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(Richmond) was to be the sole judge, they might be reduced at his pleasure from ninepence to sixpence per day. It was stated also, in the warrant, that those men were to be employed on the fortifications. Considering the noble duke's passion for military projects, the house ought to be watchful of every opportunity which he might embrace of gratifying his favorite pursuit; and he would no doubt employ these six hundred men, as he did the con- . victs, on a principle of economy.
Mr. Hessey's amendment was negatived without a division.
DECLARATORY EAST INDIA BILL.
Mr. Pitt moved the order of the day for the third reading of this bill, and the question having been put " That the bill be now read a third time," a long discussion ensued; the question being called for, the house divided, ayes (for reading the bill a third time) 127; noes 73.
Mr. SHERIDAN begged leave to submit to the house a clause, by way of rider, which he proposed to bring up and annex to the bill. The object of the clause was to limit the duration of the Board of Control, and confine it to the period of the charter's existence. Mr. Sheridan justified his moving a clause by way of rider, by the frequent example of the other side of the house; and said, that it was extremely necessary that the company, when their charter expired and deprived them of their exclusive monopoly of trade, should not any longer be liable to the superintendance of the Board of Control. He read the clause to the house, and moved for leave to bring it up.
The question having been put from the chair, Mr. Pitt declared that he felt himself under the necessity of resisting the motion ; because, in the first place, it was wholly unnecessary, as the Board of Control attached solely on the civil and military government of India, and not upon the commerce of the Company. Besides, whenever the
charter of the Company expired, if it should not be deemed proper or adviseable to renew it for a fresh term of years, the then novel situation of the company would necessarily prove a circumstance to be discussed in that house, and a circumstance for parliament to act upon. It was, therefore, highly improper to anticipate any one of the questions then to be brought into agitation. Besides, as far as he could collect the wording of the clause, as the honorable gentleman had read it, notwithstanding his reflections on the inaccuracy of bills and clauses proposed by him, and those on his side of the house, it appeared to be imperfectly drawn. (Mr. Sheridun expressing some surprise at this) The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked, if the necessary negative words “and no longer," were inserted in it. Upon the whole, he considered the clause as useless, and rather calculated to convey an insinuation on the whole bill, than to answer any fit or necessary purpose.
Mr. Sheridan answered, that it was, undoubtedly, peculiarly becoming the other side of the house to stand upon verbal precision, when they themselves were so remarkably inattentive to that particular. The words " and no longer," were, it was true, omitted in the clause, as he supposed, through the mere error of the engrossing clerk;—the error was easily set right. But, from the whole of the right honorable gentleman's speech, it was clear that he was utterly ignorant of every part and principle of his own bill :--an ignorance which he had manifested all through the proceeding. The Board of Control had already extended their interference to the commercial concerns of the company. In illustration of the Nabob of Arcot, with which, through a false and forced construction of a treaty, the Board of Control had interfered, and unjustly arranged them. Another illegal interference was in the affair of the claim made upon the company by government, on account of the two lacks per regiment. The Court of Directors had desired time to inquire whether they stood indebted to government or not. They had laid the case before their counsel, and his answer had been, that the demand was illegal. They then said, that they would write to their servants in India, and get an exact account of the subject matter of that claim. They prepared the dispatches accordingly, and sent
them to the Board of Control. The right honorable gentleman then went, in his capacity of first in the commission, and there altered the company's dispatches ; making the directors mistake their own accounts, and put them into such a form as must defeat the object of their inquiry in India.
After further conversation the question was put on the motion, “ That the clause be brought up,” and it passed in the negative.
The Speaker next put the question “ That the bill do now pass.”
Mr. Fox now adverted to the questions that had, in the course of the debates, been so often stated relative to the interference of the Board of Control in the commercial concerns of the company, and which he said, had never received any other reply, than such us was an insult and a mockery to common sense. If the right honorable gentleman did not chuse to give any intelligible answer, the house would form its own conclusion on his silence.
Mr. Dundus admitted, that the Board of Control had no legal authority whatever to interfere in any manner in the commercial concerns of the company; and he was equally ready to admit that the Court of Directors had no legal authority whatever to send out dispatches to India through the medium of their secret committee. Having made both these admissions, he acknowledged, that the Court of Directors,' wishing to take the cotton trade on the coast of Bombay into the company's own hands, in order to supply their China .trade from Bengal; and knowing that the success of their design depended on secrecy, and that if they sent their dispatches from the secret committee, taking upon themselves, at the same time, the responsibility of the measure, which they were aware was illegal. Under these circumstances, the dispatch came to the Board of Control, signed by the chairman and Mr. Manship, a gentleman certainly not extremely friendly to the board ; and the board became, if the house chose so to phrase it, blind instruments in the hands of the Court of Directors, and subscribed their signatures to the dispatch. This was the whole of that transaction. The Board of Control nrither suggested the measure, nor took any other part in the affair than he had stated.
Mr. Fox answered, that from what the right honorable gentleman had stated, the Board of Control, it was evident, had acted illegally; because, if they had not ļent their authority in the case in question, the dispatches could not have been sent to India, through the unlawful medium of the secret committee. Mr. Fox took occasion, in the course of his speech, to observe, that the omission" of the words “ and no longer,” really proved, upon inquiry, to have been a mere clerical error, as the words were in his honorable friend's manuscript, which he was ready to produce.
Mr. Sheridan denied that the right honorable VOL. II.
gentleman opposite him had given a true account of the transaction. The Board of Control had done more than the right honorable gentleman had described. They had not acted as blind instruments, but as beings perfectly possessed of sight, They had altered the dispatch, by omitting a sentence, (which Mr. Sheridan read.) Mr. Sheridan added, that, as all hope of defeating the bill was then over, he would not trouble the house any more than merely to take five minutes of their time in reading a statement of the different characters of the two India bills; a matter the more necessary, since, in the whole course of the debates, the bill of his right honorable friend appeared to have been much misunderstood. Mr. Sheridan here proceeded to read the paper at length. When he was about half through, he was interrupted by
Sir Robert Smyth, who desired to know the authority of the paper ; and whether it was an extract from a pamphlet, or a more authentic document. If it were the latter, it might be laid on the table and printed for the use of the members.
The speaker declared that the honorable gentleman was perfectly in order to read the paper as part of his speech.
Mr. Sheridan said, he had before stated, that the paper was a description and comparison of Mr. Fox's India bill, and Mr. Pitt's India bill; drawn up carefully by himself; and extremely necessary for gentlemen to attend to, as it would give a perfect comprehension of each.
After Mr. Sheridan had gone through the paper, the question was put, “ That the bill do pass,” which was carried without a division.
CONDUCT OF THE ADMIRALTY, RELATIVE TO
THE PROMOTION OF ADMIRALS.
By an order of council, dated in the year 1718, and addressed to the lords commissioners of the Board of Admiralty ; they are directed to proceed in the promotion of officers to the rank of admirals, in the navy, according to the seniority of suck officers upon the list of captains, regard only had to their being duly qualified for the rank to which they shall be promoted. By a subsequent order of 1747, the lords of the Admiralty are authorised to superannuate such captains of long and meritorious service as shall be disabled from serving as admirals, by age or infirmity, under the title of admirals upon the superannuated list; or, as it is commonly called, the list of yellow admirals. In a promotion made by the Board of Admiralty, on the 15th of September, 1787, in which sixteen captains were promoted to the flag, upwards of forty cuptains had been passed over, the greater part of which had the offer made them, of being put upon the superannuated list ; but conceiving themselves entitled from their past, and their capacity for future service, to the rank of acting admirals, they refused the retreat that was offered them; and had endeavored, but without success, to obtain their re-establishment from the Board of Admiralty. This partial promotion had occasioned a great and general disgust; and especially amongst the officers of the navy, who were alarmed to find, that the expectations of reward for the longest and most meritorious services, were to be dependent upon the caprice of the first lord of the Admiralty; and it was, therefore, thought a proper. subject for parliamentary animadversion. Accordingly, on the 18th of April, Mr. Bastard moved in the house of commons “ That the house do resolve itself into a committee of the whole house, to enquire into the conduct of the Board of Admiralty, touching the late, promotion to the flag.” As this motion went to a direct charge of ministerial misconduct against the first Lord of the Admiralty, and was free from the objection of interfering improperly on the functions of the executive government, it was necessary to meet it upon the distinct merits of the case. In support of the presumption of misconduct, Mr. Bastard stated the cases of Captains Balfour, Thompson, Uvedale, Sherley, Bray, and Laforey, and several others were mentioned in the course of the debate. With the view of obviating the unfavorable conclusion these cases seemed strongly to support, it was argued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in defence of the Admiralty, that none of the circumstances alleged amounted to more than a negative proof that the officers in question, were not disqualified for the rank for which they contended; but that where a selection was to be made, (and that a selection was expedient would appear, not only from the uniform practice of the navy, but from the great expense and sundry inconveniences which would unavoidably result from an overlouded list of flag officers) it was necessary that a discretionary power of making that selection, should be lodged in the commissioners of the Board of Admiralty. He admitted that they were responsible to parliament, in the use of that discretion ; and that whenever a case was made out, strong enough to warrant a suspicion of such abuses us deserved censure or punishment, it was the indispensable duty of the house of commons to proceed to enquiry. But he denied that such a case