HC Deb 14 April 1806 vol 6 cc748-50

The order of the day being read for taking into consideration the report of the committee respecting the Stamp Duties on Bank of Ireland Notes,

Mr. Foster

said, he thought it would be much better that the practice?in this country with respect to Stamps of Bank of England Notes should be adopted in Ireland, viz. that the Bank should pay a regular compensation in lieu of the duty of Stamps; but he wished that the composition should be made between the Bank and Parliament, and not between the Bank and the Treasury. This was a power which parliament could exercise itself, and therefore he did not think that it ought to be delegated to others. It was his intention, if he had remained in office, to have proposed a composition; but it would have been in the manner he had just stated. He then adverted to the paper currency of Ireland, which he said was so excessive as to depreciate itself; but this he thought might be prevented by putting the Bank of Ireland upon the same footing as all other Banks, and by preventing it from making such large advances to Government upon Treasury Bills. The latter be considered as a very desirable object, because, by advancing so much upon Treasury Bills, the Bank was prevented from affording as much accommodation as it might otherwise do to the public by way of discount. A measure had been adopted, which would have the effect of diminishing the circulation of paper, and that was sending over a large quantity of silver currency into Ireland. He did not know whether this practice continued; he hoped it did, but he would not press the right hon. bart. for an answer upon this subject. He objected to the mode of bringing forward this measure, and contended, that the plan now proposed was contrary to former practice, because, when the Bank compounded before, it was with the Parliament, not with the Lords of the Treasury.

Sir John Newport

said, he hardly knew how to follow the right hon. gent. in the observations which he had made. The right hon. gent, had admitted, that if he had remained in office he should have proposed a composition; but added, that he would not have fixed the rate of composition; and that it should be made with Parliament, and not with the Treasury. He begged leave to observe, that the resolution then before the house stated, that it would be proper to compound. When the Bill was brought in, it would be for the house to determine as to the quantum of the composition, and the persons with whom the power of making it should be lodged. That would be the proper time to discuss the points adverted to by the right hon. gent. There was one part of the right hon. gent.'s speech which appeared to him rather singular: he seemed to wish to diminish the quantity of Irish Bank Notes in circulation, and yet he wanted to increase the accommodation given by the Bank. He did not know how the Bank could increase its accommodation, except by increasing its issue of Notes; and it appeared to him that it made no difference whether the Bank advanced money upon treasury bills, or whether it advanced money to the public upon bills, bonds, or other securities. He had no difficulty in saying, that as long as the restriction respecting specie subsisted, something must be substituted in the room of it; and he did not know what substitute could be resorted to except Bank of England and Bank Of Ireland Notes. With respect to the question which the right hon. gent. had asked respecting the sending silver currency into Ireland, he had no objection whatever to answer that question. Government had continued sending over silver to Ireland as long as the price of silver permitted it. Silver currency, to the amount of about 400,000l., had been sent over, and was discontinued when the price silver rose to 5s.7d. per oz. It was only 5s. 1½d. when they first began to send over the silver. The sum which he believed it was originally intended to send to Ireland was 500,000l.; the sum actually sent was about 420,000l.; and he had no doubt that if the price of silver would permit it, ministers would make it up to 500,000l.

Mr. Foste

said, he thought the silver should be sent over, even though government lost by it. With respect to the composition, the resolution stated that it was to be made with the Lords of the Treasury.

Sir John Newport

was of opinion that the composition must necessarily be made with the Lords of the Treasury, otherwise it would be necessary to apply to Parliament every year, or else to fix it once for all without any regard to time or circumstances. Giving the Treasury a power to make this composition with the Bank, would not create an improper connexion between them, or give the former any undue influence over the latter; and it was worthy of notice, that in the year when the composition was suspended, the Bank did advance a very considerable loan to the public on Treasury Bills.—The resolution was then agreed to, and a bill ordered to be brought in thereon.