Abbildungen der Seite

administration in remitting the money to the emperor, and contended, that an attempt to delay the supplies for the year on that account was not defensible upon rational grounds.

Mr. Fox, in his reply, said that the real question was, whether the conduct of the minister with regard to this money sent to the emperor was, or was not, an infraclion of the constitution: if it was an infraction of the constitution (which be thought no one could deny), then it was an actual invalion and usurpation of the powers of the representatives of the people, in the most important of all their privileges, that of granting money.

At length the house divided on the question, that the word "tomorrow" be inserted, instead of "now." Ayes 58—Noes l6'4. The resolutions were then agreed to.

The same subject was discussed again in the house of .commons on the J4th December, atter Mr. Long bad brought up some papers from ibe treasury, containing the correspondence which passed between Mr. Long and Mr. Boyd, concerning the money advanced to the emperor; together wiih an account of the interest paid by his imperial majesty upon the loan of four millions and a half.

Mr. Fox, upon this occasion, retraced with some additional energy all the arguments which he had enforced on a former day, against the unconstitutional measure which the minister luid adopted of remitting money to the emperor without the knowledge or permission of parliament. He supported his arguments by an appropriate quotation from Mr. Hatsell's Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons, by which it appeared, that

formerly those sums of money which had been expended, but not specified, commonly called extraordinaries, were confined within some limits, as appeared from the account entered in the journals during the war -of the succession, and even in the war which terminated in 1/'18. In what was commonly called the German war, these sums first became very large; but in the American war they exceeded all bounds; these extraordinaries very often amounted to almost as much as the whole sums voted bj parliament upon the estimates; nay, in the year 1"8'2, they appear to have actually exceeded them. It was therefore incumbent upon the house of commons, not only to make this supply as small as possible, but, in a subsequent session, to inquire into the particular expenditure of this sum. Mr. Fox concluded a speech of great length, by a motion to the following purport: "That his majesty's ministers, having at different times, without the consent, and during the. sitting of parliament, directed the issue of various sums of money for the service of his imperial majesty, and al»o for the service of the army under the prince of Conde, have acted contrary to their duty, and to the trust reposed in> them, and have thereby violated the constitutional privileges of this house."

Mr. alderman Combe seconded the motion, he said, in obedience to the instructions of his constituents, who had met that day in the common hall of the city of London, and had desired their representatives to censure the conduct of ministers, in granting away the public money without the consent of parliament. He also observed, that the' discounting of the bills

drawn drawn for the purpose of remitting money to the imperial troops, had swallowed up so much of the ca«h of the bank, as to compel that great body to narrow their discounts; and the British merchants were made to suffer, that the German soldiers might be supplied.


The chancellor of the exchequer said, that it was no small satisfaction to him, that the full review of former precedents, with respect to the motion then before the house, formed the chief ground of the argument, and that those precedents concurred in ju-tifying the measure at that moment so severely condemned. Respecting what had fallen from alderman Combe, he contended, that it was impossible forhis constituents to decide, in a just and candid manner, on the propriety of giving a vote on a motion with the particulars of which they must have been unacquainted, and also ignorant of the defence which his majesty's ministers meant to set up. Mr.Pitt then went at considerable length into a defence of the measure in question, in which he followed the same train of arguments as on the 8th of December; and concluded •with quotinga number of precedents both before and after the date of the revolution, on which he appeared to rest his principal defence. In 3701, he said, parliament had voted an extra sum for the payment of foreign forces, not regularly as a rote of credit, but subsequent to such a vote. In the reign of Anne, in 1JC4-.), both subsidies and grants had been employed in paying fo-' reign forces without the authority of parliament. In 1/V0, he added, a transaction similar to that under discussion was publicly avowed. In 1718, 8n instance also occured, which, however, he admitted was not so anagolous to the late trans

action as the preceding. In the years 1734 and 17 3.f>, votes of credit were granted and applied according to the exigencies of the times. An advance to the duke of Aremberg in ]"4'2 was noticed in debate, and censured in the administration of Mr. Pelham; but the inquiry was avoided by the previous question. Lastly, he appealed to his own administration in J78/, when the expenses incurred in protecting Holland were recognized under the head of secret services.

Mr. Bragge followed the minister in order, and in a great degree also in argument, and concluded by proposing an amendment to the motion, purporting "That advancing the several sums of money in the account then before the house, for the service of his imperial majesty (though not to be drawn into precedent but upon occasions of special necessity), was a justifiable exercise, under the circumstances of the case, of the discretion vested in his majesty's ministers by the rote of credit."

Mr. alderman Lushington declared that he should not have risen but for the meeting of his constituents, alluded to by Mr. Combe > but he could never consent to receive instructions to support a motion for censuring ministers before he had heard their defence. It bad been said that the constitution had been violated; the papers on the table would prove the contrary. In times of difficulty he thought the hands of government ought to be strengthened; and in this instance, he was first inclined to think a bill of indemnity would have been proper,_ but he had since heard enough to convince him that it was not necessary.

Alderman Curtis and alderman

Anderson,1 the other city members,

coincided with the last speaker, and

supported reported the minister in contradiction to the resolutions of their constituents.

Mr. Sheridan, in a long and energetic speech, supported the mo tion for censuring the ministersMr. Bragge, he said, the mover of the amendment, appeared to have formed a determination to turn every expression of censure into a testimony of approbation. His motion did not at all refer to the sums sent abroad to the army of Condi:; if it exempted that part of the measure which concerned the emperor from censure, it left the other to stand upon the journals with the brand which was implied from its being passed over without notice, while the other was held up to approbation. He would not enter into the inquiry, whether or not the power of granting supplies, and controlling their application, was as ancient as the government itself, and coeval with the existence of the constitution. This salutary power arose from the abuses of government, from the misconduct of ministers, from tyranny, and from corruption. The reign of Charles the'Second abounded with examples of this corruption; at the revolution the .right of the parliament to grant supplies, and controul their application, was solemnly recognized, ai>d since that period interwoven with its usage. In this review he wondered at the stress which had been laid upon the precedents which had been quoted: it was arguiug from the exception against the rule; it was erecting the deviation into the guide. Here Mr. Sheridan contended, that even these precedents did not apply to the present case. The first which had ibe remotest similarity to it was that in 1705, of the advance to the duke of Savoy, to the amount of

47,000/. This sum was granted, during the recess of parliament, to an ally of this country, placed in perilous circumstances, when his capital of Turin was actually in a state of siege. A demand was made for 50,000/. and the letter which Mr. Secretary Harley sent in answer to the ambassador of Savoy, stated, it was not practicable according to the custom of the constitution while parliament xvas not sittinir, to comply with the request; yet the pressing circumstances of the case induced her majesty Jo grant a certain sum to be deducted out of the subsidy that was to be paid to the duke of Savoy. He contended, that from circumstances like these, when there was a certainty that the money wai employed in a manner to which parliament had consented, when it was to be deducted fron a subsidy that had regularly been granted, a precedent could not be drawn to justify the measure then in discussion. In 17-*2, the engagement which ministers had then contracted took place when parliament was not sitting, though a session intervened before it was communicated to the house; but a motion was made, that it was dangerous, and the necessity of the circumstance was stated in the resolution which the house adopted. He admitted the necessity of the measure, if it could be made out as the ground of the justification of ministers. The third precedent adduced in defence was equally inapplicable to the point. The assistance which ministers gave to Holland in 178/, was given when parliament was not sitting. This assistance, however, which parliament afterwards approved of, was given from the secret service money, which completely removed every inquiry and every argument which the case might have suggested, as,



upon Mr. Burke's bill, the oath of a secretary of state, that the money issued was for secret services, effectually secured the minister from all - responsibility, and precluded al! investigation. Here Mr. Sheridan repeated what had been observed before, that the last parliament was not a meritorious parlia-, inent. He asked the minister what he himself must have thought of that parliament, when out of the

.alarmists who had seceded from the ranks of opposition, he had sent so many to shelter themselves from danger upon the higher ground, and to hide their heads in coronets from the storm which they affected to dread? Surely, if he had entertained a very high opinion of those gentlemen, be would not have re-, moved so many of them from the scene of action.

Mr. Wilberforce defended the measure of sending money to the emperor as advantageous and justifiable. Sir William Pulteney, on the contrary, contended, that the conduct of the minister ought to be marked with the distinct disapprobation of the house. Mr. Fox closed this debate with an animated and forcible reply to all the arguments which had been advanced on the ministerial side of the house.

.He took the imputation of hostility to government, and to .the parliament that had supported that government, as a compliment paid to himself. He gloried in having been hostile to a parliament that spent above one hundred millions of money in subjugating America, and in being hostile to the last parliament, who supported the ministers in undertaking a war unnecessary and unprovoked.

The house divided on Mr. Bragge's amendment—Aye* 285— Noes 81.

For the puipose of giving a con-, centrated view of the financial proceedings of the whole year, we shall once more deviate from the order of time, and state the contents of the second budget, which was brought forward in the spring of 1797.

On the 24th of April, when the house hail resolved itself into a committee of supply, the cBancellor of the exchequer observed, that on that day he had barely to state, that the h?ads of supply which were then to be voted were three: first, an addlional sum to-.vards defraying the expenses of the navy; next, a sum to make good the charge on the growing produce of the consolidated fund for 1796: and, lastly, to make good the exchequer bills which had been advanced on the vote of credit of 17i,'t>- The largest of these sums was for the navy. The money then voted for that service already amounted to. 7,600,000/.; besides which, the house would recollect, he had laid before them an estimate of two millions and a half more, which was not then voted; the sum then which he had to call for, was not at all to be considered as a new demand, since those two millions and a half were to make a part of it, and circumstances required a larger sum than had been estimated. The sum therefore which he proposed to be voted was five millions, which, added to the 7,(500,000/. already granted, would ■ make the sum of r;,6'GO,00()/. This supply was voted, also 1,110,000/. to discharge the exchequer bills advanced on the vote of credit of the preceding year, and the sum , of 2,177,000/. to make good the 3,000,000/. charged in the preceding session on the consolidated fund.


Mr. Pitt, on the 2Gth of April, brought forward bis second budget. While he regretted, he said, the calamities and expenses with which the present just and unavoidable war Fs2d been attended, he thought it his first duty to come forward with a firm and manly spirit, in which he ..trusted the house and the country would concur with him, to convince the enemy that however great our pressure might be, we were determined to contend with them as long as we were able, rather than submit to haughty and d {honourable terms. He observed, that the very able and impartial statements of the first report of the select committee of finance had greatly diminished the labour of arranging the plan which' he was about to submit to the consideration of the house.

He then proceeded to state, with bis usual precision, the amount of the sums already voted, and the sums remaining to be voted. The aggregate of his two budgets made the whole supplies for the year amount to the enormous sum of 42,780,000/.; an annual expense unprecedented in the annals of finance.

For the navy service of the current year there had already been voted 7,661,OOJ)/. in addition to which the committee of supply had, a few days before, voted 5,OCO,COO/. more. Although be estimated the expenses of the navy department at 7,061,OCX)/, he had at the same time stated his intention of proposing a further provision of 2 ,-500,000/. in order to remedy an inconvenience which had arisen before, that he might thereby have 10,101,000/. in cash, towards defraying any excess of navy debt. Such however had been the extraordinary expenses of the wtr, that there then remained an unfunded debt of the

navy unprovided for, to the amount of four millions. The select committee had estimated the navy services at 12,900/00/. which was short of what he had stated them to be. He had estimated a floating navy debt of 1,500,000/. the select committee had supposed one of 3,000,000/.

The next head of service was the army, for the service of which there had been voted the sum of 10.918,000/. but • on account of some army expenses being incurred in 1756, which then remained unprovided for, it became necessary to require the farther sum of 3,387,000/. for the outstanding army' debt. It is here to be observed, that the extraordinaries of the army were now, for the first time, brought forward by way of estimate; at least, they were never done so fully till the present war, but they were paid out of the money granted for other services, leaving the provision for those services deficient for another year. In addition to this, there had been advanced to the emperor, by way of loan (and which would be due from his imperial majesty to the public) 1 ,'2C0,0C0/. and the sum of 900,000/. advanced to the merchants of Grenada and St. Vincents, which would also be returned.

To the expenses of ordnance he made no addition to those stated in the first budget. Under the head of miscellaneous service there had been voted already the sum of 3/8,000/. and if he proceeded, he said, by the estimate of the select committee, the sum of 929,000/. would be required instead.

The bead of national debt was not augmented by the second budget. The sum to supply ths further deficiencies of land and malt was 900,010/. above what was stated in the first budget.


« ZurückWeiter »