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debate in that house, that he should differ upon this subject, he feared, with those whom he had always acted with; that he had solicited no petition, nor knew even of that from Stafford till the day he had presented it; but that on the day Mr. Pitt brought forward his sixteen new propositions, so far from appearing to approve of them, he had called to the right honorable gentleman to read a second time this particular proposition, and had declared, in speaking to an amendment, he moved before the house rose that night, that the fourth resolution struck him as an absolute resumption of the right of external legislation over Ireland. The right honorable gentleman brought an amendment to this resolution the next time the committee sat, and quoted what he called his (Mr. Sheridan's) misconception as a reason. Mr. Sheridan had then replied, that the amendment had removed no part of his objection.He had since spoken and divided against this resolution in the committee.
With regard to other particulars in this arrangement, he had voted, in many instances, with the minister, and against his right honorable friend and the noble lord; and he had suggested some amendments which had been adopted, and which certainly tended to smooth the reception of the propositions in Ireland. He left the house to judge, whether there was any thing either inflammatory or inconsistent in this conduct. But his opinion upon the whole of the plan, as it was completed, he had delivered that day, and that opinion he would maintain.
The house proceeded at one o'clock, and continued till past four, to make amendments, several of which were offered by Mr. Eden; and being admitted to be necessary, accepted. Mr. Fox moved afterwards to equalize the duties on the import of raw materials into the two kingdoms; and also on the export of manufactures to foreign ports; and also to adopt mutually all prohibitions on foreign manufactures. This clause was negatived. The house, at the conclusion, resolved, "That the resolutions be communicated to the lords, and their concurrence desired thereto." ·
Mr. SHERIDAN desired to know from ministers, whether the bill for preventing the exportation of manufactures, and materials for the manufacture of iron beyond seas, extended to Ireland? And not receiving a satisfactory answer, he moved that the bill be printed. After some debate, he withdrew his motion.
FEBRUARY 8, 1786.
The order of the day was read, for the house" to resolve itself into a committee of ways and means;" and, after agreeing to certain resolutions proposed, a long and uninterrupted pause ensued.
Mr. SHERIDAN remarked, that he concluded the house were now waiting, in silent suspense, for the appearance of the Secretary at War, with his proposal of a vote in favor of the army estimates. But surely the house would act with more propriety if, instead of listening at so early a period to the discussion of this important subject, they were to adjourn immediately, and thus allow themselves more time for the investigation.
The Secretary at War now entered, and moved, "That the house should resolve itself into a committee of supply, for the purpose of taking the army estimates into consideration." Mr. Minchin moved, "that the house should now adjourn.”
Mr. Sheridan said, that he also must resist the motion for the Speaker's leaving the chair; yet, upon an important principle, in some measure dissimilar from that of his honorable friend; and for the sake of preserving a strict and invariable adherence to the established rules and forms of proceeding in that house, on the present occasion, he felt it right to urge the necessity of preserving such an adherence; and, therefore, must beg leave to remind the right honorable gentleman in the chair,
that he rested on his authority for the validity and justness of his argument as applicable to the present instance. It had been the well-known and established rule of proceeding with the army estimates, to have them laid upon the table eight days prior to any motions being made for referring them to the consideration of a committee. This rule had, he believed, been invariably adhered to in every former instance; but in the present the estimates had not been upon the table more than five days, and now it was attempted to go into a committee for the purpose of voting them; although at the time they had been presented, when Wednesday was nominated, as the day on which they should be taken into consideration, they had heard from the first authority in that house, that the practise had been, in all préceding times, not to move for their being referred to the committee of supply, until they had been upon the table eight days. With such indecency did the administration fly in the face of the chair; and fatal would prove the consequences if a bad precedent were once suffered to be established. He did not mean to insinuate that any improper intention operated upon the right honorable gentleman at the head of the War Office, in thus urging the house to break through their established rules; but if he was to be indulged in every eccentric flight of genius that he might choose to take, there was no knowing into what strange extravagancies he might not lead them. For his' part, he wondered from whom he had learnt the idea of breaking through the established rules and forms of the house; his predecessors in office had -been content to adhere invariably to those rules, and in so doing they had acted wisely. If the rule was once broken through, it might be abolished altogether. If it was right to vote the army estimates after they had been upon the table only five days, why not vote them after being there only four, three, or two days? or why not bring them down,
present them, and call upon the house to vote them the next day, or the very day on which they were presented? The same reason which would justify the violation of the rule in one instance, would justify it in all. Besides, in all former sessions, the constant usage had been to vote the navy before the army estimates; and, as the strength of our marine was to guide what sort of an army might be necessary, the vote of the navy ought always to precede the vote of the army. This infringement of the usual practise was highly reprehensible; and though he could not agree that it was not improper to vote the army before the militia, or think that there required any argument whatever to prove the extreme impropriety of going into a committee, besides that very serious one which he had already urged, the absolute necessity of a strict adherence to the established rules and forms of proceeding in that house; yet, certainly. the manner in which the right honorable gentleman had expressed himself on the subject of the militia, afforded strong ground of objection to voting the army estimates at present. The right honorable gentleman had contended that an honorable and respectable friend of his ought not to shrink from his intention of bringing in the bill for regulating the militia; because he, a single individual in that house, had declared he had not made up his mind to one particular point. For his part, he was of the same opinion; and he hoped, notwithstanding what had passed, that the worthy and respectable member would bring in his bill. And, surely, the public were already under infinite obligations to him for what he had done, and for his introducing the bill, even if it were to fail, from that part of it being objected to and overcome, that enacted the measure, which the honorable gentleman, and those who had with him taken the trouble of digesting the system (and who were consequently the best able to judge of every part of it), deemed the most essential point
of all, would be attended with this good consequence, that it would not only bring the subject fairly under discussion, but open the eyes of the public, and convince them who were, and who were not, the friends of the militia; and whether there was, or was not, any design to annihilate the institution. With regard to the right honorable gentleman's calling himself, as he had thought proper to do, in respect to the militia, a single individual, it might fairly be observed, that the right honorable gentleman passed under various characters in that house; at one time he called himself a member of administration, at another the minister, then again the minister of the crown; nay, he had even once assumed the self-created character of representative of the representatives of the people, and sent his own will in a dictatorial manner to the Irish parliament, instead of the resolutions of that house. But when the fit of humility was on him, he bent to the more submissive character of a simple individual. It was not a little remarkable that the effect and success of his measures for the most part, depended on the character which he thought fit to assume. When the right honorable gentleman chose to stand up as a single individual, he generally failed of achieving his purpose. On the grand question of reform in the representation of the people in parliament, the right honorable gentleman professed he was acting as a single individual, and there he did not succeed, In this scrutiny, in like manner, acting as a single individual, he failed; and had he been no more than a single individual in the case of his India bill, he verily believed the right honorable gentleman would have failed likewise. He confidently hoped that the militia bill, if brought in and gone on with, would succeed, as the right honorable gentleman chose, on the present occasion, to call himself a single individual, however much the gentlemen who had waited upon him respecting the militia, might have found him the