HC Deb 11 December 1812 vol 24 cc278-94

The report of this Bill being brought up,

Mr. Huskisson

stated, that as his opinions on the subject then before the House were generally known, he would not tire their patience by going at great length into the question, in reference to the law of the land, and the principles of justice. He was disposed to think, that, out of the walls of that House, notwithstanding the assertions of his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they would not be able to find anyone person who would agree in the Re solution which they had just affirmed, any more than they could, in the ordinary business of life, procure a guinea; all that description of coin having completely disappeared. If any person could doubt that there was a depreciation of the paper currency, he knew no better mode to convince him of the fact, than by drawing his attention to the Bill then on the table. His right hon. friend had argued, that the paper could not be depreciated, if three conditions were acceded to: first, that the coin of the realm should pass at a current rate, to be fixed by the sovereign authority of the state; second, that the paper currency should correspond with the denomination of the coin. These two principles were acted upon in all states. The first constituted the essence of money; the second was its representative. But his right hon. friend found a third condition necessary to prevent the depreciation of this representative, and which they were then labouring to effect by this law. To render the current coin and Bank paper equally valuable, a penalty must be inflicted on those who disposed of the former for more than the price attached to it by the sovereign authority, or who disposed of the latter for less than its nominal value; and then they came to this conclusion, that if the paper money was so depreciated, as that 1,000l. of it would not purchase a quartern loaf; yet if, by a penal law, its denomination was secured, no depreciation whatever could be allowed to exist! He had, however, the admission of the right hon. gentleman himself, that in Ireland the paper currency was depreciated; because the guineas in that country were disposed of at a premium. Now, this depreciation took place in the interval between the passing of this act in 1811, and their renewal of it in the last session, when it was first extended to Ireland. And could any person attempt to maintain, that this depreciation, which existed before the law was made applicable to Ireland, did not equally exist afterwards? Certainly, the act could not produce such an effect. As a proof that the paper currency was not in that sound state which some gentlemen contended for, he instanced the circumstance of the treasury having last year sent out a quantity of Bank-notes to Canada, to pay the at my and establishments in that country. His right hon. friend, he supposed, thought that these notes would be held in equal estimation with the public in Canada, as his Resolution set forth they possessed in! Great Britain. Whether the wrappers in which they were enveloped, had this celebrated Resolution engraved on them, he could not ascertain; but, when they arrived in Canada, what was their fate? These Canadians, whose loyalty and allegiance had been so deservedly praised by the Prince Regent, in his Speech at the commencement of the session, not being liable to any penalty for the act, at once set their own estimation on the notes, and disposed of them at a discount of about 30 percent. Now, he would ask, if the notes so transmitted then, were disposed of at a discount, could they, on being returned to this country, by the operation of the Bill then before them, be immediately restored to par? He supported the first part of this Bill, but he never was an advocate for the principles on which it was founded. Those principles had been carried to a very great length, by many individuals, in both Houses of Parliament, who seemed to think that the Bank restriction opened a new field and system of political finance. He could not view it in this light—his reason for entertaining this part of the Bill arose from a very different principle—it arose from a feeling of the necessity of the case, from the very alarming state in which the currency of the country now stood, occasioned by the measure of the Bank restriction being so long continued. The part to which he alluded was that, which to all practical purposes, rendered Bank-notes a legal tender; and perhaps it would have been better, if a direct proposition to legalise such tender had been made. To the second division of the Bill, which went to prevent the disposal of the current coin of the realm for more than its legal denomination, or of Bank-notes for less, he was decidedly adverse. The Bill was originally introduced in the other House of parliament, with views very different from those on which it had afterwards received the support of his Majesty's ministers—which were, to rescue the debtors throughout the country from an undue severity. The object of the noble earl (Stanhope) who proposed it was to introduce book-entries, which should at once supersede the necessity of coin or of Bank-notes; and the ministers adopted so much of the Bill as would protect the debtors, placed, as they were, by the Bank restriction, in a most awkward situation. They interfered to the extent of preventing any creditor from insisting on that" good and legal payment" of his debt (that was in current coin) which it was not in the power of the debtor to make. In originating this demand, the noble lord (King) had done what he certainly had a right to do; but, then, the matter came to this, that what he required, every other creditor in the country had an equal right to demand; and he had the authority of the noble lord himself for saying, that this would be a most unjustifiable proceeding. In the notice to his tenants, he spoke only of leases executed before the passing of the Bank Restriction Act; and therefore allowed that those whose rents were raised, in consequence of the depreciation of paper, by that act, and who were paid through that depreciated medium, ought not to be called on for any addition. If the system had been pursued, the man who Had deposited 1,000l. in notes, with his banker in the morning, might be called on in an hour to pay in cash; and, by this means many persons would be placed at the mercy of those who entertained malice against them. This was a state in which the country could not be left; and he was surprised that gentlemen should have opposed the whole Bill, as utterly unnecessary. On that ground alone, because he clearly saw the necessity, did he approve of the first part of the Bill. But there were many public creditors who had advanced hundreds of millions for the service of the country, and who, since the Bank restriction, were placed in the same situation with every individual in the kingdom, receiving their dividends in Bank-notes; and he would ask, was it possible that those who had trusted to the honour and faith of the public, should be left in so disadvantageous a situation? Parliament, it was true, might not have interfered, but it would have been most unjustifiable, and would have placed the country in a state of danger. If they had not passed the first part of this Bill, which protected the debtor, they must have repealed the law, which prevented the public creditor from receiving his dividend in Bank-notes, and Bank-notes only, or, in other words, they must have opened the Bank: it was a matter of option, and he supported that course which seemed least likely to create mischief—but in giving that support, he was not influenced by any approbation of the principles on which the Bill was founded; they were contrary to the law of the country, and could only be justified by necessity. The second part of the Bill was no less a violation of the principles of law and justice, without being founded on any necessity whatever. It had an effect the very reverse of what was intended by those who supported it. Let the House look to the experience of the last eighteen months. Did this part of the Bill, effect that which was contemplated? Did it occasion guineas to pass current at their current rate? Could any gentleman state an instance of one being passed at the rate established by the king's proclamation? On the contrary, it had driven all the guineas, crowns, half-crowns, and even shillings (except those which were very much debased) out of circulation. It was clear that it did not preclude individuals from disposing of their guineas at the highest price they could procure. The law was evaded every day; and the only case in which it could succeed, was, where persons were seduced by those who were particularly employed for the purpose, and then prosecuted, and involved in the penalties of the act, through the cunning of others. Some convictions of that kind, he believed, had taken place. It was therefore most evident, that any man, in spite of this law, might sell his guineas, or crown-pieces, for what he supposed they were worth, without any fear of detection. Some millions of guineas had been exported to France and other countries, since the first introduction of the Bill—not for want of exertions to prevent such exportation, but because it was as impossible to execute this law, as that against melting down the coin of the realm. The ancient law of the country prohibited most ineffectively, the melting down or exporting the current coin—and now they superadded to these, a law, the direct operation of which was, to give a premium of 25 per cent. to every man disposed to export or melt down the metallic currency. For, if guineas disposed of in France procured a return on England of 25 per cent. more than they would produce here, it must act as a temptation to those possessing that species of coin, to send them abroad; and, on the other hand, if the guineas were melted down, the owner would realise an equal profit for his bar of gold. If this law did not cause exportation, there was but one other effect that could be produced by it—that of inducing people to hoard their gold. This certainly could not be looked upon as an advantage; it was, on the contrary, a very great evil, and was so denominated by every writer on political economy. At the present moment, it was an evil of more than ordinary magnitude, when the government were endeavouring to procure those supplies of bullion which were necessary for the army in the peninsula, and the want of which bad operated not only to the general disadvantage of our forces there, but had occasioned great difficulties to many of the officers employed on that service. Yet, at such a moment, they were enacting a law, which must induce men either to hoard their gold or to send it out of the country. He never beard any ground of necessity alleged for this part of the Bill. Perhaps it was intended to support his fight hon. friend's third Resolution; or to prevent two prices in the sale of articles, Now, would there he any great evil, if there were two prices? For his own part, be knew of none. Two prices existed in this country in former times: for instance, in the reign of king William, when, in consequence of the debasement of the silver currency (the measure, at that period, of all the commodities of life) the gold currency was raised to a greater value, in reference to that debasement. Guineas were not then tied down to one price, but rose with the depreciation of silver; and two prices (not in the common acceptation of the word) took place that was, the silver coin having been debased, a guinea would procure a greater quantity of goods than 22 of those inferior shillings. In the same way, before the passing of this Bill, every thing was measured in Ireland by the standard of guineas, which were at a premium, while notes were at a discount: of course, a purchaser, with gold, procured more goods than he who tendered a nominal sum in paper. And it could not be denied, that the moment the legislature made Bank-notes, as they had virtually done, a legal tender, the gold and good silver disappeared; and guineas were now, like foreign coins, measured by their intrinsic, not their stipulated value. The hon. gentleman then adverted to the Portuguese paper, which he admitted was at a discount; but, as no legislative protection was afforded to it, as was the case here, the metallic currency of that country had not vanished like ours. And this enabled us to provide, though inadequately, for the wants of our army in the peninsula. For all the reasons he had stated, and because it appeared to him that the second part of the Bill was not founded on any necessity, and only encouraged the exportation of our coin, he thought the House should confine themselves to the provisions of it, by which the public creditor, who was compelled to take Bank-notes, was protected, and by which relief was also afforded to the great body of debtors throughout the country.

Mr. Rose,

differing from the hon. gentleman in his view of the second part of the Bill, took that opportunity of stating his opinions. He did not mean to deny the fact of Bank-notes having been transmitted to Canada, but he certainly had no previons knowledge of it: he had never before heard of such a transaction. If, however, the notes had been sent there, he could not conceive how a depreciation, of 30 per cent. could have taken place, for, undoubtedly, as they were payable at sight, they must be considered at least as good as bills of exchange. The hon. gentleman did not express a wish that the Bank restriction should be taken off immediately. Now, in this point, he differed from several members of the Bullion Committee. It was proposed that the restriction should cease at the end of two years. One hon. member of that committee, however, was desirous that the period should be extended, from time to time, as circumstances warranted; while another wished that it should peremptorily cease and determine, at the expiration of the first-mentioned period. So that it was apparent, from this difference of opinion, that if the legislature had enacted that the restriction should terminate in two years, it would have created a degree of confusion in the country, from which nothing could have extricated it. For what use would it be to compel the Bank to open, without the means of paying in cash were given to the Company? And where were they to procure the precious metals for that purpose? Some gentlemen had said, that gold could be imported from Africa, and from the American market. But this could not be done, unless there was a surplus balance of trade in our favour, and as often as gold was higher than the Mint price, it was impossible to coin that metal; it was, in fact, totally impracticable. The right hon. gentleman on this head, quoted the authority of Mr. Harris, who had a situation in the Mint, and who was, of course, interested in the increase of coinage. He had stated, many years ago, "That when bullion was above the Mint price, there were but two ways of affording a coinage to the public; the one by debasing the standard; and the other, by purchasing bullion at the advanced price of the market, and converting it into coin with loss. But this would not answer the desired purpose; for that coin being below the market value of bullion, would be melted as soon as issued, sold again as bullion at an advanced price, and so on in an endless rotation, until the bullion market found its level again." The right hon. gentleman argued, that such being the case at present, it must strike every one that it was impossible for government to coin; and if no coin was issued, how could the Bank resume its payments in specie? He was as ready as any man to ascribe lord King's conduct, which had rendered the present measure necessary, to the purest motives; but it was not less mischievous on that account. It had been the boast of gentlemen on the other side, that no landlords had followed the noble lord's example, but he felt confident that many would have done it, had not a check been seasonably put to the practice. The right hon. gentleman then adverted to the situation in which, but for a Bill of this nature, the public creditor would be reduced. He would receive his dividend in Bank-notes, at the rate of 20 shillings; but when he should go to market with these notes, he would soon find that they were current only for 15 shillings, or perhaps less, for the value of Bank-notes would be of course regulated by the fluctuating price of gold The right hon. gentleman could not possibly conceive that any system could be devised more pregnant with injustice to the public creditor, and with more confusion to the state. If on the one hand it was argued, that the public creditor had a right to ask his dividend in coin, why, by the very same reason, and in consequence of it, the collectors of taxes had a right to insist on being paid in guineas; and who could foretel the end of that double price in the transactions in life, which was at all times so much deprecated, that under king William no less than two Bills were passed to ascertain the precise value of the guinea? The present high price of bullion, which had created so much discussion, could not, in his opinion, be attributed to any other cause whatever, but. to the balance of trade being against us in the present state of the world; for it was evident, that when a country imported more goods than it was allowed to export, the balance must be paid in bullion. But. instead of reverting to that plain and Obvious cause, this temporary evil had been attributed by some to the excessive issue of Bank-notes, and that idea had been productive of the most mischievous consequences. The right hon. gentleman then adverted to the statements contained in the Appendix to the Report of the Bullion Committee. By the tables contained in that Appendix of the Price of Gold, compared with the issue of Bank-notes, and with the price of coin, it was evident that the amount of the paper circulation had no effect whatever on the price of either of those commodities. The right hon. gentleman did not expect, indeed, that the Bill before the House could have the effect of preventing the exportation of coin, as long as bullion should continue at the present price, but the Bill would prevent the confusion necessarily arising from double prices in all the transactions of life, and in this point of view, it was his most anxious wish that it should pass into law.

Mr. Preston

maintained, that Banknotes were not depreciated, but that the price of gold had risen, which had given the idea of the supposed depreciation. But if Bank-notes had really decreased in value, goods, which were purchased with them, and especially landed property, had risen to a proportionate nominal increase of price. The contrary, however was the fact; and the fair consequence to be deduced from it was, that Bank-notes had not depreciated, however the price of bullion might have risen. The Bill before the House went to prevent the traffic in guineas, to which this rise in the price of the precious metals, and the rapacity of individuals, had given birth; and no measure could be more proper; for surely a man who fairly received a guinea at its stated price in the usual dealings of society, could not be allowed to make an unfair profit by it. The hon. gentleman thought that almost at any rate the legislature should prevent that fluctuating and double price in all transactions, which would soon put an end to all commerce, and leave nothing but jobbing in its stead. A fixed standard was absolutely necessary; and he saw no impropriety in taking the Bank notes as such, as no depreciation in their value had been found in contracts, nor in any of the purposes of our inland trade.

Mr. Protheroe

began by stating his approbation of that part of the Bill which protected the tenant as of eminent advantage, when the political theory of a noble lord (King) had led to a harsh experiment, which had been applauded by party spirit. In his opinion the tenantry of the country deserved to have their interests protected with as much legislative care as any class or description of men whatever; they ought to be enabled to confide in the wisdom and benevolence of the law, and not to be left under the precarious security of a landlord's indulgence or caprice. He had listened attentively to the speeches of great authorities, undoubtedly, on all subjects of political economy, and although he rose with diffidence after the right hon. gentleman, who might be considered the Nestor of the House, yet when he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer state, that unless the present financial system were maintained, the war in the peninsula must be relinquished, he could have no scruple to vote in support of a question on which our national honour and prosperity so materially depended.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

rose to correct a misapprehension of the last speaker. He had not asserted that had the report of the Bullion Committee been acted on, the war in the peninsula could not have been maintained, but that it would have been impossible to carry on exertions to the same extent.

Sir Egerton Brydges,

in a maiden speech, said, that notwithstanding the length to which the debate had been carried, yet from the great difference of opinion which had been so strenuously urged, he could not justify to himself the vote which he had already given, and should give on that subject, without expressing, however shortly and imperfectly, the reasons which operated on him. The question seemed to him to be shortly this; whether the system of paper currency adopted of late years by this country was bad; and, even if bad, whether it could be suddenly changed? If it could not be suddenly changed (and that it could not, he conceived, all would admit), then he asserted that this Bill, to remedy or palliate an evil growing out of it, was absolutely necessary as a temporary measure. The evil and confusion of two prices was incalculable, and indeed impracticable by any fixed standard. But for his part, he most strenuously denied that the system of a paper currency, such as ours, was bad. It had been characterised on the other side as delusive, dangerous, and hollow; not as wealth, but as the fallacious appearance of wealth. He would assert, that if it was not wealth, it was at least the mother of wealth. To what other source could be attributed the vast and unexampled start which had been made by our population, our commerce, our manufactures, our shipping, our canals, and our buildings since the year 1786? These, at least, were solid wealth: and from what other than this calumniated, but creative source, could they spring? It was urged over and over again, that the issue of paper money had been excessive; but it was clear that there could be no excess, if the augmentation did not exceed the augmented riches which it represented. He would boldly, without fear of being confuted, maintain that it had kept within those bounds. The system, therefore, could not be guilty of the charge of increased prices which had been so violently objected against it. But if there were some evils incident to the system (and he denied that they could be important enough to alter its character of paramount good,) what could now be done?—Could a substitute be found for this currency? The mines of South America had failed of adequate supplies for a metallic currency. Was the increased wealth and commerce of the world to be stagnant? Were all the evils of an impeded and inadequate circulation to lower prices, and dry up all the sources of reproduction? And why? because gentlemen in their theories chose to attribute to the paper system evils and consequences which did not belong to it. Has the price of gold greatly increased within the last eighteen months? All admit it. Is it from the increase of paper currency? No: for the paper currency has in that period been diminished two millions and an half That, therefore, cannot be the cause while an obvious cause for the increased value of bullion, the balance of trade against us, and the demand of our continental warfare, does exist! The seeming contradiction between the necessity of this measure of the Gold Coin Bill, and the truth of the position standing on the Journals of the House, that a guinea in specie, and a paper guinea, are equal for all domestic and legal purposes, did not strike him as at all irreconcilable. He thought the position true, in the sense in which it was intended and ought to be understood. In truth, a guinea in specie had two characters of value: one derived from the intrinsic value of the materials of which it was composed; the other from its representative capacity. It was of this latter character that the position was laid down: and in this latter character he contended that it was correct. But it was to obstruct the illegal use of it in its former character that the Bill was framed. Having explained himself thus briefly, on a subject which was capable of the most extended and ample discussion, but on which the patience of the House had been already exhausted, he should not presume on this first occasion, which he embraced with great diffidence and humility, to obtrude on its indulgence any farther.

Mr. Whitbread

said, that among the virtues of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, candour was a prominent one, and had never been more conspicuous than in the instance which had just occurred. The vote of an hon. gentleman (Mr. Protheroe) was tendered under a misapprehension, which the right hon. gentleman had corrected, although by his correction he of course lost a vote, and the minority would have the advantage of an unexpected convert. A right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Rose,) who had been called the Nestor of the House, had dilated much on the pernicious consequences of the existence of two prices. He could assure the right hon. gentleman that two prices already existed, and that in the city of Bath, at this moment, as he was informed by a letter he had received that day, this distinction openly prevailed, and that in the article of potatoes, a quantity might be purchased for three guineas in gold, that could not be had for less than 4l. 7s. in paper. The right hon. gentleman had talked, too, of the mischief arising from the fluctuation of prices; but were not prices necessarily subject to fluctuation under all circumstances? An hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Preston) had referred to the rise of the value of land, as an example of the increasing prosperity of the country. But was it not obvious that a great part of this rise was purely nominal, and proceeded from the depreciation of the circulating medium, and that it was also to be attributed in a great measure to the demand for land, a more desirable property than the securities of government? He was strongly inclined to believe, that that hon. and learned gentleman did not, as lawyers were once wont to do, often hear the think of guineas in his outer chambers. He much doubted, indeed, whether in that assembly, many guineas were to be found in the pockets of its members. Where, then, were the guineas to be found? did they all go to the bakers and brewers? As to the latter, he could himself give testimony, that one individual had not received one single guinea for several years. With respect to the continued abuse of lord King, and the compassion so pathetically felt and described for the yeomanry of the county, it should be recollected, that the yeomanry, instead of suffering, gained by the change of the value of money, and at the expence of the landlord. In the case, too, of lord King, it happened, that the person against whom he proceeded, was not a simple farmer, but a Bank Director. He had no doubt, that many would have followed lord King's example, had it succeeded, who have since clamorously joined in the outcry raised so unjustly and absurdly against that distinguished person. As to the practice of selling guineas, it notoriously prevailed every where, and the apprehension, therefore, of the right hon. gentleman on the other side, was wholly unnecessary. Thus, then, the guineas did not, reach the destination projected for them by the author of this Bill. Did they go to the army abroad?—far from it, for that army was experiencing every kind of inconvenience for the want of them. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his opinion, had had the guineas offered to him at a very reasonable price.! Were he a young member, or unaccus- tomed to the ordinary course of votes in that House, he should be astonished at the proceeding, which he had no doubt, would that night, be adopted. But notwithstanding all they might vote, or all they might resolve, guineas would be clandestinely bought and sold, gold would find its level, and property its just estimation.

Mr. Herbert,

of Kerry, declared he knew of no difference between the value of gold or Bank notes, and was always content to receive his rents in the latter.

Sir Edward May

was of opinion that guineas were a very inadequate test of the wealth of a country, and that the present Bill ought to be supported.

Mr. W. Smith

reprobated the principle upon which the Bill was originally introduced: he said it was not alone inconsistent with that species of policy which the most celebrated writers had advanced as best calculated to uphold the interests of a state, but in direct opposition to, the commercial interests of the country. As to the latter part of the Bill, he considered it a perfect fallacy; for, to his own certain knowledge, guineas were in the month of October last bought and sold without the slightest attempt at concealment, in the city of which he had the honour to be representative (Norwich.) Indeed, so little reserve was observed in the traffic, that it was universally believed that agents were employed by the government for the express purpose of buying guineas. The hon. gentleman concluded by declaring his intention of voting against the Bill.

Mr. Stephen

rose to deliver, for the first time, an opinion on a subject which he confessed had not employed much of his attention. He would not assert that the Bill went to the complete abolition of two prices, but they certainly would not exist in the degree that they would do if a free competition were allowed between gold and Bank-notes.

Mr. Alderman Smith

said a few words in support of the Bill.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

rose, and addressed the House for the first time. After remarking on the preposterousness of the position, that twenty-one shillings were in public estimation equivalent to twenty-six, he stated that he should not have obtruded himself on the patience of the House, were he not convinced, that the main cause of this depreciation in our currency was, on all sides, kept out of sight. It was not, as had been asserted, the immense increase of the commerce of England that rendered it impossible to find gold and silver to count up its transactions by, but the enormous amount and portentous increase of the National Debt. The depreciation hinged on that debt; and every increase of debt would work additional depreciation: our reckonings had passed what could be paid in gold, and every fresh loan, acting as a creation of imaginary property, representable by paper, and on which a paper interest must be paid, accompanied by no real increase of asset whatever, must of necessity spend itself upon the values of our currency.

The hon. gentleman said, he was perfectly aware, whilst things could be kept going in their present train, that the paper issues of England could not fall through, as had been the case with those of all other countries—the whole amount of Bank-paper issued being received by government at par for taxes three times in the course of the year—in loans and taxes five times. And from the experience of one district, he could confidently state, that the amount of the whole circulation, public and private, passed at par in direct payments from the subject to the government, much within the period of twelve months—he should think in eight or nine. But still, though this would preserve the system from falling to pieces amongst ourselves, yet our pound of account, being in daily process of meaning less and less—as, of every thing else, so assuredly of gold and silver. In measuring our standard against those of other countries, who have no debt, and a fixed metallic currency—we should be found more and more wanting—more and more unable to circulate guineas at their old rates again.

The hon. gentleman said, he was in favour of the Bill, as a measure of unavoidable necessity—a man could but pay what he received. A depreciation in the value of our paper existed and pressed on us, from causes possibly without remedy: but there was a further depreciation, which might?' be, and ought to be, prevented, arising from the general feeling of want of confidence in all paper, occasioned by the difficulty of procuring change. Nothing was clearer than that the Bank could not stand a fortnight were they to attempt: to pay in guineas. Government could not coin at the present price of silver F bullion; but the Bank not being under restriction as to the weight and fineness of their tokens, might pay the public for the gain of perpetual reissues, by the charge of perpetual recoinage; and either under the sanction of legislative enactment, or by understood agreement, much alleviate the inconveniences suffered, by giving on demand their own tokens for their own notes.

The Report of the Committee was then agreed to.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

moved, that the Bill be read a third time tomorrow.

Mr. Whitbread

expressed his surprise that the right hon. gentleman should attempt to pass the Bill through the House with so much precipitancy. Saturday was a day on which it was usually understood that no public business would be done, and as many members might feel disposed to deliver their sentiments on the third reading of the Bill, he conceived it would be better to reserve that stage for some future day.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

did imagine that every member had had a fair opportunity of delivering his opinion upon the Bill, and this he was the more inclined to think, from the appearance of the House. If however further debate was thought necessary, and the hon. gentleman would say that he believed some of his friends were desirous of giving further opposition to the Bill, he would not press it forward, although it was a measure which, in his estimation, required dispatch.

Mr. Whitbread

said, it was extremely unusual for the House to sit on Saturday at so early a period of the session. He would not pledge himself for the intention of any hon. member, but as there was no pressure, he could not help thinking it extremely indecorous to endeavour to hurry the Bill through the House upon a day when, it was almost universally understood, no business of importance would be transacted.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

repeated, that if the hon. gentleman would say that any of his friends had any thing to offer upon the subject, he would defer the third reading until Monday.

Mr. Whitbread

would not enter into any pledge whatever, but demanded, as a matter of right, that the Bill should not be thus precipitated through the House; and in support of this right he begged to move, That the Bill be read a third time on. Monday.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

would save the hon. gentleman the trouble of moving this amendment, by moving it himself.

The third reading of the Bill was then fixed for Monday.

Mr. Whitbread,

in order to give the right hon. gentleman an opportunity of explaining what the urgent nature of the business was, which rendered it necessary for the House to sit on Saturday at so early a period of the session, moved, That the House, at its rising, do adjourn to Monday.

The Speaker

observed, that much business had already been appointed for to" morrow.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was very common for the House to sit on Saturdays, for the purpose of expediting business.

Mr. Whitbread.

Not at this period of the session.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer.

At all periods.

Mr. Smith

was about to speak, when the Speaker interrupted him, by observing that there was no question before the House.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

in order to give the hon. gentleman an opportunity of addressing the House, moved, That the other orders of the day be now read.

Mr. Smith

apprehended the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find it difficult to adduce a precedent, in which the House had sat to do business, on a Saturday, at so early a period of the session.

The Speaker

said, that, in point of fact, in all stages of the session, Bills for Supply, or for other urgent matters, were expedited on Saturdays.