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and life in support of government. He next observed, that he remembered a gendiffered widely from the three worthy tleman in that House who rose in a very baronets; for he could solemnly affirm, haughty tone, and avowed his independthat his vote in parliament was never in- ence ; yet, upon further enquiry, this fluenced by any consideration but the same independent gentleman turned out merit of the several questions as they to be in possession of a private contract, arose.

which brought him in 30,0001. a year. Mr. Turner said, the present question He owned he suspected it at the time; and would prove the test of ministers and their it was that suspicion which led him to the friends in that House ; for it steered a discovery of the fact. He said, he was middle path. It did not merely exclude himself a contractor with the public; and contractors for being contractors in a fair, was actually entered into a contract with open, equitable manner; but for being twenty persons; [The Select Committee closet contractors, for being private plun- on the Public Expenditure of the public derers; for entering into a conspiracy money.] He did not know how he should with a corrupt administration to plunder get out of it, or rather, how he should die their country; and either share the spoil in it; not for fear of any personal violence, with the rest of the public conspirators, or but how he should get his dinner. He with some others more remote from na- then made several severe allusions to contional observation.

tracts and contractors, and insisted that Mr. A. Bacon said, he was a merchant, the public money had been shamefully and had honestly served an apprenticeship and traitorously lavished. He said, sup for seven long years to an eminent mer- pose a minister, during the recess of the chant; and when he had contracts, he Treasury board, should send for a confulfilled them fairly and honestly. He tractor, and give him a large contract, in had often voted' against ministers, and which the nation was to be plundered of voted for the repeal of the Stamp Act; 30 or 40,0001. or more; and suppose the he could not conceive why contractors Treasury board should meet after the said should be treated in so unbecoming, nay, recess; and that after this closet arrangecontemptuous a manner-as if they were ment the minister should, through neglect, monsters, and not fit for human society. forget, or purposely omit, to mention a

Sir Cecil Wray said, he always disliked syllable of this closet contract_suppose, I private contracts. The present motion say, not a single iota of the contract was not against the persons or charac- should be mentioned; surely this must be ters of contractors, but to prevent the foul a private contract with a witness; and the deeds imputed to ministers, and men sup- minister must be entitled to the public posed to be leagued together to rob the thanks of his country. public. The minister, if he considered Lord North replied, that the facts al. properly his own reputation and personal luded to would come before the House satisfaction, ought to support the motion properly authenticated, from the Select Those who wished to contract, on the Committee. He therefore wished gentleotber 'hand, would be relieved from all

men would suspend their opinions. He that obloquy, which necessarily follows said, if he had made any contracts, he the

present mode of serving the public, in had made them for the public benefit; a private manner.

and if they had turned out otherwise, it Colonel Barré said, contracts ought was not his fault; at least, whatever be to be open, and offered to the highest had done, he did for the best. bidder. “The gentlemen rise one by one, Lord George Gordon * said, that he

“ I am not influenced; I have voted sometimes one way, sometimes ano- * Lord George Gordon, son of Cosmother.” This, however, must be taken upon George, duke of Gordon, was born in London, the bare credit of the hon. gentlemen. I Dec. 19, 1750, and George the Second was have indeed observed, that gentlemen of his godfather. He early entered into the navy, this description, when Bills for laying but quitted it during the American war, in duties on ships going out or coming into consequence of an altercation with the earl of harbours, or to build or repair piers, or

Saudwich about promotion. Jo 1774 he was for passing light-houses, sometimes differ having been excited by the repeal of certain

elected member for Luggersball. An alarm from administration, but upon no other, penal statutes against the Roman Catholics in that I can recollect, during a very long 1779, lord George was cbosen president of the knowledge of this House. The colonel Protestant Association at London; and on the

and say,

was sorry to differ in opinion with the the noble lord; he had never spoke to noble contractor in the blue ribbon, the him; he had never the honour of being right honourable privy counsellor con- introduced to him; but he sincerely wished tractor, and the rest of the honourable him to save his country and his own life. contractors on the other side the House, He desired him to call off his butchers and who had delivered their sentiments in op- ravagers from the colonies; to retire with position to the motion. He took the the rest of his Majesty's evil advisers from liberty of rising to declare his hearty con. the public government, and make way for currence with the very respectable and honest and wiser counsellors ; to turn from eloquent members near him, who, with so his wickedness and live; it was not yet much power and persuasion, had delivered

too late to repent; the public clamour for to the House unanswerable arguments for revenge was not yet raised against him; giving their assent to bring in the Bill. his Majesty's troops were not yet totally That, having mentioned the noble lord as defeated in America. the head of the contractors, he would take Lord North denied that the proposi. the liberty of instancing one example of it tion the noble lord had alluded to was a in very few words to the House. He said, villainous proposition; and objected to the that noble lord was the greatest of all con- word villainous, as highly unparliamentary tractors; he was a contractor for men; a and improper. contractor for your flock, Mr. Speaker, Lord George Gordon replied, that he [addressing himself to the Chair] a con- retracted the epithet villainous, as an untractor for the representatives of the parliamentary expression; but defied the people; that noble Iord proposed to give noble lord, or any man, to deny the veraå place of 1,0001, a year, provided a city

year, provided a city of what he had related, and left it to noble duke would prevail on the most in- the breast of every member to apply an significant member in that House to vacate epithet more suitable to a treaty of that his seat in parliament. The noble duke nature, with brother for brother. behaved like a man upon the occasion ; The House divided : like a friend, like a brother; he rejected

Tellers. the villainous proposition that noble lord had the assurance to make. He then told

Sir P. J. Clerke

71

the House, he was not acquainted with

Noes
S Sir Grey Cooper

50 end of June 1780 went to the House of Com.

Mr. Bacon mons, to present their petition, attended by So it was resolved in the affirmative. about 60,000 of the petitioners. The dreadful consequences of this ineasure are well known,

May 1. The said Bill was brought in Lord George was imprisoned in the Tower, on the 9th June, and tried for High 'Treason, but and read a first time. The ministry did acquitted on the 4th Feb. 1781. On the 4th not oppose arguments to the Bill, but May 1786 he was excommunicated by the trusted to numbers ; but in this they were archbishop of Canterbury, for not appearing in disappointed; and lord North was again court as a witness in a cause. In Feb. and in the minority. For on the question June 1787 he was tried before the court of being put for the second reading, the King's-bencb, for publishing libels on the queen House divided : of France, the French embassador, and the

Tellers. empress of Russia; and also for a seditious pamphlet. Being convicted of these charges,

;} 72 he, on the 25th of June, went over to Holland, wbere he turned Jew, and was circumcised;

Lord Lisburne but, returning to England in August, he was NOES

:} 61

Mr. Robinson apprehended on the 7th Dec. at Birmingham; and on the 28th Jan. 1788 was sentenced to So it was resolved in the affirmative. imprisonment for five years, and to continue in gaol till he should find bail for his good be. May 5. The order of the day being haviour in 10,000!. Not being able to find read for going into a committee on the quired, this operated as a sentence of imprison- / Bill, the question being put, That the ment for life. In July 1789, he presented a

do the petition to the national assembly of France, and

Earl Nugent objected to the Bill upon was visited by several eminent revolutionists. two grounds. It appointed, that all conHe died 1st Nov. 1793 of a fever, attended with tracts, in which members or their agents delirium, in the 43rd year of his age.

were concerned, should be purchased by

Yeas {Mr. Turner

:}
:} 5

Yeas {Mr. Baker

auction, and yet government were not made of the public money. The noble bound by it to accept the offer of the lowest lord in the blue ribbon had declared, that bidder; therefore, he thought the Act he did not wish to see contracts given to would be nugatory. Contracts had been members of parliament : but his words in usage for many years, and were consi- and actions had not corresponded, as he dered by the wisest administration as the had shewn an extraordinary avidity to get wisest way of serving the public; it was, contracts into his hands, particularly one therefore, unfair that members of that for hiring ships; when he had stepped out House should be excluded from their of his own department into that of the share in a fair mercantile practice till it Navy-board, which was somewhat hurtful had been proved upon them that they had to the public, as the business had been made an unworthy use of the indulgence. always carried on there by public bidding, A committee was sitting, employed in the and no complaint had ever been made. examination of the contracts now in The noble lord told the House, that the existence. It would be prejudicing the Navy-board had excused themselves from contractors to do any thing against them this contract, as being too full of business. before the report from that committee was It was true they did refuse it; it was put to made. He could not suppose that con- them in a way to insure their refusal; the tracts created any undue influence in the noble lord wished them to refuse it, and House any more than sinecure places put the question to them as an old man (which, by the bye, he supposed no man puts a question to a fine woman, in making on either side of the House would agree her to say yes, and wishing nothing so to exclude); and the legislature, by to much as to have her say no. The noble lerating the latter, had determined it to be lord's wishes prevailed; and how did it no prejudice.

answer to the public? Why, one of these Sir P. J. Clerke said, the noble lord had ships carried out to America 100 wheelvery justly stated the principle of the Bill, barrows, one smith's forge, and a pair of which was to prevent any undue influence bellows, for which the nation paid 1,300.. in that House by members holding bene. The object of the Bill was to take care ficial contracts under government, and also that the public should not be defrauded to guard against an improper expenditure out of that money which they so liberally of the public money. If the conduct of granted to defend the nation ; and he the majority of that House for the two could not conceive that any member could preceding years was adverted to, there be so regardless of the interest of his conwould appear to be too much reason to stituents as to say they should be. He apprehend, that some improper influence therefore hoped that, for the honour and had prevailed; how else could it be ac- credit of the House, the Bill would pass. counted for, that great number of gen- Sir Edward Astley observed to the noble tlemen should uniformly pursue measures lord (Nugent), that though he might call of force and violence, should declare they it prejudging the contractors to enter on would never consent to a peace with Ame- the business before the House, till the rerica while there was

a ship that could port from the select committee was made, swim, or a soldier carry a musket? Others he assured him, as he was one of that declare they would bring them on their committee, that the report would suffiknees; others talk of starvation ; and every ciently prove the necessity of the Bill. one of those gentlemen, above two hun. The noble lord had thrown out a kind of dred, in one morning, in one half hour, all reflection on the House at large, by say. change their opinions, confess themselves ing they would not wish on either side to to have been in an error, and all adopt a preclude pensioners and placemen from new conduct, and submit to become sup- seats. He declared he, for his own part, pliants for that favour which, when they wished such a motion was made, as he had the power, they with so much haughti- would be happy if every placeman and ness refused to grant. Such a versatility pensioner was shut out, and he would of conduct could not possibly be ascribed zealously espouse such a motion. to a sudden general conviction ; no man Mr. iVombwell objected to the motion, with a grain of sense could imagine it was. because he believed putting up contracts When it has been already proved that one to sale, would be prejudicial to the public man got more than 35,0001. above the service. Men inadequate to the accomordinary profit on one contract, it was un plishment of the contracts, would at all necessary to say that an ill use had been times bid lower than men of ability and reputation, and they would do much more | ranks, but he trusted they would be a injury by serving the public badly, than | third time routed. The Treasury message the difference of expence. He had seen cards had been circulated upon this occainstances of it in the contracts of the East sion with rather too much notoriety; India Company, and those of so fatal a even the hour of appointment had come nature, that he could not agree to the to the ears of people not called on the ocmotion. Gentlemen unacquainted with casion. I twas cautiously done, however, to business, and of little consequence in the mention the hour, that the minister might eye of the public, might move for refor- not again, if he chose to oppose numbers mations in every department of govern- for want of argument to the question, be ment.

worsted. He hoped the Bill would pass. Mr. T. Townshend called him to order, Lord George Gordon. I rise to declare and said, a gentleman rises in his seat, my happiness in concurring with the very who holds a contract himself from govern- respectable baronet on the floor, who with ment, and in the assembly of the nation a laudable zeal for the credit of the House, dares to call the mover of a question, one has this day moved the commitment of the of the most independent members of the Contractors' Bill. It meets with my hearty House, a man of no consequence. He approbation, as being one of the many would give that hon. gentleman to under- steps absolutely necessary to be taken tostand, that the gentleman referred to, in wards regaining the confidence and respect better times than the present, merited a of the people to the privileges of parliaseat in that House, while others ought to ment. ''I confess, at the same time, it is stand at the bar.

an Herculean labour the hon. member has Mr. Wumbwell resented the insinuation, undertaken: for I think the cleansing king and after explaining what he had said, add- Augeas's stable from the filth and dirt ed, that the hon. gentleman had not made of 3,000 oxen, for the space of thirtya pertinent, but a very impertinent conclu- nine years, in the course of a day, was a sion from it. He explained his own con. mere play and pastime, compared to the tract to the House.

arduous task of restoring this House to its Earl Nugent observed, that the hon. ancient and original purity. Though the gentleman had meant no affront by the hon. baronet is not quite so strong as Herexpression. The House would remember cules, he is supported in his endeavour of he was a merchant, and a man of no con- to-day by truth, justice, and good policy: sequence' was a mercantile phrase, and which, added to his own abilities, with meant no more than a man unknown upon that great respect which every member in 'Change. [This created a laugh, and quiet- this House, as well as his countrymen at ed the House.]

large, entertain for his intentions to proSir W. Gordon condemned both sides of mote the welfare of the public, will, I the House, panegyrised both sides of the hope, induce a very great majority to apHouse, sided with neither side of the prove his present proposition. House. He had come into parliament with Sir, this dunghill of contracts has given a determination to be a patient hearer; an ill air to our whole proceedings. It his patience was exhausted, and he was has got wind abroad, and proves very ofdetermined to turn speaker. The conduct fensive to the public nostrils; our constiof the House was intolerable, he knew not tuents begin to smell a rat; they nose us where to place himself. If on the ministry in the lobby, and call us (with more truth, side, he should be called by the opposition I am afraid, than politeness) taylors and a pensioner; if on the opposition, he should shoemakers; colliers and cabbage-salters, be called by the ministry a factious man. potatoe-forestallers,sour-crout-makers, and The conduct of the House rendered his swine contractors. Our mace is tarnished opinion of mankind day by day worse; and with this dunghill; our authority choaked, yet he believed both parties voted from a and the dignity, reputation, and fair name principle of honesty, and a conviction of of the Commons are smothered, and sinkrectitude.

ing in porter and salted-cabbage, shoes, Mr. Byng observed, that the crowded sour-crout, and potatoes. Foh, Mr. Speakappearance of the House, no doubt, gave er! what a nauseous banquet have the the ministerial phalanx ground for hope, Treasury invited their friends from their that they would not be again defeated in pleasant gardens and villas in the country this favourite point. He knew what mi- to partake of in the month of May! An serable arts had been used to collect the hon. member (Mr. A. Bacon) one of the

Noes Mr. Elwes

most ancient contractors within these

Sir Cecil Wray

:}109 walls, and, as I am told, a considerable merchant in the city, has mentioned that So it was resolved in the affirmative. contracting in this House was the very The Bill was consequently lost. spirit of trade. So I believe it is; and the noble lord in the blue ribbon may possibly

PROCEEDINGS IN THE COMMONS ON find, when the day of trouble and adver- The Irish Trade Bills.*] April 2. sity shall arrive, that that very spirit of profit, which induced Inkle to sell Yarico, * " The distresses of Sreland had long been may tempt some few steady friends of his an object of regret, even with many of those prosperity to contract for, and furnish out who had no particular interest in that country. the black cloth and scaffolding at their

Witbout entering into the causes from which

these originated, it will be sufficient to observe, unhappy patron's execution.

that they bad grown to their present alarming Mr. Serjeant Adair said, he was cer

and deplorable state under the unhappy consetain, that among the merchants of Lon- quences of the American war; so that the don, many might be found as adequate to country became unequal to the support of that the execution of a contract as any mem- great establishment, with wbicb it had (perber of that House; yet he was sensible, baps too inconsiderately) encumbered itself, that in case of a competition he wlio had when the flourishing state of all other parts of a seat would be preferred; and this created the British empire, had diffused a considerable a fair conclusion, that contracts were be degree of prosperity even thither. This state neficial to the minister. He would wish consequences were said to be so urgent, that

of affairs became now so notorious, and the that a clause, however, were inserted into the ministers were at length convinced of the the Bill, preserving the present contractors necessity of paying attention to them; and of from its tendency; they had made their affording some immediate satisfaction to the treaties before its existence, and it ought feelings, if noi an entire redress to the grievnot to be of an ex post facto nature. He ances of that people.” Annual Register. recurred to what a noble lord said in the outset of the debate, that pensioners and throw much light on the subject of these Bills:

The following LETTERS will be found to placemen ought to be excluded, as well as contractors. He from his heart thought

Two LETTERS from Mr. Burke, to Gentleso, and was sincerely of opinion, that there men in the City of Bristol, on the Bills never would be an independent House of

depending in Parliament relative to the Commons until such an event should take

Trade of Ireland, 1778. place.

To Samuel Span, esq. Master of the Society Governor Pownall was for going into a

of Merchants Adventurers of Bristol. committee; because the sense of the Sir; I am honoured with your letter of the House had already been twice taken upon 13th, in answer to mine, which accompanied it, and a respectable majority having both the Resolutions of the House relative to the

trade of Ireland. times appeared in favour of it, he thought

You will be so good as to present my best there was an indecency upon a small ma

respects to the Society, and to assure them, jority to refuse sending the Bill to a com

that it was altogether unnecessary to rewind mittee.

me of the interest of the constituents. I have The question being put, That the Speak- never regarded any thing else, since I had a er do now leave the chair, the House di- seat in parliament. Having frequently and vided :

maturely considered that interest, aod stated Tellers.

it to myself in almost every point of view, I am

persuaded, that, under ihe present circumMr. Thomas Townshend

113

stances, I cannot more effectually pursue it, than by giving all the support in my power to

the propositions which I lately transmitted to Noes { Sir Grey Cooper Mr. George Onslow

:}115 the hall.

The fault I find in the scheme is, that it So it passed in the negative. It was falls extremely short of that liberality in the then moved, “ That this House will, upon cominercial system, which, I trust, will one this day two months, resolve itself into a day be adopted. If I had not considered the committee upon the said Bill.” The House present resolutions, merely as preparatory to divided :

better things, and as a means of shewing exTellers.

perimentally, that justice to others is not alGeneral Fraser

ways folly to ourselves, I should have con:}113

tented myself with receiving them in a cold and silent acquiescence. Separately considered,

Yeas {Mr. Byng

Yeas Mr. Bacon

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