Page images

possible ground of objection, and had therefore mentioned students of the learned professions; but surely the younger sons of noble families, whose brothers enjoyed spendid incomes, might with as much reason be quoted, as they would feel it equally; but still he saw no reason why gentlemen of that class might not study as well at the university without powder as with it. Students of the learned profeffions certainly could not mix with society without making an appearance suited to the custom of the times, and it was the general interest of all men that students should keep good company, that they should meet with encouragement, and be well received everywhere. And yet, considering them as the strongest cafe of the two, he saw no reason why they should not feel the pressure of the times in common with the rest of his Majesty's subjects. His Lordship added some further arguments of a general nature in support of the Bill as it stood.

Lord Mulgrave laid a few words in explanation.

Lord Auckland said, that if the Bill had come from the other House with a clause to exempt half-pay officers in tha manner now proposed, he could cheerfully have acquiesced in it, as he had done with respect to the exemption of certain classes of churchmen. In faying this, he was actuated by the sentiment which had fo strongly shewn itself in the present debate, and by feelings of regard for a respectable class of individuals. The cool and unbiassed dictates of his judgment were adverse to the whole chapter of exemptions in the system of taxation. Every exemption was a deviation from principle, which led to a £anher deviation. "Dime uMtm atf*e *tlam unum."—Remove one extreme case of hardship, and another would always be found behind it. Even in the present case the exemption of the inferior clergy had been used As an argument for the exemption of the half-pay officers.

If-lib had thought it right to propose alterations in the Bill, there were others which he could have wished to introduce. For example, it wns his opinion that the tax was too high : He had no doubt that it would be very productive; but perhaps as * measure of finance, it would eventually have Keen more productive, and certainly more satisfactory, if it hud been put at ten shillings pa- head instead of twenty-one. This however was a mere personal conjecture, which he was not inclined to let up against the judgment and decision of the other House of r.vrliamcnt. The constitution had a-ffigned to tlut llo»se<the originating os taxes-—In times like the present k was an arduous and painful duty, ■and their Lordships wouUl not add to its difficulties, or interrupt the public suprrtieH, unfcfo the case wers more urgent than what had that day been stated. A Noble Earl (Lord Guildsord) had justly said, that an amendment of a tax BL11, by their Lordships, could only be considered as a rejection of the Bill with an assignment of reasons. His fense of the present crisis would not allow him to reject the Bill in question; more especially when it was notorious that the reasons to be assigned had already been discussed in the other House, and had been deemed inadmissible. « The House divided:

Contents - - It

Not-Coutents - - 15

Majority c

The Bill then passed.

Tuesday, April 28.

Mr. Hennihr Major moved for leave to bring in a Bill, giving a discretionary power to courts to grant costs to prosecutors in cafes of misdemeanor.—Granted

Mr. Powys moved for leave to bring in a Bill to remedy deficient weights and false balances.—Granted. The BiU was brought in, and read a first time.

The Speaker stated that he had been at the House of Lords, where the Royal Assent had been given, by commission, to several public and private Bills.

The Franking Bill was passed.

Mr. Barham gave notice of his intention to make a motion, on Monday, for papers relative to the conduct of the commanders, Sir John Jervis and Sir Charles Grey, towards the French in the West India iflands, after they had submitted themselves to the British troops. He should also move for the instructions given to those commanders, for the proclamations which they had issued, and for the memorials which had passed between them and their officers, and between them and ministers. He should move for these papers with a view to a subsequent motion, that the House should enter into an inquiry with respect to the transactions to which they related, an inquiry which, in the present moment, became peculiarly important.

Mr, Grey expressed his satisfaction at the notice which had been given to the House. He would only repeat what he had said, that nothing could be more agreeable to the persons,

P2 whose whose conduct had been unjustly attacked, than the inquiry which was now proposed. He had no objectio/ to the production of the papers; on the contrary, he thanked the Hon. Gentleman for having moved to bring them forward. He should himself have occasion to move for other papers, and likewise that witnesses might be called upon in the course of the inquiry. He wished that the notice had been given at an earlier period, when all the documents, which were now required, were equally in existence. Some of the officers, whose testimony was material, were at present on the point of leaving the country; but he trusted that the delay, which would be necessary for the vindication of the commanders under whom they had served, would not be found incompatible with the public service.

The Bill for granting relief to the Poor at their own houses, after some remarks, was appointed to go into a Committee on, Monday following.—Adjourned.

Wednesday, April 29. .

General Macleod gave notice, that he would the next day move for a return of the British forces, including the seacibles.

On the question being put, that the Bill to prevent the stealing of Dead Bodies be read a second time,

Mr. Main-waring moved, that the House be counted, when there being only twenty-three Members present, the House adjourned.

Thursday, April 30.

The Royal assent was given by commistion to the Hairpowder Bill, and to several private Bills.

The Earl of Moira adverted to the happy event of the nuptials of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and to the general hopes which insolvent debtors had cherilhed in consequence of it. His professional avocations had lately prevented him from attending his duty in the House, and from submitting to their Lordships his ideas of the propriety of adopting some permanent regulation of the law with regard to insolvent debtors. He wished that the fullest investigation should be

had, Jiad, and the most clear discrimination between the cases of the fraudulent and the unfortunate. He wished also that no unnecessary delay should,take place in the investigation of this pressing and important subject. Long ago their Lordships had put some questions upon this matter to the Judges, and he knew not the reason why these learned ministers of justice had not come to a determination. He would not at present attempt to introduce any Bill relative to insolvent debtors, because he should feel it his duty, whenever he did so, to attend such Bill in every stage, and that his professional avocations would not now permit; therefore he would only for the present offer a petition, which he held in his hand, to be read.

The petition was accordingly read. It was signed by a considerable number of persons who had the misfortune to suffer imprisonment for debt; expressing their joy at the happy event of the nuptials of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; stating generally the hardships which they suffer, and expressing a hope that they might be permitted to enjoy the blessings of liberty; imploring the kind and generous interference of their Lordships, and praying such relief, as to their Lordships might seem meet.

Lord Viscount Sidney called their Lordships attention to a circumstance which related to himself. He had lately discovered that a great abuse had been practised on the liberty of franking newspapers. Many newspapers had been sent in his name without his direction. He had never granted that privilege to above two or three, and he understood that fifty had been sent in his name to different parts of the kingdom. He did not desire that newspapers should not be circulated, and if it was meant for purposes of revenue, let them be sent free to any Member ; but while the matter stood as it did, he thought ic should be put on some clear footing. He had made'inquiry upon this subject at the Post-office, but he there learnt that he could have no redress, that some of the editors had got a stamp of his name, and sent as many paperi as they thought proper under its sandtion, without any authority from him. He understood that the same freedom had been taken with the names of other Noble Lords, and of many Members of the other House of Parliament, and that a great number of newspapers had been sent under cover to different parts of the kingdom; nay, last year, a gentleman in the county in which he lived, received a packet of the most libellous and seditious papers he ever read, under the cover of a Secretary to the Treasury. He hoped some method would be adopted to prevent such glaring abuses of the privU leges of Members of Parliament. With regard to himself, he did not wist) to take any harfli measure at present, but trusted that no editor of a newspaper would use his name :n future without his authority, and that what he had now said would prevent the necessity of his troubling their Lordfliips agaiu upon this subject.


The Didc of Graftoti began a very earnest appeal to their Lordships, with observing that it was highly necessary to preserve the dignity ot that House, and the respect due to both Houses at all times, and not to fully or diminish either by taking any premature step that might occasion embarrassment in time to come. Their Lordfliips, h* trusted, would all feel this, but most especially in the days in which they lived, ■when it was more than ever necessary from the unparalleled degree of difficulty and distress in which the total incapacity ©f his Majesty's present advisers had so unfortunately involved the country. Of that incapacity he had witnessed abundant proofs, in the manner of their disposing of the most important points that had been offered to the consideration of their Lordfliips; and most especially the last motion relative to an inquiry into the state of the nation, brought forward by a Noble Earl, which the influence of ministers had caused to be disposed of contrary to all precedent, and when he, among other Noble Lords, anxiously entreated the adjournment of a single day to reconsider the subject, and to avert the evil of a precipitate decision on so important a question.

The taking, as he had already said, any step that might depreciate that House, was of all things that which he had most to dtead. In this light did he fee a step that was about «o be taken in that House the next day—(his Majesty's message on the affairs of the Prince of Wales)—a measure it* itself highly important, and of so delicate a nature, that the ether House had thought it required a very minute inquiry, for so he understood, and he did not mean to speak unparliamentary/, he understood it from the printed votes of that House. He stiould not enter into particulars upon the subject then, nor could he, by late experience, flatter himself with much hope that any thing he might urge would make £ny very deep impression upon their Lordfliips, But as this matter was to be brought on in that House the next day, and considering what had passed in the other House, that there a call of the House had been agreed upon previous to any discussion -of the business, he trusted he should not be thought


« PreviousContinue »