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to call a mockery. Mr. GREY remarked, that when Mr. Pitt moved for an addition of 100 members to be added to the counties, he could not carry his motion ; and yet he had contrived to procure the nomination of 40 members by indirect means; for he had added to the house of Peers 30 members, who either nominated directly, or by irresistible influence, that number of members of the house of commons, as appeared from the petitions then on the table, and which the petitioners were ready to prove.
Mr. Grey then read the resolutions which are entered in the journals at the commencement of every session in the following words:
Resolved, “ That no Peer of this realm hath any right to give his vote in the election of any member to serve in Parliament.
Resolved, “ That it is a high infringement upon the liberties and privileges, of the commons of Great Britain, for any Lord of Parliament, or any Lord Lieutenant of any county, to concern themselves in the elections of members to serve for the commons in Parliament."
If the present system be right, these resolutions, and the principles upon which they are founded, must be wrong; and it would be better to expunge them from the journals, than to allow them to remain there while the practice is so totally inconsistent with them. It may perhaps be said, however, that although the constitution may have been in some shape impaired since the revolution, it still remains so good, as to make a change hazardous. In speaking on this subject, the influence appeared to him so excessive, and the occasion so important, that if he should even go a little beyond the strict bounds of what it may be usual to advance in that house, he hoped it might be overlooked. Were the evils of the American war nothing? These were in his mind entirely owing to the unequal and corrupt representation in Parliament. It may be said, however, that the house of commons are really a just-representation of the people, because, on great emergencies, they never fail to speak the sense of the people, as was the case in the American war, and in the Russian armament; but had the house of commons been a real representation of the people, they would have interfered sooner on these occasions, without the necessity of being called upon to do so. He feared much that that house was not a real representation of the people ; that it was too much influenced by passion, prejudice, or interest.
This may for a time give to the executive government apparent strength; but no government can be either lasting or free, which is not founded on virtue, and on that independence of mind and conduct among the people, which creates energy, and leads to every thing that is noble and generous, and that alone can conduce to the strength and safety of a state.
“ What constitutes a state?
“ Thick wall, or moated gate;
“ Not bays and broad-armed ports,
“ Not starr'd and spangled courts
“ No; MEN! high-minded MEN,
“ In forest, brake, or den,
“ Men who their duties know,
“But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain.” If the present practice deviates from the principle of the constitution, he had surely a good right to call upon the house to enquire into the subject, and to consider in what way it may be amended. Indeed it was evident, that many leading members of that house considered a great part of it in a state of dependence ; else what could mean the frequent appeals to those who were emphatically called
the independent members. An Honorable Gentleman [Mr. Powis) had, in 1784, assembled round him a little senate of his own, composed of those independent country gentlemen, from which he had excluded the borough members, as probably not coming within the description of independent members of Parliament. Surely this might be considered as a tacit avowal, on the part
a great enemy to reform, of the absolute necessity of that very measure which he so strongly opposed. There were argiiments for reform, which he need only to state, to produce conviction : the county of Rutland sent as many members to Parliament as the freeholders of Yorkshire; and Cornwall as many as Rutland, Yorkshire, and Middlesex together; and as many, within one, as the whole kingdom of Scotland. These were facts within the knowledge of the house ; and surely afforded sufficient ground for a parliamentary reform. Here were other grounds arising from bribery, corruption, and expense at elections, which were known to every member who had served on election committees, though they were not known to the house as a body. Sometimes, indeed, reports from committees stated acts of bribery and corruption, as in the cases of Cricklade, and Shoreham, and Stockbridge, whose case was still depending. The most certain and effectual remedy in those cases was to establish a more popular election, which was the most likely method to secure the purity of election, and the independence of members of that house.
Mr. GREY then said, that his intention was to make a motion for referring the petition to a committee; but he had it not in contemplation to propose any particular plan, as there occurred to him many reasons against it. In the case which had just occurred, with respect to commercial credit, the Right Honorable Gentleman (Mr. Pitt) himself had proceeded in that precise way: he had stated the grievance or evil supposed to exist: the house on his motion had referred it to a committee to investigate
into the matter, and to report to the house ; and upon the report of that committee, a bill had been brought in, and had now passed that house, which he wished sincerely might have the effect to remedy the evil. If then it should be said to him, why would you alarm and disturb the minds of the people, when you have no particular plan of redress to propose ? He would oppose to such question, the Right Honorable Gentleman's own mode of proceeding in the case he had mentioned; but he would say also, that it was indeed the proper and regular mode of proceeding. He did not approve of the Duke of RichMond's plan of reform, though he thought it better than the present system: any plan would be better, which would secure such people in the house, as would vote independently, and uninfluenced by corruption : he could certainly mention a plan which appeared to him much better; but he was not bound by the general mode of proceeding in that house, to move any specific plan, and he would therefore adopt that mode, which had been usually followed, and which appeared to him the best, viz, after having stated the grievance, to move for a committee to take it into consideration, and report to the house such mode of remedy, as shall appear to them proper. He concluded with moving, that the petition should be referred to a committee.
The debate on this motion was protracted to the unusual length of two days, when the house divided on the question for referring the petition to a committee, 41, against it 282.
Mr. GREY, was not discouraged from bringing forward the subject again at different times, and in various forms, under parliamentary discussion. But he made his grand and ultimate effort on the 26th of May 1797, when he very candidly confessed, that he laid his account from past experience with exposing himself to many uncharitable imputations. If in their resistance to the destructive sys
tem of ministers, if in their endeavours to check them in their ruinous career, if in their efforts to control them in their profuse and extravagant waste of public money, he and his friends had incurred imputations of a wish to gratify personal interest and private ambition, and of a wanton desire to thwart executive government, they could not in the present instance expect to escape similar or still more odious imputations. It was some consolation, however, that though their exertions were not well received in that house, the public might pass a different decision upon them; and to the public would the eventual decision belong. It might perhaps be called presumption in him to call the attention of the house to the conduct of an indi. vidual so insignificant as he was. They would do him the justice, however, to allow, that in his proposition for a reform in Parliament, he had never proceeded on any speculation of natural and imperceptible rights. The measures, which he had the honor to bring forward, were founded, not in speculative, but on practical grounds. Both the speculative and the practical defects of the present system had been so largely discussed, and so often repeated, that his labor on the present occasion was much abated, without injury to the cause. His views, he repeated, had proceeded on practical grounds, and not on grounds of right, because no man could claim any particular form of government upon a ground of right. Here, however, he begged not to be misunderstood, when he stated this proposition: he avowed that there was no man more warmly attached to, or who would more steadily support the natural and imprescriptible rights of mankind; these were liberty and security ; and when liberty and security were not properly guaranteed by any particular system of government, either in consequence of original or accidental defects, the people who lived under it, had a right to demand, either that it should be changed, or amended. But on the other hand, the advocates for