HC Deb 24 April 1828 vol 19 cc49-51
Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, he rose to present a petition from Mr. Moses Wing, of Market-street, Southwark, and of Middle-row, Bloomsbury, relative to the great losses sustained by the public in the Life Annuities sold by government. The hon. alderman, after expressing his surprise at having heard it stated elsewhere, that no communications had been received by government, pointing out the losses on those annuities, save those of Mr. Finlayson, observed, that that gentleman had predicted the loss, and said he would prove it by his own tables, which tables, though they had been promised eight years ago, were not yet ready. He did not know where the blame rested, but it was certain that Mr. Finlayson received 500l. a year to enable him to make out those tables, and that great loss had accrued to the public by not having them prepared. It would be seen from the statement of the petitioner, that he also had made a communication to government on this subject, so early as May, 1819. At that period he addressed a letter to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, stating that the tables by which the government life annuities were granted, were not adapted to such purpose, and that great loss to the public revenue had arisen from the use of them. To this letter he received an answer, stating that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not think it expedient that any alteration should be made at that time, and that the computation of new tables would be attended with great difficulty. The petitioner addressed another letter on the 11th of that month on the same subject, in which he entered into a detail of the loss accruing to the public. He showed that, on some of those annuities there was a loss of eight, ten, twelve, and fifteen per cent, and on others of twenty and twenty-four per cent. That at some rates at which they were granted there was a loss of not less than 2,691,200l. on a transfer of 12,000,000l. of stock. This he showed from tables calculated by baron Maseres, long before any annuities were granted by government. Now, after this it was too bad that no steps had been taken by government to prevent the great loss which the public were daily sustaining. In 1825 the petitioner addressed another letter on the subject, and received an answer from the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, thanking him for his communication, and admitting that government were aware that the tables on which the annuities were calculated were inaccurate, and that inquiries were making, in order to get more correct information. He was surprised that the noble lord, who was at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, should forget this circumstance.—The hon. alderman then proceeded to point out the great loss which had accrued to the public from inattention to the communications made by the petitioner; who, he considered, had been hardly used. He had not sought for any remuneration, though he was entitled to it; but some of his communications had been delayed, some had not been presented, and others remained unanswered. He trusted, however, that proper attention would now be paid to them.

Ordered to lie on the table.