« PrejšnjaNaprej »
country. They were already allowed tion in a British parliament, that would a piece of ground, which they culti- have in its operation a local application vated as their own property. He was sur- to every estate in the West India colo. prised that the hon. gentleman talked so nies. He cautioned the House against lightly of giving to each negro as much stirring a question of such a delicate naland as would here be a qualification to ture ; it would only excite a spirit of jeavote. Had the propositions of the hon. lousy, and defeat its own object. The gentleman gone to effect any local re- House had relinquished the power of makmedies by an address to the throne, in ing any alteration with respect to the order to be recommended to the colonial property of the negroes; it had given out assemblies, he would have heartily of its hand the power of taxation in the concurred therein. Slaves had served in colonies; therefore, if the stirring of any the war from real attachment to their question was more dangerous than another, masters, and not from the motives as- it was that to which he now adverted. If cribed by the hon. gentleman. He was parliament reserved its undoubted right surprised that the House could hearken to regulate every measure that relates to to propositions that went to interfere with trade, it retained the power of abolishing the internal legislation of the islands by the slave trade. Why, then, not adopt taxing the landed property of the pro- the measure at once, without involving it prietors, and by giving the negroes their in innumerable difficulties by attempting ground.
to interfere with the local legislation of Mr. Pitt said, that what had fallen from the colonies? In this view of the questhe hon. baronet was a subject of some tion, he felt himself bound to give his neconsolation. He contemplated with satis- gative to the present motion. faction that these unfortunate people had Mr. Windham said, he was convinced experienced some benefit from the dis- that all parties sincerely wished to amecussions which had taken place on the liorate the condition of the slaves in the subject : but there was still much to be West Indies. Every plan that went to done, and that could be only accom- that effect should always meet with plished by a total abolition. The system his concurrence. He acknowledged that was fundamentally wrong, and no amelio- he was in possession of Mr. Burke's ration of the condition of the slaves in the plan, and highly approved of it; as a part, West Indies, could remove his objection therefore, of that plan, he would certainly to that system ; but he had sanguine support the present motion. If they were hopes that parliament would complete to proceed in this way, he did not think what it had so laudably begun. As the there would be any determined opposition planters became more enlightened, they from the planters; if there was, it would would find it their interest to soften the arise principally from a question that had condition of the slaves, and he hoped that been touched upon relative to the power the spontaneous efforts of the planters of this country to legislate in all matters would induce them to ameliorate their si- for her colonies,--a question which ought tuations, exclusive of what had been im- not to be agitated at all, except in cases posed upon them by the executive go. of absolute necessity, and then only as vernment of the country. The total abo- far as the immediate exigency of the case lition of the traffic in those unfortunate required. He wished those who were so people, he concluded was the only act to cautious of venturing on that discussion be expected from the British House of now, had been as much so upon other, Commons, and without this no local act parts of the question, particularly the of legislation would be of any material total abolition. He had sanguine hopes avail. As long as new negroes were that much in the way of amelioration poured into the islands, every plan adopt- would be affected by the colonies themed must prove inadequate to the end pro- selves; and he did not despair, but by posed. No man would deny that many their exertions, and such plans as that of the principles laid down by the hon. now proposed, the slave trade would be member, were founded in justice and hu- abolished without any danger; and from manity: it was laudable to instil into this idea it was, that he preferred the pretheir minds morality; but all instruction sent and similar regulations, even to an was fruitless, as long as new negroes were immediate abolition. He could never imported into the colonies.
He was agree with those who said they would clearly against passing any law for taxa. would have no compromise on the subject. What had they been doing, ever since the ed him a patient hearing ; for if he had question was first agitated, but compro- told them, that his proposition went to the mising in some way or other? In con- subversion of all colonial laws, property sequence of the regulations that had been and rights could be productive of no made, much amelioration had taken place, one good purpose, and tended to produce and that gradual system was, in his mind, an immediate and dangerous quarrel bethe best and most certain way of finally tween this country and her colonies, he effecting an abolition. From what they certainly would not have been suffered to had already seen, it was fair to conclude bring forward any such proposition.--He that slavery would be abolished by the agreed in the general opinion, that the West Indians themselves, and equally question of right to legislate ought not to so to believe, that in the same proportion be agitated, except in cases of necessity; as it was discontinued by them, the bar- and he would venture to say, that the bill, barism of the Africans would be dimi- if passed into alaw, could produce no good, nished.
but would be extremely dangerous in its Mr. Este objected to the plan proposed, consequences, by opposing to the comas tending to the rapid separation of the plaints already made in our colonies a colonies from this country. A distinction question of doubtful legislation. He had been attempted to be made between should therefore give the motion his detaxation and legislation, but in this ques- cided negative. tion they could not be separated. The Mr. Manning contended, that the regu. agitation of the question of legislating for lations adopted by the colonial assembly the colonies was dangerous in the ex- of Jamaica in 1792, which were most adtreme. It would, in fact, be drawing the vantageously framed for the bappiness of sword against the colonies, to attempt, the negroes, were, in themselves, suffie by an act of the British legislature, to tax cient to prevent any necessity for the the islands.
measure proposed, If the hon, mover Mr. W. Smith agreed with those who referred to that act, he would find that were for a total and immediate abolition; the greatest attention had been given to at the same time whilst that could not be the rearing of children. obtained, every measure that tended to Mr. Francis, in reply, observed, that if ameliorate the condition of the slaves the declarations which had been so fre. should have his support. He thought it quently and so strongly made by those necessary to say something on the argu- who opposed his plan, had been atment, that much might be expected from tended to by themselves, he should not colonial legislation; to call the attention that night liave brought forward his mo, of the House to the laws of those islands; tion. He apprehended, both from the and then ask them what they had to expect result of a former debate, and the probain fairness from such legislators ? For this ble event of the present, that nothing efpurpose it became necessary for him to fectual would be adopted for the relief of read the laws of the different islands for the men whose miserable situation was the management of their negroes. Mr. 'submitted to the judgment of the House. Smith then read those of the latest date It had been urged, that the bill which he in each island, and commented on their proposed to introduce went to renounce absurdity, cruelty, and injustice. the right of taxing the colonies ; but he
Mr. Secretary Dundas said, he did not positively denied that it could bear such intend to enter into the general question a construction. He would not press a of the abolition of the slave trade. With division on his motion, but hoped that regard to the question itself, he would gentlemen would come forward themrepeat what he had stated before, that selves, and propose measures to alleviate unless we had the concurrence of the the distresses of the slaves. colonies themselves, all that we could do The motion was then negatived. in the way of internal regulation was not worth a straw. The hon. gentleman had Mr. Abbot's Motion for a Committee to opened his speech by desiring the House inspect Temporary Expiring Laws.] April not to anticipate any of his conclusions, 12. Mr. Abbot rose and said : In conseand, if he was rightly informed, had been quence of the notice which I had the so cautious as to conceal his intentions by honour to give yesterday, I shall now beg this motion, from his own confidential leave to mention a subject which appears friends. This caution had at least secur to me of very considerable importance; stating at the same time, that the mea. public affairs may force upon our consisures (which according to my concep: derations must certainly be desirable. It tion) ought to be taken at present, will would enable us to profit readily by tho not be attended with any great diffi- experience of our ancestors; and either culty, nor liable (as I should hope) to any to preserve a consistent policy by reobjection whatever.
The subject, Sir, enacting similar laws under like circum, is the general state of all our laws which stances, or to improve upon the given are of a temporary nature. Gentlemen precedents of former ages; and at all are aware that a partial inquiry into this events not to depart from them unadvismatter is annually intrusted to commit. edly, whenever such a departure might tees appointed for that purpose; and the be judged prudent and politic. A dicommittee of the present year have pur- gested report of this class of laws would sued their ordinary labours, according to accomplish all these important ends. If, the customary course of its duty, and ac- Sir, the House should be disposed to cording to the limited nature of their au- adopt the motion which I shall now subthority. But, Sir, upon revolving this mit to their consideration, I can venture matter in my own mind, and searching to assure them, that although the investiinto the usage of parliament in former gation may require some length of labour, times, and conferring with several persons and although the details may be in some whose peculiar stations, pursuits, and ha- degree operose, nevertheless the result of it bits of life render them more immediately may be expected within no great compass conversant with subjects of this sort, it of time. And I cannot but hope that there does appear to me, that we owe it to our. may possibly be derived from this inquiry selves and to the public, to extend the some useful information upon the genescale of our inquiries, and to enter upon a ral condition of our statute laws; if the larger field of investigation : not merely House should be farther inclined to auconfined in the ordinary way to the con- thorize the committee to report such obsideration merely of such expiring and servations as may arise out of the matters expired laws as are immediately, and at referred to their consideration. The mopresent fit to be revised or continued ; but tion which I shall now move is, “ That comprehending a view of all the tempo- a Committee be appointed to inspect and rary laws whatever, and providing our consider all the Temporary Laws whatever selves with a permanent register of their of a public nature, which are expired, or contents. With regard to the expiring expiring; and to report to the House, a laws, the absolute necessity of it is obvi. ' statement of all such expired laws, as ous. Mischiefs may happen (and such shall appear to them to have been made mischiefs have happened heretofore) by upon occasions, whereof the like may rethe undesigned expiration of a law which cur hereafter ; and also a statement of all ought to be continued, or by the suppose the expiring laws of a public nature: de. ed continuance of a law which has in fact scribing each statute by its principal expired, a circumstance which may very matter, date, chapter, section, and title; possibly escape notice where any such and distinguishing the duration of such laws have originated at any remote period as are expiring ; together with the obserof time, and now lie buried in the multi- vations of the said committee arising out plicity of our statutes. If, in the execu- of the several matters referred to them.” tion of criminal justice, any one such in- The motion was agreed to, and a Comstance of mistake should occur (as in mittee appointed. On the 12th of May, other times has actually occurred in civil Mr. Abbot presented to the House the cases) every man would shudder at an Report from the said Committee; a copy event which might he irretrievably fatal. of which will be found in the Commons A register, therefore, of these laws, with Journals, Vol. 51, p. 702. their duration accurately noted, and always present to the attention of parlia- Debate in the Commons on the Dog ment, would effectually prevent such a Tax.] April 5. The House having recalamity. The knowledge of our expired solved itself into a Committee on the laws, if not of equal urgency, is perhaps Leicestershire Petition for a Tax on Dogs, not of less importance. To have a ready Mr. Dent intreated the indulgence of view of all the experimental legislation of the committee, while he stated the former ages, in regard to such matters as grounds of his motion. A tax upon dogs, the course of time or probable chances of he said, was not only much desired, but [VOL. XXXII.]
was become absolutely necessary. Per- had not been able to find him. Another haps this was the first instance, in which dog had been seen killing two sheep, the people demanded an addition to their which having done, he went and washed burthens. It was the chief object of the himself in a pond, so that there were no motion, to promote the relief and benefit marks of blood upon him. The fact was of the poor. If carried into effect, it told to his master, who agreed to hang would lessen the poor-rates, render pro- him up for a few minutes by the hind visions more cheap and plentiful, diminish legs, in order to put his guilt or innocence the instances of hydrophobia, and at the to the test, and from the quantity of blood same time open a considerable source of which he vomited, he was declared guilty.
The diminution of the con- He wished the chancellor of the exche sumption of flour, oatmeal, and those quer to pay particular attention to these broken victuals which came from the facts, as a certain dog had been found tables of the affluent, and which at pre- killing sheep in the neighbourhood of sent, were consumed by dogs, would con- Holwood in Kent, with “ The right hon. tribute greatly to alleviate the distresses
(he left the House to fill up the of the poor. An increase of population blank) upon the collar, and the dog was was always the effect of plenty of provi- spared on account of his master. Hy. siuns; and upon this principle, the appli- drophobia had lately increased to a shock. eation of that quantity of food which was ing degree. In one week, in the course at present consumed by dogs, to the use of last year, no fewer than $3 persons, of the poor, would tend to augment the infected with this distemper, had applied population of the country. The number to the Manchester Infirmary. So far he of dogs had lately increased so much, that called on the humanity of the House to it afforded matter of serious alarm. He adopt his motion, and he trusted they calculated the population of the country would be the more inclined to do it, when to be ten millions, and these might com. he informed them that allowing a penny pose two millions of families. Allowing per day for the food of one million of a dog to each family, the number of dogs dogs, it amounted annually to 3,000,0001., would amount to two millions; but sup which was 700,0001. more than all the posing them to be diminished one half in rates for the aged poor of the country, consequence of the tax, there would still and yet no dog, he thought, could be kept remain one million. Upon these he for less than a penny per day. By a letwould propose to levy a tax of 2s. 6d. a ter from a gentleman at Kingston-uponhead, indiscriminately, except those Thames, he learned that sheeps heads, which serve as guides to blind men. sheeps hearts and plucks, &c. were bought This would produce a revenue of 125,0001. up as offal to feed dogs, although the
-Mr. Dent proceeded to state from do- poor were glad to purchase such provi. .cuments in his possession, the ravages sions, and from his inquiries at twenty which were committed by dogs, the different markets, he learned that in Lonquantity of provisions consumed by them, don people did the same. One gentle. and the increase of hydrophobia. He man he had heard of, who contracted first mentioned a recent pamphlet by Dr. with his mealman to supply his kennel Barry, upon the subject, which contained with wheat and four, oats, and meal, at many unanswerable arguments in favour 8001. per annum. He himself knew a of the tax : next a number of letters, gentleman who expended 400l. per annum which he had received, to show that a on the same articles for his dogs. tax on dogs was desirable on account of pack of fox-hounds could not be kept for their destruction of cattle ; and last their less than from 1,0001. to 2,0001. per year, great consumption of provisions. From and it was an absolute fact, that after a the Manchester Philosophical Transac- ì long chase, a gentleman rode into a tions, it appeared, that 15,000 sheep were country town with his fox-hounds claannually destroyed by dogs. He thought mouring with hunger, and every baker's this number much under-rated, and that shop in the town was ransacked for bread it amounted nearer to 50,000. He had to satisfy them. Under all these circuma letter, informing him, that in a forest in stances, therefore, he hoped that the reDevonshire, one dog had wounded 400 solutions he meant to propose would not sheep, and his correspondent added, that be rejected. He then moved, " That a 200 men, with as many dogs, had gone tax of 2s. 6d. per annum be iinposed on in search of this destructive animal, but Dogs of every description.
Mr. Pitt did not think there was any popular, this he believed would be so; thing improper in laying some tax on and he felt great satisfaction that he had dogs; but the committee would feel it been among those who first suggested it. necessary to draw a line of distinction. He mentioned several instances to show It was clear that the poor should not that dogs, multiplied as they now were, keep a great number of dogs; there were were a great nuisance. many indigent persons, nevertheless, to The amended motion was agreed to; whom dogs were useful. Such persons and on the 15th, a bill pursuant thereto ought to be distinguished from the opu- was brought in and read a first time. lent; otherwise the tax would be a harsh
He should therefore propose, by April 25. Mr. Dent moved the order way of amendment, that instead of a duty of the day for going into a comınittee of 2s. 6d., there be a duty of 3s. on each on this Bill. The question being put, dog, meaning afterwards to propose in a “ That the Speaker do now leave the committee on the bill, that all persons
who chair," do not pay assessed taxes, shall be charged Mr. Sheridan said, he had never seen a only the duty of ls. for each dog. bill so absurd and objectionable through
Mr. Burbon thought the proposed tax out ; and indeed he was not sorry that it a good one, but considering it rather a was so : it appeared to him a just punishregulation of police than any thing else, ment for the pride and presumption of he saw no reason why the dogs kept those who, because they had a seat in by the poor should be distinguished from that House, imagine themselves to be so others. If a poor man kept a dog, and many chancellors of the exchequer, and received relief from the parish, the pa impatiently stepped forward to propose rish supported his dog as well as himself. new taxes. He knew not whether the
Mr. Wilberforce thought the humanity hon, mover was stimulated upon Pythaproposed to be extended to the poor was, gorcan principles, to pursue at present in this case, misapplied. The true spirit those resentments or antipathies which of the tax was not to take from the purse he might have conceived in some former of the poor, but to prevent those who state of existence against a race of animals were not perfectly able to bear the waste so long distinguished as the friends and and expense, from keeping dogs. He was favourites of men; he would undertake persuaded, that, though the hydrophobia however to show, that the present bill did not so often as was generally supposed, was not admissible, in any of its provisions. proceed from the bite of mad dogs, yet it In regard to the bill itself, he never met was so often the case, that every thing with one more extraordinarily worded. should be done that had a tendency to The folly of it extended even to the title ; abridge the excessive number of those the title should have been a tax bill, it was animals. By doing this, humanity would nevertheless entitled “ A bill for the be best shown to the poor ; for experi- better protection of the persons and proence had proved, that the sufferings from perty of his majesty's subjects against the canine madness were almost exclusively evil arising from the increase of dogs, by subconfined to the poor. The higher orders jecting the keeping or having such dogs, very seldom suffered in that way. to a duty.” Hence, instead of supposing, as
Mr. Lechmere had long thought that a it generally had been supposed, that dogs measure of this sort was wanted. He were better than watchmen for the protectrusted it would be of service to the pub. tion of property, people might be led to lic at large, and particularly to the poor imagine, that dogs were guilty of half at this time of scarcity. Gentlemen who the burglaries usually committed. In the kept a pack of fox hounds, ought to be preamble there was the same singular specompelled to pay high for them. He cies of phraseology: it began by stating thought that all dogs used for pleasure that “ Whereas great and serious dangers, should be subject to the tax; and that injuries and inconveniencies,"—[He begladies lap-dogs should be taxed the high ged the House would admire the beauty est. It was shameful to see an athletic of that cliinax) -" and more especially fellow, in a gaudy livery with a couple of the calamities of canine madness, of late lap dogs under his arms, walking after a alarmingly increasing, frequently happen lady through the Parks for a whole morn- to the persons of bis majesty's subjects, ing.
and to their cattle and other property." It Sir G. P. Turner said, if ever a tax was certainly was by no means extraordinary