HC Deb 24 April 1833 vol 17 cc540-86

Colonel Torrens moved the Order of the Day for resuming the debate. The hon. and gallant Officer then proceeded to say, though he believed it would be expedient to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the state of our monetary system, yet he was not one of those who sought to lower or degrade the ancient standard of value, upon the faith of which the engagements of the country have been contracted. He (Colonel Torrens) could not support a proposition for lowering or degrading the ancient standard, on the ground so well stated by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade—that lowering the value of the currency reduced the real wages of the working classes. This opinion he had always held, and had repeatedly expressed. With the permission of the House, he would read a very short passage on this subject from a pamphlet he had published in 1819, for the purpose of pointing out the evils too fatally realized, of the mode in which it was proposed to return to cash-payments. 'The first, and certainly the 'most injurious consequence of a fall in 'the value of the circulating medium is, the 'reduction which it effects in the real wages 'of labour. A fall in the value of money 'is the same thing as a rise in the price 'of all the necessaries of life; and expe'rience proves to us, that the rate of wages 'is somewhat tardy in proportioning itself 'to the price of the necessaries of life. 'In almost all trades the sum which is 'paid for labour is regulated by a contract,? 'tacit or implied, between the masters and 'the workmen; and notwithstanding the 'fluctuations in the value of money, and 'the price of necessaries, this sum paid 'for labour varies but little for considerable 'periods. While the Restriction Act re 'mains in force, and particularly if the 'Bank continue to make undue advances 'in favour of Government, the currency 'may occasionally fall below its customary 'level, and thereby render wages inade'quate to the support of the labourer's family, increase the number of paupers, 'and render the pressure upon the par'ishes more heavy. To these principles propounded in 1819, he (Colonel Torrens) still adhered, and he could not consistently give his support to any proposition, having for its object to lower and degrade the current standard of the currency. With him the question was, whether, without degrading the standard, our monetary system could be improved? The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) who concluded the debate last night, and who spoke as he always speaks, with so much power and effect, had challenged us to disprove that the Act of 1819 was not founded upon just principles, and he (Colonel Torrens) would accept the challenge; he was pro-pared to show that the Act of 1819, for restoring the ancient, metallic standard of value, was, perhaps, the most extraordinary instance of rash, precipitate, and mischievous legislation, which the history of Parliament contained. General principles were applied without regard to the particular circumstances which modified and controlled their operation. And not only so, the general principles intended to be brought into practical operation were misunderstood and departed from. The avowed intention was to restore the ancient standard of value; but instead of doing this, the Legislature imposed a new and a higher standard. Before the suspension of cash payments in 1797, the standard of the currency was coin, which could be legally melted or exported. By the Act of 1819, for resuming cash payments, this ancient standard was abandoned—the currency was made convertible into coin which could not be legally melted and exported. This departure from the ancient standard was a fraud upon the public to a certain extent whenever the foreign exchanges happened to be unfavourable, of at least three per cent upon all money engagements. For though the law prohibiting the melting and exporting of the coin of the realm was evaded; yet the evasion of the law was attended with inconvenience and risk; and when the exchanges became unfavourable, the value of bullion which could be sworn off for exportation was three per cent higher than that of the bullion which could not be sworn off. Thus a new and a higher standard was inflicted on the country, and an injurious facility was given for contracting the currency and reducing prices. But this was not all—by the ancient laws of our coinage, both gold and silver were legal tenders to any amount; and previous to the suspension of cash payments, all debts and engagements were incurred upon the broad understanding that the debtor had the option of paying either in gold or silver; and, in point of fact, payments were sometimes made in one metal, and sometimes in the other, as their relative value happened to vary. The practice of making both metals a legal tender was long prevalent in England. From 1257 till 1664, the current value of the gold coin, in relation to the silver coin, was regulated by Proclamation, and payments to any amount might be made in either. From 1664 down to 1717 the relative of gold to silver was not fixed by authority; and, practically, silver was the only legal tender. An alteration in the regulation of the Mint occurred in 1717, when a guinea was made equivalent to 21s. in silver. But the market value of the silver contained in 21s. was greater than the value of a guinea; the public had an interest in paying in gold, and hence gold, instead of silver, was employed, by common consent, as the legal tender. In 1774 it was enacted, that silver coin, when paid by tale, should not be legal tender for sums above 25l.; but the option was still left to the public to discharge engagements of any amount in silver coin, according to its value by weight, after the rate of 5s. 2d. per ounce. From 1774, down to the Act for the resumption of cash-payments, in 1819, the public had the legal right to discharge all engagements in silver, at the rate of 5s. 2d. per ounce. When cash payments were required, then came into operation the Act of 1816, by which gold was declared to be the only legal tender for sums above 40s., and by which the public were deprived of the option always before enjoyed, of paying in silver at the rate of 5s. 2d. per ounce. Thus it appeared, on the fullest evidence, that by the Act of 1819, Parliament in its wisdom, or rather in its ignor-ance, did not reestablish the ancient standard of value, but, on the contrary, established a different standard, depriving the public of the option of making payments in whatever metal might be relatively the cheapest. Practically there could be only one standard, and what the Legislature should have done in order to prevent the metal which might be sold too low in relation to the other, from being driven out, was, to let it circulate at an agio according to its market, and not according to its Mint price. But the whole course of the Government and of the Parliament of that day, in relation to the currency, was one continuous blunder. In departing from the ancient standard, they selected for their altered standard that metal which experience had shown to be most liable to fluctuations in value. When the balance of foreign payments was unfavourable, the increase in the value of gold was always greater than the increase in the value of silver. In proportion as it contained greater value in less bulk, gold would always, in the first instance, be preferred to silver for the purpose of being exported to balance an unfavourable foreign account; and the value of gold in the home-market, in relation to silver, must rise to the full amount of the difference of carriage before silver began to be sent abroad. Again, the quantity of silver was so large, and the proportion employed in the arts was so considerable, that several millions might be abstracted from the general market without materially affecting its value. On the other hand, the quantity of gold was comparatively so small, and of this small quantity so large a proportion was used for currency, that the abstraction from the channels of circulation of quantity which would have scarcely a perceptible effect on the value of silver, might have a considerable effect upon the value of gold. It was clear, then, from general principles, that whenever an unfavourable balance of foreign payments occurred, the value of gold rose in a higher proportion than the value of silver, and that, of the two metals, silver was the most eligible standard. But this was not all. The Legislature of 1819 not only misunderstood the nature of the standard which they intended to restore, but they neglected all the circumstances, by which the metals composing that standard, in the interval between the suspension and the resumption of cash payments, had been themselves enhanced in value. Many causes had concurred to increase the value of gold. By the return to cash payments a new demand for gold, to the amount of from 25,000,000l. to 30,000,000l., was created, while the contemporaneous changes from paper to metallic currency, which were effected in Russia, Austria, Denmark, and the United States, occasioned a still further demand for the precious metals to the amount of at least 25,000,000l. The whole of the increased demand for the precious metals could not have been less than 50,000,000l. sterling. But all the gold supposed to exist in the commercial world could scarcely have been more than 500,000,000l., while the annual supply, before it was reduced by the troubles in South America, was stated by Humboldt to be 1,600,000l. Now, if there had been no diminution in the annual supply of the precious metals, the increased demand for them to be used as coin would have materially enhanced their value. But while the demand increased, the supply diminished. The civil wars in South America suspended the working of the mines, and, instead of receiving supplies of the precious metals from South America, we actually exported specie thither. From these co-operating causes, the value of gold throughout the commercial world had advanced, or, in other words, the price of commodities had fallen. His hon. friend the member for the city of London had shown that a great proportion of the fall in the price of commodities had been occasioned by the increased facility of production, and the larger quantities in which commodities were brought to market. But those facts did not disprove the rise in the value of currency. On the contrary, they showed another cause of that rise. Value was relative, and a rise in the value of gold, as compared with other articles, might be occasioned either by increasing the cost of obtaining the metals, or by diminishing the cost of obtaining other articles. The facts brought forward by the hon. Member established this—that the value of the precious metals had been enhanced by a two-fold cause. In point of fact, the price of commodities measured the value of money; and the fall in general prices showed the rise in the value of the currency. Prices had fallen one-half, and therefore the value of our metallic standard had been doubled. Now, the Act of 1819, which the right hon. Baronet asserted to have been passed with so much deliberation and precaution, and with so careful a regard to justice and to sound principles, was passed in utter ignorance of all the principles which regulate value, and of all the circumstances which limit the application of general principles. The abolition of one-pound notes was another evil inflicted on the country by the ignorance of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet pronounced an eloquent speech against small notes. Every objection which he urged against them was equally applicable to five and ten-pound notes. The evils were not confined to small notes. They were inherent in the system. Extensive and calamitous experience had now established the fact, that a currency, consisting of the precious metals, and of paper convertible into these metals on demand, was liable to sudden and very considerable fluctuation, between the extremes of excess and of deficiency. Though no excess should ever be created, yet deficiency would occasionally occur. Redundant currency and the general rise in prices, checking exportation, and encouraging importation, were not the only—perhaps not the principal—causes of an unfavourable balance of foreign payment. Foreign expenditure—foreign loans—deficient harvests—excessive and mistaken speculations—might severally or conjointly create an amount of foreign debt beyond what the ordinary amount of foreign credits could liquidate, and thus cause the demand for foreign bills to exceed the supply. In this state of things foreign bills would bear a premium, and the bullion-merchant would obtain a profit by consigning the precious metals to his correspondents abroad—drawing for the amount, and disposing of his bills in the market. The banks of circulation would, as before, have their notes returned in exchange for gold; and to avert a dangerous rim upon their coffers, would be compelled to contract their issues until the value of the currency was so increased that the exportation of the coin no longer yielded a profit. When paper, issued in excess, or an unfavourable balance, arising from other causes, had occasioned a run upon the banks of circulation, it became the interest of those establishments to contract their issues, not merely in the degree necessary to stop the run and restore the currency to its standard value, but in that greater degree which might be requisite in order to raise the currency above its standard value, and to enable the directors, upon favourable terms, to replenish the exhausted coffers of the banks. When a run had taken place upon the banks which issue paper, the directors of these establishments could not ascertain, with any precision, the degree in which their issues ought to be contracted, in order to effect the two-fold object of arresting the drain upon their treasure, and of replenishing their coffers upon favourable terms. The necessity of contraction they would see; but, possessing no indications of the precise point at which it might safely and advantageously stop, they would often carry it considerably beyond what the actual circumstances of the case required. Hence, after every recurrence of excess or of an unfavourable foreign balance, a mixed currency, composed of coin and of paper, convertible upon demand, would suffer a much more considerable contraction, and acquire a higher value, than a currency purely metallic. The fluctuations in the value of such mixed currency, when occasioned by an unfavourable foreign balance, always became more considerable as the proportion which the paper bore to the coin was increased. Again, a mixed currency, composed of coin and of paper, convertible into coin on demand, was constantly exposed to still more sudden and violent diminutions in amount, in consequence of the stoppage of the banks by which the paper was circulated. The crisis of 1797, and the panic of 1825–6, were far from being extreme or aggravated instances of the evils inherent in this vicious monetary system. It was on all hands acknowledged, that if during the panic of 1825 we had been threatened with danger from abroad, or visited with a scarcity of corn at home, the crash would have been beyond all comparison more extensive and appalling. Under such circumstances, the failure of the London and country banks would have been followed by the stoppage of the Bank of England. As it was, that establishment had the greatest difficulty in providing gold to meet the extraordinary demand upon its coffers; and all the powers of the Mint, called into the utmost activity, could scarcely convert bullion into coin with sufficient rapidity for the occasion. On that occasion it was the liberality of the French bank, in permitting the British coin deposited with it to be withdrawn, which saved the Bank of England from the necessity of stopping payment. Unless our present system of currency were amended by the timely interference of the Legislature, it would go on to occasion periodical and aggravated distress, until, in a national bankruptcy, it would find its euthanasia. Thus the evils attributed by the right hon. member for Tamworth to the circulation of one-pound notes, was inherent in a system of currency consisting of coin and of paper-money issued by irresponsible individuals, and payable on demand at the option of the holder. What was the remedy? He would endeavour briefly to point it out. In the first place, he would make silver the standard instead of gold. This, as he had already explained, would render the currency more steady, and would prevent, to a certain extent, those fluctuations which had proved so ruinous to trade. In the second place, he would adopt the principle of the late Mr. Ricardo, and make the paper currency payable, not in coin, but in ingots of silver, to the amount of 100l. or 200l. This would secure the banks of circulation from political passions, and from runs having for object the embarrassment of the Government. In the third place, he would permit the re-issuing of one and two-pound notes. This would extend to the agricultural and thinly-peopled districts the advantages of credit and circulation, of which they were now deprived. And, in the fourth place, he would secure to the people the whole benefit of issuing paper money, which was now unjustly monopolized by the Bank of England. This, which had been suggested on the soundest principles of political economy by Mr. Ricardo, would place 40,000,000l. at the disposal of the Treasury. He need not dilate upon the vast benefit which the adoption of this arrangement would secure to the country. Thirty millions might be applied to the public service, and would, for a period of six years, allow of a reduction of taxation, to the amount of 5,000,000l. annually. Ten millions would remain, which might be applied to the immediate relief of distress. He begged pardon of the House for having occupied their attention so long. In conclusion he would repeat, that the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not inconsistent with the Motion of the hon. member for White haven, and he was ready to vote for both propositions. He was ready to affirm that the ancient standard of value ought not to be degraded; and he was prepared to vote for a Select Committee to inquire into the distress of the country, with the view of ascertaining how far that distress could be relieved by an improvement in our system of banking and of paper currency.

Mr. Patrick Stewart

said, he was anxious to say a few words on the subject of the debate. When he had first heard the Motion introduced, although favourable to the principle of inquiry into the state of the country, he still was a little jealous of the real objects which the mover had in view, differing, as he did, in opinions upon other topics with the hon. member for Whitehaven; but, as the debate proceeded, his doubts had been removed, and he now felt confident that he should best discharge his duty by voting for the Motion. This could not be looked upon as a party question. On former occasions, indeed, when a Ministry had been for some time settled in office, and consequently responsible to a great extent for the state of the country, a Motion for a General Inquiry was not only a usual, but a fair course, in order to try their stability. But this Motion could not be looked upon in such a point of view, because the hon. member for Whitehaven, in stating, that great and general distress existed, attributed that distress to causes which existed long antecedent to the accession of the present Ministry to office. They had heard, in the course of last night, and the night before, much of the decrease of distress and suffering, yet, notwithstanding what had been said of Oldham and Glasgow in proof of this assertion, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that much distress and misery prevailed in the agricultural, manufacturing, commercial, and shipping interests. Much of that distress, he, in common with others, attributed to the monetary system established in 1819 by the Bill bearing the name of the right hon. Baronet opposite; but he was far from saying that it was the sole and universal cause of change and misery. He did not ascribe to it alone the great fall which every commodity had suffered in price; nor did he accuse it of having displaced the Bourbons, or agitated the states of continental Europe. He did not even assert, that by its Amendment, or abrogation, former prosperity would be restored; but certainly among many causes operating to produce distress, that measure bore a prominent and principal station. If he did not hold this opinion, he should vote for inquiry; because, among the intelligent and industrious classes of society, there was a deep and settled conviction that something was radically bad, and positively ruinous, in that measure; and which feeling would prevent any Government from silencing the demand for investigation. He was convinced, however, that we then made a fatal alteration in our standard of value; and that the evils which it spread throughout the land, were still in rapid and destructive progress. Great as the loss had been, he should refuse to go back if he could believe that the country was at the end of its sufferings; but, believing the evils to be still in progress, it was impossible for the Act of 1819 to escape being subjected to another and a final trial. Nor does it. Sir, require much fortitude on my part to make this declaration. It was only necessary to look into the discussions which took place at that period, and subsequently, to find a host of practical authority opposed to it in every stage, and afterwards bearing testimony to the severe pressure which it was inflicting among all ranks of persons. On a Motion of Mr. Tierney's, in 1818, for considering the expediency of repealing the Bank Restriction Act, we have it stated, that Mr. Huskisson 'adverted to the effect 'produced in this country, and indeed 'upon all the Continent of Europe, by the 'facility enjoyed by Great Britain of ex 'tending her paper currency. It was, 'like the effect,' he said, that had been 'found to arise from the discovery of the 'mines of America; for, by increasing the 'circulating medium over the world, to the 'extent of 40,000,000l., it proportionably 'facilitated the means of barter, and gave 'a stimulus to industry.'* That gentleman, whose clear and practical understanding was undoubted, also said, "that the quantity of metallic money should be as small as possible, and the quantity of convertible paper as large as possible."† And in 1830, when the hon. member for Whitehaven made a Motion similar to his present one, Mr. Huskisson said, "He agreed with the hon. Member, in his estimation of paper credit, and paper circulation, as one of the greatest improvements of modern times."‡ Again, the confessed and recorded errors of those who originally supported the Bill of 1819, were very striking, and spoke volumes as to the false and ruinous principles on which it was founded. Mr. Ricardo, in 1819, said, 'The difficulty was only that of raising 'the currency three per cent. By with 'drawing paper so as to restore the note 'to its bullion-value—an alteration, by-'the-bye, of only three per cent.,—the, 'House would have done all that was 'required. And, at the end of the year, 'we should all be surprised to reflect that 'any alarm had ever prevailed at a pros 'pect of variation of three per cent in the 'value of the circulating medium.'§ But, in 1823, this distinguished financier confessed, "He was now ready to admit, that Mr. Peel's Bill had raised the value of the currency ten per cent."║ A great deal was said about the principles of honesty and morality—affected by the present Motion. The hon. member for Essex (Mr. Baring) was not sparing in his denunciations on this subject. Was, then, the standard of morality a moveable and convertible one to times and temptations? In * Hansard, xxxviii. p. 490. † Ibid. p. 489. ‡ Hansard (new series) xxv. p. 109. § Hansard, xl. 743. ║ Ibid, (new series) viii. p. 264. 1821, the hon. member for Essex made a Motion almost precisely similar to the one now before us. This was his Motion:—'That a Select Committee be appointed to 'consider the provisions of the Act, and 'to report their opinion to the House, 'whether it would be expedient to make 'any alteration in the said Act, so as to 'alleviate the pressure which its operation 'is producing, and is likely to continue to 'produce, on the various branches of pub-'lic industry:' and these were his arguments: 'The more he considered this 'question, the more he felt it to be one 'not only of the utmost importance, but as "the" one in which were involved all 'the distresses experienced by the country, 'and their remedy. He was convinced 'that the interests of the country would 'not work, that the circulation of the 'country would not move. Unless they 'did maturely and carefully reconsider 'that important Act'. Let the House remark how, in the conscience of the hon. Member, the mountains of to-day were but mole-hills a little time since. Those who now proposed a revision of this Act, must be, according to the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, fit either for Bedlam or for Newgate—they must be either mad or dishonest. But what was his opinion in 1821? Why this—'It might easily be 'proved that we had brought our standard 'above what it was in 1797, and, therefore, 'that no person need be scrupulous to 'that degree as to fear any ill conse'quences from the adoption of his propo'sition.' These reminiscences from the life of the hon. Member, were like the whole of his speech last Session, the first part of which fulminated against our morality, whilst the latter part participated in and applauded our whole aim and end. The right hon. President of the Board of Trade contended, that to assent to this question would prejudice the cause of the labouring classes. The hon. member for Essex, however, said, in the speech he had just quoted, and correctly said, 'High 'prices did not vary precisely with the 'alteration in the standard of value; but 'they were kept up by the habits, and feel'ings, and prejudices of the community. 'It was quite clear that the present rate 'of wages could not last. The labourer's 'wages must come down when his master 'could find nobody to employ him; and 'whenever that time arrived, which could 'not be very far distant, the reduction of 'wages would, no doubt, be received with 'great discontent. Reduced, however, 'the wages must be; and it was better to 'turn the attention of the labouring 'classes to the true cause of such a reduc'tion, than to endeavour to make them 'profound patriots, by declaiming upon 'Parliamentary Reform.' With regard to the effect of this Bill, in adding to incumbrances, the hon. member for Essex said:—'His opinion was, that these 'evils, alarming as they were, were 'occasioned by the alteration in our cur'rency, which he rated at not less than 'twenty-five to thirty-three per cent. In 'some instances, he should say, it had 'risen to a third, and even fifty per cent.'* These were weighty and conclusive opinions on this important subject. The hon. member for Essex was, at the time he stated these facts and opinions, practically engaged in one of the most successful and extensive concerns that ever existed in this country; and it must be matter of equal astonishment and regret to all, that such an opinion, upon such a subject, was so rejected and set at nought. If such had been the effect of that fatal Bill, and if it added thus enormously to existing obligations, something in justice ought to have been done simultaneously for the protection of those who owed money. In Scotland, in the reign of James 3rd., there was an Act passed, "That the money and gold be cryed up higher;" and which appreciated, according to the phrase of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, the currency about thirteen per cent; and the Act immediately following this on the Scotch Statute Book was, "for the payment of debtor and creditor," which stated—'To remove discord among the King's 'lieges betwixt the creditors and debtors, 'that are owing sums, it is statute and 'ordained, that the debtor shall pay his 'creditor with such moneys, and of the 'same price, as the money had course 'before this proclamation, and Parli'ament, &c. Such was the standard of plain and honest dealing in my country in 1475, and I know no good reason for departing from it in this country in 1819. He was surprised to hear the hon. member for Walsall, a practical man, state that those who had borrowed money during the restriction of cash payments had no right * Mr. Baring's speech and Motion are in Hansard, vol. v. (new series) p. 91–97. to complain that they were compelled to pay in hard cash, because, said the hon. Member, they were aware that they borrowed under that liability. He would remind that hon. Member, and those who thought with him, that the Bank Restriction Act, on its fourth renewal in 1798, was worded "to cease and expire one month after the signing of a definitive treaty of peace," and in no more specific terms; and the fact was, that it expired and ceased precisely eight years after that event occurred. This established pretty clearly the spirit of the enactment itself, and that its first term, as specified, was but a matter of form. But, independent of this, there was another fact which was conclusive as to the gross injustice of saddling the borrowers of 1l notes—with an addition of thirty to fifty per cent on their debts; he meant the Resolution of that House in 1811, by which all holders of paper were guaranteed against any depreciation, past, present, or future, in the 1l. note. His object was, not to remedy what had already happened, but to stop the further progress of this great evil. The Bill of 1819, fixed a new standard of value ruinously expensive to this country; and the objection he made to the Amendment of the noble Lord was, that it would prevent the country from adopting the old national standard of silver, either conjointly with gold, or singly by itself, which he should prefer. But after all that had occurred in the debate, the hon. member for Whitehaven ought not, perhaps, to press his Motion to a division; because the question for inquiry was virtually carried, provided the House would adopt the Amendment of the noble Lord as the guiding star through the Committee; and he was disposed to accede to these terms. The question was one which could be determined only by inquiry. In making his present statement, he was not one of those, if such there were, who sacrificed their own judgment to the opinion of their constituents; he did not know the opinion of his constituents on this point, and therefore was following no other dictation than that of his own judgment. He was convinced, that we could adhere to our present system only at the price of a total decay of our commercial prosperity.

Mr. Strutt

, although he acknowledged that there was considerable distress in the country, was nevertheless persuaded that the statements which had been made of that distress were greatly exaggerated. The continued employment of capital, or rather the increased employment of capital, in our various manufactures, convinced him of the fact, that although certainly the present period was not one of peculiar prosperity, neither was it one of peculiar depression. He was satisfied that the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country regarded with dismay the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven, as fraught with the greatest danger to trade, and every description of property. He perfectly agreed with the noble Lord, that the only object of the Motion was the depreciation of the currency; and he also concurred with the noble Lord, that no one could agree to the Motion who was not prepared to transfer large portions of property from one set of persons to another—from the creditors to the debtors of the country. It had been said, that the measure was justifiable in order to counteract the injustice with respect to contracts which had been perpetrated by the resumption of cash payments. But even conceding that there had been that injustice, still it should be remembered that the contracts of the present period were not the contracts of 1819. Out of 100 existing contracts, ninety-nine had been made since that period. It would be a strange mode of justice to perpetrate injustice in ninety-nine instances, for the purpose of adjusting a contract on one. The fact was, that the injustice was perpetrated by the Bank Restriction Act, and the Act of 1819 was only a return to justice; and having experienced the fatal effects of the Bank restriction, ought the House now to adopt a system which would lead to similar results? He did not impute undue motives to those from whom he differed in opinion on this subject. He had no doubt that they were convinced of the propriety of the step which they were taking, although he was at a loss to understand on what principle they were so convinced. But, entertaining the view which he did of the subject, he should feel that, if he were to concur in the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven, it would be the commencement of a system of confiscation and ruin. During the debates on the Reform Bill, the hon. member for Whitehaven had expressed his apprehension that the measure was fraught with revolutionary consequences, and that general confiscation would be its result. He (Mr. Strutt) Had better hopes; and he believed that he should not be disappointed, and that the present Parliament would not sanction the proposed measure of general confiscation. The country was deeply indebted to the noble Lord for the straight-forward and manly manner in which he had met the Motion; and it was his firm belief, that, by the course which the noble Lord had taken, he had succeeded in securing to himself and his Majesty's Government the increased attachment and confidence of the nation.

Mr. Robinson

put it to the House in what situation the question would be left if the Amendment of the noble Lord was carried, and the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven negatived? Was it not desirable that the question should be decided, not evaded? Yet, in that case, they would be just where they were. All their time would have been wasted—all the talents of the present House, and all the experience of past Parliaments, would have been wasted, without one practical or beneficial result. He deprecated that so much, that he must trespass on the House for a few minutes. For his part, he could not discover any great difference between the opinions of the noble Lord and of the hon. member for Whitehaven, as explained by the latter last night. He thought he understood the noble Lord to say, that he had no objection to an inquiry, provided the House, in the first instance, affirmed his Amendment. In his opinion, there was nothing so puerile as to debate on the fact whether or not there was any distress in the country. If the statements of that distress had been exaggerated, yet there could be no doubt that there was a sufficient degree of distress and embarrassment to warrant the House to enter upon an inquiry into its cause, with a view, if possible, to find some means of relief. It was evident that a great majority of the House was for limiting the inquiry to that precise object; and he was convinced, that if the House were to affirm the proposition of the hon. member for Whitehaven, unaccompanied by a Resolution that they would maintain the present standard of value, the next day would present a spectacle which no man would contemplate without horror, or find terms sufficiently eloquent to describe. It was his decided conviction, that if the country meant to retain its character for good faith, it would not affirm the hon. Gentleman's proposition. He had known the hon. Gentleman long, and respected him highly; but when the hon. Gentleman said, that it was not his intention to depreciate the currency, he was at a loss to understand the hon. Gentleman's meaning. Although one-pound notes were withdrawn, there were five-pound notes, both of the Bank of England and of country Bankers, and an immense mass of mercantile paper, valuable only because it was convertible into a metallic currency. What would be the effect of the adoption of the hon. Gentleman's Motion, on this mass of paper, but depreciation? The Bank Restriction had inflicted the greatest embarrassments on the country, and the return to cash payments had also produced effects which were not contemplated by its supporters. But if errors had been committed in 1797 and 1819, was that a reason that the House of Commons were now to be called upon to commit the fatal error of unsettling the standard of value? The effect of such a step would be most injurious on all our relations with foreign states. He believed, that he should not be wrong in asserting that measures might be devised, short of a breach of national faith, to overcome our difficulties and restore prosperity. As to an inquiry into the distress of the people, he could hardly support such a proposition—for it would last the whole Session; but an inquiry—distress being admitted—into safe and judicious remedies, he would willingly vote for. Mere Resolutions did not alter the nature of things, or enable the people to pay taxes, and live in something like decency and comfort. The House should not reject such a Motion on the miserable plea of expediency, or refuse to legislate, simply because they were afraid or un willing. In 1822 the present Lord Chancellor brought forward a Motion on the distress of the country, in which he stated that common remedies would do no good, but that vigorous measures must be resorted to. 'His decided opinion upon the subject was, that where the pressure was so great, and the interest so mighty—for the very existence of the State was bound up in the prosperity of the land—the country had only one limit to relief—the making that relief decidedly effectual; that if one measure of reduction would not do, recourse must be had to another, and from thence to another; and that if all reductions were insufficient, the country must prepare for other measures, for measures only to be justified by a paramount unreasoning necessity'. Such were the words of the noble individual who now sat so very easily, though he did not mean indifferently, on the Woolsack. Again, he said, 'If economy was not found effectual, Parliament was bound to? do that which would be effectual; for, at all events and all hazards, it was their duty to save the State. God forbid, that any man should even whisper such an expedient as that, from which every well constituted mind must recoil—the com pounding with the public creditor, or the tampering with the currency—while Parliament possessed the power of relieving the existing distress by a diminution of taxation, and by the enforcement of economy.'* The only fault he had to find with the present Ministers—for he was sure they were anxious to do their duty and relieve the people—was, that their measures were not sufficiently deter mined—that they did not go direct to the point. They, he was satisfied, must be of a much more vigorous character, to accomplish any substantial and permanent good. He did not place any faith in the arguments of the right hon. member for Manchester (Mr. Poulett Thomson), and of the hon. member for London (Mr. Grote), that, because tea and other excisable articles had increased in consumption, the comforts of the people had been augmented. In his opinion, it could only be taken as a change in the habits of the people, that instead of having the good old roast beef, they used articles of a less substantial and less strengthening character. He trusted the Resolution and the Amendment would be embodied in such away as to lead to an inquiry; for they must all agree, that the state of the productive classes was such—their distress was so apparent—as to justify and call for it.

Sir Henry Parnell

would shortly state the grounds on which he should give his vote on the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven. He had paid great attention to the speech of the hon. Member to discover what his precise plan was, and the result he had come to was, to consider it in the same point of view with his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer—namely, as a plan for lowering the * Hansard, (new series.) vi. p, 253–254. standard of value of the country. The hon. Member said, he desired a relaxation of the currency, and had denied that he sought for a depreciation of it; but to him there appeared to be no difference between his relaxation and a positive depreciation. What he meant by relaxation might be ascertained by referring to what he considered the good effects of it. He had taken the period when the relaxation was the greatest, as that when the prosperity of the country was the greatest—namely, during the war; but then prices were the highest, and, at the same time, the currency the most depreciated; so that, in point of fact, it was clear that depreciation was the real object of the hon. Member. By referring again to the period which the hon. Member considered to be one of the greatest distress, he assigned as the cause of the distress the restored value of the currency, and thus again showed his remedy for all distress was depreciation. In point of fact, what the hon. Member desired was to lower the standard of value—it was to require that the sovereign which now passed for 20s. should hereafter pass for 25s. But when this came to be fully understood out of doors, as it, no doubt, soon would be, the public would see nothing in the plan of the hon. Member that would be productive of any other result than great national injury. It was for these reasons he would give his vote against the Motion of the hon. Member; but, in doing so, he wished to be understood, he was by no means opposed to inquiry into the state of the country. He was anxious, on the contrary, that inquiry should take place, and he was sorry his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had not proposed, on the present occasion, that Committees should be appointed to make this inquiry. He did not mean an inquiry into all those subjects which had been introduced into discussion in this debate, but a practical inquiry into the state of trade, and into the condition of the working classes. He thought an inquiry into the state of trade would not only be attended with the good effect of ascertaining to what extent distress really existed; but into that of showing means by which the interests of it might be promoted. He conceived it would lead to the taking off" of many restrictions which now fettered it. With respect to the working class, an inquiry into the wages and the expenses of this class would produce a great deal of useful information; and, besides leading to measures for the improvement of its condition, would make it known how far distress really existed. He wished further to make some observations on a subject which had been so frequently mentioned in the course of the debate—namely, the establishing of a double standard. He conceived a great deal of misapprehension prevailed on this point. If the facts of the case were examined, it would be found that every attempt which had been made in this country, and every other country, to have a double standard, had failed. We had a double standard in this country up to the year 1816; but what was the state of the silver coin? No legal coin existed. The cause was, that the Mint prices of gold and silver were so adjusted, that silver coin could not be kept in circulation; but if the relative value should be ever so properly adjusted in the first instance, it was impossible the two metals could continue in circulation, because the value of both was liable to fluctuation; and when any such fluctuation took place, then one of the metals would be of more value in bullion than in coin, and would be melted. There had been much error in the course of this debate, in assuming that silver had been the standard of value in this country. It had been so nominally, but in reality it was held by all the best authorities, that, in point of fact, during the whole of the last century, gold was the standard. This was proved to be the case by the reduction of the value of the guinea, in 1717, from 21s. 6d. to 21s. being followed by a reduction in the price of gold to the same amount. The right hon. Member concluded by saying, that the subject was so exhausted by preceding speakers, and the views entertained upon it, which were in conformity with his own, had been so ably explained and supported, that he would not go over the same ground, but content himself by declaring, that he knew of no greater calamity that could befal this country than making any alteration in the long-established standard of the value of its money.

Mr. Lambert

said, it was impossible to deny, that, since the alteration in the monetary system, the distress of the country had greatly increased. It had, in fact, been progressive, and the only part of the United Kingdom that it had not yet reached was Scotland. He was prepared to prove, that the distress had so completely originated with the measure for changing the monetary system, that it was to be traced to the preparation by the Bank of England for putting that measure in force. He had not wished to intrude upon the time of the House, but, after what he had heard stated respecting the landlords, he could not consent to be silent. He spoke as one who had suffered, and most severely, from the present system; and, although he pretended only to be able to deal with the subject as a plain country Gentleman, still he trusted for the indulgence of the House. Obloquy had often been heaped upon the landlords. It had been said, that they were selfish and hard-hearted, and that their obduracy had caused the present distress. In that there was no truth. The landlords were the victims of gross injustice. More than any other class in the community they had suffered from the change in the monetary system. He would put this case:—A man in England realised by his exertions in commerce, in an honourable, fair, and open manner—in a way, in fact, which, while it added to his own individual wealth, increased the fame and the commercial character and power of his country, and assisted in carrying it to an unprecedented height of grandeur—well, a merchant by conduct so honourable realised 60,000l., and that sum he advanced on mortgage on an estate of four times its value. Doing so, he advanced the money on the clear and explicit understanding that it was equal in value to one-fourth of the whole property upon which it was lent. The arrangement was made; and then came an Act of Parliament which changed the value of money, and made that which was worth one-fourth of the property equal, in point of fact, as to annual income, to the whole of it. And that was called wisdom and justice, but, above all, it was called, and loudly, by the name of honesty. The House would bear in mind, that the burthen so unjustly and so dishonestly thrown upon the landlord was not confined to the increased value of the money which had been lent. It was felt, and severely, in the reduction of rents. He was confident he did not overstate the case when he said, that there had been a reduction in rents from thirty to fifty per cent. It might be said, that, in many instances, the reduction was voluntary. He believed that to be the fact. But, concluding it were so, however generous in intentions, it was, in fact, only a wise step, which must have been adopted from necessity had it not been taken from some other motive. In England, it was true, the distress had not been felt at so early a period by the landlords as in Ireland. In England tenants had in general some capital at the period of the alteration in the currency, and the consequence was, that they suffered together with the landlords, and the amount of suffering being divided between two parties, it was not so severely felt by the landlord. In Ireland, however, the case was different. There the tenant had little or no capital, and the whole evil had been borne by the landlord. Nor was that the only hardship the landlords in Ireland had to complain of. They had not only to reduce their rents, and to pay the mortgage in a greatly increased value, but they had also to bear all the odium and all the obloquy consequent upon the measures they were compelled to adopt to meet such a state of things. And yet there were to be found people who argued that a gross and ruinous injustice had not been done to the landlords. Why, suppose three quarters of wheat were represented by 4d., if 2l. of the 4l. were withdrawn, surely 2l. would then represent the three quarters, as the 4l. had done. Now the landlords made bargains with the capitalist under the first arrangement, and, therefore, if the second arrangement were adopted, it must be plain that immense advantages would be conferred on the capitalist, to the prejudice, nay, plunder, of the landlord. And that had actually been the case. If a man borrowed 21. it was preposterous injustice to make him pay what was equal to 41. for the 21. he borrowed. But it had been the habit out of doors, and he thought, too, occasionally within the House, to hold up the landlords to odium and obloquy. From such a charge, as a landlord, he shrunk not, but he repelled it with scorn and loathing, for in his conscience he felt that it was not merited. But landlords as a class were to be injured, and, therefore, it was in accordance with rule to blacken their characters, and to hold them up to popular detestation—to paint them as the authors of evils of which they were, in fact, the earliest and the most suffering victims. So with bankers. When they were to be injured an outcry was raised against them. Crimes were attributed to them which they knew of only from the suffering they had occasioned to themselves, and after having been despoiled of their property they were traduced as the promoters of the ruin. He was extremely anxious not to weary the House, but he must trespass on its attention while he alluded to one case in proof of the facility with which charges against the Irish landlords obtained credit. He did not deny, that many acts of oppression by landlords might be quoted. What class was free from such a stigma? Power induced tyranny in some minds, and must ever do so while human nature remained as it had hitherto been constituted. But having made that admission, he must repeat, that charges were made against Irish landlords, and obtained credit, which were wholly devoid of truth. The case he had alluded to was a strong one. It was stated in a work upon the necessity of introducing Poor-laws into Ireland. With the general principles advocated in the book he cordially concurred; but he knew that the statement he had referred to, and which was made to excite feelings adverse to leaving the tenant or the poor at all at the mercy of the landlords, was false. The statement was, that a man condemned to death in Wexford for murder had made a dying declaration to the effect that he was the murderer; that he had been driven to the commission of crime by a bad landlord; for that, after his father had grown grey upon the estate as the tenant of the holding he had had, he had been dispossessed of it, and cast adrift upon the world, without house or home or the means of existence. Now, in that statement there was not one word of truth. He knew the facts of the case, and, as it was stated, they were totally misrepresented. The landlord in question had actually forgiven the delinquent five years of rent. Moreover, after so doing, he suffered him still to continue his tenant for the same property. But he found that, at the end of a year and a half, he could again get no rent whatever; and he then said to the man, "take all you have, everything that belongs to you, and I will not require from you any rent, but go your ways, and let me have my premises." And what was the rent agreed for? Actually less than 9s. per acre of fair arable land. He knew the landlord. He was a clergyman of the Established Church. He resided in England, and a more humane, generous, and considerate man to the poor was no where to be found. But the scandal was against the landlord, and the people had not stopped to ask if it were true. But, when they heard of all the distress and oppression proceeding from the landlords, he asked, how did that appear? Where was the proof of it to be found? If he went into a neigh bour hood and found the old antiquated buildings giving place to new and magnificent structures, with their Turkish minarets, or their, Grecian colonnades, and he inquired, whose property is this? the reply invariably was, "Oh! the old landlord is gone; a new one has possession;" and, generally speaking, the very name of the new possession at once enabled him to guess at the source from which he derived his means. But some said the distress of the landlords was occasioned by their own extravagance. The assertion was monstrous upon the face of it. Was it to be believed, that all at once men, who could trace the possession of the property they now held to Norman, and even to Saxon, ancestors had been seized with a demon-like spirit of destructive absurdity that involved themselves and all about them in ruin and misery? Was it not far more reasonable to attribute such conduct to some powerful and irresistible force acting upon its victims? The distress and the misery had gone on increasing and increasing from the first step taken towards making the alteration of the currency up to the present moment. It was true there had been periods of recovery. The State physician was in attendance, but not always practising depletion. When he found that his victim writhed too severely, and threatened to expire, then the State physician administered relief; but head-ministered it only in order that when the patient had acquired renewed strength, the work of prostration might be renewed. At some of the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, he was greatly astonished. The right hon. Baronet had complained that the report of the Bullion Committee had been adopted. Why, of course it had. It was owing to the proceedings of that Committee the Bank began its preparations. The feeling of the House was seen by the Bank, and it acted accordingly. But there was another part of the speech of the right hon. Baronet that was so utterly inconsistent with his known principles, and oft-repeated views, and high character, that but for those considerations, he should have concluded that when the right hon. Baronet appealed as he did to the labouring classes, as opposed to the supporters of his motion, his object was to excite a servile war. The House would remember that he had distinctly stated, not that he accused the right hon. Baronet of any intention to excite a servile war, but that, had a stranger spoken out as the right hon. Baronet did, one whose principles and whose wishes could be judged of only by that speech, he would have come to that conclusion. Another point in the speech of the right hon. Baronet had forcibly struck him. The right hon. Baronet had quoted from the writings of that great man, Mr. Burke. He was proud to hear him quote from such an authority; but it would have been still more satisfactory if the right hon. Gentleman had quoted from one who upon this subject was a still greater authority, and that was the right hon. Baronet's own father. From the hour the change was projected, up to the period of his death, that able, successful, and highly respected man was not only opposed to the change, but declared it to be one of great and unnecessary injustice. The hon. member for Essex (Mr. Baring) had made some propositions, and they were really of such a character that he would take no objection to them. He should like greatly to see them adopted. Indeed he hoped, if the hon. Gentleman did not himself bring forward his propositions as a substantive motion, that some other hon. Member would do so. But the hon. member for Essex had made, and for the supporters of the Motion rather an awkward allusion to what had been done in Turkey. It appeared that in Turkey, the consequence of depreciation was, that a piastre which was of the value of 3s. was reduced to 3d. Now that was certainly a bad case for depreciation, but still the conduct of the Grand Vizier had not been quite so unjust as the conduct in England. If he had depreciated he had never been guilty of the double injustice of depreciating and then increasing the value of the currency. Had the Grand Vizier ventured on the experiment, in all probability his head would have been made to answer for it, and the penalty would have been de manded according to the most approved forms of the political economists of Turkey. The House had been told as an anument against the motion, and indeed against all alterations of the standard of value, that if such an alteration was made, the necessary consequence would be, that the gold would leave the country for parts where the gold standard existed. In reply to that he said, then it must travel far. Was it in France that a gold standard would be found? In Germany? In Russia? or in any country in Europe? No; for none such existed. Another argument used against the Motion was, that it was unnecessary, for there was, in reality, but little distress in England. He could conceive that those who were cradled in luxury, and from their infancy had all the enjoyments and all the adulation which wealth could purchase, should in the midst of splendor exclaim, "Oh! there can be no distress." But to the man who looked abroad and judged for himself there was distress, gigantic, appalling, intolerable distress, stalking through the land. Every day brought that distress nearer in contact with wealth; and unless some means, powerful means, were speedily taken to arrest its progress, it would soon have destroyed the classes upon which it was now feeding, and then the country would exhibit the spectacle of a few millionaries surrounded by starving multitudes. There would no longer be disputations as to the amount or career of the distress, but when too late the truth would be acknowledged in the midst of general ruin. Let any man trace what had passed under his own experience, and who would deny, that the distress had gone on increasing? He was old enough to remember when in England, happy, free, industrious England, if a young industrious man took to himself a wife, he did so with the certainty that his own labour would provide for himself, his partner, and his offspring a maintenance. The case was now altered. When he heard hon. Members talking of overpopulation, and the consequent necessity of emigration, he really could not contain his feelings of indignation. Was it not monstrous to hear some wealthy philosophers raising up their voices for emigration, and, instead of mending the distressed condition of the nation, telling the starving multitude around them, "Go perish and starve elsewhere; in your native land you are superabundant, and must be ex pelled"! They had been told in more quarters than one, that during the time of the high prices, the country was enjoying a fictitious prosperity. Was there ever such an argument addressed to a famishing population? It was rather an odd way to stop the mouths of the people by telling them "We will not relieve your distress by the means you ask, because, though you would enjoy prosperity, you would be feeding on fictitious bacon, clothed in fictitious clothes, and housed in air-built castles." It was somewhat amusing also to consider the manner in which the Motion had been met by Ministers. On a former evening, when the hon. member for Birmingham proposed an inquiry into the general causes of distress, he was met on the part of Government by the assertion that his proposition was far too general, and that the inquiry he asked for offered no hopes of a satisfactory termination. After that assertion it was only natural to suppose, that a motion for inquiry into one of the elements constituting the distress of the people would at once be taken up by the Ministers, and carried as a matter of course. What, however, was the case? A specific motion for an inquiry into the effect of the currency on the condition of the people was made, and Ministers, without denying the possibility that the nature of the currency in force might tend in producing the evil under which the country laboured, met it with a declaration, that that specific question was precisely the element which should not be touched upon, Such conduct could only be likened to that of a Coroner who should tell a Jury in a case of murder not to examine any evidence tending to criminate a particular individual who was generally supposed to be the murderer. The supporters of the motion for inquiry had been accused of an intention of confiscation and plunder. Now he thought it very hard that their own statements, expressly denying any such intention, should not be deemed worthy of the slightest credence. Certainly, from that very Ministry, who had so often raised up their indignant voices when, last year, upon the discussion of an important measure, they were on all sides assailed with the cry of, "You mean Reform, you say, but we know you mean revolution," claiming, and justly claiming, to have their own words to the contrary deemed worthy of belief,—it was rather singular to hear their intentions branded with the insinuation of confiscation and spoliation. In conclusion, the hon. Member earnestly called upon the House not to depreciate the character of the first Reformed Parliament by putting the extinguisher on all hopes of inquiry into the causes of that distress under which the country laboured. The people were anxious and inclined to think well of the present House of Commons; but if that House, at the dictation of the Ministers, united in stifling all efforts to remedy their wrongs, their present feeling in their favour would speedily turn to hatred and contempt.

Mr. Walter

began by complimenting the Ministers on the resolute and decided manner in which the ill-judged proposition of the hon. member for Whitehaven had been met by them. He thought, that the Reform Bill itself was hardly of greater moment, or the firmness and good sense displayed on that occasion by his Majesty's Government more conspicuous. With reference to preceding speakers, it was impossible to forget the powerful and convincing speech of the right hon. Baronet who had closed the preceding night's debate, and who, as he unanswerably showed, had been most unjustly attacked, in having his celebrated measure of I8I9 made the subject of so much obloquy. If even that right hon. Gentleman was in error on that occasion, he was in error with all those who possessed the highest character as statesmen: he was prospectively sanctioned by repeated resolutions of that House, by the terms on which every loan had been raised, and by the original Bank Restriction Act itself; all of which contemplated, and pledged the Legislature to a direct resumption of cash payments at the end of the war. The bill of 1819 had, indeed, been called Mr. Peel's Bill; but did he stand alone in his advocacy of it? Had not his opinion of the necessity of reverting to cash payments been supported throughout the whole period of their suspension by all the most eminent men existing in the country—by Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt, and by all persons constituting the great mass of intellect in the country? Of those eminent persons Lord Granville alone remained; and had they not his published opinion, that we never could have any security as to our finances till we returned to cash payments, and bank paper became convertible into gold at the will of the holder? If the opinion were erroneous, it was the error of able men; but he did not believe it was an error; for, however severe might have been the recent pressure, we had had no shocks or violent concussions like that of 1825; and as to the pressure, severe, though it was allowed to be, he denied that it had resulted exclusively from the return to cash payments. The evidence of facts contradicted that supposition; for if the present state of the currency had created the distress, it would have affected all articles of sale alike; whereas the pressure upon them had been by no means equal or similar. Take cotton, for instance; that article was at a very low rate; but as to the chief article of human subsistence, corn, corn was even now at as high a price as when the bill for the resumption of cash payments came into operation, and had even been much higher. The average price of wheat in the five years preceding 1825 was 57s. a-quarter; in the five years following, 62s.; and, in 1830, 64s. Now, corn and cotton were paid for in the same currency; and, indeed, the prices of articles varied in almost every possible degree, which could not be the case if the currency were the sole cause of generally low prices. Cotton had fallen from 20d. to 6d. a-pound; but who were the sufferers by that? The Americans, the growers; not the English, the purchasers. The truth was, that all the articles of British manufacture had fallen in the general market, and would have fallen, whatever had been the material of our currency, from the immense, unexampled, and increasing competition to which they had been exposed since the war, and which they had not before experienced. There was not a single article of British industry which had not met a severe rivalry, and consequent depreciation, in every foreign market. To that cause, and the advancement of machinery, ought the member for Whitehaven, and those who agreed with him, to ascribe the distress, rather than to the currency. The present attempt to return to paper payments obviously rested on no ground whatever of reason; and if they came to authority, the authority of great names and of reputation for constitutional knowledge, that he had shown to be altogether in favour of the return to, and inviolable preservation of, cash payments. Unless, then, it were wished to see renewed the bubble schemes and dishonest projects of 1825, Parliament would not again tamper with the currency. There was enough of business before the House without re-embarking in such a sea of troubles.

Sir Charles Burrell

said, that he and those with whom he acted, in reference to this question, did not seek anything beyond a currency convertible into gold. He hoped it was scarcely necessary for him to assure the House, that no project so inexpedient and so unjust could have ever entered their minds, as a change in the currency to the extent which some Gentlemen imagined. There was no intention nor desire on the part of those who supported the Motion to issue paper to any mischievous extent, or under such arrangements as would endanger the property of persons as it had been endangered formerly upon the failure of private bankers. For his own part, all he desired was to carry into effect the plan of the late Sir Robert Peel—a man whose memory was cherished and respected by every man who knew him. The late Sir Robert Peel's plan was, that private bankers should place a certain sum of money—say 20,000l. or any given sum—in the hands of Government Commissioners, and that the persons making such a deposit should be entitled to the interest, and also be permitted to issue notes equal in amount to the deposit. This plan would allow the banker to carry on a profitable business, and it would afford the holder of private bankers notes an ample security in the deposit standing in the names of Government Commissioners. This was the opinion of a practical man. The present right hon. Baronet of the same name entertained a different opinion. He begged the House, however, to recollect that the late Sir Robert Peel had made a large fortune, whilst the present right hon. Baronet was only spending one. Much was said in approval of the present coinage. The House had been told repeatedly that the present system of coinage worked well; but did the country know what the House paid for it? He believed the Duke of Wellington had stated, that the amount of metallic currency in circulation was 20,000,000l. Now, taking that sum as the amount, if Gentlemen would take the trouble of calculating, they would find that the additional expense, and therefore the additional taxation, imposed on the country by such an amount of coin, amounted to 1,400,000l. per annum. Why we should keep up so large an amount of metal in circulation, at an enormous expense, in opposition to the system pursued in most of the other countries of Europe, he could not conceive. He would only notice the relative circumstances of this country and Russia, with respect to its metallic circulation. Russia had paper rubles and silver rubles. The silver rubles were not a legal tender in that country, but the paper rubles were. Russia had scarcely any other circulation but paper, and yet that country was prosperous, and every nation in Europe trembled at her power. He would not detain the House, but he begged leave to read, as an illustration of his opinions, the late Sir Robert Peel's comparison between a restricted and an abundant circulation, with a view to national prosperity—'A restricted circulation never fails to create every evil which can afflict an industrious people. Scarcity of money, unpurchased manufactures, deficiency of employment, un-paid rents, dejected agriculture, and unproductive commerce—these are the mischiefs which necessarily distress the individual and embarrass the community, whilst its circulation is deficient; and in our peculiar circumstances these mischiefs are greatly aggravated by the fearful load of taxes by which we are oppressed. When money, on the other hand, be-comes abundant, it may always be pro cured at a moderate interest; bills of exchange, and other private securities are readily discounted; and every individual who has property or credit is accommodated with loans according to his necessities. With an abundant circulation, ingenuity is put to a stretch, in order to find the means of subsistence—the manufacturers are all occupied—our merchants send out additional adventures—the ship-owners have freights at their command—the produce of the husband-man is consumed by a busy people—rents are more easily paid—and taxes are more readily collected. Such are the benefits resulting to individuals, and to the State from an abundant circulation. It may occasion some inconveniences, but these can be sufficiently obviated by judicious regulations.'

Mr. Morrison

, being strongly impressed with the belief, that to a tampering with the currency in past years much of the present distress of the country was attributable, expressed his intention of voting against the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven. They all remembered what had been the effect of some of the changes that had been made in our currency; and if they were now to go back to the former system, it would bring about such a panic as that of 1825, and he must be a bold man who could say, that a nation could bear such a change more than once, from the opportunities he had had of judging the sentiments of commercial men on the subject of the Motion, his belief was, that it was regarded as one which it would be improper for Parliament seriously to entertain. The general impression as to the object of the Motion was, that the standard of the country was to be lowered, and hence he was assured arose the opposition made to it. If it were thought, that Government intended to support the proposition, there would, before now, have been remonstrances against it from all the commercial and manufacturing classes. That the circulation of the country was sufficient for all its wants was proved by the fact of the large number of deposits in the banks. Such deposits, and to so large an amount, would not be left if the circulation were less than the wants of the country required. He had ascertained from various parts of the country that the lawyers generally had clients with plenty of money to advance upon security, but the difficulty was to find any means of employing capital to advantage. It was his opinion, that the circulation, so far from being scanty, was, if anything, too abundant, as the state of the money market at the present moment proved. The Bank of England had been, in many instances, doing all in its power to force its notes into circulation; but as fast as they went out they returned again in the form of deposits. The hon. Member by whom the present Motion was submitted to the House seemed to say, that his chief object was the relief of the landed interest; but a relief to that class could never be effected in the manner which he contemplated otherwise than by a depreciation of the standard of value. What was peculiar in the case was, that the persons who were ready toad vance money were generally of the humbler classes, whose capitals did not exceed 1,000l. But he was convinced, that the landowners and fanners did not want the measure proposed, any more than the manufacturers and merchants. The hoti. member for Essex (Mr. Baring) had denied this with respect to Essex, but he begged leave to remind the House, that that county had long been represented by a Gentleman of property in it, whose views of the currency were peculiar; and, probably, when the hon. member for North Essex (Mr. Baring) said, that he had received communications from the county in favour of the alteration of the currency, he might have suspected that such communications might have come from the enemy's camp. He could speak from a personal knowledge of the counties around Essex, and could say, that the people cared nothing about Mr. Attwood's Motion. All they wanted was a reduction of taxes, economy in every branch of expenditure, and an abolition of sinecures, pensions, and useless places. He believed, that the nature of business in this country was so complex, that it depended on such numerous causes and accidents, and was connected with such innumerable interests and such a diversity of classes, that it might be said, that at any time of prosperity there existed much of distress, whilst during the worst periods of distress it would not be difficult to find out great masses of prosperity. Much greater distress, if one might judge from the number of bankruptcies, had existed in the years of greatest depreciation—those from 1811 to 1814, the years of depreciation, which the hon. member for White haven called years of prosperity. He should say, that the great body of the people were not now in such distress as they were then. He believed, that the distress existed only among the middle classes of the community. When the hon. member for Wexford talked of the distresses being produced by the Bill of 1819, he should likewise take into consideration the many who had been ruined by the tampering with the currency before that period. The previous alterations of the currency had most materially affected the poor, and nothing that could be done by the House with respect to the currency could afford them any relief. When any class was distressed, Government had always been called upon for an issue of paper; and Lord Liverpool having issued 4,500,000l. in 1823 for the relief of the agricultural classes was, he believed, the ground on which so many now hoped, that Ministers would consent to an increase of the currency. From 1754, the price of agricultural produce had increased, and that class of the community had nothing to complain of. If the hon. member for Whitehaven meant that his plan should only have the effect of lowering the interest on the funds, it would be much more honourable and fair to directly tax the funds than to derange all the contracts between man and man merely to attain that object. With respect to the question which had been mooted of the co-existence of a silver and gold standard, he would say, that he should have no objection to such a scheme, provided the standards could be made of exactly equal value. He, however, doubted whether equalization could be effected on the whole. He contended that a reduction of taxes and general economy, were the measures which would afford the country a much greater extent of relief, than any alteration in the currency.

Sir John Wrottesley

, who, on rising, was interrupted by cries of "Question," said, he had been too long a Member of that House to be put down by such cries, and those who would not hear him might depend upon it that they should hear nobody else till he had spoken. It was his decided opinion, that the present Motion was substantially to inquire into the distress of the country; and that that distress existed might be gathered from what had fallen from the last speaker, and from several Returns which had been laid upon the Table of that House. The conclusions which had been drawn by the right hon. the Vice President of the Board of Trade relative to the diminution, or rather to the non-existence of distress were most incorrect. That right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the Poor-rates of Birmingham, from which he had no returns; but he could take upon himself to say, that at Wolverhampton the case was directly the reverse. The poor-rates had been doubled since 1824, and it was impossible that Wolverhampton could be thus suffering, and Birmingham be prosperous. He stated this fact on the authority of the gentleman who had been sent there as a Commissioner to inquire into the Poor-laws, and he stated, that the administration of the poor there was well managed. Nevertheless the Poor-rates had doubled; that surely was an evidence of prosperity in that industrious community. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the increase of the tolls on the Birmingham Canal; but the old Birmingham Canal had increased its revenue, not from any in crease of trade, but on account of nearly half a million of money having been laid out on improvements; and the increased receipts by the Worcester and Birmingham Canal proprietors, arose entirely from the city of Gloucester having been opened as a port. Other canal shares were known to be depreciated, and he could name cases where shares had fallen from l,200l. to 650l., whilst in another case shares which had been worth 160l. each had fallen to 85l. In the same proportion had fallen the value of lands, machinery, and of every species of saleable property. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Poulett Thomson), therefore, was erroneous in his statements. There never had been a period in which the value of property had been so depreciated as between the years 1800 and the present time. He demanded an inquiry into the cause of this. He believed, that Government had done all in its power to reduce expenditure, and had reduced it as much as possible, for it had been brought down from 19,000,000l. to 14,000,000l. since the peace; and it was not therefore extraordinary that the people should demand an inquiry why the distresses still continued. He denied, that he had any wish to alter the standard of the currency. What was the meaning of the word "standard?" Could any Gentleman who heard him, say what was the standard value of the 1l. sterling? This question had been put to Sir Matthew Hale, when disputes had arisen respecting the value of fines in the Exchequer, and that great Judge, with all his antiquarian knowledge, could not answer it with any certainty, or even decide what was the meaning of the word sterling. Legally the pound sterling was a pound of silver. What was a standard but a fluctuating point? The value of money was for ever varying, and had varied in this country many times between the year 1792 and the present period. The hon. Member then proceeded to read several tables, showing the fluctuations in the currency, which, he said, showed, that throughout the various alterations which had been made for the better or worse, it had always occurred, that the Government had produced a favourable alteration just before each dissolution, so as to please the people at a time when new Representatives were to be chosen. Among other similar instances, the hon. Member stated, that in 1816 and 1817 there had existed the greatest dist ress, owing to the unfavourable state of the circulation; but, in 1818, just before Parliament was dissolved. Government had contrived to produce an additional issue of 3,000,000 of bank notes, which was of course intended as a bolstering up of a fictitious state of prosperity. This fully appeared by the fact, that after the Parliament had been returned. Government brought the circulation down again, and in 1822 the circulation was brought down so low, that the whole country combined in sending up petitions for relief from their distresses. In 1823, the Bank of England lent l,400,000l. on mortgage, which served, with other advances, to bring down interest, from five per cent to four, and many were ruined in consequence. To this might also be attributed all the speculations of 1824, and the panic and ruin of 1825. Had he not a right, therefore, to attribute much mischief to the transactions of the Bank of England? He brought no charge against the Bank particularly, as it was proved, that it had become sensible of its error, meaning only to point out the effects it produced. This country was the great mart of the exchanges, and it must be affected as long as a gold circulation was maintained by the fluctuations of every country in Europe. What he wished, was, to contract the circulation which was dependent on foreign countries, in order to avoid such fatal fluctuations and derangements of the circulation. He was therefore very anxious for the appointment of the proposed Committee; and what he particularly wished that Committee to inquire into would be, the question, whether there could not be such an adjustment of the one-pound note circulation as to prevent the gold from going out of the country. As it was, the farmer was called upon to pay two quarters of corn for the one which he had formerly received. He would readily vote for the Committee; which might first inquire into the general distress, might next ascertain the connection between that and the monetary system, and might afterwards inquire into effects of the various changes in that system in the different classes of the country. The Committee might examine auctioneers, surveyors, and others concerned in the transfer of property, and the facts they would communicate would be far better than all the theories put together. He could not vote for the Motion of his noble friend, because it appeared to him dangerous to place on the records of the House a Resolution, that the standard was not to be depreciated when, in case of a war ensuing, that might be a necessary measure.

Mr. John Smith

was rather surprised at many of the arguments he had heard. The hon. Baronet had spoken of the fall of profits of canals as a criterion of distress; but the public funds betrayed no symptom of that disease. Had the three per cents fallen? They were as marketable as ever; and many people desired to have them. Without meaning to throw any imputations on any hon. Members, he must say, that he doubted many of the stories of distress which had been told the House. He had heard, on what he was told was good authority, though he did not know the Gentleman, that all the population of Manchester engaged in the spinning business got, including men, women, and children, 10s. a-week wages. He was not particularly acquainted with Oldham, but he believed, that the Poor-rates in that district were remarkably low. What he, however, chiefly rose to say was this:—He was as sure, as that the sun would rise to-morrow, that if the issue of small notes was allowed, there would be again a panic. He was, in 1825, Chairman of the Committee of Bankers, and in that capacity had frequently to wait upon the Bank of England with persons soliciting relief, and he had a good opportunity of knowing the circumstances of many persons; and he could assure the House, that many honest and industrious men, who had then been obliged to make great sacrifices, had struggled on for years afterwards, but were in the end ruined in consequence of the shock they then received. He knew certainly, that the one-pound notes then found were of great use; but the Bank did not want them for itself; it could have paid all demands on it without them, but they were of use to lend to others. He knew that the Bank of England then lent millions, and that many of those who borrowed notes carried them to the Bank in half an hour and demanded specie for them. Another panic, not less than that of 1825, must ensue from issuing small notes. If the Bank of England were to suspend its payments, all the bankers of England would be ruined; and what then would be the state of the country? All the manufacturers were paid in the notes of the country bankers; and if they were ruined, he put it to the House if society could go on? No; there would be one wide scene of devastation, misery, and civil war. He admitted the honesty of the intentions of those who supported the Motion, but he, for one, protested against it; and he trusted the House would not forget its sacred duty, and would preserve the prosperity, the interest, the honour, and the integrity, of the country,

Mr. Matthias Attwood

rose to reply, The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken sounded the same alarm when it was proposed to appoint a Committee on the subject of the currency a few years back. He had come down every day to the Committee upon the Bank Charter, predicting ruin to credit from their inquiries; but none of the consequences which he had foretold came to pass, and there was no reason to believe, that his present alarm had any other foundation than his own timidity. Those Members who voted for the Motion would pledge themselves to nothing but inquiry, and might afterwards support the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) without inconsistency. The ground upon which he supported his Motion was, that distress existed, that it was connected with their monetary system, and that no inquiry could be complete which did not embrace inquiry into that system. He had been charged by the noble Lord with bringing forward a Motion which carried with it a depreciation of the currency; but he absolutely denied the justice of the noble Lord's inference as to the tendency of his Resolution. Those who made that charge had no authority from his words, for making it. He had reason, therefore, to complain that the whole arguments of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) and other speakers, had all been directed against his speech, and against the Motion, on that fallacious inference. The Resolution of the noble Lord went to pledge the House not to lower the standard of value. But why all his horror against lowering it, when the standard had been successively raised at several periods, without exciting any such horror, though that was as dishonest towards the industrious classes as lowering it could possibly be towards those who lived on fixed incomes. It had been raised beyond the old standard of 1795. It had been raised, as the hon. member for Essex admitted, more than fifty per cent above that of 1815: and it would have been desirable, therefore, that the noble Lord should have called on the House to pledge itself that it would not raise the standard any further; so that the people might have had some guarantee against a further rise, and might have been no longer the victims of such legislation. It was objected to his Motion that it led to some vague and undefined danger. There could be no impropriety in all those who believed distress existed voting for his Motion, however they might differ in politics. One-pound notes now formed the circulation of Ireland and Scotland; and, if such a circulation must in this country lead to convulsion, the subject on that account alone was worth consideration. The noble Lord had admitted, in his speech, that he would not object to silver coined into 60s. as a standard, but he would object to it coined into 62s.; but 60d. was depreciation. The noble Lord, therefore, who was so indignant about depreciation, and talked about dishonesty, had no objection to let the 100l. be written down 98l. 10s.; but to write it down 95l. was dishonest, was everything that was bad. He could not understand such bastard integrity as that. That might be keeping faith with the public creditor, but it was by paying 98l. 10s. instead of 100l.

Lord Althorp

explained that he had said he would only consent to silver as a standard so coined, if it were not depreciation; and if it were depreciation he would not consent to it.

Mr. Attwood

accepted the noble Lord's emendation; but he could assure him that silver at 60s. would be depreciation; and then it appeared, after the noble Lord had moved a Resolution about depreciation, and talked a great deal about it, that the noble Lord did not know what depreciation was. The hon. Member next referred to Mr. Baring's declaration, that he would not object to one-pound notes.

Mr. Baring

begged to correct the hon. Member. He spoke hypothetically, and said, that if the two other conditions he had mentioned were fulfilled, he should not then object to consider the propriety of issuing one-pound notes.

Mr. Attwood

continued: The hon. Member had in 1826 spoken in the strongest terms against small notes. In 1830 also, when he (Mr. Attwood) had moved two resolutions, one of which related to the small notes, and the other to the silver standard, the hon. Member had denounced the small notes, and had agreed in the propriety of the silver standard. The hon. Member had then expressly stated, that by adopting silver they would have a better chance of maintaining the standard than by the gold standard only. And was he now to be condemned for recommending that as tending to depreciation, which the hon. Member said would maintain the standard? By supporting his Motion, Members would pledge themselves to no opinion; but by adopting the amendment of the noble Lord, they would pledge themselves to a line of conduct which, if a war were to break out—an event so likely to happen that it was stated as the excuse for keeping up our large military establishments—must be departed from within six months after that event. It said, that supply and demand went on notwithstanding the change in our currency, and then, he would ask, why object to his Motion for inquiry? It was said, that he sought a depreciation in the currency, but he denied the statement; he never had any such intention. For twenty years and upwards the currency of this country had been depreciated; distress followed that change, and it was not asking too much to inquire into the present state of distress. The system he advocated was that which Mr. Pitt had advocated, and, if it were followed up, no doubt it would lead to the most beneficial results. The noble Lord opposite said, he could not take off more taxes; perhaps he could not and why? Because of our debt and taxes, and the strange alteration in our currency. In the present state of our finances we could not enter into war, and the Government knew it well. If there were to-morrow a proclamation of war the Bank would reduce its issues, as they had done before, and every man could calculate upon the results. The Bank of England in 1793 had prepared themselves for the approaching crisis; and, indeed, they would have been insane if they had not done so. In 1810 the Bank had found out that they would be driven to cash payments; they restricted their issues; and thence the failure which ensued in 1812, 1813, 1814. But then it was said, by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) look to the issues of the Bank in 1817 and 1818. Well, admit?he greater issues, and he would ask what had that to do with this question? The year 1816 was one of great distress to agriculture. He was merely making these observations in answer to observations which had been made against his Motion; and so far he thought he was entitled to give an answer to them. In 1816 it was said that 7,000,000 of sovereigns were issued by the Bank, but that took place in consequence of a reduction by the Bank of their paper issues. On a question of this nature, which was important to the public, he had felt it his duty to make these observations. [Here an interruption took place, the House having before frequently displayed marks of impatience, and a cry of "Turn him out," followed this interruption.] After order had been restored the hon. Member continued. The right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Trade had entered into elaborate statements to show that no distress existed, which that right hon. Gentleman had strenuously denied.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

said, his observations had been mistaken by the hon. Member. He never denied the existence of distress, but he said it was not as great as had been stated by the hon. Member.

Mr. Attwood

Well, distress was admitted, and that was all he contended for. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Look at tobacco with all the duty upon it, and then tell the House of public distress." Why, he would tell the House and the country that, notwithstanding the increase of the duty on tobacco, still great distress existed. He thought the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman went rather to show a falling-off than an improvement of the state of the country. The right hon. Gentleman had chosen to draw a comparison between the years 1814 and 1832, and had endeavoured to show that a great rise in the consumption had taken place between those periods. He had said, that in 1814 the consumption of tobacco was 15,273,000lbs.; and in 1832 20,235,000lbs., which showed an increase of thirty-one per cent, on the consumption, while the increase of the population was twenty-four per cent. This, however, arose from the circumstance that tobacco had been entirely excluded from the country during the years 1813–14, on account of the American War; and such was the effect of the exclusion, that the price had risen in 1814, from l¾d (the price in 1812) to 1s. 2d. Taking, however, the average of the three years previous to that period, which were not affected by any such clause, it would be found, that the consumption for Great Britain and Ireland was 20,691,000lbs.: and while in 1832, it was only 20,235,000lbs., so that there was a falling-off notwithstanding the advance of population. Then with regard to tea. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, that the consumption of tea in 1814 was 19,224,000lbs., and in 1832 31,548,00lbs., being an increase of eighty-three per cent, while the increase of population had been only twenty-four per cent. But he (Mr. Attwood) begged the House to remark that the right hon. Gentleman had taken in 1814 the amount consumed in Great Britain only, while in 1832 he had taken the quantity consumed in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was derogatory to the right hon. Gentleman to call upon the House to proceed to deliberate upon the important question before them on such information as that, and he would not take up the time of the House to refute it. He admitted, however, that there was some confusion in the returns, and that it was not easy to separate the proportions used in the two countries. But it would be found from a comparison of the average consumption of tea, during the years 1800, 1801, 1802, and 1803, with the year 1832 that the consumption of Great Britain and Ireland daring the former of those years was 24,300,000lbs., while in 1832 it was 31,548,000lbs.; being an increase of less than thirty per cent., although the increase in the population, in the same period, had exceeded fifty per cent. The result, therefore, proved that there was a diminution of comfort among the people, instead of an increase, as the right hon. Gentleman had wished to show. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated, and he had held it up as a matter of gratulation to the country, that the consumption of sugar had advanced eighty-three per cent. since 1814—the quantities being in 1814, l,997,000lbs., and in 1832, 3,655,000lbs. But the House should bear in mind, that in 1814 the European ports were first opened, after having been closed from the autumn of 1810, which occasioned an unusually large export in 1819, and enhanced the average price to the unprecedented sum of 103s. 4¼d. per cwt., while in 1832, the average price was only 48s. a reduction which had led to the ruin of the West-India interest, It appeared, however, that on an average of the six-years previous to 1832, the increase had only been twenty per cent. while the advance in the population had been twenty-four per cent.—The House at this period showing strong symptoms of impatience, the hon. Member said, that he would only add, that if the House did not agree to his Motion, the people would consider that they were not done justice to, and the result might be a separation between them.

The House divided on the Question that the words proposed by Lord Althorp to be omitted stand part of the question—Ayes 139, Noes 331: Majority 192.

Lord Althorp's Resolution that the words "It is the opinion of this House that any alteration in the monetary system of the country, which would have the effect of lowering the standard of value would be highly inexpedient and dangerous "be there added, was then put, upon which Mr. Attwood moved an amendment to add the words "and that a Select Committee be appointed, which, having regard to this opinion, shall inquire into the general distress existing among the industrious classes of the community, and into the most effectual means of its relief."

Lord Althorp

said, that, although he might not object to have the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman, for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the distress of the country generally, agreed to, he could not, at the same time, allow the words proposed to be added to his (Lord Althorp's) Motion to be inserted in it. The question was undoubtedly one of very great importance, and might be brought forward by the hon. Gentleman, or by any other hon. Gentleman, as a separate motion; but he must object to any alteration being made in his Amendment. He felt that it was important his Amendment should stand as it was, a substantive motion, and that the decision of the House upon so important a subject as that of the depreciation of the currency should be recorded, without any qualification or addition, in the Journals of the House. Besides this objection, there was another, which must be fatal to the hon. Gentleman's purpose, and that was, that his motion for a Committee was so generally worded, that it would be impossible to limit its attention to any given subject.

Sir Francis Burdett

said, that on a subject which involved the consideration of the standard of the currency, and its effects upon the country, it would be most unjust to expect a pledge from any hon. Member as to the line of conduct he would pursue. They had heard a great deal about the distress of the working "lasses, and the labouring poor, but, from ail he could learn from persons competent to form a proper judgment on the subject, he was inclined to hope that the distress alluded to had been greatly alleviated. What he meant was, that they were not actually without food and raiment. The landed proprietors would be affected by any distress that might bear heavily upon the working classes; but in his opinion, even if distress existed, the motion of the hon. Gentleman was not the way to alleviate it. He might be willing to agree to a distinct motion for inquiry into the distress of the country, but he certainly could not consent to questions very different in their nature, being mixed up and brought forward together.

Sir Robert Peel

thought, that the new proposition of the hon. member for Whitehaven was so important, that it ought to be reserved for a separate and distinct motion, and brought forward at an earlier hour, in order that its discussion might be fully and fairly entered into. He undoubtedly felt unwilling to venture, at that late hour, to state his view of a matter so important, and therefore he hoped that, even should the House be predisposed to agree in the hon. Gentleman's new proposition, they would not, at all events, prejudge the question by a hasty decision; for they should recollect that the functions of the Committee of Inquiry described in the hon. Gentleman's Resolution differed in no one particular from a Committee of the whole House. The subject was in fact an inquiry into the state of the country generally, and that was a matter of such vast importance, that it belonged only to a Committee of the whole House, and could not be delegated to any other or separate body. In common justice, even if they had the power, they ought not to substitute a private Committee for the established course of such inquiries; but, whether they were ready to assent to to or deny the proposition, he hoped they would not act with precipitation.

Mr. Hume

fully concurred in what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet as to the inexpediency of their proceeding to the appointment of the proposed Committee. The objects which the Committee would have to inquire into should be stated, and some limitation put to the inquiry, before its appointment was agreed to. When such a motion was brought before the House in a distinct form, he should, in all probability, vote for it but at present he must oppose it.

Lord Stormont

agreed, that a hasty decision would not be desirable, and he begged, therefore, to suggest, that the further debate upon the question should be adjourned. It had been asserted that no distress existed in the country; but, of all men in that House, he was most astonished to hear such a declaration from the lips of the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster. The noble Lord concluded by moving the adjournment of the debate.

Sir Francis Burdett

denied that he had represented that distress did not exist in the country; but what he had said was, that from all the information he had received, the working classes were not in distress.

Lord John Russell

said, that although he concurred with the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) that a question so important ought to receive a separate consideration, he yet could not agree to the proposition of adjournment made by the noble Lord. The question, however, was, should any addition be made to the proposition of his noble friend (Lord Al-thorp), or should the House now appoint a Committee to consider the distresses of the country? It might be fit that the Resolution of the hon. member for Whitehaven should receive a distinct consideration, but certainly it would not become the House to adjourn until they had decided whether they would sanction or resist the attempt that was made to occasion a depreciation of the currency. The hon. Gentleman, too, ought to consider whether his object would not be better answered by bringing the question forward another day, and upon other grounds; for it must be apparent to the hon. Gentleman, as it was to every one else, that his Motion was too general.

Mr. Matthias Attwood

protested against the noble Lord who had just sat down imputing to him designs other than those which were obvious from the language of his Resolution. He assured them that he felt it his duty to persevere in taking the sense of the House on his proposition, if it were only to put the sincerity of the declaration of hon. Members to the test of proof. If it was intended to grant any inquiry at all into the distress of the country, why object to his motion, because it happened to come in that particular form?

Mr. Methuen

assured the House, that the statements which they had heard of the non-existence of distress from the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, and others, were fabulous. Only last week, he had seen forty able-bodied young men before the Quarter Sessions of Wiltshire, and heard them declare, that they got only half-a-crown a-week from their employers, though they worked twelve hours a-day, and that their subsistence was eked out by parish allowance. Distress existed in the country to a most grievous extent.

Mr. Robert Palmer

perfectly agreed with the hon. Member who had brought the subject forward, that it would be quite consistent to vote for the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry, without in the least considering the question of the currency on the motion of the noble Lord (Althorp). He should certainly feel proud to vote for the Motion of the noble Lord on this occasion as a substantive motion, but then it was upon the conviction that the noble Lord would not oppose the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, the member for Whitehaven, when it was brought forward as a separate and distinct motion.

Lord Ebrington

could not avoid saying that he was surprised at hearing the Amendment of the hon. member for Whitehaven, and the more particularly as the hon. Member had, in his speech, stated that in his opinion any inquiry into the distresses of the country, unless coupled with an inquiry into the effects of the monetary system, would be a delusion and a mockery.

Mr. Matthias Attwood

said, the noble Lord could not possibly have heard his observations, because he always said, that the House had the means of partially relieving distress, even without altering the present standard of value.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the time was certainly come when an inquiry ought to be instituted into the distresses of the country. Whatever might be said as to the State of England, no doubt could be entertained that distress existed in Ireland. For his own part, he was opposed to an alteration in the system of currency; but, now that the House had in effect decided against such a change, there was, in his opinion, no objection to inquiring into the state of the country.

Mr. Beaumont

said, the hon. and learned member for Dublin took every opportunity of opposing the Government. For his own part, he must oppose the Motion of the hon. member for Whitehaven.

The Question, that the Debate be adjourned, was negatived without a division.

On the Question, that the Amendment moved by Mr. Attwood be added to Lord Althorp's resolution, the House divided: Ayes 134; Noes 271—Majority 137.

The Question was then put upon Lord Althorp's Resolution: Ayes 304; Noes 49—Majority in favour of the Resolution 255.

List of the NOES on the Question that the words proposed by Mr. Attwood stand (the first Division.)

Abereromby, Right Hon. J. Buller, J. W.
Buller, E.
Acheson, Viscount Butler, C.
Adams, E. H. Bulteel, J. C.
Althorp, Viscount Bulwer, E. L.
Andover, Viscount Burdett, Sir F.
Apsley, Lord Buxton, T. F.
Ashley, Lord Byng, G.
Ashley, Hon. H. Byng, Sir J.
Balfour, J. Calley, T.
Bankes, W. J. Campbell, Sir J.
Bannerman, A. Carter, J. B.
Baring, W. B. Cavendish, Hon. G. C.
Baring, F. Cavendish, Lord
Baring, A. Cavendish, Hon. H. F.
Baring, F. T. Chaplin, Colonel T.
Barnet, C. J. Chaytor, W. R. C.
Bayntun, S. A. Chaytor, Sir W.
Beauclerk, Maj. A. W. Chetwynd, Capt. W. F.
Beaumont, T. W. Chichester, J. P. B.
Belfast, Earl of Chichester, Lord A.
Bellew, R. M. Child, J. W.
Berkeley, Hon. G. C. F. Clay, W.
Bernal, R. Clayton, Col. W. R.
Bewes, T. Clive, E. B.
Biddulph, R. Clive, Hon. R. H.
Bish, T. Cockerell, Sir C.
Boiling, W. Codrington, Sir E.
Bowes, J. Cole, Hon. A.
Brigstock, W. P. Collier, J.
Briscoe, J. I. Conolly, Col. E. M.
Brougham, W. Cookes, T. H.
Browne, J. D. Coote, Sir C. H.
Browne, D. Crawley, S.
Buckingham, J. S. Dalmeny, Lord
Dalrymple, Sir J. H. Horne, Sir W.
Dashwood, G. H. Howard, Hon. F. G.
Davenport, J. Howard, P. H.
Dawson, E. Howard, R.
Denison, J. E. Howick, Viscount
Denison, W. J. Hudson, T.
Divett, E. Hughes, W. H.
Donkin, Sir R. S. Hume, J.
Dundas, Capt. J. W. Humphery, J.
Dundas, Hon. Sir R. L. Hurst, R. H.
Dundas, Hon. J. C. Hutt, W.
Dykes, F. L. Hyett, W. H.
Ebrington, Viscount Ingham, R.
Egerton, W. T. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Ellice, E. Jeffrey, Rt. Hon. F.
Ellis, W. Jermyn, Earl
Elliott, Hon. Capt. G. Jerningham, Hon. H.
Evans, G. Jervis, J.
Evans, W. Johnston, A.
Ewart, W. Johnstone, Sir J. V. B.
Ewing, J. Johnstone, Sir F.
Fenton, J. Jolliffe, Colonel
Fenton, Captain L. Jones, Captain T.
Ferguson, R. Kennedy, T. F.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Kerry, Earl of
Ferguson, Sir R. C. Key, Sir J.
Fergusson, R. C. King, E. B.
Fielden, W. Labouchere, H.
Fitzgibbon, R. Lamb, Hon. G.
Fitzroy, Lord J. Lambton, H.
Folkes, Sir W. Lamont, Captain N.
Fordwich, Viscount Langston, J. H.
Forster, C. S. Leech, J.
Fort, J. Lefevre, C. S.
Fox, S. L. Lemon, Sir C.
Fox, Lt.-Col. C. R. Lennard, T. B.
French, F. Lennard, Sir T. B.
Gaskell, D. Lennox, Lord J. G.
Gaskell, J. M. Lennox, Lord A.
Gladstone, W. E. Lester, B. L.
Gordon, R. Lloyd, J. H.
Gore, M. Loch, J.
Graham, Rt. Hon. SirJ. Locke, W.
Grant, Rt. Hon. C. Lopes, Sir R.
Grant, Rt. Hon. R. Lumley, Viscount
Grattan, J. Lushington, Dr. S.
Greene, T. G. Lyall, G.
Grey, Hon. Colonel Lygon, Hon. H. B.
Grey, Sir G. Lynch, A. H.
Gronow, Capt. R. H. Maberly, Col. W. L.
Grosvenor, Rt. Hon. Macaulay, T. B.
Lord R. Mackenzie, J. A. S.
Grote, G. Macleod, R.
Hall, B. Macnamara, Maj. W.
Handley, W. F. Macnamara, F.
Handley, B. Madocks, J.
Harcourt, G. V. Mangles, J.
Hawes, B. Marjoribanks, S.
Hawkins, J. H. Marryat, J.
Heathcote, J. Marshall, J.
Hill, Lord M. Martin, J.
Hill, M. D. Martin, J.
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. Maxfield, W.
Mildmay, P. St. J.
Hope, Hon. Sir A. Milton, Viscount
Hope, H. T. Molesworth, Sir W.
Hornby, E. G. Molyneux, Lord
Moreton, Hon. A. H. Sharpe, General M.
Moreton, Hon. H. G. F. Sheppard, T.
Morpeth, Viscount Simeon, Sir R.
Morrison, J. Skipwith, Sir G.
Murray, J. A. Slaney, R. A.
Neeld, J. Smith, J. A.
Newark, Viscount Smith, J.
Nicholl, J. Smith, R. V.
Noel, Sir G. Somerset, Lord G.
North, F. Spankie, Mr. Serjeant
O'Callaghan, Hon. C. Stanley, Hon. H. T.
O'Dwyer, A. C. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Oliphant, L. Staveley, J. K.
Ormelie, Earl of Stawell, Colonel
Oswald, J. Steuart, R.
Owen, Sir J. Stewart, Sir M. S.
Parnell, Sir H. Stewart, E.
Paget, F. Strickland, G.
Palmer, General C. Strutt, E.
Patten, J. W. Stuart, Lord D. C.
Pechell, Sir S. J. B. Stuart, Captain
Peel, Rt. Hon. Sir R. Surrey, Earl of
Pelham, Hon. C. A. Talbot, J.
Pendarves, E. W. Tancred, H. W.
Penleaze, J. S. Tayleur, W.
Pepys, C. C. Tennant, J. E.
Peter, W. Thicknesse, R.
Petre, Hon. E. Thomson, Right Hon. C. P.
Philips, M.
Philipotts, J. Throckmorton, R. G.
Pinney, W. Todd, J. R.
Plumptre, J. P. Tooke, W.
Ponsonby, Hn. W. F. S. Tower, C. T.
Potter, R. Townley, R. G.
Poulter, J. Tracy, C A.
Price, R. Traill, G.
Price, Sir R. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Pryme, G. Trevor, Hon. G. R.
Ramsbottom, J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Ramsden, J. C. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Reid, Sir J. R. Verney, Sir H.
Ricardo, D. Vernon, Hon. G. J.
Rice, Hon. T. S. Villiers, Viscount
Rider, T. Vivian, J. H.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Walker, R.
Robarts, A. W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Robinson, G. R. Walter, J.
Roebuck, J. A. Warburton, H.
Rolfe, R. M. Warre, J. A.
Romiliy, J. Wason, R.
Romilly, E. Waterpark, Lord
Rooper, J. B. Watson, Hon. R.
Ross, C. Wemyss, Captain J.
Rotch, B. Weyland, Major R.
Rumbold, C. E. Whalley, Sir S.
Russell, Rt. Hon. Ld. J. Whitbread, W. H.
Russell, Lord Whitmore, W. W.
Russell, Lord C. J. F. Wigney, I. N.
Russell, W. C. Wilbraham, G.
Russell, C. Williams, W. A.
Ruthven, E. S. Williams, R.
Ryle, J. Williams, T. P.
Sanderson, R. Williamson, Sir H.
Sandon, Viscount Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Scarlett, Sir J. Windham, W. H.
Seale, Colonel Wood, M.
Sebright, Sir J. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Wynn, Rt. Hon. C. W. TELLERS.
Yorke, Capt. C. P. Duncannon, Viscount Wood, C.
List of the AYES on the same Question.
Aglionby, H. A. Halcomb, J.
Agnew, Sir A. Halford, H.
Arbuthnot, Hon. H. Handley, H.
Astley, Sir John Hanmer, Sir J.
Attwood, T. Hanmer, Colonel H.
Bainbridge, E. T. Hardy, J.
Barnard, E. G. Harland, W. C.
Barron, W. Hay, Colonel A. L.
Bell, M. Hayes, Sir E.
Benett, J. Henniker, Lord
Bentinck, Lord G. Hodges, T. L.
Berkeley, Hon. C. F. Hoskins, K.
Bethell, R. Hotham, Lord
Blackstone, W. S. Houldsworth, T.
Blake, Sir F. Ingilby, Sir W. A.
Blandford, Marq. of Irton, S.
Brocklehurst, J. Kemp, T. R.
Brodie, W. B. Kerrison, Sir E.
Bruce, Lord E. Knatchbull, Sir E.
Bulkeley, Sir R. W. Lalor, P.
Burrell, Sir C. Lambert, H.
Callender, J. H. Langdale, Hon. C.
Calvert, N. Langton, Colonel G.
Castlereagh, Viscount Lee, J. L. H.
Cayley, Sir G. Lennox, Lord W.
Cayley, E. S. Lincoln, Earl of
Chandos, Marquess of Lister, E. C.
Chapman, A. Lowther, Viscount
Chapman, M. L. Lowther, Hon. H. C.
Christmas, W. Mandeville, Viscount
Curteis, H. B. Martin, T. B.
Curteis, Capt. E. B. Maxwell, Sir J.
Dare, R. W. H. Maxwell, J.
Darlington, Earl of Methuen, P.
Davies, Colonel T. Miller, W. H.
Dick, Q. Mosley, Sir O.
Dilwyn, L. W. Norreys, Lord
Dugdale, W. S. O'Connell, D.
Duncombe, Hon. W. O'Connell, C.
Dunlop, Captain J. O'Connell, Morgan
Eastnor, Viscount O'Connell, J.
Etwall, R. Ossulston, Lord
Fancourt, Major Palmer, C. F.
Fellowes, H. A. W. Palmer, R.
Fellowes, Hon. N. Parker, J.
Ferguson, Captain G. Parker, Sir H.
Fielden, J. Parrott, J.
Finch, G. Pease, J.
Finn, W. F. Perceval, Colonel
Fitzgerald, T. Richards, J.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Rickford, W.
Fitzsimon, C. Roe, J.
Fitzsimon, N. Ruthven, E.
Fremantle, Sir T. Sanford, E. A.
Gillon, W. D. Scholefield, J.
Godson, R. Shawe, R. N.
Gordon, Hon. Capt. W. Sinclair, G.
Goring, H. D. Stanley, E.
Greville, Hon. Sir C. Stewart, J.
Grimston, Viscount Stormont, Viscount
Guest, J. J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Guise, Sir B. W. Talbot, J. H.
Tennyson, Rt. Hon. C. Watkins, J. L.
Townshend, Lord C. Williams, Colonel G.
Tullamore, Lord Willoughby, Sir H.
Turner, W. Wrottesley, Sir J.
Tynte, C. J. Kemyss Young, J.
Tyrell, C. Young, G. F.
Vigors, N. A.
Vincent, Sir F. TELLERS.
Vyvyan, Sir R. R. Attwood, M.
Walker, C. A. Ross, Captain H.
Paired off.
Cole, Lord Keppel, Hon. G.
Cooper, E. J. Maxwell, H.
Grant, Hon. Colonel Torrens, Colonel R.
Hardinge, Hon. Sir H. Tynte, C. K. K.
Honeage, G. F. Welby, G. E.

The following Members, who voted with the Ministry on the first division, voted in the Minority of 154, to add to Lord Althorp's Resolution "that it is inexpedient to lower the standard of value," these words:—"That a Select Committee be appointed, which, having regard to this opinion, shall inquire into the general distress existing among the industrious classes of the community, and into the most effectual means for its relief."

The Second Division.)
Adams, E. H. Lennox, Lord A.
Beauclerk, Major Lennox, Lord G.
Brigstock, W. B. Macnamara, Major
Briggs, R. Macnamara, F.
Briscoe, J. L. O'Connell, M.
Bulwer, H. L. O'Dwyer, A. C.
Ewing, J. Petre, Hon. E.
Fenton, J. Rider, T.
Fielden, W. Ross, H.
Fort, J. Ruthven, E.
Gaskell, D. Stanley, E.
Hall, B. Stanley, T. B.
Handley, Major Tayleur, W.
Humphery, J. Thompson, W.
Hyett, W. H. Trevor, Hon. G. R.
Ingham, R. Wason, W.
Jervis, J. Yelverton, Hon. W. H.
Jones, T.
The NOES On the Third or Last Division.
Attwood, T. Dillwyn, L.
Barnard, E. Etwall, R.
Bell, M. Fitzgerald, T.
Benett, J. Fitzsimon, C.
Bentinck, Lord G. Gillon, W.
Blake, Sir F. Godson, R.
Blandford, Marq. of Goring, H. D.
Brodie, W. B. Irton, S.
Burdett, Sir F. Kerrison, Sir E.
Cayley, E. Lalor, P.
Chapman, M. L. Lambert, H.
Curteis, H. Langdale, Hon. C.
Dare, H. Leunox, Lord W.
Maxwell, J. Scholefield, J.
Methuen, P. Stanley, E.
O'Connell, D. Stanley, E. J.
O'Connell, Maurice Stewart, J.
O'Connell, Morgan Talbot, J. H.
O'Connell, J. Tennyson, C.
O'Connell, C. Tynte, C.
Perceval, Colonel Vigors, N.
Richards, J. Walker, CA.
Ross, H. Attwood, M.
Ruthven, E. Sinclair, G.