HC Deb 02 February 1807 vol 8 cc605-6
Sir John Newport

moved the order of the day, for the house to resolve itself into a committee on the Irish Treasury Bills bill. He hoped that, before the Speaker quitted the chair, the house would indulge him with a few words, for the purpose of clearing up some doubts, with reference to a statement made by an hon. member (Mr. Johnstone) on a former night. In moving to bring in this bill for raising 1,000,000l. by Treasury Bills, for the service of Ireland, he trusted it would not be thought that he had claimed an unwarrantable confidence, when it was considered that a power had been given the Irish government to raise half a million for the service of the last year, which power had not been used, nor had any Treasury bills been issued.—He would ask, whether it could with justice be presumed, that the Irish Finances could be in the situation that hon. member had described them, when the Irish government had not found it necessary to avail itself of a power to raise half a million of money? In fact, there had been no occasion for making use of that power; on the contrary, he had been able to discharge a debt due from the Irish Treasury to the English Treasury, of a sum of 276,000l. advanced by the English Treasury, for payment of the lottery prize in 1802. That was no proof of a failure of the Irish Finances. After payment of that sum, there remained, allowing for the subsistence of the army, a sum of upwards of 500,000l. belonging to Ireland. He was extremely sorry he had not been present on Thursday, when the noble lord near him (H. Petty) had made so very happy a statement of the finances of Great Britain. But he deprecated all comparison between the finance of G. Britain and the finances of Ireland. But though Ireland was not in that prosperous situation with respect to capital, industry and commerce, which would enable her to raise a large portion of her expences within the year, she was far from being in a situation of financial failure or depression. Her revenue was more than adequate to the payment of the interest of her debt and the sinking fund, and, with that ability, and with the sums in hand, which he had mentioned, she could not be considered in a state of failure or depression, as she had been represented by an hon. gent. on the night he alluded to. The revenue of Ireland was 3,800,000l. which was far above the interest of its debt and Sinking Fund.

Mr. Johnstone

regretted that he was not in the house when the hon. baronet began his speech, but he seemed to intimate that he (Mr. J.) had taken advantage of his absence. He wished the hon. baronet had been present to have heard him. He did not say that Ireland was in a bankrupt state, nor had attempted to convey any such impression. His argument was, that as the Irish revenue was only equal to the payment of the interest of the debt, and to the defraying of civil charges, it followed that she must raise 4,000,000l. by way of loan. He did not take the revenue too low, for he took it at 3,800,000l. as the hon. baronet had stated it, though, if he had taken it lower, speaking from the documents before him, he could not have been properly chargeable with error. If the hon. baronet therefore made a speech in order to combat a charge of bankruptcy, he spoke with regard to a charge that existed only in imagination. He had not said that Ireland was in a state of bankruptcy; he had only said, that as she could not raise the greater part of the supplies within the year, she must have recourse to loans here, and that this would interfere with the noble lord's plan.

Sir J. Newport

knew of no civil charges, on the revenue of Ireland, nor of any, charges beyond the interest of its debt and sinking fund. These amounted to 3,132,000l. which, deducted from the revenue of 3,800,000l.,left a surplus of near 700,000l. applicable to the current expences.

Mr. Johnstone

observed, that the hon. baronet's statement confirmed his allegation on the former night. The Irish part of the point charged being 5,300,000l. and the surplus of revenue applicable towards it being hut 700,000l. there would remain to be borrowed 4,600,000l. instead of 4,000,000l. as he had stated.—The bill then went through the committee.