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to the extraordinary conduct of lord Chat- | into the details of it, as if it had not been ham,) is without precedent in the records a subject of most anxious public concern, of parliament; not only in the correct and one for which they are most. deeply and constitutional æra which has suc- responsible. Nay, Sir, what is still more ceeded the Revolution ; but in all that long extraordinary, those ministers, those conand less formed period of our parlia. fidential servants of the king, instead of mentary history which preceded it. From considering the public account of the conthat answer we learn, that when lord Chat- duct and transactions of a public officer, bam delivered this official, this public do- in a great command, as a matter for pubcument to the king, in which he asserts lic account, have, in violation of every the correctness of his own conduct, and principle that regulates the government of impeaches that of the naval department; this free country, represented the matter he delivered it to his Majesty, accomo connected with this public narrative as of panied with advice to keep it secret: and a private nature, relating to the private accordingly, until it was asked to be de concerns of the king, and not to the publivered back, it remained secret. So that lic and official affairs of the kingdom. from the 15th of January to the 14th of For, Sir, when the matter first came before February, during a whole month, all the the House, on a motion for an Address to other confidential servants of the crown the king, to communicate every thing that were entirely ignorant of this most im. respected the transaction under our conportant communication.
sideration, the secretary of state for the Sir, it does seem to me most extraorHome Department (most wonderful that dinary, and, I believe, hitherto it has been such things should be attempted !) had unheard of in the conduct of public affairs, the boldness to argue the matter, as if the that a person, sent in the chief command communications of a public officer to the of an expe lition, should return from his king, respecting the execution of a public command, and that months should elapse command, were of a private nature anaafter his return, during which neither he logous to the private concerns of his Mashould tender, nor the king's ministers jesty; and that those who asked farther require, an account of his conduct, and of information on the subject were proposing his transactions in that command. When to search his Majesty's private escrutoire. the noble earl came back from Zealand in Sir, I am sure that the indelicacy of September, it might be difficult for him in such a search never entered the mind of the dissolved, disordered, and distracted any individual here. God forbid that state in which the cabinet then stood, to there should not be the most sacred reKAOW to whom he was to address himself. spect for every thing that relates to the
But when lord Liverpool was appointed private affairs and domestic concerns of secretary of state for the war depart. our Sovereign. I trust I am the last perment, when the right hon. the Chancellor son to entertain or promulgate a doctrinę of the Exchequer was induced by his that could intrench, in the smallest deloyalty to accept of the situation (as he gree, upon the most inviolable security to has termed it) of prime minister; when his Majesty's private repositories. The those two persons were thus invested with veneration for the person and character of the character of the responsible ministers his Majesty, which is entertained throughof the crown, why did not they demand out the nation, ensures against such a from lord Chatham an account of his ser- violation of all decency; and the partivices ? For any thing that appears, they cular circumstances, in which I am known did not then discharge that most impor- to stand, will ensure me, I trust, against tant duty of their station; and lord Liver the possible imputation of any thing but pool has not even now taken any step to the most profound respeos and aitackcall upon lord Chatham, in the terms and ment to the person of the King. But, according to the order given in his ap- Sir, I cannot under these impressions, pointment under the sign manual, to ac- powerful as they are, be led to forget the count to him as secretary of state. On clear and marked distinction between the the contrary, the discharge of this great public government of the monarchy and public duty in this, I believe, the greatest, the private concerns of the monarch. and, I am sure, the most unfortunate expe- I'do then most boldly and sted fastly dition that ever left the shores of this deny that the doctrine, which has been country, seems to have been passed over contended for on the other side of the by the king's ministers without inquiry House, has aby foundation in the conatiVOL. XVI.
tution of this country: and I insist, that do we find it declared that the delivering it is unconstitutional to assert that the a public document respecting a discharge King (I speak of the office of King gene- of a puplic duty to his Majesty, under rally, according to the constitution of the seal and advice of secrecy, so that it England) can have a private repository shall not find its way to the accustomed for a public paper; that this is a position channel, and to the knowledge of his adverse to the very essence of this consti- Majesty's other confidential servants, is tution, and has been so in all times of our unconstitutional ?” My answer is disa history--that the great security of this tinctly this: That the unconstitutional free country, as it respects the royal character of that act is not to be found in power and authority, is, that the King any charter, in any statute, or in any does no public act of himself; but that he written decree, but that as a matter of acts by the advice of known and sworn invariable, ancient, and indelible usage, counsellors, who are responsible to this it is against the practical constitution of House, and to the country, for their ad- the country; and that the practice of the vice-that all acts, therefore, and all ac- constitution can be made as clear, as cercounts of those acts given by those who tain, and as intelligible, as if it were emare appointed to the discharge of public blazoned in black and white in the most duties in short, that all public transac- distinct and legible characters. tions of the state must be official--that I do not mean, Sir, in proving and il. they cannot be the subject of conceal-lustrating this from history and authorities, ment; they that cannot be communicated to draw the House into minute consideraunder injunctions and advice of secrecy to tions of detail, or into deep antiquarian the Sovereign; but must pass through investigation. Such a discussion is not that public and official course which is well suited to this place, and fortunately, known to the constitution, which public it is not necessary to this subject ; in official course secures to this House the which (as in all those general rules and application of its great inquisitorial regulations which are best calculated to power, a privilege which has always ex- govern and direct the conduct of manisted, and which is limited only by the kind; the facts by which they are estadiscretion of the House. So that this un- blished are well known, plain, and incondoubted right to inquire into the conduct trovertible. They may, no doubt, be of the executive officers of the crown, made clearer by research, and more conthus renders it essentially necessary that firmed by details, but they are manifest to all the parts of the executive government general and popular observation. should pass in the usual, the accustomed, All those who know the history of the and well-known official channels. The official system (now so well understood, secret communication which is the sub- and so firmly established) know that the ject of our present consideration, with seeds of the system were sown in the every act of a similar kind, I therefore earliest periods of the English constitution, assert to be totally inconsistent with the and that they have gradually grown to clear and indisputable characteristics of strength and perfection. The responsibithe constitution which must never be lost lity of the advisers of the crown belonged sight of in the consideration of this sub originally to the office of Privy Counject :-I mean the irresponsibility of the sellor. Any person who has ever opened King; the responsibility of ministers; lord Coke's fourth Institute, knows that and the inquisitorial power of the House the office of Privy Counsellor may be of Commons.
said to be as old as the monarchy; that That the system of the king acting by it certainly approaches to the time of advice in the government of the realm, legal memory; that the great office of and being according to the constitution, president of council is an ancient and incapable of acting but by advice of pub- well-known office, which has existed durlic responsible advisers, is the practical ing all that time, thereby affording direct constitution of this country, nobody can evidence of the very early institution of deny; yet the learned gent. (Mr. Ste- responsible counsellors to the crown; pben) and the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) showing that the principle of responsibiwith this clear and acknowledge princi- lity in the king's public and sworn advisers ple before them, ask (I cannot help re- is an inherent part of the constitution, and peating it to expose it)," In what char- evincing that there is no period of our ier, in what statute, in what written decree, history when the sovereign could, accorde ing to the law and constitution, act by But, Sir, the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) himself in the public concerns of the king-says, in answer to the admirable speech dom; but that the public affairs of the of my learned friend, (Mr. Brougham) a state ought always to have been admini- speech which fulfilled that expectation of stered by the advice of responsible sworn talent so truly formed of him, and which officers, by whatever name they might be it gave me for many reasons, most pecucalled *.
liar pleasure to hear, that the cabinet is
of modern date, and is therefore no part * Coke Littleton, Page 110, Section 164.
of tbe constitution; and that conducting
the executive government of the country “ The King of England is armed with by a cabinet council cannot therefore be divers councils; every one knoweth that founded upon as establishing the prache hath a privy council for matters of tice of the constitution. Surely, Sir, the state."
hon. gent, cannot think that we are to be Lord Coke's Fourth Institute, Page 53, put down with a word, or to be diverted
Cap. 2–Of the Council Board. from our principle by a mere name: " This is a most noble, honourable, and Surely, Sir, he does not mean to argue, reverend assembly of the king and his that because the name of cabinet did not privy council, in the king's court of exist till comparatively modern times, palace. With this council, the king him that in substance, the thing has not always self doth sit at his pleasure. These coun
existed as a fundamental part of the great sellors, like good sentinels and watchmen, system of executive responsibility in the consult of and for the public good; and practical constitution of this country? the honour, defence, safety, and profit of Does the hon. gent. mean to say that the the realm. A consulendo, secundum excel period can be named in which the king lentiam, it is called the council table; pris constitution, acted of his own personal
of England has ever, according to the vate causes, lest they should hinder the public, they leave to the justices of the authority in public affairs? and that he king's courts, of justice, and meddle not has not always had responsible, sworn with them—they are called Concilium regis
members of his Privy Council to advise privatum, concilium secretum, et continiuum him? The king has, at all times, especi. Concilium regis.
'The number of them is ally if the Privy Council was numerous, at the king's will, but of ancient time there selected (and by his prerogative could were twelve thereabouts. Of the always select) certain persons of that university of the king's several councils, you council, in whom he more particularly may read in the first part of the Institutes, confided, and by whose advice he more section 164.”—N. B. lord Coke cites many particularly acted *. That selection, in authorities from the rolls of parliament.-See above, Co. Lit. 110.
Dormivit tamen hoc officium regnante magna
Elizabetha." Fourth Institute, Page 45-Of the President
Comyns's Digest, Vol. iv. 424. of the Council.
« The residue of the council consists of been, a president of the council, who such numbers as the king pleases." 4
Inst. 53. was called principalis consiliarious, and sometimes capitalis consilierius." (For this
“ And by the custom of the realm, lord Coke cites many authorities.) « In upon summons to the council, and taking the Journal Book of parliament, 5 Edw. them continues of the council during the
the oath of a privy councellor, each of VI. and 7 Edw. VI. Dux Northumb. 1 & 2 Ph. & Mar. Comes Arundel,
king's life, with letters patent, or other
grants.” 4 Inst. 54. pear : “ Acts of Parliament, naming the pre
* Blackstone, Vol. i. p. 229. sidents of the council, 21 H. 8. cap. 20. “ The king's will is the sole constituent 31 H. 8. cap. 10. 34 H. 8. cap. 1.". of a privy counsellor ; and this also regu
“ This office was never granted but by lates their numbers, which of ancient time letters palent under the great seal, durunie, was twelve, or thereabouts. Afterwards bene placito, and is very ancient; for John, it increased to so large a number, that it Bishop of Norwich, was president of the was found inconvenient for secrecy ano Council in anno regis Johannis. Holt, fo.dispatch; and therefore, king Charles 2. -169. Math. Paris, 205, and Math. Westm. in 1679, limited it to thirty; whereof fif
a bad sense, as in the reign of Charles the to advise him, was nick-named a Cabal Second, when men, without character from the first letters of the names of those or principle, were chosen by that prince who composed it; in the good sense, and,
now-a-days, it is ordinary called a cabiteen were to be the principal officers of net; but, in reality and in substance, it state, and those to be counsellors, virtute is a selection of the Privy Council, which officii; and the other fifteen were com- has in all ages, been known to the law posed of ten lords and five commoners of and the constitution; the essence and the king's choosing. But since that time, character of which cannot be varied by the number has been much augmented, the designation given to it, and which, and now continues indefinite. At the therefore, shows my learned friend (Mr. same time also, the ancient office of lord Brougham) to have been perfectly correct president of the council was revived in the in his view, and that the hon. gent. (Mr. person of Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury ; Bankes) ander a mistake, has had recourse and officer, that by the statute of 31 Hen. to'a modern phrase in order to subvert VIII. cap. 10, has precedence next after an ancient system. Sir, I have already the tord chancellor and lord treasurer.” said that this system of selection of resSir William Temple's Memoirs, third Part, ponsible sworn counsellors, as advisers of Page 493.
the crown, is as ancient as the monarchy
itself. At the period succeeding the con" I saw a probability of matters growing to such a pass, that his Majesty might be quest, when the charters of our liberties forced to part with them and yet I saw prevailed. During the reigns of the Plan
were exacted from the crown, the system not authority enough left in the crown tagenets it was equally conspicuous. The either to do that without the venture of best princes of that race acknowledged great mischiefs
, or to live without another the system in the most distinct manner ; parliament till the present humours might and in the reigns of the weak and miscool. And both these considerations meeting together, cast me upon the guided princes of that line, particularly in
of thoughts of the king's establishing a new council, of such a constitution, as might had occasion to refer), the advisers of the
the Second (to whose reigns I have already either gain credit enough with the present parliament, by taking in so many persons sovereign were most severely called to
by * of those who had most among them, and thereby give ease and quiet both to the king and his people; or if, on the other of council, established for foreign affairs, side, the humours should grow outrageous Rupert, the Duke of Ormond, Secretary
was entirely changed, and the Prince yet, at the head of such a council, with Trevor, and Lord-keeper Bridgman, men, more authority, and less hazard of ill in whose honour the nation had great consequences, either prorogue dissolve
confidence, were never called to any deli
berations. The whole secret was intrusted them; as any necessities of his own, or extravagancies of theirs, should require. ham, Arlington, and Lauderdale. These
to five persons, Clifford, Ashley, Bucking* For these ends it seems necessary to take into the council, some lords and the cabal, a word, which the initial letters
men were known by the appellation of commoners who were of most appearing of their names happened to compose. credit and sway in both houses, without Never was there a more dangerous minibeing thought either principled or interested against the government; and mix them stry in England, nor one more noted for with others of his majesty's more general pernicious counsels.” choice, for making up one half of the
* Whitelocke's Memorials, Page 99.council, whilst the other half, being fifteen,
3 Edw. II. were ever lo be the present chief officers « It is required, that strangers should of his crown and household, who be- be banished, the counsellors removed, ing all of his majesty's known trust, as public affairs be treated by the council well as choice, would be sure to keep the of the clergy and the nobles, and no war council steady to the true interest of his be made without common council.” majesty and the crown.”
Petyt's Jus Parliamentarium. Hume's History, Vol. vii. Page 458. Cap. 7. In which the proceedings " It was remarked, that the committee against the earl of Suffolk, the lord Chan
the constitution in distinct characters, by caster, the same system prevailed ; and grave, deliberate, and well ascertained thus it is established that there never was overt acts, handed down in bistory, as a period when this system of responsibility transacted by our ancestors, and recog- in the advisers of the crown did not apernised, confirmed, and formed into shape tain to the executive government of the by their posterity-showing at one view country, and invariably make a part of the the responsibility of the king's advisers, constitution of England. the irresponsibility ef the sovereign, and During the reigus of the House of the inquisitorial power of parliament-Tudor, from causes which it is unnecesthe three grand and leading features of sary to stop here to investigate, but which the constitution, of which, as I have al- are well known to every person acquainted ready said, we must never lose sight, but with the history of the country, the crown always recognise as the cement which was every thing and the parliament binds together and secures the free mo. nothing. Yet, during that period of susnarchy of this great and civilized country. I pension of the original constitutional func
Look now, Sir, to the next æra of our tions, which has tended to mislead many history, and you will find, that, amidst in the just consideration of the constitution all the blood that was shed in the contest of England, and to give a false impression between the Houses of York and Lan- of our original rights, the system of office cellor, are detailed. Cap. 8. In which part of his council were now at a distance, the proceedings against the archbishop and without their advice he could not of Canterbury, the above mentioned eari deliberate on a measure of so great conseof Suffolk, chief justice Tressillian, and quence." others, are detailed.-See likewise the Rolls of Parliament of the 5th of Henry Appendix to the third volume of Rush
IV. 19th Section. worth's Collections, page 262.
“ Likewise on the same day the comRolls of Parliament, 6 Rich. II. section 13. mons prayed our lord the king to make “ The commons likewise
an ordinance, that ro person should be for the
pray honour and profit of your majesty and the lord the king, but honest and virtuous
nained to belong to the household of our commons, that your majesty will be pleased to order certain lurds to be placed persons, and such as were of good rehonourable
person, of the most wise, honest, and discreet persons of your Ditto, 7th and 8th of Henry IV. Section 31. realm, to counsel you, &c.” To which the “ Likewise on Saturday the 22nd of king answers : " The king will take about May, the cominons came before the king his person, such sufficient persons, lords, and the lords in parliament, and there reand others, as sball seem best for his presented that they had prayed the king at honour and profit : and as to the rule and the beginning of the parliament, and since, government of his household, he will act and represented besides that the archby the advice of the lords and others of bishop of Canterbury had made report his council, according to such good rule to them, that the king wished to be as shall seem best for his honour.”
councelled by the wisest lords of the Whitelocke's Memorials.-25th Edward I realm, who should have superintendance Whitelocke’s Memorials.--25th Edward I. of every thing that should be for the good
“ When the king was at Winchelsea, government of the realm; to all which embarking for the continent, being ready the king agreed, and repeated with his to take ship, the bishops, barons, and
own mouth, that it was his entire will; commons, send him a roll of grievances ; and upon this a bill was read, containing of his taxes, subsidies, impositions, forc- the names of all the lords who should be ing of services, his imposing 40s. upon a of the council. sack of wool, being before but' half
Then follows the bill in the Rolls of a mark, and wool the fifth part of the Parliament. substance of the kingdom.---The king
29th and 30th of Henry VI. sends answer, that he could not alter any
See Whitelocke's Memorials, page 142. thing without the advice of his council, 143. Proceedings respecting the duke of who were not now about him.”
Suffolk. And in Whitelocke's Memorials, Hume's History, page 291. page 143, the council advise in the case of “The king told them, that the greatest Cade's rebellion.