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their present amount ; and as the design of regulation, would be so long known before-hand to the offenders, they would use fuch industry in their several departments, that there would not be much left for redress, by the time that it could take place.
But the great force of the arguments on this side, was principally directed to the present unusual and extraordinary stretch of parliamentary authority; it was acknowledged that a supreme undefined power was ultimately lodged in the legislature'; but it was in filted, that such an exertion of it could only be justified by the most urgent necessity; and that as no such necessity now existed, it was a wanton violation of public faith, law, and constitution, without an equitable motive. That it was the invasion of a right which parliament had not granted but sold; a right for which the faith of the nation was pledged, and which could not be taken away without an act of forfeiture in the company; nor even in that case, without due compensation. · That this violent and dangerous exertion of power, must not only destroy the credit of the East India company, but also affect the bank, the South-sea, and all other public companies, none of which could have any other securities than those which are now violated; that whenever a war took place, the effects of this unjust and pernicious measure, upor the national credit in general, would be too late, and too fațally experienced ; and that it was not less dangerous in its principle, nos mischievous in its preces dent to the city of London, and all the other corporared bodies in the British empire.
A particular charge was also made upon administration with regard to their motives for this suspension. It was said that they had arbitrarily and capriciously suspended the legal course of business in the court of
proprietors, and forced this matter into parliament, only to gratify a private resentment; that the company had been officioully informed by their chairman, and deputy-chairman, (the only, medium through .which they could have any communication with government) that the measures relative to the supervision were approved of by administration; but that as soon as it was found, that the company did not chuse to intrust their affairs in the hands of those who were nominated for that purpose by the ministers, they immediately set their face against the whole measure, and now had the fortune to find the house fo compliant as to adopt their resentments.
It was observable, that many of those, who either in themselves or their families, were under great obligations to the company, and particularly such as had obtained vast fortunes in her service, now joined administration in this bill. The effects of the
dilputes with respect to the appointment of supervisors, were also very visible on this occasion. Though the question was debated warmly and ably by the oppofition, such was the force of the general odium in which the company stood, and such the weakness arising from its internal dissentions, that the numbers against the bill were very trifling. Besides, many of the oppofi, fion had not then come to town. Upon a divi si on late at night, and not a very thin house, the bill was carried by a majority of more than five to one, the num. bers being 153, to 28 only,
The restraining bill was presented the next day to șhe house of Lords, and it being so near the holidays, was carried through with the greatest dispatch. It did not, however, pass without opposition ; though, as in the other house the opponents were few. A poble duke, who had long been distinguished in OL
position, and who of late had applied himself with ancommon industry to obtain a perfect knowledge of India affairs, traverfed this bill with great vigour and almost alone, for the short time in which it was passing through its several stages.
As the bill was brought in on a Saturday, and a report was spread in the evening, and inserted in the news-papers, that it had been carried' that day through its last reading, (a matter, however uncommon, which was readily beieved) the India company had not time to go through the necessary forms, for assembling in its corporate capacity, and framing and presenting a petition, before the following Wednesday, on which it was finally passed. A petition signed by 14 proprietors was however, received, and witnesses were examined, and counfel heard at the bar against the bill.
We shall take notice of some of the arguments that were used upon this occasion, fo far as they were peculiar to the place, or may seem to throw new light upon the subject. As the house of Lords is close fhut, we are obliged to gather the arguments of the minority in that house from their protests; those of the ministry, we must suppose nearly the same with those used in the house of Commons. It was urged against the bill, that the arbitrary taking away of legal franchises and capacities, without any legal cause of forfeiture, establifhes a precedent, which leaves no sort of security to the subject for his liberties; fince his exerciling them, in the strietest conformity to all the rules of law, general equity, and moral conduct, is not sufficient to prevent parliament from interesting its fovereign powers to divest them of those rights; by means of which insecurity, the honourable distinction between the British and other forms of government, is in a great measure lost; that this misfortune is greatly growing
upon us, through temporary, occasional, and partial acts of parliament, which, without consideration of their conformity to the general principles of our law and constitution, are adopted rafhly and hastily upon every petty occafion; that though it may be difficult to fix any legal limit to the extent of legislative power; it is to be fupposed, that parliament is as much bound as any individual to the observance of its own compacts; or otherwise, it is impossible to understand what public faith means, or how public credit can fubfist.
That the India company might have been legally called in question, and even its charter endangered, for a neglect of exercifing those necessary powers with which it is entrusted, and the use of which it is now proposed to suspend; and that it must be a government composed of deceit and violence, where men are liable to be punished if they decline, or to be restrained if they endeavour to exercise their lawful powers. That it appears by evidence, upon oath, at the bar, that the company had been authoritatively informed, that the commission for regulating their affairs, would have been approved of by administration; and that their fituation was peculiarly unfortunate, when driven from all confidence in public faith, and the laws of their country, they fhould find no fecurity for their charter privileges even in those very ministers, under whose fan&tion they had every poffible reason to believe they were acting.
It was much objected to, that the bill was brought in at a feafon, when the house is always ill attended, and hurried through with a violent, and it was faid, indecent precipitation. That a reason of fact was alledged in the preamble, stating the expence of the commission to be very considerable: and they had not before them any account or estimate of the expences
actual or probable, nor were supplied with any accounts tending to fhew the present ability or inability of the company to bear it; so that the Lords were to aflert facts, and on thefe facts to ground a law, altering the condition, and fufpending the charter rights of the company, without a possibility of knowing whether the facts be true or falfe ; and that with a determination to continue uninformed, it had been refused to call for the evidence of the directors concerning the expence; or in a matter of such importance, both in itself and its example, to follow the ancient settled parliamentary course of desiring a conference with the Commons, in order to be acquainted with the evidence which they received as the grounds of their proceeding.
It was said, that it must be a matter of astonishment to the public, who had for a long time earnestly and anxiously looked to the company; or to parliament, for redress of the grievances in India, to find at length, that the latter is only employed in preventing the former from doing its duty; that instead of correcting the abuse, they opposed themselves to the reformation; that when it was expected, that those who had wronged the company should have been brought to exemplary punishment, the suffering company itself is deprived of its right; and instead of calling delinquents tới account, the persons legally empowered to correct or restrain them, are by parliament suspended from their office.
On the other side, besides many of those arguments which we have before feen stated in support of the bill, it is faid, that the charge upon administration, of having at one time given a fanction to the commission for superintending the company's affairs, was positively denied, with respect to such of its members as bez