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To the Hon. the Commons of GreatBritain in Parliament assembled.
The bumble Petition of the LordMayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the city of London in Common-Council assembled,
Sheweth, THAT this Court having taken into their most serious consideration a bill now depending in parliament, entitled," A billfcrestablishing certain regulations for the management of the-affairs of the EaltIndia Company, as well in India as in Europe," are of opinion, thst the said bill is a direct and dangerous attack on the liberties of the people, and will, if passed into a law, prove of the most fatal consequences to the security of property in general, and particularly the franchises of every corporate body in this kingdom; first, by throwing such an accession of power into the hands of the Crown; and, secondly, by destroying, without any legal proceeding, or any just cause, the most sacred rights of the subject, purchased for a valuable consideration, and sanctified by the most solemn charters and acts of parliament.
That this Court is the more alarmed by these proceedings, as the privileges the city of L< ndon tnjoy stand on the fame security as those of the East-India Company, which are thus attempted to be violated ; and as the bill has been brought into the House of Commons with a degree of secrecy incompatible with the principles of the constitution in matters of such public concern.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray this Honourable House, that the said bill may not pass into a law.
To the Hon. the Commons of GreatBritain in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of the united Company of Merchants of England trading to the East-Indies.
(Presented May 18.)
THAT your petitioners observe with great concern, that a bill is now depending in this Honourable House, entitled," Abill for establishing certain regulations, for the better management of the affairs of the Ealt-India Company, as well in India as in Europe;" and that the said bill, if passed into a law, will destroy every privilege which your petitioners hold under the most sacred securities that subjects can depend upon in this country. That the appointing of officers by Parliament, or the Crown, to be vested with the whole civil and military authority of the presidency of Bengal, and also the ordering, management, and government, of all the territorial acquisitions and revenues of the Company, in the kingdoms of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, together with the other superintending powers over the settlements of Bombay and Madrass, independent of any choice in the Company, or any real power of controul#in the Directors or General Courts of the said Company, or power in the said Company of removing the said officers for misbehaviour, or filling up of vacancies in cafe of death or avoidance, is a measure so extraordinary, (while the possessions are alledged to remain in the company) that your petitioners beg leave to call the attention of parliament to this
most most alarming circumstance, before the House (hail give a sanction to an Act, which, under the colour of regulation, will annihilate at once the powers of the East-India Company, and virtually transfer them to the Crown. That the said bill is dcllructive of the essential rights and interests of your petitioners in many other respects, and is further defective as to many of the purposes for which it is declared to be tramed; and that your petitioners look upon this bill as tending to destroy the liberties of the subject, from an immense addition of power it must give to the influence of the Crown. That your petitioners have never been made acquainted with any charge of delinquency having been made against them in parliament; and that, if any such charge hasbeen made, they have never been called upon to be heard against it; and that they cannot therefore suppose, that any such delinquency on the part of the Company has been voted; which delinquency, however, is made the ground of this bill; and therefore pray that they may be heard, by themselves or counsel, against the said bill, and tlut the same may not pass into a law.
To the Hon. the Commons of GreatBritain in Parliament ajjtmhled.
The humble Petition of several Proprietors of the East-India Company, possessed of five hundred pounds or more, but less than -one thousand pounds, of the capital Hock of the said Company.
(Presented June 8, 1773)
THAT your petitioners, by the charter granted to t* East-India Company by his late Majesty King William, and since that time repeatedly recognized and confirmed by several acts of parliament.in consideration of many large sums of money lent and advanced by the said Company to the public, are legally possessed of a right of voting at any General Court of the said Company for the election of Directors, the making of bye-laws, or in any other matter relating to the affairs or government of the said Company.
That notwithstanding those sacred securities, under which they purchased their respective shares in the stock of the said Company, your petitioners are astonished to find, that by a clause in the bill now depending in parliament, for establishing certain regulations for the better management of the EastIndia Company, as well in India as in Europe, they are to be deprived of this right, and of every degree of influence in the management of so considerable a property, which is to be wholly transferred to such proprietors as are possessed of one thousand pounds capital stock or more, under a presumption that the pernicious practice of splitting stock by collusive transfers, may be more effectually prevented by such a regulation.
That notwithstanding the salso and groundless aspersions which have been thrown out against so great a number of your petitioners, which they trust this Honourable House will not make a ground of [i>]4 proceed
proceeding to affect their right v/hile unsupported by evidence, your petitioners, who are bona fide proprietors in their own right, beg leave to represent.
That no persons can be more interested to prevent such illegal practices, whereby their endeavours for the good of the Company are liable to be defeated by the undue influence of a few wealthy 'proprietors.
That with a view to this the East-India Company petitioned parliament in the year 1767, that the several proprietors entitled to vote ihould be obliged to hold this qualification, at least six months before they should exercise that ri^ht, in consequence of which an act of parliament was made for that purpose.
That the Company being still further desirou* to cflvctuate the purposes of that act, have, at a General-Court, held on the day of May Jail, directed an application to be mude to parliament, for extending the time prescribed by the said act os the seventh of his present Majesty, from six to twelve months.
That your petitioners, willing that every remedy may be applied to this evil, are desirous that all the other provisions of the said bill now depending in parliament for preventing collusive transfers, except the increase nt the qualification of the voters, which cannot answer that purpose, should pass into a law; which provisions, together with the extension of the time to twelve months, must effectually put B stop to that practice, which has already been, in a great degree, prevented by the operation of the said act made in 1767,
That the proposed increase of the qualification of the voters cannot in any degree contribute to the end desired, 'but will rather facilitate than discourage so pernicious a practice ; since the splitting of stock being confined to those proprietors who h Id large quantities, it will be both easier, and attended with less rifle by death, bankruptcy, or discovery, to place their stock in the hands of half the number of persons, while their influence will thereby be increased in a very great proportion.
That from thence it is evident, that the real effect of this clause will be throwing the power os the Company into the hands of a few opulent men, while the only effectual balance to such an oligarchy, by the exertion of independent proprietors of moderate fortunes, will be totally destroyed.
That supposing it should ever be the intention of the Crown, or its ministers, to exert an undue influence in the management of the Company's affairs, it is evident that intention may be much more easily effected in a smaller than in a more numerous body.
That, upon the whole, your petitioners conceive, that the alteration now proposed cannot be supported upon any principle of expediency, or any just arguments respecting the purpose for which it is profesied to be intended.
Your Petitioners therefore hope this Honourable House will give them leave to be heard by themselves in support of their own legal rights against, the said bill, which, without consent,compensation made, or charge of delinquency proved, deprives so great a nunibcf number of proprietors of the franchises which they have purchased under the faith of parliament, and has not the excuse of public necessity, or even utility, to palliate so violent an act. And your petitioners will pray.
Authentic Letters, relative to the intended Tax upon Irish Absentees.
From the Duke if Devonshire, and
other Lords, to Lord North.
IT is publicly reported, that a project has been communicated to the King's ministers, for proposing in the parliament of Ireland a tax of regulation, which is particularly and exclusively to affect the property of thole of his Majesty's subjects who possess lands in that kingdom, but whose ordinary residence is in this.
It is in the fame manner publicly understood, that this extraordinary design has been encouraged by an assurance from Administration, that if the heads or a bill proposing such a tax, should be transmitted from Ireland, they would be returned with the sanction of his Majesty's Privy-Council here, under the Great-Seal of England.
My Lord, we find ourselves comprehended under the description of those who are to be the object of this unprecedented imposition.
We possess considerable landed property in both kingdoms: our ordinary residence is in England. We have not hitherto considered such residence as an act of delin
the penal operation xof a partial tax.
We have had, many of us, our birth, and our earliest habits in this kingdom; some of us have an indispensable public duty, and all of us (wheie such duty does not require such restriction) have the right of free subjects of choosing our habitation in whatever part of his Majesty's dominions we (hall esteem most convenient.
We cannot hear, without, astonishment, of a scheme by which we are to be stigmatized by, what is in. effect, a fine for our abode in this country, the principal member of our British empire, and the residence of our common Sovereign.
We have ever fl:^wn the utmost readiness in contributing with the rest of our fellow-subjects, in any legal and equal method, to the exigencies of the public service, and to the support of his Majesty's government.
We have ever borne a cordial, though not an exclusive, regard to the tiue interests of Ireland, and to all its rights and liberties: to none of which we think our residence in Great-Britain, to be in the least prejudicial, but rather the means, in very many cases, of affording them a timely and effectual support.
VVe cannot avoid considering this scheme as in the highest uegree injurious to the welfare of that kingdom, as weil as of this; its manifeit tendency is to lessen the value of all landed property there, to put restrictions upon it unknown in any part of the British dominions; and, as far as we can find, without parallel in any civilized country, It leads directly to a se
quency to be punished; or, as a
political evil, to be corrected by paration of these kingdoms in interest
rest and affection; contrary to the standing policy of our ancestors, which has been, at every period, and particularly at the glorious revolution, inseparably to connect them by every tie both of affection and interest.
We apply to your Lordship in particular: This is intended as a node of public supply; and as we conceive the trealury of Ireland, as well as that of England, is in a great measure within your Lordship's department, we. flatter ourselves we shall not be refused authentic information concerning a matter in which we are so nearly concerned; that if the scheme which we state to your Lordship doth exist, we may be enabled to pursue every legal method of opposition to a project, in every light unjust and impolitic.
We have the honour to be
Your Lordship's most obedient,
and most humble servants,
Devonshire, Rockingh AM, Louden, Bbsborough, Oi3. 16, 1773. Milton,
From Lord North lo the Duke os Devonsliire.
Bujhy-Park, 03. 18, I773.
I Had yesterday the honour of receiving a letter signed by your Grace, and the Lords Roclcingham, Belborough, Milton, and Upper Ossory. As it does not relate particularly to me, but consterns equally others of his Majesty's
servants, 1 cannot with propriety return my answer, before I have communicated the contents of it to them, which I will take the first opportunity of doing. 1 am persuaded that your Grace and the other Lords will excuse this unavoidable delay, and have the honour to be, with the greatest respect,
Most faithful humble servant,
From Lord North to tbt Duie of Devonshire.
Downing-StrettfOS. 21, 1773.
YOUR Grace, and the Lords, Rockingham, Belborough, Milton, and Upper Ossory, having in your letter of the 16th, desired authentic information concerning a project of proposing to the parliament of Ireland, a tax upon the landed property of such persons whose ordinary residence is out of that kingdom, I will endeavour to state, in a few words, what has passed upon the subject.
In the course of the summer, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland sent over several propositions for restoring the credit, providing for the debts, and putting upon a proper footing, the finances of that kingdom; at the fame time he informed his Majesty's servants here, that he had reason to believe, that among other modes of supply, there would probably be a tax ot the nature mentioned in your Grace's letter.