HC Deb 02 July 1832 vol 13 cc1239-41
Mr. Herries

begged to take that opportunity, as the noble Lord was about to move the Supplies, to ask, at what time the Government expected to be prepared with the annual general statement of the financial affairs of the country, the usual time being passed when, according to modern practice, that statement should have been made? He was desirous of knowing this, because he believed that a knowledge of the views and intentions of the Government would save trouble, and perhaps much preliminary discussion, which might be provoked by longer delay. At the same time, he wished to suggest to the noble Lord the necessity, for the guidance of the House, of having prepared a balance-sheet, showing distinctly the income and expenditure of the quarter ending the 5th of April last. It was known that the public felt much disappointment and alarm at seeing, by the balance-sheet for the quarter ending 5th of January previous, that there was a great deficiency in the income of the country, as compared with its expenditure. He wished that the balance-sheet of the succeeding quarter might show it otherwise; but he very much apprehended, that the deficit would even appear much more considerable. His own calculations, as far as he had been able to make them, certainly showed that result, though he sincerely hoped those calculations might turn out to be wrong. But he thought that very important matter was involved in the question, and that it was material for the House to know what the relative state of that quarter was. As another quarter was now drawing near to an end, and, as the year's accounts could not be made up for some time, he thought it highly desirable that the sheet for the quarter ending April 5th should be before the House, and the general statement made as speedily as possible.

Lord Althorp

agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that it would be proper to have this balance-sheet laid on the Table as speedily as possible, but it would be better for those who wished for it to state their reasons openly. The alleged deficiency would be found much less than had been stated—less than 1,200,000l. He must also remind the House, that the Estimates for the year did not come into operation until after the present quarter, and that Ministers relied principally on those Estimates for the reduction of the expenditure of the country. He trusted, when the time came, that he should be able to show that the hon. Gentleman's apprehensions were groundless. In a few days the publication of the accounts must take place, according to Act of Parliament.

Sir George Warrender

said, that with regard to the transaction relating to the convention with Russia, he was sorry it was to be postponed, as it was a matter he was very anxious to see before the House. Having been one of those who gave his confidence to the Government on that affair, and voted against the motion of the right hon. member for Harwich, depending upon the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he was certainly astonished to find the dates which he now saw upon the convention. But, although he gave that vote, he did so feeling at the time that it did not pledge him to any transaction, binding this country to pay money to Russia after the separation between Holland and Belgium had been completed. He voted as he did, thinking this country bound in honour to pay so long as the separation between the two States had not taken place. He did now hope, under the aspect which the affair had taken, that the question would not be deferred, so as to be brought forward when Gentlemen had been compelled to leave town, and when it could not receive the attention it loudly demanded.

Lord Althorp

was quite willing to enter into a full discussion on the subject, but it would certainly be desirable that there should be a full attendance when the question was discussed.