HC Deb 14 June 1815 vol 31 cc795-9

The House, on the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having resolved itself into a committee of Ways and Means,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

, in rising to submit to the committee the terms on which he had contracted a loan that morning, could not but regret that circumstances had made it necessary for him to propose that a provision should be made for the prosecution of a war on the most extensive scale, while the country was yet labouring under the burthens thrown upon it by a former contest. It would be in the recollection of the committee, that but a few months had elapsed since that House was employed in debating what provision would be necessary for the peace establishment of the country, and by what means the nation should be gradually released from the charge of the expenditure imposed upon it by the events of the late struggle in the cause of Europe. Scarcely, however, had the ratification of the Treaty of Peace with America arrived, before circumstances occurred which had led to a renewal of the war with France. The circumstances which had attended the landing of Buonaparté in France were of a nature so extraordinary and unprecedented, that they could neither be by possibility foreseen, nor prevented by any act of the British Government; and they were felt throughout Europe as an electric shock, which in a moment rouzed all its nations into arms. The Declaration of the Allies of the 13th of March, issued at a time when it was not possible for them to have had any communication with this country, proved that the impulse had not been given by England, but that it was the opinion of all the great Sovereigns on the Continent, that with a government like the present government of France, whose authority rested in no right—which was founded on oppression at home, and insatiable ambition abroad—there was no safety for them but in war; satisfied as they were, that such a power would labour to effect the subjugation of Europe, if it were not overpowered itself. This country had at that time made some progress in the reduction of its expenditure. The American war was at an end; but at the same time large demands were existing against the nation. Though this war was closed, it was still necessary to provide for the return of our army from America, and, also for the paying off of the large arrears which remained in consequence of that contest in Europe which had preceded it. These circumstances being taken into the consideration of the committee, they would not wonder that a loan, in its amount beyond all example, should be called for; and he trusted that it would not be thought too great, when it was remembered that it was intended to meet not only the charges of a new war in which we were engaged, but also to extinguish the arrears of an old one. Though he regretted the necessity for it, still he could not but derive some consolation from the reflection, that the manner in which it had been raised would prove to the world how large were our resources, and how prosperous the state of the country. Undoubtedly it was satisfactory to him, that great as the sums called for were, and extensive as were the charges which the country had to bear, he had no reason to comment in detail upon the different articles which caused this expenditure, as they had already undergone the consideration, and for the most part received the sanction of Parliament. He had only to recapitulate the supplies which had been granted; and what were the means by which it was proposed that they should be met. There might be some further expenses to be provided for, which in the course of his statement he would take an opportunity to point out. The total amount of the charge for the service of the Navy for the present year was 14,897,000l., and for Transports 3,747,000l. making together the sum of 18,644,000l. Here, however, it was to be observed, two millions were included for the repayment of the Navy Debt, and which therefore formed no part of the service of the current year. The different expenses on account of the Army amounted to 13,876,000l. The arrears of the Extraordinaries unprovided for, were 11,983,000l. For the Extraordinaries of the current year, including Ireland, a sum of no less than 12,000,000l. had been voted. The charge for the Barrack Service was 99,000l., which had not yet been voted, but which would be proposed in the Committee of Supply the same evening. This sum would appear uncommonly small; but he would shortly assign the reasons which might be expected to render it sufficient, and any further circumstances requiring notice would be fully explained by his right hon. friend. in proposing the vote. The total amount of the sums called for on account of the Barrack Service, was 250,000l. The difference between the sum last mentioned and the 99,000l. proposed to be voted, was occasioned by a saving arising from the sale of the old stores, and of barracks no longer necessary for the public service. The Commissariat caused a charge of 1,100,000l.; the Storekeeper-general one of 91,600l.; giving a total on account of the Military Service, of 39,150,000l. For the Ordnance Service, the supply was 4,431,000l. For the expense of Subsidies this year to the Allies, the House had voted 5,000,000l. They had also voted 1,650,000l. for the re-payment of the Bills of Credit created under Act of 1813; but there remained other expenses to be provided for, arising out of the deficiency of the force which we were bound to maintain on the Continent by the additional Treaty of Chaumont, and out of some other subsidiary engagements. On account of the Supplementary Convention of Chaumont, (he was not sure the sum he was about to name was quite correct, as the accounts were not finally made up, but he was satisfied it would prove nearly accurate), there was a charge of 370,000l. To complete the Subsidies granted to Austria under former treaties, a sum of 400,000l. was necessary. This arose partly from the circumstance of some stores which were intended to be delivered for the Austrian service, having been otherwise employed; and of some other stores having been charged in the Subsidiary Account which it had been agreed to omit, and the value of which in both cases was consequently to be made up in money. The greater part of this sum had already been paid, and the account had been laid before the House. He had stated the Bills of Credit voted by Parliament, to amount to 1,650,000l. There remained the sum of about 200,000l. to be made good to complete the two millions and a half, which we were bound to provide by the Treaty, together with the interest due; but for this sum he should not propose any vote in the present session, as its amount could not exactly be ascertained, depending on the course of exchange. There was also due to Russia on engagements contracted during the former war, the sum of about 530,000l.; 100,000l. had been paid to Spain, and 200,000l. to Portugal, on a similar account; and a sum was also due to Hanover. He considered himself as justified in stating the supplies for these services, the accounts of which were under the examination of the House, to amount to about 3,500,000l.; which, with, 1,000,000l. voted as a compensation to Sweden for the cession of Guadaloupe, made a charge of 4,500,000l. for foreign, expenditure; of which, about 4,000,000l. would be payable within the year, in addition to the 5,000,000l. voted as subsidies to the three great powers, Austria, Russia, and Prussia. The total amount there fore of the charge for foreign payments, including bills of credit, was 9,000,000l. He should have besides to propose to Parliament a vote, to make good to the army' which had fought under lord Wellington the amount of the value of stores captured by them in different fortresses. This charge, not being altogether of an ordinary nature, would require some explanation; but he trusted that, though considerable in its amount, it would be received with favour, in consideration of what that army had achieved for the glory and advantage of their country. On the reduction of a fortress an estimate was commonly made of the value of the stores captured, which were applied to the public service, and afterwards accounted for to the captors. During the war in the Peninsula, the account had been kept in the usual manner, but no payment had yet been made; and from the extent of the service performed in the course of a war which had continued for seven years, this charge formed a considerable item; it was estimated at eight hundred thousand pounds: to this the sum of 142,000l. was to be added, for the stores and artillery taken at the capture of the island of Java. It was proper here to observe, that in the operations against that island, no part of the Royal Artillery was employed. The artillery which was used there was directed by the officers of the East India Company's establishment; and therefore the usual, certificates, signed by the officers of the Royal Artillery, could not be obtained. In all other respects the ordinary forms had been observed, and the captors appeared to be entitled to the same remuneration as had been made in other cases when fortified places had been captured; but though the service performed was thought to come within the ordinary principles, and though the honour and accuracy of the Company's officers were as unquestionable as their skill and gallantry, the Ordnance Department had not thought proper to issue an order for the payment of the sum which appeared due, without first having the special authority of Parliament to do so. He now came to the Miscellaneous Services. Of these a great part had been already voted, but a part still remained for the future consideration of the House. The amount of the whole he took at 3,000,000l. The supplies, then, which he would now shortly recapitulate, stood as follows:

1814. SUPPLIES. 1815.
Navy 14,897,255
Transports 3,746,945
Army 39,150,736
3,955,653 Ordnance 4,431,643
Foreign Payments, including Bills of Credit 9,000,000
3,000,000 Vote of Credit 9,000,000
200,000 Ditto for Ireland 6,000,000
Army Prize Money 942,347
2,500,000 Miscellaneous 3,000,000

To these were to be added those items to be borne by England, which come under the head of