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in them, the proprietors of which are now to be left unprotected, and to be deprived of the parliament on whose faith they embarked themselves, their families and properties in the under. taking
In revenue we shall not only lose the amount of the duties which are thus to be removed or lowered, and which the papers laid before us by the lord lieutenant shew to amount to the immediate annual sum of 50,000l. but we shall be deprived of nearly as much more by the annihilation of various export duties, which have subsisted for above a century on other articles of intercourse, without being felt or complained of by us; and this whole revenue of 50,000l. operating beneficially to our manufactures, and of near 50,000l. more which oppressed no manufacture, is to be wantonly given up without the desire or wish of either nation, at a time when our income is more than ever unequal to our expences, and when the difficulty of raising new taxes to supply its place, is alarmingly increased by our having, been obliged in this very session, to impose new burthens to the estimated amount of 200,000l. a year, and we cannot but remark that in this arrangement, while we give up this revenue of near 100,000l. a year, Great Britain is to give up one not amounting quite to 40,000l. an inequality no way consonant with the impar. tiality or justice professed by your majesty's ministers, nor any wise consistent with the comparative abilities of the two countries to replace the loss.
But the imposition of your majesty's ministers is still more glaring, in their having presumed to fix a proportion of contribution towards the general future expences, to be observed by the two kingdoms in the ratio of one by Ireland, for
every seven parts and a half by Britain.
If they had any plausible grounds, whereon they calculated this proportion, they have not deigned to lay them before your parliament, and the usual and established forms of committees to investigate into matters of such intricate and extended calculation have been superseded by them.
Your majesty's faithful commons are satisfied that the calculation is extremely erroneous, and that on a just and fair enquiry into the comparative means of each country, this kingdom ought not and is not able to contribute in any thing like the proportion.
They feel a duty too to protest most solemnly against any arrangement of taxation, to none of which they have had docu. ments, or made any enquiry to guide their judgments, and in which they understand no consideration whatever has been had to the different legal interest of money in this kingdom, which causes a disadvantage of 20l. per cent. in procuring capital, nor to the relative quantity of shipping possessed and used by each coun
try, nor to the export trade in foreign articles, nor to the extent of manufacture for home consumption, nor to the balance of trade which shews the annual increase of its clear profit, and of course the annual increase of the fund, it creates to contribute from, ia all of which the means of Britain very far exceed the foregoing proportion, and particularly in the balance of trade, which in Ireland amounts to little more than half a million with all the world, but it is stated by authority to have amounted to 14,800,000). in Britain, exclusive of an annual influx of money from the East and West Indies to the amount of four millions to the proprietors resident in Britain, and of two millions from Ireland to the proprietors of Irish estates resident there, and of another million from Ireland for the charges of her debt due in Britain ; whereas the only known or visible influx of money into Ireland is the above balance of trade of half a million only, and these two sums of two millions and one million, while they add to the wealth and means of Britain unfortunately take away in the same amount from the ability of Ireland.
Thus had a due investigation been made, and a fair enquiry gone into with a view to obtain a true knowledge of facts whereon to ground a just calculation, it would have appeared that this proportion for Ireland is not only unjust, but far beyond what it will be in her power to discharge ; and the rashness of your majesty's ministers in hazarding such a measure, is the more to be lamented or wondered at, because should Ireland engage to pay more than she is able to answer, the necessary consequence must be a rapid decrease of her capital, the decline of her trade, a failure in the produce of her taxes, and in the end her total bankruptcy ; but under such circumstances she cannot be alone a bankrupt; and should she fatally become so by an injudicious or avaricious apportionment of constitution, Great Britain must share in her ruin, and our great and glorious empire' be brought to the brink of destruc, tion, by an innovating attempt to take from Ireland its constitution, and substitute a theoretic, visionary and untried system in its room.
We should therefore earnestly supplicate your majesty, to oblige your ministers to defer the measure, until a full and satisfactory investigation should be made, if we did not feel, that it ought to be entirely relinquished, and that the injuries and dangers attending on it, could not be removed by any change of that proportion, or reconciled by any modification of detail whate soever.
Subordinate however as the consideration of it is, we cannot omit remarking to your majesty, that there is cunningly and insidiously annexed to it a provision for its ceasing, even within the short period of three years, should the war continue so long; and that when we shall increase our debt so, as that it shall bear the like proportion to the permanent debt of Britain, all the delusive benefit held out by this proportion is to cease, and we are to undergo common taxes with Britain.
We lament such delusion should be resorted to, it is too palpable not to be seen, and instead of the confidence which ought to attend every arrangement between the kingdoms, such conduct must excite diffidence and distrust.
This proportion of their respective permanent debts is to be attained by increasing our debt, which we must do, and by Britain lessening her's, which she is in the actual course of reducing, as rapidly at least as that of Ireland increases; the absurdi. ty therefore of the position is self evident, for it says, that Ireland by increasing her debt, and its annual charges, will become more wealthy and more able to bear equal taxes with Britain, but that Britain by decreasing her's will be less able to pay her contribution and can only pay equal taxes.
Another delusion (omitted however in the articles proposed,) has been also plausibly offered, still further to deceive your majesty's subjects of Ireland into an approbation of this destructive measure, and a promise has been authoritatively announced or artfully insinuated by your ministers in this kingdom, that Ireland is to save by it, or that Great Britain is to give her a million a year revenue in time of war, and have a million a year in time
But we know, that during a war like the present such a promise is impracticable, and both kingdoms must strain every nerve and draw forth every resource.
We seek not to load our sister kingdom unnecessarily by les. sening our own burthen, and our loyalty forbids us to listen to arguments which offer to save our purse at the expense of Britain; but it is all a delusion, for we see nothing in the uniting the two parliaments which can change the course of the war, or lessen the total mass of expense of both nations; and we assert most confidently, that no gift can be made or saving ensue in our expenses by the Union, however they may be attempted to be encreased by the unfounded and unfair proportion ascertained for us to bear of the general expenditure ; but were the offer founded, were it effectual and desirable, its advantages rest on the misfortunes of war, and we should feel ourselves unworthy of the trust reposed in us, if we could suffer a hope, arising from the continuation of such a dreadful calamity, to direct our conduct in any measure, much less in one which calls on us to give up our constitution for ever.
Neither can we look forward to any proposed saving from the Union in peace, for we are not told, nor could we believe it, if your majesty's ministers did tell us, that a bill professing to unite the two kingdoms, inseparably united without a bill, can have an influence on the situation of the affairs of Europe, or that it can allow us, during the next peace, to dispense with keeping up the same military force as during the last, and we are further given to understand, that your majesty's royal court, and all its establishment, the courts of law, the exchequer, and all the revenue expenses are to be continued without the parliament equally as with it; but were the saving practicable, we feel it our
own duty to make it without a Union, and we know no parliament can do it for Ireland, with the same safety as the resident parliament of Ireland.
But it is not only in respect to these delusions held out as to trade and revenue that we feel it our duty to lay before your majesty the conduct of your ministers on this measure; we must state the means by which they have endeavoured to carry it. That in the first instance, admitting the necessity of conforming to the sense of the parliament and the people, they took the sense of the commons, and found that sense to be against it ; that they then affected to appeal against the parliament to the people, at the same time endeavouring by their choice of sheriffs to obstruct the regular and constitutional mode whereby the sense of the people has been usually collected ; that on the contrary, they did use or abet and encourage the using of various arts and stratagems to procure from individuals of the lowest order, some of whom were their prisoners and felons, scandalous signatures against the constitution; that notwithstanding these attempts to procure a fallacious appearance of strength and muster against parliament, the people have expressed their sentiments decidedly against the Union, and twenty-one counties at public meetings legally convened, and also many other counties by petitions signed by the freeholders, and many cities and towns, have expressed either to your majesty or to this house, or to both, their decided and unalterable hostility to the Union; yet your ministers have as we believe, taken upon them to state to your majesty and your ministers in Britain, in defiance of all these facts, that the sense of the nation is not ad. 'verse to the measure; that if there could be any doubt that your majesty's ministers in the appointment of sheriffs did consider how they might obstruct the people in delivering their opinion regarding the Union, that doubt is fully explained by their continuing in office the sheriffs of the former year in more than one instance, whence it also appears how decidedly the sense of the country is against this measure, when your majesty's ministers found it difficult to procure any person to serve the office of sheriff who was properly qualified, and was also a friend to the measure; that finding the sense of the people as well as the parliament to be against it, your majesty's ministers attempted to change the parliament itself, and refusing to take the sense of the nation by a general election, they procured a partial dissolution, and did so publicly abuse the disqualifying clause in the Place Bill, (which was enacted for the express purpose of preserving the freedom and independence of parliament,) that by vacating seats under its authority very many new returns were made to this house for the purpose of carrying it, and thus did they change the parliament without restoring to the people; that before the ministry had perverted the place bill, the sense of par. liament was against their Union, and if that bill had not been so perverted, that sense had remained unaltered; that of those who voted for the Union, we beg leave to inform your majesty that seventy-six had places or pensions under the crown, and others were under the immediate influence of constituents who held great offices under the crown; that the practices of influence above mentioned were accompanied by the removal from office of various servants of the crown who had seats in parliament, particularly the chancellor of the exchequer, the prime serjeant, three commissioners of the revenue, a commissioner of accounts, a commissioner of barracks and the cursilor of the court of chancery, because they would not vote away the parliament, also by their withdrawing their confidence from others of your majesty's faithful and able counsellors for the same reason; that they procured or encouraged the purchase of seats in this house to return members to vote for the Union, also the introduction of persons unconnected with this country 'to vote away her parliament; that they have also attempted to prostitute the peerage by promising to persons, not even commoners in parliament her sacred honours, if they would come into this house and vote for the Union: and that, finally, they have annexed to their plan of Union an artful device, whereby a million and a half of money is to be given to private persons possessing returns, who are to receive said sum of the event of the Union, for the carrying of which to such an amount said persons are to be paid; and this nation is to make good the sale by which she is thus disinherited of her parliament, and is to be taxed for ever to raise the whole amount, although if your ministers shall persevere in such a flagrant, unconstitutional scheme, and the money is to be raised, it is for the Union, and being therefore an imperial concern, ought to be borne in the proportion already laid down for imperial expences, that is, two seventeenths by Ireland and fifteen seventeenths by Britain ; that under these unconstitutional circumstances your majesty's ministers have endeavoured, against the declared sense of the people, to impose upon them. a new constitution subverting the old one.