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Mr. SHERIDAN rose again to complain of Lord Mulgrave's having talked of prophetic misrepresentations and invidious comments. No part of what had fallen from him, he was persuaded, justified such insinuations. He had declared he was perfectly convinced of the sincerity of the right honorable gentleman's zeal for the principle of the worthy Alderman's motion; and had deprecated the consequences that might follow any of the right honorable gentleman's friends' moving the previous question. People without doors, who were not perfectly apprised of all that had passed in the debate, might conceive, that it was a trick and connivance; and that the previous question was moved with the right honorable gentleman's consent and concurrence.It was in order to avert this misconstruction, that he had exhorted the noble lord to act candidly, and not persist in his motion; and he had been not a little induced to press the withdrawing of the previous question upon the noble lord, from the right honorable Chancellor of the Exchequer's having himself been the first to declare, that disposing of the motion by the previous question, was casting a slur upon the very important topic to which it bore so immediate a reference.
The question being put, the house divided; ayes 199; noes 125.
REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE ON
On this day Mr. Pitt moved several resolutions, as the foundation of the act, since known by the name of the Commutation Act; and from which the principal benefit expected was the ruin of the smuggling trade.
Mr. SHERIDAN said, the credit of this plan was neither due to the noble lord nor the right honorable gentleman, as he must well know himself; be
cause he could not be ignorant, that Lord John Cavendish had it in his intention to do the very same thing; nay, had the right honorable gentleman asked for them, he would have given him two bills ready drawn upon the subject. Mr. Sheridan said farther, that it was not ingenuous in the right honorable gentleman to assume a merit which he must know did not belong to him, since he might have found traces of the bills alluded to in office.
Mr. SHERIDAN begged leave to inform the right honorable gentleman, Mr. Pitt, that the act for appointing commissioners to take into consideration the state of the public accounts, would expire on Saturday se'nnight; and to ask him if he intended to bring in a bill for continuing a commission from which so much public advantage might be derived. Mr. Pitt replied it was his intention.
OF THE COMMITTEE OF WAYS AND MEANS.-COAL TAX.
Sir John Wrottesley observed, he had came down determined to take the sense of the house against the coal tax.
Mr. SHERIDAN earnestly deprecated the honorable baronet's taking the sense of the house on the coal tax that day. He pointed out the extreme unfairness of opposing any tax in that stage. How could the honorable baronet know whether every possible objection might not be cured by some regulation or other, contained in the bill? How did he know that Scotland might not be wholly exempted from the tax? (a loud laugh.) It certainly, Mr. Sheridan said, was possible; and till the bill was before them, no man had a right to con
tend that Scotland would not be exempted, although he was aware the right honorable gentleman had said, he meant to extend the tax to Scotland Mr. Sheridan declared, if his worthy friend did divide the house, he would divide with the Chancellor of the Exchequer against him.
Sir John withdrew his intention.
HOLDERS OF NAVY BILLS.
An offer of great extent had been made to the holders of navy bills, under which they were to receive what was described to be an equivalent in discharge of their bills. Mr. Eden stated, that if the offer was accepted by the holders of recent bills in point of date, and rejected by the holder of the oldest bill, the inference would be, that those who had a sacred claim from seriously to be first paid, would be forcibly postponed to others; and enquired whether if any loss should result to them in consequence, or any inconvenience, they would not be entitled so say, that they are suffering by the false faith of the public. Mr. Pitt in reply, said, he could not admit that the offer could be productive of any breach of public faith; it was a substitution, and not a payment, and that creditors who chose to stand out would have it in their power.
Mr. SHERIDAN argued, that this answer was not satisfactory; the word substitution could not change the nature of the thing; if the offer to the bill-holders was considered as a payment at par by the holders of the old bills; it followed, that a preferable payment was made to those who had confessedly no claim to preference; he placed this idea in several points of view. He added, that the navybill holders would be more disposed to hold out, because a famous speech of the Earl of Shelburne's, under which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer's situation commenced, had expressly stated, that this mode of payment should be discontinued as ruinous.
The resolutions were afterwards passed.
BILL FOR THE BETTER GOVERNMENT OF
On this day Mr. Pitt moved for leave to bring in the above bill.
Mr. SHERIDAN requested the Chancellor of the Exchequer would inform him if an idea of what was gone abroad, had any foundation, that the bill for preventing of smuggling, by commutation of duties on tea, was to be abandoned; as the delay of introducing it seemed to countenance the report, and these people who viewed many parts of it in an unfavourable light, particularly the people of York, were inclined to suppose that such was the intention of administration; and he particularly objected to that principle of commutation which burdened the public with so extensive a tax as that on windows; which he would recommend to be laid aside, and to which he would give every opposition.
Mr. Chancellor Pitt replied, that the bill was by no means to be abandoned; but he hoped the honorable gentleman would make some allowances for the weighty and complicated business to which the detail of West India regulations must necessarily subject ministers; the experience of the honorable gentleman, who had already a bill prepared for that purpose, must give him a readiness beyond men who must weigh the matter here.
Some warm and rather ill-humoured expressions dropped between Mr. Pitt and Mr. Sheridan, when the house interfered, and put a stop to the conversation.
Lord Beauchamp moved for leave to bring in a bill, for regulating the power of the Speaker, in regard to the issuing of writs for the election of members in cases of death during the recess of parliament. The Attorney-General was of opinion, that a power might be given in the same bill to the Speaker to issue a writ in case of a vacancy, occasioned during the recess, by a member's accepting of a place.
Mr. SHERIDAN wondered that the honorable gentleman did not feel that it by no means became
that house to facilitate its members in the obtainment of plabes under the crown. Mr. Sheridan said, there was a manifest difference between a borough remaining unrepresented a short time, during the recess of parliament, and its continuing unrepresented while the parliament was sitting. Mr. Sheridan introduced the conduct of the High Bailiff of Westminster, and the case of the Westminster scrutiny, by way of elucidating his argument. The motion was put and carried.
EAST INDIA BILL.
Mr. Pitt moved that the bill be read, paragraph by paragraph. Mr. SHERIDAN said, that so far from the consent of the company actually being with the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Pitt), in his present measure, that he thought himself authorised to ask, if he had not even had the dissent of the company signified to him? And if they had not a meeting postponed to Tuesday from yesterday, to take into consideration several objections which they expressed to have to the present bill.
EAST INDIA BILL.
The order of the day having been read for the house to resolve itself into a committee, in order to proceed in filling up the blanks, and amending the clauses of the East India bill,
Mr. SHERIDAN rose and observed, that when the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had opened the subject of his present bill, though he had stated it as his intention to combine the three objects of it together, and put them all in one bill; yet he had not signified any determination tenaciously to adhere to that purpose, but had given the house to