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the sum therein specified; and for stay-back the currency to its proper standard, ing proceedings upon any distress by ten by constraining the Bank of England to der of such notes.
resume payments in specie within two Mr. Whitbread moved, that the 2d and years; but, in the mean time the right 3d of the Resolutions which, upon the hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer pro14th of May 1811, were reported from the posed, as a nostrum, what had been read Committee of the whole House, to whom by the clerk, at the suggestion of his hon. it was referred to consider further of the friend, and which went to establish the Report which, upon the 8th of June 1810, monstrous proposition, that a pound note was made from the Select Committee ap- and a shilling were equal to one pound pointed to enquire into the high price of one in gold. Since that period, gold had Gold Bullion, and which were then agreed been sold at 4l. 14s. an ounce, which was to by the House.
a depreciation of 20 per cent. A noble The Resolutions were accordingly read, lord (King) then took a resolution to conand are as follow :
fute the doctrine held out in the resolu“ 2. Resolved, That the Promissory tions by compelling his tenants to pay Notes of the governor and company of the their rents in gold, when a law was passed Bank of England, are engagements to pay to prevent it. This law was temporary, certain sums of
money in the legal coin and had been once renewed, and would of this kingdom; and that, for more than expire in February next; it, therefore, a century past, the said governor and became necessary to know the price of company were at all times ready to dis- gold at this period before they renewed charge such Promissory Notes in legal the law. The right hon. gentleman had coin of the realm, until restrained from so come to his resolutions when there was a doing, on the 25th of February 1797, by depreciation of 20 per cent. and he now an order of council, confirmed by act of came to renew the law when the price of parliament.
gold in the market this day was 51. 5s. an “3. Resolved, That the Promissory ounce, being a depreciation of 35 per cent! Notes of the said company have hitherto and yet the right hon. gentleman gravely been, and are at this time, held in public introduced the Bill, and seemed surprised estimation to be equivalent to the legal that it should provoke any discussion. But coin of the realm, and generally accepted did the right hon. gentleman really beas such in all pecuniary transactions to lieve that paper and gold were of the which such coin is lawfully applicable." same value, or that the law had succeeded
Mr. Crecvey said, that it was impossible in making them so ? He could not think for him to allow this Bill to be read a se- so; but if this monstrous law was repealcond time without entering his protested, gold and paper would find their reagainst it, viewing it as he did, as a Bill of spective value, and no want of the former the greatest atrocity. (Cries of hear, and would remain. From what had been a laugh.) He repeated the term atrocity, said the other evening relative to the for he knew of none which was more apo offer of 27,000 guineas to government, plicable to it He was sure the House it was likely that the eyes of the right would be unwilling to enter into a length. hon. gentleman were opened a little to the ened discussion on the Bullion Question, difference between paper and gold.-He but he only wished to state shortly his ob- had lately accompanied a friend of his jections to this fatal Bill, which originated to a shop, for the purpose of disposout of the Report of the Bullion Commit- ing of some light guineas, and the price tee, who had been appointed for the pur- his friend was offered was 11. 78. 2d. for pose of inquiring into the causes of the his light guineas. Would the right hon. high price of gold. That Committee gentleman, then, contend, that the owner stated that the market price was 4l. 10s. an of good guineas was not injured by the ounce, while the standard price was 3l. 178. operation of this law, for if he took them 10d. and that the amount of the deprecia. to market he must lose seven shillings in tion of the currency was 15 per cent. In the sale of them? What, then, must he consequence of this statement a distinguish- do with his gold? If he boarded it, it beed member of the last parliament (Mr. came unproductive; if he clipped it, he Horner), who had also been chairman of was subjected to the penalties of the Clipthe Bullion Committee, endeavoured to ping Act; and if he came forward and induce the House to adopt a series of re- demanded the fair value, the right hon. solutions, in wbich he proposed to bring the Chancellor of the Exchequer would (VOL. XXIV.)
come down upon him with the terrors of wbich took from lessors the power of dis. fine and imprisonment, Was there ever iraining for rent after tender made of Bank then such a violation of the right of pro. of England notes. The only effect of the perty? And what advantage resulted first part would be to increase hoarding, from it? Was the state benefited ? only or perjury and crime, and that of the seso far as it enabled them to pay their cre- cond to reduce the lessors of lands to the ditors in depreciated currency ; but in all same state with the public annuitants.' cases of public expenditure the state suf- Oue observation made by his hon. friend, fered as much as the private individual. he could not concur in. If the Bank of As for all the great public creditors, they England were onconnected with governwere in the same situation--they lost 35 ment they would be able to answer all deper cent. or one third of their property. mands on them. He certainly was astoThus the public, the annuitant, the public nished at the little knowledge of the subcreditor were losing—and who were the ject shown by the gentlemen of the Bank, gainers ? He knew of none, except the who had been examined before the Bullion Bank of England. The directors of that Committee, but he was assured that if company were told in 1797, that they they had not been swayed by government, might defraud their creditors; and in 1811, but had been left to follow their own bias, they were again told, that they might go they would have acted in a manner conon in the same system. They exported sistent with the welfare of the country: coin, and as it disappeared paper became He concluded by saying, that he should depreciated. What check was there, be unwilling, that the Bill should be then, on the discretion of the Bank ? pressed through the House at any time, These gentlemen, when examined before but especially at the present. the Bullion Committee, had confessed, The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he that in regulating their issues they never had no intention of preserving any disrelooked to the price of gold, or to the course spectful silence on a question of such of exchange, and that so long as a bill great magnitude; but he had been dewas brought to them with a good name sirous of hearing to what particular view of at its back, they would issue to any ex- it the observations of members might be die tent. This was the theory of these gen- rected before he answered any general op tlemen ; what was their practice? They partial objections. He was apprehensive, had divided six millions in bonusses, 'be-otherwise, of being drawn into a prolixity sides increasing their interest from seven which might not only be tedious, but unto eleven per cent. The danger from de. necessary, after the long and reiterated preciation being such on this account, be discussions which this subject bad undersides the danger from a shock of public
gone. He now saw, that the favourite confidence, it became the House to take view taken was, the practical one, and to time for consideration, to reflect whether this, therefore, he should chiefly confine it would not be better for them to retrace himself. The question of depreciation their steps than to proceed. The time had been entertained, he wished the House also at which the Bill was brought forward, to remember, at a period considerably was objectionable. Half the members earlier than the appointment of the Bullion were not present, and of those who were, Committee. In 1807 it had been argued a greater proportion were new than had in the other House of Parliament by lord ever been known before. As it was im. King, and the same arguments then urged proper at such a time for the House to by him, were afterwards brought forward pledge itself to continue this act, and as it more amply by the Bullion Committee. In did not expire till the end of February, he the year 1811 the same noble person had should move that the Bill be read a second thought proper to adopt a proceeding time on the 3d of February.
which made it appear to parliament nee Mr. Brand said, he was extremely cessary to pass that act which it was the anxious to hear what the right hon, the object of the present Bill to renew. It was Chancellor of the Exchequer had to say not his desire to attribute to that noble on the present occasion. The bon. gen. individual any unworthy motive for this tleman then objected to two parts of the conduct; on the contrary, his persuasion Bill; first, that which in pursuance of the was, that the noble lord was only desirous ridiculous resolution of the Chancellor of of confuting him (the Chancellor of the e Exchequer, made the bank paper Exchequer) and of furnishing a practical tial to gold; and second, to that part, example of the correctness of his own theory. They had also the evidence of a Europe, or we must, for the present, have Mr. Monck on the same side of the ques- continued the bank restrictions. Happily
tion, who said he would not accept of Bank for our character, honour, and greatness, : of England paper at the same rate of value the latter alternative had been adopted.
as gold. The reason of which was ob- - The right hon. gentleman then went vious: Mr. Monck was a coiner of local into a justification of his resolution retokens, and for his purposes, gold or silver corded last session, and contended that was much more useful than paper. With the paper of the Bank of England was, for regard to the practical question, he put it all legal purposes, equivalent to coin : to any one of the Bullion Committee to though certainly not so to those who say if it would be wise to cause the Bank wished 10 melt it dowu, or make it the subto resume its payments in specie at this ject of foreign trade, which, however, was, period; and if not, would it be expedient and had long been, contrary to the laws to pass a law, as they had formerly pro- of the land. Could it have been possible posed, to fix the resumption of cash pay- to enforce these penal laws vigilantly and ments at any specific time, the circum- perfectly, guld would have had no other stances of which they could not foresee? valupthan paper of the same denomination, He had at that time pointed out to the and the only difference between them was, satisfaction of the majority of the House, that the one could be converted into that similar rises in the price of the precious ballion, the other could not. The ano. metals had taken place when there was no maly of light guineas had been much ani, paper currency at all, and when there was madverted on, but this was no new case ; a paper curreney convertible into its no- there were abundant instances in our hisa minal value in money. This proved tory, of light guineas being more valuable that the rise did not depend on the than standard coin, long before the Bank depreciation of the paper currency. It restriction was ever thought of. The was true, as asserted on the other side, that enormous profits of the Bank had also gold had advanced in price within the last been dwelt upon : to this he would bear year, and the argument they would draw testimony, that the Bank was an unwilling from shis was, that the circulation of paper party to those measures whence the profits had increased, and consequently its worth accrued, and which were forced upon it diminished. Now the case was not so, by the government of the country. The and this fact afforded another argument in Bank had ever evinced a desire to be recoufirmation of the fallacy of their rea. leased from these restrictions, and the soning. For his part, he found a sufficient preparations it made for resuming paycause for the rise of gold in the vast aug. ments in specie were a sufficient proof of mentation of our foreign expenditure: and its readiness so to do, when it could be suill more in the total interruption of the permitted consistently with the public supplies of the precious metals from South good. The practical question now was, America, which in itself was sufficient to whether the period had arrived, when account for the advance upon those metals they could give up the safeguards that had in the market. The circumstances of the been imposed for the preservation of our present year were also somewhat remark- metallic currency, and to protect the pubable. After the debates of last session the lic generally from individual vexation and price of bullion remained for some time oppression : All that the public wanted pretty steady ; but of late it had risen was to go on quietly with the currency suddenly to the extent stated by the hon. they were used to; but this, it was in the gentleman opposite.
It had so risen on power of any one to disturb, unless the the opening of the intercourse with Russia, present law was passed to protect debtors whence an excessive demand had occa- from the exaction of payments in a mesioned a similar rise all over Europe. dium, which it was out of their power to The nostrum of the Bullion Committee obtain. The act had arisen out of the was to resume payments in cash; but provocation of one individual, but for where was it to be got? The mines of whom they might have been quiet yet, America were stopped, and the balance of and the necessity for the law never have trade was against us with every other been raised. It was now indispensible country. It appeared then, that we must to protect the subject from grievous opeither have sacrificed our political pros- pression: and he submitted that there pects, withdrawn our army from the con
were stronger reasons for its continuance tinent, and have surrendered the hopes of than even for its being originally passed.
Mr. Ponsonby expressed his surprise at its value ? fire would prove the value of a some of the positions of the right hon. the guinea, when melted it was even more va. Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he was luable than before, but burn a bank note, not less surprised at the conduct of the and it produced only ashes. He was inHouse, which, in direct contradiction to formed that the Bank had given notice to its own Resolution, had passed the present the bankers in London, that they could no Bill, to prevent the effect of that inequality longer be supplied with tokens. If the which the Resolution of the House went to bank-note had not depreciated, why was deny. The Resolution asserted that bank that specie commonly called change so notes and guineas were in equal public es- scarce as to bear a premium in almost timation, and perfectly equivalent; but if every country town in England, nay, he so, why did landlords demand payment of had been told, eren in the metropolis ? their rents in gold, and if the pretended The right hon. gentleman told the House, equivalency did exist, why pass an act to that the Bill was levelled against lord force the landlord to receive paper ? The King: he did not know the motives of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exche proposers of the Bill. But he believed the quer had told the House that bankotes Bill was intended to support the Resolution were equivalent to gold, as applicable to all of that House, which it in fact disaplawful purposes. Was the payment of proved, and to protect the paper, which rent a lawful purpose ? And if paper was had lost its legitimate protection-the good equal to gold, why pass a law to guard opinion of the public. He had no doubt the tenant against the landlord's demand the right hon. gentleman intended to press for gold? How the right hon. gentleman the Bill; but he saw no reason to hurry or the House could be persuaded to enter- on its consideration at this period. Betain such opinions, he could not divine ; fore he concluded, he wished to ask the and, yet the right hon. the Chancellor of right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchethe Exchequer continued to tell the House quer what he paid for bills to remit to the that an equivalency still existed. Did continent; what premium he gave for that equivalency exist when the bank note such bills';. what a hundred pounds cost was at what he called a depreciation of 5 the country, when remitted to the contiper cent.? and did that equivalency re- nent? (The Chancellor of the Exchequer main unaltered, notwithstanding the de- signified his intention not to answer the preciation had increased to 15, 20, and question.] The right hon. gentleman reeven 30 per cent. ? Could the right hon. peated his question. He professed to be gentleman find any one who would give uninformed on the subject. He had never him a guinea for a pound note and a shil. heard of any similar refusal. He plainly ling? Could he go into a market and pur saw that the right hon. gentleman would chase as much of a commodity with a not give time to new members to acquire pound nole and a shilling, as with a guinea? information on the subject, but that he was If that equivalency still existed, why did determined to cram his obnoxious Bill we find such difficulty in obtaining guineas? down the throat of the House. Such conWas any such difficulty experienced pre- duct he considered as indecent and imviously to the depreciation of paper : No; proper, and should therefore support the and the present difficulty was easily ac- Amendment of his hon. friend. counted for, because the Resolution of the Mr. Manning rose principally in conseHouse was not true. The right hon. quence of an allusion made by the right gentleman referred the present scarcity hon. gentleman who spoke last to the inand high price of gold, to the non-impor- sufficient issue of tokens by the Bank of tation of bullion from America ; but England. It was true that the company would this apply to England alone? had deemed it expedient to discontinue Would it not affect France, and all Eu- the issue of tokens to a certain extent to rope? Would the right hon. gentleman private bankers, from a fear that the supsay that gold was as scarce and as dear in ply would not be adequate to the demand : France ? Would he assert that the paper large as the sum might appear, it could circulating in that country was at a dis- be proved by incontrovertible testimony, count of 35 per cent. ? He told the House thai within the last fifteen monihs no less that a bank note was equal to a guinea for than nearly two millions sterling had been all lawful purposes, but that it was not delivered from the Bank in tokens of 3s. lawful to melt guineas; would the right and Is. 6d. No opportunity had been lost hon. gentlemian buin a bank note to prove of promoting their circulation, but its ex.
tent must of course be governed by the , it had that influence, he had voted that amount of the importations. With regard the cash payments should, at the end of to the issue of bank paper, he hoped that two years, be renewed, with a view certhe House would believe him when he as- tainly, that if at the end of that period serted, that as late as yesterday evening, it was found from any causes impracit did not exceed twenty-two millions and ticable, the time should be enlarged from a half. In July or August 1810, it would year to year until the company had the be remembered that the number of notes means of calling in all their notes: at prein circnlation was about twenty-five mil- sent every body would admit, that to Jions sterling; but this excess was occa compel the Bank to pay in specie would sioned by the failure of two large houses be a gross act of injustice. There were in London, wbich produced a considerable advantages belonging to a paper system, sensation in the country. Bankers in the and even to an extended issue of notes, various principal towns then made de. 1. It was a great convenience to merchants mands upon the Bank, to ensure them- who could thus with ease obtain discount selves against the consequences of a run for their bills. 2. It was an equal facility upon their firms; but within six months to government in raising loans. 3. It the greater part of three millions was re- laid a burden upon the shoulders of those turned to the Bank of England, without who were best able to bear it, and dihaving been employed. It could not, minished the weight that would otherwise therefore, with justice, be said, that the be imposed upon the poor. It might also issue of bank-notes at this time was exces- be a very serious question whether, supsive, or that the high price of bullion had posing the Bank had always paid in specie, been occasioned by it. One hon. gentle- the legislature would not have been called man had contended, that the Bank indis- upon to remedy inconveniencies resulting criminately discounted commercial paper from that system, instead of passing Bills by its notes. This assertion was by no to amend errors belonging to the present, means correct, as it was established by evi- considering our relation with the continent dence before the House; the issue for this of Europe. As matters now stood it was purpose was always much below the de- perfectly evident that Bank paper had mand. The hon. gentleman then advert- depreciated 35 per cent. Where, that ed to the evil consequences that would re- depreciation would end it was impossible sult to the country if this Bill were not to divine, and the Chancellor of the Expassed ; and disclaimed on the part of the chequer, by the Bill before the House, Bank of England any desire to have their proposed no remedy to prevent its deprenotes maintained by parliamentary autho. ciation even to 100 per cent. Under rity, since the confidence reposed in the these circumstances, the subject was to be company by the country at large was fully viewed in a very serious and painful light, adequate to their support.
since its consequences might be so ruinous. Mr. H. Thornton, as a member of the Another point to be contemplated was the Bullion Committee, whose conduct and proposed abolition of local tokens, after report had been so severely stigmatized, the 25th of March. If such a measure felt it necessary to say a few words in de- were resorted to, what was to supply the fence of that body. It ought to have been deficiency? Small change for the comrecollected by the right hon. the Chan. mon transactions of life was every where cellor of the Exchequer that at the time wanted, even with the aid of these local the committee recommended to the House tokens; but when they were withdrawn, that the Bank should be compelled to re- the governor of the Bank had admitted new cash payments in two years, the that that establishment had it not in its country was by no means in the situation power to issue any silver to make good in which it was now placed. Our com- the loss that would be sustained in the modities were not then excluded from districts where local tokens were in circuthe continent by that regular system lation. which at present prevailed, and the ba. Mr. Whitshed Keene said, he had sup. lance of trade consequently on all articles ported the measure on former occasions, was not so much against us. The main as the only means to resist the military question with regard to the Bill now under despotism with which we were threatened. consideration was, whether the issue of It was perhaps paying dear, but not too bank paper did or did not send to influ- dear, for salvation. As long as the spirit ence the exchange? And thinking that of the constitution should survive, this