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the same time, he was himself persuaded that there was no burthen which that House and the public would so cheerfully acquiesce in, as one which tended to promote the comfort and interest of any part of the royal family, particularly so distinguished a branch of it as the Prince, who was the object of the present application. He was convinced that every gentleman would rejoice with him that the business came forward in its present shape and channel, instead of any other, as there could be none so correspondent to the constitution, so respectful to the illustrious family who were concerned, nor so consonant to the interests and real dignity of the Prince himself. His Majesty, while he thus complied with the wishes of his Royal Highness, had not been unmindful of the ease and interests of his people; and the Prince had consented to such a system of payment as should secure his expences from exceeding his income. His Majesty had taken such measures as would prevent the possibility of any future application to parliament on this subject, by a permanent addition to the Prince's establishment without recurring to parliament for the money, and by paying it out of his own civil list. With regard to what was past, his Majesty had done all which lay in his power for the satisfaction of the House, in submitting to their inspection a state of the Prince's affairs, from which they might judge of the necessity there was for this relief. Mr. Pitt added, that he imagined gentlemen would not think of instituting any very strict scrutiny into the state and nature of that account, not only out of personal respect to the exalted character whom it concerned, but because it was a circumstance which never could occur again, so long as his Royal Highness continued in his present situation. He then moved "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, assuring his Majesty how sensibly this House, at all times, feels the gracious proofs of his Majesty's constant attention to the interests of his people; particularly in the directions which his Majesty has given, for making an additional allowance to his royal highness the Prince of Wales, out of his Majesty's civil list, in order to remove every possible doubt of the sufficiency of his Royal Highness's intention to support amply the dignity of his situation, without occasioning any increase to the annual expense of the
public: That it is with the greatest satisfaction this House learns, that his Royal Highness has given his Majesty the fullest assurances of his Royal Highness's firm determination to confine his future expences within his income, and has settled such regulations as his Majesty trusts will effectually secure the due execution of his Royal Highness's intention: That his Majesty may depend on the zeal and affectionate attachment of his faithful Commons, to afford his Majesty the assistance he desires for the discharge of his Royal Highness's debts, and that in full reliance on the assurances which his Majesty has received, this House humbly desires that his Majesty will be graciously pleased to direct the sum of 161,000l. to be issued out of his Majesty's Civil List for that purpose, and the sum of 20,000l. on account of the works at Carlton House, as soon as an estimate shall be formed with sufficient accuracy of the whole expense for completing the same in a proper manner, and to assure his Majesty that his faithful Commons will make good the same."
The Address was agreed to nem. con.
Debate in the Commons relative to the Right of the Sons of Scotch Peers to represent Scotch Boroughs or Counties.] May 23. This day a question respecting the construction of the Act of Union, was agitated in the House of Commons. It arose in consequence of the succession of the earl of Wemys to that earldom, whose eldest son, Francis Charteris, lord Elcho, represented the boroughs of Lauder, &c. . in Scotland. By the ancient parliamentary law of Scotland, the eldest sons of peers could not sit in the House of Commons; and by an article in the Act of Union it is provided, that the two kingdoms should participate reciprocally in the benefits, advantages, rights, and immunities of each other. In pursuance of his notice,
Sir John Sinclair rose. He declared, that he had no personal motive for bringing forward the motion which he was about to make, least of all did he mean any thing disrespectful to the noble lord opposite. He considered the matter as involving considerations interesting to the constitution of that House, and to the preservation of the rights of the Commons of Scotland, as settled by the Union. If he was not persuaded that the motion which he meant to make, stood upon the clearest and most self-evident grounds of
parliamentary law and precedent, he would not venture to intrude it upon the consideration of the House. His motion was, "That the Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, to make out a new writ for the electing a Commissioner to serve in this present parliament, for the district of Burghs, of Lauder, Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick, and Jedburgh, in the room of Francis Charteris, esq. jun. of Aimsfield, now become the eldest son of a peer of Scotland, and thereby incapable of representing the said district in this House." But before he made it he wished that the precedents on which he grounded it might be read from the Journals. He accordingly desired the clerk to turn to the proceedings of the House, December 3, 1708, in the case of lord Haddo, and also, the proceedings relative to Alexander Irvine and others the 25th and 27th Nov. of the same year. He next desired the case of lord Charles Douglas, in 1755, to be read, and then made his motion.
Viscount Beauchamp argued in favour of lord Elcho, contending, that in point of reason and good sense, he ought to keep his seat. He quoted the Act of Union, which enacted from that time forward, that the two kingdoms should participate reciprocally in the benefits, advantages, rights, and immunities, peculiar to each. Upon this quotation he rested an argument, that to oblige the noble lord in consequence of his having become the eldest son of a peer of Scotland, to vacate his scat, would be to violate the spirit and meaning of the Act. With regard to the precedents, they were all cases which had occurred in times of great party violence, and ought not to be relied on as obligations indispensable by the House. In proof of this, he read an extract from Burnet's History, in which the bishop, speaking of the parliamentary transactions of 1708, says, "the Court and the Whigs had joined, and were determined to carry every thing their own way; the Whigs unblushingly decided elections without regard to justice, or any other consideration but their own party feelings against the Tories." With regard to lord Haddo, it was notorious that he was a person particularly obnoxious to the powers then in being, and that circnmstance considered, the proceedings upon the Journals were not to be wondered at. His lordship treated the other precedents as of little avail; and after animadverting on the pre
cedent of lord Johnstone, he went into general arguments to prove, that till the eldest sons of Scotch peers had the liberty of sitting in parliament for Scotch counties and boroughs, in like manner as he and others, the eldest sons of English peers had a right to sit in the House of Commons, representatives of English counties and boroughs, the reciprocity of advantages stated in the Act of Union, was not fulfilled. He hoped, at least, that the House would not, on a sudden, deprive the noble lord of his seat, but would suffer him to continue to sit a little longer among them, and at the next general election, the question, which he contended had never been truly tried, might come fairly to trial before Mr. Grenville's committee. He concluded with moving, "That the debate be adjourned till that day se'nnight."
Sir James Johnstone said, that the noble lord had asserted that his ancestors were tories, whereas the very reverse was the case. They were all of them notorious whigs. Lord Johnstone was a whig, and so were his successors. The noble lord had talked of three precedents, but there were six, which he enumerated, and the noble lord had argued against them. What signified an argument against the law of the land? If the noble lord wished to alter the law, let him bring in a bill. Previous to the Union, it had been the law of the parliament of Scotland, that the eldest sons of the peers of Scotland should not sit in that parliament; and the reason was obvious, the Scotch peers had too much power already, and that would have given them a great deal more. At that time it was not unusual, when a great lord wanted to collect a powerful body of vassals to achieve any design, to send out a lighted torch, and if any man refused to take and bear it, to hang him up. It was highly necessary, therefore, to curb the growing power of the peerage. Sir James said, that he might at one time or other be a peer of Scotland himself; the case was not impossible, and then, most probably, he should be an advocate for the rights of the peerage; but, as long as he had a seat in that House, he should think it his duty to stand up in behalf of the Commons of Great Britain.
Mr. Dundas contended, that the motion stood upon broad constitutional grounds, and that the precedent of 1708 was unanswerable. He reminded the House, that the case of lord Haddo, the proceedings thereupon, and the clear distinct resolu
Mr. Anstruther trusted the noble viscount would consider what he was about to do. It behoved the representatives of the boroughs and counties of Scotland as weil as of England, to reflect seriously before they gave their consent to any bill, the object of which was to alter the Act of Union.
The motion of adjournment was negatived. Upon which lord Elcho withdrew. Sir John Sinclair's motion for the new writ was then put, and carried.
tions to which the House then came, all occurred within a year of the settlement of the Union of the two kingdoms, at a time whilst the true intention of the parties who negociated it was within the recollection of every body, and consequently that the resolution was to be considered as the rule of conduct laid down by the House, upon the most unquestionable principles. The noble viscount had talked of lord Haddo's being a tory, when the fact was notoriously otherwise. Was the earl of Sunderland a tory? Was the earl of Aberdeen a tory? And all the great men of Scotland of that day? most certainly not. The fact was, they formed a grand combination, to bring the question to a decision, and it was then fully decided. With regard to suffering the noble lord opposite to continue to sit till the general election, in order that the question might be then tried before Mr. Grenville's committee, the noble viscount need not wait till then. Let lord Elcho go and offer himself for Lauder as soon as the writ was ordered, and if he was returned he might then try the question before the committee, early in the course of the ensuing session; for, undoubtedly, he would find a competitor. He was clear that the noble lord was at that time guilty of a breach of privilege in sitting where he did.
Lord Elcho contended there was no precedent for dispossessing the son of a Scotch peer of his seat, when he had been legally elected, and his title had devolved to him pending the session of a parliament. Viscount Maitland complained of the injustice of entailing upon the sons of Scotch peers a disability under which they accidentally laboured with regard to their own parliament at the time of the Union, and reminded the House, that there had been a period, when the sons of English peers were, in like manner, disabled from sitting in that House. He observed, that in order to justify such a gross partiality, gentlemen were obliged to resort for precedents to transactions which had occurred previous to the Act of Union. He denied that the reciprocity of advantages stated in the Act of Union had any existence, while the eldest sons of Scotch peers could not sit for Scotch boroughs and counties, in like manner as the eldest sons of English peers sat for English boroughs and counties, and declared that he would, next session, bring in a bill, to put both on an equality.
Debate in the Commons on receiving the Glasgow Petition for a Reform in the Royal Boroughs of Scotland.] May 28. Mr. Sheridan begged leave to call the attention of the House to the motion which he had, several days before, promised concerning the internal reform of the Royal Boroughs of Scotland. He would not, at that late period of the session, enter largely into the subject, as the gentlemen entrusted with the direc tion of the new system for the better government of the boroughs, had no idea of its being fully canvassed previously to the next session. All that he therefore meant to propose was, for leave to present to the House the various petitions in favour of the measure. That which he held in his hand was from the inhabitants of Glasgow, containing near 1500 signatures of men of the highest respectability and indepen dence. He, however, was sorry to observe, that he had been informed, from authority, that the prayer of the peti tioners could not be considered this session, the time of receiving private petitions having expired, and this being supposed to come under that description. Although he very much respected the source from whence this opinion was derived, yet he was free to say, that a petition, containing the signatures of such a numerous class of men, certainly could not, strictly speaking, be considered as a private Petition, but was, in every sense of the word, a public one, and consequently demanded the attention of parliament. He read an extract from it, which stated the great hardships which the people of Scotland suffered from the present corrupt government of the royal boroughs, particularly so far as related to the management of the revenue; that acts of peculation existed, and ought to be remedied; and that the petitioners prayed that the House would take the subject into consideration. He concluded by moving for leave to present the Petition.
The Speaker considering it in the light | the gentlemen had been several months in of a private petition, gave his opinion against the motion.
Mr. Fox said, that notwithstanding what had been advanced by the Chair, he thought the Petition of as public a nature as any that had ever been presented. He applauded the measure of reform; and so far as his investigation had proceeded, he thought it claimed the concurrence of parliament. He had only heard one side of the question, but such convincing arguments had been adduced that he apprehended every impartial person would be of a similar opinion.
The Speaker persisted in his opinion. He thought that, on several accounts, it was a private Petition. It did not appear sanctioned by all the members of the royal boroughs of Scotland as petitioning in favour of the reform, but only by a few, who, when compared to the majority of the people, were very inconsiderable.
Mr. Fox apprehended that a few individuals, however insignificant, had a right to petition parliament for the repeal of an act which was considered as universally obnoxious. Viewing the subject in this light, the present petitioners demanded the attention of the House, their mode of application being strictly constitutional.
Mr. Dundas expressed his astonishment, that the subject had not been sooner agitated in parliament. Excepting the hon. mover, he believed few who espoused the cause knew its merits or demerits. As a convincing proof, he wished that gentleman would rise up in his place, and say what he conceived to be the object of the reform. He was not for arguing a matter of such importance, at this late period of the session, and in a thin House. He would meet it fairly and fully, next session, or at any time when the subject was resumed. He should move, "That the House do now adjourn."
Mr. Grey said, that he held in his hand a petition from a numerous and respectable body of the inhabitants of Dundee. He would not, however, urge the presenting of it at present, as he agreed that it would be better to take the subject into consideration in a fuller House; but, as to the salutary effects likely to be derived from the adoption of the reform, he did not entertain the smallest shadow of doubt. Mr. Anstruther condemned the object of the petitioners, and was surprised that the matter had not been sooner brought forward, he being informed that many of
Viscount Maitland also rose with a petition in his hand. He warmly recommended the proposition for a reform, bestowed high encomiums on the projectors of the plan, and urged the propriety of receiving the petitions.
Mr. Dempster, although he did not approve of the principles of the reform, yet could not hear, in silence, insinuations advanced against his constituents of Dundee for supineness. He was convinced they did not deserve any such censure. With regard to the proposed reform, he must give his dissent to the subversion of that particular mode of government of the royal boroughs, which had existed for upwards of 200 years.
Mr. Sheridan defended the conduct of the gentlemen who officiated as delegates from Scotland. He declared, that their attention to the trust reposed in them by their countrymen, deserved the highest panegyric, as he never saw any description of men more sincerely bent upon the particular object of their pursuit. Previous to their residence in London, they had shewn the most active attachment to the laudable plan which had been brought forward; and although they had been several weeks in town, their time was strictly occupied in the duties incumbent upon them. They had visited and solicited all the representatives from their own country, who had, to a man, rejected their proffers, refusing to countenance a reform which militated so essentially against the interest of their constituents. The gentlemen alluded to were not, however, discouraged, but proceeded with that manly perseverance which should always command success. If the question of ad· journment were now carried, he promised that the business should be resumed, as early as possible, next session.
Sir John Sinclair disapproved of the intended plan, but promised to submit to the House, in the course of the ensuing session, a proposition for a new system of the government of the royal boroughs.
Mr. Adam stated his objections to the present measure. He said, that he had always resisted reforms, and still entertained the same opinion of this intended innovation. He would meet the question fairly; but so far as regarded the alteration of the mode of electing members to serve in parliament, he would give it his decided opposition.
The question of adjournment was carried.
Proceedings relative to the Impeachment of Mr. Hastings.] May 21. Mr. Burke expressed his conviction of the necessity which existed of that House not suffering the session to close without proceeding to take some step binding upon Warren Hastings, esq. to be forthcoming to answer the articles of impeachment which that House had preferred against him. He therefore moved, "That Warren Hastings, esq. be taken into custody of the Serjeant at Arms attending this House."
Mr. Nicholls stated his reasons for thinking that such a motion ought not to pass. His principal objection was, that it would brand Mr. Hastings with a stigma in the face of the country, by suggesting an idea, that the House had reason to suspect Mr. Hastings of some improper design of attempting to elude justice. Upon recurring to the Journals for precedents, he found there were three several modes of proceeding, which had been adopted by the House after they had presented articles of impeachment. The first was to take the party impeached into the custody of their own Serjeant at Arms; the second, to desire the Lords to take him into custody; and the third, to desire their lordships to put him to answer. Now, this last was precisely in point; the House having desired the Lords would put Mr. Hastings to answer the articles of impeachment. Among the various precedents upon the Journals, he had selected one, and that a case so far similar and corresponding, as it was one in which the party was not taken into custody. This was the case of Edward Seymour, esq. the 17th December 1680. Mr. Nicholls read the precedent, and added, that though he did not know that the taking of Mr. Hastings into custody, for the sake merely of carrying him up to the bar of the other House to be bailed would be attended with any personal inconvenience to that gentleman, yet he thought that the House ought to adhere to precedent, while they had so strong a one to be guided by.
The Speaker observed that he had the precedent of Mr. Seymour's case in his hand, but that the hon. gentleman had not stated the whole of it, for that three days afterwards, Mr. Seymour actually was taken into the custody of the Serjeant at Arms by order of the House.
Major Scott objected to the motion as a [VOL. XXVI.]
breach of promise. He had been told that it was not the intention of the hon. gentleman to move to take Mr. Hastings into custody of the Serjeant, and that information had been confirmed in a subsequent conversation by a learned gentleman then in his eye. On the day that the question of impeachment had been discussed, Mr. Hastings had been in attendance near the House, and ready to surrender, if called upon; but no such motion having then been made, he thought it unfair to bring it forward at present, though he admitted the making such a motion singly was more manly than doing it on the ground of any new article of impeachment, as he expected would have been the case.
Mr. Anstruther said, that if the major meant to allude to him, he had told him at the time that he really knew nothing about the intention of the hon. gentleman alluded to; but his idea was, that, in all probability, they would not move to take Mr. Hastings into custody.
Mr. Pitt said, that the fact was, that it had originally been thought that it was unnecessary for the House to take Mr. Hastings into custody by their Serjeant ; but upon a more minute examination of precedents, and a consultation with others in another place, it had been found that the more regular and formal mode of proceeding would be for that House to take Mr. Hastings into custody by their Serjeant, for the purpose of carrying him to the bar of the House of Lords, there to give in bail, if the House of Lords thought proper; but this was not adopted with any view to subject Mr. Hastings to any particular hardship or inconvenience; it was merely chosen as a mode most suitable to the dignity of the House, and to the purposes of substantial justice.
Mr. Burke said, it was well known that his opinion had originally been, that Mr. Hastings should be taken into custody of their Serjeant; but he had given way: to other gentlemen, who conceived that such a procedure might be dispensed with. That opinion, it now appeared, had been erroneous; the motion, therefore, which he had made was indispensably necessary.
The motion was carried. Mr. Burke then reported the 7th article of impeachment, which being agreed to, he was directed to carry the same to the Lords. The House being informed that Mr. Hastings was in the custody of the Serjeant at Arms, Mr. Burke was directed to acquaint the Lords with the same.