§ Lord Althorp moved, that the Resolution of the Committee of the whole House, on 12th June, respecting the grant of 20,000,000l. be read. And the Resolution having been read. Lord Althorp moved, that the House resolve itself into a Committee to take it into consideration.
§ The House went into a Committee.
§ Lord Althorp moved the following Resolution:—"That any redeemable perpetual annuities, or annuities for terms of years, which shall be created by virtue of any Act of this Session of Parliament, for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies, shall be added to, and form part of, the redeemable perpetual annuities, or annuities for terms of years in which such annuities shall be raised; and the interest, dividends, and charges of management, in respect of the same, shall be charged upon, and made payable out of, the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland."291
§ Mr. Herries
objected to the proposition of the noble Lord, and should propose, instead, that a Resolution to this effect be adopted:—"That whereas Parliament has granted a sum of 20,000,000l., for the purpose of raising that sum, the Lords of the Treasury shall have the power, from time to time, to enter into contracts for such parts of that sum as they may require under such conditions and terms as Parliament may think fit to agree to." He was surprised that the noble Lord should have had the slightest doubt as to the course that was to be pursued on this occasion. He objected to the course proposed by the noble Lord, as it would not leave Parliament the means of making the conditions on which the money should be raised. He wished to know, besides, on what ground it was, that the noble Lord proposed to charge the interest of this money on the Consolidated Fund. That Fund was already sufficiently burthened, and if he understood rightly, it was about to be loaded with a sum of 1,000,000l. for the clergy of Ireland. He urged the Committee to adopt his recommendation, and to keep the management of these 20,000,000l. in their own hands.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
observed, that considering the temper of the present House of Commons, and the possibility of another being assembled before the change now determined on could be perfected, he thought the West-Indians were well warranted in asking for such a security as the noble Lord proposed to give them. He trusted that his right hon. friend would not persevere in his objection.
§ Mr. Hume
was disposed to support the objection of the right hon. Gentleman, and should resist to the last the grant of so large a sum of money at this moment, and independently of the authority of Parliament. He was surprised at the doubt expressed by the hon. Baronet, and thought such a doubt little less than an insult to Parliament. He did not believe that one farthing of the money would be wanted till Parliament again assembled; and when it did, the noble Lord might come down and propose the vote in a regular manner, and not attempt, in this irregular way, to obtain a grant from Parliament. The vote ought not to be given except on the performance by the West-Indians of the conditions of the Bill; and if the noble Lord waited till they were performed, or a distinct pledge given that 292 they would be performed, he could not want the money now.
§ Lord Althorp
did not agree with the doubt that had been expressed by the hon. Baronet, and believed that any future Parliament, if by any accident there should be one before this matter was finally settled, would do that which this Parliament had determined should be done. At the same time he was not prepared to say, but that the West-Indians had a right to ask for some more satisfactory security; and, therefore, it was that he had proposed this Resolution. He admitted the irregularity of the present proceeding, but justified it on the ground of necessity, and called on the House to give credit to the Ministers, that they Would make the best arrangement they could in raising this money.
§ Mr. Herries
thought that the House in acceding to the Motion would abrogate one of its moat important functions.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
supported the Motion. The method adopted he acknowledged might be unusual, and not altogether constitutional; but the case was sui generis, and was to be taken on its own merits.
§ Mr. Fryer
said, he could not stomach the grant of 20,000,000l. He gave the noble Lord credit for the best motives, but he must take leave to tell him that he thought he had compromised the question—that he had sacrificed the people's interests to those of the United States of America. If he wished to show what constituted a case of triumph over the West-India proprietors, it was this Bill, for he was convinced that they would never get what they expected. Did they know anything of the Deccan prize money? Did the House know the delays which had taken place in the distribution of that money? But the Parliament of to-morrow was not bound by the Parliament of today, and therefore the Deccan prize-money had not been paid. Former Parliaments condemned the sheep-stealer to death, but the law was now altered. He protested against various clauses of the Bill, and particularly against the grant. In future Parliaments there might be a majority of such men as himself who would say the money should not be paid. He also objected to the inquisitorial inquiries as to the value of men's property which was ordered to be made by Commissioners and solicitors, which inquiry must of necessity engross a considerable portion of time. 293 The Government was bound to state specifically how it intended to raise this money.
§ The Resolution was agreed to.