Resolutions reported by the Committee of the Whole

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Wednesday, November 29, 1775.

Ordered, That Sir Grey Cooper do make the Report from the Committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred to consider of the Letter communicated to this House by Mr˙ Speaker, upon the 26th day of October last, dated Halifax, Nova-Scotia, July 4, 1775, and signed "William Nesbitt, Speaker," together with a Paper enclosed therein, intituled "The Address, Petition, and Memorial, of the Representatives of the Freeholders of the Province of Nova-Scotia, in General Assembly."

Sir Grey Cooper accordingly reported from the said Committee the Resolutions which the Committee had directed to be reported to the House, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk' s table, where the same were read, and are as followeth, viz:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee that the proposition contained in the Address, Petition, and Memorial, of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova-Scotia, of granting to his Majesty, in perpetuity, a duty of poundage, ad valorem, upon all commodities imported into the Province of Nova-Scotia, not being the produce of the British dominions in Europe and America, (Bay Salt excepted,) the said duty to be disposed of by Parliament, is fit to be accepted, and that the amount of the said duty should be eight Pounds per centum upon all such commodities.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee that when and as soon as an Act or Acts shall have been passed by the General Assembly of the said Province of Nova-Scotia, conformable to the foregoing resolution, and his Majesty shall have given his Royal approbation to such Act or Acts, all and every duty, tax, and assessment, hath been imposed and levied within the said Province, by any Act or Acts of Parliament now in force, ought to cease and be discontinued; and that for so long as the Act or Acts of Assembly for granting to his Majesty the said Poundage duty shall continue in force, no other or further duties, taxes, or assessments, ought to be imposed or levied by Act of Parliament, within the said Province, except such duties only as it may be expedient to continue to levy or to impose for the regulation of commerce; the net produce of the duties last mentioned to be carried to the account of the said Province.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee that it will be advisable to admit a direct importation into the Province of Nova-Scotia, by his Majesty' s subjects, in ships and vessels qualified by law, of all Wines, Oranges, Lemons, Currants, and Raisins, the growth and produce of any foreign country whatsoever: provided such Wines, Oranges, Lemons, Currants, and Raisins, be imported directly from the place of their growth and produce; and provided, also, that the said commodities be not imported into any other port or place within the said Province, except the Port of Halifax.

And motion was made, and the question being put, that the further consideration of the said Report be adjourned till Wednesday morning next, it passed in the negative.

The first Resolution of the Committee being read a second time, an amendment was proposed to be made thereto, by inserting after the word "America," these words: "although the same be exported upon certificate from Great Britain."

And the question being put, that those words be there inserted, it passed in the negative.

Another amendment was proposed to be made to the said Resolution, by inserting after the word "America" these words: "certificate goods exported from Great Britain to Nova-Scotia, not being included."

And the question being put, that those words be there inserted, it passed in the negative.

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Another amendment was proposed to be made to the said Resolution, by adding at the end thereof these words: "this House not having determined what those commodities are, or what duties shall be imposed upon them."

And the question being put, that those words be there added, it passed in the negative.

Lord North said, in explanation of the first resolution, that it might be proper that the committee, who would be appointed to bring in a bill upon the resolutions, should be instructed to explain that nothing was meant to interfere with the old mode of requisition; that he had heard in the committee the idea of the honourable gentleman, (Sir G˙ Yonge,) as also the idea of the honourable gentleman (Governour Pownall) behind him; and he owned he thought the idea of the honourable gentleman behind him, of a proviso making it clear that nothing was meant to restrain the Crown from making requisitions, nor the people from making grants upon them, might be very proper; however, the House would be the best judge of it when the matter came into discussion at its proper time. He had always considered the petition as an answer to the conciliatory proposition he made last year.

Sir George Yonge said, it was too ridiculous to suppose that. It was no answer to the noble Lord' s conciliatory proposition, for that proposition was addressed to those Colonies with whom we had differences; but we had no differences with Nova-Scotia. In the next place, he said this Colony acknowledges the Parliament of Great Britain to be the supreme Legislature, and so did the General Congress; that the petitioners acknowledge it to be their duty to contribute to the empire, and so did the Congress; but that they likewise claimed the right which the Congress claimed, namely: the giving and granting their own money, and not being taxed by Parliament; that they claimed this as their own right, as well as all America, to which they desire to be held out as a pattern; and they desire it on the footing of preserving to themselves, as well as all America, the rights of mankind in civil society. He was convinced they claimed the exercise of this right as the condition upon which they consented to grant that tribute to the empire, and of their duty and allegiance to their mother country. He added, that being by this petition convinced that these were the genuine sentiments of all the Colonies, as well those with whom we had differences, as those with whom we had not; and that if the exercise of this right was granted by an explicit declaration, which was the only road to peace, there would be an end to the war; that he, therefore, for the sake of peace, should conclude with the offer of his proposition, wishing the Ministry to accept of it, that they themselves might make that peace, which he should thank them for, as well as every man in England; which he was satisfied was in their power, if it was but in their inclination; but was only in their power, or in any body' s, by means of a declaration of that kind: "That when the publick exigencies of the State may require any further supplies from the Province of Nova-Scotia, then, according to the prayer of said petition of the said Province, such requisitions should be made as have been formerly practised in North-America, whereby the said Province may have an opportunity of showing their duty and attachment to their Sovereign, and their true sense of the cause for which such requisitions were made, by means of which alone his Majesty can be made acquainted with the true sense of his people in that distant Province."

Mr˙ Feilde seconded the motion. He entirely agreed in the whole of the honourable gentleman' s argument; and added, that matter was of too much consequence to be left ambiguous.

Governour Pownall moved the previous question, in order, he said, to introduce a motion he had given notice of before.

And the previous question being put, that that question be now put, the House divided.

Tellers for the yeas
Sir George Yonge,
Mr˙ Feilde,
12

Tellers for the noes,
Mr˙ Anthony Bacon,
Mr˙ Mackworth, 89

So it passed in the negative.

Governour Pownall said, he was somewhat experienced in this matter as to the grounds on which the people of

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America give and grant their moneys. He knew their jealousies on this subject, and how necessary it is to obviate all such; that he had, therefore, on this occasion, wherein the House are calling upon them to contribute, by their own grants, to the common burdens of the empire, and to the common defence, very attentively watched the mode in which (in this particular case) the House would frame this business; that there may be nothing not only to give real grounds of objection, but not even grounds of jealousy. He was very apprehensive lest, when the House came to frame that part of the bill which requires the approbation of Parliament to the just proportion of the quota offered, it should act as referring to any principle which even seemed to imply that no laws, whereby grants of money are made to the Crown, were complete and had legal effect until the King and Parliament consented to them. All laws, unless such as are contrary to the laws of England, made by the assemblies, are complete, and have legal effect, unless disallowed by the King; but in grants of money, as a quota towards the common defence, (which grants, like all others, are made to the King,) the King' s acceptance, accompanied by his thanks, is the true mode of approbation; and he hoped the bill would be framed accordingly.

There was a second point in which he thought he could discern the seeds of jealousy: that was, the fixing the quantum or amount of the duty. To avoid all doubts and jealousies on this head, and to hold it out to the other Colonies as an indisputable truth, that the House do not mean that the amount of any grant, made by any House of Representatives in America, must originate in the British House of Commons; it would, he hoped, be discriminately marked, by reciting in the bill that the naming the amount or rate of the duty, in this case, is done at and in consequence of the express reference and special desire of the House of Representatives of Nova-Scotia.

A third point will also require a scrupulous attention. He had watched it with a jealous attention: and that is, that although the money granted for the common defence must lie at the disposal of the supreme power which hath the direction of the common defence, yet the application of it to that defence only, so as that it may never be perverted to other purposes, should lie with the grantors. If there be left the least doubt on this head; if this matter be not made clear in the tenour of the bill, whatever Great Britain may get from Nova-Scotia, it will never have a grant from any other Province.

If these matters should ever be settled, there will still remain a doubt which must be cleared up. The people of America have got rooted in their hearts a jealousy, that when the Parliament have once carried the point of a fixed and permanent revenue for the support of the Colony government, and a perpetual revenue for the common defence, assemblies will become useless, and that all intercourse between them and the Crown will be cut off. The House of Representatives of Nova-Scotia express this fear and jealousy, and it is the universal apprehension of the whole continent of America. A motion, arising from a very accurate and proper attention, was made in the committee by an honourable friend of his, (Sir G˙ Yonge;) and had it been placed on such ground as suited the Constitution both of the Colonies and of Parliament, he would, as he then said, have seconded and supported it. It was not so framed. That something on that idea ought to be done, he was fully persuaded. He had therefore drawn up, under the form of an instruction to such committee as shall be ordered to prepare and bring in the intended bill, the idea which he meant to propose to the House when that committee is appointed: "That they do, by a proviso, take care that nothing in that bill doth extend, or be such as may be construed to extend, in any manner to restrain the Crown, when the exigencies of the State may require any further aids from the said Province, from making requisitions thereto in the usual manner, as formerly practised; nor to restrain the people of the said Province from giving and granting to his Majesty, by their representatives in Assembly met, further aids on such requisitions so made;" by which, as they properly say, they may have an opportunity of showing their duty and attachment to his Majesty, and their sense of the service for which such requisition is made.

The first Resolution being agreed to; when the second came to be reported,

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Sir George Yonge moved, as an amendment: "That it appears to this House, that the granting the power to the Colony of Nova-Scotia of providing for the supply of the future exigencies of Government, by the mode of requisition formerly used in America, was the condition on which the said Colony did make the offer of granting the revenue in their Petition expressed."

Mr˙ Burke seconded this motion. He said it was almost in vain to contend, for the country gentlemen had abandoned their duty, and placed an implicit confidence in the Minister. But that should neither now nor hereafter prevent him from performing his duty; for, let the noble Lord be in or out of office when the measures which he was hurrying the nation wildly and inconsiderately into, were fatally, proved to be destructive in their consequences to the most important interests of this country, his Lordship might depend on it that he would be made responsible for measures he had carried into execution under the sanction of such a confidence.

Mr˙ Fox spoke in favour of the amendment. He said, an opposition to it by Administration, appeared to him scandalous and disgraceful. He was astonished how the House could agree to such a solemn mockery of all Parliamentary order and decorum.

Sir Grey Cooper said he was surprised that the gentlemen on the other side, when they were objecting to the resolutions, never said a syllable relative to the very dutiful expressions contained in the petition, in which they acknowledge the supremacy of the Legislature of this country.

Mr˙ Anthony Bacon said he could venture to speak with some confidence, as the matter concerned trade; and he was convinced a bill brought in pursuant to the resolutions now reported, would have the most salutary effects, both in point of revenue and commerce.

It passed in the negative.

The second Resolution being agreed to, Mr˙ Burke proposed the following amendment to the third Resolution:

"That although the terms of the resolution of this House, of the 27th February, 1775, relative to the Colonies in America, do seem literally to require that the offer therein mentioned should be made by the Governour, Council, and Assembly, or General Court of any Province, the true intent and meaning of the same do not require anything more, in order to be accepted by this House, than that it should be made by the House of Representatives of such Province; and also, though the said resolution seems to require that the said offer should be a proportion according to the condition, circumstances, and situation of such Province, yet that the true meaning of the said resolution doth purport that any duties which this House shall approve, will be accepted as a compliance with the said resolution, although no grounds for determining the said proportion be laid before this House; and also, although the said resolution does seem literally to require that they should engage to make provision for the support of the civil government and administration of justice in such Province, the same doth not require that any other provision for civil government should be made than what such Province hath been accustomed to make."

It passed in the negative; and the third Resolution was then agreed to.

Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the said Resolutions; and that the Lord North, Lord George Germaine, Mr˙ Charles Townshend, the Lord Beauchamp, Mr˙ Cornivall, Mr˙ Attorney-General, Mr˙ Solicitor-General, Sir Grey Cooper, and Mr˙ Robinson, do prepare and bring in the same.