HC Deb 21 February 1822 vol 6 cc558-609
Lord Althorp

said, he felt it necessary to explain why he considered it desirable that some question should be brought before the House upon the subject of the noble marquis's plan. When the noble lord first brought forward his proposition, it was extremely difficult to know whether the House could, on any particular day, come to a direct vote of approbation or disapprobation upon that plan. He, therefore, conceiving it essential to give a distinct opinion upon that proposition, took the first opportunity of giving the notice in pursuance of which he now addressed the House. He was aware that, if it were merely argued whether the plan proposed was satisfactory or not, his observations would be brought within a very narrow compass. But he felt himself, in fairness, called upon to state his own views of the policy which ought to be adopted in the present distressed state of the country. In giving those views, he found himself unequal to the details which belonged to the subject, but he would compress his observations within as short a limit as he could. The first consideration which presented itself was, that the noble marquis appeared to entertain a different view of the effect of taxation from what had hitherto prevailed. Before this session, he should not have thought it necessary to argue that taxation contributed to produce distress. In 1792, the prices of agricultural produce had been the same as they were now. Yet in 1792, there had been no distress. There was, therefore, no mode of accounting for the distress which was now felt, but by ascribing it to excessive taxation. The value of money, real and nominal, was the same. The only difference between the two periods was the enormous load of taxation which now pressed down the industry of the country. The noble lord had said, that one-seventh was the proportion of the taxes to the landlord's rent which a farmer paid. He had taken it at one-fifth. But what data the noble lord had rested his calculation upon, he was quite at a loss to understand. When it was considered that it was not the direct taxes alone which were to be taken into account, but also the indirect taxes; and when it was considered that it was almost impossible to ascertain fully the amount of the indirect taxes, it could not be conceived, that the noble lord's calculation was correct. It was not merely the effect of direct taxation which pressed upon agriculture with peculiar severity. The price of labour was raised by the taxes on the necessaries of life. In manufactures manual labour and skill were combined; and by means of both, manufacturers obtained not only the necessaries, but many of the luxuries of life. If they were taxed too heavily, they could reduce the articles of luxury which they consumed. But whatever increase of burthen was imposed on the labourer, must be made up in the price of labour. Now, whatever increase was made in the price of labour affected all the articles of agricultural produce whether taxed or not. They were rendered more expensive to the grower, by means of this indirect operation of taxes upon the price of labour. In this sort of statement it was very difficult for him to make himself clearly understood. it required much greater practice and knowledge of political economy than he possessed, to make such statements sufficiently clear and intelligible. He would, however affirm, that taxation was the real cause of the distressed state of agriculture. But if it was one of the main causes, the proper and wise course was, to diminish the price of labour by reducing taxes, and not to raise the price of produce. To attempt to raise the price of produce would be utterly unavailing. The only wise course was to relieve labour by such a reduction in the establishments and general expenditure of the country as would enable parliament to reduce the taxes to an effectual extent. The noble lord had stated, that there was a surplus of 5,000,000l. His own (lord A's) view certainly was, to take off taxation to that amount. It was very important, at the same time, that they should not leave the amount so short as that there would be only a sufficient sum for the supplies of the year. But he would show the House, if they took from them the 5,000,000l., how ministers would be able to find means of preventing such a failure in the revenue. For this purpose he would compare the expenditure for the present year, as given by the noble lord, with that of 1792. It had been said, that it was not fair to take the year 1792 for the standard, as Mr. Pitt had been then reducing to an extreme degree. He knew not what the views of Mr. Pitt might have been; but he was sure that reduction ought now to be carried as far, if not farther. He was aware that it was impossible to reduce quite to the amount of 1792. In making the comparison, he therefore felt himself called upon to make an allowance for the difference in the rate of expenses in our establishments. This difference was chiefly in our military establishments. In 1792, the charge for the army was 2,310,339l. The increase of pay, calculated for the same number of men as in 1792, was 744,329l. The amount of half-pay was 2,360,568l. The total, then, of the expenses for the army, by the standard of 1792, after making allowances for the increase of pay, and for the amount of half-pay, was 5,415,236l. At present the army cost 7,748,316l. Here, then, was an increase of 2,333,110l. He would not enter into detail; to show how this sum might be reduced. When the army estimates should be before the House would be the time for going into details. Some reduction would undoubtedly be made in this sum, if ministers should be deprived of the surplus which they now had. They would find means of reducing so enormous an army, as they now pretended to be necessary. The colonies were said to require a large military establishment; and it had been always urged, that the increase of our colonies required an increase of our forces. The colonies might be considered as contributing either to our commercial wealth, or to our military strength. He believed it was admitted that they did not add to our commercial wealth, and that it was only in a military view that they increased our power. Our commerce had been kept as high without our colonial relations as it could be now. But if the colonies increased our strength, then there ought to be a reduction of the forces which might otherwise be necessary, and not an increase.

In 1792, the navy was 1,985,483l. The half-pay at present was 1,045,822l. Total, 3,031,305l. The navy, as now estimated was 5,500,000l. The increase was 2,463,695l. Here, again, he called upon the House to examine and reduce; and he repeated, that if ministers should be compelled to reduce the taxes, they would, as on former occasions, find means of creating the same surplus by reducing the expenses. In the number of dock-yards there was great room for reduction. The dock-yards at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth, were sufficient for all the service. The other dockyards were unnecessary. That at Sheerness was so much money thrown away. It was in a most inconvenient situation. If the enemy's fleet should have the command of that part of the sea, Sheerness would be exposed to attack. It might have been formerly necessary, on account of the difficulty of communication between the sea and Chatham, but now that difficulty was removed by means of steam-vessels.

In 1792, the ordnance was 444,800l. The half-pay of the present year was 355,930l. Total, 800,730l. The ordnance now was 1,200,000l. Increase, 399,270l. Thus, then, as compared with 1792, the increase was, in the Army 2,333,110l. Navy, 2,468,695l. Ordnance, 399,270l. Total increase 5,201,075l. In the civil list a great reduction might also be made. He had attempted to detail the differences under this head as compared with 1792, but to him, who was unaccustomed to these calculations, the state of the accounts was quite inexplicable. He would, therefore, state the sums total for the two periods. In 1792 it was 2,172,242l. This year it was 2,741,076l. Increase 568,834l.

The whole increase, then, beyond 1792, was 5,769,909l. If ministers chose, there- fore, they could make a reduction to a considerable amount. In such an enormous increase since 1792, it was impossible that there could be any danger of the failure of public credit. If there were any prospect of such a danger, it could be at once averted by this reduction. The question, then, was, which was more advantageous to the country, to employ the 5,000,000l. as ministers proposed, or to employ them for the reduction of taxes? The noble marquis proposed to employ this sum at simple interest for the reduction of the debt. To talk of reducing the debt by such a sum was out of the question. It could only, therefore, be applied to the raising of the funds. He was bound to believe, by the results laid before him that it might have that effect. But when he considered how little effect was produced by enormous sums so applied, he could not conceive that so small a sum would have any beneficial effect. Last year 260,000,000l. were employed in the transfer of stock. That was, 1,200,000l. a day, or 4,800,000l. a week, were employed in the transfer of stock to produce the effect which was then produced in raising the funds. Now, he could not conceive that an addition of one-fiftieth could have any effect in raising the funds. But the sinking fund had been nothing at all, when the funds had risen from 58 to their present price: 5,000,000l. could not, therefore, make a great difference. But admitting that it might have the effect supposed, that the 5 per cents could be reduced to 4 by its operation, then the plan was to reduce 1,500,000l. this year; next year, 1,000,000l. more; and 500,000l. yearly, afterwards. By this means 5,000,000l. would be reduced in seven years. The question then was, whether that reduction ought not to be made at once, rather than after so long a period. The country was threatened with ruin every man engaged in agriculture felt the sure approach of bankruptcy. When this was the situation of the country, he could not conceive any greater perversion of sound policy than to resist the means of affording immediate and effectual relief. The five millions were said to be so sacred a sum that it could not be touched: but the negotiation was not concluded with the holders of 5 per cents; yet it appeared, that the malt tax was to be: immediately reduced. If, therefore, the negotiation should fail, the amount of the reduction must he taken out of this sacred sum. But, as he understood the question now before the House, it was—whether they would take the benefit of relief immediately, or defer that advantage to a period more remote?—whether they could not find a better mode of using the 5,000,000l. now at their disposal, than by employing it so artificially upon the public funds. Let the funds be left to themselves, and they would naturally rise, as the prosperity and wealth of the country increased—rise by the operation of their own tendency, without the assistance of artificial means. It could not be doubted that the 5,000,000l. of surplus returned at once into the pockets of the people, and there employed as productive capital, would cause a much greater addition to the means of the country, than could be expected from its employment in the re-purchasing of debt.

Having now stated his view of the subject to the House, he should conclude by submitting a simple proposition, calling for the approval or disapproval by parliament of the plan suggested by the noble lord opposite. His own opinion would certainly be, that the full sum of 5,000,000l. should be applied to the reduction of taxes; but before he offered any plan of his own, he wished to know if that proposed by ministers was satisfactory; for if it was so, it would be in vain for him to go further. Now, he felt that the motion which he was about to submit would be open to defeat, from technical objections. It might be urged, if strictness were insisted upon, that there was as yet no proposition before the House. He did not think, however, that the gentlemen on the other side would take advantage of this irregularity; and if they did, he should be almost as well pleased to lose his motion upon such a ground, as he could be with the most perfect success upon its merits. Having premised these observations, he would hand to the Speaker such a motion as should enable the country gentlemen to declare unequivocally, whether they did or did not approve of the system proposed by the noble lord. It was for them to consider how far the depression of agriculture would be aided by an immediate reduction of one shilling a bushel upon malt; and whether the prospect of a reduction in taxes to the extent of 500,000l. a-year was sufficient to disburthen the heavily suffering country. The noble lord then moved, "That it is the opinion of this House, that the Reduction in the amount of Taxation proposed by his majesty's ministers is not sufficient to satisfy the just expectations of the people."

Mr. Robinson

said, that whatever he might think of the course suggested by the noble lord, he was bound to do justice to the motive which actuated him, and to the manner in which he had brought his proposition before the House; and nothing could be more inconsistent with the duty of ministers, than to blink the fair question by a technical objection. If such a course would be contrary to the duty and to the dignity of his majesty's ministers, so was it contrary to their intention. Ministers thought that the House ought to have the question directly before it: all they asked for was the decision of the House, and they thanked the noble lord for giving them an opportunity to obtain it. Now, in looking at the plan which the noble lord had suggested to the House, and in contrasting it with that proposed by ministers, it was material that the House should sedulously keep in mind the circumstances under which it discussed the question in point. Because the question before the House was, not whether there should be a reduction, or no reduction, of taxes—not whether the House should now immediately proceed to commence a reduction of the taxes; but whether it would be wiser to carry the extent of that reduction to the fall amount of the surplus of income over expenditure, or to endeavour to combine the maintenance and integrity of that surplus with a gradual progressive reduction of taxes? Now this was the first time for nearly forty years, that the House had been in a condition to discuss what it would be best to do with an actual, undisputed surplus of revenue; and the country ought to look, even upon the noble lord's view of the case, at the circumstances by which that surplus had been produced. The circumstances to which that surplus was attributable were, the reduction of expenditure and the improvement of revenue. He did not think it necessary at present to follow the noble lord through the particular details to which he had referred, but he would say this, that even if the noble lord and those about him could satisfy parliament that the reduction effected by ministers was insufficient—that there were farther objects to which that reduction might apply—and that its in creased application would produce an increased amount of surplus; even that proof, in his opinion, would only form an additional reason for supporting the sinking fund. He was ready to admit, that, in proportion as expenditure was to be reduced, taxation could be abated; but the noble lord's plan went to invert that course: it said—"devote your actual surplus to reduction, and let the sinking fund take its chance upon any savings you can make." He (Mr. R.) said, on the contrary, "maintain the integrity of the sinking fund, and uphold, at all events, public credit; if you can reduce expenditure farther, do reduce it; and when you have effected your reduction, apply its proceeds in the diminution of the taxes." This was not a question as to whether the existing reduction was sufficient or not, but as to what should be done with the reduction, sufficient or insufficient. He would leave the detail of existing reductions to be discussed by the House at some fitter opportunity; but he felt bound to declare, on the part of his majesty's ministers, that they had proposed the resolution passed at the close of the last session, with the most determined intention of acting, not only up to its letter, but up to its spirit: at the same time it would be remembered, that ministers had something more to do than merely to look at forms of reduction, and extents to which such reduction might be carried; it was their duty to consider not only what measure of reduction was desirable for present relief; but what measures might be adopted with safety to the future prospects of the country. He knew that the argument on which he was relying laid him open to imputations which had been cast upon government; but he was sure that no man who looked fairly and honestly at the situation of the country, would deny that, in the reduction of its establishments, on which its safety depended, it was the duty of ministers to see that those establishments remained sufficient for their purpose. If it was found, therefore, that government had not adopted every reduction which the noble lord opposite would recommend, and that, in the reduction of the military force, care had been taken not to leave our extended possessions without reasonable and moderate protection, the house would have the candour to believe, that the numerical amount of that force had been reduced as far as, in the view of ministers, prudence would permit. Again, if ministers had not at once consented to give up the improvements realized in the naval arsenals of England, they might claim some credit from the house for having looked with a just anxiety to the maintenance of her naval supremacy. Their suffering that supremacy, for a small saving, to decay, might have been called just and reasonable economy by some, and unwise and sordid parsimony by others; but it would certainly have placed the country in such a situation as the noble lord himself would have been inclined to regret, and as would have deservedly exposed the king's ministers to the indignation of the present age and the contempt of posterity. Upon these grounds it was, that be claimed from the House a hearing of the reasons which ministers would bring forward to justify what they had done. And now he came to the second working cause of the existing excess of revenue. The noble lord opposite said that the country was ruined. He was as ready as any man to admit the distress which existed, and was bound, in common with every man of feeling, to deplore the present state of the agricultural interest; still, he could not consider the country as in a state of ruin. He looked at the question, not with reference to any one particular interest, but with reference to the general condition of the country; and no person who looked at it in that general way could assent to the sweeping proposition of the noble lord. Why, the very admitted excess of revenue was a plain proof of the contrary. Whenever ministers tad stated an excess of revenue to the House, it had been the custom to ascribe it to some transitory cause—the operation of some particular change, or the effect of some sudden speculation; but it was impossible now to say that the increase of revenue was unsubstantial. The excess of our revenue extended through all its branches; there was scarcely one to which it did not apply. It existed not only as to those items connected with the higher comforts of the people, but to every point connected with our foreign trade. Could that increase of revenue have arisen unless there had been an increased consumption in the country? Could there be increase of consumption without increase of means? And could that fact be in any way accounted for, unless by admitting an increased ease in the general circumstances of the country?—He reverted, then, to that which he had said in the outset of his address. The country stood in this peculiar situation, having an admitted surplus of revenue over expenditure; and the House was contending, not whether taxes should or should not be reduced, but as to the mode and degree in which that reduction should be effected. It was impossible that government, in looking at that question, should not, at the first blush, have directed their attention to the form and substance of that plan now brought forward by the noble lord opposite. So obvious a reduction as a cutting off of 5,000,000l. could not have failed to be a very palatable act; and if ministers had been disposed to consult popularity, or take means to establish themselves almost perpetually in power, there was no course more likely to obtain that end than to come at once to the House with the noble lord's proposition. But ministers felt it their duty to ascertain, as far as they could, what course of policy might, in the abstract, be most fit; and how they could best apply that abstract principle in practice. They felt the advantage which would result from the taking off 5,000,000l. of taxation: but it was their duty to look at the consequences as well as the immediate advantage, and to see whether the certain prospective evil did not overbalance the present relief. Now he thought that the future evils of the noble lord's measure did overbalance its immediate advantage. He thought that the systematic and avowed destruction of the sinking fund would be the most unwise—be might say the most fatal—measure of finance that had ever been attempted to be acted upon in this country. All the greatest men who had treated upon the subject had never differed as to the abstract value of the plan of the sinking fund. He granted, that during the last forty, years, while we had reduced our debt with one hand, we had increased it with the other. That fact he completely understood and appreciated; but he could not understand upon what could be rested the indifference with which the noble lord opposite treated the abstract good of an actual surplus of 5,000,000l. annually. The noble lord seemed to consider the sinking fund as operative only to raise the price of stocks. He asked what could be the effect of buying 30,000,000l. in the course of six years? Numerically speaking, a purchase of 30,000,000l. was little; but the application of such a sum to the reduction of the national debt, had an effect beyond the mere reduction of that debt, in the security which it gave to the numerous persons whose interests were involved in that immense mass of property; and even that ulterior effect would not be deemed a matter of slight importance by the House. The noble lord admitted, too, that he was not sustained in his views upon that particular point; he candidly stated that practical men who had interest in the public funds looked at the matter in a different light; and he (Mr. R.) put it to the House whether their proceeding, with the very first surplus they could command, to avow their abandonment of the sinking fund, would not have the effect of diminishing public credit. He declared, for his own part, that he could imagine no device more calculated to scatter dismay and terror through the great body of landholders. There were other circumstances which induced him to look at the scheme with a very jealous eye: he thought that it was the forerunner, and only the forerunner, of a far more desperate attack upon the funds. [Cries of "No, no."] He thought that it was so, and he would tell the House why. The House had been told upon a former evening, in rather mysterious, but in very significant terms, that they must reduce the sinking fund now, because they could no longer afford to maintain it: an hon. and learned member had said with much energy, "I will not answer for it that even reduction will give the necessary relief;" and if it did not, then was to come the sæva necessitas, the ultimum supplicium, which the hon. gentleman would be the last man to recommend, but which, he feared, must of necessity ensue. The tendency of the destruction of the sinking fund would be to unhinge public credit; and the embarrassment which would result from that impolitic proceeding would aggravate the present difficulties of the country, rendering less effective that actual relief which the hon. gentleman on the other side proposed from the reduction of taxation. And he did repeat that the destruction of the sinking fund would be, in his opinion, but the forerunner of a more desperate and fatal attack upon that species of property. He knew that there were a great many persons in the country who looked at the national debt with a very jealous and suspicious eye. He could not support the debt as a positive good, but his opinion of its justice was of a very different nature. People were in many cases prejudiced against the fundholder; they figured him to themselves as some great proprietor, swollen, overgrown, and revelling in luxurious profligacy, or hoarding his exactions with unfeeling avarice. He did believe that those erroneous views were pretty generally entertained by the people of England; but it was the duty of the House to judge without prejudice; and to consider for themselves of what class of persons the stockholders of the present day were chiefly composed. How many thousands of them, by how far the greater part of them, were individuals whose all was entered in the funds? He said their all"—the savings of their honesty, of their laborious industry. He could not contemplate any measure, even far less dangerous to them than that which the hon. and learned member had hinted at, without deep and serious sorrow. He had not that "robur et æs triplex circa pectus" which would enable him to look upon their sufferings with equanimity. And here let him request the attention of the House for one moment. He would simply contrast the plan of the noble lord opposite with the plan which had been submitted to parliament by ministers. The plan of the noble lord proceeded upon a supposition, that the reduction of taxation to the full amount of the 5,000,000l. would not affect public credit, and so, at least, be unaccompanied with evil. He (Mr. R.) believed sincerely that it would produce every one of the evils to which be had but now been alluding; but he would say this of the plan proposed by his majesty's ministers, that it contained two acting principles of unqualified good:—the sinking fund was certainly a good as to its abstract principle; and a second good would result from the reduction of taxes consequent upon the system. While the proposal of the noble lord opposite was not free from heavy doubts as to any good that it could effect, the proposition of government had a double operation, and the advantages to arise from it were clear, distinct, and unqualified; and he, therefore, did hope that the House would reject the noble lord's suggestion, and adopt the course recommended by ministers, feeling that ministers had been guided in that recommendation only by a desire to take advantage of the present state of the revenue, for the purpose of serving the best interests of the state. Once more he thanked the noble lord opposite, for having put the question broadly before the House. His only wish was, to have the point decided; and he did, if he might so express himself without presumption, confidently throw government upon the House, and upon the people. He appealed to the House with perfect reliance, because he did not think that ministers had done any thing to forfeit that confidence which parliament had, for so long a series of years, been accustomed to repose in them. [A laugh.] Gentlemen might laugh, but unless ministers could appeal to the favourable opinion of the House, he did not know in what way they could urge any claim to attention. But he would not be satisfied with an appeal to the House, he would go farther, and appeal to the people, because he knew them to be the most just and generous people in the world. He knew that when they were suffering the pressure of distress, they would look, and naturally, to parliament for relief; and that sometimes when relief could not be given, they were equally active in attributing to parliament the distress under which they laboured. He knew that the people of England would do this, and he did not blame them for it; but although the people might occasionally be angry, it was not in their character to be permanently unjust:—"They carried anger as the flint bears fire, which, much enforced, might show a hasty spark, but straight was cold again." Feeling, therefore, that the principles upon which ministers had acted had never been selfish or personal, but the result of anxiety for the permanent welfare of the country, he doubted not that the people would, as parliament had done already, do justice to the motives by which the government had been guided; and he should sit down by submitting two resolutions to the House, in the way of amendment to the resolution of the noble lord:—viz: "1. That it appears to this House, that the net excess of revenue above the expenditure of United Kingdom may be estimated, for the year ending the 5th of January 1823, at 5,260,000l., exceeding by 260,000l. the amount of the clear surplus which this House, by its resolution of the 8th of June 1819, deemed it expedient to provide for the progressive reduction of the national debt, and the adequate support of public credit. 2. That this House sees with satisfaction that by the operation of this surplus, connected with a reduction of the interest on the 5 per cent. stock, a diminution of taxes may be immediately effected, thereby affording to the people within the current year, the first advantages of that relief from a part of their present burthens, which was held out to the country in the resolution aforesaid, as one of the beneficial effects to be derived from the application of a surplus of five millions, to the reduction of the national debt."

Lord John Russell

said, he gave credit to the right hon. member for the way in which he had met the proposition of his noble friend, and was pleased that the right hon. gentleman had moved his own resolutions instead of merely proposing to negative the motion of the noble lord. He could not help thinking, however, that many parts of the right hon. member's speech might have been spared without prejudice to the cause which he attempted to sustain. Amazing stress was laid upon the fact, that the House was now, for the first time these forty years, discussing the disposal of a real surplus revenue. What! after hearing for ever of the wonderful effects of Mr. Pitt's sinking fund, were they to rejoice because they now found, for the first time, that they had any sinking fund whatever? Why, parliament had voted the existence of a surplus in 1819. It was now, he believed, generally allowed, that Mr. Pitt's expectations as to the efficacy of a sinking fund were so extravagant as to amount pretty nearly to a delusion. During the war, at all events, according to Dr. Hamilton, the fund was an additional expense of 30,000,000l. to the country. Although a sinking fund, operating by compound interest, might perhaps do something towards diminishing the public debt, it would be found impossible for any minister to continue such a fund. The people would continually be calling for reduction of taxes, and they would compel him to employ his means upon that immediate object. So well, indeed, was that truth understood and admitted, that the present ministers had never attempted to revive the system of compound interest. Even now, when they proposed to bring their fund to bear, they did not contemplate the carrying it to that extent. But if the House looked at the history of the sinking fund during the course of the last century, they would find that, in an interval of about fifty-four years of peace and forty-six of war, the public debt had increased to more than 800,000,000l.; and they would judge how far a sinking fund of 5,000,000l. at simple interest, was likely to operate towards its extinction. Suppose, however, the object of the fund to be less the extinction of the public debt, than the production of an effect upon the public funds, he thought its probable effect even in that way exaggerated, and believed that the state of the funds would depend rather upon the interest of the money in the country, the profits of trade, and the general wealth of the community, than upon any purchases which the sinking fund would produce. But the right hon. gentleman had quoted the resolution of parliament in the year 1819. That resolution had been read, as a solemn pledge from the House to maintain inviolable the particular sum therein mentioned; but surely the public creditor could not place much reliance upon a fund which had been voted in the year 1819, but which until the year 1822 had never come into operation. Certainly, upon such a fund very little faith could be placed. A cry was attempted to be raised against an hon. and learned gentleman for what he had said as to the management of the national debt: he (lord John) was ready to concur in any measure for providing such a surplus as should ensure to the public creditor the punctual payment of the interest of his debt: he was an advocate for the maintenance of public faith; but how had the chancellor of the exchequer kept faith with that portion of the public consigned to his care? A letter had appeared some time back in the Courier newspaper, from a person signing himself "A Landowner of 20,000l. a year." This land-owner stated, that having some years back mortgaged his estate to the amount of 12,000l. a year, his real income was then reduced to 8,000l. a year. He now found himself compelled, by the altered value of money, to reduce 40 per cent upon the rental of his property; and the consequence was, that instead of having 8,000l. a year, he received absolutely nothing. Now, in order to show how the public faith had been pledged to that man, and how it had been kept, he would refer the House to the resolution of May 13, 1811, that a pound note and a shilling were equal in value to a guinea in gold. Of the fallacy of that position the House had since had ample experience.—He would now advert to a question which seemed to have been left wholly out of consideration, in the speeches of gentlemen on the other side of the House—he meant our present enormous civil expenditure. To show the vast increase under that head, he would briefly compare the expenses of the civil list in the years 1792 and 1821. In 1792, the whole amount of the civil list was 898,000l. In 1821 it was 1,027,000l. In the former year, the pensions amounted to 134,000l.; in 1821, they were 434,000l. Salaries, in 1792 (charged on the civil list), were 25,000l.; in 1821, they were 72,000l. Taken altogether, the civil expenditure, and other permanent charges, amounted, in 1792, to 1,111,000l.; in 1821, they amounted to 2,040,000l. excluding 2,000l. for bounties, and making, thus, double the amount of the charge in 1792. He admitted, that the charge of the civil list of Ireland was not included in 1792; but even considering that, the increase was out of all proportion, and ought to be revised. Besides this enormous amount of the civil list, there were other expenses in which a considerable reduction might easily be made. He owned that the recent determination of the Spanish government not to send ambassadors to foreign courts, struck him as an excellent plan of economical reform, and one which he should wish to see followed, in a great degree, in this country. He thought that, except, perhaps, at the court of France, where it might be necessary to continue an ambassador, this country would do well to reduce the establishment; and was satisfied that our affairs at other courts would be equally well attended to by ministers plenipotentiary, as by the more expensive appointments of ambassadors. Perhaps some of the ministers plenipotentiary recently sent out, particularly some of the new appointments, might have been well dispensed with. By such an arrangement, a vast saving would be made to the country.—He now came, however, to another point—he meant a reduction of taxes, which was a measure absolutely necessary in our present state of suffering and distress. The view which he took of that distress—and the means by which it could be relieved, might be summed up in a few words. The whole of the causes of our difficulties it would he tedious to enumerate; but a principal and immediate one was, that the produce of the land could not now be sold at a remunerating price. The obvious remedy for that would be, that the supply should be reduced to the demand. It might, no doubt, be some time before that could operate as a relief, before the demands of the market were equal to the supply; and if nature were to be allowed to take its course (which some persons hinted at as the only remedy ), and to operate the relief, it should be considered that, in the mean time, thousands and thousands of individuals who were now struggling hard with these difficulties would be utterly ruined; that their capita), out of which, and not out of rents, they were striving to meet the demands upon them, would be absorbed, their stock and implements lost, and the whole of their grounds thrown out of cultivation. If the farmer endeavoured to reduce the supply to the demand, be must begin by reducing the number of hands employed in labour; the immediate effect of that would be, to throw a great portion of the peasantry out of employment; and when, without work, they would, as paupers, serve only to increase the public burthens. Under the existing system, the peasant was involved in misery, but the farmer was not thereby relieved; his difficulties increased, and became every day more intolerable; he was reduced by degrees in his clothes and in his food, till at last he was forced to become a pauper. This was not an imaginary case: numerous instances had already occurred, of farmers who, not long back, were in the enjoyment of comparative affluence, but who were now wholly dependent for support on parochial relief. When such was the case, and when still greater changes might take place, before the time could arrive at which the market would afford a demand equal to the supply, it was the bounden duty of parliament to do all in their power to afford relief; and this could only be done by a reduction of taxation; because, when his taxes were low, the farmers would be more able to bear up against low prices, than when they were called upon to pay a great portion of those prices in taxation. To him it appeared, that no plan of relief which might be devised would be effectual, but a large reduction of taxes. It was idle to say that heavy taxes were not a cause of distress. There was a manifest absurdity in the assertion. With just as much reason might it be said, that if a carriage broke down with the horses under it, it would be wrong to disengage them from the harness. If such a case occurred, and, as might happen, if the persons who came to assist were beginning to remove the harness by which the horses were kept down, some philosopher were to come up and say, "Oh, the removal of the harness is not the way to relieve them; they have been thrown down by a stone in the road, or some such cause; but the removal of the harness will do no good."—if such language were addressed to the by standers, they would, he had no doubt, treat the advice with contempt, and proceed in the only effectual way by taking off the harness. So it was with taxation: it pressed and weighed down the people in every part of the country, and the only way in which they could be effectually assisted was, by a removal of part, at least, of the weight. He would admit that a portion of the present difficulties arose from the alteration in our currency, but these difficulties were not altogether effected by the measure which was commonly called Mr. Peel's bill. They arose partly out of the system adopted since 1813—at one time by way of affording relief, increasing the amount of the currency, and as suddenly contracting it at another. It was truly said by Mr. Hume, that the prosperity of a country did not depend so much upon the quantity of money it contained, as whether that were increased in value. Now, this was the case from 1816 to 1819. The currency, owing to the erroneous system adopted years ago, was very considerably depreciated; and in the attempt to restore it, which was done by limiting the circulation, a great portion of the difficulties now felt were produced. He would state to the House the opinion of a French writer on an attempt of the kind made in France under Louis 14th, the year 1714. At that time the currency was depreciated 27 per cent, and a plan was adopted of remedying the evil in two years by limiting the currency, as was recently done in this country. The writer to whom he alluded said, with reference to the plan, that though he could not but praise the intention with which the plan was introduced, in order to get rid of a great and crying evil, yet it could not be denied that the proposed remedy had been productive of a still greater evil than that which it sought to remove—that great and general distress followed—that all pecuniary contracts which had been previously made were raised one-third as against the party who had to pay the money; the consequence was, that all debtors had to pay one-third more than what they had originally contracted. The farmer who owed ten marks was obliged to pay fourteen; and so on with all other debts. It was wrong at first to have caused the depreciation. After a lapse of so many years, the remedy proposed came as a death-blow to those who had before been distressed; and, had as the state of the currency was, it would have been better to have fixed the currency even at its depreciated value, than to have attempted to increase its value by such means. The distress which followed the tampering with the currency was farther increased by that swindling speculation, the Mississippi scheme, which arose out of it. Another writer on the same subject observed, that after the depreciation of the currency, which had produced so much distress, the people were reduced almost to despair by the incessant attempts of the government to draw all the money to themselves. This was aggravated by the dearness of every kind of provisions (for it seemed that a scarcity soon followed), and there was scarcely a proprietor of land who did not see his patrimony waste away from his hands without having any means to prevent it.—Such, was, in his opinion, the case with this country in the present day; and he attributed it to the shifting expedients practised by ministers, who, to serve the purpose of the moment, increased the circulation to a large amount at one time, and withdrew it at another. Let him add, that such fluctuations, and such great depreciations in the currency, were calculated to produce effects as destructive to the welfare of its inhabitants as invasion and conquest by an enemy—as disastrous almost as plague, pestilence, and famine, those scourges so terrible to every nation; and he sincerely hoped that no minister might ever be found who would dare again to resort to such innovations. As a sort of set-off against the distresses produced by the depreciation alluded to, and its recent remedy, the House were told of a great increase in the industry of the country; that manufactures and commerce were advancing rapidly in every part. It would give him sincere pleasure to hear of this, if it were really the case; but he could laugh at the manner in which minister congratulated themselves and the country on those flourishing appearances, as if they believed, or wished others to believe, that they had produced them. He was glad to hear that a better state of things was advancing—that the condition of the people was likely to improve. He could wish to see them better governed; that they should not be irritated by attempts to defer the means of relieving them. He felt that, in the course of time, relief would come; but, in the interim, parliament should afford all the assistance in its power. It was no argument against measures of immediate relief to say, that great distress existed some time ago among the manufacturing classes, and that they were now recovered from it. It was true that great distress had existed, and it was found to have gone to such a height, that the manufacturer and artisan were, in many instances, reduced to a state little short of starvation. If that were the case, and the distress had now only changed sides—if the farmer and agricultural labourer were now in the same wretched condition, unable to procure work sufficient for the support of their families (and unfortunately that was in many instances the real state of the case), could that be called a state of prosperity? He called it a state of great suffering and misery, and such a state of the people was a proof of mismanagement on the part of government, and a total neglect of that to which they ought to have attended—he meant the economical expenditure of the public money. In this view of the case, he cordially supported the motion of the noble lord. He was glad to find that some regulation was likely to take place respecting the importation of corn; for even the hon. member for Portarlington did not deny that there ought to be some protecting duty—some measure to protect the farmer against the competition of the foreign grower. He hoped, however, that the measures on this subject would be regulated with an exact regard to the interests of the agricultural, as well as of the commercial and manufacturing classes; for to raise up any one of those classes to prosperity, at the expense and ruin of the other, would be a most unstatesmanlike view of the subject.

Mr. W. Whitmore

rose, to express his satisfaction at the statement which he had heard from the noble marquis on a former evening, respecting the finances of the -country, and to add, that, considering the best interests of the country to depend upon the inviolability of its faith towards the public creditor, he thought that, under all circumstances, every reasonable attempt should be made to reduce that load of debt with which the country was at present charged. If he could agree that taxation was the cause of the distress, he would vote for the motion of the noble lord, nay, he would go farther—he would, if reduction of taxes were not sufficient, propose a composition with the public creditor; but he differed most materially from the noble lord, as he differed from all who asserted that the cause of the distresses of the agriculturist lay in taxation. Ever since he heard that opinion stated, he had endeavoured by every means in his power, to discover the rationale of it, but without effect. He could not see how taxes caused low prices He should have thought, that in every case taxation would raise the price, except perhaps in this one instance only, where there was an exorbitant load of taxation, that might reduce prices by driving capital out of the country, and lessening the population, by which of course consumption would be less. If he could agree with the noble lord in the point which he thus disputed, he might join with him in the vote. As to the effect of the change in the currency, he would not then go into any inquiry. It was already shown that it had an effect on the prices, but that it did not produce the lowest price. He was not in the habit of frequently addressing the House, and on the present occasion he felt that he was touching upon a most complicated and difficult subject. He felt it necessary, however, to offer a few remarks upon it. In his opinion, the present distresses arose from a re-action of that extraordinary stimulus which the agriculture had received in the course of the last war. But before he entered upon that point, he wished to lay down a proposition which was necessary in order to clear the way. That proposition was, that in every country which imported and did not export corn, the price had always a tendency to increase. The increase of prices also rose with the increase of population, and with the expenditure of capital on the soil. He would suppose 100l. to be expended on ten acres of good land, and that it produced twenty quarters of wheat; the same money expended on inferior land would not produce so much, the price must be increased as the capital expended must be renumerated. The same result would accrue when good land had but inferior cultivation. This would be more evident, if the House considered what was the case in the first sixty-four years of the last century. During that time we, on the average exported more corn than we imported, and the average price in that time was 32s. the quarter; but, after the American war we began to import, and between that time and 1793 the price of the quarter rose to 45s. This, then, showed that the tendency to rise went on with the increase of population. That, no doubt, would be lessened in some degree by large importation, but the same principle would still go on. This, however, was a question which was more fit for an essay than a speech. The position which he stated was very ably supported in a pamphlet by Mr. West, which could not be too much known. One result of what he said was, that nothing could be more untrue than the assertion that prices would continue the same as in 1792, seeing, that since then there was an increase of 4,000,000 in the population. But to come to the statement of the cause of the distress. He had shown that there must have been an increased consumption in proportion to the increase of population. Of course, if the home supply was not equal to that increased consumption, some corn must be imported from abroad; but then came difficulties in the way of the importation. According to Mr. Malthus it would be found that with the expense of freight, of merchants commission, and other charges on the importation, wheat could not come into our ports at an early period of the war under 40s. the quarter. The consequence of this was, that an extraordinary Stimulus was given to the industry and enterprize of the cultivator at home, and agriculture increased in a most rapid manner. This would be clearly proved by the great increase in the number of inclosure bills in the course of the war. In the early part of it, the average of in-closure bills was 41 per annum, while in a later period they amounted to 88 per annum. But it was unnecessary for him to refer to such proofs, he would appeal to the recollection and experience of the landed gentlemen, whether cultivation was not carried on at an enormous and unprecedented expense? Premiums were given, and other great encouragements held out, for the best, not the cheapest, managed farm. The consequence was, that in the course of a few years, the production increased in every way beyond the consumption, and the result of this artificial state of things was what now happened—that we had more than we wanted, and the surplus fell back on the country. The remedy for this evil, and in his mind the only effectual one, was to retrograde from the point of agricultural eminence, which we occupied, and to come to one more suited to the circumstances of our present situation. This change, it was said, would involve the ruin of a great portion of the agricultural classes. He professed he did not think it would be attended with the disastrous effects pointed out by the learned gentleman (Mr. Brougham) or the noble mover. It would be only the removal of the last layer of capital which had been applied to the land—the lessening of that enormous expenditure which was resorted to in cultivation—and the supply would soon accommodate itself to the demand. One instance of the disposition to lay out large sums in the cultivation of the soil he knew: it was that of a gentleman who assured him that in one year alone, the manure for his farm cost him 1,500l. Let not capital be so expended in future. It would not of course be productive to the same extent, but it would produce as much as was required. This change would no doubt throw considerable portions of land out of cultivation, but they would be only such as were forced into it during the period when the great stimulus he had noticed operated upon the agriculturist. One effect of retrograding from our high state with respect to agriculture would be, that we could not perhaps grow corn for a time at a remunerating price; and if corn sufficient were not produced we must import again. From the evidence of several most intelligent gentlemen, who were examined before the agricultural committee, it appeared that wheat could not be imported from the Baltic, even without duty, under 60s. the quarter; a very smalt1 duty would then be sufficient to raise it to 65s. here. Then to turn to the state of the farmer: he would say that the landlord must reduce his rents 20 or 30 per cent., and even more where that was not sufficient. He had done so in his own case, and he thought that when lands had been raised to such high rents since 1792, as landlords had received, it was natural that they should reduce them now that circumstances were altered. He possessed land, some of it poor and some of it good; and from his own experience he would say that, even with the reductions which it might be necessary to make, the state of the landlord would be considerably ameliorated as compared with 1792. It had been amended so much by enclosures and other circumstances, that he felt bound to state that he was not inclined to complain of his situation on account of the reduction of rents. When he reflected on the industrious habits of our population, on the skill of our manufactures, on the energies of our artisans, and even on the state of our agriculture, combined, as the advantages to be derived from them were, with our insular situation, be could not view our general situation in that gloomy light in which many gentlemen were accustomed to regard it. He was persuaded that there was yet elasticity enough in the British character to recover it from the pressure under which it now laboured. It was true the horizon was at present overcast, that dark clouds lowered over it; but be was happy to say that he perceived on their margin a tinge of sunshine, that was neither transient nor illusory, but was the certain harbinger of a bright and glorious day. When he turned his eye from the domestic relations of the nation, to look at its foreign connexions—when he considered its immense possessions in the East Indies, and the increase of trade which they had naturally created—when he reflected on the progress that we were at present making in the Eastern Archipelago, and the commerce which must naturally ensue to us from that quarter—when he examined the golden prospects that had been recently opened to our merchants by the emancipation of South America, he could not sit down in gloomy discontent, nor view our situation as if it were destitute of all hope and consolation. He felt how incompetent he was to explain or describe the condition to which the landed interest was now reduced; but, notwithstanding, he considered it his duty to make the observations which he had made, in order to show hon. gentlemen, that if they would take the trouble of inquiring into their situation, they would not find the question so difficult as they expected; especially if they took this principle as a key to the explanation of it; namely, that the existing distress was but a re-action arising from the extraordinary stimulus given to agriculture during the war. The hon. member sat down amidst loud cheering.

Mr. Robert Price

observed, that the hon. gentleman who had just sat down, had been guilty of one very great fallacy in his speech arising out of his having misstated the arguments which had been used by his opponents. There was not a single individual on the Opposition benches who had said, as the hon. gentleman had, stated, that the present low prices of agricultural produce were caused by the weight of taxation. All that they had said was this—that as an extraordinary. stimulus, which had now ceased to operate, had been given to agriculture during the war, and as the cessation of it had rendered it necessary to look for some measure whereby the farmer might be enabled to grow his produce cheap, a remission of taxation appeared at once to be the most practicable and the most natural proceeding. He could not avoid thanking his noble friend for having brought the present motion forward, as it would, enable the House to determine what policy it would in future pursue. The plan of the noble marquis, though the development of it had occupied much of their time on a former evening, might be very briefly explained. It consisted in a diminution of expenditure, to the amount of 1,400,000l. and a diminution of taxation to nearly the same extent. His noble friend said, that such relief was quite inadequate to the exigencies of the case; and had consequently advised, that still greater reductions should take place, and that the sinking fund should be abandoned for a time. Both these plans were now before the House, and it became its duty to decide which of them was the best. He concurred with his noble friend in thinking, that the only means of affording immediate relief to the country was by diminishing the public expenditure, abandoning the sinking fund, and reducing, to that degree, the pressure of taxation. When he talked of diminishing the public expenditure, he did not allude merely to the diminution of the paltry stipends paid to clerks and other inferior servants of the public; he meant, that every useless place should be abolished, no matter what might be the parliamentary influence of the party who held it, or of any of his near relations. It had been said by certain members of the government, that all further economy was impossible. This declaration, however, coming from the quarter it did, ought to be received with considerable distrust; for what man amongst them did not re- collect their repeated declarations, during the last session that all farther reductions were impracticable? Their late conduct had proved that some reductions, even from those establishments which they had formerly defended, were practicable; and he had little doubt, that if the House insisted that still farther reductions should be made, government would find means of making them, if not in the army and the navy, at least in the mode of collecting the revenue. With regard to the sinking fund, he was free to confess that it ought not to be lightly abandoned. It was only from the difficulties of the country that he could be induced to abandon the sinking fund. Under other circumstances, he would agree, not merely to the creation of a sinking fund of five millions, but to one of a larger amount. He would state the reasons why he conceived that it would be advantageous to abandon the sinking fund for a time. An idea was prevalent, that the country was no longer able to bear its burthens, and that at length it had become necessary to reduce the interest of the national debt. Be had lately presented a petition, in which such an idea formed a prominent part, from that part of the country with which he was himself connected. The petitioners were persons of great respectability: if any body had proposed to them to take one shilling from their private creditors, in the manner that they wished to take it from the public creditor, they would have scouted the proposal with indignation. What then, was the reason why they prayed for a breach of the national engagements? It was to be found in the distress that was raging around them—a distress which they all felt to be excessive, and which many of them declared to be overpowering. It was the duty of parliament to prevent the idea, to which he had just alluded, from taking root in the community; and the best means of doing so would be by diminishing the burthens of their constituents, which would be most easily effected by abandoning the sinking fund for a short period. Great as had been the increase of the debt, still he could not despond, as the resources of the country had increased in as great, if not in a greater proportion; but he did not on that account feel himself bound to oppose the reduction of our expenditure; on the contrary, he felt himself bound to carry that reduction as far as possible, and, therefore, he advised the House to abandon the sinking fund as an immediate relief to the agricultural interest, though not with a view of abandoning it for ever.

Mr. Wilmot

assured the House, that as the question had been so frequently debated, he would confine himself to the arguments which had been urged that evening, and to which he would advert as shortly as possible. And, first, he would apply himself to the removal of two erroneous statements which had been made in the course of the debate. First, the noble mover and the hon. gentleman who had last spoken, said, that his majesty's ministers attributed the improved condition of the manufacturing interest of the country, to their own measures. Such an assertion had never been made. Secondly, the hon. gentleman who spoke last said, that government declared last session that no further reduction of expenditure could be accomplished. This, too, he positively denied. All that they said was, that the reduction had at that time been carried as far as was consistent with the interests of the country. Now, though he was prepared to contend, that such an assertion on the part of ministers was perfectly correct, he should refrain from doing so at present in order to confine himself more directly to the question before the House. It was true that any member might agree in the necessity of pushing reduction as far as possible; but it did not follow that he would therefore agree in the necessity of abolishing the sinking fund, which was a question at once different in its nature and greater in its importance, since it involved in it the credit and good faith of the country. Now, in considering in what manner a reduction of expenditure should be effected, the House was bound to consider two things—first, that the reduction should not injure the efficiency of the office so reduced; and, secondly, that if the duties of it should ever increase, and it should become necessary to place the office on its former establishment, it should not occasion a greater expenditure to renew it than had been saved by the proposed reduction. As to the observations which the noble lord had made upon the civil list, he begged leave to remind the House that there were now charged upon it several pensions which had been conferred on deserving individuals for their conduct during the war, and which at the time of conferring them had been approved by parliament. The mention of this circum- stance, as it explained the reason why the civil list was now higher than it had been at former periods, was a sufficient answer to the noble lord's attack upon it. To say that the large civil list was one cause of our heavy taxation, was a fallacy that deserved exposure; and, to add to that fallacy another, and to say that taxation was the cause of all the existing distress, was to bid the nation look to a remission of taxation as the only means of being relieved from it. He trusted, however, that, as their debates were spread throughout the country, the country would see, that though taxation was a very great evil, still it was its duty to repay to the creditor in time of peace the sums which he had lent to it in time of war upon the strength of the national honour. The House, however, was asked to accede to a remission of taxation, on the ground that the sinking fund was a fallacy. Now, it appeared to him, that the writer who had been quoted as denouncing it for a fallacy, had given more sanction to it than any man he knew. Dr. Hamilton's objection to it was more to the two modes of its operations in time of war, than to the sinking fund itself. He would read to the House the opinion of Dr. Hamilton on the subject, who, feeling it necessary to lay down certain general principles of finance, laid this down as one—"that the amount of the revenue raised in the time of peace ought to be greater than the expense of a peace establishment; and that the excess of the revenue at such a time above the expenditure, ought to be applied to diminish the national debt." He likewise added in another place, that "the excess of revenue above expenditure was the only real sinking fund by which public debt can be discharged." Such being the opinion of Dr. Hamilton as to the propriety of a sinking fund in the time of peace, all that he (Mr. Wilmot) had to prove was, that a continuance of it would be more beneficial to the country than a remission of taxation. That remission of taxation, as he understood it, was principally to be granted to the agriculturists in distress. Now, he thought it had been proved, that taxation was not the cause of their distress; and if such were the case, remission of taxation could not be a remedy for it. For his own part, he looked for relief only to a cessation of that violent re-action resulting from the extreme exertion during the late war in support of the national credit, and defence of the national honour, by which our system had been for a time dislocated. He looked with confidence to the event, sharing, as he did, the opinions of the hon. member for Portarlington and others, who contended, that the people of this country would speedily emerge from that condition which was the consequence of their over-strained exertion. He was convinced that we possessed the elements of prosperity in all the branches of our agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; and that the energies of the country would be soon liberated, and manifest themselves in every direction. If, however, at the present moment, parliament had not the firmness to apply our resources in the mode recommended by his noble friend—if they refused to secure a gradual diminution of the debt, and abandoned themselves to the despondency which some of the hon. members on the other side of the House seemed so desirous to inculcate—the fate of the country would indeed be hopeless. But; of such an event he had no apprehension. He wished to say a very few words on the subject of the change in the value of our currency. It had been argued, that the country was entitled to claim a remission of taxation, in consequence of that change. But the certainty of such a change was as well known before 1819 as now; and, under those circumstances, the solemn sanction of the House was given to the public creditor. With the general view which he entertained of the public resources, founded on the maintenance of public credit, by the plan unfolded to the House by his noble friend—with the multiplied energies which the country possessed, it appeared to him, that there was every prospect of our reaching a state of greater and sounder prosperity than any to which we had hitherto attained. There was much on which they had to congratulate themselves; and all that they had to do was, to persevere in the course which a sense of justice and honor prescribed.

Mr. T. Wilson

said, that the remedies which had been proposed by ministers had not in general been deemed satisfactory; he, therefore, might be pardoned if' he took the liberty of throwing out another for the consideration of parliament. The view which he took of the present distress was not confined to its effects on the agricultural interest only, but upon the whole community. It had been avowed, that the million and a half of taxes that it was intended to take off would hardly be felt as a relief by the country. As that was the case, the taxes might remain on, and the produce of them be reserved for the purposes which he should shortly describe. He was aware that one objection to his plan would be, that it savoured of monopoly; but he thought that to obtain a remedy for the existing distresses, a favourite principle might be for a while abandoned. If the average price of corn were to be 49s., he would have government to employ agents to purchase up corn with the money he had mentioned, till the price rose to 55s. The buying up the corn whilst the average price was from 49s. to 55s. would assist the agricultural interest, by withdrawing from the market a superfluous quantity of corn. It might be objected, that this corn might be thrown back again into the market. To prevent any mischief arising from such a circumstance, he would not allow that corn to be thrown back into the market until the average price of corn amounted to 65s. By that means, he should leave 10s. as the intermediate price between which corn could neither be bought nor sold by government; and thus no alarm could be created by their interference in the market. This was his view of the subject. He thought it calculated to remove the existing pressure, which, if it continued, would throw all the poor land out of employment, and would consequently increase the poor rates, by flinging the labourers upon them. Another advantage would be this—that it would enable the House to obtain a more accurate knowledge than it possessed at present, of the extent of growth in the country, and of the relative prices which existed between the landlord and the tenant. Some persons might be of opinion that such a plan would be attended by loss. He was of a contrary opinion. Suppose half the corn purchased to be lost; yet, as the other half would have been bought between 50s. and 55s., and would not be sold till the average price was above 65s. there would be a profit of at least 8s. on each quarter.

Mr. Bankes

said, that though he was aware that the subject to which the hon. member who had just sat down had alluded, was not altogether relevant to the debate, he could not help thanking him for having mentioned to the house a mode of relief which he conceived to be best adapted to the distress of the country. There could be no doubt of the general proposition, that a diminution of taxation would afford some relief; but gentlemen, when they stated such a fact, should not forget the relative operation of taxation: its decrease, while it relieved one class might materially injure another, and there lay the fallacy of their argument. No man could seriously contend for the flagrant dishonesty of raising one class of society at the expense of another. With regard to the case put, of the gentleman who had a mortgage of 12,000l. a year on an estate worth at the time 20,000l. a year, and who, it was said, claimed from the chancellor of the exchequer an indemnity for the loss he had sustained on account of the fluctuation in the value of money, which he ascribed to the right hon. gentleman's financial projects, and made the claim upon as valid a right, as the fundholder could assert for his indemnity, the plain answer to such a claim was, that the public had entered into no engagement with the landholder, but they had with the fundholder: from the one they had borrowed on the security of the public faith; which they had not from the other, a circumstance which made the whole difference between the two cases. Was it not a condition of every loan contracted by the country, that a certain sum, over and above the payment of the specific interest, should be regularly set aside to create an ultimate capital for the discharge of the principal? Would it not, then, be a flagrant breach of the public faith, to say at once that the country must depart from the principle on which it had, ever since 1792, borrowed the money? Were they prepared to act in such a manner towards the public creditor, and to abandon, in a time of peace, the project of securing a sinking fund? If they once relinquished the principle of maintaining that fund, under what probable circumstances did they imagine they could resume it, if hereafter, under other circumstances, they should deem it adviseable to alter their opinion? Some gentlemen he was aware, thought the principle of the sinking fund a; but he, who believed it to be no fallacy, was not prepared to give up a system which he thought would ultimately prove advantageous to the country. Because the principle had, in some degree, been lost sight of during the most expensive war in which the country had ever been engaged—so that while a small portion of the debt was paid off with one hand, a larger amount was added with the other—was this to prevent them from returning to sound principles in time of peace and when the country was in flourishing circumstances. If the proposition of the noble lord were adopted, was it to be supposed that it would produce no effect on the funds? Every fund holder would immediately feel himself aggrieved and alarmed: the price of stocks would fall, and every one would be disposed to remove his property to a country, where it could be more secure. In the present state of Europe, would it be no inconvenience that British capital should thus be drawn elsewhere to stimulate the industry of other countries? This would be most injurious; but this would unquestionably be the immediate effect of doing away the sinking fund. He would ask, was it possible to suppose, that if the principle of the sinking fund were abandoned, a reduction of interest could ever be effected on any of our stock? He understood that by the operation of the sinking fund an immediate reduction of taxes to the amount of one million and a half or thereabouts would take place. This was an important relief; and this would be afforded in such a way, that no man would suffer by it. By abolishing the sinking fund, public credit would be lost—that public credit which had carried the country through all the difficulties of the late unexampled contest; and he was convinced that instead of giving permanent relief to the sufferers, it would ultimately prove the means of aggravating their distress. As far as relief could be given by a remission of taxation, consistently with the high character which the nation ought to maintain, he was anxious to go. How far they might remit taxes with safety, they would shortly be enabled to determine. The noble lord had spoken of the large expenditure for the army. It was not to be supposed, after the great acquisition of new colonies which had taken place, that the same establishment would do now which was considered sufficient in 1792. These possessions, though they added to the general strength of the empire, could not be maintained without additional expense. The proposition of the noble lord had been framed (not unfairly perhaps) to catch as many votes as possible. He could wish his plan had been more distinctly defined. Some might think with the noble lord, that ministers had not gone far enough, though they only wished a reduction of taxes to the amount perhaps of two millions had been proposed, instead of a million and a half. Would he bring the question fairly before them? Would he call on them to decide on the simple question, whether or not in time of peace the House was prepared to abandon the principle of the sinking fund? When it was seen what vigorous measures the operation of a sinking fund had enabled us to adopt during the late war—when it was seen that every other country was endeavouring to imitate our system—was it now, when the difficulties with which we had to contend, were trifling, compared with those which had heretofore been overcome—was it now that we were to be so appalled as to give up that principle in time of peace, which had carried us through all the vicissitudes of war. Unless he saw a greater alteration in the House and in the country than he ever desired to see, such a proposition could never be adopted. By some it was complained, that loans obtained when the price of stock was low, were to be repaid at a high price. If it had not been engaged that each individual lending money to the state should be placed on the footing on which he now rested, on what terms could it be supposed some of the loans would have been obtained? Some of them were negotiated when the funds were as low as 55 or 57; but what would the price have been in this case which he had supposed? They must have gone down to 30 or to 20; for who would have cared to advance money for the public service at all, if it had been supposed that parliament would not keep faith with the lender? Those from whom the loans had been originally obtained, were not those who would now suffer from a breach of good faith. Many of them were no longer among us. Those who had taken their places had not obtained their stock at the low price paid by the original holders of it. Would it be just, then, to despoil these individuals of the property they had acquired by purchases made through their confidence in the pledges and promises of parliament? He hoped the House would take a correct view of the proposition now before them. The real question was, whether we should have a sinking fund—whether we should have a surplus revenue; and, having a surplus revenue, whether it should be applied to the extinction of the debt. He again asserted the importance of maintaining public credit inviolate, and contended, that a sinking fund maintained through the peace, would enable us to meet, under better circumstances, any future war.

Mr. Tierney

said, that in rising to follow the hon. gentleman who last spoke, he had to claim the patience of the House while he stated the reasons which influenced him, on the present occasion, to depart from the opinions he had long entertained in the course of his political life, upon this particular subject of the sinking fund. He should have left the House on that night most reluctantly were he doomed to give a silent vote under such circumstances. He was prepared at the outset to be visited with every species of attack for the opinions he was about to deliver. After the treatment his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Brougham) had received for delivering his sentiments; after he had been abused, and vilified, and charged with being prepared to do this and do that, taking advantage of a period of public distress, he (Mr. T.) could have little reason to hope that he could escape after the delivery of his opinions upon what was called, most perversely called, a sinking fund. The hon. gentleman who spoke last seemed to think that he also had been exposed to much misconception and misrepresentation: possibly he had been, it was that to which they were all liable, and few men had escaped through public life without their share. The hon. gentleman had proposed in the course of the last session, an address respecting economy and retrenchment; and had obtained the credit of then acting from the conviction of his own impressions and independent of the government; but this night it came out, from what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Robinson), that to the government the whole credit of the hon. gentleman's (Mr. Bankes) proposition was due; and that he whom they were wont to consider as the Nestor of wisdom and independence on subjects of economy, had, on the occasion alluded to, acted merely as the mouth-piece of his majesty's Treasury. The right hon. gentleman had freely and candidly avowed, that, in truth, the proposition came from government, and that they took full credit for its adoption.—On the subject of the prevailing agricultural distress, and the remedial measures which the present crisis called for, he should explain directly, why he was now ready to depart from the line of conduct which he had before pursued, when the sinking fund was talked of. He would, however, in the first instance remark, that from the course which this debate had taken, the right hon. gentleman's conduct was not quite of a piece with his wish to be the champion of administration. Was it the plan of the noble lord opposite they were now discussing? If it was, why did the right hon. gentleman deviate from the old plan he propounded in his resolutions, which went to establish a principle of specific reduction, instead of adopting the noble lord's motion on a former night, which merely called for papers that nobody objected to? He had heard nothing to-night of the loan of 4,000,000l. Perhaps that part of the plan had been abandoned by them, like their preceding one, and that they were now only to direct their attention to financial arrangements. Then, as to their financial system, he should say, on the best and most dispassionate consideration which he had been enabled to give it, that they could no longer act towards this sinking fund, as they called it, in the way he had previously thought they could. He had already avowed that he had departed from his old opinion: he did not see why the subject of the sinking fund should not be dispassionately considered, or why any man should be held up to opprobrium for delivering his honest sentiments upon it. He must repeat, that if persons who entertained adverse opinions upon such a subject were to be abused and misrepresented for those opinions; if party principles and party motives were to be ascribed to them, and selfish views imputed, when they honestly and manfully avowed their sentiments, it would be idle to provoke discussion in that House. He, however, would not be deterred from honestly discharging his duty, and he hoped at least they would acquit him of harbouring unfair motives when he came to such a discussion. He did not think that the question of the sinking fund was distinctly understood by the majority of the gentlemen who heard him; and the sooner they calmly brought their minds to consider it, the better; for they must give him leave to say, that before the noble lord's plan could be carried into execution (and that day, he imagined, was not far distant,) the question must regularly come before them; for, in order to give practical effect to the intentions of Ministers, as developed in that plan of applying the 5,000,000l., they must repeal the provisions of several existing acts of parliament. That must be done, and, therefore, consider the matter they must, without much further delay. The sinking fund, to speak in round numbers—and he did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would quarrel with him one way or other about half a million—amounted to 17,000,000l. Of that amount 12,000,000l. must be applied to the current service of the country, which left 5,000,000l. only of surplus above the expenditure of the country. Substantively that was the operation of the present sinking fund—12,000,000l. out of the 17,000,000l. were, as he had already stated, absorbed by the expenditure, in order to prevent fresh loans. By the original construction of a clause in the act, which clause was brought in by his late right hon. friend, Mr. Fox, the commissioners for managing the sinking fund were empowered to subscribe towards the loan of the year such portion as they should deem advisable from the funds intrusted to their care. It was of course contemplated, that, during moments of particular emergency, pending the operations of war, such sums might not only with safety, but advantage, be applied by the commissioners; but nobody ever dreamed that in time of peace a minister should take so large a sum as would at once destroy the whole natural operation of the sinking fund itself. When this was done, could any thing be more absurd than to continue the whole apparatus of that sinking fund, as if it were operative according to the original intention of its founder? Was all the machinery of managing loans, and all the expenditure, attendant upon complicated movements, to be still continued on a scale as if the sinking fund were really 17,000,000l., when in plain figures it was only 5,000,000l.? He saw in the papers on the table a sum of 19,000l. charged by the Bank for interest on loans. Was this connected with the machinery of the sinking fund? Having seen the item of charge, he merely mentioned it as a sum, no doubt, capable of being satisfactorily explained. But this cumbrous plan of carrying on a sinking fund, when the real surplus was so small, compared with the nominal, was in fact to throw dust in the eyes of the country—it was expensive as well as unnecessary—He passed by what was done in 1802, and came to the material alteration in the sinking fund, when, in 1813, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer had, as he (Mr. T.) then thought, laid violent hands upon the security which this sinking fund was intended to afford for the ultimate redemption of the national debt. He then assigned a reason for what he had done, which was not exactly of a piece with that which he assigned on the present occasion. The right hon. gentleman's former apprehension, when he laid violent hands upon the sinking fund, was, that if it was permitted to go on as it was then accumulating, it would give the country too much relief [a laugh]; and he now said, that if it was not permitted to go on, the country would have no eventual relief. In 1813, the amount of taxes was at such a height, that the right hon. gentleman found it inconvenient to press any further burthen upon the people, notwithstanding the commercial bustle of the time; for it was one of the odd peculiarities of the last war, that commerce flourished more during its continuance than it did afterwards; but, notwithstanding the commercial bustle of that day, the right hon. gentleman refrained from pressing new taxes. Then came his project for touching the sinking fund: he said, forsooth, that its amount assumed an alarming appearance; he was afraid, to use the expression of a friend, that the country would awake one morning and the people all of a sudden find that they were without a debt on their back [a laugh]. The right hon. gentleman had no reason to frighten himself with such an apprehension; his alarm was quite visionary. Then he came down and said, he had got a dainty device—a mode of cancelling stock, by putting aside one sum, and taking out in a particular way another, by which, in plain fact, the sinking fund lost 7,000,000l. a year of its amount. This was breaking in with a vengeance upon the plan for the eventual redemption of the debt: it was depriving it of the compound efficacy which was to give such force to its accumulation. The result of the whole of the promises which the right hon. gentleman had now for so long a period held out, was simply this—he had said to the fundholders, "Though you will be under some difficulty for the first ten years of this term of twenty, yet the last ten will be such as you never saw in all your days: after the period of your troubles, will come your day of recompense and retribution. Only see how well the thing will issue; without saying any thing at all about compound interest, money will roll back upon you faster than ever it left you." This was the proposition of the right hon. gentleman; but, just as the stockholder was looking for the recompense and retribution that had been promised, the right hon. gentleman was sure to come forward, and calmly tell him, that now there was an end of every thing which he had before held out with respect to the sinking fund—an end of his overwhelming returns, an end of his compound interest, an end of the whole scheme [a laugh]. After this, was it he (Mr. T.) who turned his back upon the sinking fund, or his majesty's ministers who turned theirs? Certainly it was not himself; because the best proof that, in the estimation of the chancellor of the exchequer himself, it was altogether a measure that would not bear the light was this—when he (Mr. T.) moved in that House that it be referred to a select committee to inquire and report how far, under the law as it then stood, the ministers of the Crown could be justified in committing infractions upon the sinking fund, the right hon. gentleman opposed the motion. He shrunk from the proposition; and yet the same right hon. gentleman now before him, was the very person who had in effect destroyed that sinking fund. It was rather too much for him at that time of day, and in his place in parliament, to be told that if he contended that there ought to be no sinking fund, he was doing public mischief. He had stated to the House what were the grounds of his opinion; but it was proper that he should also state, that in the time of even his greatest political hostility to the late Mr. Pitt (an hostility which fie might have sometimes expressed too strongly, though it, never was of a personal character), he had always given him credit for his sinking fund; but the House would observe that was the sinking fund of Mr. Pitt, not the modern one. That was a sinking fund which arose, not from taxes purposely imposed for its establishment, but from a fund of one million sterling of a clear surplus revenue over the expenditure. Mr. Pitt showed, that, after every item had been considered and disposed of connected with the public income and expenditure, there was a clear surplus to that amount capable of being so applied. Into the merits of that he should not then enter. Mr. Pitt always contended that there was such a fund; and Mr. Sheridan that there was not. Mr. Pitt replied to the objections of the latter, that he could show the House that there was a clear, actual, and obvious surplus of revenue that might be most beneficially applied to the reduction of the national debt, by the operation of compound interest. Without discussing whether Dr. Price's was the best scheme that could have been devised, (and whether it was or not, he did not know) he had never refused to do justice to Mr. Pitt for bringing such a measure forward. In the year 1792, it was first proposed, that a portion of every future loan should be reserved and set apart, in order to effect its redemption, by the operation of compound interest, within a limited period of time. It was this very measure, which caused a most lamentable accident t o befall the late lord Thurlow, for they turned him out of the chancellorship for opposing it [A laugh.] Very different from either of these measures was the sinking fund of the right hon. gentleman opposite. Where was it? Could any one tell him where it was in the years 1818, 1819, 1820, or 1821? Where would it have been in 1822, were it not for the reductions which had been forced upon ministers? From the speech of the noble marquis the other evening, gentlemen seemed to run away with an idea, that we had a clear growing produce of the consolidated fund of 5,000,000l. But the fact was not so. The real surplus was only 2,600,000l. By the estimate, indeed, it was 5,000,000l. The house would observe how much of this came under the head of contemplated retrenchments; and without any wish to weaken the statement made by ministers, he would caution hon. gentlemen, that though these estimates were extremely moderate now, it did not follow that they would be so in the course of the next year or two. This fit of retrenchment, although it had just manifested itself pretty strongly, was one that might not last for ever. He should be glad to know why these reductions had not been made before: why so many sessions had been allowed to elapse without realizing this advantage? If they had been made when they ought to have been made, we should have had 6,000,000l. in our pockets, and 2,000,000l. less of taxation to pay. But said the right hon. gentleman, there was nothing selfish or unhandsome in the way in which ministers now came forward with their plans of retrenchment or economy. Now, he (Mr. T.) thought otherwise, and that they had proved themselves anxious to preserve their patronage up to the very last moment. As it appeared to him, the whole of the growing prosperity of the country (not wishing by this statement to undervalue the exertions of ministers, or to underate the extent of the savings effected, it being far from his wish to create a gloomy or despondent feeling in the country), the entire improvement in last year's revenue had been one million. That was the amount of increase and no more. The rest of the noble lord's statement was derived from other quarters, but he was willing to take the matter upon the showing of ministers themselves; and he then found that they had, in round numbers, a surplus of five millions; one half of that sum arising from the revenue, and the other from savings. Why, then, the clear question now to be discussed was, whether or no a man committed an offence by saying that he preferred to have that surplus carried to one side of the account rather than to the other. Now, if he had established any thing, it was this—that the sinking fund had been so completely annihilated by the chancellor of the exchequer himself, that, whether the surplus was 5,000,000l. or 10,000,000l., its application must be now a new proceeding altogether. He had to consider what was the most proper method, in the present state of the country of applying that sum of five millions. The amount of these five millions was obviously not intended to be progressive; for there was an end to the great principle of compound interest: and he was therefore entitled to consider that this question ofthe5,000,000l. was one which now belonged to that House to dispose of, as respected the application of the money. In what he had to offer on this subject, the house should not have any reason to complain of his want of candour. Now, in the first place, what was the noble lord's plan? Under that plan the five millions would be annually employed by the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt, in the purchase of stock; and that stock so redeemed, and furnishing an interest of five per cent., would be at the disposal of parliament; that was, he presumed, it would be employed in aid or addition to the taxes. In six years the operation of this plan, according to the noble lord's theory, would reduce thirty millions of the debt.

The Marquis of Londonderry

here intimated, that he had computed the amount of redemption at 39,000,0001.

Mr. Tierney

did not object to the noble lord's correction, and, as he was fond of round numbers, he would say 40,000,000l. What he meant to contend was, that at the end of six years the result would be this—(and let the house observe, he was then speaking of the progress of the sinking fund as described by the noble lord)—that they would have reduced the debt by the amount of 40,000,000l., and taxes by the amount of 12,000,000l. But then, what was to happen at the end of these six years? Suppose there should then be a war (and such a case had been imagined, and even put by his majesty's ministers), we should begin that war with a debt of 760,000,000l.; and this too after a lapse of thirteen years of peace. He took the case as it had been put; but thirteen years were much beyond the average duration of those periods of peace which this country had hitherto enjoyed. We should have relieved ourselves at this end of six years, by this plan, from 1,200,000l. of taxes, and reduced the debt within what he supposed would be called the moderate compass of 760,000,000l. [A laugh.] But how did ministers arrive even at this result? By having laid on 3,200,000l. of additional taxes since the conclusion of the war. At the end of thirteen years of peace, it would be true that we had forty millions less of debt; but it would be equally true that our burdens had been increased by two millions. Was it too much then for him to say, that this did not hold out a very encouraging prospect? He was sure that no man heard him who did not consider this statement with something like disappointment and dismay; and, if he possessed any reflection, it could not be otherwise. It was not necessary for him to allude more particularly to what must be the real operation of the noble lord's plan; but he had omitted to state what would he its probable effect upon the interest of money, in consequence of the intended alteration in the 5 per cents. It seemed to him a very amazing thing, that the noble lord the other night should have brought forward this project, instead of the chancellor of the exchequer. He could not conceive the reason of such a dereliction of duty, because this was a dry subject of finance, very foreign from those topics upon which the noble lord was accustomed to enlarge. But, upon a little reflection, the reason was obvious, for the right hon. gentleman had brought forward the same scheme just four years ago. The right hon. gentleman had actually employed nearly the same form of words: he expected, he said, that there would be an available surplus of 4,000,000l.; and declared that stocks were so rapidly improving, that be hoped the interest on public securities would, in a few years, fall to 3 per cent. For the accuracy of this statement, he begged to refer hon. gentlemen to those records, which, by some accident or other were kept, of proceedings in that house. The right hon. gentleman had exultingly said, in the year 1818, that the Bank would then shortly resume cash payments, that the funds would improve, that interest would be lowered, and that, in short, every thing would thenceforth go on surprisingly well indeed, but, in 1819, he came down to parliament to ask for 3,000,000l. of new taxes. For his own part, he doubted whether the sinking fund would ever produce those effects which were anticipated from it. Had he no doubt on this head, be would still say, that if the funds were to be raised by artificial means, the sinking fund would be not a benefit but a detriment to the public. The hon. member for Portarlington had already said truly, that any operation on the public funds, produced, as it were, by force, could not affect the general rate of interest. The general capital of the country could only be affected by the dealings or speculations of those who possessed it. Although Government should run up the stocks, the ordinary rate of interest would not be superseded by that circumstance. He thought, that, if the sinking fund were done away with to-morrow, the large assemblage of persons who were already invited to meet the chancellor of the exchequer would be too numerous for Palace-yard to contain. He did not believe that if the plan of the noble lord was then and there submitted, the meeting would be perfectly useless. The individuals whom the right hon. gentleman was to meet were just as quick and as discriminating in their calculations as the right hon. gentleman himself; and if any thing should intervene to make it worth their while, they would to-morrow be just as anxious to run the stocks down, as they were now to run them up. It was curious to observe that the right hon. gentleman was always extremely intent on raising the price of the funds; and it was also to be observed, that the right hon. gentleman, when he wished to know what was proper to be done for the good of the country, never sent for the member for Suffolk, Norfolk, or Yorkshire, or any other of the country-gentlemen, as they were termed; but he was accustomed to send for one or two merchants from the city—for one or two of the monied men, or for some gentleman of another religion. [A laugh] Without meaning any reflection on them, it must be supposed that they had a little eye to their own interests surely [a laugh], and sometimes without their even being aware of the fact. A gentleman who lived in the atmosphere of the Royal Exchange would naturally feel anxious to overreach, in the way of bargain and sale, the right hon. gentleman, if possible. The right, hon. gentleman, always ready to raise the stocks, often said See how we are flourishing;" and the house had had that day, or would have in the course of half am, hour, a glowing account of the finances. But the house would recollect that they had heard a similar account in the year 1818: he begged they would also remember what had happened in the year 1819, and not make themselves too sure that the same thing might not happen in 1823. The right hon. gentleman had been; on more than one occasion, deceived; and he might be equally deceived hereafter. There was one deception which he seemed to labour under evidently, and that regarded the interest of money. The high price of stock, growing out of the increase of the property of the country, was not the cause of lowering the interest of money, but the effect. Stock being raised by natural means, furnished in itself a natural proof that interest must generally be reduced. He had been astonished to hear an hon. gentleman assert, that if the sinking fund were taken away, much money would be sent out of the country. Now he (Mr. T.) had meant to argue exactly the other way. Money was sent out of the country every day, in consequence of that fund, and of the other projects of the right hon. gentleman. Million after million had left the kingdom, precisely because the right hon. gentleman had tried to lower the interest of money. Did he believe that he could have that interest one thing here, and another elsewhere? Did he suppose that to a capitalist, Holland, France, or England were not one great Royal Exchange; and that, provided he could advantageously invest his capital, he cared not one halfpenny whether the funds were English, French, or Dutch. Was it not a fact, that from the moment it was known that the interest on government securities was to be lowered, all the foreign securities rose very considerably, and in consequence of foreigners selling out of the funds of this country, in order to get a better interest for their money? This they had done, not from any improper motive, but on the fair commercial principle of getting the most upon their capital. On these grounds he must say, that the noble marquis's plan was not likely to lead to those consequences of which so many gentlemen of the landed interest had augured so favourably, and especially as regarded the reduction of interest. Gentlemen would do well to take care that they did not borrow money at one rate of interest to day, which they might have to repay at another rate of interest to-morrow. It was true that a person who borrowed money on mortgage might be affected by such a reduced rate, but it was by no means obvious that the rest of the landed interest could be materially affected by the change. What was it to the farmer? Did the right hon. gentleman believe that the farmer could not borrow money now, even with facility? In every county of England money was going a begging; for it was not that money was wanting, but that security was wanting. Let them reduce the rate of interest to what they pleased, if security was wanting the reduction was of no use. If, as he was willing to persuade himself, he was addressing gentlemen who were the true representatives of their tenantry and of the landed interest, he would beg to ask them what kind of report they would make, when they returned to the country, to represent what had been the result of all their exertions? Would it not be to this effect:—"Gentlemen, you many be satisfied that what has been done has put all the stockholders in motion: we never saw them in greater force, and when we came out of town, they were all in high spirits: and as for you, gentlemen, we have got you a shilling per bushel off the malt." Now, if country gentleman were satisfied with that, if they were read to bow to the decision of the minister, if after the paltry reduction which he proposed they retired satisfied, it was not for him to censure them, they were best acquainted with their own interest, but he only asked as a favour that he might not hear any more clamour from them: he only hoped that there would be no more county meetings; and that he should hear no more fine speeches from gentlemen on the embarrassments of the landed interests. How was the satisfaction of gentlemen to be accounted for? How easy, in the opinion of such men, was confusion avoided and distress relieved, when a reduction of is a bushel on the tax on malt was held as a signal cure. To such gentlemen, if such there were in that House, it would appear that this country, distracted and nearly ruined, was all the time they so described it, within one shilling the bushel on the malt tax, of a state of ease and prosperity.—He would now say a word with respect to the operation of the sinking fund proposed by the noble lord. It was suggested by his learned friend (Mr. Brougham), that the sinking fund, instead of being applied as pointed out by the noble lord, should be applied in aid of the burthen of taxes. He agreed entirely in the opinion of his learned friend: he was for relieving, without delay the distresses of the country, by the means that presented themselves. But was it from that to be inferred, that his learned friend or himself wished to ruin public credit—wished to strip the Treasury of every shilling it contained? No, as far as he was himself concerned, and he might say the same for his learned friend, he was a sincere friend to the public creditor, and wished to preserve sacred the engagements of the country. His learned friend had been unfairly treated. His object was to relieve agricultural distress: but his meaning was tortured and misrepresented. Gentlemen were told—"it is clear some mysterious object labours in the mind of the learned gentleman, some object injurious to public credit—some object which cannot bear the light." Such was the construction put upon the words of his hon. and learned friend, but he was sure that the motives and the object of his learned friend would bear a more steady light—a more strict inquiry than the views of gentlemen on the other side of that House. It was his opinion, that more substantial good would be effected by applying the sinking fund, in aid of taxation, which would give immediate relief, than by applying that fund towards the redemption of the debt. By the plan of the noble lord, they would derive the advantage of reducing the five percents.—and the resolution of the right. hon. gentleman embraced that object, and took credit for it, as if it had been already accomplished; yet it was a matter at least of doubt, whether the scheme could be carried into effect to the extent contemplated by the right hon. gentleman. If he might be allowed to use so homely a phrase, the chancellor of the exchequer might find that many of the gentlemen with whom he had tomorrow to deal, were "Yorkshire too." He did not very well understand this scheme of reduction, for, supposing that he did not like to take the 4 per cents., government, he imagined, must give him his money in the capital of the fives. Very likely they might be prepared to do so; but. admitting that only some might walk off with the money in their pockets, while others took the 4 per cents., it was no very trifling matter to procure 100,000,000l., or 120,000,000. to pay these parties withal. He should say, that if they took 1,000,000l. in aid of the taxes, and left 1,000,000l. to operate by way of sinking fund, every possible risk would be obviated. Ministers had always testified an extraordinary anxiety to prevent the fund holder from suffering the slightest inconvenience. When did it happen that in any one quarter, when the fundholder was to be paid his interest, they had declined borrowing of the Bank of England? They had gone on for years, borrowing in this way most unblushingly; for that was the only term applicable to such conduct. They had gone on, prating about public credit, and yet they had done all in their power to burden and oppress it. It was objected, that if they were to adopt the plan he had now suggested, they would lose the benefit of the 1,400,000l.; but did any one doubt the great benefit which would accrue from the repeal of 4,000,000l. of taxes? An hon. gent who had spoken that night with ability, had said, that taxes had nothing to do with the fall of prices. Nobody said they had; but if a man laboured under a variety of distresses, and you did away with a certain number of them, pro tanto you relieved him. If the farmer, on carrying his produce to market, had reason to complain of low prices, it was at least pleasant that, in riding home, he should not be met by a person in the shape of a tax-gatherer demanding money which he had not got. Did the hon. gentleman believe that if 5,000,000l. of taxes were taken off, the gross amount of the revenue would be diminished; or was he not aware that if certain taxes were repealed, the others would become more productive? His objection to the noble lord's plan was shortly this—that for a present grievance it proposed a distant remedy. As for his own proposition, if he thought that it could have, in the smallest degree, the disastrous consequence which was attributed to it, namely, that it would be an infraction of the public faith, he would not say another word about it. But what was the ground of the dismay with which it was looked at? Last year, when the surplus, instead of five millions, was only 1,400,000l. no dismay was excited, because that surplus was not applied in the manner proposed by the noble lord. The revenue had thus flourished under the smaller income: nobody knew of the larger amount till now: nor did he believe that they would have known of it, but for the agricultural distresses, and the necessity there was to send the country gentlemen back to their constituents with something to say to them. He did believe that if 4,000,000l. of taxes were taken off, that, (to borrow an expression from the noble lord) would be a principle of relief which would vivify and fructify throughout the whole country. If taxes were taken off any article to a certain amount, it was always admitted that the portion which remained would improve. In this way the country might be relieved, and the revenue not proportionally injured by a reduction of taxes. But in addition to this, there was surely something more to be done in the way of retrenchment. He had a perfect conviction that very considerable savings might be made, and if these savings were added to the surplus which would remain from the improvement of the revenue, after the proposed reduction of taxes, a sufficient fund would be created to maintain public credit, and gradually to redeem the public debt. On this ground he would take his stand—that the reduction of taxes, in the present state of the country, would more benefit the public, without any injustice to the fund-holder, than the application of five millions raised in a season of distress to pay off debt. Whatever might be thought of his suggestion, he could assure the House that he had not taken a hasty view of the subject; he had long considered it, and he had come to his present conclusion, in opposition to his former opinion, with reluctance. He could only hold out prospects of increasing improvement by affording, at present, great substantial relief. Let the House recollect, that if a new war were to afflict the country, it would be the better able to bear five millions of new taxes, because it was now relieved from their pressure. So far was he from being disposed to make any attack on public credit, that he would uphold it in the most effectual manner; and the motion of his noble friend, he could assure them, had nothing in it alarming. Suppose they were to apply the amount of all the savings to increase the sinking fund, he was convinced that the country would care very little about retrenchment. He knew of nothing that would settle all clamour for retrenchment so effectually, as telling the people that all the savings would go to increase the sinking fund, and none of them would be felt in a reduction of taxes. The country, by its loudly expressed voice, now forced the government to lessen the expense of the establishment; but the moment it was to learn that the surplus revenue was not to go to the relief of the pressure of the public burthens, it would no longer care about the matter. The noble lord anticipated great advantage from the application of 5,000,000l. of sinking fund, in raising the stocks and lowering the rate of interest. Now, the lowering of the rate of interest, if it proceeded, as he had no doubt it did, from the growing prosperity of the country, would take place sooner the more that prosperity increased, by a reduction of the public burthens. And here he could not omit the opportunity of saving a word respecting this growing prosperity. He was willing to allow, without being restrained by any political or party bias, that the country was generally in a state of growing prosperity. He could not believe, when he saw many branches of the industry and trade of the country improving, that the country itself could be retrograding. The prosperity of some was the improvement of all. There was a demand for capital, and an employment of it, which evinced increasing industry and extending profits; and this growing prosperity would be promoted and accelerated by a relief from taxation. He was not prepared to give any opinion about the intended financial negotiation of to-morrow, but he might suggest that the five per cents might be more conveniently paid off next year, when the other kinds of stock would rise by the reduction of interest, occasioned by the increasing prosperity. He had to apologize to the House for occupying its attention so long. He assured it that none of the opinions which he uttered had been formed without the maturest deliberation. He should not be ashamed to change his opinions upon any question of public policy, but he should not do so but upon the most mature and deliberate reflection.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the right hon. gentleman had stated what he conceived to be the origin of the sinking fund, as established by Mr. Pitt. He had, however, not stated it quite correctly. The right hon. gentleman complained that the system of Mr. Pitt had been departed from with respect to the sinking fund; but he should have stated, also, that if that system had been adhered to, the country would now be subjected to 17 millions of additional taxes. If the right hon. gentleman conceived it intolerable to keep up a sinking fund of five millions, how much more oppressive should he, in fairness, consider it to preserve entire the system of Mr. Pitt, which would subject the country to 17 millions of additional taxes? Such a sum would have enabled us to reduce rapidly the public debt, and to perform great financial results. The sacrifice, however, would have been in proportion to the advantage. Instead of being able to remit taxes after the peace, we should now have been labouring under the great burthen and unalleviated pressure of 17 millions of taxes. The property tax, and other taxes which had been reduced, would have been necessarily kept up to their war amount. It was true that our sinking fund of five millions was small, when compared with 17 millions; but it seemed adequate to the support of public credit, if religiously guarded and properly applied to redeem the debt. Though nominally greater before the late change, it was never so effective; for it could not be denied that, however great the nominal amount of a sinking fund, the only part of it applicable to the redemption of debt was the surplus of the public income over the public expenditure. It had been asked, if the nominal sinking fund had been abolished, why keep up the machinery by which its operations were carried on? To this he replied, that, connected as it was with all the late acts of parliament regarding finance, the entire sweeping away of the machinery would require other changes, and therefore was a measure not to be hastily undertaken. The right hon. gentleman had committed a mistake, when he asserted that the sinking fund of Mr. Pitt in 1786 began by an existing surplus of revenue over expenditure. The fact was, that 800,000l. new taxes were then imposed towards creating the fund. In 1792, an addition was made to the fund of one per cent on every loan to be subsequently contracted. All loans contracted between 1792 and 1798 were contracted subject to this provision for their redemption, and the public creditor had a right to expect that this rule which had been departed from between 1798 and 1802, and again restored, should be adhered to. It had been of late years neglected. The first alteration was made between 1798 and 1802. The original fund established in 1786, was not to accumulate beyond four millions—the interest of the redeemed debt remaining at the disposal of parliament. In 1802, the two sinking funds were united. The proposal of his noble friend, to set apart five millions for the redemption of the debt, varied only from the original plan by increasing the amount. The country required, for the support of public credit, a large and efficient surplus of revenue over expenditure: 5,000,000l. was the least that they thought would answer the purpose. This sum, however, had never yet been realized, though the public creditor, who had not obtained the one per cent for the reduction of his debt, had a right to expect as much. In the opinion of ministers, the resolution of 1819, which declared that five millions ought to be so employed, should be as strictly adhered to as the original sinking fund was, so long as the state of the country would admit. There was now every prospect that the amount would not fall short of the estimate, though it had never yet come up to it, being last year only 2,600,000l., and not 1,400,000l., as had been stated by the right hon. gentleman. The right hon. gentleman was likewise in error when he argued that all the advantage which the country would derive from the retrenchment in our establishments and the financial operations in the 5 per cents would be only 1,500,000l. That was the amount of taxes to be remitted, but it did not comprehend all the advantages that might accrue. The country would be relieved by a constantly growing fund, and the lowering of interest which would result from the secure state of public credit would confer great benefit on all who required loans of money. The hon. member for Wiltshire had said, on a former evening, that the million and a half of land tax remitted did not amount to more than one per cent on the rent of the tenant which he argued would be very inefficient in the way of relief; but, appropriating the amount of 4,000,000l., (which was the utmost proposed to be reduced), the relief could not be much more than 2½ per cent. For the sake of this trifling reduction of the burthens of which the agricultural interest complained, they ought not to make this country descend from that eminence of public credit in which it surpassed all other countries. When the country was called upon to make a sort of composition with its creditors, they were bound to show its insolvency. Now, to what were they to appeal to show that fact? With respect to the general state of the country, though it was not to be denied, that a great pressure was felt by the agriculturists, yet the traders and manufacturers of the country were in an improving, if not a flourishing condition. Since the year 1789, imports had greatly increased, and the consumption of British manufactures in foreign countries had doubled within that period.—Here the right hon. gentleman went into a review of the resources and trade of the country, which differed in very few particulars from the statement made on a former evening by lord Londonderry. As a proof of the stability of the country, he stated, that of 56,000,000l. which were collected within the last year, there was only a deficiency of 400,000l. returned to the Exchequer. He stated also, that in the savings banks an additional sum of 1,300,000l. had been lodged within the last year. The reduction of taxes, therefore, did not appear a matter of indispensable necessity, and would be thought by all sensible men to be dearly purchased, by any interference with the delicate subject of public credit. What, he would ask, had elevated us above all other nations? What had given us so much power in the late struggle? What had enabled us to excite and to direct the military force of Europe from St. Peters-burgh to Cadiz? It was the public credit, which he now implored them to preserve. He hoped they would not come to the resolution that night of committing, what he should not hesitate to call an act of political suicide. The system which they were called upon that night to overturn, was one which was Followed by other countries. France, treading in our footsteps, had now a greater sinking fund in proportion to her debt, than we had; and America had a sinking fund that would redeem her debt in less than twenty years. He, therefore, looked to the House for the exertion of its vigour and firmness to preserve this great monument of our strength and security. Never was a more important question submitted to parliament than that on which they were that night called upon to decide. Upon that night's decision depended whether or no the plan laid down by ministers would be steadily pursued. Should the motion of the noble lord be entertained by the House, the project which he (the chancellor of the exchequer) and his noble friend had in view, must necessarily be abandoned. As they all agreed that the true glory of the country depended on public credit, he hoped the vote of that night would leave it inviolate.

After a short reply from lord Althorp, the House divided: For the original motion, 126; Against it, 234. Mr. Robinson's resolutions were then put, and agreed to.

List of the Minority; and also of the Majority.
Allen, J. H. Crespigny, sir W.
Boughton, sir. W. E. Crompton, S.
R. Curwen, J. C.
Barham, J. jun. Creevey, T.
Benett, John Davenport, D.
Baring, sir T. Davies, T. H.
Barrett, S. M. Denison, W. J.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Dundas, hon. T.
Benyon, B. Dickinson, W.
Bernal, R. Ebrington, visct.
Bentinck, lord W. Ellice, E.
Birch, J. Ford, M.
Boughey, sir J. F. Fergusson, sir R.
Brougham, H. Farrand, R.
Browne, D. Fitzgerald, lord W.
Bright, H. Fitzroy, lord J.
Butterworth, J. Fairlie, sir W. C.
Burdett, sir F. Grattan, J.
Byng, George Guise, sir W.
Calvert, N. Hamilton, lord A.
Calvert, C. Heathcote, sir G.
Chaloner, R. Heathcote, G. J.
Calcraft, John Heron, sir R.
Cavendish, C. Hill, lord A.
Caulfield, hon. H. Hobhouse, J. C.
Clifton, lord Honywood, W. P.
Coffin, sir I. Howard, hon. W.
Concannon, L. Hughes, W. L.
Hume, Joseph Ramsden, J. C.
Hurst, R. Ricardo, D.
Hutchinson, hon. C.H. Ridley, sir M. W.
James, W. Robarts, A.
Johnson, col. Roberts, Geo.
Jones, John Robinson, sir G.
Kennedy, W. F. Rumbold, C.
Lambton, J. G. Russell, lord John
Lennard, T. B. Russell, R. G.
Leycester, R. Rice, T. S.
Leake, W. Scourfield, W. H.
Lethbridge, sir T. Smith, hon. R.
Langston, J. H. Smith W.
Lawley, F. Scarlett, J.
Maberly, John Sefton, earl
Maberly, W. L Stanley, lord
Macdonald, J. Stewart, (Tyrone) W.
Mackintosh, sir J. Stuart, lord
Markham, admiral Sykes, D.
Maxwell, J. W. Shelley, sir John
Monck, J. B. Tavistock, marq.
Moore, Peter Taylor, M. A.
Marjoribanks, S. Tennyson, C.
Normanby, visct. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Newport, sir J. Titchfield, marq.
Nugent, lord Tulk, C. A.
O'Callaghan, J. Ware, J. A.
Ord, W. Webbe, Edw.
Ossulston, lord Wilkins, W.
Palmer, C. F. Wilson, sir R.
Pares, Thos. Wells, John
Peirse, Henry Wood, ald.
Pelham, hon. C. A. Wyvill, M.
Phillips, G. R. TELLERS.
Price, Robt. Althorp, lord
Pym, F. Duncannon, lord
Ramsbottom, J.
Apsley, lord Blackburne, John
Alexander, J. Bankes, Henry
Alexander, J. D. Bankes, George
Arbuthnot, rt. hn. C. Bathurst. rt. hn. C. B.
Atwood, M. Bridges, G.
Acland, T. D. Brandling, C.
Astley, sir J. D. Burrell, W.
A'Court, E. H. Corbett, P.
Ashurst, W. H. Cook, sir C. H.
Astell, W. Cranborne, lord
Bective, lord Cole, sir L.
Bastard, E. P. Chaplin, C.
Bastard, John Childe, W. L.
Blake, R. Campbell, Arch.
Binning, lord Curteis, J. E.
Browne, J. Curtis, sir W.
Browne, rt. hon. D. Cockerell, sir C.
Browne, Peter Calthorpe, hon. F. G.
Bruce, Rt. Croker, J. W.
Balfour, John Courtenay, T. P.
Bernard, visc. Courtenay, W.
Bourne, W. S. Cherry, G. H.
Brogden, J. Coeks, hon. J.
Burgh, sir U. Canning, rt. hon. G.
Baillie, John Cooper, R. B.
Brownlow, C. Cholmeley, sir M.
Buchanan, J. Cholmondeley, lord H.
Bradshaw, R. H. Calvert, John
Chandos, marq. Jenkinson, hon. C.
Copley, sir J. S. Knox, hon. T.
Cartwright, R. W. Kingsborough, visct.
Clive, Henry Keck, G. A. L.
Cockburne, sir G. Knatchbull, sir E.
Cust, hon. E. Lowther, visc.
Cheere, E. M. Lowther, John
Claughten, Thos. Lowther John jun.
Chamberlayne, Wm. Legge, hon. H.
Clerk, sir G. Leigh, F.
Clinton, sir W. H. Lewis, W.
Congreve, sir W. Lucy, George
Cripps, J. Lascelles, hon. W.
Curzon, hon. Rt. Lyndsay, hon. H.
Dundas, rt. hon. W. Long, rt. hon. C.
Dawkins, J. Londonderry, marq. Of
Dawkins, Henry Lygon, hon. H.
Doveton, Gabriel Luttrell, H. F.
Divett, Thos. Luttrell, J. F.
Dowdeswell, J. E. Littleton, Ed.
Dawson, G. R. Lewis, T. F.
Dawson, J. H. M. Marryat, Jos.
Downie, R. Magennis, Rd.
Davis, Hart Musgrove, sir P.
Don, sir A. Macqueen, T. P.
Estcourt, T. G. Morland, sir S. B.
Evelyn, L. Monteith, H.
Ellison, Cuthbert Montgomery, Jas.
Eastnor, visct. Macnaughten, E. A.
Egerton, Wilbraham Morgan, G. G.
Ellis, C. R. Mountcharles, lord
Elliot, hon. W. Macdonald, R. G.
Fynes, Henry Money, W. T.
Fane, John Manning, W.
Fane, Vere Martin, John
Fleming, John Mansfield, J.
Fleming, John Mills, C.
Fellowes, W. H. Mitchel, John
Forbes, C. Neale, sir H. B.
Gurney, H. Nightingale, sir M.
Grant, right hon. Nolan, M.
Greville, hon. sir C. Nicholl, rt. hon. sir J.
Gilbert, D. Nugent, sir G.
Grenfell, Pascoe Owen, sir John
Gifford, sir R. Onslow, Arthur
Goulburn, H. O'Grady, S.
Gordon, hon. W. Pringle, sir W.
Gooch, T. S. Prendergast, M. G.
Gower, lord. F. L. Pollen, sir J.
Grant, A. C. Paget, hon. B.
Gipps, G. Paget, hon. sir C.
Handley, Henry Pechell, sir Thos.
Harvey, sir E. Phillimore, Dr. J.
Hotham, lord Peel, rt. hon. R.
Hamilton, sir H. D. Peel, W.
Hill, sir G. Palmerston, visc.
Hill, Rowland Pitt, W. M.
Heber, R. Pearse, John
Heygate, alderman Pennant, G.
Hawkins, sir C. Ryder, rt. hon. R.
Huskisson, rt. hn. W. Raine, J.
Hardinge, sir H. Robinson, rt. hon. F.
Helford, G. P. Robertson, A.
Holmes, W. Rice, hon. G.
Haldimand, Wm. Rogers, Edw.
Innes, John Rowley, sir Josias
Irving, John Sotheron, F. F.
Sandon, visc. Wrottesley, H.
Stewart, Alex. Wilson, W. W. C.
Stuart, W. (Armagh) Wilson, sir H.
Skeffington, hon. T. H. Wilson, Tho.
Scott, Sam. Wellesley, Rd.
Sheldon, R. Willoughby, H.
Sumner, G. H. Wodehouse, hon. J.
Strutt, J. H. Wodehouse, hon. E.
Shiffner, sir G. Wildman, J.
Smith, T. Williams, Rt.
Smith, Sam. Wood, col.
Smith, Abel Wynn, C. W.
Smith, R. Wortley, J. S.
Smith, Christ. Wilmot, Rt.
Thompson, W. Whitmore, W. W.
Townshend, hon. H. Wetherell, C.
Twiss, Horace Ward, Robt.
Taylor, sir H. Walker, Joshua
Ure, M. Wallace, rt. hon. T.
Upton, hon. A. Wall, C. B.
Vernon, G. V. Yarmouth, earl of
Vivian, sir H. TELLERS.
Vansittart, rt. hon. N. Lushington, S.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. Osborn, sir J.