Imatges de pÓgina
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London. The hon Gentleman the Mem- the House that the doctrines of my noble ber for Manchester said-I dont't quote Friend are entirely and essentially different his words, but I hope I shall represent from what the hon. Member supposed them their effect clearly-"The noble Lord ad- to be, and I join with him, and I am sure I mits that, for all legislative purposes, the may say with my noble Friend, in protestGovernment have lost the power of guiding ing against a supposition that we were the House of Commons, but he makes a capable of propounding or entertaining claim of this nature, that, although the such a notion as this, in error, he has asGovernment have lost the confidence of cribed to us. Sir, I think that nothing the Parliament for the business of legisla- can be more invidious in Members of an tion, yet, inasmuch as the Government existing Administration than a hostile rehave likewise succeeded in involving the view of the measures of former Governcountry in a dangerous war, the House of ments. My noble Friend, as it appeared Commons must hold itself debarred from to me, confined himself-in a tone, as I its right to withdraw its confidence in the thought, most calm and dignified-to so Government, and its tenure of office shall much reference to questions of that class as be prolonged from this period until the war was absolutely extorted from him by the is finally settled." Such a doctrine as that necessity of the case. No such necessity undoubtedly never fell-I will not say from is incumbent upon me, and therefore I the lips of the noble Lord-but I never shall enter upon no such discussion; but I heard doctrines so absurd propounded by may, perhaps, with great deference to the any hon. Gentleman, however little noted judgment of those who have spoken, be or distinguished in this House. To make permitted to plead that I do no think that an announcement that any Gentlemen who the case of legislative impotence has been may have got possession of office have no- so fully made out against the Administhing to do but to involve the country in a tration of Lord Aberdeen. The Adminiswar, and then to say they shall thereby ac- tration of Lord Aberdeen has held office quire a lease of power which shall last for just one Session and a half. The until that war is concluded, really implies a Session of the present year has been a height of impudence or of folly to which I Session during which there has been an do not think that any of us have as yet as- extraordinary disturbance in the public cended. The doctrine of my noble Friend mind. If we are told in the House of was, if I understood him rightly, of a dif- Commons that we have not been able to ferent character entirely. He stated that, in make that progress with legislative meareference to many measures of ordinary le- sures that might have been anticipated, gislation, it was undoubtedly true we had and might have been desired, I think it is failed during the present Session of Par- fair that those who so exercise the office of liament in persuading the House of Com- critics should recollect what is the effect of mons to adopt our views; but, he said, a European war upon the mind of the there were other questions of extraordinary nation and the disposition of Parliament magnitude, which at this period transcend itself. I think that those who, naturally all questions of ordinary legislation-he enough, are disposed to impute this want did not say that those were matters upon of progress to the Government should go which the House of Commons had no right back to the period of former wars, and to pronounce that those were matters should see what amount of progress in upon which the House of Commons had pacific legislation has been made by strong no right to give their confidence or with- Administrations in periods when the public hold it what he said was, there were mind was at once excited, absorbed, and great questions connected with peace and exhausted by the anxieties and the efforts war which were now the direct and pri- of the war. But, if I may be permitted mary questions which threw all others into to advert in defence of ourselves to the the shade, and with respect to those great last Session of Parliament, I do not think primary questions the House of Commons there will be found a recent Session in had not thought fit to withdraw its con- which a greater number of substantial and fidence from the Government, but had important measures were brought forward upon every occasion given the most unmis- and successfully carried. I am sure, Sir, takeable support to the policy of the Go- I am the last man who has any reason vernment in the shape of a triumphant or any disposition to complain of the hon. majority. I hope, Sir, I have made it Member for Manchester as to what he has perfectly clear to the hon. Member and to said; but I am bound to appeal to his

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sense of justice when I say, I think that present them. The first was from a soliwhat he has stated is not a strictly ac- citor at Hull, who stated that he gave a curate or true description of the occur- vote at the last election for that place, but rences of last Session. He will remember that he neither canvassed nor took any acthat measures of great political importance tive part in the election; that he had and difficulty, such as that relating to the neither received nor paid money to any Canada Clergy Reserves, and that mea- one on account of it; that he was not sures of great complication of details, such examined before the Commissioners as to as that relating to the government of India, the commission of bribery; and that he were introduced and carried through Par- was not by any of the witnesses accused liament during the last Session; and I of having committed bribery, and yet his think I can further appeal to him, when I name had been included in the Schedule. say that I do not at this moment recollect He therefore prayed that this Act might not a single case of an important first-class be allowed to pass, and that, if it did, his Bill which was withdrawn from the House name might be expunged. Two of the other of Commons or the House of Lords during petitions were, one from a solicitor, and last year, with one exception, namely, the the other from a merchant and shipowner Education Bill of my noble Friend the of the same place, containing statements Member for the City of London, which to a similar effect, and praying to be heard was withdrawn for the simple reason that by counsel at the bar of the House against it was impossible to bring it into discus- the Bill. The last petition which he had sion until we had overpassed the limits of to present, which was signed by nearly an ordinary Session, and the exhausted 400 persons, stated that in consequence of patience of the House made it absolutely the proclamation of the Commissioners, a necessary that some remission should take general opinion was entertained throughout place. Sir, these matters, which ought not the town of Hull, that those who gave their to be mentioned otherwise than in self-evidence freely and truly would be protectdefence I trust it is not improper to mention-for, after all, it is impossible altogether to separate, in a question of this kind, the question of the credit of the Government from the question of the credit and character of the House of Commons. It was the House of Commons--it was the feeling of the House of Commonsthat enabled the Government last year to conduct the legislative business of the country; and if, during the present year, the results have been different, I appeal to your sense of justice to consider whether that has been owing so much to carelessness, or neglect, or want of competence, as to that marvellous and profound change which seems to pass upon the temper of the people, and which passes upon the temper of the Legislature, which you may trace every night in every discussion of the Session, when the energies of the country have been drawn upon for a tremendous external struggle, and in being so called have been of necessity diverted from the pacific purposes to which in former years they have been, and to which in future years God grant they may be again directed.

LORD HOTHAM said, that some petitions in relation to one of these measures had been entrusted to him, and though the Government had signified their intention to withdraw the measures to which they had reference, he should feel it his duty to The Chancellor of the Exchequer

ed from all consequences whatever-not only from penal consequences, but from all disabilities and similar consequences. In consequence of this assurance they had given their evidence without hesitation or restraint, and they considered that the contract thus entered into by the Commissioners had been repudiated by Her Majesty's Government by the Bill brought into Parliament. Such a proceeding they considered to be contrary to the first principles of justice, and they prayed to be heard by counsel at the bar of the House against the passing of the Bill.

The order was then read and discharged,
as were also those relating to Maldon
Bribery Prevention Bill and the Barnstaple
Bribery Prevention Bill.

EXCHEQUER BONDS (£6,000,000) BILL.
Order for Second Reading read.

SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the circumstance that a portion of these bonds being to be applied to the cancelling of Exchequer bills, and the remainder to the borrowing money, the accounts would be very much complicated, and it would be exceedingly difficult for any one to ascertain the exact state of the public finances, since, if they did not know the exact amount taken for money, they could not

quer bills, and it was now proposed to raise 4,000,000l. more. When the question of the saving banks came before the House, he would be prepared to prove that there had been a considerable loss on the operation of last year, but the calculations were too complicated to go into them at that moment. The power vested in the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so great that it ought not to be exercised without the consent of Parliament.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCIEQUER was sorry to say that, under present circumstances, it was impossible for him to answer the appeal addressed to him by the hon. Baronet fully; for he spoke within the mark when he said that it would require at least two hours to make an explanation that would be intelligible of the complicated system of powers lodged in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the existing law, and which the hon. Baronet had briefly, and he thought somewhat obscurely, alluded to. All he could say was that, in his opinion, those powers well deserved, and, indeed, he should say required, the deliberate consideration of the House; and that he should be very glad if he could find himself in a

tell the sum added to the debt. The question he wished to submit was, the absolute necessity that the House should in these bills take some security that these bonds should not be converted into permanent funded debt. During the year 1853, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by means of Exchequer bills and the sale of the savings bank stock, added 1,254,000l. to the permanent funded debt of the country. He sold 778,000l. Three per Cent Stock belonging to the savings banks at prices varying from 97 to 91, in order to buy Exchequer bills paying 30s, a year. That same stock had been purchased at prices varying from 97 to 101. There was therefore a considerable loss upon the transaction, which would have to be made up by the country. If the right hon. Gentleman could thus, by a tortuous process, convert funded into unfunded debt last year, he could do it again, and some security ought to be taken that he should not repeat the process. So tortuous was the process by which this was effected, that he (Sir II. Willoughby) had only been able to convince two or three Members of that House that this addition to the debt had actually taken place. The right hon. Gentleman had criticised the conduct of Mr. Pitt for borrow-condition to bring the system under the ing money during the pressure of a war; calm and patient review of the House, with and he (Sir H. Willoughby), therefore, the view, at the same time, of recommendcalled upon him to tell the House how he ing to the House the great improvements (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could of which he thought it stood in need; besanction an addition to our funded debt in cause it appeared to him that, in various the fortieth year of peace, and to explain respects, the Finance Minister of this what was his real policy on this subject. country had in many respects too little He would propose the insertion of a clause power in his hands for the good of the to the effect, that no portion of the un-public, whereas, in other respects unfunded debt be converted into funded debt doubtedly he agreed with the hon. Bawithout the knowledge and consent of Par-ronet-in fact, he was not sure that he liament." In the year 1853, between the did not go beyond him-he had a great months of May and October, a sum of deal too much power, and exercised powers 1,200,000l. belonging to the savings banks that ought to be greatly restricted. The was sold, and the proceeds invested in hon. Baronet had asked him for a pledge Exchequer bills bearing interest of only that there should be no new creation of a penny a day, and that sum was after-funded debt without the authority of Farwards added to the funded debt. If they liament. He (the Chancellor of the Exwere to raise money by increasing the un-chequer) could go thus far he could tell funded debt, let them do so, or, if they were to have a loan, let it be a loan in name also. The right hon. Gentleman, as one of the Commissioners for the reduction of the national debt, had a very considerable power vested in him of dealing with the savings-bank stock. He had used it last year to some extent, and there was nothing to prevent his using it again. The unfunded debt at present exceeded 17,000,000l., existing in Exche:

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the hon. Baronet that he did not anticipate the creation of any funded debt without the authority of Parliament, under the present circumstances of the country, but he should be going far beyond his duty if he were to give him any universal, permanent, and unconditional pledge to that effect. There were circumstances in which it might be an absolute obligation on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to perform processes which would result in the creation of funded debt

without the authority of Parliament, but of course in the exercise of the powers which Parliament had entrusted to him. So far as the Bill on the table was concerned, the hon. Baronet was aware that it was for the purpose of making a permanent addition neither to the funded nor the unfunded debt, but for the purpose mainly of anticipating the produce of certain taxes, which Parliament had actually agreed to, but which could not be raised for some considerable time; and further, for the purpose of giving a margin of cash, in case of need, to the Government, under the extraordinary circumstances of the war, and the unforeseen demands of which a war might be productive. Retrospectively, he was bound to say that he should be happy to enter, upon any convenient occasion, into a discussion of the transactions of last year, to which the hon. Baronet had adverted; but he begged to say that he should stoutly contend that neither the public nor anybody else had lost one farthing by those transactions-that, on the contrary, they were a wise and prudent application of the public money, under the circumstances of the times. When it shall come before us, I hope the House will sift the subject; but so far as the savings banks were concerned, he could pledge himself to show that no body had sustained any loss by the transactions of last year. With respect to the main purpose of the hon. Baronet, his object seemed to be to ascertain whether the present application was made to Parliament with a view of using the money which might be raised under the Bill for the formation of a funded debt without the assent or authority of Parliament. There was certainly no such intention, and he did not anticipate any circumstances occurring that would give rise to a necessity of the sort. The hon. Baronet said that he had found it difficult to persuade hon. Gentlemen that there had been an actual increase of funded debt during the last twelve months, and that he could not find a Gentleman who was aware of the fact. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did not at all wonder at that. On the contrary, he should have been surprised if it had been otherwise; for there had been nothing of the kind-in reality the amount had been rather reduced. If, when he spoke of an increase of the funded debt in 1853, the hon. Baronet meant that certain stock had been created in the names of the National Debt Commissioners that did not exist before, and, moreover, that a portion of that The Chancellor of the Exchequer

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stock was created out of moneys which were obtained by the sale of other stock, no doubt it was perfectly true; but the hon. Baronet must be aware that whilst 1,000,000l. or 1,250,000l. of new debt had been created, above 8,000,000l. of funded debt had been extinguished.

MR. HUME thought the observations of his hon. Friend (Sir H. Willoughby) should not be allowed to pass with the brief explanation just given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His hon. Friend had objected to the power of the Finance Minister to take the money of the savings banks for the purpose of supporting the credit of the Government in Exchequer bills. Some years ago that was done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. Herries—and a great loss was incurred. Upon the debate which took place upon that occasion it was clearly acknowledged that the power, although possessed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ought only to be exercised in cases of emergency. At that time, he (Mr. Hume) wished that the power should be withdrawn, but the matter was met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer giving the assurance to the House that he would not again exercise it. Accordingly, it had not, until recently, been exercised--with a slight exception in the time of Lord Monteagle, who, however, at the same time, disapproved of it. He (Mr. Hume) had very great doubt whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer had any right to advertise for 4,000,0007. or 6,000,000l., without coming to Parliament for their authority; no Chancellor of the Exchequer should have power to raise money either on the funded or unfunded debt without a vote of the House of Commons. As he did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to object to the observations made, he hoped they would be sufficient to prevent any further interference with the savings bank stock. In his opinion, nothing of the kind ought to be done. Even the Exchequer bills fell to below the market price. The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to allow them to come to such a figure, but should keep the public credit above par. He did not wish to oppose the Bill, but wished to take this opportunity of stating his opinion, as he was absent on the last discussion. He did not agree with those who found fault with the right hon. Gentleman for attempting to raise money on these Exchequer bonds when he required it; but he had to find fault with him. He last year supported him in the pro

in the country banks, or at least in all the branches of the Bank of England. The metropolis was the great centre of the money market, but there was a large amount of capital in the manufacturing districts.

MR. WILLIAMS said that the power lodged in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of effecting changes in the savings banks money had been complained of in that House a great many years; and no doubt it had at various periods been greatly misapplied and misused. If the right hon. Gentleman would consent to repeal that power, and introduce a clause for the purpose, he believed he would thereby add much to the reputation he had so justly acquired by the reforms and improvements which he had already introduced in the financial system of the country.

Mr. GLYN concurred with his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Thornely) in the opinion that Exchequer bonds, when thoroughly understood, would become a favourite source for the employment of capital, not only in the metropolis, but in the country; and he thought there was considerable weight in what his hon. Friend had said about having recourse to tenders in different parts of the kingdom.

position which he made when money was plentiful, and when the change in the money market could not have been foreseen. But he found fault with him for having afterwards paid off the South Sea Stock holders, by taking the balances out of the Exchequer; and in the then state of the money market he ought to have come forward and have reinvested that 8,000,0001. rather than have paid it off under the change of circumstances. He complained of him for not having then come to Parliament and invested the money paid to the South Sea Company. He might have raised the 8,000,000l. on terminable annuities, without making any alteration in the amount of the debt, but simply replacing that which circumstances had obliged him to pay off. The change in the money market defeated him; but he (Mr. Hume) believed that no man could conscientiously say that twelve months ago, when the plan was before the House, he anticipated what had taken place. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not to blame for not having foreseen what was almost impossible; he, therefore, did not think that he was to blame. The Chancellor had stated that he considered his powers too extensive; they ought to be taken away, and thus future Chancellors would be deprived of the power of doing the Chancellor of the Exchequer had harm even unintentionally. No money taken power by this Bill to issue the deought to be borrowed without the consent bentures at 4 per cent. Would it not be of Parliament. The confidence of the expedient, however, to consider if inconmoneyed men would go with the Chan- venience might not possibly arise in the cellor when they found everything done money market if he had two issues of openly. He would find his best course to Exchequer bonds-one at 3 and the other be to act openly and above board. Let at 4 per cent? To make these bonds him not attempt by secret means to out- popular there ought to be an extended reach what were called the moneyed men. market for them; but the right hon. They were not to be got the better of. Gentleman might rely upon it, that if He (Mr. Hume) hoped the Chancellor there were two securities of the same form, would never attempt to raise money, either but of different rates of interest, he would as funded or unfunded debt, without com- encounter considerable inconvenience on ing to Parliament. If he was in the right, the part of the dealers with regard to the Parliament would support him; if not, he manner in which they would be inclined to would not, and ought not, to succeed. He deal with them. He could have wished, hoped the House would take from the indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman had Chancellor the power of doing harm. issued them all at 4 per cent. He would MR. THORNELY wished to make a take that opportunity of asking the right suggestion with regard to the Exchequer hon. Gentleman whether any measures had bonds. He thought they would become been taken by the Bank of England for favourite securities when better known in the purpose of bringing up, under the the country, as they afforded the same power vested in them by the Act of 1844, Government security as Consols, without the fixed issues of the country to the being subject to the fluctuations. He amount which Parliament thought right to name in that Act? The right hon. Gentleman was aware that the country issues had already fallen off to the extent

would suggest that when tenders were called for, they might be received not only in London or at the Bank of England, but VOL. CXXXIII. [THIRD SERIES.]

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