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Such were the resources from that they would operate with equa
a he proposed to draw the new lity, and yet would not bear hard on sary sums to provide for the in- the poor, By the production of the
est of the enormous expense of taxes it might be inferred, that the we year. The new duries, he said, war had not materially injured the "ere diffused over so many articles sources of our prosperity.
the permanent revenne for the year, ending 10th of
October, 1796, amounted to And notwithstanding the operation of the new dus, the average produce of those duties for the last three
- - - - -
On the side of supply he had taken year 1797, though they amounted but the sum of 3,000,0001. to meet to a much larger sum the preceding the further extraordinaries for the year.
The amount of the navy debt, according to the papers } furnished by the board, was
And by adding for the increase of debt to the 30th of
The total up to that time would then be L. 16,171,000 Mr. Pitt then alluded to an ex- back on this occasion. He should pense of a particular nature which propose a sum of three millions, had been incurred during thọ inter with a view of enabling ministers val of parliament; the assistance to make advarices to our allies, if which ministers had thought pro- we were compelled to persevere in per to grant to the emperor without the war; at the same time we were a public discussion: the reasons not to consider such sums as lost to which he gave for this conduct the country; we had seen too many were, that in the critical situation of of those qualities, the inherent comthe country, it might have been panions of good faith and honour, matter of extreine delicacy to have in his imperial majesty, to entertain brougbt forward a public discussion any suspicions with respect to his on the propriety of advancing a conduct : he should therefore prosum to a foreign court; and the pose (he said) the vote of three consequences might have been to millions. bave suggested a grant too small for Mr. Fox, reprobated, with his the wants of our ally, or too large usual energy, this unconstitutional for the means of the country. A mode of proceeding. The minister sum of about twelve hundred thou- now, he said, had spoken out plainsand pounds had, be believed, been ly; he had acknowledged that he allotted to his imperial majesty'; à · had given to the emperor, without fature opportunity would be afford- the consent of parliament, twelve ed for the discussion of this topic, hundred thousand pounds, and that which he only mentioned, that no he was to continue to do it if circumstance connected with the he thought it necessary! Those national expenditure might be kept who were members of the last par1797.
liament could not have forgotten, this, but that he thinks his judg. that for the last three months of ment better than the judgment of that parliament, not a week had the representatives of the people of elapsed in which some question was Great Britain ? The minister says, not put to the minister, in which that we should feel the utmost conhe was called to declare, whether he fidence in lending our money to intended to grant any pecuniary the emperor, because we have seen assistance to the emperor. Did he in the emperor those heroic quali. mean to say, that he intended to ties which usually accompany good give it, but that his own au- faith. Now, supposing heroism to thority for that purpose was suf. be a just criterion of good faith in ficient? that it was superfluous to pecuniary concerns, I should like submit such a subject to parlia- to try the effect of this mode of ment, and that he could issue the reasoning. Suppose for a moment money of his own authority ? that we were in a state of neutrality Perhaps he did : he might borrow with the French republic, and it an example from his own conduct was proposed that we should lend to keep the measure in counte- money to the French, would the nance. It was of a piece with his minister say we should lend them advice to his majesty to continue money ? certainly he would not ; him as his minister against the de- and yet, if good faith in pecuclared opinion of the house of niary engagements was to be mea. commons in the year 1754. Now sured by heroic qualities, there he had gone one step farther, and are none to whom we ought to shewn to the people of Great Bri- be more ready to lend; for of their tain that he was a better judge than valour they have given abundant the parliament of Great Britain, to proofs.” Mr. Fox then proceeded whom their money, and how much to state the situation of the empeof it also, should be given. "If," ror and the French at this moment ; said Mr. Fox, “ these are the senti in wbich he maintained, that, with ments to be acted upon in this coun- all the successes of the Austrians try; if the ininister be perimitted to in the latter part of the present carry them into effect, I declare, for campaign, another could not be myself, that the constitution is not opened under circumstances of worth fighting for. On the 27th more advantage to the emperor of Deceniber, 1795, you met: did than those in which he had been he give you any intimation of his placed at the commencement of the having advanced the money before last. He here took notice of the you were called together? did he successes of the French in Italy, give you any intimation before this and, by way of answering the very night ? Not a word. For this praises bestowed on the good quaconduct he ought to be impeached. lities of the house of Austria, he He has had it in his power to con- instanced the cruelties that had been sult you long ago upon this subject, exercised on La Fayette, which he as it was his duty. He has neglect- said had excited horror all over ed to do so, by which he has mani- Europe. fested a deterinination to dispose of He then observed the minister's the money of the people without calculations of events: year after consulting their representatives. year he had calculated upon the What reason can be assigned for events of the war, and year after
year the public had been misled all this because one man, or a few
by his calculations. At one time mer, in the country, made false cal, he was sure the navy debt wonid culations), were not likely to pre
only be a million and a half; after serve their ancient spirit. that, he calculated the same debt The national debt was now above at four millions; then at six or seven four hundred millions; he had not millions, and now it was stated to calculated exactly what portion of be above sixteen millions. What it was owing to this war altogether, security had the house and the pub. but he was now ready to declare lic that the minister would not mis- what he often had declared, and calculate in future as he had already still oftener felt, that it was unjust done in the course of the present at its commencement, impolitic in war? By his miscalculations he its progress, and he believed there had added to the debt of this coun: was not one man of sense who had try one hundred and fifty millions, any wishes for his country's welfare, and rivers of human blood had been who did not from his heart wish it at made to flow all over the world. an end. Perhaps the minister might
The minister now talked of peace; think the Cape of Good Hope an but as he was so fond of his own equivalent for all we had suffered: calculations, he wished he would if he did, neither his humanity nor some day sit down in his closet and his judgment was to be envied. calculate what a sum of human Mr. Fox said he was afraid that no happiness he had destroyed already; question would be stated that night what a waste of human life he on the propriety of lending money had occasioned, because he could to the emperor without the consent not sooner discover that the French of parliament, and therefore he were capable of maintaining the could not manifest by his vote his accustomed relations of peace and opinion upon the subject : howamity with other powers. Here ever, whenever it came before the Mr. Fox took notice of the difier- house be should meet it with his ence between the ministers of the direct negative, for it was qr a vioelector of Hanover and those of the lent and daring attack upon the king of Great Britain, with respect British constitution." to the prudence of making peace The resolutions were then put and with the French republic. He had carried, heard it said, that the spirit of the On the oth of December Mr. people of this country was great; Hobart brought up the report of he believed it to be so; he gloried the committee of ways and means, in that spirit; but if the system on which was read a first time, and on which this war was carried on, was the question being put for its being to be continued much longer, he had , read a second, bis doubts, he said, of the continui Mr. Fox rose. He said it was ance of that spirit.
his ardent wish that every member A great people, who saw hun of the house might pay the most sedreds of thousands of their fellow- rious attention to the subject, under creatures fall, their national debt a strong conviction that the greatincreased above one hundred and est. exertions would be necessary to fifty millions, their credit sinking, put the finances of this country in. the necessaries of life becoming, by a proper situation ; but this was not their price, almost entirely out of the point to which he proposed to the reach of the labouring class (and call the attention of the house : it
was to the degraded state in which actually sitting. Why was not pro. the commons of Great Britain stood per aplication made to the house? relative to the executive govern- jt was, because the right honourment. He alluded, he said, to able gentleman fancied himself betthe 1,200,0001. granted to the em- ter qualified to judge of the properor without the consent of par- priety of the time, and the extent of liament; a grant contrary to posi- the assistance, than the house of tive laws, and a flagrant violation commons. of the constitution of parliament. The constitution says he was not: From the mode in which the money it says, that the public money is at had been given, it was evident that the disposal, not of the crown, but the whole affair had been conduct- of the parliament; and therefore ed for the purpose of setting a pre- he had no right to dispose of it cedent in the annals of the consti- without its consent. The question tution, that it might be understood now was, not whether the constituthe public money was not at the tion be good or bad, whether this disposal of the representatives of be a wise or unwise arrangement, the people, but of the ministers of but it was his duty, as the minister the crown. But he would consider of a free constitution, to adhere to the nature of the transaction. Had the principles which it had laid ministers, when parliament was not down, and to the rules which it had sitting, found themselves called prescribed; the first, and most imupon by an imperious sense of portant of which was, that the disduty, dictated by urgent and un- posal of the public money is vested foreseen circumstances, to grant a not in the king, but in the people. certain pecuniary aid to the empe. Something, indeed, we heard like ror, and had they taken the earliest an apology from the right honouropportunity upon the meeting of able gentleman; but it was as unparliament to submit the whole of satisfactory as the conduct it was the business to their consideration ; brought forward to jus;ify was unthen would have been the time for constitutional. It consisted of two the house to have passed a decision parts: first, that parliament was upon their conduct; but the pre- not so good a judge as himself; sent case was wholly different.' In and, secondly, that from the disthe course of the last three months cussions to which the publicity of the last parliament, repeated ap- would lead, considerable mischief plications were made to them re- might have taken place. With respecting their intentions of grant- spect to the first, it takes the point ing or withholding pecuniary assist- for granted, by supposing that an ance to the emperor; and from the absolute is preferable to a limited silence which they persevered in monarchy, and that our free conpreserving on the subject, it was 'stitution would be much better natural to infer, that they would were it transformed into a despot. not grant it without the previous ism: and as to the other, of danger concurrence of parliament. But from its publicity, this pretence we now find a great part of the may be used till we come to the old money had been granted to his im- exploded argument, that the grantperial majesty without that concur- ing of money ought to be vested in rence, not during the parliamentary the king's ministers, not in the peorecess, but when parliament was ple's representatives. In short, continued Mr. Fox, the right honour that parliament which had tamely able gentleman tells us, that he did given them up without one syllable not think it worth while to acknow- of remonstrance, without one threat ledge you at all in the matter, be- of defiance? It was true, the house cause you were not fit judges of had so far relaxed from the rigorthe propriety of the quantum, nor ous exercise of their privilege, as of the period for granting the to give a vote of credit to the mi-! money: he takes care, however, nister that he might be enabled to that you shall be finally informed meet unforeseen emergencies ; this, of it: but when ? when it comes to however, was always to a limited be paid.
extent; but, in the present instance, But from what fund bad this, the right honourable gentleman loan been raised? one part of it had thought the commons were from a vote of credit, and another as little qualified to judge of the had been taken from the money extent of the assistance to be voted for defraying the extraordi. given to the emperor, as of the naries of the year; and of course propriety of giving it. With recertain services, of which parlia- gard to this parliament, Mr. Fox ment had approved, and for which hoped, that it would vindicate its it had made provision, must remain own dignity and importance at the onpaid. In what situation then was onset, and shew the ministers of the bouse of commons placed ? If the country, that if they be the adthey refused to make good the debt, visers of the measures of the crown, which he hoped and trusted they the house of commons are the guarwould, part of the public service dians of the public purse. But if, would continue in arrears. They on the other hand, they patiently were reduced the to this dilemma, acquiesced in the most daring ineither to discharge a debt, in con- croachments on their rights, how tracting which they were not ac- would they answer to their country knowledged, and for which they for those liberties which they had were not responsible ; or, by re. wantonly sacrificed at the shrine of fusing to discharge it, to leave ser- unprincipled ambition ? He convices which were sanctioned by sidered it as a more serious attack their approbation, unpaid. Should upon the constitution than what the question be put to any man at was conveyed through the writings all acquainted with the constitu. of Paine, or of any man whattion of this country, when expenses ever. Were I (said Mr. Fox) upon are to be incurred, who are the best a jury, deciding upon the speech of jodges of the propriety of incurring the right honourable gentleman last them, he would answer, the com- night, I should pronounce it a libel mons of Great Britain. Who are upon the constitution; for if the the best judges of the extent to doctrines laid down in it are constiwhich they ought to be incurred ? tutional, ours is a most vile and de. He would not hesitate also to reply, testable constitution. Even after all the commons of Great Britain. the attacks which have been made When these two strong holds were upon it, we should still shed our given up, the constitution was lost. blood in its defence; but if this What then would posterity think new defalcation is to be added to of that minister who had wrested what we formerly were robbed of, them out of our possession, or of what is there left to interest our