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and it appeared to have been drawn up in a very irregular and informal manner; it purported to be a memorial and remonftrance to his Majefty's minifters, and to the Houfe of Commons: it charged the Company's government in India with being tyrannical; and delared that the tax against which it was levelled would operate not only as a check upon their trade, but also as a complete prohibition that would abfolutely deftroy it, and compel them to emigrate to fome other country, where they might carry on their bufinefs, which this ruinous tax would not fuffer them to purfue at home. The petition concluded with a prayer that the tax might be repealed. Mr. Dempfter faid, that, notwithstand ing the idea the petitioners entertained of this heavy impoft, it was no more than juftice to remark, that they had not once attempted to make any oppofition to the execution of the act by which it had been laid on.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer faid, that every member would unqueftionably wish to unite two things, the fupport of the dignity of the Houfe, and indulgence of the wishes of the petitioners. He wished therefore in rifing, not to oppofe the motion for bringing up the petition, but to call upon thofe members who were beft acquainted with parliamentary forms, for information on the fubject, in order that he might fee whether it was poffible to receive the petition, without violating the forms of the Houfe; for it was obvious that it had been drawn up by perfons little acquainted with the language of petition, or the forms of parliament.
The Speaker rofe to give his opinion on the fubject: he faid that there was no particular form prefcribed by the Houfe for the wording of petitions; and he remembered a paper to have been received as a petition, which was in its title, and in the body of it, called a memorial: there were, how ever, certain requifites with which the Houfe did not difpenfe: a petition must be directed to them; it must have an object, come from fome perfon or perfons, and contain a proper prayer:
if it had all thofe effentials, there could be no difficulty in point of form in receiving it.
Lord Mulgrave obferved, that the wifdom and policy of their ancestors had wifely made a standing order that no petition fhould be received againft a tax, while it was depending in the Houfe, because it was impoffible for human ingenuity to devife one, with which fome people in fome part of the kingdom would not find fault: but for his part he would be forry to fhut the door to the complaints of the people, when the objection lay only to the manner, and not to the matter of them: he should be forry that etiquette fhould ftand in the way between the people, and thofe to whom they were conftitutionally to look up as their natural guardians and protectors, for the redress of their grievances. This petition, it was true, contained some harth expreffions against the present parliament; but that was excufable, when it was confidered from what a diftant part of the country the petition came. The Commons might be forry that fuch expreffions were ufed, but it was impoffible that they could be angry with their conftituents: their anger might be well directed against thofe, who, by diftributing pamphlets among them, had fo grofsly reprefented to the people the conduct of their conftituents.
Lord North agreed with the Speaker, that the cuftom and practice of the Houfe required no particular form of words in petitions. He agreed alfo with thofe who thought that the fent petition had been drawn up by perfons little acquainted with the forms of parliament: this, he faid, appeared very ftrikingly from the remonftrance being addreffed to his Majefty's minifters, and to the Houfe of Commons: perfons better informed would have told them that it was not poffible there fhould be any connexion between the minifters of the crown and the parliament. [Here the irony produced a loud laugh.] Such an idea, however, was pardonable enough in induftrious weavers, who, poor people, might, from their great diftauce from the ca
pital, not know, that whatever there might have been in former parliaments, there was not a fhadow of ground for believing the King's minifters had the least connection with the prefent one. From the fame mistaken notion, thefe twelve thousand induftrious men were weak enough to imagine that the provifions made by the prefent parliament, for the better government of India, did not tend to render it lefs tyrannical than it was before: but this erroneous opinion was equally excufable with that which they had formed with refpect to the confequences the new tax would bring upon their manufactures; a fubject of which they must in the nature of things have been fo very incompetent a judge, that no doubt they had taken up the idea of oppofing it, not from their own knowledge of their manufacture, but from the pamphlets that had been diftributed among them, for the fole purpose of misreprefenting parliament, and libelling his Majefty's minifter! As to the petition then under confideration, he was of opinion, that as it contained all that was abfolutely requifite, it ought to be received, notwithstanding the informal manner in which it was drawn up.
Mr. Burke begged leave to fay a few words in fupport of a petition that came from a city with which he had the honour in fome degree to be connected (as Lord Rector of the Univerfity.) He then purfued the line of irony drawn by Lord North, and concluded, by faying that the petition had his hearty concurrence.
The queftion was at length put, and carried without oppofition. The petition was then read by the clerk; and on the motion of Mr. Dempfter, an order was made that it should lie on the table. SIR ELIJAH IMPEY'S RETURN TO INDIA.
Mr. Burke begged leave to repeat a queftion that he had put to the Treafary bench a few days ago, but to which he had not been able to obtain a fatisfactory anfwer. The queftion was this: "Whether Sir Elijah Impey was preparing to return to India with the knowledge and approbation of his Majesty's minifters, to refume the of
fice of Chief Juftice of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal."
Mr. Dundas, in anfwer, faid, that for his part he could not tell whether Sir Elijah Impey was preparing to return to India, or not; he believed Sir Elijah himself could give the mott fatisfactory anfwer on that head. But if the right honourable gentleman wifhed to know whether any steps had been taken to inquire into the conduct of that judge, in the administration of his office, he believed he could give him a fatisfactory anfwer, when he fhould tell him, that fteps had actually been taken for that purpofe; that the enquiry was not as yet concluded; and, therefore, as he could not yet forefee what would be the decifion on that fubject, he had it not in his power to fay, that Sir Elijah Impey would, or would not return to India, as Chief Judge of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Burke faid the anfwer was perfectly fatisfactory; for he could not fuppofe that Sir Elijah Impey would fet out for India, while an enquiry into his conduct was pending before his Majefty's minifters. Here ended the bufinefs of the day; and at five o'clock the Houfe adjourned to Monday. Monday, February 7.
The order of the day being read for leave to bring in a bill for the importation of bread, flour, and live cattle into Newfoundland,
Mr. Eden rofe, and obferved it was very far from his intention to enter into the contents of the bill, or to raise an oppofition against it; he had ftood alone when he delivered his fentiments on it on a former occafion, nor fhould he regret doing fo in the prefent inftance, if it did not appear to others to have the fame tendency which it did to him; it was a measure, however trifling on its first appearance, of a very extenfive nature, and he only wifhed gentlemen would confider it agreeable to its vaft importance; there were many points on which he might expatiate, but as his motive for rifing was not for the purpofe of contention, he fhould confine himself, as much as poffible, and purpofely omit alluding to what had been already faid on the fubject; the title of the bill was what
he now objected to, and he doubted not the honourable gentleman who had moved for its introduction would fee its impropriety, and if the bill was neceffary, bring it forward with a title more comprehenfive of what he trufted was, at least, he was fure, ought to be the principle of it. This bill was to permit the British built fhips, belonging to his Majesty's European dominions, to import the produce of the American colonies into Newfoundland, under certain reftrictions; now, it was certainly plain that this bill was to grant what was prohibited at this moment, or it was not. If the importation was not prohibited now, then the paffing of it into a law was of no confequence, but if it was, it would not only be infringing on thofe laws already in being, but of material injury to the commerce of the mother country; every author he had read on the fubject admitted the right of the mother country to monopolize the trade of her colonies to herself; every ftate made it a practice, and ever had done fo; that this permiffion of importing the produce of the American itates into our colonies had not the increase of our commerce for its object, was very plain, from fo infignificant a place as Newfoundland being made choice of, where there were scarce ten thoufand inhabitants, and to which our trade was fo very inconfiderable; had that been the cafe, furely the permiffion would have been extended to Nova Scotia, Canada, and all our Weft-India islands, who are in the fame predicament, have an equal right to our indulgence; and if any advantage was to have accrued from it to trade, the mother country might then have had fome chance of reaping the benefit.-The bill, perhaps, intended that all our colonies fhould be included; but then undoubtedly the title ought to exprefs as much; and if it did not intend fo, then it was making a difference highly reprehenfible. He begged not to be understood as fupporting a measure for granting the importation of the produce of any country into our colonies; no, it, ever had been reftricted to the mother country, and he was of opinion it ought to be conti
nued fo; because by fuch a permiffion at any rate, we should be giving a very great advantage to America, without a profpect of a fingle benefit in return; at a former period, a commercial intercourfe with America was conceived of fuch great importance and immediate concern, that a gentleman (Mr. Hartley) had been difpatched off, even while that Houfe was debating on the fubject, to complete a treaty for that purpofe; it was then urged, the trade with America is of fo great a concern, we cannot wait for the figning the definitive treaty; we muft open a commercial intercourfe with them immediately; but Mr. Hartley found it a talk that was not fo eafily executed, and he returned as he went; however, a right honourable friend of his then coming into adminiftration, and who for the fake of this country, he regretted not to fee in that place at this time, brought in a bill, for the purpofe of opening that trade, granting to his Majesty the to his Majefty the power of extending the provifions by proclamation, as he and his council might fee convenient. This the gentlemen now on the Treafury bench greatly objected to at the time, but had, however, thought proper to have renewed feveral times fince, not having been able to this time to conclude a commercial treaty with the United States-for thefe, among many other reasons, which the honourable member went into at large; (but which being principally allufions to different acts of parliaments, we shall omit entering into, as they would be as unentertaining to our readers and as difficult for us to purfue) he concluded by moving the order of the day should be discharged.
Mr. Jenkinfon followed, and replied to many of the arguments of the right honourable member; he faid, that having formerly had a feat at a certain board, he could fpeak more fully to the occafion for introducing the prefent bill than it would perhaps otherwife have been in his power. The fcarcity of provifions at Newfoundland had been fo great, that the fishermen could not afford to purchase them, their profits not being adequate to their expences; of courfe, to pre
ferve the trade, it was neceffary fome method fhould be taken for their relief. During this scarcity, fome veffels entered the port with live ftock, flour, &c. from the American colonies; from this circumftance the governour found himself in a perplexed fituation, for though the penalty of carrying commodities from one British fettlement to another was confifcation, yet the Thirteen States being divided from the mother country, he doubted whether he should be justified in making a reprifal of them, and taking the beft advice he could procure, he thought it moft prudent not to moleft them; it was not, however, from this decifion of the governor that he drew his opinion of the law refpecting the prohibition; but admitting he had done wrong, it was requifite in fuch a cafe fome fteps fhould be taken for his juftification, and by way of preventing a fimilar difficulty from arifing, a bill fomething like the prefent was abfolutely neceffary; he could not fee that the trade of this country was in the leaft likely to be injured, as the importation was ftill to be carried on in British built fhips, nor did he fee the neceffity of including Canada or Nova Scotia, as, fo far from their being in want of the fame articles as Newfoundland, they were rivals of the American states in the exportation of them; as to the infringement upon the laws for prohibiting the conveyance of the produce of one colony to the other, and for fecuring the fupplying them with every article to Great-Britain, it was nothing more than had already been done by the bill and proclamation which the honourable member had alluded to; as to thofe general refriction laws, which were frequently mentioned on thofe occafions, he did not believe any fuch existed; thofe refpecting the British colonies were well known, but America was now become independent, and certainly entered our ports in the fame fituation, and under the fame regulations only, as thofe from any foreign ftates with whom we traded-if they chofe, therefore, to trade with Newfoundland, they would be neceffitated to comply with
the regulations, our own merchants would be ftill left to do the fame if they thought it their advantage; he did not admit that every mother country had monopolized the exporting into her colonies; the French WeftIndia iflands traded with each other, and fo much were they benefited by it, that our islands in that part of the globe, in the year 1705, petitioned parliament that they might be permit ted to enjoy the fame advantages; this had been frequently agitated in that Houfe; it had been allowed them; then a duty was laid upon the different articles, which duty had fometimes been carried fo high as to act as a prohibition, at others, it was fuffered. to be very low, parliament however had always been on one mind refpecting it, and had never differed on the fubject; other countries had likewise been obliged to grant particular indulgencies to particular places; every state, in making treaties had their peculiar object in view, and it was neceffary, for the mutual advantage of each other, that they fhould acquiefce; and fuch undoubtedly would be the cafe previous to the figning a commercial treaty with America: after dwelling fome time on the nature of the treaties which had been entered into by the different ftates, he reverted back to the bill in queftion, and declared, the title appeared to him to be a very proper one, and fully adequate to the purpose intended.
Lord North, in a very able manner, controverted many of the pofitions laid down by the laft honourable fpeaker, refpecting the general reftriction laws, and defended the right every mother country had to the monopoly of the trade of its colonies; and in fupport of his argument, he inftanced the meafures adopted by Spain, Portugal, &c. He defended the palling the act for opening the trade with America, but infifted the prefent bill could not poffibly answer the intended purpose, as no officer would permit veffels to unlade, unlefs they could produce a certificate of their being British bottoms, cleared out according to law with proper cockets, &c. The officer,
on their entrance into port, would naturally afk, "Where is your certificate?" "I have none.""Where is your docket as proof of your cargo being as you report ?"-" I have none, I belong to the American ftates.". What does your officer know of the American ftates? He knows the reftrictions of the navigation laws; he knows no fhip has ever been permitted to unlade without producing proper inftruments; nor can he, in his official capacity, know any thing beyond the laws he has ever been guided by; he will, of courfe, prevent their difpofing of their cargo, although he may doubt whether he will be juftified in making a reprifal of it. His lordfhip then obferved, the introducing this bill appeared to him as merely preparatory to the bringing forward many more; for if this paffed, it would undoubtedly become neceffary to have one for the Weft-Indies, one for Nova-Scotia, one for Quebec, and one for Canada. It had been faid that Nova Scotia and Canada were rivals of the American colonies in what they exported; that might or might not be the fact, but as lumber was the principal article they exported, what confumption could the honourable framer of this bill fuppofe there would be for it in Newfoundland? If trifling, which was certainly the cafe, then what advantage would it be to America? a mere nothing; therefore this bill would moft clearly deprive the mother country of a benefit, and of a very great benefit to thofe who traded there, without her having the advantage of faying to thofe ftates, I have already done your commerce a fervice, even to the detriment of my own countrymen; for the confumption would be found too infignificant to attract their notice, from the multiplicity who will fhare in it, although of confequence here, because confined to a few. It is in the Weft-Indies where their exportation commodity is confumed, and where alone its free importation could be of any ufe; but, previous to fuch a measure, would it not behove gentlemen to confider maturely, and to determine cautioully upon a matter, which
appeared to him of the greatest importance to the trading part of this com munity. The honourable gentleman had faid that parliament had always been of one opinion, refpecting the
intercourfe betwixt our own WeftIndia colonies; but happening to have been a member of that House at a time fome of thofe acts had paffed, he fhould not hesitate to declare, that he had heard fome of them loudly and largely debated againft. His lordship thought, that at this particular period, minifters ought to be very circumfpect and cautious in making any commercial arrangements; for he believed there were not lefs than five commercial treaties to be determined upon, in a very fhort time: there was one with France, another with Spain, a third with Portugal, a fourth with Ruffia, and, as he had heard nothing to the contrary, minifters would forgive him if he concluded there was to be a fifth with America. Another circumftance the title of the bill obliged him to allude to; and here he hoped adminiftration would perceive the tender ftring they had touched upon, and treat it with that caution its delicacy required. We had now a great neighbour and a jealous fifter; and as our interefts were mutual, he ardently wifhed care might be taken to preferve our friendfhip inviolate, and that by no unguarded inattention her jealoufy might be alarmed; the title of this bill was for laying a reftriction upon all British built veffels trading to Newfoundland from his Majefty's European dominions; here Ireland certainly was included; and might they not, if fuch a bill were to pass, fay that the British parliament, notwithstanding they have declared themfelves they have no power over us, are ftill making laws for the regulation of our trade; this, in his opinion, was a point that deferved the attention of administration, and upon which the Irish parliament might think they had a right to be confulted; the paffing of fuch a bill as that which was now propofed to be brought up, appeared to him to be of fo much confequence, by being fo comprehenfive in its effects, that he