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rest of Europe ; it had already, in some degree, produced this efa fect, as was manifest from the coldness which ministers discovered with respect to the Methuen treaty. He earnestly recommended, instead of the present treaty, a more intimate connection with America ; such an intercourse would be the most eligible for Great Britain that could be devised, and entirely consistent with her true political interests ; and such an intercourse he had the best reasons for believing America was both willing and eager to enter into upon fair and equitable terms. He remarked upon the indecency as well as the impolicy of granting to France what we had refused to Ireland, and of giving to a rival and a natural enemy what we had withheld from our friends and fellow-subjects. With respect to all the temporary advantages, some of which he believed might reasonably be expected from the treaty, they were to him additional reasons for rejecting it. Every offer of service from France, he regarded with suspicion -
timeo Danaos & dona ferentes
arman Aut ulla putatis
Dona carere dolis Danaum? The address was also opposed by Mr, Burke and Mr. Sheridan, and supported by Mr. W. Grenville, Mr. D. Pulteney, Lord Mornington and others, upon the grounds already stated; but at a late hour an objection to the address was stated by Mr. Welbore Ellis, who contended that the motion for an address in the present stage of the business was premature, unprecedented, and unparliamentary, tending to deprive the House of its powers of deliberation, and to pledge them to pass bills for carrying the provisions of the treaty into effect. He therefore moved the previous question.' Mr. Anstruther defied ministers to produce a single instance from the journals that could in any manner be brought to bear upon so extraordinary a proceeding. Mr. Adam endeavoured to shew, that, by the principles adopted by parliament, and the invariable practice of the House, the address ought to be resisted by all who had any regard for the independence of the House of Commons, or the dignity and honour of the crown. The proceedings of parliament upon the treaty of Utrecht were referred to as a case in point, and as an useful lesson to the House against hastiness and precipitation. That treaty was laid before the House by a message from the queen. A committee of the whole House was appointed to take the 8th and gth articles into consideration. After a long debate in that committee, on the question that the House be moved for leave to bring in a bill to make effectual the 8th and oth articles of the treaty of commerce, the question was carried by a very large majority, greater than on any vote on the present treaty. The bill was brought in, and read a first time, at the distance of a fortnight from the vote in the first committee. There was an interval of a week between the first and second reading of the bill. Petitions now came in from all quarters: and the committee on the bill sat for many days to hear the petitioners by their counsel against the treaty. The report from this committee was received and agreed to. But on the question, that the bill with amendments be engrossed, it was carried
in the negative by a majority of nine. No address was presented to the queen till after the rejection of the bill.
the jo fore, bild be a bea prean esange that
· Mr. Fox said, that the House having had the goodness to hear him so frequently, and sometimes at considerable length, upon the subject of the commercial treaty, he would not, they might rest assured, abuse their indulgence, but would in a very brief manner offer a few observations to their notice on the immediate matter before them. With regard to the address, of all the practices of administration, it was the most alarming, the most dangerous, and the most unconstitutional. He would not, indeed, go so far as an honourable and learned friend of his had gone, and agree, that if a single precedent could be found upon the journals for such a proceeding, he would relinquish the point, and vote for the address. There might be, and there undoubtedly were, bad precedents upon the journals in a great many instances. There might possibly, therefore, be a precedent for the present proceeeding, but if there should be a precedent to be found, he would venture to say, that it must be a precedent to be reprobated, and not a precedent fit to be made an example.
Mr. Fox reminded the House that the address went to de: prive the House of its legislative capacity, to preclude debate, and to render null and void all those forms which the wisdom of their ancestors had provided, as the parliamentary cautions and guards against surprize, and for the purpose of preventing any measure of a legislative nature from being hurried through the House, without ample deliberation and ample discussion. Had the business been brought on in the usual way, they would have enjoyed full time to know the opinion of the manufacturers, and to discuss the subject again and again, before they came to a decisive vote upon it. In all cases of trade, the forms of the House obliged the matter to be first submitted to a committee of the whole House, where resolutions were necessary to be moved, and consequently where the matter was in the first instance open to debate. The resolutions, when agreed to, were reported to the House, and on the House agreeing to the report, a bill was ordered in. Had that been the mode of proceeding adopted in the present case, instead of a premature address, the House would have had six stages to have discussed the subject in, before they came to their ultimate vote. The bill must be read a first time, it must be read a second time, committed, reported, engrossed and read a third time, and passed. At every one of these several stages, the House would have found ample opportunity of debating deliberately; whereas what was the case then? They were called on to vote an address which tied up their hands, which' pledged the House to support whatever bill might be brought in, and precluded all future debate and all future discussion. - Mr. Fox said, that this was an ill omen of our future intercourse with France; it was a bad beginning; it was adopting and copying the French constitution at the same time that we were about to take the French commerce. It was commencing our intercourse with France in a most inauspicious manner, and it was not more ungraceful than unnecessary, because the coming to a vote upon the address would not accelerate the conclusion of the proceedings on the commercial treaty; it would not forward them one hour. Would it not then, on every account, have been more wise, more grave, and more becoming that House, to have proceeded in the usual way by bill, and after they had gone through all the six stages, through which a bill must necessarily pass, would it not have been better, in every sense of the word, to have then voted an address, and gone up to the throne with it, informing his majesty, that his faithful commons had complied with his royal requisition in his speech to parliament, and agreed to support the commercial treaty with France ? Mr. Fox put this in a most striking point of view, and said, that should the address unfortunately pass, which he flattered himself it would not, he must in that case heartily wish that the House had been in a committee, if it were only to save the Speaker from the shame and disgrace of going up to his majesty and presenting an address. What sort of a speech could the right honourable gentleman possibly make, should he have the disagreeable task of attending at St. James's with the address ? With what an aukward feeling must the right honourable gentleman say, that his majesty's faithful commons had destroyed their own forms, and grossly violated the constitution. He reasoned upon this for some time, and after stating it powerfully in various ways, he urged to the House the great unreasonableness of the right honourable gentleman opposite to him, if he pressed the motion on the address at that time, since it was evident that he would not forward the business by so doing. It was not delay, he said, that he was contending for, because the delaying the address could not operate as any procrastination of the measures to be taken for the conclusion of the treaty. He took notice of the contempt with which an honourable and learned gentleman had talked of the manufacturers who signed the petition on their table. They were not, he said, as few solitary” manufacturers as they had been described to be, but men of undoubted character and undoubted worth and honour. Men, who, when they came before that House, either as the delegates and represen
atives of oth to be the heard inle to
tatives of others, or in their own individual character, were well entitled to be received and listened to with attention. They had a right to be heard in every stage of the business; but how would the House be able to hear them after the address was presented, when they would be precluded from acting upon any information, however important, that Mr. Walker or Mr. Holmes, or any other of the subscribers, might lay before the House? Having put these questions strongly, and paid an handsome compliment to his honourable friend Mr. Grey, Mr. Fox at last concluded a most animated speech, with expressing his hope, that it would be the determination of the House to reject the address for the present, by agreeing to the motion for the previous question, since, if they did not, they would not only make a bad precedent for that House, but as absolutely preclude the House of Lords from free debate, as if they had followed the example of Oliver Cromwell, and silenced that necessary and constitutional branch of the legislature.
In answer to these objections, Mr. Pitt insisted upon the ad. dress on the Irish propositions, but two years before, as a precedent in point, in favour of the mode of proceeding he had adopted. Mr. Sheridan rose with great warmth, and many gentlemen calling out spoke! spoke! he said he meant to move a new question, the question of adjournment; in order that he might have an opportunity of proposing a resolution upon the subject of the extraordinary doctrines which had been laid down ; doctrines as new and as unconstitutional as ever were heard in those walls ! The question of adjournment being put,
Mr. Fox said, that as his honourable friend had omitted to state what resolution he meant to move, he would declare, that his object was to move a resolution, “ that it was the opinion of that House, that it was impossible for them to bind or preclude themselves by an address to the throne, from either debating or voting upon any subsequent legislative question whatever.” Mr. Fox reiterated his former arguments, to shew the propriety of proceeding by way of bill, and instanced the case of the Irish propositions, declaring that no man present dreamt of moving an address, stating in express words to the throne, that the House would pass any specific number of bills for the purpose of enforcing the propositions. Had such an address been moved, it would have been reprobated. In the case of the peace of Utrecht, let the House recollect that a bill had been brought in to enact the eighth and ninth articles of the treaty of commerce. The question for leave to bring in the bill had, on a division, been carried by an uncommonly large majority, the numbers having been above 100 to 12 or 13. It was read a second time upon a division of a large majority also, and it went through the committee, and two or three days afterwards, was in the very last stage thrown out by a majority of 194 voices against 185 *. This proved the importance of a regular compliance with the forms of the House, and a due exercise of their deliberative powers. A large majority had thus been, by mere dint of debate and discussion, converted into a minority, and one of the worst, and most hostile treaties to the British constitution that ever was heard of, was put an end to and annihilated. What was the reason that the right honourable gentleman did not proceed in the same way now? The reason was obvious. Aware of the event of 1713, he was determined to proceed in another manner; and in order to ensure the success of his treaty, instead of risquing the chance of deliberation, he had profited by the fate of the treaty of Utrecht, and had caused an address to be moved to tie up the hands of the House, and preclude all debate and all danger of future opposition. Had Lord Bolingbroke and Mr. Harley, in the year 1713, been aware of the fate of their treaty, they no doubt would have aimed at doing the same thing; but in those days when one of the most powerful factions governed this country that had ever been in possession of power, they never dreamt of venturing such a length as the right honourable gentleman, who had profited by the short-sightedness of the ministry of 1713, and had whetted his sagacity upon their dulness.
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The motion for an adjournment was then negatived. After which the House divided on the previous question: Tellers.
Tellers. YEAS Ş Mr. Rose
NOBS Lord Downe. $116. So it was resolved in the affirmative, and the main question being put, the address was agreed to, and ordered to be communicated, at a conference, to the lords.
Mr. M. A. Taylor 236.-Noes Lord Maitland?
MR. Fox's MotION RESPECTING THE NATURE AND EXTENT
OF PARLIAMENTARY ADDRESSES TO THE KING.
March 7. IN consequence of the preceding debate, and in pursuance of a I notice which he had given,
* See New Parliamentary History of England; vol. vi. pp. 1210. 1220.