HC Deb 23 July 1807 vol 9 cc907-9
Mr. Hobhouse

brought up the report of the East-India Bonds bill. On the question that the amendments of the committee be read a second time,

Mr. Peter Moore

entered into a detailed statement of the affairs of the East-India company, in order to shew that its debts and embarrassments were the consequence of measures which had been forced upon the company, by the government and board of controul, for the effects of which, the company ought not to be responsible. It was in consequence of such measures, that the wars which had taken place in India, had embarrassed the company, that the participation on the part of the public had taken place but once, and contended, therefore, that the public had a right not only to make good to the proprietors their stock, to the amount of 12 millions, but also to discharge the whole of the floating debts of the company.

Mr. Dundas

replied, that that was not the time for entering into a detailed examination of the India accounts. It was a most extraordinary doctrine to maintain, that the expence of wars undertaken for the defence of the company's territories should be defrayed by the public. As to what had been said respecting the participation on the part of the public, he should only answer, by referring the hon. gent. to the act, in which there was an express exception of times of war.

Lord Folkestone

declared it to be his intention to resist the further progress of this bill, at least until the India accounts should be before the house, and the ground of his opposition was, that by the papers upon the table, the affairs of the company appeared to be in a dilapidated state.

Mr. W. Smith

could notagree in the position of his hon. friend, that the public should be responsible for the sums to be borrowed under this bill, or for any other of the East-India company's debts; and unless it should be understood from an explicit protest, a resolution of that house, that, by sanctioning this measure, it did not make the public a guarantee for the debts to be incurred under it by the India company, he could not consent to the measure.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was surprized that any doubts could be entertained upon this subject, after the manner in which it had been discussed on a former night. Undoubtedly, by passing this bill, that house was no more bound to guarantee the debts contracted pursuant to its provisions, than it was bound to guarantee the debts of any private company or corporation, authorized by act of parliament to raise money for the purposes of its institution. The money, in this instance, was to be raised on the sole responsibility of the company, to which alone, and not to the public, the lender was to look for the repayment of the sums he advanced.

Mr. Creevey

should support the opposition of his noble friend to the further progress of the measure, unless he should be given to understand that the third reading would not be pressed before the end of next week, by which time he understood the India papers would be before the house.

Mr. Grant

argued against the supposition that the public guaranteed these bonds, in allowing them to be issued. He contended, that the exclusive charter of the East-India company was the only means of preserving India to this country. The contingencies on which a participation in the company's profits had been promised to the public, had been retarded and prevented by a state of war. They had been calculated to accrue upon a prospect of peace.

Dr. Laurence

argued, that the fear of the eventual liability of parliament arose from the want of sufficient proofs of the validity of the company's security, which parliament was bound to ascertain, before it should give its sanction to the issue of the Bonds. After some further explanation, the amendments were agreed to.

Mr. Whitbread

insisted that time should be allowed to make enquiry into the solvency of the company before any farther proceedings on the bill.

Mr. Dundas

had no objection to a delay of a few days for the production of the accounts now ordered; but he feared, a total ripping up of the company's affairs was intended.— The bill was then ordered to be read a third time this day se'nnight.