The Bill Presented by Lord North, Debate

Mr. Sawbridge

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Immediately after presenting the Papers this day, [See folio 70.]

The Lord North presented to the House, according to order, the Bill:

And the same was read the first time, upon which,

Mr˙ Sawbridge arose, saying, Sir, I am astonished at the noble Lord' s proceeding, in bringing in a Bill of the utmost consequence, at a time when there is so thin a House. [There were only forty-one members.] It is an improper time; it is taking us by surprise; it is cowardly. But, Sir, I should think myself highly unworthy a seat in this Assembly, were I to suffer so pernicious a Bill to pass in any stage, without giving my hearty negative to it. I will oppose it every time I have an opportunity, although I do not imagine I shall be much attended to. This is a Bill, Sir, of such a ridiculous and cruel nature, that I really am astonished how any person could think of making it. Does the noble Lord think that a man who chances to see a person murdered in America, will come over here as an evidence against the aggressor? Does the noble Lord think that any American would hazard a trial here, or that he would expect to have justice done him, if he was to come over? Then a person would be brought over here to be tried, and you would have evidences only on one side; but I imagine if those evidences should not be sufficient, evidence here, who never saw the transaction, would be procured, and the criminal acquitted. I plainly foresee the dangerous consequences of this Bill; it is meant to enslave America; and the same Minister who means to enslave them, would, if he had an opportunity, enslave England; it is his aim, and what he wishes to do; but I sincerely hope the Americans will not admit of the execution of these destructive Bills, but nobly refuse them; if they do not, they are the most abject slaves that ever the earth produced, and nothing that the Minister can do is base enough for them.

Lord North

Lord North. Sir, I think myself called upon to vindicate my conduct for bringing in the Bill in so thin a House. Sir, was I to know there would be few members attend? I did as I promised I would do, which was, to bring in the Bill as soon as it was ready; it was but just finished when I brought it, and I little expected to have any debate upon it in this stage: I thought, Sir, the debate would be upon the second reading; it usually is so; and I sincerely hope when this Bill is read a second time, that we shall have a very full House, and let every gentleman give his opinion upon it. I wish to have it thoroughly discussed, and if it should be found to be a bad Bill, in God' s name throw it out; if found otherwise, you cannot be too unanimous in assenting to it; the more unanimity there is, the stronger effect it will have. As to its being meant to enslave America, I deny it, I have no such intention; it is an unpleasant, but necessary step to bring

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them to a sense of their duty; that assertion has much the same truth in it as what has been before said, that the Americans had seen their error, and were willing to satisfy the India Company. Sir, there is a ship arrived, I think her name is the Fortune, Captain Goreham; she arrived in Boston harbour the latter end of February, or beginning of March, 1774, I cannot say which; she was loaded with tea; the inhabitants came immediately and unloaded her, and emptied the contents of her cargo into the sea. Is this, Sir, seeing their error? Is this Sir, reforming? Is this making restitution to the India Company? Surely no gentleman will, after this, urge any thing in their defence. The honorable gentleman has said this Bill is a pernicious one; I trust, when gentlemen come to consider it, they will see it is quite otherwise.

Sir Thomas Frankland

Sir Thomas Frankland rose only to acquaint the House, that he, yesterday afternoon, after the House broke up, was shewn a letter which a friend of his received from Boston, dated March, 1774, which mentioned the tea being destroyed, which was the cargo of Captain Goreham, as the noble Lord had mentioned.

Mr. Byng

Mr˙ Byng. Sir, I cannot help rising to oppose this Bill. I agree with my worthy friend, that it is a most pernicious Bill, and, I fear, made with no good intention. I really am surprised at the noble Lord, who said, his wish was to make their laws in America as near as possible to our own. Is this Bill any thing like it? No, it is quite the reverse; dragging People from one country to another to give evidence, is such a proposition as I never heard before, nor could have thought of; but, Sir, every person must know, and will allow, that the noble Lord finds his other two Bills are so defective and dangerous, that no person will venture to put them into execution; he is therefore obliged to have recourse to a third, to indemnify such persons as shall be concerned in executing his destructive project. I shall oppose this Bill every time I have an opportunity, and I trust every lover of his country will do the same. He further said, that whatever professions of candour were thrown out, he should trust to them with great caution; that for his part these attacks made abroad, seemed to be intended to prepare men' s minds for measures of a similar nature to be enforced at home; and that the conduct and complexion of public measures in general wore the appearance of a systematic design of enslaving the People, as well in Great Britain as the Colonies.

Lord Beauchamp

Lord Beauchamp. I really am surprised, Sir, to hear an honorable gentleman say, that every person must know that the two former Bills are defective. Sir, I will venture to say the fact is otherwise; every person must allow they are necessary for the preservation of peace, and restoring the Americans to a sense of their duty. Does the honorable gentleman think the soldiery at Boston will act without they are indemnified? No; they could not. No person would execute the laws half so well, was this Bill not to pass. I think it a necessary Bill; it will make their trials by Juries like ours, which are so much approved of; and I shall give my hearty affirmative to it.

Mr. Sawbridge

Mr˙ Sawbridge. Sir, I rise to explain to the noble Lord why I think it a pernicious Bill. I am certain, that however willing I might be to bring an offender to justice, was I to see a murder committed in London, my love of justice might induce me to go to any part of the country to appear as an evidence; but I assure the noble Lord I would not go over to America on any account, nor for any mandate that he could issue; and I believe that the noble Lord will allow, that not any sum would induce him to go over now; therefore we have the same right to imagine, that People in America will not come over here. I make no doubt but Government will take care to bring over evidence in support of their side, but they will not trouble themselves with evidence on the contrary; therefore all your trials will be ex parte, and nothing but a mockery of justice. I do not mention this as an advocate for America, but mention it as an Englishman.

Second Reading of the Bill Ordered on the 25th

The, question on the second reading was then put:

Resolved, That the Bill be read a second time.

Ordered, That the said Bill be printed.

Ordered, That the said Bill be read a second time on Monday morning next.