HC Deb 01 December 1819 vol 41 cc570-1
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

having moved the order of the day for going into a Committee of Supply.

Mr. Brougham

said, he felt that he could not conscientiously discharge his duty without opposing the motion. The present was a parliamentary and constitutional occasion for the statement of grievances. As often as a supply was demanded by the crown, so often was any member of that House entitled to state the grievances of the people. In opposing the present motion, therefore, he was only exercising that constitutional right with which, in any case of emergency, every member was invested. The great objection and grievance which he had to state, was the extraordinary and unprecedented haste with which ministers seemed resolved to hurry the new measures through parliaments. If they were temporary or local in their character it would be a different matter; but it was because they would effect a great and a permanent change in the constitution; it was, in short for the reasons which he had mentioned yesterday, although they had had no effect on the noble lord, that he considered it highly indecorous to' urge them with such unprecedented dispatch. The House was now at a notice of eight and forty hours—about twelve of which had been passed in debate on another part of those measures —it was at a notice of thirty-six hours to go into the consideration of the details of the new system. It was to be called upon to-morrow night, in discussing the first of the proposed bills, to enter into a complete investigation and discussion of the whole of those measures by which it was proposed that the law of England should be changed in some of its most essential points, and changed for ever. This was not only indecorous as it regarded the House, it was highly indecent and unjust as it regarded the people. For to propose to change the Jaws, by which the rights and liberties of the people had been hitherto projected; and to change them, not to be restored when the sup-posed exigency, which required the change, should have passed away but for ever, without allowing such a delay as might give the people an opportunity of considering the subject, and making their feelings and opinions upon it clearly manifest, was a denial of that to which the people were justly entitled. What did the noble lord propose to do? He would not grant the delay of a single day! He persevered in bringing on to-morrow the second reading of the bill already introduced into the House, before it was possible that any part of the country, except the metropolis, could be aware of the nature of the proposition which parliament was entertaining. That was not the course pursued in 1795. Violent as were the measures then proposed, a delay—he believed of three weeks—was allowed for their consideration, although the pressure of the emergency was certainly as great as in the present instance. For these reasons, he protested against the present motion for going into a committee of supply, as he had a constitutional right to do; although he would not take the sense of the House upon it. If the House were willing to adopt the proposed measures without due discussion; if they were so tired of the free constitution of England, that they would not deliberate before they not merely suspended, but absolutely overthrew it, he and his honourable friends were in vain endeavouring to discharge their duty to themselves and the country, by attending from day to day to attempt to prevail on the House to perform its sacred obligations to the public.