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should first go through the supplies required in the present year, and then state the ways and means to meet them.
Army (including 1,500,000/. for extra- ordinaries, and exclusive of troops in France, 9,080,000/.
For 1816, it would be remembered the total sum granted on account of the army, amounted to 10,809,737/.
The grant last year on account of the navy (exclusive of the grant for the reduction of the navy debt) amounted nearly to 10,000,000/. (It was more exactly stated 9,964,195/.)
In the present year the grant required for the navy was 6,000,000/. exclusive of a grant of 1,660,000/. for the reduction of navy debt.
To the grant of last year a very considerable sum might also be added, as in 1816 there had been paid off 2,000,000/. of the navy debt. The sum appropriated to this purpose had been taken from the unapplied money remaining in the exchequer from the grants of 1815. The whole sum, therefore, which had been applied to the service of the navy in the last year, amounted to nearly 12,000,000/.
The ordnance created in the present year a charge of 12,218,000/. 'Last year, under the same head, there had been required the sum of 1,613,142/. Here a reduction had been effected of about 400,000/., being about one fourth of the whole. Thetniscellaneousservices would callfora supplyof l,700,(XX)/.includingthe sums already voted in the present session Last year, the same services had required 2.500J000/. In this instance, therefore, a reduction had been made of 800,000/. The total supply, therefore, that was called for in the present year, exclusive of the interest of the funded debt, for the expense of the several establishments for 12 months not on the peace establishment, for he was far from thinking we had yet arrived at what might properly so be called, would amount to 18,001,000/., or what, speaking in round numbers, he would call 18,000,000/. It would be remembered, that at the opening of the present session, his noble friend had estimated the expenditure of the year for the services he had enumerated at 18,300,000/. The actual supply called for came below the estimated sum by almost 300,000/. Last year, the grants for the same services amounted to 24,887,000/. The reduction effected in the present year, it would therefore be seen, fell little short of
7,000,000/., being considerably more thanone-fourth, and amounting to very near one-third of the whole. In addition to the 18,000,000/. required for the proper service of the year, a further provision would be necessary on account of the unfunded debt. In the first instance there was a charge of 1,900,000/. for the interest on exchequer bills the principal of which would be discharged in the course of the present year. This item, though large, the committee would look upon with satisfaction, when they considered how much the improved state of public credit lessened the charge thus incurred in providing for the ways and means of the year. A proper idea of this might be formed, when it was considered that what cost the country almost 2,200,000/. for the service of 1816, would in the present year create but a charge of 1,900,000/. upon an amount of principal considerably increased; and when it was further borne in mind, that a few years ago the same operation would have occasioned an expense of 2,500,000/. The sinking fund on the money thus kept floating as unfunded debt would amount to 330,000/. making a total charge on amount of exchequer bills of 2,230,000/. On winding up the accounts between the English and Irish exchequers an advance had been found necessary in order to clear up all demands on the consolidated fund of Ireland to the 5th of January last, from which period they had started on a new account. This had caused a grant to be called for (in order to make good the permanent charges of Ireland up to that time), of 246,508/. Towards the reduction of the navy and transport debt, a supply was demanded of 1,660,000/. There was thus, it would be seen, a new total of 4,136,508/. to provide for the charges of unfunded debt, or to make good previously existing deficiencies, which formed no part of the supply necessary for the service of the year. The different items and the grand total were as follows:
Army (including 1,500,000/. for
extraordinaries, and exclusive of <£■
troops in France) - - - 9,080,000
Navy (exclusive of grant for the
reduction of navy debt) - - 6,000,000
Ordnance -' - - - 1,221,300
Miscellaneous - - - -1,700,000
Total supply for the service of the year 1817 - - . - - 18,001,300
1103] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
Interest on exchequer £. bills - - - 1,900,000
Sinking fund on ditto - 330,000
To make good the per-
Towards reduction of
22,137,808 He had now to call the attention of the committee to the manner in which he proposed to meet the above demands. The first article which he should notice was the annual duties on malt, sugar, tobacco, and some other articles which had been taken at the usual amount of 3,000,000/. The committee were aware that those duties always produced considerably more than the sum of 3,000,000/. charged upon them and that the surplus was carried into the consolidated fund.
He next proposed to avail himself of the ways and means for 1815 and 1816 exceeding the amount of the supplies which remained to be paid out of them. The sum for the former year was 15,749/. and for the latter 1,849,810/. These sums formed what, in the language of the exchequer, was called surplus of ways and means. He did not, however, mean to take credit for them as a genuine surplus, as in fact they became disposable only in consequence of parliament having, since they were granted, made a different provision for great part of the supplies charged upon them; whereby they became applicable to the service of the present year, instead of those for which they were originally provided. The whole, after retaining a sufficient sum to pay the supplies charged on them, amounted to 1,865,559, arising in great part from the temporary excise duties, upon which 3,500,000/. had been granted in 1816, but of which sum only 1,494,592/. had been received on the 5th of April last. There remained, therefore, to be received on that day 2,005,408/., and it was estimated that before the 5th of April 1818 they would produce the farther sum of 1,300,000/. for which, therefore, he should take credit as the next item in the ways and means of the present year.
He should in the next place advert to the amount of the consolidated fund remaining at the disposal of parliament on the 5th of April last. In this case also a surplus had been produced by the recent
proceedings of parliament. A considerable deficiency had accrued in the produce of the consolidated fund on the 5th of January, but that deficiency having been made good by subsequent votes of the House and all grants affecting the consolidated fund having been cancelled by act of parliament, its surplus produce on the 5th of April remained disposable for the service of the present year. The sums now remaining in the exchequer of Great Britain and Ireland and which he should propose to vote on this account amounted to 1,225,978/. or in round numbers 1,226,000/.
The lottery was taken at 250,000/. and though this might appear a larger sum than that of last year, yet, when the whole account was compared, it would be found that the lottery was reduced 50,000/. instead of being so much higher as one third of the profit of the lottery had last year been reserved for Ireland, according to the practice which had prevailed ever since the union, whereas this year the whole estimated profit was carried to one account. The whole amount was therefore taken at 300,000/. in 1816 and at only 250,000/. in the present year. The next item he had to state to the committee was that arising from the sale of old naval stores, the amount of which he estimated for the last year at 400,000/. There was one item more he had to include in the ways and means for the year. It was the arrears of the property tax, of which a considerable sum was due on the 5th of April last. The whole arrear estimated likely to be received in the year ending on the 5th of April 1818, was 1,500,000/. These several items of ways and means amounted altogether to 9,541,537/.; so that there was required to make good the supply 12,600,000/. This he proposed to raise by Irish treasury bills to the amount of3,600,000/.,andanewissue of 9,000,000/. of exchequer bills. Having concluded these statements, he would now recapitulate the different items of the
WAYS AND MEANS.
.£.3,000,000—Annual Duties - £.3,000,000 Disposable 1815 15,749
Ways and Means 1816 1,849,810
3,500,000—Excise Duties continued (after satisfying the grant thereon for the year 1816) - 1,300,000 Money remaining at the disposal of parliament of the consolidated fund at April 5,1817 - 1,225,978
800,000—Lottery - - - - 850,000
Old stores - ------ 400,000
Arrears of property tax received
[HOG or to be received between the fifth of April, 181T, and 5th April'18r8 1,500,000
t£>li i -'j I 28,141,537
The first total of the ways and means which he had stated, namely, the 9,641,5371. might be regarded as the ready money actually in the exchequer, or which would be received in the course of the year; but that was the whole which the ordinary resources offered for covering the expenditure. It was therefore clear, that theabovebalance of 12,600,000/. was necessary to equalize the ways and means and the supply; and he was convinced that that sum could not be raised in a way more advantageous to the country than that which he had proposed. He should, in the first place, endeavour to explain to the committee how the account of the 3,600,000/. Irish treasury bills stood. The House would recollect that before Easter there had been a grant of 4,200,000/. for repaying certain Irish treasury bills. Upon communication with the bank of England and the bank of Ireland (the whole of the treasury bills being held by them), it was found that the directors of those establishments were disposed to exchange the bills they held for new bills. Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds had however already been paid to the bank of Ireland, and as that body required 5 per cent, interest, it was not thought advisable to renew the whole sum now outstanding, but, to pay off, as occasion offered, such bills as were held by the bank of Ireland. Only a small part of the Irish treasury bills in their bands were however due till December and January next, and it would therefore be time enough to make arrangements for paying them off after the next meeting of parliament. The remaining sum of 9,000,000/. he proposed, as he had already stated, to raise by exchequer bills; and he was the more induced to take this proportion of the deficiency in that way, as the bank of England in its negociations would be satisfied with a more moderate rate of interest than was paid in Ireland. Before the meeting of parliament he could have borrowed 12 millions by an ad(VOt. XXXVI.)
vance upon exchequer bills from one set of contractors, and on terms which then appeared favourable; but from, the appearance of the money market, he thought it better not to avail himself of it, and to take the chance of making a more advantageous arrangement, in which he had succeeded even beyond his expectations. He had indeed found the state of the market such, that by issuing exchequer bills gradually in preference to borrowing in one sum upon the same sort of security, he had saved 300,000/. in annual interest. The power of the money market to take off 9,000,000/. of exchequer bills, he thought could not be questioned, when it was considered, that of the 42,000,000/. previously granted by parliament 27,000,000/. had already been put into circulation in the course of the present session. There were, therefore, only bills to the amount of 15,000,000/. further to be issued. The 9,000,000/. he now proposed to add would make 24,000,000/. and all things considered, he apprehended that there would not be more thrown into the market than could be easily absorbed. It ought at the same time to be recollected, that as the interest had been reduced from 5£ per cent, to y£, there was a saving in that respect of \\ per cent. From the measure he proposed, he therefore had reason to expect great advantage both to the agriculture and commerce of the country, and he doubted whether it would have been possible to derive equal benefit from any other arrangement. Although the revenue, from causes over which his majesty's ministers could- have no control, had fallen short six or eight millions, there had been an evident improvement in our public credit. It might be recollected, that when he addressed the House last year on the financial situation of the country, the three per cent, consols, were only between 62 and 63; at present they were above 74. This was an improvement of twelve per cent, on 62, which, calculated upon 100/. stock, was equal to nearly 20 per cent. The exchequer bills were then at an interest of 5\ per cent., and were sold at par. Those now in circulation bore an interest of only 3\ per cent; and on this very day those bills bore 12s. premium- These were circumstances which proved the manifest advantage of the system he had pursued, and now proposed to continue. But it was not in the money market only that the beneficial influence of that system had (4 15)
1107] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
been felt. A proportional improvement was experienced in every description of
Sroperty in the country. Large sums ad already been sold out of the funds, and applied in aid of the landed interest, in purchases of real property and advances upon mortgages. Similar accommodation had been afforded to the commercial interests of the country by the increasing facility and cheapness of discount. Another most important improvement in the situation of the country had taken place since his last financial statement in the virtual resumption of cash payments by the bank. When he had suggested that the bank might be enabled to pay in specie in the course of two years, his statement was received with ridicule and incredulity. The suggestion which he threw out had, however, been completely realized; for the payments in cash had been for every practicable purpose resumed. He could not but congratulate the House and the country upon the removal of the doubts and alarms which had been entertained on this subject. None of the evils which had been so profusely foretold, had occurred; and this great change had been accomplished without any shock or danger to public credit. Those who had with regret anticipated these mischievous consequences, he was sure would now join with him in rejoicing at the state in which our country was now placed. The notes of the Bank of England had even during the restriction been preferred to those of every other bank in Europe. What then must be the effect of the removal of that restriction f A third circumstance to which he could not but call the attention of the committee with peculiar satisfaction was that, with regard to the public debt, the expectations he held out last year, had been more than realised. He had stated an expectation that it would be reduced at least 3,000,00$.: the balance of debt repaid exceeded this sum. The amount paid in 1816 had been stated by the committee on finance at 9,400,000/.; but from this sum it might be fair to make a deduction of 6,000,000/., which formed part of the loans raised for the service of 1815, but which had not been paid into the exchequer till 1816; so that the actual balance discharged was 3,400,000/. This was most satisfactory; but it was not all, for since the 1st of November 1815, at which time the national debt stood at its highest amount, 32 millions of capital
Ximstock had actually been purchased up. If, instead of borrowing exchequer bills, he had funded capital stock, it would have been impossible to have operated a reduction of the debt to the same extent. Whether there would be an equal diminution of debt in the present year as in the last, was what lie could not pretend to assert. He did not wish to state a positive opinion on the subject; but he estimated that, with some addition to the 12,600,000/. he had already mentioned, he might have to borrow altogether about 14,000,000/*, and that it was probable there would be paid off about 16|. There might, therefore, be a diminution not of 3* as in the last year, but probably of 2± millions.
With the improvement of our finances, he looked forward to a speedy improvement in the internal comfort and prosperity of the country [Hear, hear!}. He did not consider this expectation unreasonable. A great part of the public distress arose, not from any derangement in our domestic affairs, but from the general state of Europe. At a time when all over the continent many were struggling for the mere necessaries of life, it was not to be expected that there could be a great demand for our manufactures. This country fortunately had not been reduced to so low a state as some others had, but we could not expect to escape without sharing in the general calamity. If, however, Providence blessed us with a favourable harvest, he should confidently hope to see a steady restoration of our-re*venues and our former prosperity. He had taken the liberty of stating this much, merely to impress on the recollections of the committee, that even under the unfavourable circumstances of the last year, all the benefits which he had held out as likely to result from the plans he had proposed had been more than realized. He anticipated a still more sensible improvement; but he sincerely trusted that the country would never find it necessary to resort to any of those desperate and dangerous remedies which some persons had thought it proper to recommend. It was alone upon the firmness of parliament and the loyalty of the people, that the security of public credit and the restoration of national prosperity depended. He had now only to state, that he estimated the amount of the interest of the exchequer and treasury bills necessary to meet the supply at 450,000/. and he contemplated that that sum would be saved by the re
Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill.
duction which bad taken place in the interest of unfunded debt since the last session of parliament. Thus the public would be subjected to no new charge whatever. He concluded by moving, "That, towards making good the supply granted to his majesty, there be issued and applied ' the sum of 15,74!7. 15a. 2d. < remaining in the receipt of the exchequer 'of Great Britain of the surplus of the «grants for the year 1815.'"
The several resolutions were agreed to; and, after a short conversation, the chancellor of the exchequer, at the suggestion of Mr. Tierney, deferred the consideration of the report till Tuesday next.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill.] The order of the day for the first reading of this bill, having been read,
Lord Casllereagh said, that no individual could feel more deeply than he did the importance of the measure which he considered it to be his duty to recommend to the House. He was sensible of the heavy responsibility which must fall on those who called for it, and that on all hands it must be admitted to be a serious encroachment on the rights of the subject, during the time for which it was to be continued. It then became a question, whether the internal state of the country was such as to call for so strong a measure,—whether the ordinary laws were sufficient—or whether if these were not sufficient, other measures less strong than the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus, ought not to be resorted to r In arguing on this measure, he protested at the outset against any inference being drawn, that ministers, in forming their judgment on it, were subject to any undue bias in its favour. Nothing but a conviction, that for the safety of the loyal and the peaceable, and for the preservation of the constitution itself, they were necessary, could, he was certain, have made them consent to take upon themselves the arduous responsibility which attached to a measure like that now under the consideration of the House. He hoped their past conduct was such, as to prove they would not have advised the continuance of the act, if they were not satisfied, that of all the measures that could be resorted to, this would be the most effectual, and prove least injulious to the people at large. He wished
June 23, 1817... [UWthe House to decide on its adoption or rejection, purely from the facts which were brought before them. He protested against the inference that had been drawn, that to bring in a bill like this was to libel the whole country, and to prefer a general bill of indictment against the people of England. He did not call for this measure against the people; but, on the contrary, he demanded it for them, in order to protect them in the exercise of their industry against the machinations of agitators, which were as hostile to their interests as they were to those of the country at large. The adoption of such a measure might alarm those who knew themselves to be guilty of treasonable designs; but, in his conscience, he believed the loyal and peaceable part of the community would feel no uneasiness about it, but, on the contrary, would be grateful for the passing of the bill, which they would regard as a measure of protection. —The noble lord argued, at some length, in opposition to those who were of opinion, that supposing treasonable designs to exist, those by whom they were entertained were too insignificant to merit the serious attention of parliament. Though happily, the disaffection was confined to the lower orders, yet still, he contended, the danger was formidable. He showed the lower classes of the manufacturers to be confident in their own strength; to possess considerable acuteness, knowledge of the law, and ingenuity to evade it. To the manufacturers he stated these designs to be in a great measure restricted. They had studied precedents from the history of the treasons of former times, and it was not necessary in his mind for higher characters to take part with them to enable them to succeed if they were not well watched. They might at any rate succeed so far as to cover the country with desolation for a time. He wished the attention of the House to be directed to two points—the consideration of the events which preceded the 15th of April might first deserve their consideration. It would then be for them to look to what had occurred subsequent to that period. This division of the subject, according to dates, he thought of some importance. Those who had formerly opposed the Habeas Corpus suspension bill, might, he thought, now, with the additional experience they possessed, feel justified in supporting the bill for renewing that act; but could hardly think it possible that