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of its success, or, at least, to be satisfied that hostilities are unavoidable, and that every means of honourable and fair negociation have been exerted and proved ineffectual; for to enter into such a contest in the present state of the country, with all our national funds mortgaged to their utmost bearing, and that without an effort at negociation, or to refuse to conclude a Treaty with any Power under the presumption that such Treaty may at some remote period be broken, appears to us an act of insanity, putting to hazard not only the property and happiness of families, but even the very existence of the British empire, and tending to exclude for ever from the world the blessings of peace; and that, were the impolicy of a new war upon such principles and under such circumstances at all doubtful, or were governments at all to be benefited by the result of experience, the petitioners need but recall to their recollection the memorable Manifesto of the duke of Brunswick at the commencement of the late conflict; a manifesto which had the effect of arousing and uniting all the energies of the French nation, and gave that victorious impulse to her arms which endangered the liberties of Europe; the petitioners need but call to recollection, that, during the progress of that war, notwithstanding the immense sacrifice of British blood, and the wanton waste of British treasure lavished in subsidizing allies to fight in their own cause, the petitioners have not unfrequently seen those powers who entered the contest in alliance with us, abandon that alliance, and join the league with France, endeavouring to exclude us from the continent of Europe; that, after all our sacrifices and all our exertions in the common cause, we failed to procure from one sovereign that tribute to humanity, the abolition of the Slave-trade, and beheld another monarch commence his career by reestablishing the Inquisition, persecuting the best patriots of the country, and even prohibiting the introduction of British manufactures into his dominions; and that the petitioners ever have been, and now are, ready to support the honour, the character, and the interests of the British empire, and to resist every act of aggression; but seeing all the consequences of the late war, looking at the depressed state of the country, the burthens and privations of the people, the financial difficulties, the uncertainty and hazards of (VOL. XXX.)
war, seeing likewise that France has disclaimed all intention of interfering in the concerns of other nations, that she has declared her determination to adhere to the Treaty of Paris, that she has made pacific overtures to the different Allied Powers, has already abolished the Slavetrade, and given other indications of returning to principles of equity and moderation, and holding, as the petitioners do, all wars to be unjust, unless the injury sustained is clearly defined, and redress by negociation cannot be obtained, and more particularly holding in abhorrence all attempts to dictate to, or interfere with other nations in their internal concerns, they cannot but protest against the renewal of hostilities, as founded neither in justice or necessity; and that it is with feelings of indignation they perceive his Majesty's ministers have proposed the renewal of that most galling, oppressive, and hateful inquisition-the tax upon income; an inquisition which had, in consequence of the universal execration it had excited, been reluctantly abandoned. and which the petitioners had hoped could never have been again renewed, at least during the existence of that generation who remember its oppressions; and praying the House to take these matters into their most serious consideration, and that they would interpose their authority to stop a weak, rash, and infatuated Administration in their mad and frightful career, and adopt such measures as may best preserve the peace and promote the prosperity of the nation."
Sir W. Curtis moved, that the petition do lie on the table.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, that if any doubt remained on the minds of the House, it must now be completely removed. The petition was directly against the renewal of the Property-tax. The petition went through a variety of matter, stating different grounds of complaint involving the Property-tax, and concluded by praying the House to take those matters into consideration, and to interpose its authority. Although it was desirable to throw the doors wide open to petitions, he thought the present was not entitled to be received.
Mr. Abercrombie thought that this petition contained two distinct propositions. The first was a sort of apology for coming to that House after the little attention that had lately been paid to petitions. Upon this point he must say, that he believed (3 T)
that the inattention which had been evinced in the course of the present session, not only to the petitions of the city of London, but to the petitions of the great body of the people of this country, was altogether unprecedented in the annals of parliament. Upon the other point, it appeared as if it was the disposition of the House to construe their rules as strictly as possible against the petitioners. The whole of the petition was an argument against the conduct of ministers, in plunging the country into a war, which appeared to the petitioners unnecessary and improper, at least before the experiment of negociation had been tried. The fact respecting the renewal of the Property-tax was only stated incidentally, and as a consequence of that conduct of ministers of which they complained; for how could the subject of the renewal of the war be considered, without the mind being at once turned to the renewal of the Property-tax? Technical rules, he thought, should not be strictly applied to such a momentous subject, and especially to a petition coming from the largest city in his Majesty's dominions.
tion, as he did from its coming from the City of London. If it was stated, that petitions from so respectable a body as the City of London were entitled to peculiar attention, then he would say, that it became that body to be attentive to use proper and decent language in their petitions. He wished distinctly to express, that his reason for voting for the rejection of the petition, was not that it was a petition against a money bill, but because he conceived that in its language it was a gross insult to the House.
Sir Francis Burdett saw nothing in the language of this petition that was stronger than what had been used in many petitions which had been received by that House. As to the charges which it contained against the system of representation by which the House was now constituted, he apprehended the rejection of the petition would have rather the effect of impressing those opinions more generally on the minds of the people out of doors.
Mr. Grenfell opposed the reception of the petition, as he conceived that the language used in it was untrue, and intended as an insult to that House.
Mr. Lyttelton said, that if the petition was rejected on the grounds on which it was opposed, it would afford a precedent most fatal to the right of petition.
Mr. Wortley thought the petition was merely to be considered as a petition against the Administration, and not as particularly directed against the Propertytax.
Mr. Serjeant Best opposed the receiving the petition, on what he conceived to be much higher grounds than those suggested by the hon. baronet. He should put it to the House, whether they would submit to be told by any petitioners, that they were not in the habit of listening to petitions from the people. Every body who was at all in the habit of attending the House, and witnessing its proceedings, must know that this was a most false and Mr. Lockhart said, that he conceived infamous misrepresentation. It was well the petition was highly disrespectful. It known, that as to the particular point, the accused the House of totally neglecting its Property-tax, the House had in the course duties, and contained such sentiments as of the present session received a vast ought not to be received from any place, number of petitions, but under other cir- and least of all from the City of London. If cumstances, and when such petitions a petition containing such sentiments was could be received without violating their received from the City of London, it would established rules and usages. Could it be an example to any other place, that then be said, that the House paid no at-might feel disposed to address the House tention to those petitions, or could it be in unbecoming language. denied that those petitions had a considerable influence? An hon. gentleman had asked, was it decent for the House to reject the petition of the City of London, on such grounds as had been suggested? He should ask, was it decent in the City of London to talk to that House of the corrupt state of the representation? If such language had come from a small obscure place in the country, he should not by any means feel so strong an objec
Mr. Alderman Atkins said, that the petition contained language which he was sorry to see in a petition from the City of London; but it was the language of those who had been habitually opposing every measure of Government. He was convinced the sentiments were far from being those of the majority of the livery of London. He hoped the House would receive the petition. He thought it beneath their dignity to reject the petition,
when he could assure them that it contained only the sentiments of a small minority of the livery of London.
Mr. Alderman C. Smith said, that the last speaker had made use of the oddest argument for receiving the petition that could be conceived. Now, he thought that instead of its being received for being the language of a few, and being against the sentiments of the majority, it should therefore be rejected by the House.
Mr. Preston said, that as it was stated to be the legal petition of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Liverymen, it should be treated with respect as such. He therefore supported the motion.
Mr. H. Sumner said, that he had delivered his opinion, that the petition should not be rejected on account of technica lities; but he would now vote that it be not received on much stronger grounds. The first paragraph contained, he conceived, the most scandalous libel that could be uttered against the House. The insult was the grosser, on account of coming from the City of London. It was not because the City of London was great, that direspectful language towards that House should be received from it. The City of London had petitioned against the Corn Bill, and had prophesied that if the Bill should be passed, corn would immediately be above 80s. It was no great disparagement to the House, that it did not yield to the prayer, nor believe in the prophecy of that petition. An hon. alderman had said, that the sentiments of this petition were only the sentiments of a few of the liverymen. He should then ask, where were the many? Were they present, or were they not present? If they were absent, why were they absent; and if they were present, why did they not express their sentiments by their votes? If those were really the sentiments of only a few of the livery, he should like to see their signatures, that he might know who they were, and what was their situation in life.
Mr. W. Smith observed, that if what had been stated about the representation was to be considered an insult to the House, he did not know in what manner a petition for parliamentary reform could be drawn, without stating what the petitioners complained of in the present mode of representation. As the objection to the petition seemed at present mainly grounded on the first paragraph, which conveyed imputations against the House; he should read à passage from a petition
which had been presented, and which had been received and entered on the Journals. This petition stated that many members of the House of Commons were appointed by the direct authority of the Executive Government, or by powerful individuals or bodies of men;that innumerable illegal returns were procured by bribery;-and that a House of Commons so constituted could not be considered as a true representative of the national will or a faithful guardian of the interests of the people. If in the case of that petition such language was not considered as a sufficient ground for rejecting it, the language of that which had been just read, could not afford any objection to its being received.
Mr. Baring observed, that the ground on which the petition was objected to had been shifted by its opponents. Hundreds of petitions had been presented against the passing of the Corn Bill, which had not been attended to; and some of those petitions had stated that the opinions of the petitioners of the necessity of a reform in the representation would be confirmed if that Bill passed. The imputation of the liverymen had therefore some foundation, and he did not believe it would have been at all objected to, if it had not been coupled with disrespectful language towards the Administration.
Mr. Bathurst said, he would oppose the reception of the petition, on the ground of its being a petition against the Propertytax.
Mr. Forbes said, the only thing to be regretted upon this occasion was, that there should have been so much discussion. Had the petition been received quietly, and laid upon the table, he had no doubt but the petitioners would have been extremely disappointed.
The House then divided:
PROPERTY TAX BILL.] On the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the House should resolve into a committee on the Property-tax Bill,
General Gascoyne rose, pursuant to notice, to move for the non-extension of the tax to officers of the army and navy, while on foreign service. It was necessary, that that description of persons, after the long contest in which we had been engaged, and which we were now about to
renew, should have some relief. To exempt could be to the tax now before the House; them altogether from the operations of the it applied to profits of every description, Bill was not what he intended to propose; but exempted the army and navy. He neither would he submit his motion at all wished the House, however, to consider to the House, if he did not feel confident the different situations of our military and that there was not one who heard him that naval officers at this time. In 1695, the would say it was a case that did not merit pay of a lieut.-colonel was 17s. per diemattention. In order, however, to convince the very same pay which they received at the House of the particular claims which present. But, if the calculation of sir that description of persons had on their George Shuckburgh was correct, namely, consideration, he would define the situa- that 8s. 9d. in 1700, was equal to 17. in tions in which officers of the army were 1803, how much more were the officers of placed. He would not state the distinct the army and navy entitled to exemption pay or allowance; but a captain when he at this period? They had formerly dewas sent on foreign service was allowed rived some advantage from what were 221.; a subaltern 81. 15s; out of this money called Stock-purses, but this benefit no they were under the necessity of providing longer existed. On going abroad, they clothes and camp equipage, the expenses were obliged to make certain allowances of which were frequently so great that to their families; and many of those who a captain could not take the field under 80%. had fought in the Peninsula were afterand a subaltern under 301. This hardship wards sent to America, and had not yet had, indeed, been represented to Govern- received their arrears. He would next ment, and it was then thought proper to advert to the Colonial service, which was give the officerstwo months pay in advance. by no means pleasing to the army. So But even with this benefit, what was the great, indeed, was their dislike of it, that situation of the army in the Peninsula? it was recently a usual practice, in exFor six months afterwards they did not changing on Colonial service, to make a receive a farthing. Where a considerable difference in price from 500l. to 10007. body of troops was marched into a foreign for what was only intrinsically worth country, the price of provisions was gene-1,500l. Nor was this to be wondered at rally double, and they usually gave 100 to 200 dollars for a mule, which they must either provide of leave their baggage behind. It was not, however, to be supposed, that they could supply themselves with all requisites from their pay alone: they were frequently obliged to draw upon the their friends, and to distress their | families. There was, besides, the loss which they suffered from the difference of exchange. The exchange against this country was at this time 25 per cent.; so that, upon every 1007. for which an officer drew, he was subject to a loss of 351.; 251. for the difference of exchange, and 10l. for the Property-tax. Surely, then, if there was any description of men entitled to the regard and consideration of that House, it was the officers of the army and navy; men who held their tenure of life only from day to day, and with whose deaths, as they could not insure their lives for the benefit of their families, all the capital which they had expended in their profession generally expired. The motion which he intended to submit to the House was extracted from the Records of Parliament in the time of William and Mary. In the year 1695, a contribution raised upon the country, as similar as
when we considered the effects of foreign
General Grosvenor expressed his hearty and entire concurrence in what had fallen from his hon. friend who made the motion.
General Harvey having himself experienced many of the disadvantages which the hon. general who proposed the motion had detailed, could not withhold his complete acquiescence in the motion.
whole of his expenses amounted to 100%. I considered it necessary, therefore, to reinstead of 281. Having detailed these vise the state of the full and half-pay, striking facts, he would not occupy the particularly as superannuated officers were attention of the House any longer with now receiving within 401. of their full respect to the army and he would leave salary. On these accounts, he should supthe subject, as far as it related to the navy, port the motion. to the hon. admiral who intended to second his motion. He felt persuaded there was no gentleman who would not think the officers of the army and navy entitled to the consideration and liberality of the House: if the smallest doubt existed in any mind, it must arise from the manner in which he had expressed himself, and not from the merits of the case. There was not one person out of doors, whether he were a merchant, a stock-broker, a land-holder, or any other description, who would not be glad to see that a distinction had been made in this case. The army and navy had always deserved well of their country; but they were more entitled to our consideration at this period, than they were to that of our ancestors in 1695. He should, therefore, conclude with moving, "That it be an instruction to the Committee, to amend the Act, by exempting from the operation of the Tax on Property, the pay of such military and naval officers, as are actually mustered on foreign service, and not otherwise."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his opinion, that the arguments of his gallant friend applied rather to some general revision of the naval and military service, than to the specific motion which he had brought forward. With respect to the clause which had been introduced in the time of king William, he willingly admitted that the pay was higher then than now; but it should also be recollected, how very different the service of the army was in the two periods. In the reign of king William their service was only occasional, and no half-pay was established; consequently, it was desirable that their reward should be not only a compensation Sir Charles Pole rose to second the mo- for actual duty, but, as far as might be tion. He said, that the observations which practicable, a provision for the future. the gallant officer had made with regard The gallant general had alluded to the to the army applied in a double ratio to case of civil officers in the Colonies, as the navy. In the equipment of a ship, the being exempted from the operation of the necessaries they were obliged to provide Property-tax; but he could assure him that amounted to almost as much as the ex- they enjoyed no such exemption, where penses incurred by any person beginning they derived their salaries from this couna new establishment. He had thought try. Those who drew colonial allowances that the renewal of the Property-tax was were of course exempt, because Parlianecessary under the present situation of ment did not think it expedient to extend the country, but that certain modifications the operation of the Act to our Colonies. ought to have been adopted. As to the With respect to the relief which officers measure now proposed, he did not think it would derive, in any hardships they might went far enough. In looking at the esti- now sustain, by exempting them from the mates which had been lately submitted to Property-tax, he thought it would be very the House, it must alarm any man to add inadequate ; and, besides, the House would to the burthens of the people; but he was surely feel the delicacy of extending that quite sure that great savings might be description of relief to a particular class made in several departments of the navy, of individuals. The very principle upon especially with regard to superannuations which the tax was recommended, in some on the civil service. Government had degree, to public favour, was its universal acted with great liberality in augmenting operation; and to exempt the army and the half-pay of naval officers; but it went navy would neither be beneficial to the at this moment to make the full pay and public service, nor conducive, in his aphalf-pay so nearly on a par, that there was prehension, to their honour. If the proonly a difference of 3. in the pay of a position were entertained, in respect to lieutenant of the navy. In the pay of a them, many other classes, the inferior purser there was no difference at all. He clergy for instance, whose profits were