« PreviousContinue »
propose, that there should not be a sur- other consideration to the exigency of the geon to any corps consisting of less than moment. He had every reason to believe, two companies, and that no person should that our brethren in the northern part of be a surgeon to any corps of militia, until the kingdom were now perfectly satisfied his skill had stood the test of an examina- with the mode of raising the militia, and tion before competent judges; he proposed that they would most readily, whenever also, that they should be placed on the called upon for that purpose, march to any same footing as surgeons of infantry in the part of Great Britain. 'He wished, howarmy. As to the non-commissioned ever, to propose, that in case bis majesty officers, it was his intention to adhere to should not think it necessary to embody the 26th of his majesty, with respect to the whole, he should be empowered to their number, being one serjeant and one call out any part of the militia, and to corporal for every 30 men. But it was distribute them as he should think neceshis intention to propose, that the serjeants, sary. He had stated, that it was proposed corporals, and drummers should be bound to augment the militia of England to to reside near the place where the arms of 60,000, and that of Scotland to 12,000, the regiment were deposited ; and that making altogether 72,000. He concluded they should be under the care of the ad. by moving for leave to bring in a bill,“ to jutant. It was intended that they should amend the laws relating to the Militia in obtain a perfect knowledge of the exer- England, and for augmenting the Micise; by which means the men, when litia.” called out, would be easily taught, in the Mr. Sheridan said :-I return the right prescribed time during which they were hon. gentleman my thanks for the laudable to be out: whilst, if the serjeants and pains he has taken in this business, and corporals were deficient in skill, when the entirely concur in the greatest part of men were called out to exercise, it was what he has proposed. It will, no doubt, evident that a great delay must take place be pleasing to behold every possible rein the latter obtaining a knowledge of duction made which circumstances will their exercise. He should propose also, admit of; but great attention must be that the pay of the serjeants, corporals, paid to our position, now that we are and drummers should be increased and under the painful necessity of measuring made very near that of the same descrip- the greatly augmented strength of our fortion of persons in the army: he should also midable rival. When I reflect on the late propose, that if any non-commmissioned important accession to the power of our officer was absent with the leave of his offi- neighbour, divesting myself of any thing cer, heshouldreceive bis former rate of pay; suspicious or mistrustful, I cannot but reif he was absent without leave, it would, joice in the representation made us by the of course, be forfeited. With respect to right hon. gentleman, of the present state training and exercising, he intended to of the militia ; for I could not have viewed, propose, that, instead of exercising two- without regret, the incroachment which, Thirds for 28 days, the whole should be from time to time, threatened to destroy exercised for 21 days. The expence of that most excellent system of defence. I exercising the whole for 21 days, entirely approve of the plan for consoliwould be the same as exercising two- dating the laws; and when it shall once thirds for 28 days, and the former period be established, I hope it will not be broken would be sufficient for the purpose. When in upon, as it has been during this war, the supplementary militia were called out, for momentary expedition ; and that gen20 days was found sufficient to teach them tlemen who have spent their lives in traintheir exercise, and in 21 days the militia ing, forming, and acquiring the love and would at least learn how to prime and attachment of their men, may not find load, and fire, and to march without fall- themselves, on a sudden turned into drilling down. As to the embodying, he pro- serjeants. posed that the same power should be Leave was given. The bill was aftergiven to his majesty of sending the militiawards brought in, and passed without opto any part of Great Britain as at present. position. It had been suggested that they might be suffered to go out of the kingdom, but he Debate in the Commons on the Bank Reshould not make any such proposition. striction Continuance Bill.] April 9. Mr. He should confine himself to what had Chancellor Addington said:-Sir, I rise to been before the practice, leaving the move for leave to bring in a bill to con
tinue, for a time to be limited, the Restric- some time longer, the accommodation tions on Payments in Cash by the Bank of afforded to merchants by the Bank, with England. I am aware, that it is impos- respect to discount, will be continued. sible to submit, without explanation, a In addition to these reasons the House motion which is to have the effect of will reflect upon the inconvenience which imposing any restraint with regard to the would unavoidably result from letting ordinary functions of such an establish- loose such a proportion of the coin of the ment as the Bank; but I am convinced, country as would be circulated by taking that the measure cannot furnish a pre- off the restriction. I am not aware of any tence to the most timid man in the House, inconvenience that can possibly arise from to suppose the Bank does not possess continuing it. During three or four years within itself the most ample means of sa- of difficulty, the credit of the Bank has tisfying the full extent of the demands undergone no diminution. Bank notes which may be made upon it, by the pay have been every where received chearfully ment of its notes in specie. Sir, I was and readily; and there are two circumasked on a former day, whether I had any stances on which the House will be disintention of moving for a preliminary in- posed to lay particular stress : at the time quiry; I said I had not; and the ground when it was thought expedient to increase upon which I so said was, that I did not the circulating medium, and the Bank conceive the measure I had to propose was were allowed by act of parliament to call one which called for such a proceeding. In in the notes of 1l. and 21. and pay them 1797, when this House was called upon to in specie, notes to the amount of confirm the order of council imposing a 800,0001. were called in, and the indivirestriction on the payments of the Bank, a duals holding them were entitled to pay. committee was appointed for purposes far ment in cash; but of that sum, upwards of different from what are rendered necessary 400,0001. was received in paper in preferby the present shape in which the measure ence to money. A similar proof was given is brought forward. The object of that last year of the confidence reposed by the committee was to inquire into the solvency public in the credit and stability of the of the Bank, and into the existence and Bank. I am entitled from these two circauses of the necessity which had pro- cumstances to state, that there can be no duced the order of council; but the just cause to doubt the credit of the Bank; grounds on which I rest the present pro- and that to continue the restriction will position are notorious. It cannot be ne- rather have a tendency to raise, than to cessary for me to inform the House, depress it. I know that there is a diverthat the rate of exchange between this sity of opinion with respect to the mode country and foreign parts is disadvan- in which the Bank oughi to be permitted tageous to ourselves--that the export trade to renew its money payments. Some are has been for some months at a stand, that desirous that the Bank should pay in cash while the rate of exchange is disadvan- for notes of small denomination ; but till tageous to us, an augmentation of the cir- there is an abundant supply of cash by culating cash would
create a trade highly opening the Bank entirely, it is extremely injurious to the commerce of this country. convenient to afford circulation to 11. and For several months past there has been a 21. notes; by the payment of them in trade carrying on for purchase of guineas specie, a general anxiety would be introwith a view to exportation. It is on these duced of obtaining cash at the Bank: grounds, that I submit to the House the notes of 10001. and 5001. would be changed expediency of continuing the restriction for notes of ll. and 21. in order that they with regard to the cash payments of the might be immediately changed again for Bank. There is another consideration cash. If a restraint was to be imposed that presses strongly on my mind. It is, with respect to the number of notes that the entire command which we have of small denomination, they would be experienced for some time past over driven out of circulation altogether ; and all foreign markets, cannot be expected to there would be no small notes but those continue in the same degree. Competition issued by bankers. I would ask the must exist; and it is important that, at House, whether it would be convenient the period of commencing that com- to have such notes only through the me. petition, every facility should be given dium of country bankers ? I mean not to to the merchants of this country. By throw the slightest discredit on that class, continuing the restriction on the Bank for but only to infer, that it would not be an
act of prudence for the House to withhold ( and forty persons had been executed from the Bank the right of issuing small for the crime. If this forging trade was notes, in order that it might be exclu- therefore to be created, or rather exsively enjoyed by country bankers. It is tended by this law, he had more than a not necessary for me to go more at large volume of argument against it. But it into the grounds of the measure I propose. had become fashionable to call this paper It will be prudent to wait till we are en- currency “a circulating medium,
the abled to judge of the effects of the peace ingenious and wise substitute for current till our commercial relations are formed coin. He desired any person acquainted on the continent-till we know what are with the circumstances of the day, to rethe political and commercial relations in flect what must be the effect of this circu. which different countries stand with refer- | lating medium. By the extent of its forence to each other, before we take a step, geries, no individual would be safe in ne-' whicb, if it should turn out to be hastily gotiating with the Bank, if out of 20 or 30 taken, would be productive of inconve- two or one pound notes, three or four nience. I therefore, Sir, conclude by happened to be counterfeit. If the holder moving, “ That the different acts of par- carried them to the Bank, there he would liament by which that restriction had been obtain no redress. Foreigners, as well as enforced from time to time, for the last Englishmen, were hurt at this shutting four years, be read.” Which being done of the Bank, and the injury it would pro formå, he moved, “ That leave be occasion to the confidence between mergiven to bring in a bill to continue, for a chants was not to be calculated. It was time to be limited, the Restrictions con- a measure fraught with infinite ill. The tained in the said acts, on the Payment in swarm of country banks, which, like lo-Cash by the Bank.”
custs, spread all over the kingdom, to the Mr. Jones said, it was now five years number of 458, were fit subject for taxsince this measure was first adopted, and ation. whatever reason there might have been at Sir R. Peel said, that in addition to that period for sanctioning it, no reason the circumstance of foreign relations, was shown now for prolonging it. The which the hon. gentleman stated to be the very mention of it was a word of terror. sole reason why the Bank should withhold He knew the effect it would have on the the payment of her specie just now, there whole kingdom ; Englishmen had feelings, were other causes which powerfully proved and preferred the king's picture to assig. the necessity of it. The course of exnats. Guineas ought to supersede the change was at this moment against us all necessity of that kind of necromancy, a over Europe. Again, since the war compaper currency. He did not suppose that menced, the trade of the country had in-' the Bank was unable to meet the claims creased threefold, and no resource of art upon it; but if the Bank was solvent, he or nature could equalize our bullion with desired some other reasons than those it. The wealth of the nation he might urged by the chancellor of the exchequer. estimate at 300 millions; and there was If no other reasons were urged, he must no possibility, as indeed there was no neconclude, that there existed some mys- cessity, for having a cash currency to an tery in the matter, which ministers either equal amount; besides the impossibility could not or would not disclose. When there would also be the inconvenience, and he was desirous, some time ago, of ascer- the loss attending, whilst, as is the case at taining what were the profits of the direc- present, foreign gold is of so much more tors, he was told they had none; how value than British. Upon the fullest conthat could be reconciled with the triumphal sideration of the subject, seeing that no accounts of their increasing wealth as a injury was done to the community, that corporate body, was a solecism that he
none was heard of, that po petitions had could by no means reconcile to his under appeared against it, that the credit of the standing. He could not bear to hear these Bank, instead of being diminished, liad inconsistencies without entertaining sus- increased, he must support the motion. picions. Since this restriction had taken it was the continuation of a measure place, the forgeries of bank-notes had wisely and well imagined, and executed increased to such an alarming extent, as by the late administration. to require no less than seventy clerks to General Gascoyne, in defence of the be employed in merely detecting them; measure, stated that, so far from its have and, within this very year, between thirty ing a tendency to shake the credit of the
Bank, it increased and protected it; in now confine his objections to the mode of Liverpool, bank paper was preferred to renewing the restriction ; being satisfied cash, and its small notes taken there ra- that, though the restriction itself was an ther than specie. When the country evil, it was an evil pot suddenly to be rebanks in Lancaster had failed for about medied. Though he thought the renewal two millions of money, the public in that of cash payments extremely desirable, he quarter naturally looked to the Bank of was averse to precipitating it; and he England, and their confidence had not would continue the restriction as likely to only not been abused, but had become so be attended with less mischief. But he great, that in exchanging a Bank of was extremely unwilling that it should be England note of 1001. 2001. or 500l. when continued without a committee, to inquire the question was put, whether the party into the causes which rendered such a would have cash or small notes, they ge- measure necessary, and to record them on nerally preferred the latter; and to such the Journals, for the satisfaction of the an extent had this confidence prevailed, House and the country. He agreed with that there was not now a country bank the learned doctor, that the state of the within forty miles of that town.
exchange was a bad rule to go by, as it Dr. Laurence said, the hon. gentleman was liable to much abuse. It was what had brought it forward as an argument some gentlemen called the substantial against this measure, that several persons trade of the country, but what he called had forfeited their lives for forging Bank. mere speculation. He would allow the notes; but had they never heard of per- restriction to continue in force until six sons being hanged for counterfeiting the weeks after the commencement of the coin of the kingdom ? The argument next session; but in the mean time, he was the same in one case as in the other. wished to give the Bank a power to be He.confessed he could not agree altoge- used at its discretion, if a favourable ther with the argument used by the hon. change of circumstances should occur in baronet, as he thought it went beyond the the course of the summer, to open the intention of the present measure. The payment in part, and put the country, as restriction did not affect the credit of the far as might be, on its proper footing. If Bank; but was imposed to prevent the any other war should arise, the country • injurious consequences of a general alarm, would lament the day when the restriction and to provide against the possibility of was imposed. He would not say that the any failure in the immediate resources of credit of the Bank was impaired by it; the Bank, to answer the extraordinary but it had introduced a present vice into demands in consequence of that alarm. our money dealings, and would hereafter The restriction arose from parliament, be attended with much evil. and not from the Bank. The question Mr. Manning, in answer to the suggeswas, whether this restriction ought now tion, that there ought to be a committee to be continued? The argument of the of'inquiry now as well as at the time when hon. baronet, that the trading interest of the restriction was first laid op, observed, the country required an extensive paper that there was this material difference circulation, would go to an unlimited con between the cases ; the restriction now tinuance of this restriction. To this he moved for was only to have effect for a could never agree; but when it was con- few months ; whereas that originally imsidered, that our export trade during the posed in 1797, was for the whole duration interval between the preliminary and the of the war, bad it lasted half a century. definitive treaty had been unfavourable, As to the forgeries on the Bank, he utand that foreigners possessed large sums terly denied that they were to the extent of money in this country, together with represented. other circumstances, it would be rash to Mr. Boyd wished to seean account of the take off the restriction at the present mo- state of the debts of the Bank, and its assets. ment. He wished, however, that they These could be productive of no inconveshould reserve to themselves the power of nience to that body. It was a question, taking off the restriction from time to time whether the restriction of cash payments as circumstances might arise to justify had not increased the circulating medium such a measure.
more than was first intended, but whatMr. Tierney said, that notwithstanding ever his private opinion might be, he would all he had beard, his original opinion not now oppose the measure. remained unaltered. He would, however, Leave was given to bring in the bill. (VOL. XXXVI.)
April 21. The bill being committed, that this restriction was continued on the
Mr. Chancellor Addington said, he ground of political expediency, a measure should now state the grounds on which judged of by the House of Commons, not he should propose to fill up the blanks, by the Bank of England. Viewing this specifying the duration of this bill and the as a political measure, he would say it was continuance of the restriction, with “ the fit that the House should determine how 1st of March, 1803." It was stated by long this restriction should continue, and him the other day, that, from the new si- not put it in the power of the Bank to retuation in which this country would be sume its money payments at its own will, placed on the return of peace, it was ad- and without any legislative limitation. He visable that the restriction of the money had nothing more to do at present than to payments of the Bank should continue. propose that this blank be filled up with It was not in consequence of any doubt the words, “ the 1st day of March 1803." or apprehension, or even reluctance of the
Mr. Tierney said, that for the sake of Bank, but solely on the ground of poli- appearances, if for nothing else, it was tical expediency, arising out of the situa- necessary that the Bank should resume its tion of this country, with reference to its payments as soon as possible. The charexport trade, the course of exchange, and cellor of the exchequer had argued, that the commercial relations of foreign na- this was entirely a measure of a political tions to each other, that this measure was nature: he could not, however, admire proposed. On the solidity of the Bank, this policy. The two former committees there was now no question. On the dis- had judged it expedient; but it was agreed position of the Bank to pay in specie, he that it ought to cease a month after the was also entitled to entertain no doubt, conclusion of peace. A month had now since the Bank had manifested a readiness elapsed, and it was moved still to continue to do so.
It was, however, thought ne- the restriction, without a single substantial cessary to continue this restriction for a reason assigned. He wished the right while. As to the necessity of inquiring hon. gentleman would show how the reinto the causes of such necessity, and of striction on the Bank would operate as a its being founded on the report of a com- remedy for the dangers apprehended, or mittee, he had to observe, that, upon the how it would not rather have a contrary inconvenience of such a course of proceed-effect. It appeared strange, that peace ing, much might be said ; but besides the and war were equally an argument for inconvenience, he doubted the practica continuing the restriction. Inconveniences bility of that course; for if a committee might arise from suddenly resuming cash were appointed, it would embrace such a payments; but much more was to be train of examination as could not be gone dreaded from the minister thus interfering
reasonable time. The only with the usual payments of the Bank, es. point upon which there appeared to be a pecially in such a peremptory manner. question was, the duration of the measure; He contended, that the operation of the
nd this he thought should be governed exchange would be felt soonerthan March. by the probable end of the causes which He did
not mean even to give the slightproduced it. Our export trade had been est hint against the credit of the Bank, or long, as it were, at a stand; we might en- the wisdom of those who conducted it; tertain a reasonable expectation that in a but he wished, for the sake of our credit, short time it would find its proper chan- that its payments should be resumed as nel ; so that afterwards we might feel the quickly as possible. Some might prieffect of an advantageous export trade, vately think it desirable that the Bank the full advantages of which, however, we
should never commence its payments could not expect for ten or twelve months. again ; but no Englishman would venture Nor could we, in much less time, expect publicly to express such a wish. He to have the full benefit of those other therefore thought a clause should be inchanges which he looked for in the course troduced into the bill, to give the direcof exchange, &c. nor could those com- tors a discretionary power of resuming mercial relations of foreign states properly cash payments. find their level in a much shorter time; so The motion was agreed to. The bill that, under all the circumstances, it did passed its other stages without opposition. not appear to him unwise to adopt that time for the continuance of the restric- Debate in the Commons on the Imports tion. He wished it to be understood, and Exports Duties Bill.] April 27. On