§ Mr. Pascoe Grenfell
rose to move for certain papers respecting the state of the copper currency. He had at the close of the last session offered some observations on this subject to the House. The information he had since received, and the observations he had made in passing through several parts of the country, convinced him that he had not over-rated the inconveniencies and mischiefs arising from the redundancy of the copper coin in circulation. They were not owing, however, to the redundancy of the legal coin, but of the counterfeit halfpence and copper tokens, not authorized by the law of the land. He had made some calculations, to shew the mischief arising from the circulation of the counterfeit halfpence. It appeared, that a pound of real copper was made into 76 of these halfpence, which were in value equal to 3s. 2d. Now a pound of copper was worth only 19d. so that the profit to the manufacturer was cent. per cent; and for every 20l which he disposed of, he put 20l. clear gain into his pocket. The copper tokens were not so debased, nor the profit so great; but there was temptation enough left to the maker to force them into circulation in every way he could. Among other means resorted to the was informed by a letter which he had that morning received from a respectable tradesman in London, that a Mr. Newman, an oilman, had applied to a manufacturer of these tokens to supply him with soap and candles, and that the latter had consented to deal with him on condition that the tradesman would take his copper tokens in payment. Mr. Grenfell thought that these impositions were the more intolerable in this country, where there were copper mines producing four times as much copper as all the rest of Europe, and twice as much as all the rest of the world. The most effectual remedy would be for government to meet the one expence of calling in the Tower halfpence and at the same time to pat do on the 277 counterfeit halfpence and copper tokens by act of parliament. He concluded with moving that there be laid before the House copies of a memorial of the manufacturers and traders, brewers and licensed victuallers, addressed to the committee on the copper currency; and also a letter from James Clarke, esq. to the members of his Majesty's council, on the same subject.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he had been asked last year whether any measures were in the contemplation of government to remedy the abuses arising from the debasement of the copper currency; and he was now happy to confirm the answer which he had then given. The consideration of expence would no longer deter them from calling in the old Tower halfpence, and the issue of a new coinage would soon make the counterfeit halfpence and tokens disappear. He wished the intention of government to be made as public as possible, as it might prevent persons from incurring considerable loss by the manufacture of copper tokens.
§ Mr. Whitbread
expressed his high satisfaction in the measure which was thus announced to be in the contemplation of government.
§ The motion for the papers was then agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
asked for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the Madder Act, just passed; and to bring in another on the same, subject. There was, unfortunately, a material omission in the Act; the word. 'Madder,' which was the principal word, having been omitted throughout. [A laugh.]
§ Leave was given; and the Bill was brought up, and read a first and second time.