Slike strani
PDF
ePub

ment inevitably follows; an imprisonment the court. But to this I answer, that the to which the Legislature has prescribed no lenity of the court is the strongest possible limits, and which, therefore, may be for proof of the injustice of the law; for it life: nor is this sufficient to satisfy the shews that the judicial system of the exlaw; for after his body is surrendered to cise, as it exists in our statutes, is so very the Crown, the law still attaches on his oppressive, and so utterly inconsistent with fortune ; his goods are still seized, and his the general law of the land, that even the wife and children dismissed to beggary and commissioners themselves are ashamed to want. Such is the nature of the excise enforce its execution. For these reasons, tribunal. His Majesty's highest officers I submit to the consideration of the House, of the law are near me. I appeal to them a clause " for giving to persons accused of for the fidelity of the description. Will certain offences against this Act, an option the Attorney General dispute the account to have a trial by jury.” I have given of the excise code? Will the Mr. Pitt said, that for two reasons, it Solicitor General controvert the recital I could not be without concern that he have made of the nature of the summons, should meet the clause with a negative ; of the constitution of the court, or of the first, because he would be always inclined frightful dispatch with which its proceed to receive with the greatest partiality any ings are conducted ? I am sure they will proposition from his hon. friend, who not contradict me. On what principles, never failed to display great ability and then, will they defend the extending the good sense, and whose motives were unijudicial powers of the excise to new de. formly most pure and upright ; and, scriptions of men upon those of the con- secondly, from bis desire, on all occastitution ? upon those of the ancient law sions, to promote an object so deservedly of the land? That, I am confident, they popular, as that of trial by jury, where it never will attempt; for it requires not their could be done consistently with the true ability, or their professional knowledge to interests of the public. He was sorry, discem that this part of the Bill is abhor- however, that, in the present instance, he rent to every principle which the consti- could not indulge this inclination; for, if tulion knows: or will they defend the the arguments of his hon. friend were to despotism of the commissioners as neces- be admitted, it would then be necessary sary to enforce the collection of the duties to extend the principle of the clause to That most certainly they will not say; for every other branch of the excise, as well every day's practice is a proof that the ex- as to that upon wine ; for to every other cise jurisdiction can never be supported branch would those arguments equally on this plea, as many of the most im- apply. If it were a violation of the conportant excise causes are, by the officers stitution in the one instance, it was so in own choice, determined by a jury, for all, and he could be as easily persuaded when the officer thinks himself in the right, to give up the ordinary mode of proceed. he gives the preference to this mode of ing in every other department as in this decision, As little will they contend that of wine! Nay, should he be brought to the summary proceedings of an Excise- concur in opinion with his hon. friend, court are essential to the principle of the he should not remain at ease, until he had, Bill, as it would be easy to prove that those even before the end of the session, endeaproceedings militate directly against it; for voured to effect a total alteration in the what is the object of the Bill? Is it not the whole system of excise. The adoption of support of the public credit of the king. a summary judicature was, in many indom? Now, of that credit no measures can stances, necessary, and not only to the be so destructive as those which excite in. | due collection of the revenue, but even to quietude and alarm in the minds of the the convenience of the parties sued. Some subject, and distrust of the law under gentlemen, from their gestures, seemed which he lives. The constitution of Eng. to think that this could be no argument land may possibly survive her public credit; against any optional right of trial by jury : but perfectly sure I am, that her public but surely if á summary mode of proceedcredit never can survive her constitution. ing was, in some instances, convenient to On what ground, then, can the enlarge- the parties, gentlemen would not wish to ment of the excise jurisdiction possibly be give them an option of departing from excused? One only argument remains, that mode, solely in cases where it was which is, that the rigour of the law is actually necessary to the revenue. If his softened in practice by the compassion of hon. friend had manifested any such

distinction between the wine trade and felt himself most sincerely inclined to others subject to the revenue laws, as favour the proposed clause. would make out sufficient grounds for an Sir Grey Cooper reprobated what he exception, he should be extremely willing termed an innovation of the excise laws, to comply with his motion : but no such and expressed his doubts whether those distioction having been attempted to be laws could be rendered applicable to the shewn, he should conclude that there was precise case of wine. He entered into a none; and that therefore no innovation history of the excise laws, tracing them, could be made in the wine excise, that it from their origin, in the reign of Charles would not be palpable inconsistency not 2, down to the present period, and stating to extend to every other department of the various changes they had undergone, the excise.

and the manner in which the revenue had Mr. Fox condemned the mode of rea- been, from time to time, affected by those soning adopted by the right hon. gentle changes. He dwelt on the danger to man. The summary proceedings adopted which the revenue might be exposed, by by the excise laws were exceptions to the changing the mode of its collection, and constitution, warranted only by very ex. said, that the commutation tax was a bold. traordinary cases; and the catalogue of measure, as it let so large a portion of the those exceptions ought not to be swelled public income as 900,0001. loose from the without a very strong and sufficient rea- management of excise. The commisson. The general argument, therefore, sioners of that board had exercised their was, in his mind, totally inapplicable: powers with so much moderation, they each particular case should be judged by had "borne their faculties so meekly," its own merits, instead of arguing, that and, in short, had acted so unexception23 the excise laws in general ordained a ably for a number of years, that the pubsummary mode of proceeding, that there. lic had heard of no complaints against fore that summary mode must be applied them, nor had their administration of the to the particular case of wine. It by no excise laws been cried out against as a means followed, that, if the clause were grievance. He saw no reason, therefore, adopted, the summary mode of proceeding to express any distrust of them in respect ought to be abolished in all other cases to the Bill then under consideration. under the excise laws. That which might Mr. Dem;ster declared, that the more be highly proper in one instance, would the spirit of freedom was introduced into be very inuch the reverse in another. A the operation of excise laws, the better right to trial by jury was what the consti- they would be relished. He had opposed tution authorized; and wherever it could the Bill in every stage, because he thought be given with perfect safety to the re- it not only severely oppressive on the renue, there it ought always to be al- body of men to be affected by it, but be. lowed: but what was the nature of the cause he was persuaded it would not preoffences cognizable under the present vent smuggling. He advised Government Bill? offences which might be fraudulent to accede to the clause, as he was satisfied in their intention, or arise from inad- it would remove much of the disgust Tertency. It became, therefore peculiarly which the Bill had occasioned. necessary, where the intention might be The House divided on the motion ; doubtful, that the case should go to a jury Yeas, 30; Noes, 95. to inquire and to decide. Some crimes carried with them their obvious motive, June 9. The Bill was read a. third the action itself speaking the intention of time. On the motion that it do pass, the party ; but could that be said of the Mr. Alderman Newnham expressed his offences under this Bill? Undoubtedly sorrow at the supineness of the public it could not; and for that reason it was with respect to a Bill which extended the the more proper that a jury should in- excise laws in a manner so irksome to the quire whether it was committed through subject, so oppressive to trade, and so the malus animus of the offender, or little likely to prove advantageous to the through inadvertency. Under these cir- revenue. Perhaps the public were ready cumstances, impressed with the conviction for a general excise. He felt himself at a that the Bill menaced the infliction of loss for argument to prove why the excise severe hardships upon his fellow subjects, laws might not be applied to every other and fearful lest it should give a sanction article of import and consumption as well as to a summary mode of proceeding, he wines. In regard to spirits, he was well assured, that the golden dreams of the peal,” he should only answer, that if the minister had not been realized, since Bill were by experience to be found in. smuggling had not been prevented, neither effectual, he should think it his duty to had the large revenue been received from discover and apply such regulations, as that article which had been expected. might remedy as much as possible all its He was satisfied that the minister would defects. find his hopes equally disappointed in re- Mr. Alderman Sawbridge said, that the spect to the excise on wines, and he right hon. gentleman had afforded the wished he would pledge himself, should House admirable consolation by having that prove to be the case, to trace his declared, that if the present Bill were steps back again, and to put the collection not found sufficiently oppressive, he would of the revenue on wines into that train propose such regulations as should opfrom whence he had removed it.

press the dealers in wine still more. ExMr. Drake declared, that he had so cise laws were pernicious and oppressive much confidence in the Chancellor of the Frequent instances arose of their being Exchequer, that he did not think he had extended ; and if that House did not pu any object in proposing the Bill, but a a stop to their farther extension, a genera laudable anxiety to secure the collection excise would soon be the consequence. of the public revenue, to that extent in Mr. Fox declared, that he would oppose svhich it ought to be collected. As gen. the Bill, because he had heard nothing tlemen on the side on which he stood, like an argument to prove, that wine wa seemed desirous even of laying fresh bur one of those articles to which the excise thens on the subject sooner than not ob- laws ought to be extended. He disliked tain the surplus they all so properly longed experiments on the liberty of the subject to have secured, he thought it might ope- and the present he considered as a ras! rate as an argument with them to sup- experiment, it not having been made ap. port a Bill, which had for its object to se- pear, that it was necessary in the first in cure the revenue; an object in the attain- stance, or at all likely to answer in the ment of which they ought all to join, and, second, viz. the rendering the revenue to borrow the words of the Speaker in his from wines so far more productive thar late memorable address to the Crown, it had been, as to sanctify the means re prove that they had “ but one heart and sorted to for making it so. The duties or one voice in the maintenance of the pub- malt and beer had been found admirably lic credit and prosperity of the country." adapted to collection under the excise

Mr. Alderman Hammet said, that the and a better mode of collecting those du excise laws and every extension of them ties, he verily believed, could not easily were repugnant to the constitution, and be discovered; but did it therefore follow to the freedom of the subject. He hoped that all duties would be best collected if the present Bill should fail, that the under the excise laws ? Surely experienc right hon. gentlemen would come forward testified the reverse to be the fact. The and propose its repeal, and not unneces. duties on tea, formerly a great and essen sarily oppress the trade of the kingdom. tial article of revenue, had been unde

Mr. Pitt said, that he believed no per- the collection of the excise. How mi son could seriously suppose him hostile serably that mode of collection had failed to the commerce of the country. At they all knew ; for they had been oblige Jeast, his enmity had hitherto proved in- to abandon it altogether, and to resort to effectual, for the trade of the country had another experiment, called the Commuta been in a thriving state ever since he had tion tax; an experiment which, in a the honour of coming into his present situ- probability, those who proposed it would ation, and he believed it was in a state ofere long, have cause to lament their havin progressive improvement. Astothe pledge ever hazarded. Spirits also had been pu demanded of him, he would, in the terms under the excise ; but spirits, he believed proposed by the hon. gentleman, most would not be found to have afforded heartily accede to it, “ that he would not better revenue while under the Excis unnecessarily oppress the trade of the than under the Customs. With regard to kingdom ;” and as to the other pledge the present, he thought it a rash experi suggested by the other worthy magistrate ment; and it behoved the House to b " that if the present Bill were found not particularly careful how they counte to attain the end for which it was in danced it, after having heard the ministe tended, that he would consent to its re- avow, that if she Bill failed in effect, is stead of acknowledging the fault to be in it would often happen, that the person in

the Bill, and proceeding to an immediate jured would not hear of it till it was too ; repeal, the right hon. gentleman was de- late to maintain a suit, if the limitation

termined obstinately to enforce it by proposed by this act were to take place. every subsidiary regulation which could There was no occasion to insert the be found.

words “ solicitation of chastity,” as there The House divided: Yeas, 71; Noes, 33. was no instance of a suit of that kind

having been brought in modern times into Debate in the Lords on the Bill for the ecclesiastical court; and were a suit preventing Frivolous Suits in the Eccle- of that sort attempted to be instituted siastical Courts.] June 14. On the there, it would be rejected, as those matmotion for the second reading of the Bill ters are more properly left to the temfor preventing frivolous and vexatious poral courts, where they are tried under suits in the Ecclesiastical Court, and for the description of actions for seduction. the more easy recovery of small tithes, Notwithstanding that he would always

The Bishop of Bangor observed, that oppose every wanton and improper attack. the objects of this Bill were principally on the ecclesiastical court, yet he did not IWO: Ist, to correct the practice of the desire to see an extension of its jurisdicecclesiastical court in certain cases ; and, tion; and therefore were this Bill to come 2ndly, to render the recovery of small to a committee, he would move for leave tithes more easy: but both these points ing out the words “ solicitation of chastity," were so managed in the Bill, that the as he did not apprehend that that court practice of the ecclessiastical court was claimed any cognizance of that sort of altered where it wanted no amendment, crime. His lordship observed likewise, and the mode preseribed for the recovery that there was no occasion to have said of small tithes was rendered more difficult any thing in the Bill about anti-nuptial than it was before. His lordship then fornication, as no suits of that sort had entered into the examination of the ma- been brought into the courts at Doctors terial clauses of the Bill, and shewed, that Commons in the memory of the oldest the limitation proposed by it for suits of practitioner; and that he had been indefamation being only three months, structed to say, upon good authority, that would make it almost impossible for the if the practice were otherwise in the injured person to have an opportunity of country courts, the parties would be revindicating himself, and restoring his good lieved on an application to the court of name among his neighbours, as he is often Arches. He expressed his surprise that the last person who comes to the know- a suit should ever have been allowed for ledge of the aspersions thrown on his cha- anti-nuptial fornication, and acknowledged racter. The old as well as the present that he believed that some irregularities practice of the ecclesiastical courts was, were committed in the inferior jurisdicnever to receive suits for defamation, un- tion; but he did not believe that there less they were commenced within a year were any grounds for the loud complaints after such defamation had been uttered. which had been made ; and as an appeal The courts in Westminster-hall were per- would lie in all cases to the court of mitted by act of parliament to receive Arches, or some other superior court, suits of this kind at any time within two that appeared to him to be a good answer years. It was absurd to suffer a court to to every objection. The bishop then exist with a jurisdiction in certain cases, proceeded to examine the other part of and then to restrain and cramp it in such the Bill respecting the more easy recoa manner, that it could not once in fifty very of small tithes. And here he first times exercise its jurisdiction. As to that observed, that the plaintiff's being obliged part of the Bill which limits suits to eight to give a month's notice to the defendant months for adultery, solicitation of chastity, before the commencement of the suit, and striking or brawling in a church, &c. would be a constant ground for dispute it was absurd to fix the same limitation to and altercation, as the defendant would crimes so very different in their degree of always contend, that the notice was not guilt. This limitation was too short in conformable to the law; and suits for correction on account of adultery; pened to deviate in the most minute cirfor as adultery was committed in secret, cumstance, the plaintiff would be nonso it was the interest of the offending suited, and would be obliged to go parties to keep it secret ;-by which means through the whole again at a great ex

it hapo

[ocr errors]

pense. In a case of this sort notice was there was no occasion for this extension, absolutely necessary, as every occupier of as the Act, as it now stood, answered the land knew, that he was obliged by law to purposes for which it was made extremely set out the tithes, and to inform the tithe- well; and he did not understand that any owner of it; and if he did not do this, persons, who were concerned in the rebut subtracted the tithes, he knew that a ceipt of tithes, desired to have any alterdemand would be made on him in some ation. Under all these circumstances he shạpe or other, and therefore a law-suit | felt himself justified in moving for the would never come unexpectedly on a man rejection of the Bill. in this situation. He farther remarked, The Archbishop of Canterbury conthat the liberty which the defendant had tended, that most unreasonable advantages of making a tender for the tithes by him were given throughout this Bill to the desubtracted, would place all other tithe- fendant, by which means many crimes owners in a most disagreeable situation, which deserved correction, would go unas the consequence would be, that the punished; and as to the second part of tithe-owner must accept of the tender, the Bill, the poor vicar, who always found whether it was equal or not to his demand; much difficulty in the recovery of his tithes, for, as the tithes had been subtracted, he would become more embarrassed than he could not tell whether the money offered was before, if this Bill should pass into law, was a compensation; and as it would al. He had no doubt but that irregularities ways be in the power of the occupier to were committed in the ecclesiastical courts prove that the sum proposed was the full by needy proctors; and what court was amount of the tithes of his crop, the tithe free from such irregularities? But he did owner would be afraid to commence a suit not think that a sufficient reason to pass under this uncertainty, lest he should lose such a law as this, which acknowledged his cause, and be saddled with full costs, the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical court, as the Act directed; and it would there and yet put it under such restraints, that fore frequently happen, that the tithe-i it could scarcely exercise its jurisdiction, owner would be obliged to take less than for the correction even of such crimes as the real value of his tithes." He had con- were allowed to belong to its cognizance. sidered this clause with the greatest at- His Grace shewed this in several cases, tention, and, on a supposition of the tithes and particularly in those of defamation and being subtracted, he could not devise adultery; and here he ma:le some obserany method by which the owner of the vations on the dissoluteness of the mana tithes would arrive at a certain knowledge ners of the age, and remarked, that, inof the value of them, and yet he was to stead of making our laws more lax and accept of the tender, or commence a law. loose, the vices of the times called for suit under the greatest disadvantages; and more restraints. His Grace concluded he left it to the candour of their lord- with seconding the motion. ships to determine, whether it was reason- On the question being put, the Bill was able that the property of any man should rejected. be put into such a situation. He then entered into an examination of the sta- Debate in the Lords on the East India tutes for the payment of tithes, and ob- Judicature Bill.] June 14. The House served that they were principally three, being in a Committee on the East India two of which passed in the reign of Henry Judicature Bill, 8, and the third in the reign of Edward 6. ; The Earl of Carlisle remarked, that it On this occasion, he must beg leave most was the sequel to one great measure which earnestly to recommend it to the House had already engaged their attention, but to consider whether this Bill would not that it was the worst part of it, as it atwork some alteration in those statutes, tacked the constitution and took away the which were the Magna Charta of tithe- | trial by jury. Before the House consented owners. He added, that this was a sub- i to a bill of that nature, they ought to have ject in which the laity as well as the a case of strong necessity satisfactorily clergy were concerned, as he apprehended made out, and not content themselves that the former had as great, perhaps a with a mere speculative expediency; and greater property in tithes than the clergy. that, he contended, was all Administration With respect to the extension of the Act had to plead in its behalf. Where were of king William for the recovery of small they to look for grounds of necessity to tithes from 40s. to 106., he remarked that rest the measure upon? Whence were

« PrejšnjaNaprej »