HC Deb 03 February 1817 vol 35 cc190-1

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the order of the House, that the House should go into a committee, to consider of a supply to be granted to his majesty.

Mr. Ponsonby

did not rise for the purpose of opposing the substance of this motion, as he was perfectly aware that a supply must be granted; but he rose to say, that as a committee had been proposed, he meant to apprize the noble lord, that if he did not take effectual steps on Friday for the appointment of that committee, he would himself submit a motion to the House on that subject. He was not aware, whether the noble lord had been a party to the delay before, but it was of the utmost importance to the country that no further time should be lost.

Lord Castlereagh

said, his motive for altering the day from Thursday to Friday was not for the sake of delay, but because it would be more convenient for the statement which he should have to make to the House. He was most anxious to submit to the House what his majesty's ministers thought it most advantageous to propose to parliament under the existing circumstances of the country. The right hon. gentleman could not be more anxious on that subject than he was.

The House then went into the committee. On the motion, that a supply be granted,

Mr. Calcraft

had no objection to the motion, but was desirous to know what course was to be pursued on Friday. Did the noble lord mean to follow up his statement by the appointment of a committee; and if so, was that committee to be chosen by ballot, or in the ordinary way? With respect to the general subject of a commit- tee of supply, he wished to know from the chancellor of the exchequer, whether he meant to relinquish any tax that would come home to the pockets and feelings of the country at large? for he considered it absolutely necessary that some, taxation should be remitted to the people. Under the existing state of affairs, the increased population of the country could not maintain themselves by their labour. Almost the whole of the labouring classes were supported out of the poor-rates of the country; and unless something should be done to relieve their distresses, let peace continue, let commerce flourish, let agriculture revive, they could not maintain themselves, unless they were still assisted out of the parish rates. These rates, however, had now become so great, that it was almost impossible to increase them; and, therefore, he wished to ascertain, whether it was intended to apply the sinking fund to the relief of the country. He was strongly of opinion, that it would be the most advantageous course to take a portion of that fund to supply some of the taxes that press so heavily on the labouring classes of the community.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the great question of providing the means of a supply was such as must necessarily come under the consideration of the House; and, therefore, however his mind might be made up on the subject, he should refrain from entering into any detail, until he saw to what the general statement might lead.

Mr. Calcraft

replied, that this answer was much more acceptable than the reserve of the noble lord. He could not, indeed, expect more from the right hon. gentleman on this occasion. He thought it his duty, however, to repeat the question, whether the noble lord had intended to choose the committee by ballot or by taking names?

Lord Castlereagh

declined giving any answer until he had an opportunity of stating to the House the line of conduct which he meant to adopt.