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The frauds complained of did not surely deserve as much importance as was attached to them, because, although he was far from advocating these practices, it was known to be a fact, that the salaries of the Revenue Officers were in general so inadequate, that they were compelled to resort to them as the means of obtaining a livelihood; they were universal, and had prevailed during many years.
The several resolutions were then put and agreed to.
IRISH BUDGET. Mr. Wellesley Pole stated, that the supply required amounted to 13,902,0001, there remained due of the contribution for the year 1811, a sum amounting to 1,791,0001.; the quoia for the year 1812 amounted to 7,611,0001.; the interest of the total debt was 4,496,0001. making in all 13,902,0001. The Ways and Means he should propose to meet this supply were, first, the surplus of the Consolidated Fund, amounting to 2,755,0001., the net revenue for the last year was 3,171,0001. which he would take at 4,300,0001.; the produce of the taxes for the last balf year amounted to 109,0001., to wbich was to be added 40,0001. arising from the repeal of the bounties on retailed spirits, which, with the tobacco and other duties, made a net revenue of 4,170,0901.; to which was to be added the Lotteries, which he took at 162,0001., which, including the payment of seamens' wages, made a sum total of 13,952,0001. giving an excess in the Ways and Means of 80,0001. over the Supply, which he proposed to raise by doubling the duty of 2s.6d. per gallon on spirits. The honourable gentleman then went into a long vindication of the zeal and assiduity of the Irish Government in their efforts to enforce a faithful and cheap collection of the Irish Revenne, in answer to observations that had fallen from Mr. Huskisson and Sir J. Newport, in the preceding discussion.
Sir J. Newport and Mr. Huskisson explained—when the resolution for raising 500,0001. by the issue of Treasury Bills for the service of Ireland, was agreed to. The Report was ordered to be received to-morrow.Adjourned.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
THURSDAY, JUNE 18.
ORDERS IN COUNCIL. The Marquis of Lansdowne rose to put some questions to a noble lord (Bathurst) opposite, on a subject of great importance to the mercantile interests of the country. Rumour had already told him, that in another place, of whose proceedings be could of course make no mention, as of his own knowledge, a considerable change in our commercial policy had been announced : but he felt it his duty to remove from the public mind, and his own, some doubts that still encumbered the general idea of the change. He might safely say, that be rose from no motive of personal curiosity, or from a wish to trouble the noble lord opposite, but to obtain that kind of information on the subject, without which there must be the chance of great mistakes and great injuries. He wished, then, to ask, whether, in the first place, admitting that any change was to be made in our commercial policy, that change was to extend to a total and immediate repeal of the Orders in Council? This he hoped to be the case; for this, he had no hesitation in saying, would be the most maniy, honourable, and dignified mode that a great country like our's could adopt. He should next ask, whether, if not revoked, but suspended, their revival was to be conditional ? If suspended, to wbat period was the suspension to extend -and if to be revived on conditions, what the nature of those conditions might be-how far they were to depend on ourselves-how far they were to rest upon the conduct of France-bow far upon that of America The noble lords must see, that upon the nature of the answer the conduct of the great manufacturers must in a very material degree be guided; and from the circumstances under which they appeared to be placed at present, no time was to be lost in giving them every relief that it was in the power of the House and its information. If no material change was to be made in our commercial policy, it could not be too soon known, to prevent the unfortunate misconceptions which must occur, and under which so large a portion of the mercantile interest must be laid, by defective knowledge of the intentions of Government. It appeared to him, however, that a better mode than any verbal explanation would
be, the preparing some public instrument, stating the terms and nature of the change, and laying it on the table of the House as expeditiously as possible. Those were the ideas which suggested themselves to him on the general view of the subject; farther consideration might suggest farther matter; but if the answers were refused, or unsatisfactorily made, he should reserve to himself the right of moving an Address to the Prince Regent, that such an instrument, so expressive of the determination of Government, should be laid upon the table.
Earl Bathurst, after a few words of apology for his absence on a former occasion, said he had no objection to answer, as fully as he understood them, every question that had been put to him. He should first beg leave to advert to a few prior circumstances. On the 20th of May, the American Chargé d'Affaires at this Court produced a paper purporting to be a copy of a French Decree, repealing the Berlin and Milan Decrees, and dated the 12th of April 1811. It appeared singular with respect to this document, that it had never been heard of before. Applications had been repeatedly made to the American Chargé d'Affaires, to know whetber any document of the kind had been received in America, and he had uniformly denied any knowledge of its existence. The American Government had no knowledge of its previous existence; nay, the French Minister in America bad, on a formal application, declared he had no knowledge that any repeal had taken place at his Court. From those and other circumstances, the Government of this country could not depend upon the authenticity of such a paper, or attach to it the cre lit 'necessary to the instrument for the repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees. As they could not conceive that those Decrees were really re pealed, they did not feel themselves authorised to advise the repeal of the Orders in Council; but it was thought that so much of them might be repealed as related to America, on her withdrawing her hostile and restrictive Acts against this country. This was to be done on conditions regularly ascertained, as that America should cancel her hostile Acts; that the freedom of trade should be restored in its former shape; and that British ships of war should be received into the American waters and ports, as those of friendly nations. The Orders in Council were, on those terms, to be suspended with regard to America: to be reyived, however, if America should not accele to the terms
proposed; or in case of any farther arrangement on the part of France and America, which acted against the interests of this country. He had said thus much from his wish to give every information in his power ; but the proper time for discussion would be when the instrument alluded to was on the table; and till then he should beg leave to reserve a fuller expression of his opinions.
Earl Grey felt with the noble lord (Bathurst) that this was not the time for a full discussion; but he also felt with his noble friend (Marquis Lansdowne) near bim, that the earliest information on the subject was highly desirable. What he wished chiefly to know now was, whether this revocation was to take place from the moment, or to wait till we heard the fate of our proposition in America?
Earl Bathurst begged leave here to interrupt the noble earl (Grey), merely to prevent future inconvenience. They were not io wait for any answer from America. The object was to make the repeal of the Orders contemporaneous with that of the Non-Intercourse Act; and, therefore, without being able to fix the precise moment at which the information might reach America, they merely fixed the commencement of the repeal for the nearest date at which America could be acquainted with it.
Earl Grey presumed, then, that the time was to be a month, or something near it. But what was to be the nature of the Orders in the mean time? Were they to be acted on? But he had great objections to the whole course which had been detailed. He was given to understand that the repeal was still uncertain, and that it depended on a conduct over which we had no power, but which could revive the Orders in Council at any time, without any declaration of them here, merely by non-compliance. This was our policy, and he deeply lamented it. It would have been, in his mind, more fitting and wise to have steered another course—to have considered the question in its own nature—to have made up their judgments on the advantages or evils of repeal ; and to have them courageously followed without a feeble dependence on other states, the policy which mature opinions pointed out to ourselves. It appeared, however, a curious fact, that the noble lords, after reprobating all the measures of Opposition, should adopt them one by one. He only regretted, that with their measures they had not also adopted their manner of carrying them into practice, and at least freed the manufacturers
and the public, from the painful uncertainty in which they were left, by any measures which depended on the will of foreign powers. He wished to know whether the Act was to operate in the interval between its promulgation and its acceptance in America ?
Earl Bathurst said, that the Act was to be in force until its notification in America ; but this delay could not produce any inconvenience to the mercantile interest here. It was not our Orders that prevented their trade to America, it was the American Act, which would not admit it into the harbours of America ; and as the repeal of the Orders took place the moment the notification was made there, no injury could happen by the delay, which equally affected the cargo and the transit of the repeal. Tbe revocation of the Orders depended on the American revocation of hostile acts, and also on the admission of our ships of war into her ports. He should merely repeat what he had said of the duration of the Orders. They were to continue in operation until advice of them could reach America ; and American ships violating the blockade were liable to be taken as usual, but no proceedings were to be entered into against them, until the American revocation was known here.
Earl Stanhope bad never seen or heard any thing more obscure and more pitiful than the whole policy of this measure. It was not now to depend upon us, or on America, but France was made a party. It was to depend on France. He had certainly heard this said. It might be explained away by the noble lord (Bathurst); or perhaps the other noble lord (Liverpool), who played first fiddle on the opposite bencb, would contrive to explain it away. But he bad heard the words, and lie had written them down. So he was at last to understand that the Orilers in Council, whether America agreed to our terms or not, were to be revived at the mercy of France. He had hoped that the Orders were dead, gone for ever, dead and buried; but now, when we were to be told that they were to be revived, and that a dash of Buonaparte's pen was to have the power of starving our manufacturers again, in what a pretty situation were we placing ourselves! Would not Buonaparte be likely to do what he could for the purpose, when we put it in bis way? And if this revival, this resurrection, was dependant on his caprice or his compliance, were we not putting our manufacturers in a situation where they could not tell whether they were to work or not? VOL. III.--1819.