« AnteriorContinuar »
cere in their wishes to alleviate their burthens; but while the table was heaped with reports upon this head, the subject derived no relief from them. It was better to put an end to all such committees, ihan to be idly amusing the public with them, if Parliament took no measures grounded on the proceedings of those committees. He was instructed by his constituents, the inhabitants of a great and wealthy city, that if Parliament did not do something, it would be his duty, when ministers asked the supply next year, to refuse so large a grant as otherwise the people would be willing to accede.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer entirely agreed with the honourable gentleman as to the necessity of economy at the present crisis, and a cautious expenditure of the public money. At the same time, he could not approve of the vague and incautious manner in which the honour. able gentlerna: had thought proper to fling out his charges. The remarks were of a nature so general and indefinite, that he (Mr. Perccval) did not know how to reply to them. If the honourable gentleman had any thing definite to state in public or private, he should feel himself much obliged to the honourable gentleman for such communication. As to the reports which were said to be heaped upon the table, he wished that gentleman would again be more definite, and, selecting one or more from the number, state explicit ly what he understood to be the existing abuse; this certainly would be much more satisfactory than dealing in loose and general observatio's.
Mr P. Moore said in esplanation, that he alluded to the different reports in the various departments, civil, military, and marine, whereby it was obvious, that there might be a saving in a more economical management in each, of the public money, to an amount of between five and ten millions.
Sir Thomas Turton put it to his majesty's ministers, to consider the necessity and the means of affording a more immediate relief to the persons entitled to exemption under the income tax: these persons were at present obliged to pay the full amount of the tax in the first instance, and They found it extremely difficult afterwards to obtain the relief allowed to them.
Mr. Whitbread stated, that he as well as the honourable baronet, had received complaints of very severe bardships, in the manner in which the incoinc tax was levied on the
lowes lower classes. He was sure if his noble friend (Lord H. Petty) had continued in oifice, the necessary relief would have been afforded to the persons so pressed. He hoped the honourable gentleman opposite would consider of the means of affording them some alleviation. .
Dr. Laurence lamented, that in proportion as the pro, perty tax bad been ina!le imore burthensome, the means of Teliet had been made more difficult in the cases in wbich no law could presume to withhold it. · Lord Henry Petty stated it to have been his desire and intention, that every real grievance under the property tax, as it had been increased and regulated by him, should be satisfactorily redressed; but he thought it, in the first instance, desirable, that the whole of the provisions should have a fair trial; for it was only such a trial that could afford proof of the reality, or the futiliis, of the objections which were so universally made. He was desirous, now that a fair trial had been afforded, to give all proper relief, but he could assure the House, that much difficulty would be felt, when the means of giving that relief consistently with the produce of the tax should come to be considered. · The motion of the Chancellor of the Exchcquer, which was for leave to bring in a bill, for the better regulation of the collection of the assessed taxes, and the tax on proper. ty, was then agreed to, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and some or hers, were ordered to prepare and bring in the bill.
On the motion of Mr. Cochrane Johnstone, it was order. ed that there be laid before the House, an account of the sums issued lo regimental agents, by way of compensation for their trouble, with respect to the corps of artillery, engineers, and drivers, for the year 1806. • Mr. Johnstone took occasion to state, that the accounts ordered with a view to shew the savings that may be made in the clothing of the army, were not yet before the llouse, and he particularly recommended this inatter to the atten, tiou of his majesty's ministers,
Mr. Rose took occasion to inform the honourable gen. tleman, that no loss could fall on the public for the defalcations of regimental agents, as the colonels were responsible.
· Mr. Whitbread gave notice, that on Monday next he should move for an account of the number of volunteer
scrjeants serjeants appointed to recruit for the line, and an account of the number of men recruited by them.
. . : REVERSIONS. Mr. Bankes, in consequence of the notice he had given, · rose to submit a resolution, which he thought necessary as a preliminary step towards any proceeding which the House should think proper to adopi, with respect to the measure founded on a resolution of that House, which had been rejected in the other. The only way of bringing the rejection of the bill to prevent grants of places in reversion in the upper House, before the view of this House, would be to appoint a comunittee to inspect the Lords' journals, as to what had been donė there with respect to that bill.
That committee might report the next day, and on the *report he may found a motion which he would submit to the House on Monday. He accordingly now moved that a committee be appointed to inspect the Lords' journals, as to what had been done by their lordships, with respect to the bill for prohibiting the grants of places in reversion, &c. The committee was appointed, with Mr. Bankes at the head of it, five to be a quorum.
Mr. Magens gave notice, that carly in the next session he would submit a motion with respect to the state of our West India colonies.
PronoGATION OF PARLIAMENT. · The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the third reading of the consolidated' fund bill.
* Mr. Whitbread conceived that the passing of the 'consolidated fund bill and 'the appropriation act, indie "cated an approaching termination of the session, and he
was therefore anxious to take the earliest opportunity of * offering a few observations on the state of the country. Notices on many important subjects were entered on the journals : bills on many important subjects had been sent to the Lords, the proceedings with respect to which may involve most serious considerations. The noble lord op. posite, to whom belonged the particular charge of taking the necessary measures for the defence of the country, had stated that many things were necessary towards that important object, which, however, he would defer, in con· sideration of the advanced period of the session. An * honourable member (Mr. Magens) had that day given • Vol. 1.-1807. AL
e Brili was exire protected oils of
notice that early in the next session he would call the attention of the House to the state of the West India pos. - sessions, which it was understood must be ruined without the extension of public aid. Another honourable gentleman, (Mr. Bankes) had given notice of a motion for Monday, which was understood to be a resolution for taking into the consideration of the House, early in the next session, the propriety of putting a stop to grants of places in reversion. Large expeditions had sailed, of which news were every day expected. A treaty of peace had taken place between Prussia and France, of which the conditions were published. A treaty had also taken place between France and Russia, by which the latter power consented to receive a portion of the spoils of Prussia, which power she had hitherto protected. The situaiion of the king of Sweden was extremely critical, as was perhaps that of a large British force sent to his relief. The general situation of the affairs of the East India company also required particular investigation, and the common statement of the annual accounts of that company had been that day deferred till the next session. A vote of credit, large beyond all precedent, had been passed on the express intimation from the Chancellor of the Excbequer, that it may be necessary to kcep the volunteers on permanent duty for months together. This indicated an apprehension of invasion. Under these circumstances, and the probability of a speedy prorogation, he thought it necessary to call upon bis majesty's ministers to give some explanation as to the advice they intended to give his majesty with respect to the prorogation. For he thought that in the multitude of important notices that had been given, and the multitude of important discussions that were pending, and the important events that had occurred and were in expectation, his majesty ought not to be advised to prorogue Parliament till some more settled state of affairs should arise. He feared, however, that the very large vote of credit that had been taken was on the ground, not orils of an intention to prorogue Pare liament soon, but also on a determination not to call it together again for a long time.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer could not answer as to the time tliat inay elapse before Parliament would be colled together again : the first prorogation would be but for a short time, the subsequent prorogations would also
be but fore, if the exigensidered as a probinent danger be
ise, invasion to his majest longer at
be but for short periods, so as to afford a facility of early, assemblage, if the exigency of affairs should require. Ac. cording to what he considered as a probable or possible exigency should arise, (invasion, or imminent danger of invasion), the advice to be given to his majesty would be regulated. The inconveniences with which a longer at. tendance of the members would be attended at the present season, was an irresistible reason for proroguing as soon as the state of public business would admit: along with the facility afforded by short prorogations from time to time to the assembling of Parliament, as soon as any particular occasion should render it necessary, the crown possessed the power of calling it together at any time at a fortnight's noiice.
Lord Henry Petty, after the extraordinary pote of credit which had passed the House at an early hour of the morning on a former day, a vote exceeding in amount any former vote of credit, even those passed at times when there was a prospect of large continental co-operation, thought his right hon. friend well warranted in making the observations he had made, and requiring the explanations he had demanded. From the unprecedented am junt of the vote, and the strange time at which it bad passed, the House ought to look narrowly to the appropriation of it. After what had happened on the continent, and after two months had elapsed of the period which was to be provided for, this diminution of the period, the exigencies of which were to be covered, ought to reduce, rather than increase the amount of the vote; yet, when his inajesty's present ministers bad added 1,300,0001. to the pnblic espenditure, they demanded still 700,0001. more ; and why, because it may be necessary to call out the volunteers on permanent duty. This would not be necessary except in case of invasion or alarm of invasion, when it seemed it was not thought that Parliament should be assembled. These unprecedented sums were moreover voted entirely on confidence, and without any estimate whatsoever, and were proposed without any other object than to prevent the necessity of calling Parliament together again for a long time. The vote of credit asked by his majesty's late ministers, was intended to cover 800,0001. arrears of subsidies, and to allow the means of contingent engagements with the continental powers. It was intended also to cover the great expences incurred in the Mediterra.
t sembled. These confidence, without anyment