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the country as public culprits, for having thus disregarded the national faith." Mr. Rose also observed, "that the late administration had been in time enough to have proposed the funding of the navy debt. They came in on the 2d of April, and they knew for two months before, that they would come in; the administration being out of office in effect, and doing no business all that time. They might therefore, have done all that was necessary as well as the present administration. Mr. Rose took occasion to say, that as it had been observed, that Mr. Pitt's taxes of this year would prove unproductive, he was persuaded, if they turned out as unproductive as the noble Lord's at the head of the Exchequer last year, the country would be in a miserable condition indeed.”
Mr. SHERIDAN defended the last administration; and stated, that if there was any blame due, it was to their predecessors, for not having left the trace of a tax, or the outlines of a budget behind them, when they quitted place. As to their not having done any business for two months, before their successors kissed hands, the fact was otherwise. They had done their own business all that time, granting pensions, and reversions, and titles to each other. Mr. Sheridan took notice of what Lord Mahon had said of Lord John Cavendish's standing a culprit before the house, and denied that the assertion was founded. Mr. Sheridan also said, Mr. Rose's remark about the unproductiveness of the taxes last year, was uncandid in the extreme; since what had happened to the receipt tax, might have happened to any. Now the bill to enforce it had passed, he had no doubt of its becoming extremely productive.
DUTY ON LICENSES TO PEOPLE FOR REGISTERING THEIR QUALIFICATIONS TO KILL GAME. The order of the day for going into a committee on this bill being called for,
Mr. SHERIDAN stated to the house, that there was a breach of order in the body of this bill, which was drawn on a wider scale than the house had au
thorised it to be done. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer first proposed the raising of money by this mode, he had taken the liberty to ask, whether it was intended to give more effect to the game laws? He was answered in the negative; and every gentleman then present expressed a satisfaction that it was not. The title of the bill expressed no more than a tax on people already qualified by former laws to kill game; but this bill, in its present state, extended the license to all descriptions of people, as well unqualified as qualified, which was assuming an extent the committee did not intend. He then called upon the clerk to read the several resolutions which had been passed in the committee of ways and means relative to this subject; from which it appeared, that the bill at present had gone farther than the committee authorised it to go; for which reason, he said, it ought not to be permitted to proceed a step farther; but, according to the rules of the house, it ought to be withdrawn, and brought forward again in a shape more exactly conformable to the orders of the committee.
The Speaker allowed, that there was, in this instance, a step taken, contrary to the orders of the house; but that, however, might be remedied, if the house were unanimous in permitting the bill to go into a committee, and then the objectionable part might be removed: but if any member dissented to the commitment of the bill, the order of the house must be enforced, and the bill withdrawn. But, however, if it was insisted that this bill should be withdrawn, the same might be presented again, and read a first and second time immediately on the same day, which would bring it to the same stage in which it was before it was withdrawn.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt observed, that as the objections of the honorable gentleman were not against the principle of the bill, he thought that the removal of two words would bring it to the precise idea which the honorable member had proposed; and if he would agree to permit him to commit the bill, and it should appear that the matter could not be rectified without a breach of order, he would consent to withdraw it.
Mr. Sheridan replied, that there must be more than two words altered; and desired the right honorable gentleman would inspect the bill more minutely.
Mr. Ord said, he did not conceive that the orders of the house were infringed by the bill, which had not yet its blanks filled up; and as there were no penalties in the bill before the blanks were filled up, which could not be done before it was committed, he argued that nothing beyond the title had yet been assumed in the body of
Mr. Chancellor Pitt argued, that still the bill did not exceed the limits allowed to it by its title; for it was not compulsory on any man to register his qualification, but the person qualified by former laws: it was optional in any other person not so qualified to take out a license, for the present bill demanded nothing from a man who is not qualified. Had there been a compulsory clause on every man besides those qualified as above, the observation of the honorable gentleman would have its force; but in the present case, there being no such compulsion, the bill was within its just limits. He then urged the commitment of the bill, for the purpose of making the amendments which were requisite.
Mr. Sheridan did not apprehend that the bill could well be altered by the committee, in such a manner as to bring it back regularly to the precise limits marked out by the resolution of the committee of ways and means, on which the bill was, or at least ought to have been founded; and beyond the limits of which it could not be extended, without a violation of the form of proceeding, hitherto religiously observed by the house.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt begged then to know what was the honorable gentleman's objection to the bill in its present form; for, he said, he really had not attended to it.
Mr. Sheridan replied, that he was really astonished at such a question; he never could have conceived that a gentleman who had taken so much pains to combat his objection, and to shew, that by leaving out a few words in one or two of the clauses, it might be very easily removed, could afterwards ask what that very objection was. His objection was this, as he had already stated, that the resolution of the committee on ways and means on this head, went no farther than to impose a tax on persons, already qualified by law to kill game, on the registering of their qualifications; but the bill went a great deal farther, and extended the tax to all persons indiscriminately, who should take out licenses
to shoot. This was certainly a stretch made by the framer of the bill, not warranted by the resolution; which had in its contemplation a less extended description of men, than were made objects of the bill.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt, finding that the order of the house was against the bill, said, that if it was withdrawn, much time would be lost before it could be presented again; for though only two alterations were to be made in it, it must be copied over again; and that could not be done this day, as the bill consisted of twenty-seven sheets.
Mr. Sheridan, however, did not insist that the order should be enforced; he convinced the right honorable member, that though he had it in his power to throw out this bill for that time, in spite of his majority, still he would not oppose the commitment of the bill, which the right honorable gentleman had so much at heart; he said, that if no one else should insist upon the order being enforced, he would withdraw his opposition.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt returned him thanks for his condescension. The bill was then sent to the committee, where it was so altered, as to be made conformable to the resolution of ways and means, to which it had a reference. When the house was resumed, the order of the day for going into a committee on the hat duty bill was read.
Mr. Sheridan then observed, that the tax to be paid on licenses, by persons exercising the trade of hat-making, would, he apprehended, greatly reduce the duty on the manufacture; as it would discourage many persons in the country towns and villages from making hats. There were a great many poor hatters in the country, who lived principally by journey work, but occasionally made hats on their own account for their neighbours; and this circumstance would subject him to the necessity of taking out a license, at a price which, in his opinion, was much too high. In many villages in Staffordshire, he knew that hat-makers rented small houses, at the very low rents of from thirty to thirty-five and forty shillings a year; now, a tax of ten shillings for a license, being equal to the fourth of their rent, was
certainly too high. With respect to the hat-makers of London, he would say nothing; they were, perhaps, able to bear it without any inconvenience; but with respect to those in the country towns and villages, he should propose that the tax for the license should be reduced one half; so that in country towns it should be ten shillings, and in villages five shillings.
Mr. Steele said the honorable member's proposal was not unreasonable; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not mean to oppose it.
The bill then went into a committee, where Mr. Sheridan's alteration of the tax was admitted. The house was then resumed, and adjourned.
The report of the committee having been brought up, and read a first time,
Mr. SHERIDAN rose, and re-stated some of his former objections; admitting, however, that the bill had been so altered and modified in the committee, that it no longer exceeded the limits prescribed for it by the resolution, under the authority of which it had been introduced into the house. Mr. Sheridan admitted also, that the bill would not add to the severe and oppressive tendency of the game laws; on the contrary, he said, it would be a nugatory act, and extremely unproductive. He contended, that none but poachers would derive any benefit from it; and stated, in a ludicrous way, the circumstances that might be produced in consequence of such a bill's passing into a law; declaring, that a great variety of persons otherwise qualified, than merely in right of property, would not take out any license.Upon the whole consideration of the present bill, and of the extraordinary abilities of the right honorable gentleman, under whose direction it was drawn, it was plain, he said, that it was utterly impossible to frame a rational system of game laws; indeed,