HC Deb 31 March 1814 vol 27 cc393-4
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

moved the second reading of the Gold Coin Bill. He observed, that having stated the nature and object of the measure on a former occasion, he should not trouble the House with many explanations; but he could not help observing, that its object was, to prevent the gold coin of the realm from being sold at a price beyond its nominal value. Hitherto every breach of the law on this subject had been pursued under the Bill, and occasioned by the Bill itself; but in future, although it were not possible to prevent offences, they might be diminished; as the intent of the Bill was not so much the punishment of crime, as the deterring from its commission by the fear of the penalty.

Lord Folkestone

did not expect that what he could say would have any influence; but he could not help repeating, that all the experience as to the operation of the Bill fully justified the theoretical views which had before its enactment been exhibited on the subject. It appeared from the prosecutions in pursuance of the Act, that the offences had been committed by persons entrapped by the informers: it had not, therefore, been effective to the prevention of crime, but had created an offence for the sake of punishing it.

Sir John Newport

said, he was certain that a Bill of this nature could not exist without producing serious effects on the country. Much had been said of the good effects that would result from it in its former shape; not any of which had appeared. On the contrary, the evil went on; and his right hon. friend opposite was perfectly non-plus'd when called on to tell the House what benefit it had produced. It was clear that he had not looked over the Statute-book, or he would have found that an Act to effect all that was required was still in force. By a law of Ireland, any man who buys a guinea or half-a-guinea, at a depreciated price, is subject to a penalty of 50l.; and if he buys any number, the penalty is 500l. So that, when the present law has passed, any person in Ireland may be punished if he purchase a guinea for either more or less than its nominal value. The hon. gentleman contended, that this Act would not have been necessary if the country were not overburthened with paper money; but at all events, if it were suffered to pass, the other should be removed from the Statute-book.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

could see no contradiction in telling the public that they might give an exact fixed value for a thing; but that they must not give more or less.

The Bill was then read a second time, and ordered to be committed to-morrow.