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such prince or state was no longer independent, but was become a vassal and feud to the other.
But there was another strong objection to the system, inasmuch as it contained a principle that essentially intrenched on the constitution of Ireland in another particular; this was the compelling her to set apart, by way of tribute, a certain sum over which she was hereafter to have no controul, nor any power of resumption. This he argued in the strongest and most brilliant manner, shewing how modern liberty, which he contrasted with that of ancient nations, depended on the limited duration of pecuniary grants. This limitation afforded an opportunity to the legislature to withhold supplies until grievances should be redressed. This check on the executive authority would be completely done away, if a sum of money adequate to the immediate expences of domestic government were permanently to be granted. This principle of temporary grants had been never abandoned by the parliament of Great Britain, except in a particular instance, where a permanent grant was necessary to secure the interest of the national debt to the public creditors; but he should be glad to know what any gentleman would think of a minister who should propose to make the malt and land tax perpetual; and yet this he declared to be an exactly similiar proposal. It was, he granted, true, that the surplus of the hereditary revenue ought never to be so considerable as to operate in this manner; but he was at liberty to argue it so, because, if it were to be contradicted. then would it follow that this compensation to Great Britain was nugatory and contemptible.
The right honourable gentleman had recommended firmness to parliament in the course of the business, and he himself would join in recommending that temper as well on every other occasion as the present; but he was very much afraid the right honourable gentleman, in recommending firmness, had unfortunately confounded the meaning of that temper, and meant, instead of firmness, obstinancy and presumption. The discontents of the people were argued from, as the cause which rendered this arrangement necessary. He was willing to admit that there were discontents, but they were not the forerunners or cause of these resolutions, they were their effect and consequence. But how were these discontents to be appeased by the plan now going forward, or what reason was there for such a hope? Was it because that from their first appearance in each of the different shapes which they had assumed, they had raised an universal outcry in both kingdoms ? Was it be cause the benefits to be derived to each nation under them were looked upon by both as trivial and insignificant in the extreme; while, on the contrary, what each was to give, was
ention, the resolutions, by the exertion be regretted ? Ha
considered as most valuable, and greatly to be regretted ? He assured the House, that if, by the exertion of influence and corruption, the resolutions could be got through the Irish parliament, so violent was the aversion of the people of that country to them, that they would unquestionably in a short time be able to effect their repeal: for the united voice of the people must at last be obeyed, when their views were stedfastly directed to one great object, and regularly enforced by firm and constitutional exertions.
It was, he concluded, extremely unfortunate and ominous, that this system, which professed to be a pledge of future affection between the two countries, should be so odious and detestable to each of them. He declared, that if it was a philter, it was, of all he had ever heard of, the most disgusting and nauseous; but still the minister, like a self-sufficient physician, was determined to pour the draught down the throats of his patients, assuring them, that however it might hurt their tastes and violate their inclinations at the time, yet when swallowed, it would amply compensate their sufferAngs, by the comfortable effects they would in the end find from it.
The address was agreed to, and leave was given to bring in a bill “ for finally regulating the intercourse and commerce between Great Britain and Ireland, on permanent and equitable principles, for the mutual benefit of both kingdoms." The bill was afterwards brought in -and read a first time before the end of the session.
MR. PITT's MOTION FOR A REFORM IN THE REPRESENTATION
OF THE PEOPLE IN PARLIAMENT.
April 18. THE weight and influence of government had hitherto been
I exerted more or less in opposition to the measure of a reform in parliament; but the minister having pledged himself to exercise the whole weight of his official situation to attain it, the present opportunity was looked upon as the most favourable it could ever experience. The question was accordingly brought before the House of Commons this day, by Mr. Pitt himself, who concluded a speech of considerable length with moving, “ That leave be given to bring in a bill to amend the representation of the people of England in parliament." The plan which he proposed for this purpose, was to transfer the right of chusing repre
sentatives from thirty-six of such boroughs as had already, or were falling into decay, to the counties, and to such chief towns and cities as were at present unrepresented That a fund should be provided, for the purpose of giving to the owners and holders of such boroughs disfranchised, an appreciated compensation for their property — That the taking this compensation should be a voluntary act of the proprietor, and if not taken at present, should be placed out at compound interest, until it became an irresistible bait to such proprietors. He also meant to extend the right of voting for knights of the shire to copyholders as well as freeholders. Such was the outline of Mr. Pitt's system *. The motion was sup
* The Rev. Mr. Wyvill, chairman of the Yorkshire committee, with whom Mr. Pitt conferred on the formation of his Plan, gave the following 6 Summary Explanation of its Principles," at a public meeting:
“ The number of additional representatives to the great districts is proposed to be seventy-two; for which the disfranchisement of thirty-six small boroughs would be wanted. The means by which so considerable a surrender of the right to return members to parliament is expected to be obtained, is certainly adequate to the end proposed, and yet in the view, either of equity or of expedience, perfectly unexceptionable.
“ It is proposed that a million of pounds sterling be set apart, as a fund for compensation to the boroughs which may be disfranchised; that this whole sum be divided into thirty-six shares, of which, that each borough agreeing to surrender its elective right, and applying, by petition from two thirds of its electors, to parliament for that purpose, be entitled to one share, to be distributed in due proportion among the several persons interested therein, according to their respective equitable claims, by a special committee of the House of Commons, to be appointed in the same manner as committees are appointed to try the merits of contested elections; by which, if any question should arise, touching the right of voting, or whether the petitioners are actually two thirds of the voters, such question shall be decided : that the interest of these thirty-six shares, or several principal sums of money, be suffered to accumulate and be added to each principal sum, until, by the decision of such committee, each sum, principal and interest included, shall be awarded to some small borough on its voluntary application to be disfranchised. By this provision, the sum appropriated, if not large enough at first to induce the decayed boroughs to surrender their obnoxious rights, would continually increase, and the temptation to resign them would become ultimately irresistible.
“* By the other part of Mr. Pitt's system of reformation, a subsequent improvement of the borough representation would be ascertained, and carried into execution on similar terms; and, moreover, a principle of future and perpetual improvement in the representation of towns to an indefinite extent would be established.
6 When the representation of the counties and the metropolis shall have been rectified in the mode and to the extent already described, it is proposed that a second sum be set apart to induce such decayed or inconsiderable boroughs aforesaid, as may still remain, to make a farther surrender of the right of electing members of parliament, in order that such right may be transferred to the towns of Birmingham, Manchester, and other large unrepresented places, whenever such unrepresented places shall respectively petition parliament for the same - Also, that the elective franchise, exclusively enjoyed by a few inhabitants, members of the corporate body in certain towns, may be imparted to the inhabitants, house
ported by Mr. Duncombe, Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Fox, Mr. Dundas, the Attorney General, Mr, Arden, and Lord Frederick Campbell, and opposed by Mr. Powys, Lord North, Lord Mulgrave, Mr. Burke, Mr. Rolle, and Mr. Young.
Mr. Fox said, that after the many occasions on which he had expressed what his sentiments were on the subject of a reform in the representation, he should not consider himself under any great necessity of troubling the House, had there
holders of such towns, occupying houses assessed to a certain small amount, on the voluntary application of such corporate bodies to parliament to surrender their exclusive privileges.
“ The extension of the right of suffrage to many substantial householders in the metropolis, the unrepresented towns, and those towns where the right of representation is at present exclusively enjoyed by a few inhabitants, would be the necessary consequence of the several transfers, and communications of the elective right proposed in the two parts of this system. The admission of copyholders to the right of voting at county elections, would form a still greater, and a perfectly unexceptionable, addition to the constituent body; for which, it is understood, that a separate bill would be provided accordingly. Regulations also for multiplying the places of poll in the counties, for the better ascertainment of the right of voting, for reducing expence, and preventing bribery at elections, would be included as subsidiary parts of the same system.”
“ I. Estimate of the number of boroughs that would probably be disfranchised, and the consequent addition of members that would be made to the larger districts and to unrepresented towns; and also the number of large towns in which the exclusive right of the corporations to elect members would be imparted to the substantial inhabitants, householders of the same respectively; provided Mr. Pitt's whole plan should be adopted by, parliament.
Boroughs. “ By the first part of his plan would be disfranchised, on voluntary surrender, in order to reinforce the representation of the counties and the metropolis - - - - - - -. , • 36
“ By the second part, to give representatives to certain large un. represented towns, at least - - - - - - - - 4
" It is impossible to estimate the whole future disfranchisement under this head: but there are at least four large unrepresented towns in immediate view, as fit to receive the right of representation; for which transfer, consequently, the disfranchisement of at least four : boroughs would be wanted.
“ Total of disfranchised boroughs ...
“ Corporations of arge towns that probably would surrender their exclusive right of representation - - - - - - IO
Members. “ Addition to the metropolis and the counties “ To unrepresented towns - - - - - - - 8 “ Representation thrown open in ten large towns - .. “ Total addition of representatives to the public . .. 100
not been extraordinary circumstances attending the introduction of the present question. That he had always been a friend to the principle of this bill was a fact which did not require to be repeated. Whether the means taken to effect that principle were such as were most unexceptionable must remain for future discussion, but could not provoke his opposition to the motion. There remained ample opportunities in the stages of the bill to examine and correct it; opportunities which in themselves would be the highest acquisition. In the review which had been taken of the question that night, means had been used to implicate the American war in the subject now under discussion, by suggesting that it was supported by the influence of burgage tenures, and that if they had been withdrawn, that war would have had a more speedy termination. He acknowledged, that it would have been in the power of the parliament to have brought that war to a period had they considered it an improper one; but the manner in which it must have been done, would have been such, as he should little expect to hear recommended from the gentlemen on the other side of the House. When the delay of a few days in passing the supplies had been represented last year as the most heinous proceeding, what would have been the enormity of stopping, not only the ordnance supply, as was the case, but all the other supplies also, as would be the case in the event mentioned by the right honourable gentleman, namely, the active interference of the House of Commons to put a period to a war. This would be a conduct worthy of a House of Commons, in certain situations, and would shew them to be sensible of their due weight and importance in the scale of the constitution, and that they were not the instruments of a superior power,
II. “ Estimate of the augmentation of the constituent body, that would be effected by the several extensions of the right of suffrage proposed by Mr. Pitt.
“ Householders added in Marybone, Pancras, and other unrepresented parts of the metropolis, about - - - - 10,000 “ Unrepresented freeholders in the city of London -' . 1,000 “ Copyholders in Middlesex, including the metropolis - 7,000 “ Copyholders in other parts of the kingdom :
65,000 “ Householders in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and, Leeds, independent of other unrepresented towns, to whom the right of returning members to parliament may be imparted
9,000 :“ Householders in Scarborough, Bury, Bath, &c.
6,500 “ Unrepresented freeholders of Hullshire, probable about .