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XXXII.

1784.

CHAP. ment, after having recurred in fo important a moment to the sense of his people. He entertained a juft and confident reliance, that the affembly was animated with the fentiments of loyalty and attachment to the conftitution, which had been fo fully manifested in every part of the kingdom. The objects particularly recommended to their attention, were the alarming progrefs of frauds in the revenue, the framing of fuch commercial regu lations as were immediately neceffary, and the providing for the good government of our poffeffions in the East Indies. Upon this fubject, parliament would not lofe fight of the effect which the meafures they adopted might have on our own conftitution, and our dearest interefts at home. He had no wish, but to confult the prosperity of his people, by a conftant attention to every object of national concern, by an uniform adherence to the true principles of our free conftitution, and by fupporting and maintaining in their just balance the rights and privileges of every branch of the legiflature. An addrefs conformable to the fpeech having been moved, a debate arose on the expres fions of gratitude to the king, for having diffolved the late parliament; and an amendment was propofed, to leave out fuch parts of the addrefs as referred to that fubject, which was negatived by a great ma jority. As his majesty's fpeech implied a cenfure of the former parliament, and particularly of Mr. Fox's Eaft India bill, Mr. Burke undertook the juftification of oppofition and the cenfure of their adverfaries, and on the 14th of June made a mo tion for an addrefs to the king, representing and

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vindicating the proceedings of the last parlia- CHAP. ment, and criminating the present minifters. The remonftrance* dwelt particularly on the rectitude and expedience of the late Eaft India bill, and on the dreadful confequences likely to enfue from the diffolution. Though both the speech and propofed statement were replete with ingenuity, yet the main arguments being neceffarily a repetition of what had been frequently urged before, the motion was negatived without a divifion. Firmly established as the minifter, fupported by the people through their recently appointed representatives, as well as chofen by the king, Mr. Pitt was called to exercise his talents for performing the duties of fo arduous a situation. Although a year and a half had now elapfed fince the conclufion of peace, the contentions of party had hitherto prevented the adoption of any effectual measures to recover the country from the miferable ftate to which it had been reduced by an expenfive and ruinous war. Commerce was ftill ftagnant, the national credit depreffed, and the funds, after an interval of peace, at the lowest price of war; the public income, unequal to the expenditure even in its full amount, was at prefent greatly diminished by fraud; and our

*He faid, he intended his motion as an epitaph on his departed friend, the laft parliament; that he had, on fome occafions, written long epitaphs to the memory of those that he honoured and refpected; and, on the prefent occafion, he chofe to follow the corpfe to the fepulchre, and go through the ceremony of faying," afhes to ashes, and duft to duft," in fure and certain hope, through the merit of the good works of the laft parliament, that it would have a glorious and joyful refurrection, and become immortal.

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XXXII.

gan.

CHAP. important concerns in India without any effectual plan of beneficial arrangement; the country, fo State of the fituated, required the efforts of the minister to raise empire when drooping credit; to revive the funds; to promote the ministry be- juft and beneficial government of India; to improve the income, by fuppreffing fraudulent deduction, and by positive additions; to ftimulate the national industry, enterprife, and fkill, to the highest improvement of our mercantile capability; and to promote manufactures and commerce, the fources of public and private wealth. Such were the objects to which, partly the circumftances of the country, and partly the prevalent opinion of the times, called the attention of Mr. Pitt, who was just commencing an administration long and important; in which the counfels and conduct of the minister, whether wife or unwife, right or wrong, stamp the history of these realms, their dependencies and connections, for the laft fixteen years of the eighteenth century; an æra more awfully momentous, involving greater and more extenfive interests of enlightened, energetic, and efficacious MAN, than any century in the annals of human nature.

Objects which he

proposes to purfue.

His firft efforts are directed to finance.

The first ministerial efforts of Mr. Pitt were directed to finance. Before he proceeded to new imposts, or new regulations for the advancement of revenue, he attempted to render the prefent taxes as productive as poffible, by preventing the defalcations of fraud. He had beftowed very great pains in collecting information respecting the various fubjects, modes, and details of fmuggling. The former minifters having alfo in view the fuppreffion of this unlawful traffic, had in the laft feffion proposed a committee

XXXII.

committee for inquiring into those illicit practices; CHAP three reports were delivered, containing very ample materials; and Mr. Eden, chairman of the committee, having employed his usual industry and acuteness in investigating these minute and complicated topics, had moved the following resolution, declaratory of the refult, That the illicit practice had greatly increased; the public revenue was annually defrauded to the extent of not lefs than two millions; and these enormities and national loffes merited the early and ferious attention of the legislature. Soon after the meeting of the new parliament, the fubjects of these reports, and of the laws in being for the prevention of smuggling, were referred to a committee of the whole house. On the fecond of June, the chancellor of the exchequer moved for leave to bring in a bill for the more effectual prevention of smuggling. The objects of the propofition were, to extend the bounds of the hovering laws, which had limited the diftance from fhore within which feizures could be made; to prevent fhips from carrying arms, without a licence. from the admiralty; fmuggling fhips once captured were never to be returned; fhips of a certain defcription, adapted to smuggling, were never to be built; and clearances were to be regulated, fo as to prevent fhips clearing out in ballaft, and afterwards going on the smuggling trade. In the progrefs of the bill, a variety of improvements were fuggested; and, after confiderable difcuffion, it paffed into a law.

Among various articles of illicit trade, the principal commodity was tea. It had appeared before the committee

1784.

Bill for the

prevention of muggling.

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CHAP. Committee on fmuggling, that only five millions five hundred thousand pounds of tea were fold annually by the Eaft India company, whereas the annual confumption of the kingdom was believed to exceed twelve millions; fo that the contraband traffic in this article was more than double the legal. The remedy which the minifter devised for this evil, was to lower the duties on tea to fo fmall an amount, as to make the profit inadequate to the risk. In this trade, the rate of freight and insurances to the fhore was about 25 per cent., and the infurance on the inland carriage about 10 per cent. more; in all 35 per cent. The duty on tea, as it then stood, was about 50 per cent.; fo that the fmuggler had an advantage over the fair dealer of 15 per cent. As this regulation would cause a deficiency in the revenue of about 600,000l. per annum, he proposed to make good the fame by an additional window tax. This tax (he faid) would not be felt as an additional burden, but ought to be confidered as a commutation, and would prove favourable to the fubject*. But the principal benefit which he expected from this measure, was the abfolute ruin of the fmuggling trade, which subsisted almost entirely on the profit of their teas. Another benefit would be, the timely and neceffary relief it would afford to the East India company. By this regulation they

Commutation act,

* A house (he faid), for inftance, of nine windows, which would be rated at tos. 6d., might be fuppofed to confume feven pounds of tea; the difference between the old duties on which, and the new duty propofed, might at an average amount to 11. 5s. 10d.; fo that fuch a family would gain by the commutation 15s. 4d.

would

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