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TO HIS MAJESTY , MOVED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, BY THE RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE, AND SECONDED BY WILLIAM WINDHAM, ESQ. ON MONDAY, JUNE 14, 1784, AND NEGATIVED.WITH A PREFACE AND NOTES.
necessary, on the part of the people, to render
it abundantly complaisant to ministers and The representation now given to the pub- favourites of all descriptions. It required a lic relates to some of the most essential privi- great length of time, very considerable indusleges of the house of commons. It would try and perseverance, no vulgar policy, the appear of litile importance, if it were to be union of many men and many tempers, and judged by its reception in the place where it the concurrence of events which do not happen was proposed. There it was rejected without every day, to build up an independent house debate. The subject inatter may, perhaps, of commons. Its demolition was accomplished hereafter appear to merit a more serious con- in a moment; and it was the work of ordinary sideration. Thinking men will scarcely re- hands. But to construct is a matter of skill ; gard the penal dissolution of a parliament as to demolish, force and fury are sufficient. a very trifling concern. Such a dissolution The late house of commons has been pumust operate forcibly as an example; and it nished for its independence.
That example much imports the people of this kin om to is made. Have we an example on record, of consider what lesson that example is to teach. a house of commons punished for its servility?
The late house of commons was not accused The rewards of a senate so disposed, are of an interested compliance to the will of a manifest to the world. Several gentlemen are court. The charge against them was of a very desirous of altering the constitution of different nature. They were charged with the house of commons: but they must alter being actuated by an extravagant spirit of in the frame and constitution of human nature dependency. This species of offence is so itself, before they can so fashion it by any closely connected with merit; this vice bears mode of election, that its conduct will not be so near a resemblance to virtue ; that the influenced by reward and punishment; by fame, flight of a house of commons above the exact and by disgrace. if these examples take root temperate medium of independence, ought to in the minds of men, what members hereafter be correctly ascertained, lest we give encou- will be bold enough not to be corrupt ? Esperagement to dispositions of a less generous cially as the king's high-way of obsequiousnature, and less safe for the people; we ought ness is so very broad and easy. To make a to call for very solid and convincing proofs of passive member of parliament, no dignity of the existence, and of the magnitude too of the mind, no principles of honour, no resolution, evils, which are charged to an independent no ability, no industry, no learning, and expespirit, before we give sanction to any measure, rience are in the least degree necessary. To that by checking a spirit so easily damped, and defend a post of importance against a powerful so hard to be oxcited, may affect the liberty enemy, requires an Elliot; a drunken invalid of a part of our constitution, which, if not free, is qualified to hoist a white flag, or to deliver is worse than useless.
up the keys of the fortress on his knees. The Editor does not deny, that by possi- The gentlemen chosen into this parliament, bility such an abuse may exist: but primâ for the purpose of this surrender, were bred to fronte, there is no reason to presume it. The better things; and are no doubt qualified for house of commons is not, by its complexion, other service. But for this strenuous exertion peculiarly subject to the distempers of an in- of inactivity, for the vigorous task of submisdependent habit. Very little compulsion is sion and passive obedience, all their learning and ability are rather a matter of personal practice of good times, and irreconcilable w ornament to themselves, than of the least use the principles of this government. in the performance of their duty.
Humbly to express to his majesty, that it is The present surrender, therefore, of rights the privilege and duty of this house to guard and privileges, without examination, and the the constitution from all infringement on the resolution to support any minister given by part of ministers; and whenevar the occasion the secret advisers of the crown, determines requires it, to warn them against any abuse of not only on all the power and authority of the the authorities committed to them: but it is house, but it settles the character and descrip- very lately,* that in a manner not more un. tion of the men who are to compose it; and seemly than irregular and preposterous, minisperpetuates that character as long as it may ters have thought proper, by admonition from be thought expedient to keep up a phantom of the throne, implying distrust and reproach, to popular representation.
convey the expectations of the people to us, It is for the chance of some amendment their sole representatives it and have prebefore this new settlement takes a permanent sumed to caution us, the natural guardians of form, and while the matter is yet soft and duce the constitution, against any infringement of tile, that the editor bas republished this piece, it on our parts. and added some notes and explanations to it. This dangerous innovation we, his faithful His intentions, he hopes, will excuse him to commons, think it our duty to mark; and as the original mover, and to the world. He acts these admonitions from the throne, by their from a strong sense of the incurable ill effects frequent repetition, seem intended to lead graof hoiding out the conduct of the late house of dually to the establishment of an usage, we commons, as an example to be shunned by hold ourselves bound thus solemnly to protest future representatives of the people.
This house will be, as it ever ought to be anxiously attentive to the inclinaiions and
interests of its constituents: nor do we desire MOTION RELATIVE TO THE SPEECH to straiten any of the avenues to the throne, FROM THE THRONE.
or to either house of parliament. But the
ancient order, in which the rights of the peoLune, 14° die Junij, 1784. ple have been exercised, is not a restriction A Motion was made, That a representa- of these rights. It is a method providently tion be presented to his majesty, most humbly framed in favour of those privileges, which it to offer to his royal consideration, that the preserves and enforces by keeping in that address of this house, upon his majesty's course which has been found the most effectua. speech from the throne, was dictated solely for answering their ends. His majesty may by our conviction of his majesty's own most receive the opinions and wishes of individuals gracious intentions towards his people, which, under their signatures, and of bodies corporate as we feel with gratitude, so we are ever under their seals, as expressing their own parready to acknowledge with cheerfulness and ticular sense: and he may grant such redress satisfaction.
as the legal powers of the crown enable the Impressed with these sentiments, we were crown to afford. This, and the other house willing to separate from our general expres- of parliament, may also receive the wishes of sions of duty, respect, and veneration to his such corporations and individuals by petition. majesty's royal person and his princely vir- The collective sense of his people his majesty tues, all discussion whatever, with relation to is to receive from his commons in parliament several of the matters suggested, and several assembled. It would destroy the whole spirit of the expressions employed in that speech. of the constitution, if his commons were to
That it was not fit or becoming, that any decided opinion should be formed by his faith- + See King's Speech, Dec. 5, 1782, and May ful commons, on that speech, without a degree 19, 1784. of deliberation adequate to the importance of
Í"I will never submit to the doctrines I have the object. Having afforded ourselves due
heard this day from the woolsack, that the other
house (house of commons) are the only repze time for that deliberation, we do now most sentatives and guardians of the people's rights humbly beg leave to represent to his majesty, I boldly maintain the contrary-1 say this house that, in the speech from the throne, his minis- [house of lords) is equally the representatives
Lord Shelburne's Speech, ters have thought proper to use a language of of the people."
Vide Parliamentar Register * very alarming import, unauthorized by the vol. 10, page 292.
roceive that sense from the ministers of the we shall nianifest will not be the same with crown, or to admit them to be a proper or a theirs; but, we trust, it will be equally sine regular channel for conveying it.
cere, and more cnlightened. It is no slight That the ministers in the said speech de- authority which shall persuade us (by receiving clare, “His majesty has a just and confident as proofs of loyalty the mistaken principles reliance, that we (his faithful commons) are lightly taken up in these addresses) obliquely animated with the same sentiments of loyalty, to criminate, with the heavy and ungrounded and the same attachment to our excellent charge of disloyalty and disaffection, an uncorconstitution, which he had the happiness to rupt, independent, and reforming parliament. * see so fully manifested in every part of the Above all, we shall take care that none of the kingdom."
rights and privileges, always claimed, and To represent, that his faithful commons have since the accession of his majesty's illustrious never failed in loyalty to his majesty. It is family constantly exercised by this house (and new to them to be reminded of it. It is unnecessary and invidious to press it upon them by * In that parliament the house of commons any example. This recommendation of loy- by two several resolutions put an end to the alty, after his majesty has sat for so many ministry, which ensued, in order to secure their
American war. Immediately on the change of years, with the full support of all descriptions own independence, and to prevent the accumu. of his subjects, on the throne of this kingdom, lation of new burthens on the people by the at a time of profound peace, and without any growth of a civil list debt, they passed the esta. pretence of the existence or apprehension of tenable by members of parliament were sup. war or conspiracy, becomes in itself a source
pressed; and an order of payment was framed, of no small jealousy to his faithful commons; by which the growth of any fresh debt was ren. as many circumstances lead us to apprehend dered impracticable. The debt on the civil list that therein the ministers have reference to
from the beginning of the present reign had
amounted to one million three hundred thousand some other measures and principles of loyalty, pounds and upwards. Another act was passed and to some other ideas of the constitution, for regulating the office of the paymaster general, than the laws require, or the practice of par- and the offices subordinate to it. A million of liament will admit.
public money had sometimes been in the hands No regular communication of the proofs of sibility of any money whatsoever being accu.
of the paymasters : this act prevented the pos. loyalty and attachment to the constitution, mulated in that office in future. The offices of alluded to in the speech from the throne, have the exchequer, whose emoluments in time of been laid before this house, in order to enable
war were excessive, and grew in exact propor.
tion to the public burthens, were regulated; us to judge of the nature, tendency, or occa- some of them suppressed, and the rest reduced sion of them; or in what particular acts they to fixed salaries. To secure the freedom of were displayed ; but if we are to suppose the election against the crown, a bill was passed to manifestations of loyalty (which are held out of the revenue in any of its branches from voting to us as an example for imitation) consist in in elections; a most important act, not only certain addresses delivered to his majesty, with regard to its primary object, the freedom promising support to his majesty in the exer- of election, but as materially forwarding the cise of his prerogative, and thanking his (the preserving the freedom of election,) the
due collection of revenue. For the same end, majesty for removing certain of his ministers, house rescinded the famous judgment relative to on account of the votes they have given upon the Middlesex election, and expunged it from bills depending in parliament,-if this be the the journals. On the principle of reformation exarnple of loyalty alluded to in the speech of public economy, an act passed for rendering
of their own house, connected with a principle from the throne, then we must beg leave to contractors with government incapable of a seat express our serious concern for the impression in parliament. The India Bill, (unfortunately which has been made on any of our fellow- lost in the house of lords) pursued the same
idea to its completion; and disabled all servants subjects by misrepresentations, which have
of the East India company from a seat in that seduced them into a seeming approbation of house for a certain time, and until their conduct proceedings subversive of their own freedom. was examined into and cleared. The remedy We conceive, that the opinions delivered in of infinite corruptions and of infinite disorders these papers were not well considered; nor most important objects of public economy
and oppressions, as well as the security of the were the parties duly informed of the nature of perished with that bill and that parliament the matters on which they were called to deter- That parliament also instituted a committee to mine, nor of those proceedings of parliament inquire into the collection
of the revenue in all
its branches, which prosecuted ils duty with which they were led to censure.
great vigour ; and suggested several materia We shall act more advisedly.--The loyalty improvements.
which we hold and exercise in trust for the That his faithful commöns most humbly recommons of Groat Britain, and for their be- commend, instead of the inconsiderate specunefit) shall be constructively surrendered, or lations of unexperienced men, that on all even weakened and impaired under ambiguous occasions, resort should be had to the happy phrases, and implications of censure on the practice of parliament, and to those solid late parliamentary proceedings. If these claims maxims of government which have prevailed are not well founded, they ought to be honestly since the accession of his majesty's illustrious abandoned; if they are just, they ought to be family, as furnishing the only safe principles on steadily and resolutely maintained.
which the crown and parliament can proceed of his majesty's own gracious disposition We think it the more necessary to be cautowards the true principles of our free consti- tious on this head, as, in the last parliament, lution, his faithful commons never did, or could the present ministers had thought proper to ontertain a doubt: but we humbly beg leave to countenance, if nct to suggest, an attack upon express to his majesty our uneasiness concer- the most clear and undoubted rights and privining other new and unusual expressions of his leges of this house.* ministers, declaratory of a resolution “to support in their just balance, the rights and privi- the matter fully and fairly discussed, and the leges of every branch of the legislature." subject brought forward and argued upon preIt were desirable that all hazardous theo
cedent, as well as all its collateral relations.
I should be pleased to see the question fairly ries concerning a balance of rights and privi- committed, were it for no other reason, but to leges (a mode of expression wholly foreign to hear the sleek smooth contractors from the other parliamentary usage) might have been for- house, come to this bar and declare, that they, borne. His majesty's faithful commons are
and they only, could frame a money bill; and well instructed in their own rights and privi- perty of the peers of Great Britain. Perhaps
they, and they only, could dispose of the pro. leges, which they are determined to maintain some arguments more plausible than those I on the footing upon which they were handed heard this day from the woodsack, to shew that down from their ancestors: they are not un
the commons have an uncontroulable, unquali
fied right, to bind your lordships' property, may acquainted with the rights and privileges of be urged by them. At present, I beg leave to the house of peers; and they know and re- differ from the noble and learned lord ; for until spect the lawful prerogatives of the crown: but
the claim, after a solemn discussion of the house, they do not think it safe to admit any thing tinue to be or opinion, that your lordships
is openly and directly relinquished, I shall con. concerning the existence of a balance of those
have a right to alier, amend, or reject a money rights, privileges, and prerogatives; nor are bill." they able to discern to what objects ministers
The Duke of Richmond also, in his letter to
the volunteers of Ireland, speaks of several of would apply their fiction of balance; nor what
the powers exercised by the house of commons, they would consider as a just one. These in the light or usurpations; and his grace is of unauthorized doctrines have a tendency to opinion, that when the people are restored to stir improper discussions; and to lead to mis
what he conceives to be their rights, in electing
the house of commons, the other branches of chievous innovations in the constitution.*
the legislature ought to be restored to theirs.
Vide Remembrancer, vol. xvi. * If these speculations are let loose, the house * By an act of parliament, the directors of the of lords may quarrel with their share of the le. East India company are restrained from accep. gislature, as being limited with regard to the tance of bills drawn from India, beyond a certain origination of grants to the crown and the origi. amount, without the consent of the commis. nation of money bills. The advisers the sioners of the treasury. The late house of com. crown may think proper to bring its negative mons finding billsio an immense amount, drawi. into ordinary use; and even to dispute, whether upon that body by their servants abroad, and a mere negative, compared with the delibera. knowing their circumstances to be exceedingly live power, exercised in the other houses, be doubtful, came to a resolution providently cau. such a share in the legislature, as to produce a tioning the lords of the treasury against the 3c. Jue balance in favour of that branch; and thus ceptance of these bills, unul ihe house should justify the previous interference of the crown, otherwise direct. The court !ords then took in the manner lately used. The following will occasion to declare against the resolution as serve to shew how much foundation there is for illegal, by the commons undertaking to direct great caution, concerning these novel specula. in the execution of a trust created by act of par. tions. Lord Shelburne, in his celebrated speech, liament. The house justly alarmed at this re April Sth, 1778, expresses himself as follows: solution, which went to the destruction of the Vide Parliamentary Register, vol. x.
whole of its superintending capacity, and pare “ The noble and learned lord on the wool. ticularly in mallers relative to 1:3 (ww1 province sack, in the debate which opened the business of money, directed a committee to search the of this day, asserted that your lordships were journals, and they found a regular series of incompetent to make any alteration in a money precedents, commencing from the remotest of bill, or a bill of supply. I should bo glad to see ihose records, and carried on to that day, by and the whole can end in nothing else than the We humbly conceive, that besides its share destruction of the dearest rights and liberties of the legislative power, and its right of im- of the nation. If there must be another mode peachment, that by the law and usage of par- of conveying the collective sense of the people liament, this house has other powers and to the throne than that by the house of comcapacities, which it is bound to maintain. mons, it ought to be fixed and defined, and its This house is assured, that our humble advice authority ought to be settled : ought not in the exercise of prerogative will be heard to exist in so precarious and dependent a with the same attention with which it has cver state as that ministers should have it in been regarded ; and that it will be followed their power, at their own mere pleasure, to
Fearing, from these extcaordinary admoni- by the same effects which it has ever pro tions, and from the new doctrines, which seem duced, during the happy and glorious reigns to have dictated several unusual expressions, of his majesty's royal progenitors ; not doubtthat his majesty has been abused by false re- ing but that, in all those points, we shall be presentations of the late proceedings in pare considered as a counsel of wisdom and weight liament, we think it our duty respectfully to to advise, and not merely as an accuser of cominform his majesty, that no attempt whatever petence to criminate.* This house claims has been made against his lawful prerogatives, both capacities; and we trust we shall be left or against the rights and privileges of the to our free discretion which of them we shall peers, by the late house of commons, in any employ as best calculated for his majesty's, of their addresses, voles, or resolutions: nei- and the national service. Whenever we shall ther do we know of any proceeding by bill, in see it expedient to offer our advice concerning which it was proposed to abridge the extent his majesty's servants, who are those of the of his royal prerogative: but, if such provision public, we confidently hope, that the personal had existed in any bill, we protest, and we de- favour of any minister, or any set of ministers, clare, against all speeches, acts or addresses, will not be more dear to his majesty, than the from any persons whatsoever, which have a credit and character of a house of commons. tendency to consider such bills, or the persons It is an experiment full of peril to put the repreconcerned in them, as just objects of any kind sentative wisdom and justice of his majesty's of censure and punishment from the throne. people in the wrong; it is a crooked and despeNecessary reformations may hereafter require, rate design, leading to mischief, the extent of as they have frequently done in former times, which no human wisdom can foresee, to atlimitations and abridgements, and in some tempt to form a prerogative party in the nacases an entire extinction of some branch of tion, to be resorted to as occasion shall require, prerogative. If bills should be improper in the in derogation from the authority of the comform in which they appear in the house where mons of Great Britain in parliament assembled: they originate, they are liable, by the wisdom it is a contrivance full of danger, for ministers of this constitution, to be corrected, and even to set up the representative and constituent to be totally set aside, elsewhere. This is bodies of the commons of this kingdom as two the known, the legal, and the safe remedy: separate and distinct powers, formed to counbut whatever, by the manifestation of the royal terpoise each other, leaving the preference in displeasure, tends to intimidate individual the hands of secret advisers of the crowd. members from proposing, or this house from such a situation of things, these advisers, receiving, debating, and passing bills, tends to taking advantage of the ditleronres which may prevent even the beginning of every reforma- accidentally arise, or may purpos. Los ive tion in the state; and utterly destroys the de- mented between them, wii nave in tveir liberative capacity of parliament.-We there- choice to resort to the one or the wher, as nay fore claim, demand, and insist upon it, as our best suit the purposes of their sinistor ambrion. undoubted right, that no persons shall be By exciting an emulation and contest bet: een deemed proper objects of animadversion by tho the representative and the constituent bodies, crown, in any mode whatever, for the votes as parties contending for credit and influence which they give, or the propositions which at the throne, sacrifices will be made by both; they make, in parliament.
which it appeared, that the house interfered by an authoritative advice and admonition, upon every act of executive government without ex. ception; and in many much stronger cases than that winicb tho ords thought proper to quarrel with.
"I observe at the same time, that there is no charge or complaint suggested against my present ministers.”—The king's ansicer, 25th February 1794, to the address of the house of commons. Vide Resolutions of the Ilouse of Commons, printed for Debreti, p. 31