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chronicle which contained them deserve in- CHAP.
In the year one thousand seven hundred and sixteen the commons proposed to confer with the lords upon heads of bills, and this friendly correspondence lasted till the year one thousand seven hundred and thirtyseven : the intercourse gave great weight to their joint recommendation, it became a matter of jealousy to government, and it broke off, upon a dispute, artfully created, it is said, by administration. The particulars of the proceedings of the last conference, and of this whimsical rupture, which I had from a near and dear friend of mine, Mr. Hill, (the late lord Dungannon) who was a manager,
I shall relate from his authority : the pleasantry of the contrivance, and the odd circumstances which accompanied it, may apologise for dwelling so long upon this article.
A conference was desired by the commons relative to a breach of privilege com N 3
CHAP. mitted by serjeant Purdon, an attendant of y.
the lords, against one of their members, which was granted accordingly.
The room which was deftined for conferences in the new parliament house, unlike the other arrangements of the architect sir Edward Piers in that noble building, was remarkably cold and inconvenient ; it was used, as it is now, for a lobby or waiting-room for the lords fervants and chairmen; a large deal table stands with a rail near the door that opens into the portico.
On the evening preceding the conference the table was pushed close, and either nailed or tied to the rail : this was said to have been contrived by lord Anglesey, whether from pleasantry or policy is doubtful.
When the commons came to the conference they discovered that they could not as usual stand within the rail, and they were obliged to remain among the servants and the crowd which assembled before the 3
chamber of parliament. Mr. Hill reported CHAP. this unpleasant reception, which caused an angry message, and an impolite reply: the dispute became violent; and serjeant Bettesworth, so well known in satire, and so celebrated in the rhymes of Swift, inflamed matters still more. The two houses resolved to break off their usual mode of correspondence; and since that period they have never met at a conference.
Of this feffion fir Richard Cox drew up a very curious narrative: it was lent to me many years ago by Mr. Foster, the present speaker. I do not find this manuscript was ever printed, though it contains an account of the regulation of the gold coin, and other curious particulars.
While Poyning's law prevailed in its full vigour, while heads of bills were only recommended by one house, it seems to have been desirable to induce the two houses to confer, and to give efficacy to these propositions by a joint recommendation. But as N 4
CHAP. bills now go from one house to the other. V:
without the intervention of the privy council of either kingdom, as no alterations can be made in bills, fave only in the two houses; as laws are passed by a commission, fimilar to that which the king issues, when he does not think it expedient to give the royal afsent in person in the English parliament*; under these circumstances it does not seem desirable to revive a mode of proceeding which has produced so many
evils in former times, and the more fo, as mersages answer every purpose of communica, ţion between the two houses,
In tracing the principal tranfactions in the early Journals, the observation, That there was not any instance of the examination of accounts, or of the expenditure of public money till after the Revolution, surprised
* Of the origin, changes, and modifications of Poyning's law, and the various modes of passing laws in different periods, an ample detail has been given in the second chapter of this work.
me much: a negative assertion is ever ha: CHAP. zardous and presumptuous; time and place require more accurate investigation than what can be supposed to fall to any
man's lot, however confident of his own labour and accuracy: it is necessary for me to de fend this extraordinary assertion by the authority, of parliament.
In the seffion of one thousand fix hun, dred and ninety-two, the house of commons desired to have the accounts of the different officers of his majesty's revenue, laid before a committee of grievances. A committee appointed for that purpose, reported three precedents of a similar examination : the first was of the 17th of April one thousand fix hundred and fixty-two, where the chief baron of the Exchequer. produced tables of fees, which were taken by the sheriffs; and the other two, were of accounts laid before the commons of England, the 8th and 13th of O&ober one thousand six hundred and ninety. It is evident the first does not apply to the ex