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PROCEEDINGS IN PARLIAMENT.
HOUSE OF LORDS, Dec. 20. The Bill for regulating the labour of children in cotton manufactories, went through a Committee; the Bp. of Chester speaking in its support; and Lords Grosvenor, Lauderdale, and Holland, against it.
The Seditious Meetings Prevention Bill likewise went through a Committee. Several amendments, after short discussions on each, were negatived, without a division.
In the Commons the same day, Mr. J. Smith presented a petition from a great number of the London booksellers and publishers against the Newspaper Stamp Duties Bill. The petitioners stated themselves to be engaged in publishing in num. bers standard works, on history, astronomy, divinity, and all other subjects, with the exception of politics and the occurrences of the day, against the sale of which last mentioned books they took bonds from their agents. They had upwards of 1,000,0001. of capital embarked in this branch of trade, and it afforded the only means of support to several thousand persons-A petition was also presented against the same Bill from Henry Fisher, printer. The petitioner stated that he had upwards of 70,0001. embarked in various establishments at Birmingham, Liverpool, London, and other places, and that he ap. prehended total ruin to himself and the numerous persons in his employment, from the Bill in question, should it pass into a law. Mr. Birch presented a petition against the same Bill from the Liverpool printers and booksellers.
Mr. Dugdale presented a petition from the Birmingham booksellers; Mr. W. Smith one from the Bristol booksellers and printers; and Mr. Bernal one from those of London, against the Libel Bill.
The House in a Committee of Supply, voted 250,000/. on account of the ordnance estimates.
Mr. Grenfell wished to know what reduction was to be made at the Royal Military College.
Lord Palmerston expected that a reduction might be made in the junior branches to the amount of 27,000l. a year.
Mr. Hume observed that the institution gave the army 25 officers a year, educated at the enormous expence of 10331. each. The Report was then gone through, and agreed to.
Lord Castlereagh moved the order of the day for the House going into a Committe on the Newspaper Stamp Duty Bill. On the question for the Speaker leaving the
chair, the Bill was opposed by Mr. Maedonald, Mr. J. R. S. Graham, Mr. Marryat, Mr. Denman, Mr. Abercrombie, Mr. G. Bennet, and Alderman Waithman; and supported by Mr. Dickenson, Mr. Serjeant Onslow, Mr. Bankes, Mr. Wilmot, and Dr. Phillimore, on grounds urged pro and con. in the course of the previous discussions,"
Mr. J. Wharton inquired, when there happened to be five or six booksellers in one firm, if, upon a second conviction for libel, banishment should be the punishment, was the whole firm to be banished (a laugh), or was the eldest partner, or the first man in the firm, to be banished, the rest being allowed to carry on the bu siness? To this question no answer was returned.
The question for the Speaker's leaving the chair was then carried, on a division, by 222 to 76.
The House having gone into the Committee, Mr. Marryat objected to the recognizance provision, as tending to the utter ruin of publishers in a small way of business, and moved an amendment to leave out the words " together with two or three sufficient sureties." Several Members observed, that the clause, as now worded, would apply to papers for charitable purposes, play-bills, shipping-lists, stock-lists, &c.
The Attorney General, Lord Castlereagh, and Solicitor General, opposed Mr. Marryat's amendment, which was supported by Mr. Alderman Waithman, Mr. Macdonald, Sir W. De Crespigny, and others. The amendment was then negatived, on a division, by 202 to 82.
An amendment to the clause, enabling justices to bind persons charged with libels to "good behaviour," was negatived, on a division, by 129 to 9.
Several other amendments, proposed from the Opposition side of the House, were negatived without a division,
On the motion of the Attorney General, a clause was agreed to, giving to indiviIduals who became bound as securities for publishers, a power of withdrawing their liability, on sending 20 days notice to a commissioner of stamps or to the stampoffice. Clauses were also agreed to, exempting from the operation of this Bill proclamations, acts of state, votes printed for either House of Parliament, Acts of Parliament, books commonly used in the schools of Great Britain, books of devotion, piety, or charity; daily accounts of goods imported or exported within the bills of mortality, provided they contained no
other matter; price currents, the state of the markets, and circumstances respecting the arrival and sailing of merchant vessels.
HOUSE OF LORDS, Dec. 21. On the third reading of the Seditious Meetings Bill, the Earl of Liverpool moved an amendment, fixing the time of meeting to twelve at noon; and another, qualifying the obstruction justifying a dispersion of the meeting by the word "forcible." Both these amendments were agreed to. One by Lord Ellenborough, compelling magistrates, in case of dispersion from casual obstructions, to re-assemble the meeting in forty-eight hours, was negatived.-Lord Liverpool then moved that the Bill do pass. Lords Erskine and Darnley repeated their objections both to the principles and the details of the measure.-Lord Ellenborough approved of the measure as a whole, though he had been anxious to soften some of its provisions.-Lord Grosvenor said he presented a petition from the city of West minster against the Bill; but after some discussion, contented himself with generally expressing his hostility to the Bill.
Lord Blessinton condemned the extension of the measure to Ireland, and predicted that, if put in force there, it would produce tumult and bloodshed. He accused the late Mr. Pitt of having violated his promise of Catholic emancipation, given at the time of the Union; and concluded with giving notice, that after the recess he should move for a Committee to
inquire into the state of Ireland.-Lord Liverpool reminded the Noble Lord that Mr. Pitt had distinctly disavowed having ever given any such pledge to the Catholics. The Noble Lord should recollect that this country bad taken on itself the burden of the Irish debt, and that the people of Ireland had paid nothing towards the property tax.
In the Commons the same day, Mr. Vansillart, with the leave of the House, brought in a Bill for the better securing of the money of suitors in the Court of Chancery. It provides for the appointment of an accountant-general and two masters, to be paid out of the fund called the dead money. The Bill was read a first time.
Mr. R. Wilbraham said much mischief had resulted in Lancashire and the neighbouring counties from a rumour that Government intended to apply the funds of saving and friendly societies to the pay. ment of the national debt. He mentioned it, only for the purpose of its being contradicted from official authority.
Mr. Vansittart most willingly gave the contradiction required. The Government could not in any way touch the funds alluded to.
Mr. Vansittart said he saw no reason for
thinking there would be any necessity for varying in any material point from the financial plan of the last session.
Mr. Calcraft and Sir W. De Crespigny feared the expectation of the right hon. gentleman would prove fallacious.
Lord Nugent moved for a return of the from the list of Chelsea out-pensioners by number of persons liable to be struck off reason of the proclamation of the 28th of October last.-Lord Palmerston opposed the motion-Lord Althorp, Mr. J. P. Grant, and Mr. Catcraft supported the motion, which was opposed by, Mr. C. Long, and negatived without a division.
Ou the question for agreeing to the Report of the Newspaper Stamp Duty Bill, Mr. Primrose opposed the measure, and Mr. Martin (of Galway) supported it. It adopted for the deposit of copies of works was then agreed to, and a new clause was affected by the Bill with the commissioners of stamps.
ing of the Libel Bill.
Lord Castlereagh moved the second read
moved that, instead of "now" it should be Lord Ebrington opposed the Bill; and read a second time on "the 15th of February next." The amendment was supported by Colonel Davies, Mr. W. Smith, Mr. J. P. Grant, Mr. Tierney, Sir J. Mackintosh, Lord Althorp, the Marquis of Tavistock, and Mr. Scarlett; and opposed by Mr. Money, Lord Castlereagh, the Attorney and Solicitor General, and Colonel Wood. On a division the amendment was nega tived by 190 to 79, and the Bill was read a second time.
the excellent character and conduct of the Catholic clergy, to which was owing, in a very great degree, the good order and tranquillity which generally prevailed in Ireland.
Mr. Maberley moved for several financial accounts, all of which, with some qualifications by Mr. Vansittart, were ordered, but three; the first being an account, showing how the sum of five millions, voted for the purpose of paying off the debt due to the Bank of England on the 5th of July, 1819, had been applied, distinguishing the dates of the different payments; the second, an account of all Exchequer bills received in payment of duties between the 1st of July and the 21st of December, 1819; the third, an account of all monies now in the Exchequer, appropriated or unappropriated, and distinguishing the one from the other. In resisting these motions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer urged the inconvenience which would arise from an inquiry into pecuniary transactions in progress, and the encouragement to stock-jobbing by partial and premature disclosures. With regard to the debt due to the Bank, a large part had been already paid, and funds were provided for the discharge of the whole within the stipulated period. He then stated the principal items in the revenue accounts to the 10th Oct. last, and maintained that, though there had been a falling off in the Customs, owing to the diminution in the exports and imports, the increased consumption of all articles under the Excise, whatever local distress existed, afforded a very favourable picture as to the general prosperity of the country. It appeared that the produce for the current quarter would be nearly equal to, or as large as that of any year he remembered, though there was the sum of 150,000!. short on the general account up to Saturday last. Looking to the state of the exchange, he was convinced that the sums of money sent to France for investment in the funds of that country, had been very inconsiderable; and the law of France, which made all property divisible in equal shares among children, notwithstanding any testamentary disposition to the contrary, would operate against any permanent investment of British capital in those funds.
Mr. Ellice contended, that there had been a considerable falling off of in the duties on teas. It had been rumoured, that the sum paid to the Bank in the last month had been 1,200,0001. and many siugular stories had been circulated as to the way in which that sum had been raised. It had been asserted that the money had been raised abroad, and that securities had been pledged for it which the British Government had in the French funds. The
whole sum raised by the new taxes was 250,0001.
After some further conversation, in which Mr. Lushington, Mr. Grenfell, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Tierney, and others, took part, the motion relative to the repayments to the Bank was negatived without a division.
On the motion respecting Exchequer Bills, a suggestion by Mr. Vansittart to limit the account to the 10th of October not being acceded to, a division took place, when it was negatived by 90 to 30. The motion respecting the monies in the Exchequer was withdrawn.
Lord Castlereagh moved the third reading of the Newspaper Stamp Duty Bill. Mr. Bernal and Mr. G. Lamb argued generally against the measure, and especially against the provision that publishers should enter into recognizances. The latter intimated that he should propose a rider, limiting the duration of the Bill. Mr. Pryce, Mr. J. Smith, and Mr. Calcraft also opposed the Bill, and Mr. Cooper supported it. The motion was then carried, without a division, and the Bill having been read the third time, Mr. Bernal, in the absence of Mr. G. Lamb, proposed a clause, by way of rider, limiting the duration of the Bill to one year. The motion was opposed by Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Canning, Mr. Plunket, and the Attorney General; and supported by Sir J. Mackintosh, Mr. Brougham, Mr. Denman, Mr. Tierney, and Lord A. Hamilton. On a division it was negatived by 182 to 47.
On a motion of the Attorney General, a clause was adopted, providing "that any thing in the present Bill should not extend, or be construed to extend, in the publication of any work in parts or numbers, provided that more than two years had elapsed since the original publication of the work, and provided also that such work had not originally been published in parts or numbers." This clause was carried without opposition. The Bill was then passed.
Mr. Lyttleton brought in a Bill to prevent improper persons practising as con
Lord Castlereagh moved the order of the day for the House going into a Committee on the Libel Bill.
On the question for the Speaker's leaving the chair, Mr. Bernal, Mr. Denman, Mr. J. P. Grant, and Mr. Birch, opposed the measure, both in its principle and details. It was supported by Mr. R. Martin, Mr. Bankes, and Lord Binning. The motion was then carried without a division; and the House having gone into a Committee, Sir J. Mackintosh proposed that the part of the first clause which set forth, "That from and after the passing of this
Act, in every case in which any verdict or judgment by default shall be had against any person for composing, printing, or publishing, &c." should be amended, by inserting the words "maliciously and advisedly" before the word "composing." These words formed part of the Act of the 36th Geo. III. which in all other parts of the present Bill were minutely followed. He objected to that part of the clause following the words blasphemous and seditious libel, viz. "tending to bring into hatred or contempt the person of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the Regent, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom, as by law established, or either House of Parliament, or to excite his Majesty's subjects to attempt the alteration of any matter in church or state, as by law established, otherwise than by lawful means," &c. as being vague and confused surplusage, if intended merely as a definition of seditious libel, and as not being sufficiently clear and comprehensive, if intended as a description of an additional class of libels. This passage he proposed to amend by substituting the words "or any seditious libel, tending to excite his Majesty's subjects to do any act which, if done, would, by the existing law be treason or felony; or any libel in which it shall be affirmed or maintained, that his Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, has not, or ought not to have full power and authority to make laws binding on his Majesty's subjects in all cases whatsoever." By this definition instigations to murder, assassination, and other atrocious offences not touched in the original clause, would be brought under the operation of the Bill. But its great advantage would be, that it would distinguish between the casual errors, resulting from the warmth of political feeling, in the conductors of the regular daily press, and that class of writers, the outcasts of the human race, who applied themselves exclusively to preaching up irreligion, murder, rapine, the proscription of whole bodies of men, and the perpetration of atrocities never known in this country before, and scarcely even beard in the time of Marat, in the worst period of the reign of terror in France. He then panegyrized the conduct of the daily press in general, and particularly that of the Editor of a Morning Paper, who, though on the side of opposition for 37 years, had never been prosecuted for private slander, nor convicted of a political libel. The conductors of the daily press had been the most effi cient supporters of the nation's interest during the late common contest in which we had been engaged; and none had exerted themselves with greater energy and
effect against the individuals whose inflam matory productions it was the object of the Bill to suppress. Why then were they to be levelled with a set of ruffians, whom they had been the first to combat and defeat. He would not on this occasion appeal either to the mercy or the justice of the House: he would appeal to its prudence, and would ask them whether it was expedient to irritate the feelings of those respectable men against the institutions of their country: for in the present state of society-against which it was as useless to repine as against the planets in their course, since neither could be altered-it was impossible that the power of the press could be wrested from them. The House might alienate or conciliate them; but he must again repeat, that it could not destroy them. The Hon. and Learned Member concluded by proposing his first amend
Mr. Canning objected to any alteration in the clause, except by such an amendment as might include instigations to assassination. In much of what had been said on the daily press he concurred, but he would not consent to surrender the freedom of Parliament to the freedom, or rather the despotism, of the press-a power which, from the description given of it, acted with all the secrecy of a Venetian tribunal, and at the same time struck with all the certainty of the Holy Inquisition.
Lord Folkestone spoke generally against the provisions of the Bill.
Sir J. Mackintosh and Mr. Canning explained.
Mr. Brougham, in supporting the amendment, condemned the appointment of Mr. Manners, the Editor of that most slanderous publication the Satirist, to a consulship in New England.
Lord Castlereagh said, when the appointment took place, he (Lord C.) was not aware that Mr. Manners had ever been connected with the publication alluded
Mr. Scarlett supported the amendment.
The Attorney General opposed it, and contended, that in the 36th Geo. III. the words "maliciously and advisedly" referred to words spoken.
Sir J. Mackintosh maintained that it ap-plied to priuting and writing, as well as speaking.
After some further discussion, the amendment was negatived without a division, and the cause was agreed to.
On the motion of the Attorney General, the clause relative to the punishment of a second offence was verbally amended, so as to prevent the bill from having an er post facto operation.
The Attorney General then proposed to amend the clause, by authorizing the court to banish for "a term of years,"
thus doing away the power of banishing for life.
Sir J. Mackintosh said this was only a more insidious way of enabling the court to do the same thing.
Mr. W. Smith thought the longest duration of banishment should be for seven years.
Lord Castlereagh dissented from this proposition.
Mr. G. Lamb observed, that the present Ministers thought banishment a mild punishment. Those of Queen Elizabeth bad a different opinion, when they enacted ba aishment as a punishment of greater seveverity than setting a culprit in the stocks, cutting off both his ears, branding him on the forehead, and making him a slave for two years. The Committee then divided on the whole of the clause, when it was carried by 109 to 30.
The rest of the clauses being gone through, the House was resumed, and the Report received.
Mr. Alderman Heygate moved for leave to bring up a clause, limiting the duration of the Bill to three years. The motion was seconded by Mr. Denman, and opposed by Lord Castlereagh, and negatived without a division.
The Libel Bill, after some observations against it by Sir R. Wilson and Sir H. Parnell, was passed.
Mr. Irving presented a petition from certain merchants and bankers in London, setting forth the general distress of the commercial and manufacturing classes, praying for an inquiry into its causes, and that such relief should be granted as might be deemed most effectual. Mr. Irving stated that the petitioners wished the atteation of Ministers to be directed to the removal of the numerous restrictions on our intercourse with foreign countries. The shipping and mercantile interests might, it was supposed, be let in for a share of the trade between China and the continent of Europe, which was at present almost exclusively in the hands of the Ame. ricans. In the progress of the Bank towards the resumption of cash-payments, it was conceived that it would be of great advantage to the commercial interest to have the first price at which the bullion was to be issued extended over the whole payments. No relief could be looked for from a revision of the corn-laws, or an alteration of the poor-rates; nor could he agree to Mr. Ricardo's plan of paying off the national debt, in which, so far was there from being any novelty, that it had been repeatedly suggested and discarded within the last 100 years.
Mr. Grenfell expressed his surprize at the presenting of such a petition on the
eve of a long adjournment. It was represented to some of the parties applied to to sign it, as having come from Lord Castlereagh. He conceived the real secret of the petition was, that it was wished to get rid of the late regulations respecting the currency, which had crippled speculations in the funds and over trading.
Mr. Irving and Mr. J. Smith denied that the petitioners had any sinister or selfish motives in view.
Mr. Ricardo deprecated any alteration in the regulations made last Session for the resumption of cash payments. He conceived much evil had resulted from the corn-laws; inasmuch as by raising the price of subsistence they increased the reward of labour, and diminished the profit of capital, thereby occasioning its transfer to other countries. He saw no reason to change his opinions as to the beneficial operation of a tax on capital, to be applied towards the reduction of the national debt.
Mr. Finlay admitted the respectability of the petitioners, but thought a Committee of Inquiry into the subjects of the petition would produce no good.
Mr. W. Douglas supported the petition. Mr. Brougham was in favour of inquiry; but to render it beneficial, it must be cordially supported by Ministers. Mr. Ricardo's plan for reducing the national debt was one which would have the effect of throwing all the property of the country, for five or six years to come, into the hands of solicitors, conveyancers, and fortune-hunters.
Lord Castlereagh was convinced, that to enter into so wide a field of inquiry would have the tendency to shake, and not to strengthen, the confidence of the commercial world; but if, on the re-assembling of Parliament, any Member should propose a specific remedy for any of the existing evils, Ministers would be found ready to meet the proposition fairly, and to act with a full view of their own responsibility. With regard to the currency, he deprecated any doubts as to the permanency of the arrangement already adopted.
Mr. Ellice regretted that the business of inquiry was not to originate with Ministers.
Mr. Alderman Wood said, that at least a dozen of the petitioners were favourable to the late regulations as to the currency.
Mr. Alderman Heygate had declined signing the petition, on account of its being couched in such general terms. The withdrawing of 9,000,000l. from the current circulation could not but produce much commercial embarrassment; but he believed that the greater part of the mischief had already taken place, and was convinced that trade and manufactures would revive as soon as the country clearly saw to what point the diminution in the value of our currency would extend.