« ZurückWeiter »
that to provide effectually for securing his majesty's dock yards at Portsmouth and Plymouth, by a permanent system of fortification, founded on the most economical principles, and requiring the smallest number of troops possible to answer the purpose of such security, is an essential object for the safety of the state, intimately connected with the general defence of the kingdom, and necessary for enabling the fleet to act with full vigour and effect, for the protection of commerce, the support of our distant possessions, and the prosecution of offensive operations in any war in which the nation may hereafter be engaged." The resolution was supported by Lord Hood, the honourable Captain Berkeley, the honourable James Luttrell, Captain Bowyer, Sir C. Middleton, Mr. J. Hawkins Browne, and Lord Mahon. In opposition to the measure, it was moved as an amendment, by Mr. Bastard, and seconded by Sir W. Lemon, to leave out of the resolution all the words from the word "house" to the end of the question; and to insert, “ that fortifications on so extensive a plan as proposed by the board, are inexpedient." This amendment was defended by Mr. Wallwyn, General Burgoyne, Captain Macbride, Colonel Barré, Mr. Courtenay, the honourable Charles Marsham, Mr. Windham, Lord North, and by Mr. Sheridan, whose speech upon this occasion was the subject of much admiration. As soon as he had set down,
the time pointed thithe rise
Mr. Fox rose and remarked, that his honourable friend had gone so fully into the whole of the subject, and had argued it so closely, that it was unnecessary for him to take up much of the time of the House. He would, therefore, speak only to a few points, so personal to himself, that the House, he conceived, would think it highly necessary for him to take some notice of them. The right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer had pretty strongly insinuated that the system of fortification, now in conteniplation, was a part of that identical system which he had, when in office, proposed to the House. This was not by any means a correct representation of the fact; for, in truth, he never had proposed any plan of fortification whatever ; but in the ordnance estimates of the year 1783, a specific sum was asked for the purpose of going on with Fort Monkton, and another small fort which had been begun; yet, a demur arising upon the subject, he had agreed in the committee to take the two charges out of the estimate, and reserve them for future consideration; and the remaining part of the estimate was voted without them. In his opinion, a right honourable colonel (Barré) had well said, that it was not by fortifying Portsmouth and Plymouth merely that we were to look for a defence of the kingdom, either from invasion or dangerous attacks; because, undoubtedly, there were other vulnerable parts of our coast which required attention as well as those proposed to bę fortified. ,
As to the late peace; some observations concerning which had given such offence to the right honourable colonel, he should still deny that it had been either a necessary, or a great and glorious peace; and contend, that in the relative state of this kingdom, at the time, compared with the state of other powers, we had a right to expect a much more advantageous treaty. If, however, the peace had been great and glorious, those who remained in office, and enjoyed a share in making it, had divided the rewards of it in a manner singularly striking. For themselves they had taken places and emoluments, and left the person, who was supposed to have been the principal negotiator of it, in full possession of all the encomiums which the warmth of his panegyrists could bestow.
But 6 ease and praise," said Mr. Fox, are the true objects of genuine ambition. These they have liberally bestowed on the noble lord (Lansdown); these substantial recompences, these solid honours, have they nobly secured to him, in his favourite retirement, in his sequestered happiness, in rustic peace, and undisturbed repose! For themselves, on the contrary, have they not reserved all the cares, the anxieties, the fatigues, the solicitations — and the emoluments of office? Generous partition ! — substantial fame for their patron; mere official reward for themselves !
It is the extreme of absurdity to imagine, on party considerations, that the carrying the proposed amendment can prove an object of the slightest estimation. Who can conceive that either I or my friends will be one step nearer the acquisition of office or of power, whether the Duke of Richmond's fortification plan succeeds or fails? If defeating the minister, even in points which he has unequivocally supported to the utmost of his power, could have served us in a party light, how comes it that, notwithstanding the numerous defeats which he has endured, he continues unshaken, and even more firm than ever ? Has the complete failure of the Irish propositions in the least affected him as a minister? Did his shameful defeat in the question of the Westminster scrutiny either prejudice him, or serve me, in a ministerial light ? Did his abandonment of the cotton tax take an atom from his consequence? The fact is, he is a minister who thrives by defeat, and flourishes by disappointment. The country gentlemen oppose him upon one occasion, only to give him more strength upon another; he is beaten by them upon one subject, only to be assisted by them in a succeeding one; if he falls by the landed interest to-day, he is sure to rise by them to-morrow with added energy and recruited vigour.
In conclusion, he must beg leave to remind the House,
cquisia fortification Ints which he at have servea numer minister, even if his power, cowithstanding ishaken, and erish
that the right honourable gentleman had, as usual, availed himself of his machinery in his opening speech. He had drawn into his argument the American war, and the coalition. He was a little surprised that the poor India bill had escaped. Those topics, however, the right honourable gentleman might bring forward as often as he thought proper. No part of his conduct was he ashamed of; and although clamour, artfully raised, and industriously kept alive, might for a while put a false and injurious construction upon it, time would dissipate the cloud of prejudice, and convince all men how egregiously they had been duped and deluded. And here he should avow, that he retained all his great party principles upon constitutional questions; and that it was this circumstance which formed the line between him and the right honourable gentleman. I stand, said Mr. Fox, upon this great principle. I say that the people of England have a right to control the executive power, by the interference of their representatives in this House of parliament. The right honourable .gentleman maintains the contrary. He is the cause of our political enmity; to this I adhere; to this I pledge myself, and upon this ground I mean to vote for the amendment.
entatives in 1. maintains is I adhere; to for the
After a long discussion of the subject, the House divided on the original motion, as moved by Mr. Pitt: • Tellers.
Tellers. You S Mr. Steele :
SLord Maitland , AS | Mr. M. A. Taylor / Ogoment * Capt. Macbride 109. The numbers being equal, Mr. Speaker Cornwall said, that although he should have wished to have stated at large his reasons for the opinion he had formed on the question, yet, after so long a debate, he had too much respect for the House to take up any more of their time; and therefore declared himself with the noes. So it passed in the negative.
Mr. Fox then said, that the motions which his right honourable friend, Mr. Burke, was to have made on the preceding day, for papers relative to Mr. Hastings, could not be made before Wednesday; on which day they probably would be made by his right honourable friend, who was then prevented by illness from attending his duty in that House — a fortunate circumstance for the right honourable the Speaker, as it had given him an opportunity, which he otherwise would not have had, of gaining immortal honours, by his casting vote upon the subject of fortifications.
MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OF THE SHOP Tax..
March 2. THE House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole
1 House, to consider of the several petitions which had been presented praying for the repeal of the shop tax, Sir Watkin Lewes moved, “ That the chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a bill to repeal an act passed during the last session of parliament, entitled, “ An act for granting certain duties on shops within Great Britain.'” The motion was supported by Aldermen Sawbridge, Newnham, Townshend, Hammet, and Watson, Sir Joseph Mawbey, Mr. Thomson, Mr. Drake, Sir Gregory Page Turner, and Mr. Fox; and opposed by Sir Edward Astley, Mr. Loveden, Mr. Powys, Mr. W. Stanhope, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Grigsby. In reply to Mr. Pitt,
to impost unansweguish a ta for
Mr. Fox said, that the right honourable gentleman might rest assured that he admitted, without even the slightest exception, the justice of his arguments in favour of the necessity of perpetually endeavouring to introduce whatever might tend to improve the national revenue, and of refusing — unless the most unanswerable reasons could justify a contrary procedure - to relinquish a tax, from the produce of which a considerable sum might be looked for. So fully was he persuaded that his sentiments became not only every minister, but every member of that House, and so deeply was he, at the same time, convinced, that, in matters of taxation, the unpopularity of any particular impost ought not to be the reason for its being abandoned, that much as he professed of respect for his constituents of Westminster, and still more, as he felt of regard and reverence for those whom he considered as his first constituents, the people at large, whose interests he held himself bound to watch over, and, as far as in him lay, to protect and defend within those walls; yet, notwithstanding the numerous petitions on the table, and notwithstand ng the instructions which he had received from those whom he immediately represented, and their known wishes, he made no scruple to declare, that he would have supported the right honourable gentleman in resisting a motion for the repeal of the shop tax, had he not been fully convinced that the tax was radically bad; that it was founded in the grossest partiality and injustice ; and that no modification whatever, much less the sort of modification proposed by the right honourable gentleman, could cure its defects, or render it fit to be endured. The motion for its repeal should, therefore, have his
firm support, and in giving his vote for a repeal of the act in toto, he hoped he should not be considered as an enemy to the revenue. When the tax had been originally proposed, he objected to it, and then declared, that, though the right honourable gentleman chose to call it a shop tax, it was in fact an additional house tax, partially applied to houses, of which shops made a part. That was, undoubtedly, the state of the case, and consequently it was not the first, but the second shop tax; for the tax on houses had operated partially, and to the disadvantage of shopkeepers; inasmuch as shopkeepers, compared to all other descriptions of householders, paid by far the highest rents of any persons in the kingdom. To lay a new burden on the shoulders of that description of people, who were too heavily burdened before, was oppressive and unjust; and that, therefore, were there no other, was a strong reason, and indeed it ought to operate as an unane swerable one with the committee, for agreeing to the motion for a repeal of the act. · The right honourable gentleman had put the case, if houses were to rise in rent considerably all over the kingdom some years hence, what would then be the situation of shopkeepers, and would they have any reason to complain that they paid higher rents than they did at present? If the right honourable gentleman meant merely, that if money grew cheaper, and all sorts of property fetched a larger proportion of money in price proportionably, in that case things would just remain in the situation in which they stood at present; but if the right honourable gentleman meant (and so indeed he must mean, if he meant any thing) that the houses of shopkeepers only were at any given period to be raised in their rents all over the kingdom, he had then very fairly described the additional tax in question, because that tax operating upon shopkeepers only, did what the right honourable gentleman had stated : it raised the rents and swelled the capitals of shopkeepers' houses all over the kingdom, at the same time that it raised the rents of no other houses. How extreme was the injustice of selecting that useful body of people, the shopkeepers, as objects not only of separate and distinct, but of oppressive and unjust taxation! With regard to the two points, which the right honourable gentleman had laboured so much to establish, namely, that the tax was not personal, and that it might be laid on the consumer by the shopkeeper who paid it in the first instance, both those positions must he deny in the most unequivocal manner, and declare that the tax was a direct
or whose positions must be deny in the personal tax on the shopkeeper, and that it was utterly impossible for him to repay himself by laying it on the consumer, without putting the public not merely to five times the charge