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Mr. Hartley' s motion for an Address to the King


Mr˙ Hartley moved, that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House a copy of a Letter from the Earl of Dartmouth to Lieutenant Governour Colden, of the 10th December, 1774. — [ See Folio 1035.]

Mr˙ Hartley said, as this Letter contained matter well worthy the consideration and attention of the House, he should be glad to have it laid before the House.

Mr˙ Rigby opposed this. He said Administration must always be understood to be the sole judges of what is and what is not proper to be laid before the House.

Mr˙ T˙ Townshend observed, it was a very novel and extraordinary doctrine to affirm, that when a paper was called for, and particularly described, it was in the option of the Minister to produce or withhold it at his pleasure.

Lord North contended there were many papers which a mere spirit of curiosity might prompt men to call for; but that bare curiosity, in his opinion, should not be gratified, when it might be productive of evil; that he believed it was neither novel nor extraordinary to keep many matters secret.

Mr˙ Fox said, the noble Lord from the beginning had taken care to lead the House blindfold, and would, he was certain, continue to do so, till he found some personal convenience in acting otherwise. He pronounced confidently, that the Bill just passed could not succeed, and desired the noble Lord to recollect his words, and at the same time not to come to Parliament telling them, though the measure miscarried, it was their measure, for if they had not framed, they had, after the fullest deliberation, approved of it. The fact was the very reverse, as his Lordship had been both the framer and approver; and by the arts of misinformation on one hand, and want of any material information on the other, Parliament were persuaded into an approbation of his measures.

The question being put on Mr˙ Hartley' s motion,

It passed in the Negative.