« PreviousContinue »
happy to learn that the hon. gentleman, jority or a minority, made against him by remained unaltered in his opinion. He the right hon. gentleman, he could assure was aware that by the employment of cer- him that he was far froin feeling so ipdiftain arts, and by certain moans, almost the ferent as he was represented to be, on that whole of the commercial interest had been point. In the measures he proposed, be taught to believe, that their prosperity was was actuated by a strong conviction of essentially connected with the present sys- their being such as were approved of by tem of Bank issues. He knew that all this tbe great majority of the feeling and sen might be urged again, and that he might of the country, as well as of parliament; easily be described as a person who wish, and the right hon. gentleman himself had ed to destroy the credit of the country. | been obliged to confess that he was aware He should, however, have no recourse to the measure was so popular, wbile he proargument on the present question, because tested against it, that he knew it was in vain he believed that all argument upon it had for him to oppose it, thougb be attributed been exhausted last session by sereral of this popularity to the impositions practised his friends about bim, and particularly by on the country by artful and designing men, one hon. and learned gentleman whom he It was rather a sipgular way of supporting did not then see in his place (Mr. Horner). bis argument, for the right hon. gentleman « Let the right hon. gentleman ibed," to confess that the entire mercantile body said Mr. Tierney, " take all the responsi of the country was against him. He bility of this proceeding ta himself, he is really conceived that tbey were as likely Janown to plume himself upon bis stout to form a true estimate of their own in. ness, and his contempt of majorities or terests as the right bon. genıleman. He minorities, and he has this day given a no doubt felt some pain in proposing this pretty good earnest of it. I believe that measure, but he must be a hardy palitino other minister would have dared to cian, indeed, who in the present circumcome down to this House and propose to stances of the world would do any thing make the promissory notes of a corporate to endanger the credit of the Bank. As commercial body a legal tender. Let the to tbe mode of endangering it, he knew right hon. gentleman then continue to ad- that he differed widely from the right bon. vise only with his faithful directors, I shall gentleman. He believed it to be pergive him no further opposition, because I fectly impossible, at present, whatever it believe it to be utterly useless. I shall might be at other periods, to fix any pre. therefore conclude by declaring before cise limit to the issues of the Bank, without God, that I speak not from the influence producing serious occasional inconveof party views when I lay my hand uponnience to tbe public service. With respect my heart, and express it as the settled con- | to the disposition of the right hon. gentleviction of my mind, that the measure now man not to oppose this measure, he would proposed will operate to blast for ever the be extremely happy to see this disposition credit of the Bank, and the financial secu- exerted on other occasions, and extended rity of the country, and I sit down so to all questions relative to the policy of the lemnly protesting against it accordingly.” | present administration.
Lord Castlereagh said, in explanation, Mr. Tierney said, that the right hon. that there was a substantial distinction be- gentleman was mistaken in supposing, tween compelling the acceptance of that he would not oppose any measure notes as a legal tender, and making them a brought forward by him; he would give legal tender into court.
| no such pledge, as he never saw any genMr. Whitbread ridiculed the distinction tleman whom he was so much inclined to drawn by the noble lord, which, he con oppose. tended, amounted to nothing.
The House then divided, when there The Chancellor of the Exchequer had never appeared supposed that the opposition made by the For the Motion...................73 right hon. gentleman, or those who acted Against it..............................26 with him, was for the purpose of destroy
Majority......................... 47 ing the credit of the country, but he had | Leave was accordingly given to bring conceived that the enlightened policy, as in the Bill. it was called, proposed by them would, if adopted, have proved ruinous and in- MOTION RESPECTING THE OUTSTAND effectual.With respect to the charge of ING DEMANDS ON THE BANK.) Mr. stoutness and disregard of being in a ma- Tierney immediately moved, " That a Secret Committee be appointed to examine | rested on a false foundation. He was fa. the total amount of the outstanding devourable to all fair and reasonable enquiry, mands on the Bank of England, and like but he must say, that it was not the object wise of the funds for discharging the same; of the Bank Directors to gain base lucre. and that they do also enquire into, and re- If they were misled, it was in their wish to port their opinion upon, the effects pro- assist the mercantile world. The measure duced by the Order in Council of the 27th now proposed might be necessary, though of February 1797."
uncalled for by the Bank, and though it Mr. Manning objected to the motion; went beyond what had been enacted last and stated, that the Bill which had been year. brought in that night was not introduced Mr. Johnstone would vote for the motion, at the desire or request of the Bank of though he disclaimed all idea of imputation England, any more than the Bill of last upon the conduct of the Bank Directors, session, commonly called Lord Stanhope's who had shewn more moderation in the Bill. He spoke not in the character of a issue of paper-money than had been pracBank Director, but from himself alone. In tised in any other country, when that ex that view, he could not see any necessity pedient had been adopied. He could not for the committee which was proposed. agree with his right hon. friend, that the If, indeed, the Bank Directors had desired Bank were masters of the ministers : but the present measure, he should think it a tbe contrary. It was the fault, not of the sufficient reason for the appointment of a Bank but of parliament, that things were committee. The actual amount of the in their present situation. If the Bank issue of Bank notes at present was were left to itself, he should have no fear 22,500,0001. which, of course, did not in- of the proposition of a legal tender. He clude Bank tokens. If any member wished the country to know what were the moved for any particular return, he would assets of the Bank independent of what second it. He was surprised that any consisted in government securities, which member should so far under-value the se | latter (in Exchequer Bills) amounted at this corities of the Bank: as every acre of moment to no less a sum than 7,500,0001. land in the country might be considered There was no doubt that the Bank could as forming a part of the securities for the discharge all its debts, as it related to itExchequer Bills. There was a debt self; but the connection with government owing from government to the Bank of was a different thing; and a time would 11,600,0001. and the two loans, which al- come when that would be a serious contogether amounted to near twenty mil- sideration. Every nation that had adopted ligas. This was sufficient security. The a practice similar to the present, had run Exchequer Bills, as he had before observed, a career of bankruptcy; and the effect stood on the most solid ground. He thought must be serious, if men were compelled that parliament was right in calling, from to take a Bank note as a legal tender. time to time, for the amount of Bank The mischief had been done by parlianotes in circulation, and for other par ment itself in compelling the Bank to adticulars, but he could see no reason for en- vance money when they were making ex. tering into such a committee as the hon. traordinary issues of paper, which had member proposed. As to wbat had been raised the paper issue op to 22 millions. said of the sordid and selfish views of the Government were the means of doing this, Bank, many matters of great public in- in consequence of the embarrassments terest had been assisted by the liberality which they had experienced from the de. of the management of the Bank; and he ficiencies of the late Mr. Goldsmid. challenged the right hon. gentleman to Mr. Marryatt thought the reason for opshow a single instance in which the pub-posing the motion extraordinary as urged lic had not received their portion of the by the deputy governor of the Bank, (Mr. profits said to have been made by that cor. Manning), namely, that the Bank had not poration.
required it. Did any public body come Mr. H. Thornton objected to the motion. to parliament and ask for such an enquiry The amount of Exchequer Bills and loans, into their concerns ? Nothing was more &c. was generally known. If the question unlikely. He was far from wishing to stood on the golvency of the Bank, then it overthrow the credit of the Bank, and he ought to go to the committee that a report thought its credit would be best supported might be made, which would shew that by a fair enquiry. What was said of the an opinion adverse to the Bank's solvency Bank would be as applicable to govern
ment respecting sinecure places. In both | doubts of the Bank's solvency, a good rea. instances the parties would be benefitted, son would be furnished for appointing a and gain more credit by enquiry. The committee; but he could not understand longer we went on in the present fatal his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney), when paper system, the worse should we find he called the Bank rich and prosperous, our situation. The deputy governor of and afterwards said they might be in a the Bank was last year against the legal state of bankruptcy. The truth was, that tender; now he had a little changed his the Bank had it not in their power at the opinion. What it might be next year it present moment to pay their debts in bul. was not possible to tell. One circum- lion, not having sufficient in their possesstance was important. A Bill lay on the sion; and, it was useless to endeavour to table to make the embezzlement of pro- make them perform impossibilities. He perty a higher crime, in consequence of believed that only a few bankers applied the repeated failures of bankers, and other to the Bank for discounts, since it would occurrences. The misconduct of the rather affect their credit to do so, as it bankers was owing in a great degree to would affect that of an eminent mer. the change of the practice at the Bank chant. As the motion might tend to exsince the restrictions on their cash pay. cite distrust in the country with respect to ments. After that restriction they offered the solvency of the Bank, he could not give their discounts in an unprecedented man. it his support. . ner, and the bankers lost sight of all pru. Mr. Hibbert supported the motion. It dence and circumspection : the results of would be a great evil to make a Bank-note which had produced astonishing occur- a legal tender. He bore testimony to the rences. The discount system bad been honourable conduct of the Bank Directors, carried to an extent almost incredible. who, he believed, acted from the purest Every failure of this sort had been owing ideas of supportiog commerce; but he to the conduct of the Bank of England; thought that there would be great doubts whereas, formerly, the bankruptcy of a in the public mind, unless parliament apbanker was a very rare thing. That of pointed a committee, as they had done ia Fordyce, many years back, was still talked 1797. . of: such an event was formerly thought Mr. Abercromby begged to call the atto be like a dreadful fire, or a plague : fit tention of the House to the admission to be registered in a chronological table. made by an hon. Bank Director (Mr. But now, by the new plan, in the course (Baring) who acknowledged that perseveof eleven years, there had been eleven rance in the present system would be atbankers in the Gazette, out of the sixty intended with the ultimate ruin of the London. Their failures were likely to be country, and yet contended, that not as common as those of underwriters or any persevering in it would be equally desother traders whatever. Every one of tructive, because it would prevent us from these bankrupt bankers had kept a dis. vigorously prosecuting the war. Surely, count account with the Bank of England. when men of so much experience involvHe had not the list in his pocket, or heed themselves in such evident contradiccould read the proofs of bis assertion to the tions, it was reasonable that some enquiry House. None had failed who did not should be made. There was no guarantee carry on such accounts. He viewed the that the Bank of England should not either Bank as useful and absolutely necessary, increase their debt or diminish the small and on that account felt that any abuse of quantity of bullion remaining in their it ought to be guarded against. He knew hands. When to these circumstances was indeed that the governor and directors subjoined, the declaration of the deputy were bound by an oath, but it was an oath governor of the Bank of England, that which related to their duties only as a every acre of land in the country was corporate body.
pledged for the payment of their notes, Mr. Manning explained, and re-stated, he thought there could be no hesitation in that lord Stanhope's Bill was not desired appointing the committee. by the Bank.
Mr. Munning explained that he had said, · Mr. Baring said, that if we went on that his own land as well as that of every year after year borrowing, while we dimi- other proprietor, was answerable in a due nished our means of repayment, the nation proportion for the payment of the Exchelike an individual, must come to a bank. quer Bills, which was a public debt of the ruptcy. If there were any reasonable nation. ..
Mr. Baring said, the observation he had to 5th Jan. 1812, specifying the sum in made was, that here was not a sufficien. | each year. cy of bullion to enable the Bank to resume Mr. Manning thought this motion an cash payments.
unnecessary interference with the internal Mr. Tierney, in reply, insisted that the concerns of the Bank. Every one knew issue of Bank notes bad been greatly aug. what those dividends had been. mented since the year 1797, and as Ex Mr. Barham, although he objected to chequer Bills were secured by the notes, the former motion, supported this, on the the landed property of the country was ground that all possible information on the put in jeopardy at the will of the directors state of the Bank should be afforded to of the Bank of England. He begged to the public. know if the other side of the House would Mr. Grenfell stated, that the bonuses di. consent to the production of an account vided among the proprietors of Bank shewing the quantity of Exchequer Bills stock, since 1787, amounted to 32į per purchased by the Bank of England from cent. on the capital. government in the public market, which Mr. Baring thought the motion unnehad been hitherto with-held?
cessary. It would not give the House any The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an- | information that was not already in their swer to the declaration of an hon. and possession. learned gentleman, that all the land of the Mr. Marryatt contended, that it was country might be confiscated to pay the never intended by the restrictions on the Eschequer Bills in the possession of the payment in specie, that the Bank should Bank, observed, that it might as well be make the large sum which they had made said, that a gentleman possessed of an es- out of the public distress. He attributed tate of 10,0001. a year, and having a mort- their unwillingness to show the state in gage of 10,000l. upon it, ran a risk of hav. which they were, not to any doubt of their ing all his land confiscated; for the Bank solvency, but to their being ashamed of could not possess more Exchequer Bills their profits. There was a provision in than were issued by government, viz. 43 the charter of the Bank of England which or 44 millions. On the subject of the mo- required that a meeting should be called tion, he thought that on ihe right hon. twice a year, at which meeting the profits gentleman's own showing it ought not to of the Company should be exhibited. This be acceded to; for the right hon. gentle provision had hitherto not been complied man asserted that the Bank was an extra- with ; no doubt lest the public should be vagantly overgrown and rich corporation made acquainted with the enormous profits What necessity then for an enquiry into divided by the proprietors. its situation? As to the security for Bank The motion was then negatived without notes, it was ample. Besides the assets in a division. the hauds of the Bank, it should be recollected, that Bank notes were receivable at PLYMOUTH BREAKWATER.) Mr. Lushing. the Exchequer, and that double the whole ton brought up the report of the Commitamount in circulation was received there tee of Supply. On the motion for agreeyearly
ing to the resolution for granting 80,0001. Mr. Tierney, in explanation, said, that he to commence a Breakwater in Plymouth had not represented the Bank as great and Sound, flourishing, and abounding in wealth. He Sir Home Popham said :-Mr. Speaker, allowed that they had made great profits; I did not presume to trespass upon the but his next motion would shew how be patience of the House, when it was in a thought they had dissipated those profits. committee on the subject of Plymouth Io consequence of the restrictions imposed Breakwater. It was in deference, Sir, to on their payment in specie, the Bank had the many senior and much more enlightcertainly made enormous profits ; but ened officers who are now in your prethese they had divided among themselves, sence; I avail myself, however, of this and for aught he and the country knew, opportunity to record my sentiments on bad left nothing for their creditors. the subject. I am anxious to do so, as
The motion was put, and negatived two reports have been industriously circu. without a division.
| lated, which have no foundation; the first, Mr. Tierney then moved for an account that I intended to resist the grant. On the of all sums divided by the Bank of Eng- contrary, Sir, I think too much credit cari. land, on their capital, from 5th Jan, 1787, not be given to the First Lord of the Ad(VOL. XXII.)
miralty for bringing forward this measure; } professional men have a great difference of and I think there is no officer in the Bri- opinion; indeed, Sir, the very men whose tish navy who will resist the application reports are upon your table, differ as much of money to give security to the road as possible. The one says there is ample steads of this country. The second report room within the Breakwater to moor fifty was, that I had a plan of my own to pro sail of the line, and that they can weigh pose. I really, Sir, have no such thing in at any time, and with all winds. Another contemplation: I was called upon by the says thirty-six sail of the line ; and a government of 1805 to give an opinion on third tells you he agrees in general to the the practicability of establishing Break- reports, but he would rather sign for thirty waters, and the best mode of doing it. I sail. The First Lord of the Admiralty last did so, Sir, but it was on condition that night reduced his opinion to twenty: and my opinion should not be publicly acted I do say that if the work can be accomupon, without my going down to Plyplished to that extent, it will be a wondermouth and examining the Sound tho- ful improvement, and do great honour to roughly to enable me to revise that opi- the present First Lord. I cannot, Sir, nion; but I recommended, in the strongest carry my views to this extent: I do not manner, that a committee of experienced mean to say that in the area described naval officers, with an engineer, should be within the Breakwater, thirty-six sail of sent there to examine the sets of tides, &c. the line may not be placed in fine weather and a variety of other technicalities with to a mathematical nicety. The reports which it is not necessary to trouble the tell us, that when a ship is taking up her House, as many of its members, both in lee anchor, her gun-room port will be and out of office, have read that report. eight fathom from the weather anchor of Quite satisfied, Sir, that a more able man the ship astern of her: I know that ships than Mr. Rennie cannot be found, I am may lie closer, but that must be in deep equally satisfied of the great advantage water, where there is no chance of ships which the service has derived from the striking upon each other's anchor. The works which Mr. Bentham has continued first great feeling of responsibility will be at Portsmouth : and, as civil engineer to running in, and anchoring twenty, or even the navy, I wonder he was not consulted. fifteen sail of the line, in a heavy gale I think the country would have been bet- from the south-south west, in the confined ter satisfied, if they could have seen at space of one mile by a large quarter wide; tached to the reports, the name of the pre- and if I had the honour of such a charge, sent commander-in-chief at Plymouth, I should feel great uneasiness, and that I the appointment of whom has done so was running into this contined spot under much credit to the present First Lord of some degree of risk. I am not quite satisthe Admiralty. This gallant officer might fied about the effect of this Breakwater have called to his assistance bis second in upon Cawsand bay, it may possibly injure command, another very meritorious officer, it; and Cawsand bay has proved a valuand the captain of the St. Salvador, captain able anchorage, under particular circumNash, than whom a more zealous officer, stances. The First Lord of the Admiralty or a better practical seaman, does not exist alluded to the state of the enemy's ships, in any service in the known world.--A that their activity in building was beyond report, backed by such officers, would conception, and although they had now have had the greatest weight in the coun but one ship of the line in Brest water, try, and would have rendered it unneces- they might soon have thirty-six, the same sary to offer a word upon the subject. number which he proposed to place under When I mention committees, I am com- the Breakwater. If this thirty-six sail of pletely within the practice of the present the line should be caught within this board : for I had the honour of being at- Breakwater, in a strong wind from south tached to a committee, consisting of three to S. S. E. the enemy's fleet might sail flag officers and a captain, to examine a from Brest to Ireland, and reach it, before gun carriage ; and if this committee, with (including the time for intelligence) our the exception of myself, had been ap- fleet could well get out of Plymouth pointed to examine Plymouth Sound, and Sound. The distance from Plymouth and report accordingly, the House would have Brest to Ireland, is nearly the same. In had such an authority to have acted upon, such a situation of things, Sir, the enemy 2s would have made all discussion unne- I would be invited to invade Ireland, for cessary. This, Sir, is a subject on which who is there who will renture to contras