatives of the crown must be always considered to exist for the benefit of the people; but in this case there was, in his opinion, no object of public benefit to be attained. Under the circumstances, however, in which this bill came to the house, he intended, if the order was discharged, to move that a message be sent to the house of commons, requesting a conference, in order that they might state their reasons for passing the bill.
Lord Harrowby strongly urged the expediency of agreeing to the bill, with the limitation intended to be proposed by his noble friend, in order that it might be
Earl Grey. My lords; the noble lord. who has just sat down, has delivered observations so marked by political prudence, that I should have felt it unnecessary to have troubled your lordships, were I not unwilling to give a silent vote on a question of such vital importance at the present moment. I have heard fall from a noble and learned lord (Redesdale) such strange inferences, that I really feel at a loss in what manner to account for them, unless by supposing him to be influenced, on this occasion, by as strong a political bigotry, as recently he was by a religious bigotry, so violent as not to have permitted his majesty's ministers to venture his return to Ireland. That learned lord has declared his decided hostility to this measure, principally upon three grounds; first, that its advocates have afforded to this house no proofs of its expediency; next, that it is a direct invasion of the royal prerogative; and finally, that it is objectionable, from the manner in which, he asserts, the other house of parliament has attempted to force it upon the consideration of your lordships. My lords, in the first place, its expediency has appeared manifest to those who, by the vote of the other house, a vote recommended by the Speech from the throne, had, in consequence of very accurate investigation and very mature inquiry, found that, in order to effect all the objects of a salutary and practicable economy, an end ought to be put to the granting of offices in reversion. It was found, that whilst such grants continued to be made by the crown, it was impossible either to abolish or regulate those offices, which, from a change in circumstances, had considerably varied in the nature of their importance, and the extent of their duties, from the period when they were originally bestowed. Did
of honour? Has it not the sole power of the appointment to great offices? What else, then, does this bill effect, but to reduce those places and offices to the standard by which at their original formation they were regulated? What change does it introduce, what inroad does it make, but in lopping off those enormous profits, which never were in the contemplation of the grant, even when serious and active services were to be performed? But, says the noble and learned lord, I cannot reconcile myself to support the principle of this measure, because in its operation, or in being made the precedent for succeeding innovations, it might possibly or probably be attended with most mischievous and dangerous consequences. Really, my lords, it is impossible to answer this argument, but by others which have heretofore on many occasions been introduced into discussion. If, indeed, such an objection was to succeed, if the spirit of improvement was to evaporate from the influence of possible dangers and probable apprehensions, if errors were not to be corrected or evils remedied from an overweening dread of innovation, then this country would have to lament the want of all those great and glorious privileges and securities which constitute, so deservedly, our national boast and our most essential safeguard. For what was Magna Charta but an innovation? What else was the Right of Petition? What else the Revolution, that glorious epoch, when this country obtained a recognition of its liberties? Indeed, I would ask the venerable bench of bishops, whom, on this oc
the noble and learned lord not know, that self a sincere friend, and therefore it is there were offices now enjoyed by persons, that I anxiously call upon the house to under such grants, wherein, from a variety put an end to a system, above all others of causes, such a considerable advance in calculated to strip the crown of those the salary and profits had taken place, as rights which are so necessary to its honever could have been in the contempla-nour and security. Let me ask, in what tion of the crown when it bestowed them, manner this bill operates against that preor in the view of the public when it as-rogative? Is not the crown the fountain sented to that prerogative, in virtue of which the power of conferring them was exercised. Indeed, in the case of the noble lord who has thought proper to move the amendment of this night, I find the strongest illustration of this proposition. And here, my lords, give me leave to assure you, that in adverting to this fact, I am as sincerely impressed as any man who hears me with the valid and just title of the noble lord (Arden) to the benefits of the situation which he holds under this species of grant. Neither can I be supposed to attribute to him any other motive for the line of conduct he has adopted on this occasion, than the conviction that he entertains of the injustice and impropriety of infringing on the prerogative; a consequence which he, in my opinion, has so delusively attached to this measure. But, is there a man who hears me who is not fully convinced that the salary of the reversionary office which he holds, has, by the operation of unexpected and recent causes, totally changed its original extent, and advanced in profit far beyond any estimate that ever was entertained either by the person who granted or him who received the office originally? If I am not much misinformed, that place has advanced in income, from comparatively a very trifling amount, to the enormous sum of 20,000l. per annum. Can the noble and learned lord still complain of the want of proofs, in order to establish the expediency of this prohibition? or can the house believe that this is a solitary case, or one not sufficiently strong to induce your lordships to interpose a legislative correction against the continuance of such a dan-casion particularly, I see in such formidagerous system? Every inquiry that is ble numbers arrayed against me, whether, made will more fully prove the variety of if this dislike to innovation, this hostility similar cases which exist, and in what a to improvement, had existed some centupowerful manner they operate as impedi-ries past, this country would have partiments to the necessary and expected reform of the public offices, and consequently to the alleviation of the public pressure.-We next proceed to the objection arising from the infringement this measure is supposed to make on the prerogative of the To the constitutional prerogative of the executive authority I profess my
cipated in the enlightened wisdom and numerous benefits of the Reformation; or whether they themselves would have ever had a seat within these walls, with power to decide on this measure of reform, which they are now perhaps prepared to oppose? The noble and learned lord, in his recital of the evil effects which might probably
its operation, must tend to alleviate the pressure of the severe, though unavoidable, burdens under which they labour.
Lord Hawkesbury anxiously wished that the bill should go into a committee. He agreed entirely in the sentiments expressed by the noble lord who spoke last but one, and thought that it was no improper interference with the prerogative, for either branch of the legislature to give the advice that appeared to them to be good for the exercise of the prerogative in the manner the most advantageous to the people. It might perhaps have been as well if the bill had been merely for the suspension of the exercise of this branch of the royal prerogative for a time to be limited, but he was bound to vote for the bill going into a committee.
Lord Auckland said, that in the whole course of his political life, he had constantly opposed every innovation, which could not be clearly proved to be necessary. The preamble of this bill stated that the measure was expedient; but the house was not informed why it was expedient. If the house of commons were to send up a bill, Whereas it is expedient that tithes be abolished,' without pointing out why it was expedient, he certainly should not consider himself at liberty to vote for
ensue from the adoption of this bill, or from any curtailment of the royal prerogative, has alluded to the history of this country in the year 1641, and to the French Revolution. In reviewing the dreadful occurrences of those unhappy times, and particularly in the period of our own history, we are induced to overlook the errors of that unfortunate monarch, Charles I. in the tragic catastrophe which befel him. But were the calamities of that reign to be attributed to any concessions to the claims of the people? Unhappily, the melancholy fate of that prince can be traced, to the obstinacy with which every improvement was opposed, to the unbending disinclination to conform to the spirit of the times, and to the progress of mental advancement. And let it not be forgotten, that when forced into a momentary acquiescence to the desire of the nation, the first opportunity was seized to add perfidy to refusal. And, my lords, with respect to the French Revolution, where can we find a more signal and melancholy exemplification of the danger of not yielding to those plans of salutary and wholesome correction which the defects of all human institutions render absolutely necessary? And here I call upon those who are so particularly attached to the court, I call upon those illustrious and royal personages opposite to me [the dukes of Lord Hood strongly objected to the bill, York, Cumberland, and Cambridge] who upon the grounds of its inutility. No case are so active in their opposition to this of necessity, in his mind, had been made measure, to reflect upon the fallen and out to induce the house to adopt such a prostrate state of the legitimate sovereigns measure, and the length of time which the of Europe, to consider the lamentable former bill had been before the house was change which has befallen some of the a convincing argument against passing the most illustrious families on that continent-present one, the former having lain upon some expelled from the thrones of their forefathers, or degraded into the lowest vassalage to the great and inordinate power of France. Be assured, that much as the unrivalled conqueror of the European continent owes to his own extensive talents for success, much as he is indebted to the undisputed sagacity of his plans, and to the rapidity and discipline of his armies, for his gigantic elevation, he has had great and powerful auxiliaries in the selfishness, the sordid views, the illiberal jealousies, of the dynasties he has subverted; in the apathy and torpor of the oppressed and despised population over whom he has triumphed. Convinced as I am of these truths, I conjure this house to hesitate before it commits itself with the country, by the rejection of a measure which the people expect, and which, in
the table until it was almost suffocated by the papers which overwhelmed it, until it was rescued from obscurity by a noble duke; then not in his place (the duke of Norfolk).
The Earl of Lauderdale vindicated the late government from the charge of apathy and indifference towards the fate of the Reversion-bill of last year. He himself had, upon the 18th of June, moved the second reading. He and his noble friends, however, had every reason to expect that this measure would have been patronized by the present government, who had put into the king's Speech, upon two occasions, an exhortation to the parliament in favour of public economy. The noble lords, therefore, on his side of the house, might not think it their duty to anticipate the avowed intention of ministers, unless