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tance to Ireland, but to the discussion of matters connected with the internal regulation of that country.
The Bill was then read a second time, and ordered to be com- .1 mitted.
INCREASE OF SEAMENS' WAGES AND PROVISIONS. The Bill for the Increase of the Wages and Provisions of the Seamen and Marines of his Majesty's Navy was brought up from the Commons, and read a first time. On a Motion that the same be then read a fecond time,
The Earl of Suffolk rose, and stated to the House, that he had come there that day for the purpose of calling the attention of their Lordships to this important subject. Reflecting on the dreadful and serious calamity which had given rise to this Bill, it had for some time past been a matter of the highest astonishment to him that it had not much sooner been brought forward. It appeared to him that there had been a great degree of criminal negligence in having so long delayed it, and he would therefore content himself at present with putting one question to the Noble Secretary of State. He requested to be informed, “What were the reasons why the bringing forward the Bill had been so long procrastinated ?" He would not trouble the House any further at present, reserving to himself a right to make further observations when he had heard the speech of the Noble Secretary on the subject.
The Duke of Athol, thinking that incalculable mischief might be the consequence of any discussion taking place upon a subject of so great delicacy, rose for the purpose of deprecating such a discussion, and of expressing a wish that the Bill should go through its several stages without any observations being made upon it. They had already experienced the fatal effects of the conversation which took place on a former evening having been misrepresented, and similar effects might happen again from a similar cause. He therefore entreated their Lordships to allow the Bill to go as quickly as poffible through its several stages, in the hope that, in consequence of it, the deluded seamen would return to their duty, and receive with gratitude this boon from their country.
The Earl of Suffolk took notice of the word misrepresented, and asked from which side of the House misrepresentation had pro ceeded? He was sure it was not from his own side of the House ; but he believed, if misrepresentations there had been, they came from his Majesty's Ministers.
The Duke of Athol assured the Noble Earl that he had never entertained the flightest idea of any misrepresentation being used by any one in that House; the misrepresentations he alluded to were made by persons out of the House.
ordthip particulard Spencer) in command ho had been
Lord Grenville said that he came to the House with a thorough conviction on his mind that all discussion ought to be avoided.--It had always been his opinion, but he was the more confirmed in it now, from the shameful and scandalous misrepresentations which had been made in consequence of the fhort discussion that took place in that House on the same subject a few nights ago. His Lordship particularly alluded to the Speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Spencer) on that occasion, in which he laid, “ he had no communication in command from his Majesty, on the subject.” He averred that this Speech had been most grossly misrepresented, for the purpose of irritating the minds of the Seamen, and he believed that fuch misrepresentation had been attended with the most mischievous effects. He therefore deprecated discussion, and thanked the Noble Duke who had fo ably and fo prudently stood forward to oppose it, and, by so doing, rendered it unnecessary for him to trouble the House further on the subject.
The Duke of Bedford said, he rose for the purpose not of introducing discussion upon the subject of the Bill now before the House, but of resisting the doctrine that their Lordships were bound to fanction whatever his Majesty's Ministers thought proper to propose. He rosc for the purpose not of giving an oppor. tunity for misrepresentation, but to give his Majesty's Ministers an opportunity of doing away misrepresentation; to give them an opportunity of amending their declaration, and of removing the misconception to which it had given rise. Discussion of the lubject of the Bill he thought improper ; explanation he thought necessary. He was not surprised, however, that discussion and explanation were equally obnoxious to his Majesty's Ministers; for fecrefy alone could screen their conduct from censure and their characters from infamy. When any light was thrown upon their actions, it served only to convict them of odious treachery or the most shameful incapacity. The question of the No. ble Earl, his Grace contended, was a very fair one, and ought to be answered. Some cause ought to be assigned why so very long a delay had taken place in bringing the Bill forward. In his opinion, a fair and candid answer, Thewing the cause of delay, would go further to satisfy the minds of the Seamen, than all the silence which could be observed. The delay in bringing the Bill forward had been the cause of the greatest calamity that ever had befallen this country, and Ministers were bound either to thew that there was a reasonable cause for it, or a great and criminal neglect was fairly imputable to them.
Lord Grenville said, that he was perfectly convinced, as he had before informed the House, that all discussion on the subject would be wrong, and he was therefore determined not to be drawninto 8 A 2
any further answer. The Noble Duke had, however, taken advantage of his declaration, and entered into a strain of invece tive against Ministers. It was, however, an advantage he did not envy him.
Earl Moira said, that the question put by his Noble Friend (Lord Suffolk) did not invite any discussion upon the subject of the Bill now before the House. His Noble Friend did not object to the Bill, he only wished to know the cause of the delay which had taken place in bringing it in. And in order to avoid giving any answer to this simple question, the Noble Secretary availed himself, as an excuse, of a misapprehension of something, not which wa faid, but of something which was not said on a former day. The country would not take this as an excuse he was sure, and he hoped that neither would their Lordships suftain it. There was one consequence of a serious nature to be expected from the filence of the Noble Secretary, if it was persevered in, namely, that the delay would naturally be ascribed to official neglect, a circumstance which certainly would not tend much to conciliate the seamen, at least to those who admi. nistered his Majesty's Government. The explanation desired went only to one single point, and it was idle and childish to evade it, viz. why the measure now adopted was not taken with greater expedition?
Lord Sydney deprecated all discussion, and threatened if it was proceeded in to move that the House should be cleared. He objected also to the discuskon as it was now conducted, as being contrary to Parliamentary forms, and as tending to increase the delay so much complained of., : The Duke of Grafton said, that he did not ask too much when he asked a confession from their Lordships that the present was one of the greatest calamities with which the country was ever afflicted, and that arose chiefly from procrastination. If then these positions were founded in rectitude, would any of his Majesty's Ministers be hardy enough to say that the country ought not to be informed of the causes of that procrastination ? When they were putting off the definitive settlement of the business from day to day, did they recollect that the promise of the First Lord of the Admiralty, that his Majesty's Royal word was pledged that the measure should be carried into effect? Had he been First Lord of the Admiralty he would not have been an hour from the elbow of the Minister till he had got his promise carried into execution ; and the Minister on his part ought to have recollected that his Majesty's most gracious order called upon him to take the speediest steps for giving it effect. He thought, therefore, an explanation from the Noble Secretary of State, fhewing the cause or reason of the delay, would have a
better effect on the minds of the seamen than any filence on the
The Duke of Grafton having candidly admitted the necessity of proceeding on the Bill without discussion,
The Duke of Bedford rore, and stated to the House, that he desired to ask another question of Ministers. His Grace thought it necessary to premise, that it was one which, if fairly answered, would completely put an end to all discussion whatever. The question was, whether his Majesty's Ministers intended, and Were really endeavouring to carry into execution all the promises made by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to the seamen?
Lord Grenville thought it necessary to deny in the most express and positive terms, that he was in his official capacity bound to answer any question that might be put to him, however unleasonably, by individuals. His Lordship felt that it was a doctrine which could not be too forcibly stated to the House, that his Majelty's Ministers and Parliement ought both to be tried by their own acts, and not by any gross and shameful misrepresentations that were maliciously fabricated to pervert the public mind, and prejudice it against Government. It would be peculiarly hard if Ministers were to be tried on the ground of answers extorted from them by questioas insidioully and irregularly put, and then
Thor Bedford) ndifcreet dicupect to the
carefully conveyed to the public through disorderly and unconftitution channels, though they were acquiesced in, he meant the public newípaper. He appealed to the House whether he was not justified in ftating, that all the misrepresentations, however great they were, with respect to the present subject, were all owing to the indiscreet discussion which the Noble Duke (the Duke of Bedford) had brought forward a few nights ago.
The bill being read a second and third time, and agreed to. unanimously,
The Duke of Bedford addressed the House, and said, that as he had not taken advantage of the regular course of replying to the last speech of the Noble Secretary of State, because he wished not to delay the Bill a moment longer, he flattered himself their Lordships would then favour him with a few moments attention. He was glad, he said, the Noble Secretary had spoken out; he was glad to hear him openly charge him with being the cause of the calamities which had happened in consequence of the discussion he had brought forward. He had, as a Lord of Parliament, thought it his duty to ask Ministers if they intended to bring that important subject before the House, and for this act of duty he had been charged with being the sole cause of the calamity which had since occurred. He appealed to the House, if he had not on that occasion spoken with the greatest caution; and he thought it would easily be ascertained whether the calamity was owing to what he said, or to the answer that was made him by a certain Noble Lord in Administration who was not then in his place. That answer was---Here his Grace was interrupted by
Lord Sydney, who spoke to order, and contended that it was not regular to allude to a former debate, and more especially to the speech of a person who was not present.
The Duke of Bedford proceeded, and allowed that it was not strictly in order to allude to a former debate, though in the course of this evening it had been done by the Noble Secretary of State. He had not either expressly mentioned the words of the answer he had alluded to, though the Noble Secretary had expressly mentioned them. He flattered himself, therefore, he had not been much wanting in point of order. He should make no scruple, however, in alluding to that speech, if he thought it neceffary, in justification of his own character, though the First Lord of the Admiralty had not thought proper to attend in his place on the present occasion. He had no doubt but he could shew most clearly that it was to that Noble Lord's answer, more than to any thing that fell from him, that a late calamity originated. And his Grace faid, he thought the Noble Secretary, before he made such charges, ought to take care of making