By Martyn J. Powell (auth.)
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Extra info for Britain and Ireland in the Eighteenth-Century Crisis of Empire
8 Battle lines were first drawn between the government and the reconstituted opposition in November 1751 over a proposal advocating the allocation of a surplus of Irish revenue to the reduction of a proportion of the Irish national debt. The Castle government was not unwilling to allow the disposal of surplus Irish revenue in this manner. But the issue was complicated by the Irish opposition’s refusal to admit the necessity of the king’s consent before this transaction could go ahead. As a result, a statement confirming the king’s prior consent was inserted in the preamble to the bill by the British privy council.
This intervention provoked a hostile reaction amongst opposition supporters in the Irish Commons. 9 But it is clear that Dorset’s approach was more than temperate: it was conciliatory. Indeed Sackville doubted the wisdom of inserting an acknowledgement of prior consent. He asserted that ‘the word “consent” was not left out accidentally and a debate about the power of the crown over the surplus of the revenue would not be very eligible, especially as nobody disputes the enjoyment of that power .
Therefore measures were required to provide the government with a consistent Commons majority. Stone was foremost among those insisting that the reconstruction of the government’s majority depended upon the dismissal of unreliable placemen. 42 Although Dorset continued to favour moderation, and the vacillating British government did little to discourage this stance, he did call for ‘marks of resentment’ to be directed at uncooperative placemen. 43 It was designed to curtail the traditional freedom of Irish MPs and would certainly have generated fierce opposition both from within parliament and from public opinion.