HC Deb 04 February 1818 vol 37 cc147-50

The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,

Sir George Warrender

rose to move the Navy Estimates. He said there was this year a small increase in the supply for this branch of the public service. The committee of finance had foreseen the possibility of such an increase. The addition this year was 1,000 sailors and 1,000 marines. The whole amount of men now was 20,000 sailors and marines. The cause of this small increase was the necessity of keeping up an establishment at St. Helena, and the state of South America. The rate of pay was somewhat higher in peace than war, because the proportion of able seamen to landmen was greater in time of peace, in order that the fleet might be more speedily put on a good footing, in case of emergency. The charge of ordnance was somewhat increased. A ship which in time of war had a complement of 480 men, in peace had but 300, although the number of guns remained the same. The charge for ordnance was therefore increased in the proportion of from four to seven shillings per man per month. He then moved, 1. "That 20,000 men be employed for the sea service for 13 months, from the 1st of January, 1818, including 6,000 royal marines. 2. That 611,000l. be granted for wages of the said 20,000 men, at the rate of 2l. 7s. per man per month. 3. That 520,000l. be granted for victuals for the said 20,000 men, at the rate of 2l. per man per month. 4. That 559.000l. be granted for the wear and tear of the ships in which the said 20,000 men are to serve, at the rate of 2l. 3s. per man per month. 5. That 91,000l. be granted for ordnance for sea service on board the ships in which the said 20,000 men are to serve, at the rate of 7s. per man per month."—The said motions were agreed to.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had now to propose a vote of Exchequer bills to provide for other Exchequer bills which were now outstanding. He should take this opportunity to give a brief view of the state of the unfunded debt. At an early period in the last session, 24 millions were issued, which were now outstanding. This sum he now proposed to provide for. After that another sum of 18 millions was issued, which was outstanding, which he did not now intend to replace. There was in the last session another sum of nine millions issued, and six millions had been issued in 1816. For both these sums he intended to propose to provide, and these votes, and the usual annual taxes (or "land and malt") were the only ones which he intended to propose at this early period of the session. The amount of Exchequer bills now outstanding was smaller than had been anticipated, not only by some gentlemen on the other side of the House, but even than that which was anticipated in a resolution proposed by an hon. friend of his (Mr. Charles Grant, jun.), who had assumed that on the 5th of January, 1818, the amount outstanding might be 60 millions.* It was in fact scarcely 57 millions and a half. At the same time, in 1817, the amount was 44,400,000l.; so that there was an increase of a little more than 12 millions. This was all that was added to the debt, though there were variations in other branches of the unfunded debt, the accounts of which had not yet been made up. The reduction of the unfunded debt amounted to 19 millions of stock, which was equal, at the present prices, to 15 millions in money; so that instead of any addition being made to the debt in this year, on the total amount of funded and unfunded, there was a diminution of about three millions. He then moved, I. "That 24,000,000l., be granted to his majesty, to pay off and discharge Exchequer bills made out by virtue of an Act of the 57th of his majesty, for raising 24,000,000l., by Exchequer bills for the year 1817, outstanding and unprovided for. 2. That 9,000,000l., be granted to pay off Exchequer bills made out by virtue of an act of the 57th of his majesty, for raising 9,000,000l. by Exchequer bills, for the year 1817, outstanding and unprovided for. 3. That 6,000,000l., be granted to pay off Exchequer bills made out by virtue of an act of the 56th of his majesty, for empowering the governor and company of the bank of England to advance 6,000,000l. towards the supply for the service of the year 1816, outstanding and unprovided for."

Mr. Curwen

said, he should heartily rejoice if, when the accounts were laid before the House, the statement of the chancellor of the exchequer should not be found to be fallacious. From the best consideration he had been able to give the estimates, there had been a deficiency in * See Vol. 36, p. 1282. Ireland of five millions (the receipts being six millions—the expenditure eleven millions), and in England of nine millions, making in all fourteen millions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that comparing the actual state of the debt at the beginning of each year, the hon. gentleman, than whom no one was more competent to inquire into this subject, would see, when the accounts were presented, that there was a decrease in the debt of near three millions.

Mr. Tierney

wished to know how the hon. gentleman, the colleague in office of the chancellor of the exchequer, was mistaken in the quantity of Exchequer bills which would be outstanding at the time of the new year. As to the assertion that 15 millions of the national debt had been reduced, it was impossible, as so much money had not been in the hands of the commissioners. He did not blame the chancellor of the exchequer for taking the first opportunity of sounding a kind of bugle, as to the prosperous state of the country, and before the accounts were presented there would be little possibility of contradicting him.

Mr. C. Grant

jun. said, that he had stated in his Resolutions, that the utmost amount of Exchequer bills would be 60 millions: he had taken it as unfavourably as possible to the cause which he had argued, but he had guarded against the possibility of an inference that the sum must necessarily be so high.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that he had given a short and necessarily superficial view of the state of the debt; but if he had not done so, no one would have been more ready to blame him than the right hon. gentleman. He admitted that a part of the services of last year were as yet unperformed, and that consequently so large an amount of Exchequer hills was not issued as the Treasury was enabled to issue. But he deemed it perfectly fair to take a comparison of the amount of the debt on the same day in each year.

Mr. Tierney

requested to know what was the amount of out-standing Exchequer bills on account of the deficiencies of the revenue.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he did not know the exact amount; but it did not exceed a million.

The Resolutions were agreed to.

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