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state a situation in which we can be justi- | dependence in this House, by giving to fied, in refusing to lend our services to the the electors the power of rejecting those public, and to this House: the position, who might appear to them to have achowever, which I lay down, and which I cepted employment, on dependent prinmust prove to the satisfaction of the ciples. By the abuse of the times, this House, is, that there are situations in has been long since perverted to very difwhich, so far from acting dishonourably ferent and unconstitutional purposes; for or unworthily, a member would justly de- it is under this Bill, that members, wishserve both these imputations, did he noting to vacate their seats, solicit the favour avail himself of every legal means of di- of the minister. As this is the first time vesting himself of his trust. Need I, Sir, that I have named the minister, I owe it remind this House, of the instances we to myself to declare, that in this motion I daily see, of the old members, to whose disclaim all personal attack; it is founded services and attentions we have been so on a great constitutional line, without conmuch obliged, exhausted in their attend- veying any reproach to the noble lord at ance on this House; they may feel them- the head of the Treasury; should I, thereselves unequal to their eager wishes, in fore, have occasion (which I am persuaded performing the duties incumbent on their I shall not) to quote cases, in which this station; the vigour of their mind impaired, courtesy of the minister has been refused, the strength of their constitution sacrificed I shall confine myself to instances in a more to their services, what must be their wish? remote period. To remedy this evil, it Ripe in years, and ripe in honours, they is proposed, with the greatest deference wish but for a few tranquil moments, pre- to the opinions of this House, to enable paratory for the grave. A second situa- the members to vacate their seats, by sigtion may occur, in which a member may nifying their wish to the Speaker, under wish for any honourable means of vacating certain regulations. Nor, Sir, is this idea his seat; when called upon by motives of entirely new; it is a part of the ancient interest, conveniency, or perhaps nobler constitution of this House, which, I hope, motives, he may employ the power of his the following precedents, extracted from life in active foreign service, of a nature your Journals, will sufficiently prove. which may not vacate his seat under the [He here quoted a multitude of precepresent system. Will it not, Sir, embitter dents to prove, that, from the year 1575 those moments, perhaps otherwise happy, to 1609, it had been the invariable pracwhen he reflects, that the only return tice of parliament, to issue new writs in which he can make to the kind partiality the room of such as were sick, or on of his constituents, which placed him here, actual service.] is to deprive them, by his absence, of their share in the representation? Allow me, Sir, to name a third, which is, indeed, of a much more serious nature: let us suppose a member possessed of the qualifications requisite for the seat he takes; by accident, or indeed for provision for a helpless family, or for any other motive at his option, he may be reduced to part with that qualification; scruples of a conscientious heart may suggest to him the necessity of surrendering a seat, to which, in my construction of the Act, from that moment he can have no claim. I confess the case is not likely to happen; but as long as it is possible, I have a right to use it to my argument. Having, Sir, stated these three, out of a great variety of situations, where it is expedient and proper for a member to wish to divest himself of his trust, I shall, in a few words, state the only method which at present can be taken for these purposes. The Place Bill was originally meant as the great security to in

I should entreat the pardon of the House, for detaining them so long on the subject of precedents, were they not necessary to shew, that this motion, if it succeeds, will only bring our parliamentary constitution to its former system. I have not quoted many instances where seats have been vacated by foreign service; the reason is not from want of precedents, but from the too great abundance of them, which, to say truth, almost universally contradict each other on the face of your Journals. I stand, however, in the judgment of the House, who will, I doubt not, agree with me, that in these two situations the practice of ancient times has been invariable. I shall only trespass. further on the indulgence of the House, to consider shortly what may be the objections. The first will probably be, that it retrenches the prerogative of the crown. 1 will answer it in one word, that I know of no prerogative which can dispose so arbitrarily of a seat in this House. A second


an entire difference in the constitution of the House of Commons. That when the members received wages from their constituents, and the service of parliament was a burden people did not wish to bear, it might have been very improper to have given them such power of quitting their station; but that at present the case was altered, and so far from being a burden it was an honour every person wished for, and no sooner was a vacancy declared for any place, but fifty candidates were ready to start.

Mr. Welbore Ellis observed, that he al ways had a dislike to doing any thing which altered the constitution; that it was opening a door which would perhaps let in fresh innovations; that in the present instance no one had said in defence of the motion, that the present time called for such a measure, as the minister had been complimented on the readiness with which

may, indeed, be of a more serious nature : may be urged, that we fail in our duty to our constituents, by dissolving the great reciprocal tie between us; that from the moment of our return to parliament we are the indentured servants of the public. In answer to this objection, which is indeed on very delicate and tender ground, let me ask any hon. gentleman who uses it in argument, whether this consideration ever weighed one moment with any man, who wished to vacate, under the present system. The only difference then will be, that we shall be constitutionally authorized to adopt a measure, which at present we are forced to conceal under a false pretence, and by a mean evasion; and even this, Sir, is dealt out to us as a courtesy of government; and I appeal to the independent feelings of many who hear me, whether this consideration is not alone a sufficient reason for the present motion. It may be urged, that it is ill-he granted the Chiltern Hundreds; and timed. Allow me to say, that no time could be ever so opportune; and this argument I ground on the candor of the noble lord opposite to me. He has, as I am informed, (for I am but young in parliament) declared his resolution of never refusing this courtesy to any member, of any party. I will do him justice in supposing that he took that determination from the consciousness of the possible misuse of the power lodged in his hands. Whatever were his reasons, they will all operate strongly to determine him, to give that support to this motion, which I am sure he will, from knowing how much some future minister may misapply this power. I move, Sir, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable the Speaker of the House of Commons to issue his warrants, to make out new writs, for the choice of members to serve in parliament, in the room of such members as shall signify to him their desire of vacating their seats in this House, under certain regulations."

Lord Bulkeley seconded the motion, on the same principles.

Mr. De Grey opposed the motion; said he did not approve of it, and that the power should remain where it now is, of granting leave to vacate the seat.

Lord Folkestone observed, that the present constitution of vacating seats was not interwoven in it, but had crept into it of late years, by a strange perversion of an act of parliament; but that if even it had been of older date, yet the time had made

as that was the case, he could see no present necessity on speculative opinions to adopt a measure our forefathers had never thought of. He should agree to the mo tion if it could be shewn there was any necessity for such a Bill at this time.

Mr. Bayly said, he knew not whether he should be able to convince that right hon. gentleman who held so lucrative an office under government, but if the House would indulge him with leave to lay before them a few plain facts in which he himself was particularly concerned, he made no doubt but many other gentlemen would see the indispensible necessity of such a regulation as was intended by the present motion. He then informed the House, that though he had now the honour of being representative for Westbury, the place of his nativity, yet he had first offered himself a candidate for Abingdon, where being opposed by a gentleman who was sheriff for the county, he petitioned the House against his return, as being from his office ineligible; that the select committee, in conformity to the great trust reposed in them, declared the elec tion to be null and void; that the moment the determination of the committee was known, he resolved upon offering himsel again, as he was well assured that his interest in the borough was considerably strengthened since the last election; but before he set out, he consulted many of his friends in the House, to know whether he was likely to meet with any difficulty in vacating the seat he now possessed, and

[418 was assured by them all, that he need Lord North owned that he had written be under no apprehensions on that score, that letter, that if there was any blame in as the noble lord at the head of the Trea-it, it ought to be thrown on him, and he sury had declared to the whole House, on was censurable for it; that the power being other occasions, and particularly in the vested in him, he was certainly answerable case of colonel Luttrell, that he never did for the abuse of it. He then severely Doc ever would refuse any of the vacating censured the noble lord to whom he had places to any gentleman who should apply written that letter, and Mr. Bayly for profor them, whatever side of the House he ducing and reading it in the House, as a should happen to be on, and that this breach of common decency and confiwas his constant rule in such cases. In dence; however as there was nothing full reliance, therefore, on so ample a de- blameable in it he had no objection to the claration, especially from a minister who producing it. That he had made it a rule was so frequently boasting of his word in never to grant an opportunity of this nathat House, he posted away directly for ture to any person to oppose his friends. that borough, as no time was then to be That especially in the present case he was lost, his opponent having gone before, more averse to it, as at the general election and as soon as he got there, he applied to Mr. Mayor had the majority of votes, and the minister, through a noble friend of his was only rejected as being sheriff at the im town, for one of the vacating places; time. That there was all the reason to but to his inexpressible astonishment, an think that if he had set Mr. Bayly at lianswer was returned by the minister to his berty, it would only have been a vexatious noble friend, directly contrary to the above opposition. That he was not personally declaration; and as the letter containing known to Mr. Mayor, but then that genthat answer was not to be considered in a tleman had intitled himself to his friendprivate, but of a public and very interest- ship by shewing himself a strenuous suping nature, he begged leave to lay it be- porter of the honour and dignity of this fore the House. [Mr. Bayly then read country, in concurring with the present the letter, in which was contained the fol- American measures. He denied that he lowing paragraph; "I have made it my had ever made a promise to grant the constant rule to resist every application of Chiltern Hundreds to any member who that kind, where any gentleman entitled should ask for them. to my friendship would have been prejudiced by my compliance. Mr. Mayor would, therefore, have just occasion to complain of my conduct towards him, if I should make his case an exception to my general rule." Mr. Bayly, after having read this letter, made no comment upon it, as thinking none necessary; but only applied it to the subject in debate, by submitting it to the House, whether such an example from such a minister did not clearly demonstrate the necessity for the regulation proposed.*

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Mr. Fox said, he had doubts how to vote on the present question. That he did not approve much of opening a door to innovations in the constitution; but on the other hand, as the minister had shewn so declared a partiality for those who voted with him for American measures, if any thing he was inclined rather to bring in the Bill. He was severe on lord North's

"Downing-street, March 9, 1775. "My lord;

"It gives me great concern that I am not able to comply with Mr. Bayly's request. which I have excused myself from granting The cases have certainly been very few, in vacated offices to members of parliament; but I have made it my constant rule to resist every application of that kind, where any gentleman entitled to my friendship would have been prejudiced by my compliance. Mr. Mayor would, therefore, have just reason to complain of my conduct towards him, if I should make bis case an exception to my general rule. I trust in your lordship's equity, and in Mr. Bayly's, that you will think me well justified in declining to obey your commands upon this occasion, which I assure you I shall do with great plea sure, whenever it is in my power. I am, &c. "NORTH."

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friendship, which he observed he had eluded in the present letter, by calling it 66 persons entitled to his friendship."

Mr. Rigby urged how inconvenient it might be for members to have a power whenever they pleased, to desert the service of the House. He instanced the famous secession in sir R. Walpole's time, and observed, that if it had been in their power to have vacated their seats altogether, it might have been attended with the inconvenience of an almost general election; that if on any popular question the members of London and Middlesex were to vacate at once, even that might be attended with great commotion.

Mr. Burke ridiculed the notion of the danger that might accrue at a moment of discontent, if a whole party should resolve all at once to surrender their seats, and create a sort of general election; at the instant that men's minds were inflamed and agitated, it would, he said, be a strange and unheard of revenge upon a minister, for his enemies to put themselves to the expence, trouble and risk of new elections, and very different from the conduct of those who made the secession in sir R. Walpole's time, whose standing aloof might have drawn the public attention, and consequently have raised an alarm in the minister. He did not however run the whole line of the proposition, and seemed to own the inconveniences of leaving it to every man's own discretion to vacate his seat when he pleased: but thought it enough to leave a member at liberty concurrently with the possession of his seat, to offer himself at any other place, and then be permitted to make his choice for that place if he succeeded, just as was now done, and was done by himself in this parliament, being chosen for two places; which mode was, he seemed to think, liable to none of the inconveniences of every man's vacating at his own discretion; but as the progress of the Bil! would admit every man to offer such plan as he chose, in order to obviate the present mischief of a power in the minister to give undue preferences to his own friends and favourites, he declared strongly for bringing in the Bill, on the principle that lord North had laid down, as meaning to give it as a reward to those only who voted with him in the American measures. He said the House would not have borne at any time, and ought not to bear, that every minister would dignify his own measures with the honourable epithets of serving

the public. He was as severe upon, and as strongly reprobated the American measures as lord North had applauded them; and insisted that lord North in holding that language had held this out as one more douceur for, those who would support him in that ruinous and mad career of violence that tended to alienate the colonies.

Sir George Savile said, that in his opinion it would have been almost criminal in Mr. Bayly to have kept the letter secret. He had no knowledge of Mr. Bayly, but should hereafter greatly esteem his conduct in bringing the letter forward. It was not of a private but a public nature. He turned the arguments used by lord North and Mr. Ellis against themselves.

Lord John Cavendish, on the same side and nearly to the same purpose, thought Mr. Bayly could not dispense with secreting the letter.

Mr. Bayly had thought it his duty to mention to the House these facts: if lord North had granted the Chiltern Hundreds, there would have been another member for Abingdon.

Sir J. G. Griffin observed, that many arguments had been used by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Rigby) not very fairly he thought, to shew the improprieties of a Bill not yet existing; and which, if hereafter found in the Bill itself, might be very good reasons to urge for not passing it, but would be none in the present case. He should therefore be for introducing the Bill, to see if it could not be so framed as to remove the present inconveniences, without incurring greater.

Mr. Acland was for the question, but observed that the arguments of Mr. Rigby were so forcible, that unless obviated, he should perhaps vote against the Bill.

Colonel Barré, in a jocular manner, closed the debate. He observed, that though the noble lord had refused Mr. Bayly on his late application, yet he durst say that if he would now apply a second time, the noble lord would immediately give him the Chiltern Hundreds; he would not have the minority think this favour would be always granted to the friends of administration and denied to them; he remembered when it had been granted to the gentleman who sat next the noble lord (Mr. Wedderburn) and yet if that gentleman was now to apply for it, he had no doubt it would be denied him; that as the noble lord had declared the supporters of the present American measures to be those who were intitled to the noble lord's

The House concurring in sentiment, evidence was agreed to be called, and the names of the witnesses being proposed,

favours, he would propose to him an ac- | sessed of, previous to the commencement commodation they could have no objection of debates on the merits of the Bill. to, namely, that he should give all his valuable places, pensions, &c. to them, and those of little or no value, as the Chiltern Hundreds, to the opposition. He asked, was the letter marked confidential?' was it a private letter? It was not. The letter was of a public nature, and therefore the hon. gentleman was bound to read it. The House divided. The Yeas went

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Debate in the Lords on the Bill for restraining the Trade and Commerce of the New England Colonies.] March 15. Two petitions were presented against the Bill; the one from the corporation of London, the other from certain merchants and traders to North America, who conceived their interests likely to be affected by the operation of this Bill. After the sheriffs had presented the petition from the corporation of London,

The Marquis of Rockingham observed, with regard to the city petition, that it originated from a body, the members of which demanded every attention, on account of their official respectability. The petition of the merchants and traders, his lordship did not conceive stood in need of the collateral aid of oral evidence, which, however, was ready to be produced at the bar if the House deemed such evidence necessary. The general principles of the Bill he inveighed against, as so many glaring infringements on the constitution, and consequently fraught with every political evil to be apprehended from despo

tism in the extreme.

The Earl of Sandwich entirely dissented in opinion from the illustrious marquis, he wished that evidence might be called in Support of the allegations contained in each petition, for as he was confident that most of the noble lords present were either partially mistaken in, or wholly misunderstood the nature of, the American fishery, his lordship proposed on the part of the Bill to have such evidences called as in his opinion would elucidate the several facts, and communicate that species of information necessary for the House to be pos

Lord Camden delivered it as his opinion, that to save the House trouble, and afford every possible information to the members, each witness in support of the allegations contained in the petition of the North American merchants, should have such questions propounded to him by Mr. Barclay, who had signed the petitions, as he might think tended to throw light on the subject. Lord Camden observed, that the House of Commons had adopted this method, and as for his part he professed himself entirely unacquainted with the subject; he should be happy in having a sensible man propose such trading questions as might be most likely to obtain from the several evidences the information required.

The Earl of Suffolk declared, that what had fallen from the noble lord who spoke last, contributed more than any thing to confirm him in the vote he should give, for that the other House had permitted Mr. Barclay to question the evidence, was the very reason why he would wish to reprobate the adoption of a practice which stood unsupported by a single instance recorded in the Journals of the House. His lordship therefore was for having the questions proposed in the usual mode by the House.

Lord Camden retorted, that as prece dents, if good, merited every respectful attention, he sincerely hoped the House would not reject the adoption of a particular mode, merely because the Commons had thought fit to accept it in the examination of witnesses at their bar.

The Duke of Richmond was strenuous for finishing the altercation, by observing, that if the House really wished for information, the most likely method to obtain it, deserved the preference; and, in the noble duke's opinion, it would much better answer the proposed end, to have Mr. Barclay primarily propound the questions, than that that House should propose them at second hand. If, however, the latter method was agreed on, the noble duke was ready to acquiesce, although it would detain the members longer from that dinner, to which their hunger, betrayed in their petulance, stimulated them to repair.

The House rejecting the idea of Mr. Barclay propounding any questions to the

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