Imatges de pÓgina

ing for fuch a fum as 2,000,000l. He was well affured the country was unable to bear it. It was well known there had not been any intereft paid on account of former loans. After a long debate on the utility of the war between Mr. Pitt and Mr. I. H. Browne, Mr. Martin, Mr. Tierney,


1. That it was the opinion of the committee that there

fhould be granted to his majefty, to enable him to fulfil › 1,500,000 his engagements with the emperor of Germany 2. To the emperor of Ruffia

3. To defray the expence of the copper coinage for New South Wales

Mr. Canning, and Mr. Nicholls, the latter gentleman concluded with voting for the fubfidy; for, if an advantageous peace was to be made, it must be in conjunction with Auftria. The question was then called for, when the following refolutions were read:


4. To defray the expence at the police-office at Wapping 5. To fupply the deficiencies of grants made by parliament 6. For addition of falary to clerks for auditing accounts


For expences of fettling the accounts of New South

8. For the clerk of the houfe of common for
not made good by parliament


9. For work done at Somerfet-place

10. For fees and compenfation of certain merchants for the lofs of their veffels from Mogadore


11. To discharge bills drawn from New South Wales
12. To liquidate demands from St. Domingo
13. To the furveyors of the forests

14. For printing the journals of the house of lords 15. Towards the establishment at Sierra Leone 16. To the trustees of the British museum

17. To the board of agriculture

18. To the Levant company

19. To the veterinary college

20. To John Davis, for his difcovery of a method to purify' wheat damaged by fmut

21. For the British forts and fettlements on the coaft of


On reading of the ninth refolution, Mr. Martin obferved, that as the public money was paid for keeping the terrace at Somersethouse in order, the public had certainly a right to amufe themselves by walking there, and they ought not to be excluded from it. Mr. Pitt faid, the vicinity of the publis



797 680
















} 20,000

offices made fuch a precaution abfolutely neceffary.

The other refolutions were then agreed to.

As the renewal of the bank char ter was alluded to in the preceding debates on the public finances, it cannot be improper to introduce in this place a fhort account of the in C 2 troduction

troduction and progrefs of that important act.

The bill was introduced conform ably to a refolution in a committee of the whole houfe on the 21ft of February, 1800; no debate, how ever, took place upon the fubje&t till the third reading, which was on the 21st of March. On that day the chancellor of the exchequer moved the order of the day for the third reading ofthe bill, for renewing, upon certain conditions, the charter of the bank of England for the term of twenty-one years. Mr. Pitt obferved, that the measure had been formally propofed, in a letter from bimfelf to the bank directors, but he had previously taken pains to found their inclinations; and he could affure the house that they and his majesty's minifters went hand in hand in the business.

Mr. Tierney rofe and spoke at great length against the principle and particulars of the bill. He regretted that he had not received fatisfactory information as to whether this bufinefs had originated from the directors of the bank, or from his majesty's minifters. Great blame lay fomewhere, and he did not with to accufe any whom he did not know for certain to be culpable. It would be extraordinary indeed, if this propofal fhould come from the bank, when it had nearly one half of the time of its former charter ftill to run, and when it had fo mismanaged its affairs, as to owe its exiftence to the forbearance of the public. It would not be less extraordinary, if minifters were the projectors of the measure, that they hould interfere in the affairs of the bank, after what had happened. It was wicked to derive profit from its misfortunes, and to anticipate the refources of pofterity. A more fe.

rious charge could not be made against minifters or the bank directors, whichever of them were the propofers of the measure, and upon that account alone he wished for information. But as a gentleman whom he wished to have queftioned on this occasion had for fome reafon or other abfented himself, he would proceed to difcufs the general merits of the question.

The first thing that struck him in this affair was the ftrange measure of propofing to renew a charter which was not within twelve years of its expiration, when there was no particular reafon affigned for that ftep; of propofing to re-confide the whole money of the kingdom to the hands of gentlemen who had mismanaged the affairs of the bank fo grofsly as to reduce it to bankruptcy. There were two points chiefly to be confidered in the nature of the propofed bargain, its advantageoufnefs to the bank, and its advantageoufnefs to the public; what were they to give, and what are we to receive? They propofed, apparently, to lend us three millions, without intereft, for fix years; but nothing could be more precarious than this offer, and we should merely engage in a fpeculation in the funds it we accepted of it. By the terms of the agreement, they had a right to demand payment when confols fhould be at eighty; fo, if they fhould, within the fix years, (and whether they would or not was merely a matter of conjecture) we fhould be deprived of all our boasted advantages.

The chancellor of the exchequer here interrupted the honourable gentleman to inform him, that the gain of the public was certain; for though the bank had a right to demand payment when the three per


cents. should be at So, ftill it was bound to pay the intereft of the three millions for the whole of the fix years; and he would put it to the honourable gentleman, whether it was probable that the bank directors would even afk to be repaid, although they could, when, by fo doing, they would put the public to inconvenience without any advantage to themselves.

Mr. Tierney faid, that in that cafe the public would receive for certain 750, the price of the renewal of the bank charter, but it by no means appeared that we were fure of not being diftreffed by the three millions being foon demanded from us. In 1797, the bank was expofed to the greatest jeopardy by the advances it then made, and we were at the prefent moment greatly more in arrear to it. Mr. Tierney here entered into a long calculation, the refult of which was, that from its profits in managing the national debt, from the advances it makes to government, from the loan, and feveral other articles, the bank received annually from the public the fum of 979,000l. He next calculated the expence of conducting the affairs of the bank, which, judging from the excife and other offices, he was certain could not exceed 100,000l. a-year, which left a clear profit of 879,000l. fpringing from the charter. The profits on their own capital, and which they made as bankers, he did not include. In time of peace, the fum perhaps would not exceed 675,000l. per annum, as the advances to government were then lefs confiderable; there was no loan, and not fo much was allowed for management: but fuppofing, according to the right honourable gentleman's calculation, that out of twenty-one years there would be fix years of war, the

annual fum given by the public to the bank (and which might at the expiration of the charter be withheld) would amount upon an average to 661,000l. For the grant of that annuity for twenty-one years we were to receive 750,000l.

He then proceeded to state other advantages arifing from their charter to the proprietors of the bank,fuch as having the command of money, a power of obliging their friends, and a controul over the whole commercial world. It was ftrange that, though the falary of a director was only 150l. a-year, the office was afpired to by the richest men in the kingdom, and more eagerly fought after than any one in the gift of the crown. Mr. Tierney then mentioned several other fubjects that ought to have been confidered, and particularly the expediency of diffolving the connexion between government and the bank, which might give rife to the moft ferious inconveniences to both parties, and was of great differvice to the country at large. Mr. Tierney concluded by showing, that the bank was enabled to make its prefent advances only from the reftrictions lately put upon it. At the period when the letter was written from the directors, declaring in the most folemn manner that they must be ruined if they continued to make fuch advances to government, and unless they received prompt payment of their debts, they had not advanced more than 3,829,000/ On the ift of January laft they had advanced eight millions, to which the three millions for the renewal of their charter were to be added; in all not less than eleven millions.

Mr Pitt denied the ftate nent of the honourable gentleman, that the bank was an exclufive corporation ; the bank was a corporation, but not

an exclufive one; another corporation of the fame nature might be created whenever the powers vefted in this legally ceafed. The honourable gentleman was, he faid, equally mistaken in fuppofing that the bank might be diffolved as a corporation the moment they were paid the eleven millions, or whatever other fum might be the amount of the public debt due to them; the fact was, they would continue to be a corporation, not only till that fum, but till every fhilling of the prefent national debt was paid. He then contended that the honourable gentleman's own words proved the prefent to be a bargain highly beneficial to the public; for he had ftated, that he had no doubt but very foon after the end of the war stocks would be at par. He then adverted to the profits of the bank, which, on a renewal of their charter, he fuppofed might amount to 400,000l. a year, As to the general obfervations of the honourable gentleman, that the bank never could have done this but under the prefent circumftances of its restriction; that the eight millions due to it would now be cleven millions; and that was the moment when the directors thought it proper to remonftrate with adminiftration, he thought them very trivial, and could affure the house that the fame practice had uniformly prevailed from the time of fir Robert Walpole. Under thefe circumftances he contended, that the idea of the charge of enlarging the powers of the bank was chimerical.

Mr. S. Thornton confeffed, that the first overtures for the renewal of the bank charter came from the governor and directors of the bank, becaufe they felt that fuch a renewal at fuch a period would prove of utility both to the bank and to the

country at large. A question had been fet afloat about the establishment of another bank; meetings had been held for that purpose; pamphlets had been published in recommendation of such a measure, and motions had even been made in that house refpecting its neceffity. It was therefore high time to propofe the prefent meafure, and to bring it to as early a decifion as pof fible. After a few words from Mr. Manning and Mr. Simeon the quef, tion was then put, that the bill be read a third time, and agreed to without a divifion,

A conversation not unimportant, and connected with thefe fubje&ts, took place alfo on the 23d of April. The order of the day for the third reading of the exchequer-bills bill being then read, Mr. Tierney rofe to obferve, that the bill had paffed through a fiift and fecond reading without any intimation having been given of its real nature and object, which now appeared to be a fubfidy to a foreign power, to be paid in British fpecie.

Mr. Pitt contended, that not on, ly an inftruction had been voted to the committee upon that point, but a previous notice of two days had been given of that inftruction.

Mr. Tierney then proceeded to propofe, that a fecret committee be appointed to examine into the probable operation that might refult to commerce, &c. from fending out of the country fo large a fum as three millions, and that in fpecie.

Mr. Pitt faid, that he could furnifh all the information the honourable gentleman required, without confenting to his motion for a fecret committee on this bufinefs. He could inform the honourable gentleman, that it was the decided opinion of a great majority of the governors of the bank, that the mode

mode propofed for making the remittance in queftion was more advantageous and economical than any other that could be devifed, Objecting, therefore, to the mode of furnishing the fubfidy was, in reality, obj. cting to the fubfidy itfelf, of which the honourable gentleman did not wholly difapprove.

Mr. Tierney faid, he thought himfelf not only juftified in oppofing the claufe, but even in oppof. ing the fubfidy altogether, if no other mode could be devised for paying it. It was a ferious and alarming circumftance, that fo much of the fpecie of the country fhould be employed in fubfidifing a foreign power, while it was known that the bank only kept in its coffers fuch a quantity of bullion and foreign coin as might enable it to do fo. He could not bring himself to believe that the bank directors could be unanimous on fuch a perilous point.

Mr. Brogden said, that though the lowness of the exchange might increase the demand for our manufactures, it hurt them ftill more by impeding the operations of com


· Mr. S. Thornton rose to correct part of the statements of Mr. Tierney. The reports of a difference of opinion among the bank directors as to the expediency of the prefent measure were totally unfounded; for the directors had but one opinion on the fubject, and that was, that no injury would be done to public credit; but that, on the contrary, the public fervice would be facilitated by the meafure. He thought fending the money from this country to the continent would, in the prefent circumstances of Europe, rather tend to lower the exchange; and, if fo, the facility would be increafed of

importing corn. As to the ftate of the bank with regard to fpecie, almost every packet from the continent brought bullion, which was made into guineas, and the quantity of money in the coffers of the bank was more than adequate to any demands that could be made upon it.

Mr. Tierney faid, he was then to understand that bulion was never exported by government.

Mr. Pitt faid, that government had lately fent to the continent 300,000l. in dollars. Ever fince the restriction was laid upon the bank, every packet had brought over a large quantity of gold to this country, which was all fent to the mint. It was the conftant practice of every merchant, and a practice which we had uniformly followed, when money was to be remitted, to remit it in the most advantageous manner. The courfe of exchange was now against us, otherwife the German fubfidy would have been remitted in bills. There was a law to prevent the exportation of bullion, and this claufe went to repeal that law in a particular inftance.

The honourable gentleman had obje&ed to money being fent to the continent, when it was not allowed to be diftributed at home. But he ought to confider, that the payment of money from the bank was already reftricted by an act of parliament, which would continue in force till one month after the termination of the war; and that if that money were not fent abroad, it would be lying unemployed and ufelefs. The reftriction was not put upon the bank for political purpofes, or to enable government to fubfidize foreign princes, but it was an internal arrangement to promote the intereft of our merC 4


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