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tions I have made into execution, we shall prevent prodigality; and were we to spend millions upon such an object, or had we done so at an earlier period of our history, and been thereby enabled to have prevented the calamities and disgraces that have befallen the country, what cause would there not have been for solid satisfaction and triumphant exultation? The progress of the plan will be gradual, as I do not intend it to take place instantly in its full extent, that it shall not affect the seat of any person chosen for the whole Parliament. If the plan should be adopted in this session, there will be no man hut who ought to be satisfied; and in the interim till it takes effect, the People of England will have the happiness of being represented by the present House of Commons, chosen as this House has been by the free voice of the People. On chusing the oext Parliament, if any borough were, after the Parliament had begun business, to petition to be disfranchised, the sitting member should vacate his feat. There is another point that I have accidentally omitted in the earlier part of my speech, and that is, my intention in counties to increase the number of the electors, as well as the number elected; but what I mean to do in this respect is extremely simple, and totally distinct from the idea of universal representation; I mean merely that another species of persons of property, besides freeholders, shall also have votes for the county; I allude to copyholders, -who are in most respects in the fame situation as freeholders themselves. Having stated this, I take a general view of the principle of the measure. I said it was practicable and beneficial; that it was a principle deeply rooted in this country; that the representation, as it stood at present, was inadequate, and that some amendments were necessary; that we had leisure, and a fair opportunity for a full discussion of so important a matter; but that if it should have come before, when in a moment of difficulty ancl distress, it would have been impossible to have done justice to it; that the imperfections in the state of the representation weakened the confidence the People had
in ;n the representative body, and the love they ought at all times to be encouraged to entertain for the Constitution. It is to that confidence the country owes all her former strength, prosperity, and splendour. It is true that the country has prospered as the representation stands at present; but if we have prospered, we have also suffered; bitterly and grievously suffered; suffered for the want of this amendment, and by means of Parliaments having a boundless and unlimited confidence in a Minister, and continuing to entertain that confidence after the Minister has lost the confidence of the country. The re
. presentarives have a common interest with their constituents, the People of England; it becomes therefore the duty of every pian in this House to cement the union, and strengthen the connection between the People and the popular branch of the Legislature. The alterations, I repeat it, would be better made in the moment of peace and reflection, than in a moment of turbulence and of public misfortune; I hope therefore that the House, by its conduct this day, will afford permanent and lasting satisfaction to the friends of the measure of reform. The fixed and steady principle of the proposition will lead the
• House no farther: if therefore there are dangerous and alarming plans of reform in the contemplation of any wild and
- visionary speculators, the best way to put an end to the dread of any danger likely to arise from such rash and ill-digested innovations, would be, to adopt the motion I am just about to offer to the consideration of the House; and I shall conclude with declaring, that I feel a degree of satisfaction, which no other measure could ever afford me in my life, if I should be the humble instrument of securing by this regulation, the dearest interests, and the future liberty and happiness of the People of England. I shall now move, "That leave be given to bring in a bill, to amend the representation of the People of England in Parliament."
Mr. Pitt, Jpril 18, 1785.
After the many occasions on which I have before expressed what my sentiments are on the subject of a reform in the representation of the People in Parliament, I fliall, not consider myself under any great necessity of troubling the House, but there have been extraordinary circumstances attending the introduction of the present question. That I have always been a friend to the principle of the bill, is a fact which does not require to be now repeated. Whether the means taken to effect that principle are such as are most unexceptionable, must remain for future discussion, but cannot provoke my opposition to the motion. There remains ample opportunities in the future stages of the bill, to examine and correct it; opportunities which in themselves will be the highest acquisition. In the review which has been taken of the question this night, there are means used to implicate the American war in the subject now under discussion, by suggesting that it was supported by the influence of burgage tenures, and that, if they had been withdrawn, that war would have had a more speedy termination. I acknowledge that it would have been in the power of the Parliament to bring that war to a pe/iod, had they considered it as an improper one; but the manner in which it must have been done, would be such as I should little expect to hear recommended from the gentlemen on the other side of the House. When the delay of a few days in passing the Supplies was represented last year as the most heinous proceeding, what would have been the enormity of stopping, not the Ordnance Supply, as was the cafe, but all the other Supplies also, as would be the cafe in the event which might here take place. This would be a conduct worthy of a Parliament in certain situations, and would siiew them to be sensible of their due weight and importance in the scale of the Constitution, and not the instruments of a superior power, kept for no other purpose but to register edicts, and perform an annual routine. Much has been said of the merit of dislblving that cohesion which has been said to subsist in the parties in this Housew
That That cohesion does subsist, is a truth in which I take too much pride, to think of denying, and from which this country derives too much advantage to be an enemy to: my connections were formed on liberal and systematic principles, and could not be dissolved by any regulations, while the fame union in sentiment and principles-continued to cement them. When an honourable gentleman said, that parties on one side of the House occasioned similar engagements on the other, he should have considered, that it equally applied to one as to the other: but there might be some circumstances which might induce that honourable gentleman to look forward with eagerness to the dissolution of such attachments, if they obliged him to support and defend measures in which his opinions did not correspond; if they forced him to act one way, and think another. Under such circumstances, it was perfectly natural that he should pant to be disengaged from such connections, and resign the load which seemed so much to oppress him. To that principle, which, by a diminution of the members for boroughs, tended to increase the proportion of representatives for counties, I am sincerely and cordially a friend. But while I am thus explicit on the subject of my approbation, it is but just to mention, that there is another point to which I totally disagree. With all respect, which I always pay to the House of Commons, and among the rest to the present House, I can perceive in it no superlative excellence, no just superiority which can justify the suspension of the operation of this bill. To defer for a period of years any system of reform, however partial and inadequate, is by no means complying with the declared wishes of the majority of the electors of this country, whose voice, though by no means to be acknowledged as that to which the House of Commons must conform, when they are directed by any sudden impulse, as the opinions of a moment, should always be obeyed on points which the experience and consideration of years have taught them finally to decide on. The People, notwithstanding all that has been said, have no
peculiar peculiar obligations to this Parliament for uncommon instances of that propriety of conduct which could warrant so implicit a reliance in it. No very flattering proofs of extraordinary attention to the rights of the People have been given by His Majesty's present Ministers, in their support of that excellent measure, the Westminster Scrutiny; and no very splendid testimony of their prudence in financial concerns, could be drawn from the Commutation Tax. This is a proceeding, the hardship of which they have already felt; and there are some others now in agitation, which are not likely to turn out much more favourable. These only are the reasons the People can have for a reliance in the present Parliament. I do not, however, mean to say any thing which can be construed into invective against them. I have before been accused of insulting them. I do not know that I did so; but if heat should have led me at any time to say any thing which could have that appearance, I am exceedingly sorry for it. There was nothing in any of these circumstances which could impress them on my memory; but I have observed, that nothing 1 have ever said in my warmest moments have ever drawn forth so much passion and ill temper on the other side of the House, as when I have attempted to praise them. The right honourable gentleman has, in this instance, receded from those opinions which on two former occasions he seemed to maintain; and the alteration which he has now made, for the purpose of a specific plan, is infinitely for the worse. It is in vain that he endeavours to qualify the objections which the idea of innovation raises in the minds of some, by diminishing the extent and influence of reformation. From the earliest periods of our Government, that principle of innovation, but which mould more properly be called amendment, is neither more nor less than the practice of the Constitution. In every species of government, (for I will put absolute monarchy out of the question, as one which ought never to take place in any country), democracy and aristocracy are always in a state of gradual improvement,