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avoided and flew from any computation grounded on the average of a number of years and upon experience-to resort to what?--a computation built upon the amount of the produce of the two last quarters, an amount exceeding any that had gone before for obvious reasons, joined to the amount of two summer quarters, which accidentally had been the greatest of any two summer quarters to be instanced. This was, he said, of all weak modes of reasoning, the weakest. It was not merely trusting to visionary speculation, but to that sort of speculation most liable to failure. With regard even to the confidence the right honourable gentleman had placed in his conjectures, in consequence of his boasted quarter ending April 5, 1785, he might find his conjectures deceive him; since the only quarter's produce that had greatly exceeded others, was a quarter in the year 1779, the remaining quarters of which failed beyond all example. Mr. Fox defended Lord John Cavendish's budget, and said he should not have imagined the present administration would have imputed blame to it, since they could not have forgotten, that Lord John had been obliged to open his budget within three weeks after he had kissed his majesty's hand as chancellor of the exchequer, and that he succeeded the right honourable gentleman in that office, who had remained in it six weeks perfectly inactive, and without doing one thing for the public in point of finance. Had Lord John continued another year chancellor of the exchequer, undoubtedly he would have been prepared with new taxes, to have supplied the deficiencies of his own taxes, and with some plan for establishing a fund to be applied immediately in diminution of the national debt. But what had been the right honourable gentleman's conduct ? Who, that had last year seen him assume an air of the utmost personal importance and gravity, and heard him ardently talk of his determination to encounter loss of popularity, public clamour, and public odium, rather than not effect so necessary a purpose as applying a fund towards the immediate diminution of the national debt, would have imagined that he would this year have come forward with a series of computations, founded in demonstrable fallacy and error, in order to ground a pretence for putting off the great work till another session? What pledge had the House that he would begin upon it even next session ? Indeed, his words were sufficiently big with promises, but would a minister's promise insure a minister's performance ? Last year he gave a verbal pledge, and bound himself by words as fast as words could bind him. Master as he was of words, he defied the right honourable gentleman to invent expressions inorę binding or more strong than those he had used last session; and yet the House had witnessed what security his verbal pledge had proved! Thus might he go on promising and promising ad infinitum, and a work that ought to have been begun before, and that would not admit of longer delay, be deferred till we found ourselves again involved in a war; and he was not yet brought over to the opinion that war was the fittest season for the discharge of the national debt.
Mr. Fox took notice of Mr. Pitt's sneer at his having argued in support of the imposition of new taxes on an occasion, where no taxes were necessary to be imposed. In answer to this, he said, he conceived the question of the day would decide whether new taxes were necessary or not; and therefore it was, of all others, the fittest moment for pressing the argument. Were there no doubt in the case, and were it the decided opinion of that House that taxes ought to be laid, any argument of his in support of such an idea, would undoubtedly be superfluous; it could only be of use where the question was in contest. Mr. Fox, in answer to Mr. Pitt's allusion' to the India bill, sajd, the very conduct that the right honourable gentleman had at that time imputed to him, he was now practising himself,—that of holding out fallacious accounts and false statements of the revenue, to mislead and delude the public. With regard to India, did any man now believe, that the accounts presented to that House by the directors of the East India company last year, and upon which they had proceeded to pass a bill into a law, were not fallacious ? After what he had lately seen from Bengal, after what the learned gentleman next him (Mr. Dundas) knew of the affairs of the company in India, did the right honourable gentleman think the accounts of the last year were to be relied on? He was persuaded he did not. With regard to the putting the office of chancellor of the exchequer in commission, he had no such intention, nor if he had, should he have thought of putting the chancellor of the exchequer at the head of that commission, any more than he should have thought of putting the office of master general of the ordnance in commission, and have placed him at the head of a board of commissioners appointed to controul the executive branch of his own department. The sort of committee he wished to have instituted, might, he said, prove essentially serviceable, by investigating facts, and reporting them to the House, whence they would have the way cleared, and be enabled to proceed with certainty. To a committee of the House, be it composed of whom it would, he was ready to trust that or any other business, because he was convinced by the conduct of a committee last year, that however gentlemen, who were chosen in a committee, might generally differ in their politi
cal sentiments, they would always form such a report as would do them honour, and would prove of essential benefit to the public, by affording the House a species of useful and authentic information they could not otherwise obtain.
The motion was negatived without a division.
ADDRESS ON THE King's SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF
January 24. 1786. THE King opened the session with the following speech to both 1 Houses:
“ My lords and gentlemen; since I last met you in parliament, the disputes which appeared to threaten an interruption to the tranquillity of Europe have been brought to an amicable conclusion; and I continue to receive from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their friendly disposition towards this country.At home, my subjects experience the growing blessings of peace in the extension of trade, the improvement of the revenue, and the increase of the public credit of the nation. For the farther advancement of those important objects, I rely on the continuance of that zeal and industry which you manifested in the last session of parliament.— The resolutions which you laid before me as the basis of an adjustment of the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland, have been, by my directions, communicated to the parliament of that kingdom; but no effectual step has hitherto been taken thereupon, which can enable you to make any further progress in that salutary work.
« Gentlemen of the House of Commons; I have ordered the estimates for the present year to be laid before you: it is my earnest wish to enforce economy in every department; and you will, I am persuaded, be equally ready to make such provision as may be necessary for the public service, and particularly for the maintaining our naval strength on the most secure and respectable footing. Above all, let me recommend to you the establishment of a fixed plan for the reduction of the national debt. The flourishing state of the revenue will, I trust, enable you to effect this important measure with little addition to the public burdens.
“ My lords and gentlemen ; the vigour and resources of the country, so fully manifested in its present situation, will encourage you in continuing to give your utmost attention to every object of national concern; particularly to the consideration of such meas sures as may be necessary, in order to give farther security to the revenue, and to promote and extend as far as possible the trade and general industry of my subjects.”
An address in the usual form being moved by Mr. Smyth, the member for Pontefract, and seconded by Mr. Addington, the Earl of Surrey moved by way of amendment to omit that part of the proposed address which related to the commercial negociations with Ireland. After which,
Mr. Fox rose, and declared, that of all the speeches from the throne which he had ever remembered to have heard delivered at the opening of a session of parliament, of all the speeches of that kind which he had ever heard of by relation, or read of in history, he did not recollect to have met with an instance of one so cautiously worded, or that afforded such little ground for objection of any kind. He rose, therefore, to speak to what was out of it, rather than what was in it; to that which perhaps ought to have been there, rather than to what was there. The propriety of a minister's contenting himself with addressing a British parliament from the throne, with general ideas of the political situation of a country, instead of specifically adverting to facts and circumstances, which deeply and materially concerned its first and dearest interests, relatively considered with those of other states, would be for others to judge and to decide upon. It was enough for him to see, that there were so many matters pending, and so much had been lately done by foreign powers, the consequences of which might more or less critically affect Great Britain in proportion to the measures that his majesty's ministers had pursued; and, indeed, upon the ground of these transactions, he had looked for something more than vague assurances of the tranquillity of Europe, and had expected his majesty's speech would have given that House a variety of lights upon å variety of great and important subjects, intimately connected with the future prosperity or ill fortune of the empires upon all of which the speech left the House in utter and impenetrable darkness.
With regard to the extension of trade, the increase of the public credit of the nation, and the growing surplus of the revenue, those were circumstances in which every man must rejoice; and at which no party, no political faction, no set of persons of any name and description whatever could suppress their exultation, because they went to prove, what must be to all ranks of men and all political parties, a matter of solid satisfaction and unrestrained triumph, the returning vigour of our resources. But, were these matters of surprise, were these circumstances to cause astonishment? Undoubtedly they were not. Almost every man knew there would be some surplus; almost every man expected it; they only differed about the amount of that surplus, one gentleman alone excepted, who
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