It passed under the title of a bill for granting an aid to his majesty by the sale of forfeited and other estates and interests in Ireland; and that it might undergo no alteration in the house of lords, it was consolidated with the money-bill for the service of the year. In the house of lords it produced warm debates; and some alterations were made which the commons unanimously rejected.
The lords, apprehensive that the commons would tack it to some money-bill, voted, that the annexing any clause to a money-bill was contrary to the constitution of the English government, and the usage of parliament. The bill met with a very warm opposition in the upper house, where a considerable portion of the whig interest still remained.
The treasury was empowered to issue an additional number of exchequer bills to the amount of twelve hundred thousand pounds, every hundred pounds bearing interest at the rate of fivepence a-day, and ten per cent, for circulation; finally, in order to liquidate the transport-debt, which the funds established for that purpose had not been sufficient to defray, a money-bill was brought in to oblige pedlars and hawkers to take out licenses, and pay for them at certain stated prices.
A clause was added to a money-bill, offering the reward of one hundred thousand pounds to such as should seize the pretender dead or alive. Sir George Byng was sent to take the command of the fleet.
A land-act was followed by one that withdrew from most of the towns of England the protection of a sanctuary in the case of certain specified crimes; the navy was dealt with; and then in spite of the promises of the previous years a heavy money-bill was passed. Finally five more Catholics, four priests and a woman, were attainted for high treason on various charges.
At length it passed, by a majority of nineteen to eleven votes. On the fourth of July, when the bill had been returned to the Commons, it was moved that the amendments made in it by the Lords should be read; but as it had become a money-bill in consequence of the bounties to be granted, and as new regulations were to be incorporated in it, it was thought proper that it should be wholly done away.
And it would seem that the Lords themselves, to a certain extent, retracted this, their self-denying vote, when, before the end of the same session, they discussed Burke's Bill for Economical Reform, and passed it, though it was a money-bill, "containing extraneous enactments," and as such contravened one of their own standing orders which had been passed in the beginning of Queen Anne's reign, when the system of "tacking," as it was called, had excited great discontent, which was not confined to themselves.
But in 1783, in the time of the Coalition Ministry, the peers having made amendments on the American Intercourse Bill, "the Speaker observed that, as the bill empowered the crown to impose duties, it was, strictly speaking, a money-bill, and therefore the House could not, consistently with its own orders, suffer the Lords to make any amendments on it, and he recommended that the consideration of their amendments should be postponed for three months, and in the mean time a new bill framed according to the Lords' amendments should be passed."
Gladstone, however, though he ended by expressing his concurrence in the resolution proposed by his chief, used very different language respecting the vote of the House of Lords, characterizing it as "a gigantic innovation, the most gigantic and the most dangerous that had been attempted in our time," since "the origination of a bill for the imposition of a tax, or the amendment of a money-bill, was a slight thing compared with the claim to prevent the repeal of a tax;" and, dealing with assertions which he had heard, that in this instance "the House of Commons had been very foolish and the House of Lords very wise," he asked whether that really described the constitution under which we live.
The usage which for two centuries was established in this case by the good-sense of both parties clearly was, that the Lords could never originate a money-bill, nor insert any clause in one increasing or even altering the burden laid by one on the people, but that they were within their right in absolutely rejecting one.