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it, that the most material assistance was to be expected from the exertions and co-operation of their agents and instruments here? Would the house act differently from the acknowledged practice of their ancestors, even for a considerable time previous to the expected danger, and not adopt salutary measures of defence and general preservation, unless the peril was immediate and unavoidable? Such a conduct would not only be contrary to the rule of right, established and continued by the wisest précedents, but would be directly the reverse of that which human reason ought to dictate.
Taking the question, therefore, in every possible point of view, he was sure that these grounds were sufficient to induce the house to agree to the preamble of the bill, which had been sent to them from the house of lords. That there were men disaffected to the constitution of the country, and to his Majesty's government, no doubt could possibly exist; for the preamble of the bill was proved in the most satisfactory manner by clear and notorious testimony, and the consequence followed of course. He therefore earnestly called upon the house, and the honourable gentleman, in a particular degree, whose conduct in the first stage of the debate was entitled to the most honourable commendation, and whose consistency was on that principle so materially involved in the present question, to agree to the bill, and not to suffer the enemy first to come here, and proceed afterwards to. deliberate,
The question for the first reading of the bill was carried upon a division;
5 and the bill was afterwards forwarded through all its stages, and passed,
April 25, 1798.
The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means, Mr. Hobart in the chair,
Ms. Pitt rose, and spoke to the following effect:
SIR-It will be recollected that in November last, when I laid before the committee an outline of the probable amount of the expense of the year, I stated it at the sum of twenty-five millions and a half. It is a satisfaction to me to observe in the outset, that the statement which I shall now have the honour to submit, differs from the former in so few points, the changes which will be remarked in it are so intelligible, and the causes by which they have been occasioned are so plain and obvious, that I shall not be under the necessity of trespassing long upon the time of the committee. The total amount of the supply which I am to lay before you to-day, according to the most accurate estimate that can be formed, and after six months have elapsed, notwithstanding the circumstances which have called upon us to make additions to our expenditure, is 28,490,000); being an excess of about three millions beyond the former calculation. · This variation, it will readily be perceived, results in a great measure from the increased exertions for our national defence, which the state of the preparations of the enemy, and the probability of their attempting to put their designs in execution, have occasioned. I shall proceed, therefore, to state, as shortly a3 I am able, the variations which have taken place, and explain the articles in which the statement I formerly gave are increased.
The first head of service which naturally occurs, is the navy. I stated the estimate of this branch of expenditure, in Noveinber, at the sum of 12,538,000l. and the committee have recently added to that head the sum of 910,0001. making a total of 13,448,0001.
The next article of supply is the army, which the committee will recollect amounted to 10,112,0001., and with the particulars of which I will not at present trouble them. It is, however, necessary to observe, that several additions have been since made. Among these additions is the charge of 1,315,0001, for defraying the expense incurred by the supplementary militia, and 130,0001. for the provisional cavalry. There is also a sum of 350,0001, for the volunteer corps, I mean the expense incurred by the different volunteer corps of infantry: and I have the happiness to
remark, that the body thus raised amounts to no less than 40,000 men. The next article is that which relates to the foreign corps, and makes an expenditure of 226,000l. I formerly stat. ed, that the extraordinaries incurred in 1797 were likely to amount to about 1,300,0001., and they bave only exceeded that sum by 61,0001. The original estimate of the charge for barracks was 400,0001., to which I must now add the farther in. crease of 120,0001.; and this addition is easily accounted for. It naturally arises from the expenses incurred in consequence
of the additional troops which it has been found necessary to keep on foot, and in a state of readiness for action. But here I must observe, that the debt so created would have been equally caused in another way. It would have been allowed to innkeepers for quartering the troops, and for the formation of temporary barracks; and the advantages resulting from employing it in the manner in which it has been laid out, must be obvious to every man who considers the state of the country; as we are enabled by that means more effectually to concentrate our force, and to put ourselves into a more capable situation of repelling any sudden attack. These, Sir, are the whole of the articles which re
army, with the exception of 700,000l. for future extraordinaries. The extraordinaries I had formerly calculated at 2,500,000l. but I shall take them now at 3,500,000). These items, taken together, will give a total sum of 12,857,0001.
The next head of service which presents itself is the ordnance, which, with a small addition to what I stated in the month of November, amounts to the sum of 1,303,0001.
There are very few additions to be made to the charge for miscellaneous articles, and the total of the sums appropriated, to this branch may be taken at 682,0001. These, Sir, are the different additions which are to be made to the former estimate, which I had the honour of submitting to the committee. There are, besides, it is necessary for me to notice, one or two trifling articles, but there appears on the whole an excess of 3,674,0001. beyond the sum stated in November; in that estimate, however, was included an estimate of deficiency of grants, and which it
is now unnecessary to provide for from two material causes. The bank has been paid the sum of 500,0001. by the early product of the land tax, which otherwise would have gone to the consolidated fund. Besides, in the distribution paper it appears, that of the whole sum of money granted to the island of Grenada, 150,0001. has not been sent, and therefore the deficiency will leave the gross sum of 2,994,000l. as an excess.
£. 13,448,888 Stated in November £. 12,538,888 Added now
12,857,315 Stated in November
10,112,950 Added now
1,303,580 Stated in November 1,291,038 Added now
680,608 Stated in November 673,000 Added now
7,608 National Debt
I am aware, however, that in this statement no provision is made for any extraordinary expense which may be necessary in a crisis like the present, when the extent of our exertions must be regulated by the magnitude of the danger with which we are threatened, and by the aspect which that danger may assume, should the enemy persevere in their desperate desigus of invasion. For the expense which, in such an emergency, would be required, we must provide as circumstances shall direct. We can only take care to cover by specific provisions those sums which are stated upon actual estimate. No calculation can be made of the expense which such an exigency, as that for which we ought to prepare ourselves, will occasion. It must be generally provided, therefore, by a vote of credit, which it may either exceed, or of which it may fall short, as the case may happen. What other precautions such a state of things may require, will þe subject of future consideration. At present I propose only to make provision for the specific services which can be calculated upon estimate, reserving till a future period the motion I shall have the honour of making for a vote of credit. Gentle men may be desirous to know to what extent that vote of credit is intended to be. As far as I can at present form any judgment upon the subject, two millions will be the sum proposed.
Having stated the variations which circumstances have produced in the supply, it remains for me to explain the alterations which have taken place, and the additions that may be necessary in the plan of the ways and means since November last.
The land and malt, then, I take as usual at 2,750,0001. The next article is the assessed taxes. Here the committee will be aware that a considerable variation has taken place from the sum at which their produce was originally estimated. The modifications which, upon the wisest principles, were introduced into the bill in its progress through the house, have greatly reduced the amount at which this article was stated. The committee must likewise be sensible that it would be impossible to form any thing like a correct estimate of the sum, which the measure, with all its modifications, may be expected to produce. In many parts of the kingdom, the charges to be made have not been ascertained, and the appeals to which they must give rise have not yet been decided. As far as can be collected from the returns, there is reason to believe, however, that the defalcation in the produce of this measure will not be such as to diminish or destroy its beneficial tendency. In the metropolis, too, from which the returns have almost only been received, the abatements will be found chiefly to apply. In the country, the same circumstances which, in the case of the metropolis, rendered the modification necessary, do not exist; and the produce of the tax, therefore, will not be expected to fall short in the same propor