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I AM one of those, and I believe there are a great many more, who are against the second reading of this Bill, presented by a Noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) for the better securing the constitution, by pieventing the Officers of the land forces from being deprived of their commissions, otherwise than by judgment of a Court-martial. I did not, it is true, rife up immediately after the Motion was made, to give my reasons for being against a second reading, because I thought the Bill was of a nature fo very extraordinary, and the objections to it so Itrong and evident, that I thought it unnecessary for me, or any other Lord in this House, to give himself or the House the trouble of explaining them: but since the Noble Lord who spoke last, insists so much upon it, in order to satisfy him, I shall give him some of those reasons which prevail with me to be against a second reading of the Bill now before us: and if either that Noble Lord, or any other, can give sufficient anfwers to those reasons, I shall most readily join with those Noble Lords who are for reading this Bill a second time.
With me; my Lords, one of the principal objections against the Bill is, that I look upon it' as an open and a direct attack upon the Prerogative of the Crown. It is an attack upon a Prerogative, which bis Majesty and his ancestors have enjoyed ever since our monarchy had a being; and we all know how nearly connected the Privileges of this House are with the Prerogative of the Crown: we know, my Lords, that the last open and direct attack that was made upon the Prerogative of the Crown, énded in the total subversion of our monarchy, and an entire diffolution of this House; and therefore I cannot but be surprized, to see a Bill of this nature brought first into this House: if such a Bill had passed the other House, and had been fent up to us from thence, I do not doubt but that every one of your Lordships would have easily seen through the design; you would have seen the snare that was laid against the mo- . narchical establishment of our government, upon which the Privileges of every Lord in the nation absolutely depend. This
would have given your Lordships a juft claim; and this, I doubt not, would have made you receive Tuch a Bill in the manner it deserved.
I have often heard, my Lords, of a compact between the King and the people ; and a compact, upon which, it is said, our constitution and governinent depend; if there be any such, the nature of it must certainly be mutual. On the one part, our Kings are obliged not to usurp, or encroach upon the liberties of the people: but surely there must be a counterpart, and by that there must be an obligation on the part of the people, not to usurp or encroach upon the Powers and Prerogatives of the Crown: for it would be a very unjust compact, if, on the one hand, the King was most strictly tied down, and, on the other hand, the people left at full liberty to encroach as often, and as far as they pleased, upon the Prerogatives of the Crown. This cannot be the case; the compact must be mutual; and as his present Majesty has never once attempted, nor desires, in the least to encroach upon the Liberties or the Privileges of the people, it would be very unjust and unfair in us, to make any encroachment upon him. Nay, it would be most unwise, and might be attended with the moft fatal consequences; for a breach of covenant on one side, would diffolve all the covenants on the other, which would at once unhinge the whole of our constitution.
It has always been thought necessary, my Lords, to give our Kings the sole power of naming, preferring, and reforming at pleasure the Officers of our armies, in order to give our Kings that power and influence over our armies ; which is absolutely necessary for supporting and promoting a proper military discipline among them, without which they would be of no use against a foreign enemy, and might soon become most oppreffive to the people, for whose fafety they were raised and maintained. This power was thought lo necesary at the time of she Revolution, and it was then thought to be of so little danger to the freedom of the constitution, that at that time, when the Vol. I.
liberties of the People were fully considered, when every thing was removed that could be of dangerous consequence to them, there was not the least mention made of taking this Power from the Crown, or even of laying it under any restraints: and I do not know any thing that has happened, which can give us the least ground for being of an opinion different from that, which was the opinion of our ancestors at that time.
The happiness of our Constitution, my Lords, depends upon that equal Division of Power, which is established amongst the three Branches of our Legislature: the executive Power, and the defending of the People against their enemies, is now, and always has been, entrusted solely with our King; it must always be absolutely necessary to give our Kings proper Powers for these purposes : the supreme and ultimate determination of all disputes about property is lodged solely in this House; and the raising of money for the public use, or laying Taxes upon the People, is what now seems to be principally the province of the other. House. Thus the three Branches of the Legislature are a check upon one another, which prevents its being in the power of any one of them to oppress the People, or to destroy the other two. Under this Establishment we have been happy for many ages, under this the nation has grown up to a very high pitch of riches and power; and while this Eftablishment continues, it is more than probable, we shall always be happy.
But, my Lords, by the Bill now before us, we are to establifh a fourth Power, a new sort of Power, which, I am persuaded, will soon become independent of the other three. This is making a moft confiderable alteration in the Constitution; an alteration that may be attended with such fatal consequences, that it makes me tremble to think of it: to establish a General for life at the head of a well-disciplined army, commanded by Officers who could not be removed but by the confent of one another, would soon put it in the power of
that General to make himself master of both King and Parliament: the transition from Dux to Rex would soon become easy to him; by this the Constitution might be entirely overthrown, and the nation might be involved in a multitude of calamities.
It is true, my Lords, that by what is proposed in the Bill now before us, an Officer may still be removed from his Command in the Army, upon an Address of either House of Parliament; but as the Parliament cannot always be kept fitting, this Address could not be speedily obtained : and if an Officer should be difcovered to be conspiring the overthrow of the Government, and Ihould, notwithstanding, be continued in his Commission, and in the possession of that power in the army which he had, by virtue of his Commission, till the next Session of Parliarnent, both Houses might, perhaps, address for turning him out: but his power in the Army might, perhaps, by that time be so well established, that it would be out of the power of both King and Parliament to divest him of his Command : and as for a trial by CourtMartial, I believe it would not be so much as pretended, that a sentence could be got against such an Officer, or indeed, against any Officer who had a great influence in the army: it is not to be presumed that Officers would be ready to condemn one another, unless it was for a crime which they themselves could no way approve of, especially when they knew that they could not be removed by any other authority.
Since then, my Lords, I can see no manner of occasion for the Regulation now proposed; since I am of opinion, that it would be great injury done to his Majesty, that it would tend
to destroy -ll military discipline in the Army, and would greatly - endanger, if not totally subvert our happy Constitution, I cana not therefore agree to the giving it a second reading.
Lord Hervey, Jan. 17, 1734.
The Honourable Gentleman who spoke first for the Motion, has indeed made the best excuse for the Ministry that can be K 2
made, Ministers are but men, sometimes weak men; and though it would be unjust to suppose them endued with a spirit of prophecy, yet, I think, they should at least be possessed of a tolerable share of prudence. I should not, indeed, wonder, if one or two Measures went wrong upon a Minister's hand, through unavoidable accidents; yet I think it strange, that every Measure should go wrong; that not one of the numerous expedients that have been set on foot for securing the tranquillity of Europe, or providing for the security of Great-Britain, should prove effectual. Sir, I own this gives me strong apprehensions of what I am not inclined to express on the occasion. I own that I was apt to think, that the round of Ne. gociations and Treaties we have been carrying on for these ten or twelve years past, with all the Powers of Europe, might have procured us, at least, some respite from a burden which 'our forefathers never knew; I mean, Sir, that of a standing
Army. I call it a standing Army, because it has continued for these many years, and we have always been told the same things over and over again, as reasons why it is continued. I have, during many years, told the House every Session, that we fhould have a return of the very fame reasons next Session; but Gentlemen never seemed to believe me, though they have hitherto found my words but too true. Now, Sir, as the same causes have subsisted for above these forty years, without being any worse for the wearing, I am apt to think that they may fubfift forty years longer ; and while the same causes subsist, the fame effects must follow : so that in reality a standing Army may be thought as much a part of our Constitution, as the more lawful Prerogative, or Privilege, which either Prince or People may claim. But, Sir, though even the Gentlemen who are most conversant in Public Affairs, will, I believe, be puzzled to find out one new argument in favour of a standing Army, yet there is nothing easier than to bring twenty against it. The reason of this, Sir, is because it produces but one single good, which is the security of the Administration; but