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16,000,0001. In 1773, the imports were or repaired, more than there were in the 12,000,000l. ; the exports 16,000,0001.: first four years after the peace of 1763. these were the greatest years before the In addition to this, we had absolutely and last war.
for ever extinguished two millions and a In 1786, the imports were 15,786,0001.; half of our debt. the exports 16,300,000l. In 1787, the One more circumstance only he begged imports were not ascertained ; but the leave to mention, and this not without exports were 16,600,0001. Perhaps it triumph, although he trusted that he felt might be said, that in these comparative no other than the honest pride of an Engstatements the balance was against us in lishman on the occasion. Our rival in the latter years; but the increase of the the war, France, who had interfered in . imports arose from the increase of the the dispute with our late colonies; who home consumption of luxuries. It pro. | had projected to herself such immense ceeded from the beneficial import of raw advantages by the war, and who certainly materials used in our manufactures; and had advantages in it, was now able to it might be considered as a very pleasing prove, that the war gave to her less than circumstance attending the increased im- she expected, and that we had suffered ports, that they chiefly came from a part | less than had been anticipated. He had of our own empire-they came from Ire. within a few hours seen the ackowledged land.In like manner our navigation bad state of the French finances, as drawn increased. Our valuable fishery in parti forth and exhibited by the French governcular had improved with much rapidity. ment. By that account, the avowed The Newfoundland fishery, that great annual deficiency of revenue, to answer nursery of our seamen, was in a most their necessary expenditure after all the flourishing condition. In 1773 and 1774 retrenchments they had made, was upwards it produced 516,000 quintals. In 1786 it of 2,300,0001. sterling. Their receipt was produced 732,000.' In 1773 the tonnage acknowledged to be about 20,000,0001. in the Greenland fishery was 27,000. În sterling. Their expense was confessed to 1786 it was 53,000. In 1773 the number be 22,900,0001. sterling. In the same of ships was 96. In 1786 the number was statement, there was a plan devised for an 153. In 1787, with the reduced bounty, annual loan for five or six years to come, the number was 248. The number of men which, with a variety of projected reemployed in this fishery in 1786 was trenchments, were held out as sufficient to 6,600. In 1787, it could not be less than wind up the effects of their derangement. 10,000. The southern whale fishery, a He mentioned this, simply to show the new and very valuable branch of trade, comparative condition of the two countries; which he only took up at the beginning of and surely it afforded matter of pride to the last war, had also equally prospered. England, that her rival, who had thus inIn this fishery, in 1785, there were em- terfered without provocation, had been so ployed 18 ships producing 29,0001. In thoroughly disappointed in the views 1787 there were employed 38 ships pro- which she had in the conflict. Mr. Pitt ducing 107,0001.
concluded with moving the first of a set of He mentioned these circumstances to resolutions. prove that our improved condition came Mr. Sheridan remarked, that however from no forced revenues, but was the fair invidious it might seem to start objections and actual result of increased commerce. to so flattering a statement of the revenue • We had thus ascertained a surplus after and increasing resources of the country, having appropriated a million to the pay as had been just given, it was necessary to ment of our debt. We had given great dispel the delusion under which this coun. additional strength to our foreign posses. try had been acting for some time, and to sions, and, in doing this, we had not over- detect the fallacies by which it was still looked that which was the favourite ser- attempted to impose on the public, and vice at home. No less than seven millions continue that delusion. The right hon. had, in the course of four years, been gentleman had entertained the House expended in the improvement of the navy; with an account of the sad state of the and he took upon him to say, that it had French finances, and he, for one, wished been applied with as much fidelity as it so well to that part of his argument, that had been voted with judgment. There he hoped the French finances would were, he would pledge himself to prove, always be found in as bad or even a worse 30 ships of the line, and 35 frigates, built situation, whenever the right bon. gentle
man should have occasion to draw such a hon. gentleman made up his estimates of comparison as he had now done. But, the expenditure. While he added to the how had they been reduced to that mise estimates of the army, he allowed no adrable state in which they were represented dition to the estimate of the navy. Was to be? by doing that which we had done, it really his opinion that the expense of and were persisting to do. The French the navy in 1790, would not exceed had not faced their situation, and by en- 1,800,0001.? for the ordnance indeed he deavouring to impose on themselves, and allowed 10,0001., but took no notice of the to make it appear better than it really expense of fortifications, which, in the was, they had rendered it infinitely worse West Indies alone, he had formerly stated than it might have been.—The real ques. would amount to between 2 and 300,0001. tion before the Committee was, to consi. and taking fortifications, as it was most der whether our receipt was equal to our reasonable to do, at the largest estimate expenditure. The annual expenditure for (for they seldom fell short in point of exthe peace establishment, as now stated, pense, whatever they might do in point of was to be in future 15,500,000l. This utility) there would be wanted 300,0001. might, therefore, be considered as ground for the West Indies alone, and on the to argue from, since, however much it whole from 7 to 800,0001. He objected, might exceed that sum, it could not rea- also, to the estimate for miscellaneous sonably be expected to fall short of it. services, which he contended must exceed In order to make up an income equal to by 74,2241. the sum at which it was made this expenditure, by taking the receipts out. He came next to consider the shifts not on an average of several years, but to which the right hon. gentleman had one year only, and making up the ac- | resorted, in order to defray the extraordicounts from April 1787 to April 1788, in- nary expenses of the year : 500,0001. stead of from January to January, a revenue were, to come from the East India Comwas produced on paper of 15,792,0001. pany. They were to pay 300,000l, last Mr. Sheridan contended against the accu. year, and he had then objected to the racy of this statement, and said the report right hon, gentleman's taking credit for a of the Committee of 1786 would put the sum which the Company had not acknowmatter in a clearer light. The annual ex- ledged to be due. No part of that sum penditure was there stated to be had been paid into the Exchequer, and 15,390,0001. and the annual revenue as because the payment had been, and was there stated, with 100,0001. additional still disputed by the Company, credit was taxes, fell very far short of that sum, if again taken for a much larger sum, which fairly calculated. If the right hon. gen. he firmly believed would no more be paid tleman, instead of the receipt of the last than the former. The Company had deyear, which was acknowledged to have nied that they owed any such sum to go. been more productive than any former vernment; they had drawn up a case for year had been, from accidental causes the consideration of counsel, and if the that could not be expected to operate for facts were as they were there stated to be, another year, had taken, as he ought to he had no scruple in saying, that the have done, the average of 1786 and 1787, claim of government was not well founded. the produce of all the taxes would have — The right hon. gentleman had amused appeared to be no more than 2,389,0001., the Committee with fine stories of the inmaking, with the addition of the land and crease of our trade and shipping, and the malt taxes, 15,250,0001. which would flourishing state of our fisheries; but inhave fallen short of the expenditure, as stead of entering into any discussion of now stated, 250,0001. This was as near what he had advanced on that subject, the the truth as could reasonably be pre- truth of which he wished as much to rely sumed, from the circumstances of the upon as any man, he begged leave to call country and of the revenue, since the the attention of the Committee to the peace; and this was the situation which Commutation Act, which had failed in the Committee was bound in duty to meet every circumstance, for which those who and to provide for, instead of endeavour-supported it stood pledged to the public. ing to impose on themselves and the pub- Instead of the supply of tea which the lic, and delaying to apply the remedy till | Company were bound to import by that it might be too late. - Another circum- | Act, to answer the increased demand, to stance he felt himself obliged to contro- have a year's stock on hand, and to keep vert was, the means by which the right the prices as low as by the commutation
they ought to be, they had not imported a of this country were adequate to its ex, quantity equal in any one respect to those penditure: he had, however, thought purposes. This he did not charge on the proper to desert the ground he had taken, Company as blameable; their finances in order that he might attack the Commuhad not enabled them to do it ; and would tation Act passed four years ago. If the government call upon them to pay hon. gentleman really felt on that subject 500,0001. in order to enable them to do what he professed to feel, let him move for that which they had not been able to the repeal of the Act, and he was ready to do before? There was no way of doing meet him. The hon. gentleman could this, but by enabling them to increase not, however, forget that he had claimed their capital as the value of it decreased, some merit for having had a share in the as had been done in the famous South idea of the Commutation Act: and that Sea scheme.With regard to the Com- the arguments which were then brought mutation Act, he asserted again, that the against it, had been completely refuted. compact with the public had been broken He contended that he was justified in in every respect. In the first place it was taking the year, ending the 5th of April to destroy smuggling, which had been last, as a tolerably good criterion of the argued as the principal advantage that probable resources of this country. The was to be obtained from it, and yet it was preceding year had been marked with penotorious that it had not done this. The culiar circumstances, which had already Company was to supply not only England, been explained; but from the natural but all Europe with tea: 180,0001. had spring of commerce, and other causes, the been sent to the continent to buy up the increase of the revenue had been uniformly whole stock there; and by the last ac- | progressive ever since the peace, with the counts from China, the foreign shipping exception only of the year, ending the 5th there was four times greater than it had Jan. 1787. With regard to the permanent been at any former period. We now sent peace establishment, perhaps circumstances to China 1,500,0001. annually, instead of which could not be foreseen, might increase 350,000l. or 400,000l. which we used to it. It was impossible to provide for every send before; and notwithstanding this contingency: but there was no good reason great increase of the balance against us, to apprehend, thật the sum for which it from the high price of tea, and the quan- had been taken would not be adequate to tity that would soon be imported on the the expenses, particularly as there was continent, there was reason to believe that every probability that, in two years, our smuggling would again prevail as much as navy would be in such a state as to require ever. This breach of compact with the no farther increase. The fortifications public, he affirmed to be a strong charge were not to be considered as a permanent against those in whose hands the manage, expense at any rate, because if they should ment of the affairs of the Company was not be finished for a year or two after the placed, and whose duty it was to see that time proposed, the sum issued on that the engagement with the public should be account would not substantially affect the fulfilled. He objected, also, to the method arrangement. As to what the hon. genin which the commutation duty was paid ; tleman had said relative to the debt due to since it passed unnecessarily through public by the East India Company, it devarious offices, instead of being paid imme- served to be treated with as little ceremony diately into the Exchequer. He con- as had accompanied the observation. If cluded with observing, that in the present to claim a just debt, at a time when the real state of the finances, and the evident circumstances of the nation demanded it, inefficiency of the Commutation Act for could be called a shift, it was a shift of the purposes for which it was passed, he which he was not ashamed; and, in his aw no reason why a duty of 2 or 300,0001. ) opinion, it was infinitely to be preferred to should not be raised on the article of tea. the shift of borrowing money, or imposing
Mr. Pitt requested that he might be new taxes. The debt which the Company again favoured with the indulgence of the owed considerably exceeded that for which Committee, while he took notice of the he had taken credit; but if the claim was very singular manner in which the hon. not found to be just in its fullest extent, gentleman had argued the question. The the money would be paid, subject to its hon. gentleman began his speech with being refunded or not, according to the saying, that he would confine himself to event of the decision on that question, alır simple question, whether the revenues | Upon the whole he lamented, that the kon. gentleman had taken that opportunity | Commutation Act, he certainly thought of quarrelling with him, and that he had that it was intimately connected with the not been able to find a more plausible ways and means of the year, and had, pretence for his opposition to the subject therefore, been very properly noticed by under the deliberation of the Committee, his hon. friend. When that question was than by his dreams and reveries on the debated, he remembered having streCommutation Act.
nuously urged, as a strong argument Mr. For begged leave to remind the against it, the difficulty that would attend Chancellor of the Exchequer of the argu- a repeal of it, if it should be found ioadements which he had, in the last session, quate to the purposes for which the act advanced on the same subject. He recol | had been framed. The right hon. gentlelected perfectly, that when the ways and man now says, If you don't approve of means were then agitated, the right hon. that Act, why don't you move for the gentleman had declared, that it was not repeal of it ? For his own part, though he upon any account fair to estimate our per- / was not prepared to move for its repeal, manent resources from the produce of any he had no hesitation in declaring, that it had one year. The year ending the 5th of totally failed in one of its great purposes Japuary, 1787, he stated to have been which was theannihilation of the smugling peculiarly upproductive, from the failure of spirits. For the fact was, that since of crops in the West Indies, from the that Act had passed, the quantity of decrease of our imports, till the event of brandy, &c. which had been smuggled the Commercial Treaty with France, and into this country, was immense. He refrom other causes which he then enume- peated, that the minister had held out a rated. The right hon. gentleman at the delusive view of our resources, and that he same time, candidly acknowledged, that had calculated the expenditure at a lower the next year would probably be as much rate than either experience or reason more productive, as the former had been could justify. deficient, and that therefore it ought not After a short conversation, the Resolato be taken as the criterion, by which the tions were agreed to. permanent amount of the revenue ought to be calculated. The right hon. gentle Mr. Grenville's Bill for regulating the man had, however, that day, totally omitted Trials of Controverted Elections.] May any observation of that kind, though the 6. Mr. W. W. Grenville rose, and having justice of the remark must be obvious to remarked that he had bestowed all the every man, who had paid the smallest attention in his power upon the subject of attention to the subject. He certainly a bill to explain and amend the Act for thought it was extremely fair to take the regulating the trials of controverted elecmedium of the two years, as the principle tions, expressed his hope, that if his moof calculation; but, this the right hon. tion met with the concurrence of the gentleman bad not done; on the contrary House, he should be able to bring in such he had taken the year, ending the 5th of a Bill, as, with their assistance, would April last, because it was found to be prove a material improvement on the law more productive, and, consequently, more as it now stood. Should his motion be adapted to his purpose, than to take it, as agreed to, he meant, as soon as the Bill he had the former year, ending the 5th of was brought in, and had been read a first January. For his own part, he had no time, to move, that it be printed, in order scruple to say, whatever odium might to give gentlemen a full opportunity of attend the assertion, and however unpo- | considering it. It was therefore not ne. pular it might be to hold out an unpleasing cessary that he should then take up much picture of our situation, that our revenues of the time of the House, in going at and resources had been placed in a point large into the discussion of the principle, of view as much too sanguine as our clauses, and objects of his intended Bill; expenses had been estimated too low. but, he wished, as shortly as possible, This was, precisely, the delusion that had to state its outline to the House. When reduced the finances of France to the low the existing Act had passed, the House state at which they now were; but such well knew that the great aim of it had was the happy constitution of this country, been, to take the trial of petitions on conthat it could not be long deceived. It troverted elections off their hands, and to might be deceived in pence, but it could place them in a committee so constituted not in millions. With respect to the as to be most likely to do strict and im
partial justice to the parties; that end, it certain provisions to his Bill, which he would be agreed on all hands, had been flattered himself would answer the end fully answered; but the operation of the proposed, and ascertain the rights of elecAct had been attended with certain well- tion for the future. Mr. Grenville conknown inconveniences, to guard against cluded with moving, “ That leave be which sufficient care had not been taken given to bring in a Bill for the farther when the Bill was in agitation, so much regulation of the trials of controverted had the attention of the author and framer | elections and returns of members to serve of it been bent on achieving his main in Parliament.” purpose. Mr. Grenville said, he had re- Leave was given accordingly. volved in his mind the most practicable Queenborough Election Petition. The means of removing these inconveniences, order of the day being read for going into and two modes had suggested themselves; I a Committee on the Queenborough elecbut then, as these could not be effected tion petition, [See vol. 26, p. 1310], haywithout very materially altering the most ing been read, Mr. Marsham took the essential forms prescribed by the Act, he chair. As soon as the examination of believed the House would be inclined to witnesses had been gone through, Alderjoin with him in opinion, that it would man Sawbridge said, that he conceived not be prudent to attempt to meddle with the allegations of the petition to have the frame of a law, from the execution of been fully made out, and that it had which so many advantageous consequences been proved in evidence that the Board of had been derived. Upon mature reflec- Ordnance did possess an undue influence tion, therefore, he had determined to let in the borough of Queenborough, to the the forms prescribed by the Act remain prejudice of the freedom of election; and undisturbed; but there were other incon- that, for the purpose of maintaining such veniences to which the Act had given undue influence, they employed more occasion, which might, in his opinion, be Queenborough vessels and paid a dearer touched without alarm, and removed price for them than was necessary, to the without danger of any sort of injury abuse of their official powers, and the waste whatever to the general operation and of the public money." He contended, that effect of the Act. Ever since the Bill it had been proved, that the Board of Ordhad passed into a law, it was observable, nance, in consequence of such misapplithat an infinite number of petitions, com- cation of the public money, paid 18,0001. plaining of undue elections, had been pre- a-year, for business that could be done sented in the first session of every Parlia- as well for 6001. He said, that the noble ment. Many of those petitions, after Duke at the head of the Ordnance had having taken up much of the time of the charged the Board, in his predecessor's House, had proved frivolous. He should tiine, with having sacrificed their public propose, therefore, to empower the Com- duty to the extension of election influence. mittee to adjudge, that the party pre- After informing the House, that he had senting an election petition that should two motions to make, he concluded with turn out to be frivolous, should pay rea- moving the first of them, viz. “ That it sonable costs, and to empower them in appears to this Committee that the Board like manner to oblige the party offering a of Ordnance does possess an undue infrivolous defence or answer to a peti- fluence in the borough of Queenborough." tion, to pay reasonable costs. This was Mr. Aldridge said, that the freemen of merely an Act of justice, and yet, he be- Queenborough were 134 in number, of lieved such a regulation would save much whom 20 were incapacitated by Act of expense to individuals, and much time Parliament from voting, they having places and trouble to the House. Another in the Customs. Thirty of them only were very material inconvenience, in his mind, in the service of the Ordnance Office, and called equally for a remedy, and that was at the last election only twenty of those the want of a rule being laid down to thirty voted for him. The other ten, to establish the rights of election, to ascertain this day, held their places just as they had them, and to render them immutable in done before the election. With regard to future. At present, it was no uncommon Mr. Stamp, who had declared at the bar, thing to have two gentlemen sitting in that he (Mr. A.) had refused him prethat House as representatives of the same ferment, and alleged as a reason, that borough, on different rights of election. though he had voted for him, he had not In order to remedy this, he meant to annex voted for Mr. Bowyer; he would read the