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culate, by the produce of one year, the supposed future amount of the public income."
"That the uncertainty of estimating by such a criterion, the expected future produce of the revenue, is still more evident, upon a comparison of the quarter, ending the 5th of April last, with the same quarter in the preceding year, upon which the future income is calculated; by which comparison it appears that the amount of the latter quarter is inferior in the sum of £188,215 13s. 4d. in the branch of the customs, to the former."
"That in the said report there are certain articles of receipt erroneously stated, as proper to be added to the future annual income, and other articles of expense erroneously omitted to be added to the expenditure."
"That the sum voted, and to be voted, for the service of the year 1786, including the interest and charges of the public debt, considerably exceeds the sum of £15,397,471.
"That the means by which the deficiency is to be made good, arise from aids and debts which belong to the present year only."
"That there is no surplus income whatever applicable to the reduction of the public debt now existing."
"That a surplus of income in the ensuing quarter can arise only by the renewal of a loan for an extraordinary million, borrowed upon exchequer bills in the last, and charged upon the supply of the present year; and which loan it would be unnecessary to make but for the purpose of procuring the said surplus."
"That any extraordinary increase of exchequer bills, contrary to former practice in time of peace, is an expedient in anticipation of that assistance which the government might receive in the case of any circumstance rendering it necessary to strengthen the state of our national preparation."
"That the saving to the public upon the interest of money borrowed in this way is rendered improbable or precarious by the necessity which will arise for the more speedy issuing such bills, in order that the object for which the loan is made may be punctually and effectually answered, nor even, should such saving accrue, will it compensate for the disadvantage above stated."
"That admitting that, by the foregoing means, the expected surplus will arise upon the three quarters next ensuing, and that thenceforward one million annually is to be applied to the reduction of the debt, it appears that there will then be an interval of nearly four years before the commencement of that permanent peace establishment, which is to furnish, in the reduction of its services £900,000 of the expected million surplus."
"That in this period it appears from the vouchers annexed to the said report, and other papers before this house, that a sum, amounting to £4,010,000, besides two millions due to the bank, making, together, the sum of £6,010,000 will be deficient and wanting, over and above the stated annual income."
"That for this sum of £60,000 there appears to be no adequate provision or resource."
The motions were negatived.
The report of the committee on the bill for establishing a fund to be unalienably applied in the distribution of the national debt, being brought up, the amendments were severally read and agreed to; and when that part of the bill was read, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer's clause, obliging the commissioners, when the stocks were at or above par, to come to parliament for new powers, was read, Mr. Pitt moved "to defer the further consideration of it to the ensuing day." Before the Speaker put the question,
Mr. SHERIDAN said, that he had not happened
to be present on Friday last, but he understood the right honorable gentleman had alluded to the subject of that bill, upon which he had presumed to take up so much of the time of the house the preceding day; and had deemed his arguments and calculations fallacious and ill founded. It would, he thought, have been more fair for the right honorable gentleman to have answered those arguments, and proved the calculations fallacious and ill founded on the preceding day, when he was present, than thus to have glanced at either, and spoken of them injuriously in his absence. If it was conceived that the right honorable gentleman, who had on the preceding Thursday spoken immediately after him, had answered his arguments, and that specch was relied on as a full and complete answer and refutation of what he had advanced, he was perfectly content to leave it to the good sense and feeling of the house to decide, whether he had been refuted or not. But, as the right honorable gentleman in question, for whose ability and character, in every point of view, he entertained a very sincere respect, had professed that he did not mean to go into his arguments at large, or to follow him through the whole of them, as the great point to which he had aimed at calling their attention, the point of ascertaining whether there was actually any surplus or not-but declared he should leave that part of the task to other honorable gentlemen of greater abilities, and more brilliant and splendid talents, from whom the house would hear a full and complete answer; and the house had heard no answer at all from those honorable gentlemen of greater abilities and more splendid talents; he, Mr. Sheridan, felt himself warranted in declaring, that his remarks upon the subject were well grounded, and had not been invalidated by any argument whatever.
Mr. Pitt, in reply, claimed from Mr. Sheridan "the performance of that pledge which he had explicitly made to the house, of giving every support in his power to the measure, proposed for promoting the national prosperity."
Mr. Sheridan denied the right of any one member to take upon himself to pledge another to a particular line of conduct respecting measures subsequently to be brought forward, without leaving him the reserve of exercising his own judgment upon the expediency and propriety of those measures as applied to the purpose in view when they should be proposed; and said, that although he, and he believed every other gentleman, agreed completely with the right honorable gentleman, as to the desirableness of diminishing the national debt; yet, he must maintain, that it behoved that house to watch the steps taken for that end with the more vigilance and closeness.
The farther consideration of the report was adjourned to the ensuing Thursday.
Mr. SHERIDAN, adverting to his intended motion for the printing of tax bills, said, that although the subject was of a novel nature, yet he would be as brief as possible. He was convinced that every person would readily coincide with him in opinion, that there were no bills of 'more importance than the tax bills. They ought, undoubtedly, to be well understood before they were passed; and no mode could be more eligible for diffusing the information, than the printing of every tax bill previous to its final discussion. The practice of printing bills was of modern date, as might be seen from the perusal of Mr. Hatsel's Precedents of the House of Commons, which he believed to be in possession of every gentleman conversant in parliamentary business. This custom, however, had not yet extended to tax bills; and he could not conceive any reason for the exception, unless it were the nugatory inference from the mere want of custom. He entertained a
very high respect for the usage of parliament; but he thought that a custom, which was not justified by any solid arguments, ought to be renounced. As the printing of the tax bills would be attended with the happiest effects, he hoped no gentleman would oppose a measure of such general utility to the country. He should always be an advocate for a rigid adherence to the customs of parliament; but any usage or regulations founded on absurdity, he would never countenance. He applauded the parliamentary maxim of not admitting petitions against a tax bill, during the same session in which the law was passed. If such a law were not enforced, there would otherwise arise very unnecessary delays.— The motion which he now meant to submit to the house had no tendency of the kind; and what it was designed to remedy, was not justified by any order of the house, but only by practice. As taxation had now increased to a very great degree, it was found expedient to invest justices of the peace with more extensive powers than they had hitherto possessed. The blunders and confusion which had ensued from the multiplication of the laws within these two years, had been attended with much injury to the revenue, and with much inconvenience and molestation to the subjects. It was, therefore, by no means strange, if those wise-heads, often called justices of the peace, were puzzled in endeavoring to expound the nature of the new regulations. Parliament should, in consequence of these defects, adopt some mode of affording gentlemen an opportunity to consider the minutiae of the new acts. He was astonished how the clerks could form an index from such imperfect materials. As the Journals had undergone such various and complicated alterations he imagined that a discovery of a real reference in the index might be ranked among the marvellous. No reference could be made to the original act, unless the index were worded in this manner"An act to repeal an act, to alter an act, to explain