§ The Marquis of Buckingham moved for an account of the revenue and expenditure of the island of Man from 1798 to 1805, which was accordingly ordered.
§ Lord Ellenborough rose to move, that certain papers laid on the table relative to the duke of Atholl's Claim bill, be printed. He thought it extremely improper that their lordships should proceed to the consideration of a subject of so much importance, before they had time to peruse the papers which had been produced to assist them in forming a proper judgment on the measure. He considered it altogether indecent, that one noble lord should be compelled to look over the shoulder of another, in order to glean a little information from the papers. He therefore trusted, that, after the papers were printed for the use of the house, sufficient time would be afforded for their consideration. The papers were ordered to be printed.
§ The Earl of Westmorland moved that the order of the day be read.
§ Lord Holland rose to move, that the order of the day be not proceeded on.
§ Lord Mulgrave spoke to order, and said, it was not competent for the noble lord to move that the order of the day should not be proceeded on.
§ Lord Holland insisted that he was in order. He meant to oppose the second reading of the duke of Atholl's bill, and it was competent for any noble lord to oppose an order for proceeding with a particular bill.
§ The Lord Chancellor said, that when the order of the day for summoning the peers should be read, the regular course would then be for a noble earl to move the second reading of the bill. It would then be competent for any other noble lord to move, that instead of now, the bill be read at some future time.
§ Lord Westmorland then rose to move the second reading of the bill, but was interrupted by
§ The Marquis of Buckingham, who observed, that as this bill proposed to grant a 774 sum out of the consolidated fund, it was necessary it should have the recommendation of his majesty before the house could entertain it.
§ Lord Hawkesbury stated, that so far as the interests of the crown were concerned, his majesty was willing that the bill should proceed.
§ The Earl of Westmorland at length entered upon his speech. His lordship began by stating the grants of the sovereignty of the Isle of Man, made to the family of Stanley earl of Derby, and which from thence descended to the duke of Atholl. He observed, that the consent of the duke of Atholl had been obtained to the sale of his rights, under an apprehension that he was compelled to surrender them, and that the bill by which that sale was sanctioned had been hastily passed. He contended that the full sovereignty of the island vested in those who inherited from the original grantee, as appeared by ancient constitutions of the island, and by the decision of the court of Chancery here, which was subsequently recognised by parliament in the reign of Elizabeth, at which period an act passed to render the island unalienable from the family. The terms, however, used in these acts, as well as in the original grant relative to the island, clearly proved that the full sovereignty was vested in those who inherited the island under that grant. So well was this understood, that no attempt was made in the parliament of England to legislate for the internal regulation of the Isle of Man. There were only four or five acts by which the Isle of Man was affected previous to 1765, and these exceptions only served to prove the general rule. It was since that the Isle had been placed in the See of York; but no one would deny in this case the power of the king, as the head of the church. The acts chiefly related to the intercourse between England and the Isle of Man, except in one or two instances, establishing certain regulations which, however, had never been acted upon. A revenue was derived to the lord of Man from the customs which he held independent of the house of Keys. He did not deny that smuggling had been carried on to a great extent between England and the Isle of Man; but this was not the fault of the lords of the Isle, neither did they participate in the profits. It was, however, in consequence of this, that a plan was in agitation in the reign of George the First, for the purchase of the island from the then lord; and an act was passed in the 12th of George I. authorizing the parties to contract 775 for the sale of the island. Nothing was done after this until the year 1765, when a proposal was made to the late duke of Atholl by Mr. Grenville, the then minister, for the purchase of the island. His lordship read several parts of the correspondence which took place, to prove that the duke and duchess of Atholl were averse to the sale of the island, and that they only at length agreed to it in consequence of a fear that, if they did not their rights would be nearly annihilated without any compensation, by a bill which was then in contemplation. Thus circumstanced they reluctantly consented, and named 70,000l. as the price of their sovereignty and revenue, that being the sum which it was understood the minister would give and no more. It was remarkable, however, that in the bill which sanctioned and authorized the treaty thus made, it did not appear that the duchess had consented to a form which was certainly required, neither was any trustee named for the infant, now duke of Atholl. It was true that a pension of 2000l. per annum was granted to the duke and duchess of Atholl for their lives, but no provision whatever was made for the infant. The compensation thus granted, and thus reluctantly consented to on the part of the duke and duchess of Atholl, was, he contended, inadequate to the rights and revenues sold. It was not merely a revenue arising from the customs of the island that was sold, but all the sovereign rights, which included, as one source of revenue to which the lord of Man was entitled, an ox from every quarter-land on the island, which quarter-lands amounted to 700, and might be reckoned as worth 7,500l. per annum. This, added to other resources, made up, he contended, a revenue of 10,000l. per annum, for which the duke and duchess only received 70,000l. without including the sovereignty and royalties of the island. Upon these grounds he contended, that the compensation was greatly inadequate to the value of what was granted, and he trusted their lordships would consent to the present bill, for the purpose, in some measure, of repairing the injustice which the duke of Atholl had suffered. He trusted that he should not be opposed on this occasion by generalities which did not apply, instead of specialities which did. A cry had been raised against this bill, which reminded him of the story of the quaker and his dog; the former sent forth a cry of "mad dog!" and the poor animal was in consequence destroyed without any trial; just so a patriot, at a loss for arguments in opposition to a measure, 776 found it an easy way of opposing it to set up a cry of "job," which had the effect of drawing into the focus of such an opposition those who had not the ability to investigate the subject, or the firmness to act in contradiction to the cry of the mob. He thought there could be no solid objection to do in in this case what was merely an act of justice, and as to the want of information, every noble lord who had been a member of the privy council must be perfectly acquainted with the subject. Upon all these considerations he submitted to their lordships the second reading of the bill, and he trusted that it would not now be opposed, as there would be other stages in which that opposition could be made.
§ Lord Ellenborough rose and spoke as follows: My Lords, the noble lord has said, in answer to a request for further time to consider the papers before the house, that all those noble lords who have been members of his majesty's privy council must be thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances of the case. I have the honour to be a member of his majesty's privy council, and I certainly do know the former proceedings of the council relative to this subject; but with respect to the latter proceedings, I am wholly ignorant, and therefore I ask for information, in common with other noble lords, and for time to consider the papers before the house. My lords, when I look at the papers just now printed and so reeking from the press that I cannot open them without endangering my health—when I look at a folio volume of 140 pages presented this day by the noble earl, and which we have not had a moment's time allowed us even to look into, I cannot but enter my solemn protest against proceeding in this bill under such circumstances, against a proceeding which could only be sanctioned by parliament in the worst and most corrupt times. I do not ask for a long delay; but I hope that noble lords will consult their own dignity and the public opinion, by granting a short time for the consideration of the papers relative to this subject, to which we ought to turn our attention. I pause, in order that some answer may be given to this proposal. (His lordship sat down for a few moments, but no answer was given). Then I am to understand, my lords that it is your intention to proceed in this bill to-night, I lament that such should be your determination, but as it is, I will endeavour, with the imperfect information which I have, to put your lordships in possession of my sentiments upon the subject. It is not a little remarkable that in the first 777 three sentences of the preamble of this bill three falsehoods occur. It is stated in the first, that the Isle of Man was granted in sovereignty by the king of England. It is no such thing. The noble earl has laid great stress upon the sovereignty, but the sovereignty was not granted. The island was held in petty serjeanty, by the presentation of two falcons to the king at his coronation; but as to the sovereignty, it was out of the question. The lord of Man had his superiority and his regalities, and so have many noble lords near me regalities in their manors, but as to sovereignty, it is quite a different thing, and no definition of sovereignty will reach the case of the lord of Man. Yet this term of sovereignty is repeated in the two next sentences, and "like a tall bully lifts his head—"I will not finish the line. When the noble lord talks of acts of parliament not binding the Isle of Man, I am astonished at the puerility of the argument; if acts of parliament cannot bind the Isle of Man, then the act passed in 1765, for the purchase of the isle, is a nullity; and if it is not, if that could bind the Isle of Man then, a hundred acts may be equally binding. As to the Isle of Man not being mentioned in ac[...]s of parliament, we know it is a mere form, being out of the ambit of the British seas; if it is not mentioned in an act of parliament, such act cannot, in its operation, be constructively extended to it, but this amounts to nothing with respect to the general principle. We have been told by the noble lord, that the compensation given to the late duke of Atholl was inadequate. I paid attention to the subject when it was formerly agitated, and I could not discover the slightest foundation for any fair claim on the part of the duke of Atholl to any further compensation. The late duke named his own sum, although it appears that by some means or other he got at the knowledge of what the then ministers would give at the utmost, and the sum which was then given, in my mind, was a full and ample compensation for the rights and revenue surrendered. The net revenue, of which so much has been said, does not appear to me, from the accounts which I have inspected, to have amounted to more than 800l. per annum. Taking this at thirty years purchase, which is a fair price for land, and still more for revenue, liable to harrasing litigations, the sum would amount to 24,000l. There would then remain 46,000l. for the purchase of the sovereignty as it is called. or as I would call it, the superiority of the Isle of Man, and surely this must be considered as a full and ample 778 consideration for every thing of that nature that was capable of being transferred. Not content with this, however, the late duke solicited a boon in addition, that was granted to him in the shape of a pension, of 2,000l. per annum, to that nobleman and the duchess of Atholl. The latter still enjoys that pension, and I hope will long continue to enjoy it; and if there is any claim for further compensation, it rests with that noble lady, and not with the present duke. The compensation, however, was not inadequate, and if the account is stated fairly, debtor and creditor, as to what the public have received and what the family of the duke of Atholl have received, it will be found, that the latter have received in the course of the forty years since the bargain, at least 177,000l. more than the public from the result of that bargain. As to the consent of the duchess of Atholl, and the appointment of a trustee for the infant, which the noble lord contends were absolutely necessary, I maintain, on the contrary, that parliament having authorized and directed the sale, no such consent, or appointment, was necessary. If however, my lords, this bargain was a bad one, it were better to rescind it at once, than to pass such a bill as the present. To sanction such a proceeding as this, will be to open a door upon its hinges that will never again be shut. Never did I witness a gross job come into parliament in a more bodily form than the present. If this is agreed to, there will be an inlet for the most corrupt proceedings; and one I know will be brought forward, if this succeed, one of the most corrupt jobs that ever was witnessed in parliament. But, my lords, let me conjure your lordships not to agree to a bill like the present. It is, indeed, a consideration of the highest importance, the taking of three or four, or five thousand pounds a year out of the consolidated fund, at a period when the supplies are with so much difficulty raised. That such a bill too should be endeavoured to be hurried through the house in the course of the few remaining days of the session, for it is idle to dissemble that that is the object, is indeed a melancholy consideration. In a few days parliament will be dispersed; and let us not return to our respective homes with the stigma of having passed a bill like the present. Unfortunately (I make no charge against any one), but it does unfortunately happen, that when we return to our homes, after our duty in parliament is at an end for the session, we cannot say that any useful treaty has been made with any continental power, that any negociation has been brought to a successful 779 termination; we cannot say that any thing has been added to the glory or to the honour of the country. Let us not then at the conclusion of the session, during which unfortunately so little has been done for the honour or advantage of the country, have the burden upon our minds of having agreed to such a bill as this. Let us not, at a moment like this, when all classes of the people are ground down with taxes, add to their burdens by voting a boon to mendicant importunity. If our supplies were unlimited, if we could draw upon them without any fear of exhaustion, if the resources of the state grew like the fabled Promethean liver, under the beaks and talons of the vultures by whom they are lacerated and devoured, then indeed we might agree to such kinds of demands; but as they are not, it is our duty to watch over the interests of the people, and not to suffer their resources to be squandered in improper expenditure. However critical may be the times; however great may be our dangers; however hopeless the state of our finances; let us not, my lords, imitate the conduct of sailors in a storm, who, when their situation is desperate and hopeless, when they see their vessel driving upon the rocks, abandon the sails, throw up, the helm, and fall to plundering the chests. Let us rather, if we would avert the thunderbolts of human, or even, though I hope not, of divine vengeance, which may be ready even now to burst upon us, deck ourselves out in the robes of virtue, that we may gain the respect of foreign nations, and the love of the people, of whose interests we ought to be the guardians and protectors. Impressed with all these considerations, I feel it to be my duty to oppose this bill. Be the event what it may, liberavi animam meam.
§ Lord Harrawby—My lords; however, inadequate I may be to the task of combating with the talents of the noble and learned lord, I feel myself impelled to rise in defence of the bill against the assertions which the noble and learned lord has made, and the arguments which he has adduced. I feel no dread of any human tribunal, or even of a divine tribunal, in giving my assent to this bill, convinced as I am, that it is founded in justice and equity; nor will I repeat the expression which the noble and learned lord has applied to it, which seemed to me not very consistent either with the consideration we owe to a bill sent up from the other house of parliament, or with the dignity of this house. Neither will I repeat the expression which the noble and learned lord applied to the noble duke whose claims are under consideration, and which I think was 780 equally improper as applied to that noble duke, and as coming from the noble and learned lord who used it. The noble lord proceeded to enter into a detailed argument with respect to the bargain concluded with the late duke of Atholl, which he considered as very unfavourable to that nobleman, and he believed that the minister who concluded that bargain was not perfectly informed of the whole circumstance of the case, and that there was an intention of bringing in a bill in the year succeeding for the purpose of explaining the former act. If therefore the bargain was concluded without a sufficient knowledge of the circumstances and situation of the Isle of Man, it surely was not too much now to say that that bargain should be again opened, and some compensation made to the suffering party. On a fair review of the subject it would be found that a bare consideration was given for the actual revenue of the island, leaving nothing for the sovereignty, the regalities, and other rights. As to the question made by the noble and learned lord with respect to the sovereignty of the island, let it be recollected that the lords of Man wore a crown; that they pardoned offences; that they legislated for the island, and had other prerogatives, which certainly constituted a sovereignty, in whatever point of view that term might be considered. He denied the accuracy of the account stated by the noble and learned lord, neither did he think it as a fair mode of considering a subject like the present to state an account debtor and creditor in that mode. It was not merely that the revenues had increased, but they were to consider that they purchased the rights of the lord, by means of the exercise of which rights only the revenues could be increased, as it was clear we could only have the same rights as those we purchased of the lord of the island. So far from the sum which the noble and learned lord represented as having been gained by the family of the duke of Atholl, they had only received an inadequate compensation for the mere revenues of the island, without reckoning any thing for the honours and royalties which they gave up. It had always been the practice of parliament to be liberal in cases of this nature. when the heritable jurisdictions in Scotland were bought up, the duke of Argyle received 22,000l. for what in fact produced nothing, or at most 20l. per ann. The value of the honour bought in such cases could not be, nor ever was, judged of by the common ordinary rules of calculation. It must be judged of by means of a far different scale, and he trusted that their lordships 781 would, in this instance, act upon those principle which had hitherto characterized parliament. It was not, besides, in this case an act of liberality that they were called upon to perform, but of justice, which required, that a bargain made to the prejudice of an individual at a time when he acted under an impression that his rights were to be taken away without compensation if he did not consent, should now be revised, and some compensation made to his family, particularly when it was considered that the honours conveyed were of a peculiar nature, and such as no other subject of the realm could grant. He had, on a former occasion, paid considerable attention to this subject, and the more he had attended to it, the more he was convinced of the justice of the claims which were now urged. He should there fore support the bill.
The Marquis of Buckingham
protested against the house being called on, at this late period of the session, within the last few days of its continuance, to go into a discussion of so much importance, for which it was morally impossible their lordships could be prepared, considering the large mass of papers they had to wade through, and the large volume of evidence they had to examine, as well as the papers for which he had the honour of moving this day, and which were absolutely necessary for the information of the house, preparatory to the discussion of a subject so important. It was contrary to every principle of propriety and justice, to call upon the house to go into such a discussion, and decide upon a question of so much magnitude, without reading one iota of that mass of documents, or being prepared to refer to any of their contents, from which noble lords, who supported this bill, had so copiously spoken. For the sake of the house of lords, its character, and dignity, he deprecated a proceeding that much cast a stigma on its wisdom. A noble earl (Westmoreland) had said, that those documents were familiar to every noble lord who had been called to his majesty's councils; this, however, was not his case, he had been long anxious for information on this subject, and long awaited it in vain. He had heard this night many imputations of injustice against the government of this country, on the ground of concluding this bargain. He had even heard the word 'robbery' applied to it in the course of debate; but such language he could not pass without reprobation. Noble lords had talked of the sovereigns of the Isle of Man, which he denied them to be; the parliament of this country had frequently legislated for the island, and in the year 1748, it 782 was the decided opinion of the government of this country, and many of the ablest men of that day, that the sovereignty of that island vested in the crown of England, though the feudal right might be in the lords of the island, who were the family of the Stanley's, and words could not be clearer than those in the grant of James I to the holders of that island—"to hold of us, our heirs and successors." No legal man could have a doubt upon the subject: It was the opinion of Mr. Grenville, and several of his most eminent contemporaries; and when the bargain was made in 1765, it was done on the part of the duke of Atholl, in the contemplation that the restriction made by the English revenue laws would materially reduce the revenues of the island. The surrender, therefore, for the price obtained, was not considered as a measure of cruelty or injustice on the part of the British government; it was a bargain deliberately negociated by Mr. Grenville, through the medium of lord mansfield, who was the attached friend of the Atholl family, and who took a very principal share in the negociation. Through that noble and learned lord it was, that the duke of Atholl received the intimation that government did not think 70,000l. too great a price at the time, and it was accepted, and considered as a full, liberal, and adequate sum; and it there was any error in the bargain, it was an error on the side of liberality; for there was on ground to hope, that the house of keys would ever have consented to raise the revenues of the island. Besides, out of those revenues were to be deduced the military establishment of the island, so that it was not a net but a gross revenue the noble duke was selling; and with respect to the pension of 2,000l. a year, granted to lady Atholl, upon the Irish establishment, he had personal opportunities of knowing, and could, if necessary, produce documents to prove, that it had nothing whatever to do with any idea of further compensation, but was recommended by Mr. Grenville merely as an act of royal munificence. But would the house reflect for one moment, what would be the consequence of this bill passing into a law? The consequence would be, that the compensation to be paid to the duke of Atholl was required to be in proportion to the increased revenues of the country, a proportion not to be ascertained upon any examination or inquiry, but upon the mere certificate of the collector of the island; not upon oath, but at mere discretion, wholly uncontrouled; and this certificate, so to be issued, was to become a mandatory warrant to the lords of the treasury, for issuing the proportionate 783 sum to the duke of Atholl. In addition to the other proofs how unfounded were those claims on the part of the noble duke was, that no law officers of the crown, from 1781 to the present moment, ever reported in their favour. The noble marquis, having argued at considerable length against the measure, concluded by expressing his most cordial approbation of the conduct of a noble lord (Sidmouth), with whom, though he had not been in the habit of agreeing on political subjects, yet he must acknowledge the street purity and integrity of his conduct in respect to this claim, which had been put down under his administration, and he now trusted to sleep for ever.
§ The Earl of Carlisle
contended that the bargain was a compulsive one, and that the contracting parties had not started from the same place, and consequently could not have stood on the same grounds. The question was between a mighty empire, and an individual, and it was becoming the legislature to revise and rescind its former if the compensation under it was, as he maintained it was, inadequate for the rights purchased. It had been said that the house had no information before it to warrant the passing of the bill. But had not the other house of parliament made sufficient inquiries on the subject, and sent up the bill to them founded on their examinations, which must have appeared to them fully sufficient to justify it? On these grounds he should vote for the measure.
said, if he had not considered it material to the reputation and dignity of that house, to have a subject of this nature explained, he should have declined addressing their lordships on this occasion; but feeling, as he did, this necessity, he should desert his duty to the house, and to the community, it he did not state his sentiments, and protest against the claims of the noble duke, as inconsistent with justice to the country at large. The noble lord who spoke last, seemed to consider as a ground for the immediate proceeding of that house, the deliberation with which the enquiry had been conducted in another place. He (lord Sidmouth), had brought with him from that place as much respect as any man could entertain for its wisdom and for its integrity, but he could not admit that, because this perseverance had been employed elsewhere, a motive was supplied for neglect and precipitation here; he should rather have supposed that diligent and laborious investigation in the one place, was a reason for exerting the same unremitting industry in the other. The only way in which noble lords 784 could act, so as to preserve their own Character, was to examine gravely for themselves; such had been the excellent example presented to their observation, and yet it was now expected that three months revision of the subject in the house of commons, should be succeeded by the attention of scarcely as many days for the acquisition of their lordships' concurrence. Was it decent that the sanction so required, should be thus hastily conceded? Much importance had been attached to the information now obtained: but it was absurd to consider it of any consequence if a determination were to be formed, without having recourse to those documents on which alone it ought to be founded. So singular was the acceleration attempted in this affair, that the royal assent was to be given before the proper materials could be supplied from the activity of the press. Perhaps he (lord Sidmouth) from his situation, was not wholly unapprised of what was expedient for the formation of his own judgment; but to those who were not members of the privy council, the same opportunities of information could not have been afforded, He entered most cordially into all the sensibilities of the noble family of the Atholl's, but he had a duty to discharge to the public, which was paramount to every private consideration, and which no partial inclinations should induce him at any time, or under any circumstance, to surrender. What were the facts of this case? When the duke had failed in his application to parliament, he applied to his majesty in the form of a memorial, imploring his royal recommendation for the projection of his rights. To enquire into the object of the prayer, it was referred by his sovereign to the privy council, and after the due attention that had been paid to it, the question was submitted to the attorney and solicitor general, who drew up their determination in the form of a report, Although these persons were fully competent to the charge assigned them, their decision was opposed to the pretensions of the noble duke. Subsequent to this, the privy council being anxious to give the means of stating the subject more comprehensively, another memorial was proposed, the investigation was renewed; and after a general and prolix discussion, it was again resolved, that there were no grounds whatever for deeming the compensation made to the family inadequate. In this result he (lord Sidmouth), in opposition to his own wishes towards the individual, was constrained, from a sense of justice, to concur. Some of those who composed the privy council at 785 that time were among the most enlightened men of the age; a noble lord at the head of the law in a neighbouring kingdom, and a learned judge, were of the number. What he was now stating was not mere matter of allegation, it was confirmed by the papers on the table of their lordships. After this that nimous determination, another report was prepared, and in this situation of thing the noble duke applied for permission to present a third memorial, that the privy council might review what they had so repeatedly decided. They assented to this proposition conditionally, and the condition was, that new facts alone should be produced under this new application. This additional memorial was then presented, and at this critical moment a change took place in the administration. The resolution of the privy council, under its new modification, was at last favourable to the family, and it was determined that the sum of 70,000l. given to the duke's ancestor, was not an adequate compensation. In consequence of this, the affair was again brought before parliament, and the assent of his majesty had been notified; but although the royal concurrence was announced, it was only declared in conformity to the established orders in such cases, and the matter was to be re-examined with the same caution and jealousy for the public interest as if nothing of that kind had transpired. The foundation then of any demand of this nature ought to be discovered, in not only the insufficiency, but in the gross inadequateness of the remuneration. Was there any ground for such a supposition? The attorney and solicitor general (one of whom now adorns the situation be at that time so honourably held) had resolved, that the compensation was liberal. If the duke deemed it to be other wise, it was for him who sought the beneficial interposition of parliament to prove that it was insufficient. He would not pursue the track which had been so successfully followed by his noble and learned friend, or by the noble and learned friend, or by the noble marquis,but he would confidently assert, that not a shadow had been presented to his observation to vary the complexion of the case. The computation to which he had just adverted allowed thirty years purchase for the rental of the island, and no less a sum than 46,000l. for the royalty. Was this to be considered inadequate for such unprofitable honours? He did not mean to derogate from true dignity. He was contemplating the subject merely in a pecuniary light, without being at all disposed to undervalue hereditary distinction. Was it 786 thought insufficient by the noble person to whom it was assigned? Was it so supposed by the able advisers, whom he con[...]ed? When speaking of the purchase, he was not permitted to include the annuity on the principle explained by the noble marquis; but at least it might be referred to as indicative of the generosity with which he was treated, contrary to that parsimonious spirit which had been attributed to those concerned in the contract. Every maxim or discretion required that some satisfactory evidence. should be adduced before the subject was opened. Instead of this sort of testimony, heavy charges were substituted; fraud was intimated, violence was more than insinuated by the operation of this bill; but all this would be seen to be wild and illusive, when it was asserted, that parliament was the instrument of this fraud and oppression. It had been argued, that there was an increase of the advantages since the contract was made. This would not, surely, be allowed to be a valid argument, unless it could be said, that the bargain was unjust at the time it was entered into. Could such reasoning be admitted for a moment in a private contract? and why should not the same principles be acknowledged in our public engagements? But, to what was the improvement in the revenue to be attributed? Not only to the augmentation of the duties, but to the amelioration in the condition of the people, by which they were enabled to hear that augmentation. This benefit had been derived from a total Change of system, in regard both to the internal affairs and external relations of the island. After what had been already stated, it seemed unnecessary to detain their lordships with any minute and tedious enquiries into the abstract question of right. Right did not exist, and could not be rationally pretended; an attempt to support such a position seemed to defy all serious and sober argument. The appeal then of the noble duke must not be to the equity, but to the humanity or liberality of their lordships; yet feelings of this kind could not be connected with the matter under consideration. In the application of the public money, they could respect justice only, and all claims upon the generosity of the house ought to be ineffectual. If a firm and resolute regard were not paid to such principles, the consequence must ever be ruinous and destructive. But the proposition must not only be rejected on its own account, but as introductory of a precedent imminently dangerous. That consideration, independently of every other, would be suffi- 787 cient to induce their lordships, he trusted, to reject this measure. Did noble lords recollect the numerous contracts which were rendered necessary by the multifarious concerns of the empire? and were they disposed to invite the complaints of every discontented contractor? It was but a few years since a contract was made with a noble duke (the duke of Richmond) for a concession respecting an article (coals) of great importance. The increase in the luxuries of life, and the rapid advance of commerce, had so much augmented the employment of this commodity, that the engagement had become highly beneficial to the public. Another noble duke had accepted a remuneration for wine duties. If the demands of the duke of Atholl were satisfied, how could their lordships decently resist the claims of either of the other noble persons with whom contracts had been made, which in the event had turned out so advantageously for the public? To the same class might be referred the situation of a gentleman of high character in the vicinity of Plymouth. He had parted with a tract of land for the use of government, under the statute, for the consideration of 7l. per acre per annum. This land, by accidental improvements, had now become worth double that rent. What applied to that property was equally referable to prodigious tracts, which, by the industry of the nation, assisted by the legislature, had been severed from private property for the purpose of forming roads, and of intersecting the country by canals in every direction, By the general spirit of improvement, the parcels of land so detached had been rendered valuable beyond all reasonable calculation and apparent probability. Should all the boundaries be thrown down, should all these contracts be annulled, because subsequent emoluments have been derived, which would have exceeded the hopes of the most sanguine adventurer? He trembled for the consequences which must result from such an utter disregard of the public interest; he should by no means fulfil his duty to his sovereign as a Member of the privy council, or to his country, as a member of parliament, if he did not most strenuously resist the present application. He lamented the surrender of all decorum which characterised every part of this proceeding; he thought the dignity of the house was most materially implicated, but it was not on contingent and collateral circumstances, however relatively important that he relied; on the substantial merits of the question, he took his stand, and he was confident that if those who favoured this 788 measure should ultimately prevail, it would be productive of great embarrassment to their lordships, and of serious injury to the public.
The Earl of Suffolk
rose to corroborate what had fallen from the noble viscount, and to give his decided opposition to the bill. If this precedent was set, many others had an equal right to, demand compensation with the noble duke. For his part, he thought he himself had a much better and stronger claim. He had lost his brother, his father and his grandfather in the service of the country, and had nearly lost his own life also. Government had given grants to his family of nearly 60,000 acres of ground in America. All that property was lost by the war in that country, and the whole compensation which his family received as loyalists, was about 200l. for a property which is now worth near 200,000l. If, therefore, this precedent was once established, he, too, would. feel that he had as good a right to ask for compensation, and he now gave notice, that in that case he would apply for it. He bestowed great praise on the noble viscount (lord Sidmouth) for the great care that was taken in his administration of the public purse, a care for which he deserved, and certainly enjoyed, the good opinion of numbers of his countrymen, while on the other hand the wanton waste and profusion of another person who had since conducted administration, had been such as to make many persons almost wish that affairs should come to such a crisis as to make the necessity obvious of recurring to a different system.
§ Lord Mulgrave
said he Could not remain silent after the observations he had heard from some noble lords. He expressed his respect for the opinions already declared by the other house on this subject, and thought the history of the transaction fully justified it. He had no wish to hurt the feelings of any noble lord, but though he was willing to give every credit to the minister, who made the bargain with the house of Atholl. for his desire to save the public money, he must recollect that it was stated that the loss of the public amounted to no less than three hundred and fifty thousand pounds annually from the possession of the royalty of the Isle of Man by the Atholl family. He might, therefore, put it to their lordships, whether there was not a strong claim of justice. He agreed with the noble viscount,in his,desire ,to unite economy-with liberality; but by no means in his application of that rule to the merits of the present case. According to his arguments, there was no ground but fraud on the one side, or fatuity on the other. Such 789 economy in our generosity as was recommended, came to nothing short of avarice. As to the arguments drawn from the cases Of the duke of Richmond and others, the transactions were different from this: they Were fair and open bargains. They were not questions of dignity, but of plain pounds, shillings, and pence. After several other arguments in support of the bill, he lamented the coarse, harsh, and unnecessary observations, made by the noble and learned lord against the bill, which might surely have been qualified by other expressions. He felt great reverence and respect for high authority, and he felt a jealousy of the effects, opinions delivered in such language, by such authority, might produce. He felt himself, therefore, compelled to complain of the boisterous and rude manner in which—[Here lord Ellenborough rose, and observed, that no expressions used by him were such as could justify the application of such terms.] Lord Mulgrave proceeded: He said he should apply to his lordship what one of the characters of our immortal bard, Othello, applied to an old man: "Signor, your age may more command, me than your weapon." He respected his learning, his experience, his authority, and his situation in the state; but his lordship was not to suppose that he and his noble friends on that side of the house were always to sit in silent apathy when he chose to use angry language. Some of the expressions he had used were fitter for demagogues in Palace-yard, who fail at taxes, and introduce every sort of extraneous matter to inflame their audience, than to be used in that house. When he heard irritating and angry language used, it might produce the same sort of language from him; when he heard the word 'job' applied to this measure, he must say he despised the imputation. Such language must always be wrongly used, unless it were intended to follow it up with some positive charge. If a noble person, in a high and venerable situation, did not adapt his expressions to the dignity of that house, nor to the character of his high office, he must feel it due to the dignity of parliament, and due to the character of the bench, to take notice of it, as he felt. Would the noble lord have used such language, in such a stage of a proceeding, in the court in which he presided? He would never submit to be taxed with supporting a 'job'; a conduct of which he knew himself to be incapable. He was really sorry to say so much respecting a noble person of so high a description; but he himself also held a high responsible situation in the conduct of public affairs, and he 790 thought it justice to himself and others to express his indignation, and to endeavour to set himself right in this point with the house. He could not pretend to equal knowledge and ability with the learned lord, but he would not sit silent and pass over such language as that of which he complained.
§ Lord Ellenborough
said, that the attack made upon him would have been a just one, had he said any thing to give pain wantonly to any noble lord. But his observations were applied to the measure, and not to any individual whatsoever. He had used those words which struck him as most characteristic of the ideas he really entertained of the measure itself. Considering the lights he had on the subject, the precipitation with which it was endeavoured to pass the bill, and all the other circumstances connected with it, he could not speak of it in any other terms than those which he had used.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that having held the same high office when this subject came before the Privy Council which he now held, a great deal of his attention was necessarily drawn to it at that time. He could see no other reason for farther compensation, except the increase of revenue since the bargain was concluded. If this were admitted, there could be no such thing as a certainty of closing any pecuniary transaction between the public and private persons. He also considered the length of time as sanctioning the compact. He gave his opinion segregated from all connections in that house, on the very same principle that he should act upon on the bench. Looking at the question over and over again, for a term of years, he must say, as a legislator and a judge, that he saw no evidence of the alledged inadequacy of the compensation of 1765 which could possibly lead him to disturb that compact in 1805. His lordship then adverted to the door that this would open to petitions from all those persons whose property the publics found it necessary to purchase. It would be dangerous and extravagant to admit the principle that compensation was to be given for any additional improvement that might be made in property by different management. He confessed that parliament ought certainly to exercise its justice in this case with liberality, but at the same time there did not appear to him to be evidence sufficient to support such a Compensation proposed to be granted at the end of 40 year. The consideration of the time was material in this instance as in many others, because the space that had elapsed was a sort of proof that the bargain originally was right. He had before 791 agreed with the Attorney and Solicitor General, and no new evidence appeared but the supplemental statement of the duke of Atholl, and the proceedings of council. He thought his opinion was right; and he was determined, therefore, to act upon it. Was there any thing in these papers to make him alter his opinion? Certainly not. He thought he ought not to avoid giving his vote on the present occasion; and he thought he ought not to give it unaccompanied with his reasons.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
said, that it had not happened to him to attend the Privy Council on those occasions when this subject was considered there; but since he came into his present office, he had been led to pay much consideration to the affairs of the Isle of Man. His wish was, to do fair justice to the noble duke and to all parties concerned. He considered the compensation question with his mind perfectly unbiassed. He was ready to agree with his noble friends, that if increase of income were taken as the ground, there would be no knowing where to stop: but let noble lords look at the circumstances of the transaction itself. The noble lord then reviewed the case, and observed, that it was evident that the 70,000l.. were taken from a knowledge that that sum was the ultimatum; but it was stated by the Atholl family, that they expected a recommendation to his majesty for some mark of his royal consideration, either by annuity, or in some other way. The question then was, whether what the parties have received, is such as they ought to have taken: and when the difference of the tenure was considered between what was lost and the pension received, he did not think that the latter could be viewed as a sufficient compensation. He did not think the Atholl family had been liberally recompensed. His lordship then alluded to his having been chairman of the committee of the commons on the port of London improvement bill, in which capacity he was led to think a good deal on the subject of compensation ought to be liberal. People ought to be paid for the compulsion imposed upon them. There were some compensations, such as that once proposed in a plan of parliamentary reform, to be given to borough proprietors, to which he could not consent. He could not help thinking that the measure before their lordships was one which was founded in justice. He recollected what had been said by an hon. gent. (Mr. Fox) who possessed great talents, and whose weight 792 was acknowledged in this country, but with whom be seldom concurred in opinion; he heard that distinguished character say, "that the despotism of an individual over the few was a great evil, and the despotism of the few over the many was still worse: but that the despotism of the many over the few, or the individual, was the worst of all, because no hope of redress remained." This he considered to be the situation of the noble duke in question, from which, he trusted, however, that the liberality and justice of their lordships would release him.
The Duke of Norfolk ,
in answer to the remarks respecting the letter, said, that the annuity of 2,000l. was given on account of this. His lordship had said that this ought to have been perpetual. It might be so, but the time to complain was when the period was come when the annuity would expire.—The house then divided on the question for the second reading. Contents 35; Noncontents 11; Majority 24. The bill was then ordered to be committed to-morrow,