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on the amount of the loans; and he justified his own proceedings by the authority of that great man's precedeat. He likewise entered into a variety of calculations, showing the effect of the system introduced in 1813, respecting the sinking fund, and proving that the progress of the redemption of the national debt would be perfectly satisfactory, notwithstanding the relief afforded to the public burthens.
The different resolutions proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer were then put, and agreed to.
On 16th June, the Irish budget was laid before the House, by Mr Vesey Fitzgerald, the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. The substance of his statement was as follows: The supplies consisted of the estimated quota of contribution of the year 1815, stated at 10,574,215., and of the interest and sinking fund on the debt, 6,098,1497., making the total supplies 16,672,364/. The ways and means
amount of which he estimated at 760,000l. British money. The resolutions moved by him were all agreed to.
The last financial measure before the House of Commons this session was the vote of credit, which it has been seen the Chancellor of the Exchequer meant to propose as part of the ways and means for the year. On 28th June, he moved, "That a sum not exceeding six millions be granted to his majesty in Great Britain, and 28,000l. for Ireland, to enable his majesty to take such measures as the exigency of affairs may require, and that such sum of six millions be rai sed by exchequer bills in Great Britain, to be charged on the first aids to be granted in the next session of parliament."
Mr Whitbread said," he should not oppose the motion, conceiving, that, under the present circumstances, it was material that the crown should be provided with powers capable of meeting any exigency that might arise during the recess. He hoped,, that before the re-assembling of parliament, the blessings of peace would be restored to the country. Whatever difference of opinion might exist with re125,000 spect to the original justice of the war (and no change whatever had taken place in his opinions on that subject,) there could be but one sentiment on the splendour of our recent successes; 90,305 which, however, he trusted would not induce his majesty's government to go in pursuit of objects utterly foreign to our true policy. It was impossible to foresee what events might speedily occur. If the noble duke, who, with his glorious army, had achieved a triumph so memorable, should reach the metropolis of France, he trusted that his protecting arm would avert the horrors which might otherwise be produced by that event. A vigorous ef fort had been made by his majesty's government to crush the resistance of
Surplus of the consolidated fund L.688,807
should estimate at The profits on lotteries, one half of what had been computed for Great Britain Re-payment of sums advanced by Ireland for naval and military services 2-17ths of old naval stores, 1517ths having been taken credit for by England Loan raised in England for the service of Ireland, 9,000,000l. British
Making a total ways and means of 16,854,112
He stated the whole of the above in Irish currency, and the committee would observe that there was an excess of ways and means above the supply of 171,000l. The charge for the loan he stated at 727,350.; to cover this charge, he stated certain proposed additions to the taxes, the
Bank of England-Renewal of Restrictions on Cash-payments.-Proceedings as to the Profits of the Bank on its Transactions with Government.-Bill for putting an end to the exclusive Privilege of the South-Sea Company.-Bill to make Freehold Estates liable for simple Contract Debts.-Bill to Amend the Laws respecting Insolvent Debtors.-Abolition of Gaol Fees.-Bill for Abolition of the Pillory.-Act for extending Jury Trial in Civil Causes to Scotland.
THE affairs of the Bank of England, and the relations between government and that great establishment, gave rise to several important proceedings in parliament this session. The restrictions on payments in cash were to expire on the 5th of April; and it became necessary to consider whether or not these restrictions were to be renewed. On the 2d of March Lord Archibald Hamilton, in the House of Commons, moved for a committee to enquire into the affairs of the Bank of England, and into the effects produced on the currency and commercial relations of the kingdom by the different restriction acts. His lordship took a view of
great increase in the issues of paper since the restrictions commenced; and argued that, in consequence of these issues, not only did the proprie tors of the bank derive exorbitant profits at the expence of the public, but the value of our currency was excessively depreciated; and, among other evils attending this depreciation, he contended, that it was in part, at least, a cause of the late high prices of corn.*
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that as the noble lord's arguments were founded on the supposition, that the bank restrictions would be continued to an indefinite period, he thought it hardly necessary to enter into a refutation of them, as it was expected that the restrictions would cease on the 5th of July 1816. He entered, however, into an examination of those arguments, in the course of which he maintained, that no measure could be more calculated to defeat the resumption of cash-payments than the very enquiries which were wished to be made; for, if once the information which these enquiries would give were published, it would place the bank at the mercy of every speculator in bullion in the country; and he concluded by stating the grounds on which he conceived it more than probable that cash-payments would be resumed in July, 1816." If," he said, "the peace with America had been ratified at the same time with that at Parisif the foreign expences had been concluded-if the arrears which were due
For some observations on the Bullion Question, and its relation to the question as
to the price of corn, see p. 60 of this volume.
to foreign states had been paid-if the keeping up a large standing army on the continent had not been necessary— and if we had not had to transport a large army across the Atlantic, the short period which had elapsed since the conclusion of the peace, he was satisfied, would have so completely restored the affairs of the country to their original situation, that the bank would, without delay, have been able to resume their cash-payments. Any gentleman who compared the progressive improvement of the rate of exchange since 1814, would at once be able to discover the truth of this proposition. In January, 1814, the exchange with Hamburgh was at 28; before October it was 32. In January, 1814, the price of gold in doubloons, was 57. 10s. per oz. ; before the end of the year it had fallen to 47. 9s. per oz. The price of silver in the same period had fallen from 6s. 11d. per oz. to 5s. 6d. With these favourable prospects, he thought he should not be presuming too much in anticipating such a favourable change by July, 1816, as would ensure a return to the old currency of the country. He held an account in his hand which would shew the enormous expenditure of specie which within the last few years had been made on the continent by this country. In 1811, the foreign payments were 15,182,000l.; in 1812, 18,533,000l.; in 1813, 22,931,000l.; and in 1814, 31,284,000l. In the face of such an expenditure he thought it was not extraordinary that restrictions should be placed on the cash-pay. ments of the bank; but now that they might be considered as in a great measure stopped, if no new cause should occur to render their continuance necessary, it was but natural to suppose that these sums would revert to their old channel; and if this should be the case, there was no doubt that, by the
period he had fixed, the bank would resume its payments in specie."
Mr Horner, in arguing for the motion, was led to state his opinion as to the effect of the bank restrictions on the currency of the country. He said, that "the great principle on which he had always rested the question was, that so long as the standard currency of a country remained unvaried, however that standard might be expressed, no change in its real value could affect its relative value to other commodities. Whenever depreciation had once begun, then it was possible for commercial or other circumstances to affect the value of gold; but he had never supposed that when gold was at 5l. 11s., or, as it had once been, at 5l. 14s., that this rise was solely attributable to an excess of paper circulation, or that the apparent depreciation was the true measure of the excess in the issues of the bank. What he conceived to be the true solution of the difficulty was, that a depreciation having taken place from excess, an opening had been made for the operation of other causes, which were now in a great measure removed. These causes were the occupation of commercial countries by immense armies, the consequent distress and discredit, together with the greatly augmented_remittances made from one part of Europe to another. The effect produced by the change of circumstances was to bring back the price of gold to between 4l. 9s. and 47. 11s.; precisely what it was in 1810. The exchanges now, though really in our favour, were nominally against us 8 or 9 per cent.; and here he begged to ask, could this appearance be explained, but in a depreciation in the value of our domestic currency? The extraordinary circumstance adverted to, of the price of gold falling in the course of last year to 47. 4s. he ascribed to the then situation
of the armies in the North, by which great quantities of bullion were driven in the direction of this country. It happened, too, at the same time, that many of the country banks failed, a circumstance which necessarily operated to induce the Bank to diminish their issues. This was a measure that raised the real value of their paper in the same proportion. He believed, also, that there had been a rise in the real price of gold, he meant as measured by other commodities in some of the countries of Europe. This he partly attributed to the effects of war destroying the settled habits of commercial credit, and partly to an interruption in the working of the mines produced by the disturbances of South America. He had reason to believe that from Mexico the supplies were much less abundant than usual. His conclu sion was, upon the whole review of this question, that our currency was in an artificial and depreciated state; a state, the evils of which were too manifest to be denied, and were equally injurious to the public creditor, by diminishing the value of his dividend, and to the private creditor the value of his legal claim. Its effects on public credit, and on our financial situation, would lead him into too wide a field of discussion; but it appeared to him to be incontro vertible, that this evil, excited in consequence of an excessive issue of bank paper, is, that the government were not duly vigilant over those issues, and that the renewal of the restriction should not be granted without a declaration that the parliament and the country expected that immediate measures would be taken by the bank to resume their cash-payments."
The question being put, the motion was negatived by a great majonity. Immediately after the division, the House went into a committee, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the restrictions on pay
ments of cash by the Bank of England should be continued to the 5th of July, 1816. The motion was carried. On the 7th March the report of the committee was brought up, when a short discussion took place, in the course of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to some observations on the other side, said, that he thought it necessary to deny the assertion, that the country had been twelve months at peace. For, in point of fact, considering the state of our relations with America, that a definitive treaty was not yet concluded, and that our foreign expenditure still continued, the country could not even now be said to be in a state of peace. Our foreign expenditure had no doubt diminished, and was still diminishing. Yet its extent must naturally be conceived to operate against the reduction of the exchange; and until the expiration of the winter months, which impeded our commerce, the balance of trade could not be expected to outweigh the influence of our foreign expenditure. The prospect, however, was favourable, the rate of exchange having been reduced no less than 25 per cent. within less than 12 months; but still he was not so sanguine in his hopes as to speak confidently, that the restriction upon the Bank could be conveniently removed at the time specified in the bill." The bill was passed.
The Bank of England derives considerable emolument, in consequence of being employed to transact the business of the public. This emolument proceeds, in the first place, from the large sums of public money deposited in the hands of the bank. For these deposits, which appear generally to amount from eight to ten millions, the bank pays no interest; and the interest of this money, therefore, may be considered as profit made by the bank from transacting the business of the