Imatges de pÓgina

war, on the part of America, was unprovoked by any conduct of ours; at the same time, he was as anxious as any gentleman in that House, to see the war brought to an honourable conclusion by ministers. He confess ed he saw no grounds for the gloom which some honourable members felt. He would not, however, enter into counter predictions, though he avowed himself to be one of those who did not despair of his country, but believed it to be possessed of sufficient strength and sufficient power to wage this war to a successful issue."

After some further observations from different members, the address was carried.

On the 14th November, in a committee of supply, Sir George Warrender moved, "That 70,000 men be employed for the sea service for the year 1815, including 15,000 marines." And this resolution being agreed to, Sir George moved, "that the sum of 1,615,2501. be granted for the wages of those men." On this motion a long debate ensued. Mr Ponsonby, after expressing his surprise at the early meeting of parliament, which he considered as an indication of financial embarrassment on the part of the miDistry, called for such an explanation of the real financial state of the country as would warrant him, and every other member, in concurring in the votes proposed to them.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, “That although in a few days he should have spontaneously explained the financial measures which he had in view, yet that he had no objection whatever to make the statement at the present moment. In the first place, then, it was not his intention to propose any loan, any funding of exchequer bills, or any measure of a similar nature. All that he should move for would be the grants usual at the early part of the session-the ordinary votes

the annual taxes--and a grant of exchequer bills, to renew the exchequer bills which it would be necessary to pay off. He should also propose, that of two sums of exchequer bills, amounting together to fifteen millions and a half, which were annually renewed from year to year, twelve millions and a half should be provided for; thus considerably diminishing the unfunded debt. Lastly, he should propose the renewal of the vote of several years past, providing for outstanding exchequer bills."

Mr Tierney entered minutely into the state of the revenue and public expenditure, and maintained, that ministers had put a falsehood into the mouth of the Prince Regent, when they made him say, that the revenue was in a flourishing condition.-He stated, "that he had drawn out a paper which he held in his hand, the substance of which he would now state to the House. In this statement he had assumed that peace would be completely established by the 1st of January next, and that all the expenses of the war might be wound up for twenty millions. If, on the 1st of January next, they could consider peace as permanently established, this was the way affairs would stand. Taking the accounts of the revenue as the same with those of the 1st January last year, which he had reason to believe would not be far from the truth; for notwithstanding what the right honourable gentleman had been pleased to say of the flourishing state of the finances, and of the great expected increase, when the accounts were made up to the 1st of January next, the excess above the preceding year would not probably be more than 300,000l., or 400,000l.; taking, then, the amount to be the same as at the 1st of January last, the produce of the consolidated fund would be 38 millions, after making the necessary deductions. To


charge of 5,289,000l. There was, therefore, a deficiency here of 502,000l. On the whole, then, the affairs of the united kingdom would stand in this way. The income of the whole of the empire amounted to 46,377,000l. and not one farthing more. The amount of the charges against this sum 46,312,000l., leaving a balance of only 65,000l. to meet the expenses of the country, and not one farthing more. If peace could be established by the 1st of January next, not one moment ought to be lost before the House considered how they were to meet the expenses of a peace establishment. As there was only 65,000l. of clear revenue, where was the rest to come from? He was sure he had laid sufficient grounds before the House to induce them to go into this enquiry, except they meant to prove to the country that it was their intention to go on from day to day without meeting the difficulties of the nation in the way which they ought to do. He had been casting about in his mind where the right honourable gentleman was to find resources. He had last year laid his hand on the sinking fund, and by that means saved taxes to a considerable extent, and, as he thought, had done much mischief. That right hon. gentleman had vauntingly said, last year, that the country was possessed of a bank of one hundred millions of disposable stock, and he had asked if there ever was any other nation of which the government at the end of an expensive war could put its hand into a fund of similar amount? Now, the right hon. gentleman had put his hand into this bank, and he wished to learn from him what would be in it now, if peace were established to-morrow morning? Why, not much more than 30 millions. We had, therefore, before finishing the war, got rid of all this sum but 30 millions. If the right honourable gentleman took this sum, then to the 65,000l.

that, add the amount of the share of the lottery, the revenue of the Postoffice, &c. and the whole of the income of the permanent and annual taxes would be found 41,591,000l. and not one farthing more. That was all the income of the country. Now, the charges against this income were, 1st, the interest of the national debt, amounting to 35,630,000l.; and 495,000l., the interest of the debt of the Emperor of Austria; making in all 36 millions odds. Then there was the interest and sinking fund on 30 millions of outstanding exchequerbills, which he would suppose to be funded at 75, a much more favourable supposition, he had no doubt, than the result would justify. This sum fund. ed in the 3 per cents. with the corresponding sinking fund, would give 1,600,000l. There were also the extraordinary expenses up to the 1st of January, taken at twenty millions, which he also supposed to be funded at 75, making an additional interest of a million. A considerable addition to the pension list would also take place in consequence of the peace. Taking it at 1,745,000l. this made the whole of the charges 40,334,000l. But then, in addition to this, there was 600,000l. for Ireland, and when this was taken into account, it would leave a surplus of revenue to meet the expenses of the country, of only 568,000l. for Great Britain. No man in the House could shew him that one farthing more was derivable from the permanent revenue of the country; but it would be necessary to take Ireland also into account in a view of our situation. It was necessary to look all our difficulties in the face, and here the prospect was most lamentable indeed. The revenue of that country amounted to 5,056,000l., or in English money 4,607,000l. Add to this the lottery, and the whole was in English money 4,787,000l. Against this there was a

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

he would have an additional million yearly; and if to this headded 300,000l. for the excess of this year's revenue above that of the preceding, all that he could have in this way was merely a million and a half. He wondered that the right honourable gentleman, when casting up in his mind how stocks happened to be so low, never came to think of the sinking fund. At this moment the sinking fund was worse by 4,400,000l. than if the right hon. gentleman had never been heard of; for what with the sums he had taken from, and those he had turned from it, instead of 15 millions, there was now only a sinking fund of somewhat above eleven millions. What was the proportion between the sinking fund and the unredeemed debt of the country? If the right honourable gentleman had let it alone, the proportion would have been as 40 to 100. The proportion was now very different. What were, then, the resources of the right hon. gentleman? He might say he looked to contemporary different war taxes. But of the war taxes, besides the property tax, which were not permanent, there was only about six millions and a half; and this was all which the right honourable gentleman could derive from this source, even supposing all the war taxes to be retained. But the right honourable gentleman well knew that many of the war taxes could not be counted on in a time of peace; and if he could find four millions available in such a period, it would be the very utmost. There would thus remain to the right honourable gentleman five millions and a half. Did he think this sum fully equal to all the wants of a peace establishment?

"Now this was the state of things, if the country left off war by the period he had fixed on. If the war went on then, things would be much worse, and considerable additions must be made to the

[merged small][ocr errors]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to Mr Tierney, said, "that what was meant by saying, that the finances of the country were in a good situation, was, that the revenue was increasing, which he had proved to the house beyond all means of contradiction. The House would find that the revenue had been increasing from year to year, and from quarter to quarter. On the 10th October, 1813, it was 60,876,652., and on the 10th October last past it was upwards of 63,461,864. As far as the accounts were before the House, this was indisputable; and it was in the power of gentlemen at once to satisfy themselves. The right honourable gentleman had entered into a long detail of accounts, in order to show that the consolidated fund and annual taxes would not much exceed the permanent charges of the country. Undoubtedly that fact was true. He expected the permanent re venue to increase; but the fact was, that it could not much exceed the charges. But, let the House consider the present situation of the country, with reference to its situation on any former occasion of a similar nature. At the conclusion of the American war, the consolidated fund scarcely extended to the interest of the national debt. What gloomy predictions had on that occasion been made! And in how few years, under Mr Pitt's administration, did the country regain a flourishing situation! This afforded a

aware that the situation of the country was such as to require a full investigation; but this could not be done till the establishment of peace, as till then the permanent expenses of the country could not be known. He, for one, would not shrink from any such investigation."

After some further discussion, the resolution was agreed to.

The sum of 2,286,375l. was next voted for victualling the navy, 1,956,500. for the wear and tear of ships, and 318,500l. for ordnance for the seaservice.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer then moved, "That 1,650,000l. be granted to his majesty to discharge the remainder of the bills of credit, or other securities, issued by virtue of the act of the 54th of his majesty, intituled, An Act for giving Effect to certain Engagements of his Majesty with the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia for furnishing a Part of the pecuniary Succour for assisting his Majesty's said Allies in supporting the Expenses of the War with France,' together with the interest due thereon."

hope, that the finances of the country would now also soon be relieved from difficulties. With respect to the period referred to, the taxes corresponding with the consolidated fund were then the sole resources of the nation. But at present we had more than twenty. four millions of war taxes. Supposing, therefore, we added something to our burthens, we had this twenty-four millions, from which a diminution would still be effected.

"The right honourable gentleman had stated, that but for him the sinking fund would have been between 15 and 16 millions. But, would the right honourable gentleman lay his hand to his heart, and say, if he thought that the country would have been more flourishing than it was at present, if the sinking fund had been untouched, and from six to seven millions of new taxes imposed on the country? If they should have occasion to call for new taxes, the best preparation for them, was the having forborne to impose any new ones so long. By merely imposing at the return of peace those taxes from which the country had been spared during the last year of the war, the right honourable gentleman's problem might at once be solved. The right honourable gentleman had rather triumphantly asked, what had become of the fund which was to be reserved for the time of peace? That fund had certainly been reduced by the necessities of the country; but there would at Christmas next be sixty millions still remaining, instead of between thirty and forty millions, as had been stated by the right honourable gentleNow he apprehended, that if at the close of any former war the most prosperous, any Chancellor of the Exchequer had been enabled to inform parliament that he had 60 millions of stock applicable to the public services, this would have been considered as a most singular circumstance. He was


This motion was agreed to. The right honourable gentleman next mo ved, "That the sum of 12,500,000%. bé granted for the discharge of outstanding exchequer bills, created under the 54th of his majesty."-Mr Ponsonby enquired, what was the gross amount, at present, of outstanding exchequer bills?-The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, the amount would be laid on the table in a few days; he believed it to be about 59,000,000l.—Mr Ponsonby observed, that 54,000,000l. was the greatest amount of outstanding exchequer bills he ever before recollected. It would be well, however, when the account was laid before them, if the amount was not found to exceed the right honourable gentleman's calculation. The motion was then agreed to; as also another, granting the sum

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of 15,000,000l. and 10,000,000l. for the discharge of the outstanding exchequer bills issued for the service of the year 1814, charged on the aids of that year outstanding and undischarged.

On 18th November, in a committee of supply, the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the following resolation: "That it is the opinion of the committee, that a sum, not exceeding eight millions, be granted to his majesty, towards making good the amount of bills of exchange, drawn upon the lords commissioners of his majesty's treasury for the extraordinary expenses of the army, and which have been paid out of money paid to the paymaster of the forces, between the 24th December, 1813, and 1st November, 1814.”—Mr Tierney remarked, that it was extraordinary that the committee should be called on to vote to pay a sum of eight millions, without explanation, particularly as nine milLions had been voted for the same purpose last year, of the expenditure of which no account had been given.This remark produced a statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, full of very valuable and satisfactory information, relative to the military and foreign expenditure of the country. He stated, "that when the great amount of our military expenses was considered, nothing could justify that expenditure but the result He was perfectly aware, that unless he he were able to shew (as shew he could with perfect ease) that if parliament had not entrusted to his majesty's ministers the mighty means which had been confided to them, the Duke of Wellington would, at this moment, have been defending the frontiers of Portugal, and our allies have been pursuing a hopeless war, or have made a separate and inglorious peace, on the Vistula or the Oder, he should not be justified in proposing the vote of that

evening. But, satisfied as he was that the events which had taken place could be proved to be the results of the li berality of the British parliament, with as much certainty as any thing could be proved that depended on the contingency of human affairs, he had no difficulty or hesitation on the subject. The accounts that had been laid on the table would show that, a sum nearly amounting to 19,000,000%. had been drawn this year by bills on the trea sury for army extraordinaries. He would state the places from which they had proceeded, the amount from each place, and subsequently their objects. Guernsey and Jersey, 24,000l.; Heligoland, 46,000l.; Germany and the north of France, 1,411,0007.; Spain, Portugal, and the south of France, 8,612,000l.; Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, 4,259,000/ The two latter sums, amounting to little less than 13,000,000l. were the im mediate consequence of the war in the peninsula. The West Indies, 889,0007; North America, 3,112,000l.; South America, 233,000l. There were several other smaller sums, making a total of 18,900,000l. It would appear by the papers that our expenditure in the peninsula alone, including the sums drawn from other quarters, but appli ed to the same service during the year, amounted to at least 15,000,000l. To all those who recoflected the situation of things two years ago, nothing could be more obvious than that there was at that time a great crisis in the af fairs of Europe. At the moment of the explosion of the war between France and Russia, it was clear, that whoever was the conqueror would remain master of the destinies of the world. Had the French emperor succeeded in his design of subjugating Russia, England would have been the only nation in the world who could have withstood his arms; it, indeed, she could have stood alone amidst

« AnteriorContinua »