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The Colonel was of confequence pelled the house.
5. After a fhort conversation, the Houfe went into the committee on the new wine duty bill.
By a claufe in the bill the duty is to take place the 17th of April, 1796.
Mr Sheridan said, that laying on fuch a duty was equal to a prohibition, and that it would never answer the purposes of revenue.
Mr Pitt faid, that if there were to be three months previous notice, every one might buy in wine to ferve him nine months; the end of the tax would therefore thus be defeated. The hon. gentleman had faid, that laying on too great a tax was equal to a prohibition; no tax, he faid, laid on for the purposes of revenue, was equal to a prohibition.
Mr Sheridan moved an amendment to one of the claufes, "that the 17th of July" be inferted inftead of the “17th of April."
The amendment was negatived, and the original claufe carried without a divi
6. Mr Grey, in confequence of the fresh notice which he gave yefterday, rofe to make his promifed motion, relative to the impeachment of his Majefty's minifters, and which would, perhaps, not be reconcileable to the ideas of many gentlemen in that Houfe. He could not proceed without first calling their attention to the expenditure of the public money; and he trufted, that it would not be neceffary to requeft more particularly their attention to the public accounts, as that was one of their chief duties. He would now call the attention of the Houfe to a plain fact, whether they would fuffer a difpenfation of the laws on the part of his Majefty's minif ters, and whether they would fuffer fuch a power to pafs without punishment? He fhould not take any notice of the war, but would in the firft place charge minifters with producing falfe accounts to the Houfe; and by fo doing, with violating acts of Parliament. He would firft call the attention of the Houfe to
that act of parliament (the vote of credit) which was paffed every feffion, as foon as the committees of ways and means had closed. In this act the fums of money were specified, and the fervices to which they were to be applied, and it was forbid by the appropriation act to apply them to other purposes. Of this fum there remained due 644,ocol.; there' was another account of 34,3131. to of ficers ferving abroad. There were many other fums that ought to have been paid out of the vote of credit of 1795; these remained due, and were answered out of the vote of credit of the present year, in open violation of the act of appropriation. For this, he thought minifters would not eafily find an excufe: the only plea they had, was that of public neceffity. If fo, in this case they should have avowed it, come down to the Houfe, and claimed a bill of indemnity, and by doing fo, the principles of the Conftitution would have been fafe; but instead of doing fo, they had prefented falfe accounts to the Houfe, in open violation of the laws. The only plea they had now was, that of extraordinary expences: in the American war, the extraordinary expences amounted to little more than two millions, but in the present they a-, mounted to fixteen millions odd.
Mr Grey concluded a fpeech of con fiderable length, by moving the first refolution, viz. "that it is the opinion of this House, that at all times, and under all circumftances, this House ought to fuperintend the public money, and enforce the application of it, &c." This refolution he followed up by a long firing of other refolutions, founded principally on the mifapplication of the public money, and which he ftated to be a high crime and misdemeanour. On the first refolution being put,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer rofe. He allowed that the Act of Appropriation had been paffed every year; he withed as much as any other gentleman that no law should be infringed or violated but as little as poffible, yet it was almost impoffible to conduct a war without, in fome fmall degree, infringing that act. He took a view of the extraordinary expences incurred during the American war, which, inftead of amounting to only 2,000,000l. as the hon. gentleman had ftated, amounted to 23,000,000l. when the expences of the present war amounted to no more than 16 or 17,000,000l. Sterling. He concluded a very able de
fence, by fubmitting the matter to the candour of the Houfe.
Mr Fox spoke after Mr Pitt, and anfwered his arguments in a very able and ingenious speech.
A divifion took place, when there appeared for the order of the day 209, againft it 38, majority 171.
9. Mr Pitt moved, that the Houfe do refolve itself into a Committee of the whole Houfe to confider farther of the Supply. Mr Pitt moved, that a fum not exceeding 500,000l. be granted to his Majefty towards difcharging the debts of the navy, which was agreed to. He next moved, that a fum not exceeding 1,370,000l. for extraordinary expences for the army for 1796, be granted to his Majefty. Agreed to. And that the fum of 438,0351. be granted for foreign troops. Mr Wyndham moved, that 290,000l. be granted towards defraying the expences of erecting of barracks.-15,000l. was moved and granted towards affifting the Veterinary College. The report to be received to-morrow.
STATE OF THE NATION.
10. Mr Fox, agreeably to the notice he had given, rofe to ftate his opinion on the present subject. After the many defeats he had experienced whenever he attempted to bring forward an inquiry of this nature, he was not very fanguine in the fuccefs of his propofition, particularly when the whole fyftem of minifters met with his moft marked difapprobation. There were circumftances which had lately taken place, which, however, ought to have but little weight; he meant the late negotiation that had been attempted at Bafle in Switzerland, whatever view the fe might be taken in, whether serious or the contrary, they were tranfactions of fuch a nature, as to call the mind of every thinking man more than ever to confider the ftate of the nation. The confideration of thefe tranfactions were of fuch a nature, as to leave us no profpect of peace. Whether this was owing to the unreasonable demands of the enemy, or to the infincerity of the minifter, there was no profpect of a fpeedy peace. It was always the language of the Executive Government, not fo much to confider the causes of the difficulties into which they had got, as the best mode of extricating themfelves. He hoped, therefore, that he fhould not be confidered as failing in his duty to the country, if he endeavoured
to point out a mode of extricating it from the present embarraffments. He would not go farther back into history than the American war, which he was fure was fresh in the recollection of many gentlemen in that Houfe. In the conclufion of that war, it became the business of Government to confider not how it was kindled, but what was the most effectual mode of extinguishing it. The best mode of doing this, was by looking retrofpectively to past errors, and until the House of Commons had done this, the war lafted; but from the moment that was done, fteps were taken for immediate peace. He did not wish to go into periods of hiftory that were too remote, he would only advert to the opening of the budget in the year 1792, in which there had been made a splendid display of the happy fituation of the country; on that day the minister had stated the affairs of this country to be in a fituation that gave fatisfaction not only to himself, but to the whole House. He had belides ftated, with more than ufual confidence, the profpect of public peace. In this year the French nation had imprisoned the King in Paris, deftroyed the titles of nobility, and feized the revenues of the church.-From this period to the 14th of July of the fame year, every thing had paffed on without notice, until they had fet their King on a splendid pillory, and even after this, a confiderable time clapfed, and peace was ftill held out to this country. In order to fhew that miniffers thought fo little of this revolution in France, they had not thought of bringing about a counter-revolution; and minifters feemed to promife the nation a period of peace at least of fifteen years, which was as great as any period of peace for the lait century, and he agreed with ministers, that the revolution in France was no caufe of disturbing the tranquillity of this country. Though France was internally agitated at this time, and was on the eve of declaring war against Auftria, and hoftilities were about to take place, yet minifters did not conceive there was any caule to embroil this country in continental quarrels. He could take a nearer view of the fubject; would the expulfion of the house of Bourbon from the throne juftify this. country in declaring war again! France? looking at the hiftory of this family, he rather thought their expulfion from the throne as a subject of exultation to this
country, as that house had been the cause of much bloodshed to it, and of all the debts under which it now labours. Auftria and Pruffia entered into a convention at Pilnitz, which they could ne. ver have carried into effect without the aid of this country. This was the period when this country ought to have ftepped forward and offered her mediation, inftead of countenancing the meafures of these two powers, and by this the would have preserved the tranquillity of Europe, and her own neutrality. Mr. Fox having, in a speech of four hours and a half, replete with the most forcible argument, reprobated the intentions and views of the allies in general, and of Pruffia and Ruffia in particular, in deftroying the balance of power by the partition of Poland; and having taken a view of the tyranny of the Emperor of Germany, and King of Pruffia, towards the Marquis and Marchionefs de la Fay ette, which had been worse than the tyranny of Robespierre, he concluded by making a motion of confiderable length, which was an abftract of his speech, the fubftance of which was as follows, viz. "That an humble addrefs be prefented to his Majefty refpecting the conduct of his minifters in the prefent war, repre- capital fwallowed up-her foreign dofenting the very flourishing ftate in which this country was at the commencement of it, and the deplorable ftate to which it had been reduced by the bad counfels of incapable minifters; and praying that he would give directions to them to purfue a line of conduct diametrically oppofite to what they had done, and to retract their former errors, &c."
by this country to be the Government of France. Mr Pitt then went into a hif tory of the circumftances that preceded the declaration of war by France against England. He glanced at the death of Louis XVI. the recall of Lord Gower, and the refusal to acknowledge Chauvelin after the death of Louis. But he afferted a difpofition to try if any means. of accomodation were ftill left, was fhewn by the British Cabinet, in appointing the ambassador at the Hague to hear the propofitions of General Dumourier, and a determination in the French to break with England, in declaring war with her while that negociation was actually pending. He then entered into a more particular examination of the charge of the injuftice of this war, and infifted, that it was not only barely juft, and or dinarily neceffary, but that it included, in its objects, all that was juft and of value to man, as well as the completest neceffity that could be imagined. It was not peace, but ftable fecure peace, that was the object; and viewing the queftion on that true ground, no man he hoped, would regret, that he was not ready to negociate in 1793, before the trade of France was annihilated-her
minions loft-before the received an ir reparable blow to her navy—and, above all, while her principles were unmitigated. It was an ill policy to demand a precife object of the war. The object was fecurity; and what would afford fecurity would depend on the temper of the French nation rather than on any precife ftate of the war. He next examined the question of the reftitution of monarchy, and faid, that was not only a good caufe for fecurity, but a good and proper fubftantive caufe. But he denied he had ever refufed to treat till monarchy should be restored. The deftruction of Jacobin principles, and the eftablishment of a regular government, were the only neceffary objects to fecu rity. He concluded by faying, he hoped the bufinefs of this day would have no tendency but to divide France and unite England.
Mr Pitt denied, that the declining to become mediators between France and the powers who had fubjects of complaint against her, without the invitation of thofe powers, was a proof of a hoftile determination. Mr Pitt then came to the circumftances which he flated to have produced the war. He adverted first to the decree of the 19th of November, which, he faid, was an outrage on the rights of civil fociety. They had no fooner ftarted from the earth, and feized on the reins of power, than they threatered to fweep away all regular govern- Mr Fox replied. He infifted, that ments for ever. He then turned to the none of the alleged caufes of the war difpute relative to the Scheldt; and faid, were valid, because minifters denied Mr Fox's argument went to prove, that France all opportunity of explanation, these aggreffions, on the part of France, by refufing to acknowledge a government were to be excufed, because they were competent to treat of grievances. He committed by men not acknowledged was alfo convince d by Mr Pitt's argu
ments that evening, that the oftenfible reafons of war were not real. His plan was faid to be humiliating. But to whom? To his Majefty's minifters, not to the country; and there was no way of vindicating the honour of the country, but by feparating it and its caufes from men by whom it was difgraced. He concluded by saying, there was no fymp toms of minifters having cordially relinquifhed their defigns upon France; and no juftification on the part of the Houfe for pluming themselves, on the idea of having done all in their power towards peace.
After which the queftion being put on Mr Fox's motion, there appeared,
Against it For it Majority
12. The order of the day was read for the third reading of the real estate fucceffion bill.
Mr Francis faid, Mr Speaker, I fhould indeed be forry that this pernicious bill fhould finish its progress through the Houfe, without my having had an op portunity of expreffing my opinion of it more explicitly and diftinctly than by a filent vote. My objections are on principle, and they are fundamental; they are the refult of the most careful attention and confideration which I am capable of giving to any fubject. It appears in a form which never was affumed, and acts on principles which never were avowed in this Houfe before. The effential qualities of the bill are thefe, firft, That it does not operate immediately, nor with all its force, but applies to cafes and fituations, which do not inftantly exift, and which, therefore, individuals may hope are remote from themfelves, and may never reach them. Of course it annihilates that juft and rational check, which the conflitution relies on, in fayour of the fubject; namely, that the reprefentative will not impofe exorbitant taxes, without clear neceffity, on his conftituents, as long as he shares immediately and alike with those who are to pay. But the most dreadful of all confiderations is, that the tax is to ope rate, not now, but hereafter. What guard, then, have we left against the moft profligate extravagance and waste of the public fortune, if no part of the burthen, whatever it may be, is to be borne by ourselves? This tax touches property in great maffes, and this tax VOL. LVIII.
muft be refifted. I with these great proprictors of maffes of land to look into the hiftory of Spain and France, and fee what happened there to persons of their own level, and once as rich as themselves. Let our great proprietors look to thefe examples. The ruin which they fuffer to be brought on the other orders of the community will not stop there: their turn affuredly will come. At prefent, I know, they are happy and fecure. They think they are in no danger; that they have nothing to apprehend for themselves; and that all they are doing is only to destroy the liberty of their fellow fubjects.
The motion for the third reading of the bill being put, the Houfe divided:Ayes 48; Noes 46. Majority 2.
Mr Sheridan then moved, that it be read a third time on this day three months; when the House again divided: Noés 54; Ayes 53. Majority 1.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer then moved, that it be read a third time tomorrow, when a third divifion took place:-Ayes 54; Noes 54.
The Speaker accordingly being called upon for his vote, gave it for the third reading to-morrow.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer then faid, that, finding the bill was liable to fo many objections, he would decline preffing the third reading to-morrow, and difcharge the order for that day two months.-The bill was of courfe withdrawn.
19. The Houfe met at half past two o'clock, and at half past three a meffage was fent down by Sir F. Molyneux, Gentleman Ulher of the Black Rod, commanding the attendance of the Commons at the Bar of the Houfe of Lords. They forthwith attended, and the Speaker, on his return, read to the Houfe a copy of his Majefty's fpeech to both Houfes.
The Houfe then difperfed without any question of adjournment.
quire into, and fuggeft remedies for, the abuses existing in public offices and departments. He complained that the measures recommended by these commissioners, 14 years fince, had not yet been adopted. He inftanced particular ly in the cafe of five revenue boards, which the commiffioners had recommended to be confolidated into one, but which ftill remained diftinct. He alluded to the mode of keeping the army accounts, as purposely indistinct and confufed. He next paffed to the state of the unfunded debt to the patent officers in the cuftoms-the mode of tranfacting bufinefs at the mint-the ftate of the crown lands-the erection of barracks, which he ftiled inland fortreffes-the extraordinary expences of the army, and their uncontrouled appropriation-the renewal of the office of third fecretary of ftate-the newly created board of naval architecture, (which, however, he approved) and the board of transports. All these he confidered as blameable, and requiring reform-the increase of places having made the red book a cheft of corruption. The Noble Marquis next expreffed his disapprobation of the new police act, and thought that an elective police would be as fufficient for Weft minster as London; and that such a man as Alderman Skinner was more likely to keep the peace, than any briefless barrifter. He then proceeded to animadvert on the connection between the minifter and the Bank; which he confidered as unconftitutional. The late check on difcount had, he obferved, induced fome to fuppofe that the well had a bottom; and, among other inconveniencies refulting from it, he alluded to one which he had learnt from a letter fent him by fome perfons who had half of one of the 20,000l. prizes, which they bad difcount, ed for 9000l. while the office-keeper, on the extenfion of the discounts by the Bank, had afterwards cashed it for 200l. The Noble Marquis moved a very long refolution, purporting" That an Inquiry fhould be made into the conduct of minifters in not reforming the abuses ftated by the commiffioners of accounts. That an account fhould be furnished of the new offices with falaries created in the last ten years; of falaries prolonged beyond the fervices; of monies iffued by warrants, &c.That this inquiry was moft neceffary, when we were engaged in a bloody and expenfive war, without
any object or end!! fuch objects only excepted as had arifen from the mifconduct of minifters.-That fuch an Inquiry was unavoidable from the exhaufted ftate of our finances; which compelled the government to refort to taxes which had been formerly repealed. He trufted, that minifters would not refufe an inquiry into these topics, which had formerly been granted as a matter of course. If they did, he left to them the confequences.
Lord Grenville oppofed the motion. Minifters, he obferved, were called upon to answer for not having followed up the propofitions for reform of the commiffioners of accounts. For himfelf he would observe, that he was not even in parliament at the period when their report was made. He would, notwithstanding, remark upon the feveral propofitions: the first complaint was, that the five revenue boards were not confolidated into one, by which fifteen places out of twenty-five would be faved. This he would ever refift as a moft pernicious measure. The detail of those boards was fo various, and the labour of them fo very great, that it would be an unwife facrifice to economy to refolve them into one. The fecond was, the introducing fimplicity into the army accounts. This had been adopted. Mr Burke and Colonel Barre fucceffively introduced reforms into the paymaster's office. The propofition was made in 1780, and the reform made in 1782. The third article of complaint was the unfunded debt. But on this ground, the present ministers might challenge all former minifters. There were two more fubjects of complaint-the mint and the crown lands. Great progress was madę in a plan to reform the former. But it would be attended with an enormous expenditure in the firft inftance; and it was a queftion whether, even in time of peace, it would be expedient to incur the expence. As to the crown lands, it would be impertinent to state, that meafures had been taken to turn them to national profit. So that if the objects of complaint, which were five in number, three were actually done away; and one of the other two, the mint, waited only till it fhould be prudent to incur the expence attending the reform. Lord Grenville then entered into a defence of the barracks. He contended the fyftem was fanctioned by precedent, and that