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be too closely attended to, they effected no change nor modification whatever, without the aid of incontrovertible evidence, and the assistance of positive fact. They wisely lopped off whatever was proved to be superfluous, and they made reductions to the amount of many thousand pounds. To them were added savings by the commissioners of His Majesty's treasury, which were confirmed by the vote of parliament. But when they came to investigate the offices held under the exchequer, and proceeded to take into their consideration the nature of the tenure by which sinecure places were held, they did not think fit entirely to lop them off. The tellers of the exchequer, and 'several other offices, were retained and recognised by the resolution of parliament as necessary to be continued. Such was the opinion of the right honourable gentleman who proposed the reform, and such were the sentiments even of some gentlemen whom I now see over against me. A considerable reduction was then also effected in different offices of the customs, while some were entirely dropped ; and, with respect to subor. dinate employments, large additional savings were made. have now to observe, that in all these retrenchments, the House proceeded on the general and acknowledged principle of remuneration for public services which I have already stated; and of such weight was that principle, tirat even Mr. Burke himself, though animated with the most enthusiastic zeal to carry his plan into execution, was on every occasion ready to recognise not only the wisdom, but the necessity of adopting it. I maintain, Sir, that sinecure offices are given in the nature of a freehold tenure. Parliament has expressly said, they will respect them as freehold property: and if, in answer to this solemn declaration, it is urged, that parliament may rescind their former resolutions, I say they may, by a parity of reasoning, destroy every kind of property in the country. But to dwell-any longer on this kind of argument would be too absurd to merit attention; and I have only to observe, that we ought not to lose sight, even for an instant, of those grand principles which lead to, and are inseparable from, the administration of public justice. I repeat, Sir, it is my sincere and earnest wish that the House should ascertain the particular offices which may be paid beyond the duties annexed to them, and beyond the trust and responsibility which attach to them. But until that great and necessary measure takes place, you cannot proceed to retrench or to lop off.
I must once more entreat the attention of the House to the nature of the honourable gentleman's motion, and to the time in which it is proposed. The tendency of it is completely included in the instruction of which I have already given a general statement, and which I have given notice I should move for the direction of the committee, and it is brought forward at the very moment when a general investigation is set on foot with respect to the whole finance of the country, and with a view of ascertaining a plan for controlling the public expenditure. If therefore, Sir, it should be the opinion of the House to refer to the committee the subject of the honourable gentleman's motion, as part of the general enquiry with which it was intended they should be intrusted, it would be an easy matter, if the words of the instruction were thought too general, to introduce particular terms that might peculiarly specify it.
On these grounds I oppose the motion, convinced as I am that were I to agree to it, the public could derive no benefit from it, and that I myself should become a party in the disappointment, and in the delusion of the people: I therefore move the previous question.
The previous question was carried,
Marck 23. 1797.
Mr. Fox, in pursuance of a previous notice, this day submitted to the House the following resolution :
“ That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into His royal consideration the disturbed state of His kingdom of Ireland, and to adopt such healing and lenient measures as may appear to His Majesty's wisdom best calculated to restore tranquillity, and to conciliate the affections of all descriptions of His Majesty's subjects in that kingdom to His Majes. ty's person and government.”
The motion being seconded by Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Pitt rose :
Sir -However generally the terms of the motion of the right honourable gentleman are couched, for an address to His Majesty, it is utterly impossible for any man to form his judgment on the merits of it, unless by proceeding to separate it from the various and collateral topics which he has thought proper to introduce, and without which the proposed address would, in reality, be indistinct and unnecessary. He has, in the early part of his speech, developed a subject to which I most seriously desire to call the attention of the House. The right honourable gentleman, who has made a speech on the whole system of the Irish legislature, who has argued at large upon the principles and frame of it, who has considered in a very ample manner its aptitude to make laws, and who has gone at length into the disposition of the people, with respect to the practical effect of these laws, began by reminding us, when he stated to the House the discontents now existing in Ireland, that it was necessary to have recourse to that period when we recognised and fully established the complete independence of the Irish legislature, as it might be known whether we gave that independence as a boon or a right - whether that measure was a concession to Ireland. There is one certain point in which we must all coincide by having recourse to that period, and the truth of which the right honourable gentleman himself cannot controvert — that whether the establishment of the independence of Ireland was a concession or a
recognition on our part, it was putting Ireland in the absolute possession of independence in point of fact. He had himself, on former occasions, fully admitted and acknowledged that important truth, and to oppose it would tend to shake the authority of the parliament of Great Britain.
But, Sir, I beg leave to ask in what parliament of Ireland was it that he recognised the independence of the legislature of that country, and the necessity of which he then urged with so much force ? Was it one formed on a more extensive frame than that which now exists? Did it include more persons attached to the Roman catholic interest of Ireland than it does now, or was it more calculated to give satisfaction at a time when concessions were not made in their favour, than now when such measures have actually taken place? Yet that very parliament, which existed at the period to which the right honourable gentleman has theught proper to have recourse, was conceived to be the national source of the most valuable blessings to Ireland. Surely he did not mean to say that, when he himself pressed forward in establishing the independence of Ireland, he was then only putting the people of that country in possession of a delusion, and that the legislature was incapable of conveying to the inhabitants of the country the enjoyment of practical liberty. The right honourable gentleman will not therefore now maintain, that in the year 1782, he considered the parliament of Ireland so extremely defective in its frame and principles, that the nation could receive no essential benefit from the line of conduct then pursued by it; and if he will not say that, (and I am perfectly convinced he cannot say what would necessarily expose him to the charge of the most glaring inconsistency,) I am naturally led to enquire upon what ground it now happens, that we are to come this day to vote an address for an alteration in the frame of that parliament, the superintendance of which we have entirely put out of our control by the recommendation of the right honourable gentleman, and the independence of which we have unequivocally acknowledged ? By what means will he make it appear, that, having renounced all power over the legislature of
committed in the government of Ireland, and to bring them to trial, I again answer - granted. But if they are calculated to express and recommend measures which are not within the province of the executive government of Ireland, it is but fair and also necessary to ask, are these measures so recommended to be carried into execution by His Majesty, who is only a part of the legislative authority of Ireland, and what must seem still more extraordinary, are they to be so adopted by the desire of the parliament of Great Britain ? I beg leave to demand, whether His Majesty is not bound to act in what concerns the internal regulation of Ireland, in consequence of the advice of the legislature of that country? Our assenting to the address would therefore be highly unconstitutional with respect to Ireland, and we could not for a moment entertain such an idea, without being guilty of an unjustifiable interference in the duties of the legislative and executive government of that nation. Such, Sir, is the real ground on which I oppose the address.
There certainly have been many other collateral topics brought forward, with which the right honourable gentleman has judged it proper to embellish his speech, but which do not apply to the question, and the discussion of which may do much mischief, without producing one single advantage. I will not, therefore, enter into a review of all the various statements and arguments that have been used, nor will I declare whether the right honourable gentleman's assertions are right or wrong; but I will leave it to the justice and to the candour of the House to decide, whether any one point he has this night proposed, can be carried into effect, by any other means than by the voice of the Irish legislature? I must also observe, that he has, in the course of his speech, gone into a long historical narrative, and has attempted to shew, that the Irish legislature is so framed as not to be adequate to perform its functions for the practical happiness of the people; that the principles on which it acts are radically defective, and that while it remains in its present state, the nation, or at least the majority of the nation, cannot enjoy the essential blessings of a free constitution. In answer to this, Sir, I must