« AnteriorContinuar »
given to bring in a Bill for the abolition of certain offices in the customs, and for the regulation of others, and for applying the amount of fees received to the superannuated fund. The Motion was agreed to without any debate.
PUBLIC OFFICES. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proceeded.-- It was in the contemplation, he said, of the Executive Government, to abolish certain fees taken in the customs ; but he did not yet know how far the substitution for these fees would be satisfactory to the merchants. No decisive arrangements had yet been made. There was one other measure, not only relatingto the customs, but indeed to every other public department; he meant the abolition of unnecessary holidays; to effect which he should move that the Chairman be directed to move for leave to bring in a Bill, to reduce the number of holidays kept in the public offices, and to enforce the personal attendance of persons employed in such offices.
This second motion was agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer in continuation--- The next motion was founded on the suggestion of the Finance Committee ; but it had also occurred before to the Executive Government. It related to an alteration in the management of Salt Revenues, by abolishing the Salt Office. He moved that the Chairman bc directed to move for leave to bring in a Bill, to transfer the management of the Salt Duties to the Commisfioners of Excise. Agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer then stated, that there was another instance of a consolidation of boards, which had been suggested by the Committee. This was the Board of Hawkers and Pedlars. An idea had been entertained of transferring that Office to the Board of Taxes. But there were some mea. fures of police, which had made him doubt whether such an arrangement would be proper. He therefore wished to defer the consideration of the subject ; but unless that office could be made efficient for some other purpose, he had no hesitation in stating, that it ought to be transferred to another board. The next subject related to the land tax and the assessed taxes in Scotland, upon which he moved that the Chairman be directed to move for leave to bring in a Bill, for the more speedy collection and remittance of the land tax and assessed taxes in Scotland.
Sir 7ohn Sinclair wished to know, whether, as the Committee of Finance had stated, that they had not gone through all the subjects before them, the Minister intended to move the resumption of the Committee,
The The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, that he had expressly stated when he first brought this subject before the House, that he should conclude by moving the revival of the Committee. Had the Honourable Baronet therefore refrained from interrupting him, and waited a little longer, he would have found that he heid in his hand a motion for that express purpose. With respect to the measures now proposed, comprifing all those points suggested by the Committee, he had begun by saying, that few of them required a parliamentary provision. He had added, that it would appear from the printed papers, that a large proportion of the regulations recommended by the Committee had been carried into effect by the treasury. Many other points were still under consideration, which would, in due time, be submitted to the House. If it should be found, after all, that any points had been passed over, or regulations omitted, he should be glad to be informed of them, for no such omissions were in the smallest degree intentional. He hoped too, that in the course of the session, an opportunity would be given to the Finance Committee, after the different Bills had been brought in, to examine and declare how far the measures pointed out by them had been carried into effect ; and how far the reasons assigned for not adopting some of them, were satisfactory.---With regard to what fresh parliamentary provisions might be necessary, he should beg leave to move that the Chairman be directed to report progress, and ask leave to sit again, in order to keep the Committee open.
The resolution respecting the land tax and assessed taxes in Scotland was agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer then moved, that the Chairman be directed to move, that the select Committee appointed last session to examine and state the total amount of the public debt, and the interest and charges attending the same, as it stood on the fifth day of January, 1797, be revived.--Agreed to.
On the House being resumed, Mr. Hobart, the Chairman of the Committee, moved for leave to bring in the several Bills, in pursuance of the resolutions passed in the Committee. Agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the Committee of Finance be revived.---Agreed to.
He also moved, that the Commitee do confift of the same members as were appointed last year. The names of the members were accordingly called over. As soon as the lift was gone through, which concluded with the name of Mr. Sheridan,
Mr. Wilberforce expressed a doubt, how far it would be proper to name persons who had evinced a determination to feccde from Parliament. The trust reposed in them was an important one: but as they did not think proper to attend their duty, other names ought in his opinion to be fubstituted.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to Mr. Wilberforce, faid, he had before stated, that if there should not be a sufficient attendance of members, it would be proper to fubstitutes others. In the first instance, therefore, he was not desirous of making any alteration in the list. With regard to the observations that had fallen from his Honourable Friend, the House could know nothing formally of the circumstances to which he had alluded. It was impossible for any Gentleman, who had a proper regard for his character of Member of Parliament, to defert his duty : and no man, his Honourable Friend knew, could make a motion for seceding. Whether any representations to that effect had been made any where else, the House were not bound to know. But he did not recollect that these forts of rumours applied to any of the Members of the Committee. When he firit mentioned the subject of nonattendance upon the Committee, he did not allude to any such rumours : he said, merely, that in the present state of affairs, many Gentlemen who were appointed could not, from the multiplicity and importance of their other avocations, give that attendance which they wished.
The motion for appointment of the fame Members, of whom the Committee consisted last year, was agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the Commit. tee do fit again on Monday se'nnight, to consider further the reports of the Finance Committee.--- Agreed to.
SUPPLY. The House resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, that in pursuance of the notice he had given, he thould now move for a further aid to his Majesty by loans of Exchequer Bills, to the amount of three millions, being the same amount as had been voted. last year. Particular motives urged him to make that motion at the present moment. It appeared to his Majesteys Ministers, that there were various circumstances now which made it defirable to delay for some weeks bringing forward the proposition for a loan. Several reasons induced him to believe, that delay would render the terms of the loan more favourable. It was obvious that a full knowledge of the extent to which the public contributions, which, to the honour and credit of the people, were spreading rapidly throughout the country,
might be carried, would be a delirable object to arrain befor the itarement of Supply and Ways and Means shall be laid before the House. I would also be neceifary to ascertain the effect and operation of the Bill palled before the recess, for increasing the afferfed taxes. It was on these grounds that he wished for delay, and that he proposed the present motion, Thele Exchcquer Bills he certainly meant to have made out for thort periods, with liberty to pay then out of the early in. ftalments upon the loan, or out of the produce of the atlefied tax Bill. The policy of the measure, however, seemed to him to be so obvious, as not to require any further argument in support of it. He therefore moved, that towards railing the supris for the service of the year, a further loan of three millions, to be raised by loans of Exchcquer Bills, be granted to his Majefty.
Sir John Sinclair doubted the policy of the measure. Ifany circuir fiances ihould happen to render money fcarcer, or to create any variation in the state of public credit, Government "ould have to repent 'this delay. Formerly, Ministers came down to the House, and stated at once the revenue and expenditure of the country ; then he had a distinct idea of the ticuation of the finances : but the Right Honourable Gentlem.n, he was forry to observe, from his numerous budgets, rencerer it impatible to know what were the expences of the year. It mult be in coni quence of that syitem that the finances of the counts were mi re confiucd than they had ever been fince the revolution. If, indeed, the Right Honourable Gentiman conceived that ttocks would be higher, there might be fums reason for delay; but he doubied whether they would, and therefore he objected to the motion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, in reply, that the Honourable Baronet had alluded to a tine when men might take a distinct view of the finances of the country. In answer to that allufion, he should take the liberty to say, that there never was a period when the finances had been carried on upon fo large a scale, in which all men might obezin i ciera cuinpretention as at present. The fimplitication of all the accounts; the consolidation of the funds, and the manner in which the cítimates were made out, lo far from deferving the remark of the Honourable Bironer, afforded a direct contrait to thosc periody when the financial statements pero lo intricate 25 to render it impossible almost for any one to underitand them, who had not made them the study of their lives. From thote technicalities they were now ditembarrailed. That they were formerly stated once for all was true. But did the Honourable Member mean to say that there was but one explanation? Did No. 17.
he mean to say that the Loan, the Land and Malt, the Ways and Means and Supply were all included in one discussion ? But he complains now that where there was but one explana. tion of the state of the finances formerly, there are at present very frequent explanations : and in consequence of them, he has discovered, that he cannot understand this object. A circumstance certainly to be regretted, but hardly to be imputed as a matter of blame to us."
Sir John Sinclair replied, that what he'said was, that he understood the situation of the finances better from one explanation than from so many different budgets.
The resolution was agreed to, and ordered to be reported.
Sir John Sinclair presented a Petition from the Board of Agriculture, praying Parliamentary assistance.
It was ordered to lie on the Table.
On the motion of Mr. Rose, certain correspondence relating to the Scotch Distillery Bill was referred to a Committee. Adjourned.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
Thursday, Feb. 22. The Bills for granting Annuities to the Earl St. Vincent and Lord Viscount Duncan, and for allowing further time to carry into execution the Supplementary Militia Act, was received from the Commons. The first and second of these Bills were read a first time; the third Bill was read a first, fecond, and third time, and passed.—Adjourned.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Thursday, Feb. 22.
SUPPLEMENTARY MILITIA. On the motion of Mr. Dundas, leave was given to bring in a Bill to enlarge the time allowed by the Bill of the present Seslion for permitting the Supplementary Militia to enlift in the regular forces.
Mr. Manning withdrew the notice he had lately given of his intended motion, that a list of the subscribers to the voluntary contribution should be laid before the House.
EMIGRANTS. Mr. 7obns begged leave to draw the attention of the House to a subject which materially affected the safety of the country; it now contained within its bosom a great number of Frenchmen, many of them maintained at its expence, and several, he believed in his conscience, disaffected to the Government, ready to avail themselves of the first opportunity to turn their arms against it, and to repay the protection they had received