§ The order of the day was read for going into a Committee of Ways and Means. Upon the question that the Speaker do leave the chair being put,
§ Mr. Parnell rose, and objected to going into the committee at present, as the Annual Accounts had not been laid before the house in time to have been printed, and in the hands of members previously to the opening of the Budget.
§ Mr. Huskisson
apprehended, the hon. gent, would not wish to postpone the Budget on this account. By law, these accounts were to be delivered by the 25th of March in every year, before which time it was impossible, on account of the multiplicity of papers to be laid on the table, to prepare them; and it was not till lately that the Budget was opened so late as the 12th of May. This business used formerly to take place before Christmas, and it would always in such a case, be utterly impossible to get the accounts printed before the opening of the Budget.
§ Sir John Newport
doubted this impossibility, since Irish accounts could be always ready at an earlier period. It was of no consequence to lay them before the house, if they were taken away for so long a time to be printed; and he thought that either they should not be taken away for this purpose, or that duplicates of them should be provided to lie upon the table, for the use of members.
§ The Speaker
informed the hon. member, that pursuant to an order of the house, duplicates were now always laid upon the table; and as to the length of time lost in printing, the hon. member would recollect that of all printing, figure printing was the most tedious and intricate.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
asked if the only advantage to be derived from laying these Annual Accounts on the table, was their consideration on this particular day? and contended that their production at any period of the session, would operate as a sufficient check, although they might not be produced previous to the opening of the Budget.
§ Mr. Parnell
said, that last session he wished to look at these accounts, and was informed that they were gone to the printer's, and that he could not see them. Duplicates of the Irish Accounts, he knew, had not been laid upon the table, and that led him to suppose, that the same was then the case with respect to the Accounts of this country.
The Accounts of the produce of the War-Taxes were then referred to the committee; when the house having resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose, pursuant to notice, to submit to the committee a statement of the Ways and Means of the year. In proceeding to propose the resolution with which he meant to conclude, for ratifying the contract, made that morning by the Treasury, for a Loan of 14,600,000l. to complete the Ways and Means, of the year, it would not be necessary for him to take up much of the time or attention of the committee by any introductory remarks. The satisfactory nature of the contract, and the advantageous terms for the public, upon which it had been concluded, would be sufficient to entitle it to the earnest attention of the committee, and the entire approbation of parliament. Without further preface, therefore, he should proceed to the important duty he had to perform, in stating the Supplies which had been voted for the service of the present year, and then in succession the correspondent Ways and Means which had been provided to defray those supplies. The committee would observe, that there were but few of the supplies which he had to enumerate, which had not been already voted; but as he went along, he proposed to point out what were yet to be voted by parliament. The supplies voted were:
SUPPLIES. £ Navy 18,986,867 Army 21,144,770 Ordnance, England 5,275,298 5,903,174 Ireland 627,876 Miscellaneous, England 1,173,751 1,900,000 Ireland 726,249 Vote of Credit, England 3,000,000 3,300,000 Ireland 300,000 Swedish Subsidy 300,000 Sicilian Subsidy 400,000 Total Joint Charge 51,934,911
To meet these Supplies, the articles already voted, and those which he should have the honour to propose, the Ways and Means provided, were as follows:—
England's Separate Charges. Def. Malt Duty, 1807, 366,211 1,927,078 Int. on Exch. Bills 1,500,000 5 per cents. 1797, 60,867 Total Supplies 53,861,990 Deduct Ireland's proportion of Supply and Civil List 6,273,966 On account of England 47,588,024.
He had next to state to the Committee, and it was with satisfaction he should state, the terms upon which the Loan had been contracted for that morning. The whole of the Loan for the year was fourteen millions six hundred thousand pounds, of which three millions were for Ireland, and six hundred thousand pounds for the Prince Regent of Portugal, so that the Loan for the service of England was 11,000,000l. This Loan had been taken in part in the 4 per cents, partly in the 3 per cents, and partly in the Long Annuities. The particulars for every 100l. subscribed were,
WAYS AND MEANS. £. Duty on Malt, Pensions, &c. 3,600,000 Estimated Surplus Consolidated Fund, to April 5, 1810 4,000,000 Surplus Ways and Means, 1808 2,757,352 War Taxes 19,000,000 Lottery 300,000 Excess of Exchequer Bills, 49 Geo. 3, cap. 21. after reserving sufficient to pay off 7,345,200l. issued per Act 18 Geo. 3, cap. 7, the remainder having been funded 3,154,800 Excess of ditto, voted in the present Session, after reserving sufficient to pay off 4,644,100l. issued per Act 48 Geo. 3, cap. 114, the remainder having been funded 1,355,900 Exchequer Bills on Vote of Credit 3,000,000 Repayment of Sum advanced to Portugal 150,000 Loan 11,000,000 47,718,052 Supplies 47,588,024 Surplus Ways and Means 130,028
The amount of interest that would thus be paid on each 100l. by the public, cal- 533 culating it upon the present prices of the respective funds in which the Loan was contracted for, would be 4l. 12s. 10d. a rate of interest, at which the public had never before been able to borrow money—a rate at which it was hardly possible for any individual, however well secured, or prompt his payment might be, to procure a loan. It was not amiss to state in this place the terms upon which, according to the Convention entered into with the Prince Regent of Portugal, the loan of six hundred thousand pounds to that prince was to be secured both as to the payment of interest, and one per cent, sinking fund and the repayment of the principal. The funds which had been assigned for that purpose consisted of the revenues of the island of Madeira, together with a consignment of such produce of the Brazils as belonged to the Prince Regent to his agents in this country, which property was to be placed under the management of these agents, and the proceeds appropriated to the payment of the interest and sinking fund, and the liquidation of the principal of the loan.—It would be in the recollection of the house, that in a former part of the session he had submitted a proposition for funding eight millions of Exchequer Bills, which proposition had received the sanction of that house. Though this operation had not proceeded to the full extent, which he then expected, he was yet happy to be able to state to the Committee, that the sum which had actually been funded under the bill of the present session, amounted, within a fraction, to the sum originally proposed, being not less than 7,932,100l. It became his duty on this occasion to state to the Committee, that the capital created by that operation amounted in the 5 per cents to 7,87 7,308l.; in the 3 per cents, 386,336l.; amounting in the whole to capital created 8,253,654l. The total charge for management and sinking fund upon this capital was 495,221l. The total charge upon the loan was 651,345l. making the grand total charge upon both operations 1,146,566l.—It might be satisfactory to the house that he should here make a comparison between the terms upon which the money had been raised for the service of last year, and those upon which he had been able to effect the loan, and provide the other ways and means for the service of the present year. The amount of Exchequer Bills funded last year did not exceed four millions, and had been funded at an interest of 5l, 4s. 9¼d. 534 with a sinking fund charge of 1l. 1s. 2½d. per cent, making together a charge of 6l. 5s. 11¾d. The interest on the Exchequer Bills funded this year was 5l. 3s 1½d. which with a charge for sinking fund of 1l. 0s. 9d. made a total charge of 6l. 3s. 10½d. per cent, being less than the charge incurred upon a similar operation last year; and this though the operation in the present year was considerably larger, (being nearly double) than that of last year. The loan of last year amounted to eight millions, and was raised at an interest of 4l. 14s. 6½d. per cent, while the loan of the present year, amounting to more than fourteen millions, had been raised at an interest of 4l. 12s. 10d. It would consequently be a satisfaction to the committee to perceive, that, notwithstanding the circumstances of the country, notwithstanding the increasing difficulties of, and the unavoidable increase in the public expenditure, yet the pressure had not borne upon the wealth of the country so as to disable it from making those exertions which the exigencies of the times called for, and the pressure of the war required. It was a proud consideration for the country, that though the financial operations required for the present year were so much greater than those of the last year, still, even under the increased and increasing pressure of the war, the terms upon which they had been effected were more advantageous than in any former instance, a circumstance which manifested opening prospects of prosperity, and shewed the preference given by those, whose opinions usually governed such transactions, to the circumstances and character of the present period. If the Sinking Fund were included in the estimate of the terms of the loan in both years, it would give a charge upon the loan of last year of 5l. 18d. 2d. per cent, whilst the charge upon the loan raised in the present year did not exceed 5l. 17s. 2½d.; and including the terms upon which the whole sums were raised in each year respectively, the comparison of charge was upon 13,693,253l. raised last year 6l. 0s. 9d. per cent, upon the sum of 21,200,000l. raised in the present year, 5l. 19s. 11d. per cent, being an advantage of 10½d. per cent, in favour of the present year. This comparison he felt it necessary to make for the satisfaction of the committee, and in order to shew that though the circumstances of the times required an increased expenditure, and additional 535 sacrifices, yet the confidence of the public bad not been depressed, but was enhanced. In addition to this statement respecting the circumstances of the loan, and the increased confidence of the monied market, he had the satisfaction to add, that the gentlemen Who had taken the loan were not likely to lose by if, as it was already, as he was informed, at a premium of 1½ per cent.—Having stated the amount of the total annual charge to be 1,146,566l it became his duly, in the next place, to stale the manner in which he proposed to defray that charge. When he had last year proposed some taxes, in addition to the means that had fallen in within the year, he mentioned that he was induced to that proceeding, by the consideration, that it was better to supply by new taxation the difference between the means that existed, and the sum necessary for the charge of the year, than to act upon the principle, which had been adopted by the noble lord opposite (lord H. Petty), about two years ago, which principle he had acted upon in the preceding parliament. The principle upon which that noble lord had proceeded was, that it would be more desirable to apply to the war taxes for three successive, years than to resort to any new sources of taxation. In the year in which the noble lord had adopted that principle, it had been acted upon; last year it had not, though but a very inconsiderable addition was made to the permanent taxes. In the present year it was his intention to apply to the war taxes, to provide for the greater part of the annual charge created, and not to impose any new tax whatever. He would not, however, be understood, when he declared his intention to apply to the war taxes this year as meaning, that in any future year he should adopt the same principle. The noble lord had, as he had already observed, suggested the propriety of suspending the progress of taxation for three years. He was ready to do justice to the noble lord for his intention to act upon his own principle, and was sure that he would have his concurrence in adopting it for the present year. Thus it would be acted upon during two years instead of three, as the noble lord originally proposed. Yet, if the noble lord should continue of opinion that the principle should be still further acted upon, he must allow, as he had distinctly stated on a former occasion, that a system adopted in contemplation of a given rate of expenditure should not continue to 536 be acted upon, if that expenditure should be increased. All those, who supported the proposition of the noble lord, would, he was sure, approve of his adoption of the principle for the present year, and think it a wise policy to abstain from new taxes, by drawing upon the war taxes to meet the charges arising out of the financial arrangements of the present year. The whole of the charge would not, however, be to be defrayed out of the war taxes. There was a bill at present before the house, for the consolidation of the customs, by the operation of which, by the way of regulation, he expected to obtain an addition to the permanent taxes of 105,000l.; and in this calculation he believed he was within the sum that was likely to be produced. An addition, to nearly the same amount, was to be expected from the operation of the Consolidation Bill, in the war taxes. The sum so gained would be applied in diminution of the annual charge, so that he should not have to apply to the war taxes for much more than one million. He had suggested the propriety of taking a Vote of Credit for three millions for England; but he trusted that it would not be expected that he should go at any length into an explanation of the manner in which that sum might be applied. There was, however, one circumstance arising out of the present state of the continent, which he felt it to be his duty to communicate to the house. Under the existing circumstances of the continent, it was not at the present moment thought desirable, that any definite arrangement should be entered into, which should give rise to any expectation that his majesty would furnish his allies with any very considerable pecuniary assistance. However anxious his majesty's government might be to assist them in the struggle in which they were engaged, it was not their intention to hold out to those allies any expectation of pecuniary aid, during the present year, to a greater amount than would be covered by the Vote of Credit proposed. He had also to state that, though no treaty had been entered into with the Austrian government previous to the war, nor any engagement made with that power, vet an expectation did certainly exist on the part of that power, as to what this country would do in the event of a war taking place. In consequence of this impression, without having had any communication with his majesty's government, the Austrian government, on the commencement 537 of the war, had drawn bills upon this country, which bills it had not been deemed right to pay, until the circumstance should be mentioned to parliament. When the bills arrived, he would confess, that it was the intention of his majesty's ministers, to advise his majesty to recommend to parliament to enable him to pay them.—If it should meet with the concurrence of the house, it was proposed to pay the bills out of the Vote of Credit. [What is the amount of these bills? was asked across the table by lord H. Petty] It was not easy to ascertain yet; they might perhaps amount to 300,000l. But before any appropriation would be made for the payment of these bills, it was considered absolutely necessary to procure the consent and sanction of parliament. This subject was not at that moment open for any discussion, nor could it properly be made the subject of debate, until some specific vote should be proposed upon the subject. The occasion, however, of stating to the committee the Ways and Means of the year, appeared to him to afford the most appropriate opportunity of communicating this circumstance to the house, which, upon every ground of propriety and duty, ought not to be kept back from parliament; without whose concurrence no money could be appropriated to the case. Having gone through all he had to state, he concluded with moving a Resolution for agreeing to the terms of the contract for the Loan.—On the question being put.
4 per Cents £.60 0 0 3 per Cents 60 0 0 Lone Annuities 0 8 10
§ Mr. N. Vansittart
wished to know whether any or what portion of the war taxes was to be saddled with the charges of the loan.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
replied, that the whole of the charges were to be discharged from the war taxes, and particularly that part of them which came under the head of Excise.
§ Lord H Petty
wished to offer a few observations on one part of the right hon. gentleman's statement, and particularly that which related to the bills drawn by the Austrian government. The propriety of that step would depend on the previous relations subsisting between the two countries, an explanation of which, he presumed, his majesty's ministers would feel it their duty to offer to the house before parliament rose. That explanation would determine whether that most extraordinary step, as he must characterize it, was to be attributed to his majesty's ministers, or the Austrian government. It would be 538 impossible for him at present to touch further upon the subject, without trenching on that more widely extended subject, the propriety of granting subsidies to the powers of Europe in the present state of the continent. On that difficult question he would not attempt to lay down any general principle, for it was a question that must be always tried and determined by a particular reference to the specific cases that might arise, and to the circumstances under which the subsidies were required. This however, he should not hesitate to state, that great deliberation should precede any such issues of the public money, and that the considerations which influenced it should be most seriously weighed. He was willing to admit, that circumstances might arise, when subsidies for the continent ought to be granted almost to an indefinite extent, provided that the expectations entertained were commensurate with them. But this was a most serious consideration, and ought to be very cautiously weighed. If, indeed, any argument should weigh against the system of subsidizing, it would be found in the abuse of the periodical advances which this country had been of late in the habit of making to continental powers. It was notorious that some of these were diverted from the specific purposes for which they were granted; and that others were entirely inadequate to the objects they were intended to effect. This was particularly the case with regard to the Swedish subsidy. At the very time that they were projecting retrenchments in the Civil List, they were in the constant practice of remitting sums to Sweden equal to the whole amount of that branch of the national expenditure. The treaty with Sweden, according to the statements of ministers, had three objects in view. In the first place we were to obtain by it a greater facility for commercial arrangements, and specific advantages that should enable us the better to enforce the Orders in Council; and yet it was found that no commercial arrangement whatever had taken place, from that time to this between Sweden and this country; secondly we were to adopt and establish such a military concert with that power, as would enable her to carry on a successful war. Need it be asked what was done en this head, where a large military armament had been sent out from this country without being permitted to effect any thing? The present condition of Sweden shewed 539 how that particular object of the treaty had succeeded. The third object was to provide for the maintenance and pay of the Swedish army. The recent Revolution would show that object was answered. And here he must express, his most poignant regret at the fate of that unhappy monarch, (for whatever might be his opinion of the policy and government of the king of Sweden, it was impossible not to feel for and lament fallen greatness) a fate which had been brought on by his inability to pay and to maintain his army. It appeared, therefore, that no one object of the treaty was answered; but the very reverse of what was proposed, and confidently expected, took place. With this example staring them in the face, and the considerations arising out of the particular circumstances of the times, and the state of this country, the house would be cautious how they sanctioned the system of subsidies. He wished it not to be supposed, from what he said, that he meant to express an absolute condemnation of the principle. He had no such intention. On the contrary, should an occasion arise to justify such an application of British resources, he would consent to very great sacrifices. To the Loan itself, and the principles upon which it was negociated, as well as the mode proposed for meeting the charges upon it, he gave his cordial approbation and concurrence. He was happy to find that the right hon. gent. had adopted the plan of not adding, during the year, to the burthens of the people. He could not, however, entirely approve the intention of mortgaging any part of the war taxes without providing an adequate fund for its speedy redemption. It would, he was persuaded, be productive, though not immediately perhaps, of much inconvenience. Besides an indefinite mortgage of these particular taxes might tend to excite an apprehension that they would be ultimately converted into permanent burthens. The practice, also, tended to undermine and weaken those great means and sinews of war. When a similar mode was proposed by him, it was with a view that it should be combined with a meliorating principle, by which its inconveniences would be gradually but rapidly remedied. With regard to the terms of the loan, he partook in the general satisfaction of the house. They were convincing proofs of the confidence and prosperity of the country. Although he might perhaps entertain some objections to the 540 particular funds in which the loan had been effected, he could not withhold expressing how happy he felt at so decided a proof of our national prosperity.
Mr. Secretary Canning,
although he agreed with many of the remarks of the noble lord, and particularly with that which stated that the particular circumstances were to be considered in the granting of subsidies to continental powers, had yet a few observations to make on what fell from him in the early part of his speech. As to the policy of subsidising foreign powers it was impossible to lay down any general rule on this subject. In any assistance that we might deem it adviseable to afford foreign powers, the propriety as well as the extent of that assistance must depend on the value of the effort to be made, and the particular circumstances of the country at the time it was solicited. With respect to the Treaty with Sweden, which the noble lord had seized on as the ground for his arguments, he had to state, that it was owing to no instigation of this country, that she had undertaken a war far above her strength, and which had been so disastrous in its consequences. If this country had never, for many years, inculcated such a line of conduct, so it was particularly true in the late struggle, when it was perfectly understood by Sweden, not only that we had no wish for her continuing the war, but that her making a separate peace, advantageous to herself, if it did not oblige her to become hostile to Great Britain, would be acceptable to this country. But while they did not instigate war, the government of this country were not prepared to push their opinion to the extent of denying the means of supporting the other alternative, if Sweden made that election. The noble lord had not been in the house when he laid the Treaty before them, or that part of his speech respecting the Subsidy would have been spared. With respect to the other powers, the noble lord had misunderstood his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The same abstinence he had noticed in our transactions with Sweden, had been pre-eminently attended to in our communications with Austria. Government had stated that Austria (as every nation was) was the best judge of her own interests; that there was no disposition on the part of Great Britain, for the sake of any combination against the common enemy, or for any temporary diversion in the cause of Spain, to have 541 Austria committed in a premature struggle. However much they might wish to see the enemy opposed, they could never desire to see Austria engaged in war on any but Austrian grounds. This was the uniform tenor of all their communications with that power. But they went no further; they stated, at the same time, that if she was committed in war with France for her own defence, it was their disposition to afford her all the limited assistance which the state of the times put in their power. The war, therefore, in which she had voluntarily engaged, was strictly upon Austrian grounds. It was not connected or combined with any British object or interest. The communications with the Austrian government were few and precarious, and in none of these communications was any specific promise of assistance held out to her. It was, indeed, stated to her, that if she was likely to be engaged in an inevitable contest, there would be a disposition to assist her; but that that disposition would be greatly limited by the circumstances of the times. Indeed, the assurance in this respect was so restricted, that he had his doubts whether it would not operate rather as a check than an encouragement. There were also physical obstacles in the way of making remittances, which should convince that power that she was not to place much reliance upon promises of assistance, even though less restricted, from this government The preliminary, however, to any assistance, was the restoration of the former amicable relations between the two governments. This was considered as a just atonement to this country, and it was necessary to enable his majesty to make any communication or application upon this subject, to parliament.—With respect to the Bills mentioned by his right hon. friend, he could confirm what was already stated, and assure the house that the Austrian government had no authority for that measure. The bills were drawn by the Austrian Treasury, on the supposition that the person authorized to restore the former relations between the two governments would reach this country time enough to explain the necessity of that step, and the circumstances that induced it. It would not be expected that he should make any harsh comment on the conduct of the Austrian government; but he could assure the house that measures had been taken to stop the recurrence of a practice so inconvenient in many respects; among which, 542 the very prejudicial effect that it would invariably produce on the course of exchange was not one of the least. No time was lost in transmitting a friendly remonstrance to the court of Vienna on the subject, and pointing out the inconvenience of the practice. They were told that if it was to be done at all, it must be done with the consent of parliament. Whatever extent of assistance was to be afforded to Austria or to any other power, it was not thought proper, for reasons that were obvious, to define it. It was thought best that his majesty should come to parliament and ask such assistance, in the shape of a Vote of Credit. When circumstances changed in every quarter, not only every month, but almost every day, it was impassible lo measure the extent of the assistance that it might become the liberality, or be necessary for the interest, of this country to afford. The confidence, that parliament might find it adviseable to repose in his majesty's government, would not be abused. The resources that were, placed at their disposal would be managed with caution, and all the discretion of which they were capable. It was unnecessary for him, at this period of the renewed relations with Austria, to say more on the subject.
commended the conduct of ministers in having, as they stated, so long left it entirely at the discretion of the sovereign of Sweden, to conclude peace when he should feel it adviseable; but in his opinion ministers ought to have gone farther, and strongly advised that that sovereign to conclude a peace. According to his judgment, that advice ought to have been offered, and the subsidy granted by this country withheld. No such subsidy ought to have been advanced for the last twelve months. It was not, indeed, improbable, that this money had served in a great measure to urge the unfortunate monarch who received it, to pursue his wild scheme and policy, which led to the overthrow of his government. He was glad to understand that ministers had no concern whatever in advising Austria to engage in the present war. Had they any influence, indeed, they would have used it more wisely in dissuading that government from any such proceeding; and if any money was meant to be advanced to Austria, he begged to be exempted from those who would sanction any such advances, which he was convinced could not be of the least use to Austria, while it 543 would be an injury to this country.—However painful he might feel it to resist the idea of pecuniary assistance to Austria, considering the connection which so' often subsisted between that country and this, and considering also the fidelity which that government had always manifested towards us, yet, such was his view of the present state of that power and of the prospects of England, that he could not suffer his sense of duty to be restrained by his feelings. If he thought that any pecuniary aid, in the power of this country to afford, could do any material good to Austria in her present situation, he would be the last man in the world to refuse it. But being persuaded of the contrary, and justly apprehending that as soon as the enemy had sheathed the sword now drawn against Austria he would turn his whole power against this country, which would have to contend against him single handed, requiring of course all its resources to maintain such a contest, he could not consent to any unnecessary waste of those resources. Therefore he would deprecate the idea of disposing of any part of our means, unless with a certainty, or, at least, reasonable probability that they could be so disposed of as to bent fit the power to whom they were granted.
Mr. Secretary Canning
wished to observe, lest his silence should be construed into any acquiescence in the right hon. gentlemen's statement that ministers would not bind themselves as to the line of conduct which they might feel it expedient to adopt with respect to any pecuniary supplies to foreign powers.
§ Mr. Whitbread
would have been much better pleased if the 600,000l. stated to have been granted as a loan to the prince of the Brazils had been at once presented as a gift, in order that the people might clearly understand the transaction; for considering the situation, the means, and the prospects of this prince, he thought it quite childish to hold out the idea that any re-payment would ever take place; that one shilling of it would ever be received by this country. It was, to be sure, stated, that the loan was to be repaid by the produce of the Brazils. What produce? He would ask, was it meant to pay it in sugar? The idea was preposterous. He did not like any attempt at delusion, and therefore he would rather have the thing represented as he had mentioned. He did not like to have things called loans which were never at all likely to be repaid. It would 544 be remembered that at the time of the Imperial Loan a good deal was said about securities for payment, to which he attended very little at the time, because he had no reliance upon them, and time justified his opinion, although it was then seriously stated, that the lenders could enforce payment by suing the emperor in his own courts (A laugh). Others, however, entertained a different opinion, and the consequence was, they were extremely mortified and disappointed, while he had only to lament the folly and credulity of putting any confidence in so ridiculous and unsubstantial a privilege. But with respect to the Brazils, what produce could we receive from thence that would at all compensate us? He was still less disposed to rely upon the payment of this loan to the Brazils, as the nature of the securities was not even mentioned, than he had been with respect to the loans to Austria. But, in fact, he could not conceive any security in the power of the borrower in this instance to offer. As to Sweden, he concurred with his right hon. friend, that ministers, who had such opportunities of being well informed with respect to the state and prospects of Sweden, particularly upon the return of sir John Moore's expedition from that country, ought not to have continued the subsidy. He also concurred with his right hon. friend upon the impropriety of granting any subsidy to Austria; but he would go further than his right hon. friend, for he would deprecate the payment of the 300,000l bills which, it appeared from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been drawn upon our government without any authority whatever to do so. That no good could be done by any effort of Austria now must be obvious. Had she, indeed, availed herself of Buonaparté's embarrassments in Spain, at the period when some French reverses inspirited the Spaniards, there might have been some chance that Buonaparté would have been considerably distressed and distracted; at least there would have been better prospects of success than could be calculated upon at the time Austria commenced hostilities, when in fact Spain was nearly subdued. Austria, however, had not only been defective in prudence in the commencement of this war, but even in fidelity to engagements which should always bind a state, whether such engagements were formed with one party or another. Ministers, in fact, should have advised 545 Austria not to engage in this war. They were not ignorant of her engagements and circumstances. It was well known that after the last war into which she had been dragged by the counsels of this country, she was reduced to the verge of ruin, and owed her escape and the reinstatement of her government solely to the will of the power with which she now so unwisely waged war.—It might be said that there was no precedent for such an interposition in the concerns of a foreign government, as he would recommend on the part of ministers. But he would not look to the file, as Mr. Burke said, for direction upon a new and extraordinary case. Had ministers no penetration, no statesmanlike knowledge, to enable their minds to judge upon the propriety of interposing their advice on such an occasion? Were they to preclude themselves from offering advice either to Spain or Austria, because there was no precedent for such an offer; there being no precedent simply because the cases themselves were unprecedented? With respect to the Vote of Credit for "Continental Services," as it was mentioned, he would rather have it specifically called a vote of credit for Spain, as there was no continental nation whatever to which any pecuniary grant should be made. If a subsidy to Austria had been proposed, he would have opposed it, though he had stood single and alone on a division of the house. In fact it appeared to him that they must be fools and madmen, in persisting to think that Austria could succeed in a contest with France by means of English gold. What were the prospects for Spain itself he could not pretend to say. But he did not wish to give, up hope respecting Spain while life itself remained, and therefore he was not willing to tie up the hands of ministers on that subject. With the exception, however, of Spain, he could not see a spot in Europe where an English guinea could be of any use to annoy the enemy. He begged gentlemen to bear in mind the very absurd and foolish calculations sometimes made as to the precise times and periods of the enemy's weakness, which were, in fact, but pauses to collect strength, as events had always proved. If gentlemen would follow the advice contained in the admirable tract of his deceased friend (Mr. Fox), they would occasionally stop in their progress, and take a retrospect of the past, for the purpose of guiding their contemplations upon the future. Had this ad- 546 vice been attended to, it was impossible that the absurd calculations he had mentioned could ever have had any weight. Having said thus much on that head, he begged to offer a few observations on a matter of domestic consideration contained in the Ways and Means for the present year. He meant the Lottery. Whoever had seriously considered the subject had agreed that it was one of the worst and last modes of raising money that could be resorted to. It was impossible to reprobate in too strong terms the impolicy and injustice of continuing the system of raising a revenue from lotteries; after all the evils which they were known to occasion, the wretchedness, desperation, and suicide to which they led. He was astonished that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was himself addicted to no vice of this description, could patronize such a measure, particularly when he considered all that was universally notorious with regard to its tendency and consequences; when he recollected that Mr. Pitt had promised, that at the termination of the war, this odious plan of raising money should be abandoned for ever; and, above all, when he read the Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the subject. All palliations were of no avail to cure this evil. For before that Committee, he heard with astonishment, the inspector employed by government (Wood) avow, that if the nefarious practice of insurances so much complained of, and which so many laws were framed to correct, were not tolerated or connived at, lotteries could not go on. Such was the confession of the officer of government, appointed to check this nefarious practice, of which it shewed, that he himself was guilty in conniving at it. He would take the liberty of asking, whether this person, after such a confession, was still in office? He did not ask with any view to submit a motion for his removal, because such a motion might alarm the country gentlemen, who might then determine to make their stand (a laugh). If Wood were brought to the Bar, he would probably say, that he had not done more than others had done before him; and it might be asked, why make any individual a victim for a mat-practice that was so general? Perhaps it would be said, that it was as notorious as the noon-day sun, and therefore ought not to be punished (a cry of hear! hear!). But these nefarious proceedings of insurances, &c. &c. which the Report to which he alluded so fully exposed, 547 were still going on. While laws were enacted to put a stop to "Little Goes," the great "Go" was suffered to proceed without interruption; nay, with encouragement. The poor, the desperate, and the vicious were shut out from the "Little Go;" the "Great Go" invited and received them with open arms. Such a practice ought to be utterly extinguished (aloud cry of move, move!). It was idle raid ridiculous to pretend to stop the destructive consequences of either, while the language held out was neither more nor less than this: if you go to the Little Goes, you shall be punished, but if you come to the Great Go, you shall be safe. He was very unwilling to detain the house unnecessarily, but there was one melancholy instance of the mischief attending this immoral mode of raising money, which he begged leave to mention, and which was contained amongst others in the appendix to the Report to which he had already referred. A woman in the middle class of life had unfortunately being seized with this lamentable mania of making a fortune by insurance in the lottery. In adventuring upon this sea of chance, she made away with all the money she was possessed of for family uses; and then, by way of retrieving her loss, she secretly and unknown to her husband, as was generally the case in these transactions, pledged first one and then another article of domestic furniture, till almost the whole was gone, and her ill luck still attending her, she was reduced almost to despair at the idea of being obliged to inform her husband of the imprudence of her conduct. She found, however, it was not to be avoided, and at length confessed her fault, and owned what she had done. The husband happened to be a man of a noble and generous nature, and being sensible of the amiable qualities of his wife, and satisfied with every other part of her conduct, he most humanely and instantly pronounced his forgiveness, which had so sudden and powerful an effect on her feelings, that it deprived her of her senses, and she now remains a miserable living monument of this detestable gambling, engendered and supported by lotteries, The hon. gent. related this fact with a degree of feeling that most sensibly impressed every one who heard him, and he concluded by saying, "that having brought it to a point beyond which he thought it could not go, he would by his vote record his objection to this mode of raising money."
, adverting to what had fallen from the hon. gent. who had just sat down, said, his lecture on the good faith of France and the bad faith of Austria, must have an excellent effect when spread by our newspapers over the continent (Hear, hear!). He wished to know upon what proof the hon. gent. rested the assertion that Austria broke faith with France. For his part, he was quite of a different opinion, and that Austria was in hostility against France, because France was bent on her destruction. This, indeed, must, he thought, be obvious to every man who looked fairly at the state of Europe, and that, whether Austria entered into hostility or not, she was doomed to perish by the tyrant of France. But from what had escaped the hon. gent., it would seem that, in ascribing perfidy to Austria, he meant it to be understood that fidelity was to be ascribed to the councils of Buonaparté. The conclusion of his mind, however, was directly the reverse of that of his hon. friend. With respect to lotteries, he had never any concern in them. He was adverse to the system, and would be ready to support any proposition for putting an end to its existence.
Mr. Secretary Canning
expressed an entire concurrence in the sentiments so ably stated by the right hon. gent. who had just sat down, with regard to the principles and conduct of Austria. The hon. gent. who preceded him had observed, that ministers ought to have advised Austria to abstain from the war; he would be glad to know upon what ground he could justify the offer of such an advice? The hon. gent. must take a very strange view of the character of the French Ruler, if he could suppose that any country could look to safety from being at peace with such a power. But an independent state in such a case was the best judge of its own views and circumstances. It was not for the government of this or any other nation to dictate to it. He could say that Austria was in no degree influenced to take the steps she had resorted to by the influence of any British interest. God forbid that any such attempt should be made! At the same time he must add, that as safety was not to be had from peace with France, he should, of course, regret to see a great nation like Austria attempt to seek it by tame submission and dastardly acquiescence. Whatever the present situation or future fortunes of Austria might be, his opinion was, that as the 549 French Ruler was resolved upon her destruction, her fate would not be aggravated by the course she had taken. Upon the whole he thought Austria acted wisely in taking up arms, though he would not have thought it wise on our part to advise it.
§ Mr. Whitbread
observed, that the right hon. Secretary had, for the first time since his right hon. friend came into that house, paid him a compliment this night. What! was it to be understood that there was a Treaty of Subsidy with his right honourable friend?
assured his hon. friend, that he valued not such Subsidy! His object in rising before was Merely to correct what he thought a nisconception on the part of his hon. friend; by charging upon France the bad faith which he attempted to fix upon the counsels of Austria.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
could not help adverting to the astonishment expressed by the hon. gent. (Mr. Whitbread) how the right hon. gent. (Mr. Ponsonby) had been prepared to discover the good faith of Austria, and the bad faith of France. For his part, he was rather surprized that the hon. gent. who had no doubt on the one side without any evidence whatever, should express so much astonishment at any difficulty felt by those who were of a contrary opinion. He presumed the hon. gent. took his faith from the Papers of M. Champagny. On the other subject spoken to by the hon. gentleman, it was not his intention to argue it this night. The hon. gent. had said it might meet with an abler advocate: that he denied. The house had seldom or ever felt an argument come more forcibly home to their feelings; nor was it possible that the subject could ever be in more able hands. It would be for the house on some future occasion after this night to determine if the Lottery should ever again form part of the Ways and Means of the year. It should not, however, be taken for granted, because the guards against improper practices in Lotteries had once failed, that they must always fail. He was satisfied it was not to the Lotteries but to the Insurance that the objection lay. He did not say, that for the sake of a revenue of 300,000l. a year, the house ought to give their sanction to any thing immoral or productive of evil; but, at the same time, he was not for abandoning a financial resource of this kind without trying whether some measure might not be devised to remedy the evils resulting from it. All he wished 550 was, that no vote should take place on the subject this night.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
could not rest satisfied without expressing upon this subject an opinion formed alter much enquiry and consideration. He thought the speech of the hon. gent. on the floor, (Mr. Whitbread) the most forcible appeal he had ever heard made to that house. He agreed, that when we looked to the widely extended ravages of war, the evils arising from Lotteries might be thought of little importance; but when the vice was seen to have spread through every situation of common life, it seemed to him to be utterly astonishing that it could be defended. He should not press the matter at present. The right hon. gent. said, he should put a stop to the mischief by abolishing insurance; and he was sure his right hon. friend persuaded himself of that, or he would not for much more than 300,000l. sacrifice the victims it occasioned; but after the great men who had preceded his right hon. friend in the administration of the country had persuaded themselves it might, be, and had had been, put an end to, without this being the case, he thought his right hon. friend flattered himself in supposing, that he could do it effectually. Insurance, however, was not the only evil of lotteries. By dividing tickets into small shares, a spirit of gambling was disseminated, which was attended with the most serious evils to the lower classes. If they came to the question of the productiveness of the lottery tax, it would be found to have diminished from 600,000l. to 300,000l. and there was never any thing more true than that the sum which appeared to be sacrificed to morality would be far more than repaid other ways. By suppressing lotteries many would remain to enrich the country with their labours, whom the lottery would reduce into habits of idleness and extravagance. Where there was one instance of suicide and robbery consequent upon lotteries, there were a thousand instances of smaller evils. Often when the consequences of this practice did not lead to suicide, they went to destroy the seeds of happiness and of domestic enjoyment, and even these he thought it worth an effort in that house to preserve. It was 18 or 20 years ago, since the hon. member had first divided upon this question, and this lapse of time found his opinion unchanged. He had always protested against the measure, and now that its profits were so small, he hoped it would be dropped.
§ Sir T. Turton
expressed himself satisfied with the explanation given with respect to Sweden, and his coincidence in sentiment with Mr. Ponsonby on the affairs of Austria. He however disapproved of the Loan, which he considered as less advantageous in the 4 and 5 per cents. than it would have been in the 3 per cents. The present system made too great a fund of the 4 per cents. He commented upon the enormousness of the demand for the expences of the army; and wished to direct the views of economists to the diminution of the standing army. He desired the house not to do any thing in a moment of heat respecting Lotteries, and wished to know if the same scale of exemptions and contributions on the Income Tax were to remain as last year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said there were to be no new statutes this year respecting the Income Tax, they would act upon old laws.
§ Mr. Huskisson
thought it useless to enter into the question respecting lotteries at that time: whatever might be their decision, it would be of little importance, as the subject would be brought before the house, when they would have an opportunity of expressing their sentiments of the measure. The hon. gent. proceeded to shew it would not have been an advantage to the country, had the loan been negociated in the 3 per cents, as had been suggested: for if the interest were less, it should be remembered, that as the capital grew larger, the amount of the sinking fund would increase, and consequently such an arrangement would not appear eminently economical. He concluded, defending the propriety of funding Exehequer Bills in the 5 per cents.
Sir Samuel Romilly
was extremely sorry to hear his right honourable friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) treat the case of the Lottery as if it fell as a matter of course, to form part of the service of the year, without seeming to pay any attention to the Report of the Committee on that subject. The hon. baronet behind him had talked of not doing any thing in a moment of heat. Did the hon. baronet not know that a Committee had been appointed to inquire into this very subject: that that Committee, had reported during the last session; and that their Report had lain on the table from that time without any thing having been done upon it? The house was now situated as to this subject much in a similar way to 552 that in which they stood with regard to the Slave Trade some years ago. The house did allow that trade to continue for years after they had evidence of the existence of the abuses practised in it. This knowledge, he was of opinion, added infinitely to the iniquity of the practice. On the same principle, he thought if the house, with the knowledge they now had of the evils attending lotteries, that they drove some persons into mad-houses, and others into prisons, allowed the practice to continue, the situation of things was very different from what it was before. His right hon. friend thought that he should be able to render lotteries infinitely less destructive than formerly, and to rob the system of all its evils. He believed the right hon. gent. expected that he would be able to accomplish this object. But he warned his right hon. friend, that whilst in so doing he thought he was limiting an evil, he was himself committing it, though to a smaller extent than it had formerly been practised. He was still to send some persons to Botany Bay, though they would be fewer in number than had formerly been sent on account of this practice. He was to send fewer persons to mad houses than had formerly been sent thither on account of lotteries; but some he was still to continue to send. He (sir S. Romilly) had formerly attempted an improvement on the criminal law of the country. If the house could pass a law to do away temptations to commit crimes, that would be the most effectual mode of improving the criminal code! But what were they now about to do?—to pass a law to allow and encourage crime, by encouraging the temptation to commit it. The most active agents were employed to seduce persons to the commission of the crimes to which Lotteries gave birth; and the most ingenious paragraphs were invented to further this purpose. He could point out paragraphs holding out lures to apprentice-boys to embark in this trade, and to begin with their Christmas Boxes, under the assurance that, by perseverance, they would soon ride in their coaches. Formerly these practices were confined to the metropolis; now they were spread through every village in the kingdom. Yet, with all these evils increased and growing on the system, his right hon. friend held out that he would be able to render the practice less pernicious. The public would thus be put off their guard; the system would speedily 553 return with all its pernicious effects; and the eyes of the public would be blinded for a season, but the system would speedily revive.
The Chancellor of the. Exchequer
said, the subject had been discussed over and over again, and that the result had been uniformly in favour of Lotteries.
§ Mr. Whitbread
alluded to the evidence of Mr. Wood, the Inspector of Lotteries, who, it now appeared, notwithstanding the abuses which existed, thought he had no duties to perform; that his was merely a nominal appointment. He was resolved to make a stand some day or other against Lotteries altogether, and not to forget this man, who it appeared betrayed his duty to the public.
§ Mr. W. Smith
considered the bills concerning Lotteries as libels on public morals, and as they were, sanctioned by government, all the sense he entertained of public morals amounted to complete nausea.
§ Sir J. Newport
objected to Lotteries as a financial measure. The test of a good tax was, that it put into the Exchequer the greater part of what was drawn out of the pockets of the people. Here, however the greater part went into the hand of the agent.
§ Mr. Babington
opposed the continuance of Lotteries. Though the Chancellor of the Exchequer purposed to do away a great evil, could he shut his eyes against what remained?
The Resolutions were then agreed to, and the Report ordered to be received on Monday.