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was to the degraded state in which actually fitting. Why was not pro. the commons of Great Britain stood per application made to the house? relative to the executive govern. It was, because the right honourment. He alluded, he said, to able gentleman fancied himself bet. the 1,200,000l. granted to the emo ter qualified to judge of the properor without the consent of par- priety of the time, and the extent liament; a grant contrary to pofi. of the asistance, than the house of tive laws, and a flagrant violation commons. of the constitution of parliament.
The constitution says he was not; From the mode in which the money it says, that the public money is at had been given, it was evident that the disposal, not of the crown, but the whole affair had been conduct- of the parliament; and therefore ed for the purpose of setting a pre- he had no right to dispose of it cedent in the annals of the consti. without its confent. The question tution, that it might be understood now was, not whether the constituthe public money was not at the tion be good or bad, whether this disposal of the representatives of be a wise or unwise arrangement, the people, but of the ministers of but it was his duty, as the minister the crown. But he would consider of a free constitution, to adhere to the nature of the transa&tion. Had the principles which it had laid ministers, when parliament was not down, and to the rules which it had fitting, found themselves called prescribed; the first, and most imupon by an imperious sense of portant of which was, that the difduty, di&tated by urgent and un- posal of the public money is vested foreseen circumstances, to grant a not in the king, but in the people. certain pecuniary aid to the empe. Something, indeed, we heard like ror, and had they taken the earliest an apology from the right honouropportunity upon the meeting of able gentleman; but it was as unparliament to submit the whole of satisfactory, as the conduct it was the business to their consideration; brought forward to justify was un. then would have been the time for constitutional. It conGifted of two the house to have passed a decision parts: first, that parliament was upon their conduct; but the pre- not so good a judge as himself; sent case was wholly different." In and, secondly, that from the disthe course of the last three months cussions to which the publicity of the last parliament, repeated ap- would lead, considerable mischief plications were made to them re- might have taken place. With refpecting their intentions of grant. spect to the first, it takes the point ing or with-holding pecuniary affift-, for granted, by supposing that an ance to the emperor; and from the absolute is preferable to a limited Glence which they persevered in monarchy, and that our free conpreserving on the subject, it was ftitution would be much better natural to infer, that they would were it transformed into a despotnot grant it without the previous ism: and as to the other, of danger, concurrence of parliament. But from its publicity, this pretence we now find a great part of the may be used till we come to the old money had been granted to his im- exploded argument, that the grantperial majesty without that concur- ing of money ought to be velted in rence, not during the parliamentary the king's minifters, not in the peo. ecess, but when parliament was ple's representatives. In short, con
tinued Mr. Fox, the right honour- that parliament which had tamely ablé gentleman tells us, that he did given them up without cne fyllable not think it worth while to acknow. of remonftrance, without one threat ledge you at all in the matter, be- of defiance? It was true, the house cause you were not fit judges of had so far relaxed from the rigor. the propriety of the quantum, nor ous exercise of their privilege, as of the period for granting the to give a vote of credit to the mimoney.: he takes care, however, nifter that he might be enabled to that you shall be finally in fornied meet unforeseen emergencies; this, of it: but when?' cohen it comes to however, was always to a limited be paid.
extent; but, in the present instance, But from what fund had this the right honourable gentleman loan been raised ? one part of it had thought the commons were from a vote of credit, and another as little qualified to judge of the had been taken from the money extent of the assistance to be voted for defraying the extraordi- given to the emperor, as of the naries of the year; and of course propriety of giving it. With recertain services, of which parlia. gard to this parliament, Mr. Fox ment had approved, and for which hoped, that it would vindicate its it had made provision, must remain own dignity and importance at the unpaid. In what situation then was oufet, and shew the ministers of the house of commons placed ? If the country, that if they be the adthey refused to make good the debt, visers of the measures of the crown, which he hoped and trusted they the house of commons are the guar. would, part of the public service dians of the public purse. But if, would continue in arrears. They on the other hand, they patiently were reduced then to this dilemma, acquiefced in the most daring eneither to discharge a debt, in con croachments on their rights, how tracting which they were not ac would thev answer to their country knowki'ged, and for which they for those liberties which they had were not responsible ; or, by re wantonly sacrificed at the shrine of fusing to discharge it, to leave fer- unprincipled ambition ? He convices which were sanctioned by fidered it as a more serious attack their approbation, unpaid. Should upon the conftitution than what the question be put to any man at was conveyed through the writings all acquainted with the constitu- of Paine, or of any man whattion of this country, when expences
Were I (faid Mr. Fox) upon are to be incurred; who are the best a jury, deciding upon the speech of judges of the propriety of incurring the right honourable gentleman laft them, he would answer, the com- night, I should pronounce it a libel mons of Great Britain. Who are upon the conftitution ; for it the the best judges of the extent to doctrines laid down in it are constiwhich they ought to be incurred? tutional, ours is a molt vile and deHe would not hefitate also to reply, testable contiitution. Even after all the commons of Great Britain. the attacks which have been made When these two strong holds were upon it, we would still. fhed our given up, the constitution was loft. blood in its defence ; but if this What then would posterity think new defalcation is to be added to of that minister who had wrested what we forinely were robbed of, them out of our poffeffion, or of what is there left to interest our
feelings, or to stimulate our exer. Although the general principle tions? This will be an incalculable which the right honourable gentle: addition to all the woes and cala man stated as the essence of the mities which the war has induced ; freedom of the constitution were and if, after all that we have lost admitted, it was subject to limita. in money, in reputation, and in tion; at every period since the blood, we are also to submit to commencement of those times to this oppreffion, the house of com- which we refer for the pure practice mons is no longer to be considered of the constitution, in the best and as a branch of the constitution, and most glorious æras of it, the printhere will be, little in our govern- ciple of extraordinaries had been ment to distinguish it from that of received; not merely for indiviabsolute monarchies.
dual expences, but recognized upon Mr. Pitt replied, that those peo- general views. Did it never occur ple who had never before had an to the right honourable gentleman opportunity of hearing the speeches that parliament had fometimes which the right honourable gentle committed to his majesty not new man had been accustomed to pro- but special powers, which supernounce, the cry of alarm which he seded all general questions? Mr. often had been pleased to raise, and Pitt said, that he intended to move the destruction of our liberties that his majesty's message of the 8th which he had often affected to see, of December last year should be would suppose this had been the read, and likewise the act granting first time in his life that he had felt a vote of credit : from this it would real apprehension for the constitu- appear, that a power was given to tion of his country.
his majesty to apply the sum conMr. Pitt wished it to be observed, tained in the vote of credit as the that the right honourable gentleman exigencies of the state might redid not merely propose a reproba- quire. Suppose that powers had tion of the particular measure, nor been conferred to give that asliftthe punishment of the guilty mini ance to the allies of our country, Ster, but a suspension of those sup- which our own interest and the plies which were calculated to give circumstances of the state required. confidence to the negotiations of Could any man doubt that the peace, or energy to the operations minister who should have hesitated of war; and by giving a negative to issue the fum, which, granted, to the whole resolution, to tell the would have defended the safety of enemy, by the very next post by Europe; could any man doubt which the unanimous determina- that he would have been a traitor tion of parliament would be con to his country, and merited the veyed, that the house of commons severest punishment: The vote of had interfered to stop the effects of credit did actually inveft the executheir former decision, had suf- tive government with a discretionpended the means which were to ary power of applying the sums add weight to the exertions of the granted in a manner best suited to cxecutive government, and at so the public exigencies; and the mo. critical a moment of the negoti- ney applied to the service of the ation had committed the interests emperor was within that grant. of this country and her allies, and He did not mean to say, that the flattered the hopes, and raised the discretion thus vested in the crown pretensions of the enemy.
was absolute, and independent of
the controul of parliament, or that war: but, surely it never was inthe minister who exercised it im- tended that fubfidies to foreign properly was to be exempt from powers should be supplied by a censure; but in what manner he vote of credit. New circumitances underfood this limitation, he would might occur to render it proper for state when called upon to make his ministers to exercise their discredefence
tion; but here the circumstances The question, however, now, was were foreseen, and had been laid bee Dot whether ministers had acted fore parliament; the discovery that properly, or improperly; it was, this sum had been advanced came whether the house lould announce out in a very suspicious manner to France, that the supplies of the indeed; it could no longer be conyear were to be stopped, and the cealed; there seemed to have been exertions of the executive power a desire of concealing it as long as fufpended.
poslible, and a disclosure was only Mr. Fox stated, in explanation, compelled by necessity: He could that he had only said that extra- not however go to the length of ordinaries were, in fome measure, stopping the supplies, though he inevitable, but were an evil not to was of opinion that a very strong be extended beyond the necessity, mark of censure ought to be inand that it was criminal to resort to flicted by the house. As to the this expedient when other means influence a parliamentary sanction might be employed.
to this measure might have had Sir William Pulteney declared, upon public credit at an earlier that it was with much concern and period, he thought it too triking a astonishment he heard, that the confideration to weigh against the minister had taken upon him to fundamental principles of the conappropriate so large a sum of the ftitution, and with regard to the public money without the consent credit wbich the miniiter affuined of parliament. The controul of for acting advantageously when he the house of commons over the concealed from the enemy the inpublic perse was the main point tention of affording supplies to our upon which refted the whole of the ally, he considered that concealconftitution of Great Britain ; and ment as having a very different efthough Mr. Fox might be accur- fect; for it was, in a great measure, tomed to use strong language, yet on the supposition that this country this was a cafe which every man refused all pecuniary supplies to must feel to be of the last impor- the emperor, that the French were cance. The justification offered by emboldened to make redoubled efthe chancellor of the exchequer forts, and advance so far into the was chiefly groupded on two argu- heart of Germany. The right ments, drawn from the words in honourable gentleman had alked, which the vote of credit must be whether, in order to pass a previous granted in every year of a war. censure on this conduct, the house First, that it was meant to defray would adopt the proposition of Mr. the extraordinary expences of the Fox, and, in this critical emeryear. Undoubtedly it was, and un- gency, stop the supplies of the nafortunately it happened, that ex- tion? It was this dilemma which traordinaries and a vote of credit aggravated the misconduct of the must be granted in every year of a minifter, who put the house in that
situation, 'that it must either ac- ramount to the constitution, that quiesce in an expenditure made in no duty is so facred as its support : so blameable a manner, or bring true, its moft vital parts have been danger on the country by stopping attacked, and their vigour effenthe supplies, and afford fome room tially crippled and destroyed, but it for a charge against rational faith. is nevertheless incumbent on the
He trusted that this proceeding friends of order to uphold what would not pass the house without remains of it, and struggle for the receiving strong marks of disap- restoration of such of its fundaprobation; and he hoped it would mental elementary attributes as have never witness in future a similar been either fubverted or abused. violation of the principles of the The existence of the constitution, constitution.
in fact, depends on the vigilance Mr. Grey expressed his surprise of a difcerning house of commons and indignation at what he termed respecting the acts of ministers. the desperate measures of the mini. Such a house will not be satisfied ster, in an animated speech. Had on great conftitutional questions the house, he said, perceived sooner with pompous declamatory denunthe danger which threatened the . ciations of the opposers of miniconftitution, the present measure fterial arrogance, or the foes of would never have been attempted; ministerial profusion: it will not be and if their obsequiousness and ser. fatisfied with retrospective and unvility had not encouraged the de- constitutional measures of any kind, fign of ministers, they never would but will in every situation evince, have seen this bold and daring in- by the conduct of its members, that vasion of their rights.
there is still a barrier to encroachHow must the astonishment and ments, a line beyond which not displeasure of the house be encreas- even his majesty's ministers can exed when they found that, when par- tend their predatory efforts. In liament had been sitting, when the the present case, it cannor for a embarrassment government had felt moment be argued, that it was not for money was so great, these ad- the duty of ministers to come forvances had been made ! nay, at the ward with a specific proposition, very time when he himself had foliciting the advice and concuralked Mr. Pitt, what he intended rence of the representatives of the as to an Austrian loan, very confider- people before the money of the abie advances had been made, and people was applied in a way that only 77,000l. had been given dur- mult subject them to be affelled ing the recess of parliament. Such with new and extraordinary burwas the fact proved by the dates in dens. That the public money was the account on the table.
thus applied, is evident; that the “ I am aware (continued Mr. constitution was infringed, is equalGrey) that the right honourable ly so; but the right honourable gen. gentleman will rest his defence on tleman has told is, that the sum the general principle of army extra- advanced to the emperor was adordinaries; that he will te'l us a vanced under circumstances, and at cafe of real exigency muit and a time, when it was necessary that ought to supersede the interior de. the exception should be adopted. mands of aconomical, or even le * This he takes the exception, gillative, prudence. But I reply, and argues from the neceflity of the that no financial exigency can be pa. case. We might in the same way