« ZurückWeiter »
which we hold and exercise in trust for the That his faithful commöns most humbly recommons of Groat Britain, and for their be- commend, instead of the inconsiderate specunefit) shall be constructively surrendered, or lations of unexperienced men, that on all even weakened and impaired under ambiguous occasions, resort should be had to the happy phrases, and implications of censure on the practice of parliament, and to those solid late parliamentary proceedings. If these claims maxims of government which have prevailed are not well founded, they ought to be honestly since the accession of his majesty's illustrious abandoned; if they are just, they ought to be family, as furnishing the only safe principles on steadily and resolutely maintained.
which the crown and parliament can proceed of his majesty's own gracious disposition We think it the more necessary to be cautowards the true principles of our free consti- tious on this head, as, in the last parliament, lution, his faithful commons never did, or could the present ministers had thought proper to ontertain a doubt: but we humbly beg leave to countenance, if nct to suggest, an attack upon express to his majesty our uneasiness concer- the most clear and undoubted rights and privining other new and unusual expressions of his leges of this house.* ministers, declaratory of a resolution “to support in their just balance, the rights and privi- the matter fully and fairly discussed, and the leges of every branch of the legislature." subject brought forward and argued upon preIt were desirable that all hazardous theo
cedent, as well as all its collateral relations.
I should be pleased to see the question fairly ries concerning a balance of rights and privi- committed, were it for no other reason, but to leges (a mode of expression wholly foreign to hear the sleek smooth contractors from the other parliamentary usage) might have been for- house, come to this bar and declare, that they, borne. His majesty's faithful commons are
and they only, could frame a money bill; and well instructed in their own rights and privi- perty of the peers of Great Britain. Perhaps
they, and they only, could dispose of the pro. leges, which they are determined to maintain some arguments more plausible than those I on the footing upon which they were handed heard this day from the woodsack, to shew that down from their ancestors: they are not un
the commons have an uncontroulable, unquali
fied right, to bind your lordships' property, may acquainted with the rights and privileges of be urged by them. At present, I beg leave to the house of peers; and they know and re- differ from the noble and learned lord ; for until spect the lawful prerogatives of the crown: but
the claim, after a solemn discussion of the house, they do not think it safe to admit any thing tinue to be or opinion, that your lordships
is openly and directly relinquished, I shall con. concerning the existence of a balance of those
have a right to alier, amend, or reject a money rights, privileges, and prerogatives; nor are bill." they able to discern to what objects ministers
The Duke of Richmond also, in his letter to
the volunteers of Ireland, speaks of several of would apply their fiction of balance; nor what
the powers exercised by the house of commons, they would consider as a just one. These in the light or usurpations; and his grace is of unauthorized doctrines have a tendency to opinion, that when the people are restored to stir improper discussions; and to lead to mis
what he conceives to be their rights, in electing
the house of commons, the other branches of chievous innovations in the constitution.*
the legislature ought to be restored to theirs.
Vide Remembrancer, vol. xvi. * If these speculations are let loose, the house * By an act of parliament, the directors of the of lords may quarrel with their share of the le. East India company are restrained from accep. gislature, as being limited with regard to the tance of bills drawn from India, beyond a certain origination of grants to the crown and the origi. amount, without the consent of the commis. nation of money bills. The advisers the sioners of the treasury. The late house of com. crown may think proper to bring its negative mons finding billsio an immense amount, drawi. into ordinary use; and even to dispute, whether upon that body by their servants abroad, and a mere negative, compared with the delibera. knowing their circumstances to be exceedingly live power, exercised in the other houses, be doubtful, came to a resolution providently cau. such a share in the legislature, as to produce a tioning the lords of the treasury against the 3c. Jue balance in favour of that branch; and thus ceptance of these bills, unul ihe house should justify the previous interference of the crown, otherwise direct. The court !ords then took in the manner lately used. The following will occasion to declare against the resolution as serve to shew how much foundation there is for illegal, by the commons undertaking to direct great caution, concerning these novel specula. in the execution of a trust created by act of par. tions. Lord Shelburne, in his celebrated speech, liament. The house justly alarmed at this re April Sth, 1778, expresses himself as follows: solution, which went to the destruction of the Vide Parliamentary Register, vol. x.
whole of its superintending capacity, and pare “ The noble and learned lord on the wool. ticularly in mallers relative to 1:3 (ww1 province sack, in the debate which opened the business of money, directed a committee to search the of this day, asserted that your lordships were journals, and they found a regular series of incompetent to make any alteration in a money precedents, commencing from the remotest of bill, or a bill of supply. I should bo glad to see ihose records, and carried on to that day, by and the whole can end in nothing else than the We humbly conceive, that besides its share destruction of the dearest rights and liberties of the legislative power, and its right of im- of the nation. If there must be another mode peachment, that by the law and usage of par- of conveying the collective sense of the people liament, this house has other powers and to the throne than that by the house of comcapacities, which it is bound to maintain. mons, it ought to be fixed and defined, and its This house is assured, that our humble advice authority ought to be settled : ought not in the exercise of prerogative will be heard to exist in so precarious and dependent a with the same attention with which it has cver state as that ministers should have it in been regarded ; and that it will be followed their power, at their own mere pleasure, to
Fearing, from these extcaordinary admoni- by the same effects which it has ever pro tions, and from the new doctrines, which seem duced, during the happy and glorious reigns to have dictated several unusual expressions, of his majesty's royal progenitors ; not doubtthat his majesty has been abused by false re- ing but that, in all those points, we shall be presentations of the late proceedings in pare considered as a counsel of wisdom and weight liament, we think it our duty respectfully to to advise, and not merely as an accuser of cominform his majesty, that no attempt whatever petence to criminate.* This house claims has been made against his lawful prerogatives, both capacities; and we trust we shall be left or against the rights and privileges of the to our free discretion which of them we shall peers, by the late house of commons, in any employ as best calculated for his majesty's, of their addresses, voles, or resolutions: nei- and the national service. Whenever we shall ther do we know of any proceeding by bill, in see it expedient to offer our advice concerning which it was proposed to abridge the extent his majesty's servants, who are those of the of his royal prerogative: but, if such provision public, we confidently hope, that the personal had existed in any bill, we protest, and we de- favour of any minister, or any set of ministers, clare, against all speeches, acts or addresses, will not be more dear to his majesty, than the from any persons whatsoever, which have a credit and character of a house of commons. tendency to consider such bills, or the persons It is an experiment full of peril to put the repreconcerned in them, as just objects of any kind sentative wisdom and justice of his majesty's of censure and punishment from the throne. people in the wrong; it is a crooked and despeNecessary reformations may hereafter require, rate design, leading to mischief, the extent of as they have frequently done in former times, which no human wisdom can foresee, to atlimitations and abridgements, and in some tempt to form a prerogative party in the nacases an entire extinction of some branch of tion, to be resorted to as occasion shall require, prerogative. If bills should be improper in the in derogation from the authority of the comform in which they appear in the house where mons of Great Britain in parliament assembled: they originate, they are liable, by the wisdom it is a contrivance full of danger, for ministers of this constitution, to be corrected, and even to set up the representative and constituent to be totally set aside, elsewhere. This is bodies of the commons of this kingdom as two the known, the legal, and the safe remedy: separate and distinct powers, formed to counbut whatever, by the manifestation of the royal terpoise each other, leaving the preference in displeasure, tends to intimidate individual the hands of secret advisers of the crowd. members from proposing, or this house from such a situation of things, these advisers, receiving, debating, and passing bills, tends to taking advantage of the ditleronres which may prevent even the beginning of every reforma- accidentally arise, or may purpos. Los ive tion in the state; and utterly destroys the de- mented between them, wii nave in tveir liberative capacity of parliament.-We there- choice to resort to the one or the wher, as nay fore claim, demand, and insist upon it, as our best suit the purposes of their sinistor ambrion. undoubted right, that no persons shall be By exciting an emulation and contest bet: een deemed proper objects of animadversion by tho the representative and the constituent bodies, crown, in any mode whatever, for the votes as parties contending for credit and influence which they give, or the propositions which at the throne, sacrifices will be made by both; they make, in parliament.
which it appeared, that the house interfered by an authoritative advice and admonition, upon every act of executive government without ex. ception; and in many much stronger cases than that winicb tho ords thought proper to quarrel with.
"I observe at the same time, that there is no charge or complaint suggested against my present ministers.”—The king's ansicer, 25th February 1794, to the address of the house of commons. Vide Resolutions of the Ilouse of Commons, printed for Debreti, p. 31
acknowledge it with respect, or to reject it shrink from every service, which, however with scorn.
necessary, is of a great and arduous nature, It is the undoubted prerogative of the crown or that, willing to provide for the public necesto dissolve parliament ; bui we beg leave to sities, and, at the same time, to secure the lay before his majesty, that it is, of all the means of performing that task, they will er. trusts vested in his majesty, the most critical change independence for protection, and will and delicate, and that in which this house has court a subservient existence through the fathe most reason to require, not only the good vour of those ministers of state, or those sefaith, but the favour of the crown. His com- cret advisers, who ought themselves to stand mons are not always upon a par with his mi- in awe of the commons of this realm. nisters in an application to popular judgment : A house of commons, respected by his miit is not in the power of the members of this nisters, is essential to his majesty's service: house to go to their clection at the moment it is fit that they should yield to parliament, the most favourable for them. It is in the and not that parliament should be new mopower of the crown to choose a time for their delled until it is fitted to their purposes. If dissolution whilst great and arduous matters our authority is only to be held up
when we of state and legislation are depending, which coincide in opinion with his majesty's advisers, may be easily misunderstood, and which can- but is to be set at nought the moment it differs not be fully explained before that misunder- from them, the house of commons will sink into a standing may prove fatal to the honour that mere appendage of administration; and will lose belongs, and to the consideration that is due, that independent character which, inseparably 10 members of parliament.
connecting the honour and reputation with With his majesty is the gift of all the re- the acts of this house, onables us to afford a wards, the honours, distinctions, favour, and real, effective, and substantial support to his graces of the state; with his majesty is the government. It is the deference shewn to our mitigation of all the rigours of the law; and opinion, when we dissent from the servants we rejoice to see the crown possessed of trusts of the crown, which alone can give authority calculated to obtain good-will
, and charged to the proceedings of this house, when it con with duties which are popular and pleasing. curs with their measures. Our trusts are of a different kind. Our duties That authority once lost, the credit of his are harsh and invidious in their nature; and majesty's crown will be impaired in the eyes justice and safety is all we can expect in the of all nations. Foreign powers, who may yet exercise of them. We are to offer salutary, wish to revive a friendly intercourse with this which is not always pleasing, counsel: we are paion, will look in vain for that hold which gave to inquire and to accuse: and the objects of a connection with Great Britain the prefeour inquiry and charge will be for the most rence to an alliance with any other state. A part persons of wealth, power, and extensive house of commons, of which ministers were connections: we are to make rigid laws for known to stand in awe, where every thing the preservation of revenue, which of ncces- was necessarily discussed, on principles fit to sity more or less confine some action, or re- be openly and publicly avowed, and which strain some function, which before was free: could not be retracted or varied without danwhat is the most critical and invidious of all, ger, furnished a ground of confidence in the the whole body of the public impositions ori- public faith, which the engagement of no ginate from us, and the hand of the house of state dependent on the Auctuation of personal commons is seen and felt in every burthen favour, and private advice, can ever pretend that presses on the people. Whilst, ultimately, to. If faith with the house of commons, the we are serving them, and in the first instance grand security for the national faith itself, can whilst we are serving his majesty, it will be be broken with impunity, a wound is given ! hard, indeed, if we should see a house of com- the political importance of Great Britain, which mons the victim of its zeal and fidelity, sacri- will not easily be healed. fced by his ministers to those very popular That there was a great variance between discontenrs which shall be excited by our du- the late house of conimons and certain pertiful endeavours for the security and greatness sons, whom his majesty has been advised to of his throne. No other consequence can re- inake and continue as ministers, in defiance sult from such an example, but that, in future, of the advice of inal house, is notorious to the the house of commons, consulting its safety at world. That house did not confide in those the expense of its duties, and suffering the ministers; and they withheld their confidence vhole energy of the state to be relaxed, will from them for reasons for which posterity will
honour and respect the names of those who tending to shake the very foundation of the composed that house of commons, distin- authority of the house of peers; and they guished for its independence. They could branded it as such by their resolutiini. not confide in persons who have shewn a dis- . The house had not sufficient crience to position to dark ar.d dangerous intrigues. By enable them legally to punish this practice, these intrigues they have weakened, if not but they had enough to caution them inst destroyed, the clear assurance which his ma- all confidence in the authors and abettois of jesty's people, and which all nations ought to it. They performed their duty in humbly adhave, of what are, and what are no“, the real vising his majesty against the employment of acts of his government.
such ministers; but his majesty was advised If it should be seen that his miisters may to keep those ministers, and to dissolve that continue in their offices, without any signifi. parliament. The house, aware of the imporcation to them of his majesty's displeasure at tance and urgency of its duty with regard to any of their measures, whilst persons conside- the British interests in India, which were and rable for their rank, and known to have had are in the utmost disorder, and in the utmost access to his majesty's sacred person, can peril, most humbly requested his majesty not with impunity abuse that advantage, and em- to dissolve the parliament during the course oloy his majesty's name to disavow and coun- of their very critical proceedings on that subleract the proceedings of his official servants, ject. His majesty's gracious condescension nothing but distrust, discord, debility, con- to that request was conveyed in the royal faith, tempt of all authority, and general confusion, pledged to a house of parliament, and solemnly can prevail in his government.
delivered from the throne. It was but a very This we lay before his majesty, with hu. few days after a committee had been, with the mility and concern, as the inevitable effect consent and concurrence of the chancellor of of a spirit of intrigue in his executive govern. exchequer, appointed for an inquiry into cermeo!; an evil which we have but too much tain accounts delivered to the house by the reason to be persuaded exists and increases. Court of directors, and then actually engaged During the course of the last session it broke in that inquiry, that the ministers, regardless out in a manner the most alarming. This of the assurance given from the crown to a evil was infinitely aggravated by the unautho- house of commons, did dissolve that parliarized, but not disavowed use which has been ment. We most humbly submit to his majesmade of his majesty's name, for the purpose ty's consideration the consequences of this of the most unconstitutional, corrupt, and dis- their breach of public faith. honourable influence on the minds of the mem- Whilst the members of the house of combers of parliament, that ever was practised in mons, under that security, were engaged in his this kingdom. No attention, even to the ex- majesty's and the national business, endeavours teriour decorum, in the practice of corruption, were industriously used to calumniate those and intimidation employed on peers, was
whom it was found impracticable to corrupt. observed: several peers were obliged under The reputation of the members, and the repumenaces to retract their declarations, and to tation of the house itself, was undermine! in recall their proxics.
every part of the kingdom. The commons have the deepest interest in In the speech from the throne rclative to the purity and integrity of the peerage. The India, we are cautioned by the ministers, peers dispose of all the property in the king- “not to lose sight of the effect any mcasure dom, in the last resort ; and they dispose of it may have on the constitution of our coumtry." on their honour and not on their oaths, as all We are apprehensive that a calumnious repor! the members of every other tribunal in the spread abroad of an attack upon his majesty's kingdom must do; though in them the pro- prerogative by the late house of conanwar, may cecding is not conclusive. We have, there- have made an impression on his royal icind, fore, a right to demand that no application and have given occasion to this unusual admoshall be made to peers of such a nature as nition to the present. This attack is charged nay give room to call in question, much less to have been made in the late parliament, by a to attaint, our sole security for all that we bill which passed the house of commons in the possess. This corrupt proceeding appeared late session of that parliament, for the regula to the house of commons, who are the natural tion of the affairs, for the preservation of tho guardians of the purity of parliament, and of commerce, and for the amendment of the the purity of every branch of judicature, a govemasent of this nation, in the East Indies. most reprehensible and dangerous practice, That his majesty and his people may have Vor.. 1.-24
an opportunity of entering into the ground of provided for their government according to its this injurious charge, we beg leave humbly to discretion, and to its opinion of what was reacquaint his majesty, that, far from having quired by the public necessities. We do not made any infringement whatsoever on any part know that his majesty was entitled, by preof his royal prerogative, that bill did, for a rogative, to exercise any act of authority limited time, give to his majesty certain whatsoever in the company's affairs, or that in powers never before possessed by the crown; effect, such authority has ever been exercisec and for this his present ministers (who, rather His majesty's patronage was not taken away than fall short in the number of their calum- by that bill ; because it is notorious that his nies, employ some that are contradictory) have majesty never originally had the appointment slandered this house, as aiming at the exten- of a single officer, civil or military, in the sion of an unconstitutional influence in his company's establishment in India ; nor has the majesty's crown. This pretended attempt to least degree of patronage ever been acquired to increase the influence of the crown, they were the crown in any other manner or measure, weak enough to endeavour to persuade his than as the power was thought expedient 10 bi majesty's people was among the causes which granted by act of parliament; that is, by the excited his majesty's resentment against his very authority by which the offices were late ministers.
disposed of and regulated in the bill, which Further, to remove the impressions of this his majesty's servants have falsely and inju calumny concerning an attempt in the house of riously represented as infringing upon the pra commons against his prerogative, it is proper rogative of the crown. to inform his majesty, that the territorial pos- Before the year 1773 the whole administra. sessions in the East Indies never have been tion of India, and the whole patronage to offic declared, by any public judgment, act, or in- there, was in the hands of the East India strument, or any resolution of parliament whate company. The East India company is not a soever, to be the subject matter of his majesty's branch of his majesty's prerogative adminisprerogative; nor have they ever been under- tration, nor does that body exercise any spestood as belonging to his ordinary administra- cies of authority under it, nor indeed from any tion, or to be annexed or united to his crown; British title, that does not derive all its legal but that they are acquisitions of a new and pe- validity from acts of parliament. culiar description,* unknown to the ancient When a claim was asserted to the India executive constitution of this country.
territorial possessions in the occupation of the From time to time, therefore, parliament company, these possessions were not claimed
as parcel of his majesty's patrimonial estate, * The territorial possessions in the East Indies or as a fruit of the ancient inheritance of his were acquired to the company, in virtue of crown. They were claimed for the pu'rlic. grants from the Great Mogul, in the nature of
And when agreements were made with the offices and jurisdictions, to be held under him, and dependent upon his crown; with the express
East India company concerning any composicondition of being obedient to orders from his tion for the holding, or any participation of the court, and of paying an annual tribute to his profits of those territories, the agreement was treasury. It is true, that no obedience is yielded made with the public, and the preambles of the to these orders; and for some time past there has been no payment made of this tribule. But several acts have uniformly so stated it. Thest it is under a grant, so conditioned, that they still agreements were not made (even nominally) hold. To subject the king of Great Britain as with his majesty, but with parliament; and the tributary to a foreign power, by the acts of his
bills making and establishing such agreements subjects-to suppose the grant valid, and yet che condition void-to suppose it good for the king, always originated in this house, which approand insufficient for the company—to suppose it priated the money to await the disposition of an interese divisible between the parties ;-these parliament, without the ceremony of previous are some few of the many legal difficulties to be
consent from the crown even so much as sugo surmounted, before the common law of England can acknowledge the East India company's gested by any of his ministers; which previous Asiatic affairs to be a subject matter of preroga. consent is an observance of decorum, not tive, so as to bring it within the verge of English indeed of strict right, but generally paid when jurisprudence. It is a very anomalous species of
a new appropriation takes place in any part of power and property which is held by the East India company. Our English prerogative law
his majesty's prerogative revenues. does not l'urnish principles, much less prece. dents, by which it can be defined or adjusted. placed, can adjust this new intricate matter Nothing but the eminent dominion of parlia. Parliament may act wisely or unwisely, justly ment over every British subject in erery con. or unjustly; but parliament alone is competent cern, and in every circumstance in which he is to it