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British Museum, relative to the execution of the plan for purchasing the Lansdown manuscripts.
Mr. Long stated, that the committee appointed to consider of this matter in the last session, had not been able to make its report before the dissolution, but it would now be made very soon.
Mr. Bankes, with a view to shew the progress that had been made towards rendering the Museum acceptable, in the degree that it ought to be to the public, moved, that there be laid before the House copies of all the regulations adopted for the better preservation of the difforent collecs tions, and for rendering them more accessible to artists and others; and also, an account of the number of persons ad, mitted to see the Museum, since the year 1805, distin. guisbing the year, month, &c. Ordered.
- MARQUIS WELLESLEY. Lord Folkestone, entertaining still the same opinion that he had from the beginning, relative to Lord Wellesley's conduct in the Oude transaction, moved that the several pas, pers ordered with a view to the accusation and defence of the nobile marquis on that charge in the last session, be again laid before the House.
Sir John Anstruther said, it must be equally the wish of all persons, as well those who disapproved of the administration of the noble marquis, as of those who thought, like him, that it was the brightest period of the British history in India ; that as well on public as private grounds, these charges so long pending should be brought to a decision as speedily as possible. As those who had been in the last and the preceding Parliaments must have already madle themselves masters of all the documents; and as there were in the vote-office a sufficient number of copies to supply all the new members, he recommended, with a view to economy and expedition, that instead of renewing the general order for presenting and printing, the remaining copies should be distributed to the new members, and that the business should be decided on as early a day as possible in this session.
After some discussion, in which Lord Folkestone expressed his willing liess to promote a speedy decision, but with a fear that the present session, from the variety of other important business, would not, in its short duration, afford either sufficient timc, or a sufficien:ly full
attendance attendance for this question.—Mr. Creevey, from the difficulty of deciding in a case in which the noble marquis's friends thought his administration most useful, and the East India Company, according to a book publisbed under the authority of the court of directors, represented it as most injurious to their trade and revenue, as an absolute despotism, violating all the laws for the government of India, thought the present short session, occupied as it would be with a multitude of other important matters, would not afford a proper opportunity for coming to a determination upon it. · Mr. H. Addington thought there was a combination of every private and public reason for coming to a decision as speedily as possible. Those who had been members of the last Parliament, had read all the documents which had been ordered, he would say too precipitately, without the substantiation of a prima facie case of guilt. The papers in the vote-office would supply the ncw members. • The Speaker said, it was not necessary that papers should be presented and printed in every new Parliament, in order to afford ground for parliamentary proceedings. It was enough that they were in the custody of the House, and may be read. If the sense of the House should be to dispose of any papers in its stores to any particular description of members, it would be the duty of the Speaker to carry the wish of the House shortly into execution.
In answer to a wish expressed by Sir Artbur Wellesley, that that day, or the next day three weeks, should be apo pointed for the decision of the question,
Lord Folkeslone stated, that for himself he was always ready to come to the discussion, but he could not fix any day without consulting others.
PRIVATE BILLS. The Speaker acquainted the House, that pursuant to the direction of the House, an account had been prepared of all private bills pending at the time of the late dissolu. tion, with the several stages in which they were on the 27th of April, and those that were passed, with the exception of receiving the royal assent. The account was ordered to lie on the table, and, after some conversation between Lord Howick (who proposed the printing) and Mr. Perceval, ordered to be printed.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose now to submit to the House a motion, which he hoped would remove all
the inconveniences affecting private bills, arising from the late dissolution of Parliament. If, however, the House should estimate more highly than he did those inconveni. ences, those who had such a superior feeling of them, would, he trusted, become more strongly compelled to adopt the resolution which went to remedy them. He was sure that those who regarded the dissolution as a crime not to be forgiven, would be disposed to visit the punishment of it wholly upon the advisers, without involving those who were but innocent sufferers. He never had said that the dissolution was not attended with inconvenience : it was inerely on a comparison of that inconvenience with the superior 1mportance of the reasons that rendered the dissolution necessary at that precise time, that he defended it. The principal inconveniences complained of were the delay and the additional expence. The delay of two months, he hopeel, could not be attended with any material inconvenience; and as to the expence, it wonld be obviated in one of its branches by the liberality of the officers, who, according to the .precedent established by their former liberality in 1784, agreed to advance the bills so pending at the dissolution, to their former stages, without any additional fers. It remained only to obviato the expence of agency, and the attendance of witnesses in town. This was the principal object of the resolution he meant to propose, which was to give an instruction to the committee, to which every petition for a private bill should be referred, to inquire whether any petition had already been presented in the late session, from the same parties, on the same subject; and if so, that the minutes of The evidence, taken before the committee on that former petition, should be evidence before the said committee; and so, in like manner, with respect to private hills, founded on such petitions, allowing he committees to call for further evidence, if necessary. He hoped that the inconveniences arising from the late (lissolution to private business, would be in a great measure done away, by adopting this arrangement. Those who looked upon the dissolution as an evil which nothing could remedy, would not, of course, think this remedy satisfactory. But those who, on the contrary, looked upon it as right to appeal to the sense of the country, under the circumstances existing at the time, would be gratified to think that the inconveniVol. 1.-1807,
cnces which the appeal occasioned, could be made so light. Ile moved a resolution accordingly,
Lord II. Petty was ready to concur in every proper measure to lighten the inconveniences caused by the late dissolution. He, however, wished the House to consider, that to the serjeant at arms, and others of the officers, the deficiency of their fees beneath a certain amount was to be made good from thc public purse, and this deficiency would of course be increased by reinitting the fees.
Mr. Curwen could not reconcile himself to so dangerous a precedent as this, which, by presenting a mode for relieving the private inconveniences incident to such a stretch of power, would always render it matter of facility to ministers to dissolve Parliament, in every case in which its temper and disposition may be adverse to their views. It was true, there had been a strong opposition to the late ministers on the two questions that had been tried touching the manner in which they had come into power. He had been one of those who had opposed them upon these ques. tions, and he lamented that the decision upon them had not been different ; for as it was, it tended to endanger the security of the crown, and of the country itself. He was sure, however, that no vexatious opposition had been intended; and if there had been, he would not have been a party to it. He lamented the inconveniences to private persons resulting from the dissolution ; but, though he wished to alleviate ihose inconveniences, he could not consent to relieve them by opening a door to public mischief.
Lord Ilowick coincided in what had fallen from his honourable friend near him. Ilowever desirous of remedying the inconveniences occasioned by the dissolution (and every day shrewed these inconveniences to be so great, that the period seemed to be purposely chosen at which they must have been greatest), he could not easily bring himself (w consent to the measure now proposed to remedy these inconveniences. The magnitude of the inconveniences might indeer! be well estimated, from the extraordinary nature of the remedy proposed. That remedy went to suspend and repeal for the time, the forms by which the privileges of the House of Commons, the righis and the property of the people, were secured and protected. llowever ligbly he might be disposed to cominend the lin
berality of thc clerks, it was not a very pleasant situation in which to place the flouse or the country, to make them dependant on that liberality. Hovever it may answer in cases in which there was no opposition to allow the bills to proceed, without the necessity of bringing witnesses, in cases of contest and opposition, the vast expence attending such cases must be again incurred. The necessary notices were not to be iņsisted upon, and individuals may find their property invaded, without any intimation to put them on their guard. It was impossible for him, on these circumstances, to consent to the arrangement proposed. If the right honourable gentleman would but allow himself a pause of 24 hours, he would not think of pressing a measure, not only differing widely from all precedent, but violatory of every parliamentary principle. We recommended, at least, The appointment of a committee to search into precedents. In 1781, though the expedient of for warding the bills without fees had been adopted, no standing order had been violated. He again expatiated on the mischicfs attending the dissolution. He disclaimed all. idea of yexatious opposition. Though there had necessarily been a decided opposition on the questions imme. diately touching the charge of administration, and involve ing great constitutional principles, the decision that had been formed upon which he feared there would be cause to regret, there would not havc been another division in the course of the sessio!, unless soicthing new had been brought forward. The inclosure bills could not possibly be carried into effect, when passed at so late a period of the session. The precedent was totally novel, and dan, gerous in its principle, and therefore he could not asscut to it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, le could not hope to alter the noble lord's opinion, nor that of those who acted with him, as to the merits of the late dissolution. Ile was happy to think, however, that there was a great majority of the blouse, who were of opinion with him, : that the prerogative was properly exercised in that instance. The inportance of the public causes that led to the dissolution were more than sufficient to counterhalance the private inconveniences. It was the great public interest that was to be consulted, and not private convenience. The noble lord was mistaken in suppasing that any standing order was violated, or that the usual notice to