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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

34.—The Debate Described

34.—The Debate Described.

From the following debate, which took place on the occasion of passing this extraordinary measure, it will be seen that it was carried only by a majority of two, and that several members delivered their opinions as to the equity of the transaction in very unequivocal terms:—

"Nov. 21, 1660. The Commons went again on the business of the Court of Wards, when Sir Heneage Finch opened the debate by moving, 'That the annual income to be settled on the king in lieu thereof might be raised by an excise on beer and ale, and to take away purveyance also. And that half of this excise might be settled for the king's life, and the other half for ever on the crown.' This motion was seconded by Mr. Bunckley and Mr. Pierepoint; but Sir John Frederick, Mr. Jolliffe, Sir Wm. Vincent, Mr. Annesley, and some others, spoke against it. The last-named gentleman saying, that if this bill was carried, every man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow must pay excise, to excuse the court of wards, which would be a greater grievance upon all than the court of wards was to a few. Sir A. A. Cooper spoke against the court of wards, and for the excise. Mr. Prynne against the excise, saying, it was not fit to make all householders hold in capite, and to free the nobility; and inveighed passionately, says the Diary, against the excise; adding that those lands which ought to pay, being held in capite, should pay still. Mr. Bamfield said, he was against an everlasting excise, and for laying the tax on lands in capite. Mr. Bainton also was against an excise, saying, if it was carried so, they might expect that one time or other there would be some strange commotions by the common people about it; that he was rather for keeping the court of wards regulated in its proceedings, than submit to an excise, which, if it was kept up, an army must be so to sustain it. Sir Thomas Clarges was against the excise, saying that the rebellion in Naples came from impositions and excises. This debate was ended by Sen. Maynard and Mr. Trevor, who both spoke for an excise, though the last said, that nothing but the court of wards taking away should have moved him to it. At last, the question being called for, the House divided, the numbers 151 against 149, when it was resolved. 'That the moiety of the excise of beer, ale, cider, perry, and strong waters, at the rate it was now levied, shall be settled on the king's majesty, his heirs and successors, in full recompense and satisfaction for all tenures in capite and by knight-service, and of the court of wards and liveries, and all emoluments thereby accruing, and in full satisfaction of all purveyance" o.