Imatges de pÓgina

thirds, should enable the Commissioners to enact certain Statutes in regard to the colleges. The clauses which he proposed to introduce for that purpose were four or five in number, and the whole of the remaining clauses in the Bill would be fourteen altogether, including all those that were retained, so that the whole number of clauses in the Bill would be forty-two instead of fifty-eight, and sixteen clauses of very great detail would be omitted. It was not his intention now to state the plan proposed, still less to discuss it, until the clauses proposed were printed. What he now proposed, therefore, was either to add these clauses, omitting those that were to be left out, and going into Committee on the Bill afresh, or, if that course should not be thought convenient, to give notice of the clauses, to have them printed, and to let them wait until Monday week, when the Government would propose to consider the Bill again. Perhaps the most convenient course would be to go through the remaining clauses and recommit the Bill, printing all the Amendments already agreed to by the Committee. When the Committee went into the Bill again, there would be an understanding that those parts already discussed would not be rediscussed in Committee, of course reserving hon. Members the right to move Amendments upon bringing up the Report. He should now propose that the Chairman do report progress, and that they should go into Committee on the Bill to-morrow pro formá.

MR. WALPOLE said, he understood that, generally speaking, the Commissioners were to have power under the Bill of making alterations in the University and the colleges, unless the colleges commenced those alterations themselves. He wished to ask the noble Lord whether a longer period was to be given to the Commissioners to make these alterations, and whether more alterations were to be made than those shadowed forth in the Bill? It would be reasonable, he thought, to have the Bill put into such a shape as that the House should be enabled to judge of it as a whole, and then that they should resume with those parts at which they had left off. LORD JOHN RUSSELL was understood to say that the Commissioners would have an extension of time allowed them.

MR. WALPOLE said, that the great objection he had always made to the Bill was that it did not leave sufficient freedom to the University or colleges, and he wanted to know whether, by the proposed

alteration, a greater or less amount of freedom would be left to the University and colleges?

MR. GOULBURN said, he thought they could hardly enter into a discussion of that point until they saw the actual clauses that were to be introduced. He understood the noble Lord proposed to recommit the Bill on the following day, to insert new clauses, and leave out the clauses which he meant to omit, and he (Mr. Goulburn) thought that would be a most convenient course for the House to adopt. All he hoped was, that care would be taken to reprint the Bill so that they should have it as soon as possible after recommittal, and not be driven to examine it within a day or two of the actual discussion.

MR. DISRAELI said, he thought it would be convenient if the noble Lord would give an answer himself to the question of his right hon. Friend. The noble Lord was aware of the nature of the clauses, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, who answered for him, was not aware of them.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL was afraid he might be misleading the right hon. Gentleman if he gave a positive answer to his question. He would say, however, as to the clause with respect to the University, and as to the clause respecting the colleges, that in his opinion greater liberty would be given to the colleges, but the right hon. Gentleman might complain hereafter if he misled him.

MR. HENLEY hoped that due attention would be paid to what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge. They were now asked to consent to alterations in this Bill which, in point of fact, would make it a new Bill; and the noble Lord wished them to go into Committee on the Monday after the recess; but that was scarcely fair, for as they would separate the day after to-morrow, it was not likely they would have the Bill before they separated, and it would not be reasonable to ask the House to go into Committee on so early a day as had been named by the noble Lord.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL: I propose, then, to take the Bill on Thursday se'nnight, instead of Monday week.

MR. HORSMAN said, he understood that by the proposed alterations the powers of the Commissioners were to be enlarged, and begged to ask if the noble Lord would reconsider the composition of the Commission.

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LORD MONTEAGLE: I propose to ask your Lordships to call for the production of two separate classes of papers, both tending to explain the present relations between the Government and the Bank of England. The first of these is the correspondence between Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Goulburn, acting on the part of the public, and the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank, representing that corporation. These papers are explanatory of the engagements entered into in 1844, with respect to the amount of the balances which, on the revision of the charter, was agreed to be kept at the Bank, and the conditions under which such balances was agreed to be maintained. This correspondence was publie, and has been officially referred to in the other House of Parliament; it has, I believe, been already laid before the Commons, and therefore I do not anticipate any objection which can be raised to its production here. The second class of papers is of a different description, and as it is possible that its production at the present time, whilst the subjects which it involves are still unsettled and in controversy, I have called the attention of my noble Friend (Earl Granville) to the question, that if it be inconsistent with the public interest that such documents should be laid before Parliament for the present, he might be enabled to state his objections to my Motion. If he does so on these grounds, I, shall fully admit the force of his objection. In matters of financial, as well as of diplomatic negotiation, I am aware that whilst questions are still in controversy, it would be unwise to produce, and therefore it would be improper to call

for this information prematurely. We have also been told that the opinions of Crown lawyers have been asked for in relation to the legality of a given mode of proceeding. We are bound to wait till that opinion is given. It is far from my wish to precipitate any disclosure on which hereafter the opinion of Parliament may require to be taken. On the contrary, if it be stated, on the responsibility of the Executive Government, that such information cannot for the present be furnished, I shall withdraw that part of my Motion, being quite willing to concede to our financial department the same confidence which we are accustomed to grant willingly to the Foreign Office. Important as the papers for which I move may be at any time, I consider them to have a peculiar value at the present moment. I shall frankly state to your Lordships my strongest reason for seeking to draw your attention to the subject. New, and, in my mind, most dangerous doctrines have been publicly broached-doctrines which ought not to be allowed to pass without refutation. It has been strongly urged that, as by a notice served on the Bauk, in 1855 Parliament becomes entitled to reconsider and modify the existing Charter Act of 1844, the present opportunity should be seized, with a view of enabling us to alter the arrangements existing between the Treasury and the Bank of England. It is proposed that this should be done in order to prepare us for an experiment which I am persuaded would be attended with the utmost danger, both to public credit and to private interests. We are told that “the best remedy that we should look to is that the State should manage its own business itself, that is, by its own servants;" we are told that "no Government should think of borrowing whilst it has an unexceptionable and facile means of making money;" we are further informed that the principle involved is "that of the propriety of transacting the business of the Government through the agency of a joint stock company in preference to the agency of a public department;" and the concession to the Bank of England of the power of issuing a paper circulation is described as "an alienation from the Crown of one of its highest prerogatives." These suggestions seem to amount to no less than this, that not only should the Government sever all connections whatever with the Bank of England, and constitute a Banking Department within itself, but that to this new Government Banking Department should

be entrusted the executive public functions difficulties have arisen, examples are of paying the dividends and the various shown where a pressure from without has services, civil and military, and the far compelled the Government of the day to more delicate duties of issuing a paper depart from the principles by which they currency, and thus acting on the monetary ought to have been guided, and to sacrisystem in its relations with the whole com- fice their highest practical duties to some mercial transactions of the British com- temporary expediency, or to the concilimunity. I must confess that I view such ating of some exigent but partial interest. a proposition with indescribable alarm. I But the Government might also be influam not aware that history can furnish us enced by other motives more peculiarly with one single instance in which such in- acting on themselves. Many banking and terference on the part of any Government, commercial cases of crisis have sprung at any time or in any country, has been from political events in which the State, unattended with results the most calami- as a State, is directly involved. Such tous-results fatal to the Government was the case at the time of the Scottish which tried the experiment, and to the rebellion of 1745. It was again the community whose interests, were affected by case, at the outbreak of the war of the it. Even in the exercise of one of the ob- French Revolution in 1792 and 1793. vious and legitimate duties and functions of It was the case still more strikingly in a State, the coining of precious metals as 1797 at the fatal period of the Bank a circulating medium, it is well known to restriction. These successive dangers your Lordships that temptations have often and calamities were far more directly been held out to the rulers of States which connected with political events, than with they have not been able to withstand. It any acts of the Bank of England. It can be shown that innumerable instances may be said, and perhaps said with truth, have occurred in which those possessed of that the Bank had in 1797 by its subserauthority, when unprincipled and lavish, viency made itself a culpable instrument in have made the depreciation of the coin a the hands of Mr. Pitt; but it should also, source of wide-spread calamity, danger, in justice, be recollected, that the Bank and fraud. Whilst this has been the case, soon perceived the dangers and difficulties almost universally, throughout the Conti- which beset its path, and entreated to be nent of Europe, it is a just cause of na- relieved from the disgraceful restriction of tional pride that in this country, since the cash payments. The Government of the reign of Elizabeth, England has exhibited day, however, fully appreciated the potency a noble example of good faith by adhering of the instrument it had been permitted to to the legal standard of value. If the dan- wield; Mr. Pitt was reluctant to surrender ger of violating this principle is great in the the power he had gained, and the Bank case of coined money, how much greater restriction was continued. But how much and more imminent would it be if the Go- more facile, how much more certain, vernment should ever be induced to un- would such events have been had Mr. Pitt dertake the fatal responsibility of becom- been the banker, as well as the Minister ing bankers and issuers of paper money? of the State! I therefore must repeat Let us not deceive ourselves into a belief that to permit, or to encourage a Governthat our free Government would afford us ment to issue, and to dispense the cirany protection whatever against the pro- culating medium, could not fail to be bable abuse of such a power. I am not productive of incalculable danger. Far is one who doubts the invaluable blessings of it from me to suggest that it may not be free institutions, but I venture nevertheless expedient on the part of the Treasury to to suggest as a possibility that a free Go- revise from time to time its money envernment might furnish the most active gagements with the Bank of England for and dangerous agency for forcing on the the transaction of the public business. Treasury to rash and fatal resolves, if it If the terms demanded by the Bank can should unadvisedly undertake the functions be proved to be exorbitant, let that be of a bank of issue. I believe a Govern- discussed as a money question, and let ment in such a position would be driven the Government refuse to pay more onward to the very measures which than is justly claimable. But beware of wisdom and experience would most strong- applying, in the place of a just economy, ly deprecate and condemn. Events in our a new and a dangerous principle, by the own time lead to this conclusion. It is establishment of a State bank, a measure notorious that when great commercial dangerous in itself, and which seems, at VOL. CXXXIII. [THIRD SERIES.]

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the present time, to be threatened rather | fusion that is perhaps natural to monarchies, and an instrument of vengeance against in time of war has constantly acted with all the thoughtless extravagance that democracies are the Bank, than as a remedy for any apt to fall into-could be safely trusted with the proved abuse. Do not expose to risk management of such a project, must at least be a both public and private credit, because good deal more doubtful.” you are offended with the Bank for dealing It has been the fashion of some of those perwith you less favourably than you think sons on whose false reasoning I have taken you have a right to expect. Dangerous as the liberty of animadverting, to urge that such a step must be in any country, it is because this country is, of all nations in the in England that its consequences will ever world, that which is most deeply engaged be the most destructive. It is in the in vast and varied financial transactions, it richest and most commercial communities, should therefore, and on that account, that the greatest amount of transactions create a State bank for itself. My Lords, will be carried on by the means of credit. I hold, on the contrary, that it is for that It is in such countries, likewise, that the very reason it should employ an agency State is frequently deeply indebted; these safer and more independent than its own. are the very circunstances that make any No Government should undertake a task tampering with the currency and the stan- that can be as well accomplished by pridard of value most fatal in its results; and vate agency, and in a simpler and more nathe power and the responsibility of a Go- tural manner. Still less should a Governvernment acting as bankers can only be ment venture upon functions which it is exercised, as a measure of relief, by the ill fitted to execute, in substitution for a sacrifice of all other classes. Yet this, I commercial body, acting upon sound comam astonished to think, has been advo-mercial principles. It has been on this cated by persons who can scarcely have considered, or who fail in comprehending, the inevitable consequences of the measure they recommend.

To adopt such a measure on the ground of any money saving which it might produce, seems to me not merely a blind and mistaken, but a pitiful economy. We should sacrifice much more in our safety and our credit, than we could gain on the ways and means of the year, A saving even of many annual thousands on the interest of deficiency bills, would be far from justify ing the adoption of a fatal principle. We are not driven to add to our resources by seeking to engross the profits of moneychangers. Adam Smith has in my mind conclusively disposed of this argument in the following observations, which not only state the principle at stake very accurately, but display a most deep philosophical knowledge of our people and our institutions:

"A revenue of this kind has even by some people been thought not below the attention of so great an empire as that of Great Britain. Government, it is pretended, could borrow this capital at 3 per cent interest; and by taking the management of the Bank into its own hands, might make a clear profit of 269,500l. a year. The orderly, vigilant, and parsimonious administration of such aristocracies as those of Venice or Amsterdam is extremely proper, it appears from experience, for the management of a mercantile project of this kind. But whether such a Government as that of England, which, whatever may be its virtues, has never been famous for economy-which in time of peace has generally conducted itself with a slothful and negligent proLord Monteagle

ground, I presume, that the House of Commons has recently declined to permit the Ordnance to become manufacturers of small arms for Her Majesty's land forces. Whether the principle has been rightly applied in that particular instance, it is wholly immaterial that I should stop to inquire. But if it be contrary to public interest that the Government should manufacture Minié rifles, sabres, pistols, or muskets, it must surely be infinitely more disadvantageous that the Lords of the Treasury should appear in the commercial world as bankers, and undertake to perform duties heretofore safely executed by others, and I believe executed on economical terms. People are apt, for the purpose of their argument, to dwell on their estimate of what the Bank receives from us, rather than on the duties which the Bank is called on to perform; and this ignorance is carried to such an extent, that I have lately seen the amount struck off from the payments to the Bank on former settlements with Parliament, gravely set forth as the amount of their present emoluments. The author of the Wealth of Nations is more accurate and more just, in describing the functions of the Bank. He observes:

"The stability of the Bank of England is equal to that of the British Government. All that it has advanced to the public must be lost before its creditors can sustain any loss. It acts not only as an ordinary bank, but as a great engine of State. It receives and pays the greater part of the annuities which are due to the public; it cir


culates Exchequer bills, and it advances to Go- public attention, and not without an apvernment the annual amount of land and malt pearance of claiming an official authotaxes, which are frequently not paid up till some years afterwards In these different operatious rity, I have not thought it unwise to call its duty to the public may sometimes have obliged your attention to the principle at stake. I it, without any fault of its directors, to overstock do not anticipate, on the part of this House, the market with paper money." or of the Government, the expression of an adverse opinion, or even of one differing from my own. I rather expect an assent to principles which I trust are now very gene. rally recognised, and supported by authority and experience. If there existed any intention, however remote, to interfere with the present Charter of the Bank, twelve months previous notice is required to be given, and, according to former precedents, this step would scarcely be hazarded, without an antecedent Parliamentary inquiry. As no such intention has at present been announced, I cannot apprehend any real or imminent danger or just cause for alarm, however active may be the agency by which this wild project is recommended. I now conclude, by moving

Against this latter danger it has been the
object of our modern legislation to guard, but
it is precisely to this danger that a Govern-
ment bank would be most exposed. Over-
issue followed by a restriction on cash
ments would be the natural consequences
of the establishment of a Government bank
circulating its notes. The other privileges,
such as that of the legal tender clause,
though sources of profit I admit, have been
conceded to the Bank of England less for
its own benefit than for the benefit of the
public. Take as another example, its ex-
clusive power of issue in the metropolitan
districts. What was the great principle
on which almost all persons were agreed in
1844, however much they might differ on
other points. It was on the expediency of
approximating, as nearly as might be, to one
central bank of issue, having the power
of acting on an unfavourable state of fo-
reign exchanges, and not liable to be de-
feated by any rash or selfish proceedings on
the part of competing establishments. It
was felt impossible to apply this sound
principle universally, or at once. But it
was sought to approximate towards it. If
the Government were now to set up a se-
cond and a rival bank of issue, how could
that great principle be maintained. We
should run the risk of undoing all that we
have previously effected, and should lay
down a principle the very reverse of that
contained in the wiser and sounder parts
of the Act of 1844. The same great
writer (Adam Smith), whom I have already
quoted, and to whom I allude with confi-
dence and respect, estimates no insignifi.
cant portion of our public credit to have
been the consequence of our connection
with the Bank of England. Comparing
the state of the unfunded debt of France
with that of England, he attributes much
of the difference of value between these
French and English securities (which he
states to have been no less than 60 per
cent), not to our good faith only, but to
the useful agency and the independence of
the Bank of England.

I have trespassed much longer on your Lordships' time and attention than I could have wished, or anticipated; but having seen the opinions, which I have endeavoured to refute, sedulously pressed upon

"That there be laid before this House, Copy of the Agreement entered into between The Right the Exchequer, and the Bank of England, reHonourable Henry Goulburn, as Chancellor of specting the Allowances made to the Bank for Public Services:"


And also

Copies of all Correspondence which may have taken place between the Government and the Bank in 1854, respecting the Advances required on Deficiency Bills and the State of the Public Balances."

EARL GRANVILLE said, the noble Lord having in his statement referred to him as the Peer whose duty it was to answer a question of this sort, he begged to offer a few remarks to their Lordships. Ile stated the other day the disadvantage he felt in being placed in answering questions of this kind from the noble Lord, whose past and present official position rendered him so intimately acquainted with all the details of the business of the Treasury. He did not complain of this in the slightest degree. The noble Lord, as a Peer of Parliament, had a perfect right to criticise the acts of any Government or of any noble Lord as he might think proper, but he (Earl Granville) felt that he had some ground for claiming from their Lordships more than their usual indulgence. But the difficulty he had to encounter was completely doubled when the noble Lord, not satisfied with going into what was past and what was present, night after night dived into the future. The speech of the noble Lord reminded him of a story he had heard some time

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