§ The house was moved, that the last of the Resolutions which, upon the 14th of June, was reported from the committee of the whole house, to whom it was referred to consider further of the supply granted to his majesty, and was then agreed to by the house, might be again read:—And the same was, as agreed to by the house, read accordingly, as followeth, viz. Resolved, "That a sum, not exceeding 54,702l. Os. 7d. be granted to his majesty to be paid to John Palmer, esq. being the balance of the per-centage due to him on the net re venue of the Post Office, from the 5th day of April 1793 to the 5th day of January 1808."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose to move for a separate bill on that Resolution, instead of allowing it to form a part of the general Appropriation bill. He would stale his reasons for making this proposition, of which he had given due notice, that it might not appear to be a sudden measure. The ordinary course of the house was to put all the grants of the year into the appropriation bill; but, in adopt- 1011 ing the course which he was about to recommend, the house would not act in an unparliamentary or an unprecedented manner. If there ever was a case in which the ordinary course should be deviated from, it was the present, for very strong reasons, which he would distinctly show. With respect to the precedents on this subject, he would submit to the house a great variety of them. In the first place, he would state a number of cases of grants voted in the committee of supply to private individuals, with conditions annexed to them, some of which had beer, carried into effect solely by a separate bill, while others had been incorporated into the appropriation act. The first that he would mention was a vote of the house in a committee of supply, on the 10th of April 1739, of 5000l. to Mrs. Johanna Steele, on condition that she would with all convenient speed make discovery of her remedy for curing the stone; this vote was carried into effect by a separate bill, and did not appear in the appropriation act. Another vote was on the 28th of Jan. 1731, of 14,000l. to sir Thomas Blome, as a recompence for the introduction of organzined silk into this country, on the condition that he should produce the models of his mills. This vote was carried into effect by a separate bill, but did make its appearance in the appropriation act. 5000l. had been voted in a committee of supply, to the family of Mr. Harrison, for his timepiece, on the condition that his executors should, as speedily as possible, explain its construction. This vote was carried into effect by a separate bill, and was also incorporated in the appropriation act: 3,600l. had been voted in a committee of supply, to Mr. Phillips, on the condition of his discovering the composition of a powder for destroying insects. This vote was carried into effect by a separate bill, which was in the lords; and it did not appear in the appropriation act. Two or three years afterwards Mr. Phillips renewed his application, and the house of commons, in a committee of supply, voted him 1000l. This vote was carried into effect in a separate bill, which bill was also lost in the house of lords, and it did not appear in the appropriation act.—Thus it appeared that out of these five cases the house adopted one course in three instances, and another course in the remaining two. The same variety of proceeding would appear on an examination of different grants that had been voted for public purposes. In some 1012 cases these votes had been carried into effect solely by separate bills; in others they had been incorporated in the appropriation act. For the construction and improvement of Westminster Bridge various sums had been voted at different periods. On the 13th of May, 1742, 20,000l.: on the 24th—,1754, 25,000l. In both these cases the votes had been caried into effect in separate bills, and had not appeared in the appropriation act. On the 27th of June 1742, 25,000l.; in 1743, 25,000l.; in 1754, 2,500l.; all which had been carried into effect by separate bills, but had also been incorporated into the appropriation act. It was evident, therefore, that in these instances, all relating to the same object, the house had been influenced solely by convenience. There were various other similar grants. On the 2d of March 1756, 10,000l., for widening the streets of Westminster; and in May 1758, 10,000l. for repairing Milford Haven; which votes were carried into effect by separate bills although they appeared in the appropriation acts. In 1759, 10,000l. for Milford Haven; on the 9th of May 1759, various sums as compensation for the purchase of lands at Portsmouth and Plymouth; on the 23d of March 1762, 5,000 for paving Westminster, and en the 14th of April 1767, 2,000l. additional for the same purpose. All these votes were carried into effect by separate bills, and did not appear in the appropriation act. From these various cases it was clear that not only on private but on public grants the house had always exercised its own option on the mode of proceeding.—But, there was another class of cases more nearly resembling that under consideration. They were the grants which had been made without any condition annexed. On the 23rd of December 1707, 2,120l. 18s. 6d. had been voted in a committee of supply as due to capt. James Roach for the arrears of the rent of forfeited estates in Ireland, granted to him by act of parliament. This vote was carried into effect by a separate bill, and did not appear in the appropriation act. On the 28th of January 1752, 112, 143l. was voted to the African company as a compensation for the loss of their chartered lands. This vote had been carried into effect by a separate bill, and was not incorporated into the appropriation act. But one of the most material Cases to which the house ought to attend was that of Rye harbour. On 1013 the 25th of Feb. 1745, the committee of supply voted a grant to his majesty of 23,360l. out of the sinking fund, to enable the commissioners of Rye harbour to complete the works. The appropriation bill was subsequently brought into the house, but this grant was not included in it: and the committee upon it on the 8th of April was adjourned to a late hour, for the purpose of allowing the vote of money for Rye harbour to be made the subject of a separate bill. Another case had occurred in 1779, of a grant upon the petition of Dr. Smith, as a reward for his having attended sick prisoners in London and Westminster. That petition had been, with some counter petitions, referred to a committee, which made no report. In the year 1781 the petition was renewed, and on the report of a committee, a bill was brought in, and passed the house of commons for granting 1,200l. to Dr. Smith, which bill was never returned from the lords. It was impossible, after what he had stated, to contend, that it was not perfectly competent to the house to carry its vote into effect, either by separate bill, or by its insertion in the appropriation act. The grant had been voted on grounds not satisfactory to his mind, and though he still retained his former opinion, it was not upon that he proposed the present course. The house had a discretion, and it remained to be considered under what circumstances the house would be disposed to proceed, by a separate bill, or by including the grant in the appropriation act. If no other motive would apply the course that would be most convenient, would be most desirable. In ordinary cases, where there was not likely to be any difference of opinion elsewhere, it might be proper to insert the grant in the appropriation act. But, if there should be any fair reason to suppose such a difference of opinion to exist in that other quarter, that would be good ground for taking the grant out of the appropriation act. The vote proceeded upon an assumption of an agreement between Mr. Pitt and Mr. Palmer, and then assumed that nothing had happened to defeat such contract, and that a bill should be brought in to carry the contract into effect. That house knew that the other house had the matter under their consideration, by having received a message from it, requiring a communication of the evidence upon which they had passed the bill for granting the annuity to Mr. Palmer. Having, by sending up that bill 1014 to the other house, given it an opportunity of exercising an unrestrained judgment upon one part of the case, they should not, by inserting this grant in the appropriation bill, reduce the other house to the alternative of either acceding to a grant, of which it disapproved, or of rejecting the appropriation of the supplies of the year. The right hon. gent. then quoted the authority of Mr. Hatsel, vol. iii. p. 195, to shew, that tacking one measure to another for the purpose of forcing another branch of the legislature to accede to it, was highly irregular, and a breach of the practice of parliament; but that to do this with a knowledge that the part so tacked was disagreeable to the other branch of the legislature, was highly dangerous and unconstitutional. He admitted that this doctrine had been applied by Mr. Hatsel to the tacking to money-bills measures unconnected with the supply, but contended, that the principle extended to preclude the house from any course that would reduce the other house to the alternative he had stated. If, therefore, the house should see no reason, founded upon parliamentary usage, for declining the course he had to propose, why insert the grant in the appropriation act, why clog the supplies of the year with a measure that would endanger their passing the other house? The proposition upon which the grant rested, was one on which not only the present house of commons entertained a difference of opinion, but a former house of commons had rejected. And there was as much reason to think, that any other assembly would differ from the present house of commons, as that the former house of commons had differed from it. If ever there had been a case in which the grant should be carried into effect by a separate act, it was the present. He should ask any hon. member to shew any case in which two votes founded upon the same principle, had been carried into effect, one by a separate bill, the other by insertion in the appropriation act. If there was no similar case, then this was a new case, and it was competent to the house to exercise its discretion upon it. The house would therefore decide, whether under all the circumstances of the case it would prefer the separate or the general appropriation act. He should move that a bill be brought in pursuant to the resolution of the committee of supply.
§ The Resolution was entered and read, and on the question being put,1015
§ Major Palmer
rose and said—Sir; after the indulgence I experienced from the house on the first discussion of this subject, it was not my intention to have obtruded further on their notice; but the many debates which have since occurred, with the motion now made by the right hon. gent. will, I trust, apologize for the observations I presume to offer. I beg leave to remind the house, that this claim was renewed, in the first instance, by a petition, which had induced his maj.'s late administration to consent to the appointment of a committee to examine the evidence upon Mr. Palmer's Agreement with government, taken by a previous committee in the year 1797, and to report their observations; that the late chancellor of the exchequer (lord H. Petty), had proposed the selection of this committee, consisting of the members for counties, principal manufacturing towns, the gentlemen of the long robe and merchants, as being the most competent to decide on the merits of the case, and to make a well grounded, impartial, and every way satisfactory report to the house. The change of administration prevented this appointment at the moment; but, at the meeting of the new parliament, the petition was again received, and the approbation of the present chancellor of the exchequer given for the adoption of the same measure recommended by his predecessor. A committee, thus constituted and appointed, accordingly sat, and after a deliberate investigation of the Evidence laid before them, with the examination of further evidence, made their report. Mr. Palmer, flattering himself that the report of this committee, so selected, could not but be approved, was much surprised and mortified to learn the disapprobation of the chancellor of the exchequer, and from this consideration, in the hope that, during the recess, the right hon. gent. might have the leisure to examine more fully into the merits of the case, Mr. Palmer was advised, and consented to a temporary postponement of his claim.—I am now, sir, to state my own conduct in this affair. On being returned to parliament at the commencement of the present session, I did myself the honour of waiting on the chancellor of the exchequer to learn his sentiments previous to any notice of a motion on the subject. Upon this occasion the right hon. gent. candidly told me, that he should oppose the measure; but on my remonstrating with him on the hardship of Mr. Palmer's 1016 case, that from having contracted with the government of the country instead of an individual, and being thereby precluded an appeal to its laws, he was even to be refused a fair hearing in the only court to which he could apply, the right hon. gent. assured me, that I had no apprehension to feel on that account, as however strongly he might express his own opinion, (and he did not mean to flatter me, but that it would have considerable weight), he was far from wishing to impress that opinion against the conviction of those who were disposed to think well of the claim; and that, if the house decided in its favour, he should be perfectly contented with having performed his duty. The right hon. gent. confirmed this assurance, and satisfied me, beyond a doubt, of the candour of his intentions, by quoting the case of a grant to Dr. Jenner, which he stated had been carried in the previous session against an individual but strenuous opposition on his part.—I thanked the right hon. gentleman very sincerely for his liberality, and told him at the time, that however I lamented his unfavourable impression, and sensible of the influence it must carry, that my own conviction of the justice of the case assured me of its success. At a second interview with the right hon. gent. previous to the Easter vacation, on submitting to him a notice of the intended motion, he obligingly again confirmed the consent of the crown given by the former and present administration; and on my stating that I had repeated the substance of our former conversation to many who had been anxious to learn his sentiments, the right hon. gent. fully admitted it, and strengthened the opinion I entertained of his sincerity. Surely then, sir, after such professions, it was natural for me to hope, upon the discussion of this question, of which so long a notice had been given, and to which I had earnestly intreated the attendance of every individual member, that the right hon. gent. who had equally solicited the attendance of his own friends on the occasion, would have considered the decision of so large a majority in favour of the claim as conclusive of the sense of the house; and that I should at least have experienced the same candour on the part of government, in carrying that decision of the house into effect, which had induced the consent of the crown in the first instance: for I must think it hard, after having overcome what I conceived and fully understood from the right hon. gent. 1017 would be the only difficulty, I should since have been exposed to greater trials, and in which I seem but to have succeeded to embitter the disappointment I am at last to suffer. It is urged, that I have caused the necessity of the present motion, by sending the bill for Mr. Palmer's future per-centage to the lords; but this should be considered the act of the house, and not mine: for how was I to do otherwise than adopt that mode of carrying the previous votes into effect, which had been decided by a large majority; viz. to move for the arrears in a committee of supply, and to bring in a bill for the future percentage? Nor was an idea then entertained, that the arrears once voted in the supplies could be withdrawn. The bill was therefore brought in as matter of course, and which, in the possible event of being thrown out by the lords, might be renewed in any future session. The moment it was hinted that the rejection of the bill in the upper house might endanger the arrears, all thoughts of carrying it there, on my part, were given up: the notice of the third reading was dropped, nor would it have met its fate with the peers, had not the chancellor of the exchequer himself thought proper to send it there, and for that purpose, by moving the third reading. I wish to express no opinion upon the conduct of the right hon. gent. but merely to stand acquitted with the house of having sought the difficulty I am placed in. With respect to the present motion, it is to be viewed in two points, as relating to the house, and to myself. For myself, I must object to it, nor could it be considered but as an act of folly, or hypocrisy on my part to give up what has been established as a right by the repeated votes of this house, for the purpose of bringing in a bill which every one knows must defeat the object it professes. The question, as relating to the house, is of too much consequence to calculate the interest of the individual, and I beg that it may not stand a moment in the way; the only favour I ask of the right hon. gent. is, that he will be satisfied in withdrawing the arrears, if it should be the pleasure of the house, and at least spare me the unnecessary trouble and mortification which the proposed bill must involve. Could I anticipate a fair consideration of the question, so far from avoiding, no one would more anxiously court the discussion than myself. I would submit it to the common sense of any individual in the kingdom who could only read 1018 the evidence, much rather to the most enlightened minds if allowed ah impartial judgment. But, without meaning any disrespect to the noble lords, I feel it to be impossible; and that, were I in the same situation, either wholly ignorant, or but partially informed on the subject, with irresistible prejudices in favour of one party, and those which had been raised against the other—The hon. gent. being here interrupted by the Speaker, who stated, that it was contrary to order to allude to any discussion that had passed in the lords, concluded with saying, that he would no longer detain the house than to repeat his wish that, in the event of the arrears being withdrawn, he might not be compelled to bring in a second bill which must inevitably meet the reception of the first.
§ Mr. Windham.
—Though I cannot, sir, forbear to give my testimony of approbation, in common, I am persuaded, with that of every other gentleman, to the manner in which the hon. member who has just sat down has argued and conducted this business in every part of its progress, and not less so upon the present than on every preceding occasion, yet I must contend that his endeavours ought now to be considered as wholly superfluous, so far as relate either to the merits of the case, or to any interest merely his own; and that the house, having come to a formal adjudication upon the subject, has nothing now to consider but the propriety or impropriety of defending its own decision. It is not a question at the present moment whether what the house decided was right, but whether having so decided, it can, as at present circumstanced, alter its decision. All that the right hon. gent. therefore has been labouring with so much effort, is nothing to the purpose. He has been ransacking the Journals, diving into the depths of parliamentary lore, wasting his time and his pains, and wearing out the eyes of his case-hunter, only to tell us, what nobody ever disputed, that parliament has on different occasions proceeded in both ways, sometimes by a separate bill, and sometimes by introducing grants of the sort in question into appropriation acts. We will admit, if the hon. gentleman wishes it, that the option between these two ways was in the first instance completely open to the house: but the question for us at present is, whether this option continues open to us now. The great edifice, therefore, of the hon. gent.'s learning, however curious and costly, has 1019 been raised upon grounds not belonging to the question, and will stand him in as little stead as the house of a man, who should have built, unfortunately, upon his neighbour's land. What is it to us what the house has done, on occasions similar even, if you please, to the present, but where it had not previously made its election, and where accordingly its choice might be free? We have chosen, and cannot now, without the most flagitious injustice, revert to the situation in which we formerly stood. It is needless, therefore, to inquire, what would be the value of the precedents, which the hon. gent. after searching back for near a century, has been thus able to rake together. I should say that out of the whole lot, excepting perhaps the case of captain Roach, there was hardly one of which any use could be made; and of that or any other that might upon the first view be thought applicable, how little do we know of the circumstances existing at the time, and which might have determined the house to one course or the other! It is enough for us to know, that the case in which we are called upon to act, is a case already decided, and decided by members now no longer present, and who have retired into the country, not from weariness or idleness, or from motives of liking or convenience, but from a firm and just persuasion that all the material business of the session, and unquestionably this part of it, was at an end; and who will feel good reason to complain, (as tile house collectively and the country will have reason to complain), if, the moment they have turned their backs, the whole of what had been done in their presence, and which every one then considered as final, should be thus fraudulently and surreptitiously reversed. Never was there surely such a proceeding attempted, except one, and that, one should have thought, not of a sort which would have been resorted to as a precedent, the change I mean, which was made in the mode of proceeding against lord Melville. The sentiments excited on that occasion, were not of a sort to give much encouragement to those who might wish to have recourse to a similar expedient. I was as strong an advocate as any one for referring the trial of that noble lord, to the tribunal of the house of peers; but the act by which the house of commons changed its decision in that respect, and by trick and surprize recurred to impeachment after having formally and in a full house resolved upon 1020 another course of trial, was in my opinion a most scandalous proceeding, and was one accordingly which I opposed at the time to the utmost of my power. The objection is in one respect more strong in the present instance: because never surely was there a question on which the sense of the house was more fairly taken. What possible idea can honourable gentlemen have, when they talk of this as a party question? A question does not become a party question merely because members of a particular party vote for it; at this rate every question on which the house is unanimous must be a party question: but because members of a particular party vote for it and those only; and even then nothing is thereby decided as to the merits. I should have thought, indeed, that gentlemen on the other side would not have been so fond of describing as a party question, a question in which they have been five times beat, but would have been willing to allow something to the merits of the case, instead of ascribing the whole to the strength of their adversaries. Whatever their wish, however, may be, or whatever, and with more reason, might be our wish, the fact is, that the triumph of Mr. Palmer has not been the triumph of a party, but a triumph of truth and justice. And how indeed in the nature of things could it be otherwise? What possible means has Mr. Palmer of engaging in his favour the sentiments of the house of commons, but through the medium of the opinion which they may entertain of the merits of his case? What boons has he to dispense? What patronage does he possess? What 'advancement' docs any one 'hope from him, who no revenue hath but his good spirits;' either to serve his friends or to contend against his enemies? The hon. gent. will perhaps tell me, that the case, which I had myself alluded to, of the duke of Athol, afforded an instance which I at least cannot dispute, where money had been voted to an individual, upon grounds not very satisfactorily made out. But the hon. gent. must not forget one circumstance, that the noble duke in question, to say nothing of his superior rank and station and numerous connections, before he convinced the house had succeeded in convincing the minister. Nobody ever denied, that the influence possessed in some cases by individuals might be sufficient to gain the assistance of a minister; or that the opinions of a minister might have some 1021 weight in determining the judgment of the house. The question is, what could an individual do, powerful as he might be, without that assistance? I have heard of a man who having made a bet that he and his companion would eat some extraordinary quantity of peaches, when the day came and his friends were in despair, changed all the odds in his favour by tendering for his companion a lean sow. It would be no wonder, if with such an associate, the bet was won with ease. But what would the eater have done without his friend? What would the duke of Athol have done without the minister? And still more, what could Mr. Palmer have done, supposing his cause to have been a bad one, not only without the minister, but with the minister straining every nerve, and calling out 'party question' against him? I suppose an instance could hardly be found, even in the compass of a period as long as that which the hon. gentleman has taken for his precedents, where a question had been decided bearing such certain marks of the real sense and genuine conviction of the house. Yet this is the decision, which we are now called upon to rescind, and in the circumstances which have been described. It is not an appeal from a thin house to a full one, from a hasty tribunal to one more considerate, from 'Philip drunk to Philip sober;' but quite the contrary: the appeal is made from knowledge to ignorance, from deliberation to haste, from a full and general attendance to a scanty and partial one. The bulk of those who had examined the subject and who had qualified themselves to decide upon it, are retired and gone, judging, as well they might, that the business was over, and their attendance no longer necessary. If their places are in any instances supplied, it is by gentlemen, many of whom we have the pleasure of seeing now for the first time since the commencement of the session, and who, having been brought to town unexpectedly, by business no doubt of their own, are just in time to correct this abominable decision, which their colleagues, deliberately indeed but most unadvisedly, had come to. I must, however for my part, formally enter my protest both against their judgment and their jurisdiction. I must both affirm the propriety of the former decision, and utterly deny their competency to reverse it, in the circumstances in which they are placed, even though the former decision should in the first instance 1022 have been ever so objectionable. At this rate, however decided the majority and deliberate the discussion, there is no determination, which the house can have come to during the course of a session, that may not be set aside at the end of it. I protest against the measure proposed, as one of the most disgraceful to the present character of the house, and dangerous by its example, that the house could well be called upon to adopt.
Mr. Hawkins Browne
observed, that this appeared to him a question wholly independent of the merits of Mr. Palmer's case. Acts of appropriation, he thought, ought not to be loaded with any extraneous votes. He must acknowledge, that he had not investigated the particulars of Mr. Palmer's case, and was therefore unable to form a judgment of its merits. Great difference of opinion had not only prevailed upon the subject of this vote in that house, but out of doors; and it was his opinion, that the other branch of the legislature should not be deprived of the opportunity of unrestrained judgment upon the measure. The hon. gent. then entered into a justification of the grant to the duke of Athol, and concluded with expressing a wish that the business should undergo every proper discussion.
§ Sir Thomas Turton.
—Sir, I never rose to submit my observations on any question before the house with greater feelings of concern, or indignation, than I now do on the very extraordinary speech and motion of my right hon. friend. Before I enter on the subject of it I cannot avoid making some observations on the consistency and liberality of the hon. gent. who has just sat down. He prefaced his speech with the acknowledgment 'that he had not been able to investigate the particulars of Mr. Palmer's case, and was therefore unable to form any judgment of its merits,' and yet after this confession, the hon. gent. has had the candour and justice to give a decided opinion on a case, on the particulars of which he has avowed his ignorance. The hon. gent. cannot take it amiss, that I am not inclined to give much weight, or to pay much respect to an opinion so formed. But the hon. member is certainly correct in observing that these merits and claims (on which, however, he has stept out of the way to pass his judgment) cannot affect the vote of to-night, for as the right hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Windham) has observed, whatever may be the event of the present motion, those claims 1023 will remain unshaken, that debt for ever due to Mr. Palmer by the recognition of this house. The question this night to be decided is, the unwarrantable conduct of his majesty's ministers. Sir, the chancellor of the exchequer, in support of the motion, has quoted the authority of Mr. Hatsell; that is an authority so respectable, that I cannot help reminding the chancellor of the exchequer how unequivocally that authority reprobates the conduct of ministers who give the consent of the crown to measures they mean to oppose. I think he stiles it unparliamentary and unconstitutional. In this I case if we could not expect support, the minister ought to have been neutral. Let us see how his conduct has been consistent even with this. Sir, the proceedings on this subject, down to the fifth and last decision of the house, are fresh in every one's recollection, nor can it be forgotten by the house or the public, that after all the sophistry and ingenuity, after all the fallacious arguments which have been used to mislead and confound the judgment, parliament, in the name of the people of Great Britain, has declared by majorities as respectable and independent as ever carried any motion within these walls, 'That Mr. Palmer is entitled to the advantage of his contract.' I should have hoped, sir, that his majesty's ministers, however pertinacious in their opinion, however mortified by a result so contrary to their expectations and to their usual fortune, would at last have learned, from the steady and honourable resistance to their unjust conduct, a lesson of submission to the so often expressed voice of the parliament. Indeed, sir, I must acknowledge that when I saw this notice on the order book, I was prepared for the withdrawing it, and I really came down to the house under the expectation of it. I cannot, even now, think it will be persevered in. Is a conquest by government, over an individual, the object? Can such a conquest produce a gleam of satisfaction amongst the weakest minded of them? Will they dare to boast of it to this house, which by this motion they have openly insulted; or to the country, who by their representatives, called to the subject by long and repeated notices, with all the documents before them on which to found their opinion, have sanctioned Mr. Palmer's Claim, have recognized the debt and obligation of the country to him, to the extent of the vote in his favour.—But, says the right 1024 hon. mover: 'The house having allowed the Claim of Mr. Palmer, it is only to the mode of voting this sum, that I object: you have put this sum into the Appropriation act, and I am apprehensive that by this means you will endanger passing the supplies of the year through the lords, the consequence of which must be obvious, whereas by the adoption of my present method, you give the other house an opportunity at least to discuss and examine the subject, independent of the other matters which would be affected by it, if they throw out this grant, and in asking this, I am violating no practice or usage of the house, which has frequently adopted this mode on similar occasions.' Sir, I only pray, that I may have patience to examine these reasons, these pretences which have been urged for a line of conduct, which the more it is examined into, the more unfounded in fact, the more disgraceful to its proposers, will it be found. From the first moment in which the intention of his majesty's ministers was announced, I have been afraid to trust myself with the discussion of the subject, and I must confess that during the speech of the right hon. gent. below me, I have with difficulty restrained the impatience and indignation I have felt of the grounds on which this abominable treatment of the house, as well as of the individual, has been justified. Have I not need of patience, sir, to hear it said, that whilst justice to the individual is considered in the mode proposed, the interests of this house and of the country are dependent on it, that it is conformable to the constant usage and practice of it, and that it is in form, not in substance, that this measure differs from the one which the house has already adopted? Well, sir, I have no objection to meet the chancellor of the exchequer on this statement, or that the judgment of the house shall come to an issue upon the truth or fallacy of it. Does the right hon. gent. seriously mean to state that no substantial difference exists between the mode proposed by him, and the one now adopted by the house? Will he even promise, that he and his majesty's other ministers will give their influence and votes to this adopted child of his? Will he give his word to the house, that it is not his intention to strangle this progeny of his, the moment, or within a few days of his giving it birth—when he gets it out of this house? If he will give his promise of support to his own bill, I can have no ob- 1025 jection to its substitution. Do but justice to the individual, respect but the wishes of this house, and we will not quarrel about forms. But, sir, if there could be any doubt what the conduct of government will be, let us look to what has been that of the right hon. gent. already. And here I must directly charge the right hon. gent. with a want of courtesy, an outrage on the common forms and usages of this house from one member to another, which, short as is my experience in parliament, I will venture to say has no parallel. A bill is brought in by me for the payment of the future percentage due to Mr. Palmer, I move the first and second readings of it, in the presence, and with the knowledge of the right hon. gent. Suspecting strongly from the earnestness of his majesty's ministers to have the bill read a third time, coupled with symptoms which appeared elsewhere, that the object of ministers was to pass the bill here, with a view of strangling it in the lords, I declined moving the third reading of it. In my absence, the right, hon. gent. comes down to the house, and himself moves the third reading. He takes it straight to the upper house, and there it receives the death-wound he had prepared for it.—Sir, I do not deny that it is competent to any member to move the reading of a bill introduced by another, in any of its different stages; but, I will ask, is it consistent with the courtesy one has a right to expect-from one gentleman to another within these walls? Is this finesse, this trick, as it now appears, worthy of the minister or the man? But even this is not equal to the hypocrisy and duplicity, which would seriously urge this measure, as one only of form, not of substance, which would represent it as doing justice to the party concerned, whilst its sole object was to avoid the danger of misunderstanding between the two branches of the legislature. Will the chancellor of the exchequer avow that such is his sole intention? I am sure he will not; he knows that his intention is, by this subterfuge, by this unworthy proceeding, to defraud Mr. Palmer of his just rights, and to counteract the intentions of parliament so often expressed.—Sir, the insult to the individual, by this argument, and by these pretences, is trifling in comparison with that with which he dares to treat the house. After having been five times told, in the independent language of parliament, that if individuals cannot obtain justice out of doors, they shall within its walls; even 1026 from the minister himself, supported as he needs must be, with great and commanding majorities on most occasions, one should have hoped, and expected, that the decent respect due from him to the voice of parliament, expressed through organs, which could be only influenced by the principles of justice in voting the public money, would have induced the right hon. gent. to bow to an authority so satisfactory and convincing, so entirely exonerating him from all responsibility, or at least, that he would not have insulted the house, by an open disregard of its votes, by this sovereign contempt for its decision, by coming at this late period of the session, when most of its independent members are out of town, and the friends and dependents of government composing the greater part of the house. Was ever so marked, so contemptuous a disregard of the voice of parliament? Was ever so unworthy a finesse practised by the first minister of the government on the house?—So much for the manner in which the right hon. gent. has brought forward this motion. And now, sir, as to his justification on the score of precedent; he has certainly favoured us with a number of precedents, of special bills, brought in for grants to individuals, which he tells us are applicable to the present case; and, he adds, "that it is not even a general, much less an universal, rule to include such grants of money in the appropriation act."—Sir, I am now at issue with the right hon. gent.; for I maintain, and I defy the disproval of my assertion, that there is no one instance, on the journals of your house, of a sum of money, due as a debt to an individual, which has not been voted in the appropriation act. I will put the whole of this case on the truth or falsehood of this assertion; no one will dispute that this is a debt due from the public to an individual; an acknowledged one, recognized by the votes, and solemn resolutions of this house. It must, therefore, be voted in the manner all similar sums are voted. But what are these precedents of bills, which are said to apply to this case? I really am astonished that the right hon. gentleman should insult our understandings, by attempting to impose these cases on us as in any degree similar to the present. What was the case of Mrs. Stevens? a conditional remuneration? Mr. Philips's the same. The condition unperformed, the remuneration would not be bestowed. How, 1027 but by a bill, could such a grant be made? 'But,' says the right hon. gent. 'these were certainly conditional, and I am afraid do not quite apply;' but then he adds, triumphantly, 'the case of Mr. Roche was an absolute debt, money acknowledged to be due, and yet a bill was brought in for this purpose.' Now, sir, if this be the case which is to direct our votes to night, the right hon. gentleman must shew, that it is entirely applicable to the one in question. Most certainly the right hon. gentleman has a great advantage over us, in the production of cases which we have not the opportunity of examining; but here the right hon. gentleman has stated particulars enough of this, to shew that it has no more analogy to Mr. Palmer's, case, than their treatment of him has with equity and justice. For, what is this case? A sum of money, he does not say for what purpose, is originally voted to be paid, not in the usual way, but out of certain forfeited estates, the property assigned for payment turns out not productive to the supposed extent; end, therefore, the house is called upon to make good the deficiency. From the peculiar nature of the fund to pay the grant, the remedy for the deficiency of that fund would, of course, be by bill, because it would recite the former grant, and the cause of the second application. How, then, is this in the least applicable to Mr. Palmer's case, which is a debt voted to be paid out of the supplies of the year; and, according to the usual practice, put in the Appropriation act? Sir, I will not take up the time of the house by going further into these flimsy precedents, which are insulting to our understandings if it is pretended that they apply to the present case.—I will only ask one question of the right hon. gentleman on them all: Is there one of them, wherein the minister, professing to act with justice to an individual, whose general merit he recognizes, introduces a bill for a grant of money to him, with the certainty that it will be thrown cut in the lords, and with the intention of using his endeavours, and those of his colleagues, that such should be the fate of it? If he has not such a case, he has none applicable. Sir, I have only now to trouble the house with a few words on the apprehended danger in the lords, if this vote goes to the upper house in its usual way. If there is any danger, who have occasioned, who have invented it? his majesty's ministers. Have they not the means of averting it? Will they, 1028 with their tenderness for our mutual friendship, exert those means of preserving it they have in their power? If so, do they doubt of success? I think not. Sir, I must acknowledge I feel disgusted with the whole conduct of ministers, from the commencement of this business; I have usually given them my support, they have now my complete reprobation. When I look round the house, and see the extent and nature of the attendance this night, I have no doubt of the event of its vote; I see the whole force of government exerted to obtain a triumph, but which, when obtained, will disgrace them. For, what is it? the success of government in the oppression of an individual, who, even in their estimation, is a most meritorious one but this is the least part, it is a triumph obtained by finesse and stratagem over the reiterated sense of a great and independent majority of this house. Will such a triumph increase the credit of government out of doors? And this, sir, done in violation of, and with a sovereign contempt for, the forms and usages of this house; forms and usages which, to use the words of the right hon. gentleman himself, when he assisted in placing you, sir, in that chair, so honourably and usefully filled by you, 'are the very essence of the constitution.' Will this raise the credit of government within doors? Sir, I have done. I am wearied with the subject; I never discussed one with more pain and regret. I have not been long a member of this house, but, I confess, that my respect for its character has not been increased by what I have witnessed in the course of one short fortnight. The weight of government, and the votes of ministers, given in defence of a delinquency, no one of them, except a noble lord (Castlereagh) implicated in the guilt, dared to defend; and every engine of oppression, every finesse, and unworthy manœuvre practised by the same government, to defraud a meritorious servant of the public, not of a reward, not of a claim, but of a debt due. and acknowledged by this house; two such instances, I must acknowledge, have not raised either the house or ministers in my estimation. I am, indeed, heartily sick of both. Let me, however, conjure the house to preserve its consistency and character, by-rejecting this motion, as unworthy its countenance. You have already resolved, that Mr. Palmer is entitled to this money. Defeat not this resolution by your vote of to-night; recollect this gentleman is not 1029 asking you for a pension for political services; he asks you not for a reversion to those who can have personally had no merit; he does not even ask you for the payment of services, not commensurate with the reward; he has bargained with you for 50s. on every hundred pounds which his ingenuity and industry have procured you. Will you deny it to him, after having five times determined his right to it? If you do, I shall repeat what I have before said, that a man had better take the bond of the veriest swindler of the country, than the verbal contract of a minister. Sir, I trust the house will not countenance this motion; that it will not be alarmed at the apprehensions ministers have expressed, and which they know how to allay. I apprehend no rupture between the houses, why should there be any? But if there was a danger of it, is that to deter us from doing our duty? Let us, at least, do our part of the justice due to this individual, fearless and disdainful of the consequences, fiat justitia, ruat cœlum. An honest man has but one line of conduct here, let him do his duty as a representative of the people, as an honest and conscientious member of the British senate. Sir, I sit down, with the most complete reprobation of this motion, and by giving it my unqualified and determined negative.
§ Mr. G. Johnstone
defended his right hon. friend the chancellor of the exchequer from the imputations of the hon. baronet, who, if confirmed in the opinions he expressed of his right hon. friend, ought not to have addressed him as he had done. He thought his right hon. friend deficient in firmness and decision in not refusing, in the first instance, the king's consent to Mr. Palmer's application; but when he did give this consent, he had distinctly stated, that he gave it only that the question should be investigated, and at the same time declined any pledge upon the subject. All the cases quoted by his right hon. friend appeared to him to be perfectly in point. He then contended, that the measure should be sent up to the lords in a shape in which that house should have an opportunity of exercising their unfettered discretion and judgment.
§ Mr. Tierney.
—Sir; I congratulate the chancellor of the exchequer on the splendid figure he makes in the estimation of two of his leading supporters. By the one (sir T. Turton) he is described as having exerted all the influence of government 1030 to bear down and overpower a meritorious individual, and, by surprise, to strangle a claim confirmed by no less than five separate Resolutions of the house. By the other (Mr. G. Johnstone) he is charged with a want of firmness and decision, in not refusing, in the first instance, the king's consent to Mr. Palmer's application. Both his friends have aptly characterized his conduct on the present occasion. If he really thought the vote of the house in 1797 had equitably and finally decided on the merits of Mr. Palmer's case, it was his duty, and he ought to have had firmness enough to discharge it, not to have allowed his majesty's sanction to be given to any renewed discussion of the question; and, on the other hand, after having seen Mr. Palmer's Claim, when again brought forward, recognized and solemnly confirmed as a debt of justice, by five distinct votes of the house, the expedient he now has recourse to, to defeat our determinations, exposes him, and most justly, to the severe and unqualified censures heaped upon him by his hon. friend, the worthy baronet behind the treasury bench. It is, indeed, a dark and unworthy attempt, to endeavour, by the weight of government and by a secret manœuvre at the end of the session, and in the absence of those who have long since left town under the natural impression that Mr. Palmer's Claim was definitively carried, to frustrate the wishes, and substantially to discredit the Resolutions of the house of commons, which when the attendance of members was full, and the subject fairly before us, the right hon. gentleman could neither resist nor set aside. I must presume he means to give the house a warning of what it is to out-vote a chancellor of the exchequer, and to convince us, that such a proceeding is not to be had with impunity. His pride has been offended, and parliament is to pay the forfeit. That he should have felt mortified, I cannot doubt, for I believe no other chancellor of the exchequer was ever five times in a minority on a grant of public money; and the reason is obvious, namely, that his majesty never, till now, gave us a chancellor of the exchequer who had not the prudence to abstain from proposing that which was not likely to succeed, or the wit to take an early hint and retreat white he could do it without disgrace.—The question is, Whether a vote in the Committee of Supply of a grant of money for the payment of a debt declared to be due to an individual, should form an item in the 1031 Appropriation act, or be made the subject of a separate bill. The object of the mode proposed by the right hon. gentleman, viz. a separate bill, is to give the lords an opportunity to defeat the grant, without that degree of public inconvenience which would result, if, being sent up to them in the Appropriation Act, they were, by way of amendment, to leave it out; the consequence of which must be, either a total stop to the supplies of the year, or an immediate prorogation and a new session.— The right hon. gent. endeavours to defend his measure by precedents, and a curious collection he has produced. Here Mr. Tierney recapitulated and commented upon all the precedents which had been cited, in order to shew, that only one of them in any degree applied to the case in hand. That was a vote of 1,200l. in 1781 to a Dr. Smith, for his care in visiting certain hospitals, and was made the subject of a separate bill, instead of being put, as, said Mr. Tierney, it ought to have been, in the Appropriation act of the year. What induced the house in that case to depart from the established usage, I know not, but this I know, that that proceeding was warranted by no direct precedent then existing, and that it has not itself been adopted as a precedent in anyone instance since. What I contend for is, that according to our established practice, the grant voted to Mr. Palmer ought to be sent to the lords in the Appropriation act; and even if the right hon. gentleman had, by the diligence of some industrious clerk, been enabled to pick up two or three stray precedents in the course of the last hundred years, it would not justify his present attempt, which I maintain to be in the teeth of the broad line, of policy which has regulated the proceedings of the commons for above a century, and upon which your opinion, sir, has lately been given in a manner so clear and forcible, that it would be presumptuous in me to do more than to quote your authority for the doctrine fur which I am contending. It is, however, material to remind the chancellor of the exchequer, that but a few weeks have elapsed since, on this very question in another shape, by that authority he regulated his own vote.—But, it is asked, whether we would exclude the lords from exercising their judgment on this grant to Mr. Palmer, without being obliged, if they differed from us, to alter the Appropriation act, and thereby, in effect, to stop the whole supplies of the year, 1032 and then we are favoured with a display of tender anxiety for the situation in which their lordships will be placed, if we reduce them to so painful an alternative. My answer is, I ask you to do no more than what the established practice of the commons, acquiesced in by the lords, warrants, and I have no parliamentary grounds for believing that the lords would, on this occasion, depart from their own established practice, and for the first time alter an Appropriation act. I will not admit that I am to be called upon to assign the reasons for the commons pursuing a course which some may chuse to call an encroachment upon the lords. It is sufficient for me to know, that the course which I suggest is that which has been hitherto practised without inconvenience or remonstrance. Where shall we end, if once we begin to discuss the justice and propriety of the privileges we have long asserted? You may ask, why the lords should not as well as the commons, originate or alter a Money bill, and if you search the books, you may, perhaps, rind some plausible arguments used on behalf of the other house, to prove that they have an equal authority with ourselves; but, the answer at this day is simple. We have long insisted upon this as our exclusive privilege, and the lords have long been content silently to acquiesce. By what right, it may be demanded, do we resolve that a peer shall not vote at an election? It is a sufficient answer that we have for a great length of time annually passed that resolution, and that, in fact, peers do not now claim to vote. will I not argue these and other questions of a similar nature. Practically, they are at rest; and education and habit have taught us to consider them as points established by the wisdom and firmness of our ancestors, which it is our duty to maintain unimpaired. At any rate, it is not here that a debate upon the propriety of them should begin.—I have shewn how unsuccessful; the right hon. gentleman has been in citing precedents, to prove that grants of money to individuals voted in a Committee of Supply have been sent up to the other house in separate bills. It remains to examine what precedents are to be found in favour of their insertion in the Appropriation act; even when of a nature to excite discussion and probable difference of opinion, full as much as the grant to Mr. Palmer. The right hon. gentleman does not even pretend to have discovered 1033 a precedent to his purpose since the year 1781.—The case of a Dr. Smith has been mentioned, where the proceeding was by a bill, afterwards thrown out in the lords, An hon. gentleman, (Mr. Wilberforce) will recollect the case of another Dr. Smith, in 1804. Whether he was alarmed at what passed in 1781, I know not, but the hon. member, in order to save his medical I friend from all danger elsewhere, after the Report of a committee of this house in his favour, moved an address to his majesty, praying that he would bestow on Dr. Carmichael Smith, the sum of 5,000l. and assuring him this house would make good the same. Here was 5,000l. given to an individual, without the fact being, in any form, announced to the lords; for all that came before them was, that the Appropriation act of the next year contained, in one item, a large sum 'to make good monies issued pursuant to addresses.' This included the 5,000l. for Dr. Carmichael Smith, and was voted in the other house without either question or difficulty: I mention this case, the rather as it may serve to comfort the hon. gentleman, and others who appear to think, that to put Mr. Palmer's grant into the Appropriation act would be unwarrantable, and betray a want of becoming respect towards the lords. Let them look into the Statute Book and they will take courage. They will find that the lords are much more reasonable than to-night it is the fashion to suppose them. In every session it will be seen, that their lordships have been content to sanction in the Appropriation act a large sum of Supply, of the nature and application of which they knew nothing, but that it was to replace payments made pursuant to addresses of this house. I know of no form which would stand in the way of an address to his majesty in favour of Mr. Palmer.—In 1805, Messrs. Chalmers and Cowie petitioned the house to indemnify them from a heavy loss they had sustained by the importation of herrings during the scarcity, at the suggestion of government. A committee was appointed to examine into their claim, and they had a vote for 25,000l. by way of compensation for their losses. This sum was inserted in the Appropriation act, which was passed by the lords as usual without any amendment; and yet what did the lords know, or require to know, of the claim of Chalmers and Cowie?—In 1805, there was a grant of 1,000,000l. to the East India Company, being on account 1034 of a debt due to them from the public, as reported by a committee of this house. This sum was also inserted in the Appropriation act, and was passed without difficulty by the lords. A grant on similar grounds of 1,500,000l. to the East India Company has been voted in the present session; and though made matter of much debate here, I have not heard that it is to be put into a separate bill that the lords may have an opportunity to discuss it; and yet their lordships know nothing of it, but that it is a debt declared by the commons to be due. So is Mr. Palmer's.—In 1804, a sum of 260,000l. was voted to the officers employed with lord Hood as the value of ships said to have, been destroyed at Toulon. This sum, too, made part of an Appropriation act which was passed without comment, by the lords. Several grants to American loyalists, as compensation for losses sustained, will also be found in the Appropriation acts of the last ten years, and one to an amount of not less than 20,000l. in the present session. In all these cases, this house satisfied itself of the justice of the various claims preferred by the individuals, but did not think it necessary to give the lords any opportunity of discussing the merits of them, beyond what the Appropriation act afforded; neither did their lordships require it. If any thing were wanting to prove how little the commons have felt it to be their duty to consult the particular convenience of the other house, with respect to grants of money, it might be found in the sums annually voted for Maynooth College, which have been in the last and present session both increased and diminished. Maynooth College gentlemen know is a seminary for the education of catholic priests, and they cannot but recollect the various and interesting debates which took place in this house respecting the amount to be granted for its support; and yet, the chancellor of the exchequer himself consented to put the larger sum voted in the last session without comment or explanation into the Appropriation act. Why did he not bring in a separate bill? Does he mean to say, that the subject of a grant to Mr. Palmer is more interesting to the lords than the increase of catholic priests in Ireland? Does he not know that there are noble lords particularly alive to whatever relates to Maynooth College? Would he compel them to expose the Protestant Church to what they think the most dreadful additional dangers, or else to stop the supplies 1035 of the year? Sir, the chancellor of the exchequer must see, that he can only justify himself upon the principles I have been laying down; for, if I am wrong, and his doctrine be admitted, then were the hardships he imposed upon the poor lords with respect to Maynooth College, most wanton and intolerable, and all zealous protestants would feel it the more so as coming from the same quarter with the cry of 'No Popery!' But the right hon. gentleman takes this distinction; he says, and truly, that one part of the grant to Mr. Palmer, namely, the future annuity, must be provided for by a separate bill, and then he contends, that no instance can be produced where one part of a grant has been put into the Appropriation act, and the other into a separate bill. I answer by referring him to the case of lord Nelson, where he will find 90,000l. voted for the purchase of an estate to be settled on the heirs of lord Nelson, and 10,000l. to enable, the first earl to compleat his establishment. The former of these votes was carried into effect by a separate bill, and the latter was confined to the Appropriation act. I will not trouble the house with more cases, though many might easily be adduced, to support the doctrine I contend for—that grants of money, voted in a Committee of Supply, without any prospective condition annexed to them, ought, according to the established practice of this house, to be inserted in the Appropriation act, and not made the subject of a separate bill. The instances I have quoted are sufficient to shew, that the lords have manifested no jealousy upon this head, and that hitherto they have been content to abstain from insisting upon that which to-night we seem desirous, unasked, to concede. Let it not be forgotten, that over the amount of the sums voted for the army, navy, and ordnance, the lords have no controul but by throwing out the Appropriation act. It is by that act only that they are informed of the number of seamen and soldiers annually provided for; and that provision they can neither increase nor diminish, without stopping the whole supplies of the year. In a war like the present, is the strength of the army and navy of less importance than the acknowledgment of a debt due to Mr. Palmer? It is asked, Whether we shall be justified in pursuing a course with respect to Mr. Palmer, which there is reason to suppose the lords will resist, and by their resistance subject the country to the inconvenience 1036 of an immediate, prorogation and a new session. To this I say, first, that I do not believe the fact that the lords would alter the Appropriation act, notwithstanding what has been whispered about; and next, that, if they should, the responsibility is upon them and not upon us. We do no more than follow the established course of proceeding. It will be for their lordships to consider, whether, on their part, they will act discreetly in amending, for the first time, the Appropriation act, and thereby stopping the supplies. The lords and not the commons will produce the inconvenience; and it will be for them, therefore, to shew, that the case of Mr. Palmer is so different from any which has ever come before them, that it calls for an unprecedented exercise of power, and warrants an unheard of interruption to public affairs.—The merits of Mr. Palmer's Claim are no longer before us. They have been solemnly decided upon by five distinct resolutions of the house, supported by gentlemen of different political parties and opinions. What relates to Mr. Palmer is, therefore, disposed of, and the question now is, whether the house will carry into effect, according to the established course of its proceedings, its own deliberate decisions. It pleases the chancellor of the exchequer to move for leave to bring in a separate bill on the part of Mr. Palmer, not only without his consent but against his express desire. The right hon. gent. will not, I am sure, deny, that his object in so doing is to defeat the determination of the house, by enabling his friends in the lords with the more ease to crush an individual whose claims on our justice, with all his exertions, he has not here had sufficient strength to resist. Our vote of this night will shew, whether we can stoop to be made the instruments of such a manœuvre; whether we can be brought to throw discredit upon our own resolutions, and from an unworthy apprehension of the power of the lords be induced to adopt a course derogatory to the privileges of the commons.
§ Mr. Bankes.
—Sir, I cannot, I must own, discover any reason why the lords should be debarred the liberty of examining a subject like this, founded on the existence or non-existence of a contract, especially when they have the right of administering oaths to extort truth, at the bar of their house, and especially as there are so many cases produced to show that this is not an unusual mode of proceeding. I have paid 1037 great attention to the conduct of his majesty's ministers in this affair, and must own, I cannot perceive in what respect it has merited the severe reproach cast upon it by hon. gentlemen.—Sir, as I consider Mr. Palmer's right to what he claims, to be confirmed by the votes of this house, it would be useless for me to repeat the opinion I have already expressed, especially as the present question is certainly unconnected with the justice or injustice of the case. As I approve of the present motion, I shall give my voice towards its being carried into effect.
—Sir, there is certainly no necessity for calling on the other house to Interfere in an investigation like the present. This house alone is the best judge of the appeal; here is now no question of interpretation of contract, but a plain question of fact already determined by a decision of this house; but the right hon. gent. in contempt of that grave decision, established by five distinct and large majorities, has made his present motion to the house. The right hon. gent. I think acted right in giving the consent of the crown, if he had intended to support the measure, or at least to have stood neuter; but his conduct has been extremely faulty in giving the house the trouble of debating a question like this, when he was determined that their endeavours should be frustrated in the manner now proposed.— The hon. gent. who spoke last says there are many precedents in support of this motion; now, after a most diligent search for upwards of one hundred years, there are just six produced, and even those have scarcely any connection with this question; yet the honorable gentleman appeals to the number of precedents in support of the motion! The same hon. gent. advises caution in our proceedings, for it would be extremely inconsistent (he says) to compel the lords to grant the arrears, when they have rejected the future remuneration. Now, that they would reject the arrears also, is certainly a non sequitur, for they might think this sum a sufficient reward, and the future grant too much. I do not say it is very probable, but it is certainly very possible.—This certainly is the first time I ever heard the house of commons should pursue a measure contrary to its own resolutions, merely out of compliment to the lords. The method of tacking bills, as it is called, to the Appropriation act, may, certainly, in some instances be mischievous; but if this house 1038 had not been pretty firm in money affairs, it would, ere this, have lost one of its greatest privileges.—For what motive, sir, did the house declare its favourable opinion on this case, in nine different debates? Why, that Mr. Palmer should be paid his debt; and, for what motive has the right hon. gent. made this motion to the house? Why, to render nugatory that well weighed and repeatedly pronounced decision. I think the house must be strangely infatuated to cringe thus to the house of lords. If the house thought their vote was wrong, surely the most manly way would be to rescind that vote; but, no; the right hon. gent. has not brought forward one single argument to invalidate the grant in any respect, and surely it will require some stronger motive than the obstinacy of a chancellor of the exchequer, and a few straggling unsuiting precedents, to induce this house to act in the mean, shabby, and evasive manner he has proposed to us.—The right hon. gent. was placed by his sovereign in the situation which he now fills, with the hopes, that his conduct would be such as would engage the confidence and conciliate the support of this house. Now, I will ask the right hon. gent. whether he thinks any part of his conduct towards Mr. Palmer has been calculated to effect either of those intentions. No; for it is impossible the house can have any confidence in the man who is placed here as the guardian of their rights, when they see that very man the first to attack their liberties, and to endeavour to rob them of one of their dearest privileges.—It is ridiculous, sir, to dispute Mr. Palmer's demands, upon the ground of his not deserving them. His services are not dubious. No, sir, they are self evident. He only claims, what the house has repeatedly acknowledged to be his stipulated due, viz. 50 shillings for every 2,000 that he gives you! Sir; this house never agreed to a money bill altered in the most trivial way by the lords, yet this motion is really inviting them to throw out our own bill. Then, surely, the motion which may produce such a consequence, we should treat with indignation. If this house once doubts its exclusive authority over money affairs, it gives up its own and the public's greatest boast, a power which forms the very basis of the liberties of England. Will the chancellor of the exchequer declare that he has any other motive for bringing forward this motion, than a wish to defeat the vote of 1039 this house? And to effect that wish he has acted in the most unmanly and unworthy way, and has concealed his intentions because he had not weight nor argument enough to convince the house that they were acting wrong. As the right hon. gent. is so very expert in rummaging out precedents, I wish he would show me a precedent of a chancellor of the exchequer ever having acted, since the revolution, in the way he has done towards Mr. Palmer. Sir, the magnitude of Mr. Palmer's services are universally acknowledged, his demands are completely ratified, and if the house supports this motion, it commits an act not only dangerous to the privileges of parliament, but also to the privileges of the people.
said that if there was a necessity for more precedents he could certainly produce them. The object of this motion was to give the lords an opportunity of judging, of the merits of Mr. Palmer's Claim. The majority of grants made to individuals were by separate bills, and not by a clause in the Appropriation act. As a proof of this, the right hon. gent. cited the grants to Dr. Smith, Mr. Phillips, and Mr. Stephens. He was extremely sorry that he was again obliged to allude to Mr. Palmer's official conduct, but really, after the perusal of the letters written by Mr. Palmer, and after examining the evidence before them, how the house could have supported Mr. Palmer as it had done, was to him a matter of great surprise.
§ Mr. Fuller,
with considerable warmth, declared that the lords had not the least authority over Money bills, and as long-as he had a vote they should never interfere in that or any other established right. The house of commons alone was the proper guardian of the public purse. He was very sorry to see the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) so captious and fretful, when his own bill was lately thrown out of the other house, and he was more so, when he saw him lend his countenance to a measure like this, entrenching on the dearest privileges of the constitution. The hon. gent. seemed to think that his opinion would have a great effect on the house. It reminded him of a beautiful passage in Shakspeare. His quiddities and cranks mantled like a standing pool,' and again 'I am sir Oracle, when I speak, let no dog bark.' Though he was decidedly of opinion that Mr. Palmer's Claims were founded in justice, he did not think they were at all at stake that night, but that the house should 1040 use every effort to maintain its dignity and insist upon its privileges; for if they supported the motion of the chancellor of the exchequer, they would be looked upon as the poorest and most submissive creatures in existence.
Sir Francis Burdett.
—I would not, sir, at this late hour, trespass on the patience of the house, had not the right hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Rose) reflected on Mr. Palmer's character, in a manner which, so far from being justified by the evidence, is completely refuted. The right hon. gent. has again reverted to his favourite argument of the letters; and from them has attempted to infer that Mr. Palmer did not act with integrity. Now, my lord Walsingham was asked by the committee, whether he had ever any reason to doubt Mr. Palmer's personal integrity? the noble lord's answer was, "No, never in the smallest degree." And my lord Chesterfield, to the same question, gave exactly the same answer; and these were the last persons to be supposed favourable to Mr. Palmer. Is it, then, to be supposed, that if any circumstance had occurred to justify such an assertion, that they would have withheld the publication of it? I think those Letters contain nothing but what is very excusable; for when we consider, that Mr. Palmer had embarked his honour, his reputation, his fortune, and every thing that was dear to him, on this undertaking, and that if it had failed, every thing he had staked must fall with it, we can hardly imagine he would have expressed himself more mildly in a confidential letter of those, who, he had good reason to believe, were using every endeavour in their power, under the veil of office, to thwart his plans, destroy his hopes, and render abortive all his expectations of realizing the great considerations he had ventured on his success. Yet even admitting Mr. Palmer's alleged indiscretion beyond a doubt, the public word is given, and it must be redeemed or forfeited by the conduct of this house. Mr. Palmer's deserts and the equity of his demands have been copiously debated, and have been honourably confirmed and admitted by five very large majorities. They must, therefore, be considered as entirely separate from this night's contest. We are this night to assert or resign a privilege, which has always been considered a peculiar and established right. I do think it a most impolitic step, if we resign one inch of our peculiar liberties: for surely there cannot 1041 be discovered a more dangerous, a more mischievous precedent, than yielding ever so small a concession, to the other branch of the legislature in pecuniary matters. For the sake of its own privileges, its own dignity, its own consistency, the house should reject this motion, especially when it is obvious that the design is to set at nought and reverse an opinion, solemnly declared and delivered by the house on five different nights.
§ Mr. Burton
denied that the general merits of the case of Mr. Palmer formed the question now before the house. The only question was, how the vote passed by this house, and to be adhered to so far as this house was concerned, should be sent to the lords, whether in the Appropriation Act, or in a separate bill. He maintained that all the circumstances of the case particularly called for a separate bill.
§ Mr. Whitbread
wished that the Speaker was at liberty to enter into the debate and give some opinion as to the accuracy of the proceedings of the chancellor of the exchequer, but the right hon. gent. had prudently availed himself of the silence imposed upon that great authority by his being placed in the chair: he had valiantly marched to the attack of the battery when the great gun was spiked: for as to the precedents he had produced, he did not think they gave the least support to the correctness of the right hon. gent.'s conduct.—The hon. gent. besought every member who heard him not to be cajoled into the idea that it was the intention or wish of the chancellor of the exchequer that the present bill should pass the house of lords. What was his conduct as minister of the crown? He came down to the house and moved the passing of a bill, for a grant which he professed to disapprove. Surely, the right hon. gent. placed himself in a very aukward predicament; for it must be his intention either to cheat the public or to cheat Mr. Palmer. If the grant was an unjust one, he cheated the public; if the grant was right, by the trick resorted to, to defeat it, he would cheat Mr. Palmer. He was very happy to see an hon. and learned gent. who had been so long absent from the house on account of his indisposition, in his place, as he was sure the name of sir Vicary Gibbs would be added to the supporters of Mr. Palmer's Claim, as he had the precedent of his predecessor who had also supported it, who acted without the same favourable occurrence of having the late 1042 attorney general to set him the example. The chancellor of the exchequer had said, he was fearful if this grant was included in the Appropriation Act, that the lords might reject the whole bill: but, were his majesty's ministers weak enough in understanding to imagine such a thing: or were they weak enough in power to allow such a thing? But, even if they did reject the whole Appropriation bill, that might be recovered, but the honour of the house could never be restored, if Mr. Palmer's Claim was not discharged. The present motion was for the purpose of entrapping the house, as many hon. members had quitted town under the idea that the business had passed the house and was completely settled. He thought if the right hon. gent. gained the victory, it would be a victory over the house of commons, over the constitution, and whatever of law and justice remained in the house.
said, the merits of Mr. Palmer's case formed no part of the question before the house. The only question was, in what manner the house should carry its decision into effect? The precedents were not all on one side. There were some for the course proposed by the chancellor of the exchequer, and the house was free to follow the line that should please it. He censured the objection to referring the whole question to the lords, because that house could examine witnesses on oath to the matters of fact. He insisted on the constitutional impropriety of sending the present, business to the lords, otherwise than in a separate bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
denied in his reply, that giving the recommendation of the crown so as to bring a measure under the consideration of the house, implied an obligation to support it in its progress through the house. He also vindicated his conduct in proposing this bill, on the knowledge that the house of lords was examining the agreement with Mr. Palmer. —The house then divided:
For the Motion 186 Against it 63 Majority —123